on 25 September 2007
I was a huge Libertines fan, but to be honest, 'Down in Albion' was 75% cool, 25% alright. Certain tracks just didn't impress, an obvious one being 'Pentonville', which just had no business being on that CD. The 'Blinding' EP had two good songs, and the rest were, well, a bit lacklustre, really. Pete Doherty is capable of brilliant songwriting. The first Libertines album was fantastic, for instance. However, based on what Babyshambles had produced up until now, he wasn't quite living up to his hype.
This brings us to 'Shotter's Nation', where we find a now clean Pete Doherty. To be honest, the sound isn't anywhere near as chaotic, and Doherty is actually singing, as opposed to slurring, most of his lyrics.
Trouble is, your first natural reaction to any singer's first album as a recovered junkie is to expect annoying acoustic hippie twoddle about coming from the brink, and for this reason, I was a little apprehensive about Babyshambles' new album. I should have had more faith, really.
This is a fantastic album. Half the CD is Clash-style punk; the other half is interesting, toned-down, reflective indie songs. You get the impression that this album has been designed for people to wave lighters and chant along to. That's not a bad thing though.
The single, 'Delivery', is awesome. Elsewhere, 'French Dog Blues', 'Carry on up the morning' and 'Deft Left Hand' wouldn't sound out of place on either of the Libertines' CDs. My personal favourite though is 'Side of the Road', which is every bit as charged as 'Pipedown' or 'A rebours' on the first Babyshambles album.
Don't be put off by the fact that it's produced by Blur's producer, that Doherty's no longer a raging addict and that one of the original band members isn't there. There is nothing Britpop about this album, and you certainly don't have another Oasis or Charlatans on your hands. Don't hesitate to buy this. It could easily wind up being the album of the year.
on 15 October 2007
In first few listens I found this album more accessible compared to "Down in Albion", even more commercial. And it wasn't something that I necessarily enjoyed at the time. But after spending weeks in my stereo, being more accessible doesn't seem too bad now, at least in the case of this record. The music is definitely more polished yet carefully constructed. There's less new experimentation but more influences from previously successful experiments of previous bands specially those of 60s MOD culture, and songwriting seems more of a group effort rather than the mainly solo effort of Pete Doherty in "Down in Albion". In lyrical terms, the presence of symbolist and romantic poets influence is still felt, in almost all of the songs and it still has (maybe even more) its touch of black humor to it, which is wonderful. But again Pete's lyrics seem more mature, with more brilliant moments and lines.
Another change compared to "Down in Albion" is the number tracks which is considerably less. And in my mind it helps significantly in giving this record a more consistent sound (I enjoyed most of the tracks from "Down in Albion", but still feel they could have took out 4,5 of them off the album and released them on EPs for instance).
At the end, I should also mention the DVD where the band talks about their influences on each song and stories behind them, which is very entertaining and gives new insight to the record. Also live performances of some of the songs.
Overall, I really recommend this album (SPECIALLY with its DVD) to any rock music fan.
on 3 October 2007
I so much wanted to love this album and have played it to death since getting it 2 days ago, but I am very sad to say that I am somewhat dissapointed. I loved Down In Albion more then any other album I own, more then the Libertines albums and I hoped this would be the same snarling Pete sticking 2 fingers up at the world but it is not. What it is is a very well produced and tightly played album. Gone are the sounds of Pete knocking over the microphone on the 1st Shambles album, this is an album for a wider audience.
The first album was raucus, a rock and roll journey to the back street dives and crack houses of good old Blighty where as this album takes you for a stroll through a park. A much more mellow feeling. The Lib's albums and the first Babyshamble's album had a sound of their own, but this is an album where you are constantly thinking "Oh, that's the sound of the Cure or the Stone Roses or the....." I had so much hope for the future sound of Babyshambles after playing The Blindind E.P to death but there is not one song that comes close to any of them.
I am not saying that this is a bad album, it is not by any means that. If it was written by anybody else I would think "wow!" but I know what Pete is capable of and I think he is capable of more challenging music then this. Maybe in time I will grow to love it as much as his other work but I doubt it.
This is a skag album, mellow and warm, I prefer his crack albums wild and out of control. Take your pick.
