Just for the record: That guy who sang ‘Babylon’ goes big

Lifestyle

Just for the record: That guy who sang ‘Babylon’ goes big

A fortnightly review of music on vinyl

Andrew Donaldson

David Gray’s multi-platinum bestseller, White Ladder, got the 20th anniversary bells-and-whistles reissue treatment on Valentine’s Day on the British singer-songwriter’s own IHT label. Reissued editions include its first-ever release on vinyl, a standard double LP set, and a deluxe four LP set which collects rare White Ladder-era B-sides and demos alongside the original together with a 40-page scrapbook of photographs, lyrics and other memorabilia.

Gray’s own musings on this period are included. “What happened with White Ladder,” he has written in new liner notes, “involved more than music. It was a sort of heart and soul moment of total surrender for everybody involved, for me and the audience. That was it. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

It took a while, though. Despite his obvious talent, emotive voice and songwriting skills, Gray’s first three releases failed to make much of an impression on the mainstream and he was quietly dropped by his recording company, EMI, after his third album, the self-deprecatingly titled Sell, Sell, Sell, failed to do just that. Stung by the rejection, Gray retreated to his flat where he wrote, recorded and self-released White Ladder in 1998, a CD of superbly-crafted folktronica that tugged at the heartstrings. It slowly, and finally, brought Gray the success he deserved. White Ladder, one critic noted, “subsequently achieved the rarefied level of ubiquity where its omnipresence became one of its defining characteristics”. ..

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