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4.4 out of 5 stars
Drawn To The Deep End
Format: Audio CD|Change
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VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 5 March 2014
Can it really be 20 years already? 20 years since Gene rose to promenence, with "For The Dead", and 10 since they quietly disappeared, mourned by a handful, and forgotten by many? At one point they could have been kings. Now, overlooked and ignored by Megador Records, the band have quietly faded from view to day jobs and memories. In time, the bands work - an elegant body that combined the majesty of The Smiths with the muscular strength of The Faces and 60's era Mod bands, has aged with dignity and power. Over four albums, and catch all b-sides compilation "To See The Lights", the band explored humanity with increasing effectiveness and skill. By the time they got to the final record, the barely noticed "Libertine" they had become brilliant but niche hasbeens. This reissue series finally gives the band the dignity they deserve, with expanded editions of each record, appended with every b-side, an enormity of radio sessions (almost every single one the band recorded for the BBC,), and several live shows from the period, showcasing embryonic and early versions of many songs from subsequent albums - are a fascinating insight. Each of the editions is packed in a double CD set, with the original album appended by b-sides and extra songs. Disc 2 of each package generally tends to be a live radio session recorded for the BBC and live material.

"Drawn To The Deep End", the bands second album 'proper', was the masterwork : at the time, despite costing £300,000 and selling half a million copies worldwide, the label saw it as a failure. (For heavens sake, those kind of sales were significant at the time, and few bands play the Albert Hall without some promise, or appeal). The first side - made of four beautiful singles that explore loss, love, life, and meaning in a gentle but powerful frame - is one of the most powerful opening salvos of any record ever made. As it stands, the tide turned with the enormous failure that was "Be Here Now", which sank (in one indulgent 70 minute slab) every hope and dream of their peers and killed the band, and many of their contemporaries, overnight. It was no longer enough to sell well. You had to sell ridiculous. It was no longer enough to be a great band. You had to sell great numbers of units in supermarkets. This was the modern world, where selling half a million records was a failure. Which made Gene in last chance saloon, despite having crafted one of the finest records of the decade. Rossiter stepped out into his own with a unique and articulate style, the band themselves, no longer in the shadows of their influences, became masters of light and shade, power and restraint, unafraid of silence. The triple hit of "Where Are They Now?", "Speak To Me Someone" and "We Could Be Kings" was worth more in 12 minutes than the final 12 years of Oasis lifespan. That, and "Speak To Me Someone" is the kind of timeless and powerful song that will, inevitably, be discovered for some rubbish X-Factor muse's Uberballad in a few years time. After this, the record is beefed out on disc 1 with 8 non-album songs. Disc 2 is made of 8 songs live from the band's live peak, one night at the Albert Hall, and 6 BBC Session songs of the era that give a flavour of the material both before, and after, release.
They could have been kings.
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on 29 July 2014
After purchasing Olympian recently for a song and really liking it I bought Drawn to the Deep End for an equally ludicrous low price. As with the first album, this has some great songs on it. Highlights for me are Fighting Fit, Where Are They Now, Speak To Me Someone and Save Me, I'm Yours but all songs on this album are very listenable. I really the guitar work and Martin Rossiter's sweet - sometimes - melancholy lyrics. Again, I would say I'm surprised this band did not achieve the success of their contemporaries but this album stands the test of time and is well worth purchasing.
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on 30 March 2015
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on 20 September 2014
Happy enough
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on 11 September 2014
Craving to get hold of all the Gene reissues I was glad to hold this beloved Gene album in my hands. After ordering Olympian, which I still consider as a masterpiece, I'm a bit in two minds about "Drawn to the deep end". Nothing can be criticised about the sound quality, I was also pleased about the inclusion of the Royal Albert Hall EPs, though I was still hoping for the complete gig. Regarding the track selection I was a bit bewildered why Edsel hasn't included "A town called malice" from the Jam tribute album "Fire and Skill" which was also recorded in the wake of "Deep end". The booklet doesn't satisfy me at all: In the interview section the former band members give this fantastic album a bit of a negative image, over emphasizing Martin Rossiter's mental state at the time of recording and by constantly stating that the whole project failed to be a million seller - as a loyal fan who loved the band and their music at that time this is hardly understandable. After nearly 20 years it's always easy to scrutinize something that has actually meant a lot to their followers. Adding up to this it appears to me that Edsel has finally run out of ideas, hence the sparse illustrations of memorabilia and unreadable articles from Melody Maker and the Washington Post, as well as photographs which have already been used for the Olympian re-release, not to mention the absence of chart positions,single track lists and tour dates. All in all this compilation is still a must for any Gene fan, but leaves a lot to be desired regarding the loveless leaflet and poor research work.
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on 4 March 2014
What came next for Gene, after quite a long gestation, was Drawn To The Deep End, for my money their most cohesive album. Polydor, determined to transform Gene's status as indie darlings, beloved of an enlightened minority, into mainstream success, beloved by everybody, meant that copious amounts of money and studio time were thrown at the traditionally "difficult" third album. And it wasn't all that easy - Gene's cavalier attitude to killer material, scooped up for To See The Lights, had left them a little short on songs, and the temptation to make the most of previously unavailable studio time was understandably hard to resist. Hence album opener New Amusements, which was unlike anything the band had previously released. Fighting Fit also stands out, albeit for sounding like a needy grasp for a hit single. Rossiter's lyrics - always bitter, rarely sweet - reached new heights on DTTDE though. Witness Where Are They Now? and Speak To Me, Someone if you need proof. And then there's the deceptively simple beauty of Long Sleeves For The Summer. Bonus material here includes a swathe of B-sides (covers of REM [Nightswimming], The Jam [Wasteland] and The Small Faces [Autumn Stone] were again indicative of the shortage of original material), the excellent Royal Albert Hall live set and a couple of radio sessions. To my mind, these extras would be worth buying on their own.
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on 22 September 2009
Released 12 years ago now then 'Drawn To The Deep End' was Gene's 3rd LP (2nd proper) and their first for new label Polydor (i.e. no longer an Indie) and so here goes a track by track retrospective (both 2LP & CD reviewed).