As much as I enjoyed Babyshambles' first album 'Down in Albion' enormously (as I do with virtually everything that Pete Doherty puts his talents to), I have to say that it's 2007 follow-up 'Shotter's Nation' is considerably stronger, sounding cleaner and more polished. From the very first listen, I fell in love with a handful of what are truly excellent songs, the kind that the repeat button was practically invented for. Four of the songs on here were co-written with Pete's famous ex, the top model Kate Moss.
There are lots of tender, mellow moments like the excellent hit single 'Albion' from the debut, in the shape of tracks here like 'Unbilo Titled', 'Unstookie Untitled', and the acoustic closer 'Lost Art of Murder', which are perfect for a nice long-distance walk in the sunshine. However, that are still several edgy and hard-rocking songs mixed in, like the big hit single 'Delivery' and 'Crumb Begging Baghead', which are likely to satisfy fans of The Libertines. The jazzy and Lovecats-isque 'There She Goes' is a particular favourite, and further proof of Pete's abilities as a singer, as well as a damn good songwriter. His personal life and past addictions, although well publicised, should never be allowed to overshadow the man's ample talents and strong backlog of work. Don't dismiss him, he's very good.
'Shotter's Nation' is decidedly my favourite Babyshambles album. Despite what it's dark and strange cover might suggest to you, it's actually mostly very warm indie-rock music of the highest quality from beginning to end. Well done Pete!
on 18 October 2007
As A Libertines fan, and owning both albums, and Babyshambles last album, 'Down in Albion', this album has exceeded my expectations. The Music is reminiscent of the old Libertines albums, but has a newer feel. A quality buy, cant wait for the next.
Following Babyshambles’ return to recording with last year’s stonking Sequel To The Prequel (the best thing Pete Doherty has done since The Libertines, IMHO), I thought I would give this 2007 effort another listen. I have always thought Shotter’s Nation, though scoring more highly in terms of consistency, did not quite reach the heights (or level of 'diversity’) of 2005’s Down In Albion or, indeed (subsequently) the song-writing quality of Sequel, and recent listenings have confirmed this view. That is not to say Shotter’s Nation is a bad album – far from it, it contains more subtle melodies, (typical Doherty) idiosyncratically poetic lyrics (albeit with a near-all-consuming drugs theme) and innovative song structures than most bands could dream of – plus an impressive sound mix of spontaneity and assuredness, courtesy of producer Stephen Street.
There is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a repeating theme here of the persecuted artist, a victim of circumstance with music the only route to spiritual salvation ('This song might deliver me straight from the harshness of misery’). This does not, however, detract overly from album highlights such as the vibrant, retro, Kinks-inspired Delivery, the beautifully subtle (and ironic) tale of media exploitation of Unstookie Titled; Deft Left Hand, with its intoxicating intro riff followed by Doherty’s barbed plea from the heart (almost certainly to a certain Ms Moss), 'That woman’s tears could be the death of me....oh dear’, and then (best of all) the lovingly recaptured Libertines spirit (that straining harmonica) of Doherty’s trip to Mr Cocker’s ‘kitchen sink drama school’ in the brilliant tale of domestic upheaval of Baddie’s Boogie, 'Thinking, she’s far too good looking to do the cooking’.
Thereafter, we still have the catchy hooks of album opener Carry On Up The Morning, the deceptive jauntiness and duplicity of You Talk, the rhythmic sophistication and song-writing parody (plus embedded Ian Brown lyrics) in French Dog Blues, the ambivalent romantic tale at the heart of There She Goes (certainly more Robert Smith- than Lou Reed-like) and the exquisite Bert Jansch guitar on the beautiful album closer, and (again) sorry tale, Lost Art Of Murder. Much to admire, therefore, and, given the quality of Sequel To The Prequel, (hopefully) to look forward to.
on 30 November 2007
I must admit I quite liked Down in Albion. The production didn't put me off in the slightest, in fact I really liked the rawness in F*ck Forever, Killamangiro, 8 Dead Boys and 32nd of December. It just wasn't consistent however, and contained too many filler songs that just didn't need to be there (pentonville was a joke).
Now there is Shotter's Nation. A much cleaner, much tighter sounding album. It starts off triumphantly with Carry on up the Morning, a great way to start any album, in fact it's almost as good as Can't Stand Me Now as an opener. Then you have Delivery, the standard, yet catchy single breazes by.
What you have to do with this album to find its true gems is listen to it a few times, however once French Dog Blues, Unbilo/stookie Titled are in your head, they take over from the obvious choices for highlights like the incredibly infectious Death Left Hand and You Talk.
