Elbow’s Best Of: Reviewed
When a band releases a Best Of it’s easy to be cool and write it off as a cash grab, the band in question might have split up, might be going on an indefinite hiatus, might be at the end of their contract, there’s lots of reasons for them in fairness. For a long time I didn’t get Elbow’s Best Of, that’s not be being cool by the way, it just passed me by. I’ve spent the best part of a month with it and I really really didn’t want to like it but I’m here to tell you the boys have done well with it. I wanted to be all yeah well buy the albums, scoff scoff scoff, they’ve missed off such and such well this isn’t for the Day One crowd is it scoff scoff… but it is. This isn’t the end of their story, but this collection works as the end of a phase – I don’t even want to say Phase One because at over twenty five years thats some first chapter. Whatever you call it, from Asleep to Little Fictions it’s been a journey; they were some way down the road before the world seemed to wake up to them after all, and the journey is told in this collection.
Home is where the start is for Elbow, on Leaders of the Free World.
When you’ve written about wanting to get somewhere and you’ve written about what you feel like when you’ve got there, you’ve got to find your way home. Elbow do this with a stomp and a wink with Leaders of the Free World (2005). Whereas they certainly needed grace under pressure to complete Cast of Thousands, the band had learnt that the right approach this time was to capture ideas as and when they happened on the road, whenever and wherever inspiration hit them.
The band manage to channel the ideas into a collection that has a very developed sense of place and environment, this is very clear in the opening track. Station Approach is about coming home to Manchester (station approach, Piccadilly station) and literally knowing the area well and being at home. The listener is not excluded if they happen not to live in this city, because Guy Garvey’s lyrics can apply to anyone wherever they are listening. Three albums’ in, the universal intimacy is something they have perfected.