'New Amusements' from a gentle guitar belching start we are suddenly thrust into an adrenaline driven power piece with Martin Rossiter pleading "I can bring you solace...on the bureau in my office I dream of you". (9)

'Fighting Fit' a blaze of illustrious guitars by Steve Mason. (9)

'Where Are They Now?' again great intelligent guitar work plus Martin's distinctive voice "You see I cannot stand alone I'm incapable of breathing incapable of love" workmanlike bass from Miles and drums from James! A truly marvellous melodic thrash! (9)

'Speak To Me Someone' pop art drama - strings & mellotron "Now you can tell me will I ever dream again". (9)

'We Could Be Kings' more drama via a slightly more gentle ballad - stirring lyrics "When I'm hungry and I'm cold will you feed me from your palm and shelter me from harm...can you love me?" A beautiful piece of mandolin doodling is inserted. (9½)

'Why I Was Born' could have been another single - a very pretty emotive ballad - more stirring lyrics "I really do want to show you I now know why I was born....My vision is clear but there's something in here screaming don't let me go!" A fine hammond organ sound with guitar crying out in apparent sympathy with the bittersweet lyrics. (10)

'Long Sleeves For Summer' opens side C of the 2LP - an acoustic guitar strum sheen. (8)

'Save Me, I'm Yours' the finery keeps blazing "Don't turn the light off and leave me...this bed feels cold and empty"! Truly beautiful guitar sounds (acoustic & electric) & lead vocal "But this room is like a gaol...in the arms of love all fail". Brilliance! Martin's great vocal shines via the backing. (10)

'Voice Of The Father' back to a heavy fuzz guitar attack but always a melody. A quiet classical piano section before final explosion! (8)

'The Accidental' gentle cracking atmospherics...a Kate Bush style lisp vocal via a certain Betsi Miller (Kate under a pseudonym?) adds interest "The blade flashed by". (8)

'I Love You, What Are You?' unsettling changes but majestic moments "Life goes on & so must you". Interesting drumming section. (8)

'Sub Rosa' pretty vocal over simple guitar before launching into full throttled heavy Gene machine. (8)

Four singles from it were 'Fighting Fit' Oct'96 #22 UK 50, 'We Could Be Kings' Jan'97 #31 UK 50, 'Where Are They Now?' May 97 #32 UK 50, & 'Speak To Me Someone' Aug'97 #30 UK 50.