If you can put aside the its of filler on this album and search for the geniune pieces of quality, then Shotters Nation should easily place itself 2nd in the list of best Doherty creations (Up the bracket, obviously being the top dog).
I'm a huge Libertines fan and when that band broke up I didn't think we were going to get any more music as good as that which they put out on those two albums. The first CD by Babyshambles and the Dirty Pretty Things record did little to change my opinion on that. Each had one or two stand out tracks in my opinion but overall seemed like a collection of Libertines B-Sides.
So I am pretty astounded by how unbelievably good this second outing is. It isn't quite as raw as Pete Doherty's previous output but it certainly isn't any the worse for a little bit more production. On first listen I was just waiting for the downturn - the one crappy song that ruined it all, or the series of crappy songs that pulled the album down. But it didn't happen. This is a great collection of songs - definitely the best that Doherty's assembled since 'Up the Bracket'.
I know some fans hold 'Down in Albion' in some regard, but I would have to disagree a little bit. To me it had the feel of a stop-gap, something inbetween where Doherty was with the Libertines and where he wanted to go next. 'Shotter's Nation', however, sounds more evolved. It could almost be the third Libertines album as it takes a lot from the sound of that band and pushes it on. The only thing missing really is Carl's vocals, otherwise you would be forgiven for thinking they'd reformed.
I can't really single out any highlights as the whole lot really is that consistent. The one bit that does stick out, though, is the sudden introduction of swirling Doors style organ towards the end of track 6. That's just glorious and reminds me a lot of the nod back to the psychedelic sixties that they managed on the track (as opposed to the album) 'Up the Bracket'.
I remember seeing Mick Jones of the Clash state in an interview that the Libertines reminded him most of a young Beatles. To me they always seemed equal parts Beatles and the Clash (probably no coincidence when you consider Jones did a lot of the producing). It's a shame they aren't still together as 'Shotter's Nation' would have been their post-punk 'Revolver'. But then again, if Babyshambles can put something out this good, maybe we don't need the Libertines back after all...
on 7 October 2007
In my opinion, the album that everyone rates so high here, does not do its songs justice at all.
It's a good album! For those who don't know what Pete is capable of, and those who need a reminder that he does a bit more than what you read in the papers, it's a good opportunity to convince yourself he is a musician for a reason. To those who need no proof of his songwriting skills though, i would recommend to get the acoustic recordings first...!
Strangely, everyone seems to prefer this album to the last one - I have to disagree! Although the last time round, too, i was somewhat disappointed that the studio recordings simply did not manage to encapsulate the magic from the acoustic sessions.. And on first listen i did wince at hearing what they'd done to some of my favourite songs. But i have to say i did grow to the album!
Same here? what happened to the likes of the amazingly beautiful Unbilotitled? A song that has made me cry countless times sounds almost stale on this album. Needless to mention i'm a huge babyshambles fan and as such i do not need proof that Pete is capable of brilliant songwriting. I just find it curious he that he seems to not neccessarily pick his best songs for the albums, and when he does, they are often far inferior to earlier recordings.
So, to get it straight: with a few exceptions ('deft left hand'..), the songs on here are great in themselves, it is their presenation that doesn't do them justice.
Babyshambles second album Shotter's Nation was certainly better than I expected it to be. When you read in magazines around the time of its release that the album is more mature, and better produced you didn't know what to think, considering the fact that a lot of the bands appeal sprang from their rough around the edges charm. The thing is however, that Shotter's Nation is a very refined version of the existing Babyshambles formula with a more collaborative feel and a much improved production.
While still retaining the fun; it feels more grown up and generally less messy if you follow my meaning, with the possible exception of the speed up/slow down centric 'Side Of The Road.'
The album overall is softer, slower and more poetic; For Example 'Unbilo Titled' and 'French Dog Blues' which have an electric gentleness, keyboards and other touches as well. One thought is that there is perhaps less energy than on the band's previous album Down In Albion, but this offset by the 'proper' album feel and a classic style that makes this album feel familiar on first listen; almost as if it had came out in the 90's already.
In my opinion the best thing about this album is the lack of the Ska/Reggae Style the band sometimes play; however there is a brilliant Love Cats style version of 'There She Goes A Little Heartache.'
The whole album is good and in my opinion the best songs are 'Baddies Boogie' and 'Unstookie Titled.'