A hard act to classify - love lost lyrics - sad tender strong vocals - majestic guitars - Gene! Surprisingly this excellent effort only made #8 in the UK album charts - at the time marking the beginning of a downward trend in Indie guitar based music popularity!
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on 21 April 2003
Gene have really done themselves proud with this fantastic record. More polished than 'Olympian' or 'To See The Lights', the album takes the listener on an exhausting and melancholy journey through all the dark edges of human life.
It begins with 'New Amusements', a rocky and sinister romp, almost jubilantly plaintive and demanding in both words and crunching chords.
'Fighting Fit' is for me one of the highlights of the album, a fantastically frisky innuendo laden rhapsody about sex, basically, it has a beautiful tune but a very tough heart.
'Where Are They Now' conjures images of autumn and is the first truly melancholy song on the record. I think this song is incredibly insightful, with great lyrics like: 'The sky seems a little lower, but for that a normal day'.
'Speak To Me Someone' takes the emotional appeal to the next level. The slightly REM-ish chord patterns may sound a bit unoriginal at first but once the song kicks in, the product is a stunning vocal performance from Martin Rossiter and a stirring, evocative interpretation of depression.
If all that wasn't enough to start with, 'We Could Be Kings' is my personal favourite. It is a magnificent, anthemic song, a kind of nod to the British stiff-upper-lip attitude: continuing through the hard times and imagining what could be. Each part of the song is brilliant and perfectly conjured, from the superb guitar and rhythm, vocals which speak what everyone is feeling and the haunting melody. With a semantic field of getting in a car and going away somewhere, this song is good driving music!
'Why I Was Born' is a beautiful mellow ballad, seamlessly led in by piano at the end of 'We Could Be Kings'. The emotion on this song is so raw and open, it is literally a song to fall in love to. This also has some amazing guitar solos on it.
'Long Sleeves For The Summer' is a folky, acoustic workout. It seems very summery and light on the surface, but as with most Gene songs, has a dark heart. This song has some great lyrical twists too: 'a breath-grasping hand into the ether/Oh I beg you, take my with her'. It is a song which has been pondered over but seems effortlessly natural.
'Save Me, I'm Yours' tackles the issue of Rossiter's depression and fear of loneliness again. This song is particularly reminiscent of older Gene songs, but with that shiny production edge. It again has a great hooky riff, soaring melody and Rossiter's vocals sound particularly vulnerable and beautiful.
'Voice Of The Father' is a complete sea change from what we have seen so far, it is truly a rock song, which is black to the very heart and has that great crunchy sound to it. But it has a typical Gene twist; a quiet piano noodle in the middle which lulls the listener into a false sense of security before stabbing them right in the heart with another killer chorus.
'The Accidental' is for me, the low point of the album, but is still a decent song. Its slow, dull beating did begin to grate on me, and for some reason Gene employ an awful croaky female singer to rasp a verse of the track, which totally backfires. Still, the song has an interesting lyric about hidden guilt and sleepless nights.
'I Love You, What Are You?' more than compensates for the dodginess of the previous track. This is another walloping great power song, confident in its execution, lyric, melody, musicianship....everything! It has been said that this song tackles the issue of sexuality, and Rossiter's supposed ambiguity. I say, bollocks! He's married! Just sit back and enjoy the magnificent thump of a brilliant song played by men who know their worth.
'Sub Rosa' is the final song on the album, and appears to be a simple lullaby at first. Wrong! It builds up into another huge, dramatic crescendo, with strings and brass piled into it. The main tune from 'New Amusements' is also incorporated into the instrumental. The song finishes cryptically with the line 'Who'll know?', which is a very good question indeed. And then it fades away again, just for a moment, until you hit the repeat button on the stereo and continue to luxuriate in the glory of a heart-breaking, unique and anthemic record, one whic defines emotions perfectly and in time will define your life.
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on 29 July 2000
"Drawn to the Deep End" is an astonishingly accomplished album, once again demonstrating that Gene are one of Britain's finest indie bands. From the more experimental opening track to the hit singles "Fighting Fit" and "We Could be Kings"(the stand-out track in my view) this a record which moves, uplifts and expresses sadness. The opening 5 or 6 tracks are on a level with any other indie band in the country and demonstrates once agin that Gene deserve to be much much bigger. A beautiful and emotional record.
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on 8 February 2001
Gene are one of the most underated bands ever. The excellent melodic tracks of speak to me someone and we should be kings are classics of their time. If you have never bought one of their albums before then there is no better starting point than here.
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