Unbelievably, this lot, who to me conjure up nothing but dark, smoky, film noir rooms, have never featured on these pages before.
I got hold of my first copy of their debut album through slightly odd methods. It was 1994, and my girlfriend at the time and I were up staying with her dad, who lived in a renovated semi-detached on the outskirts of Rawtenstall, near Manchester.
His neighbours had gone on holiday, and he had, fortuitously, been charged with looking after their place whilst they were away. I say fortuitously, for he was toying with the idea of putting an offer in on their house and knocking the two places into one big house, and so, equipped with the keys, we had ventured next door to have a look round.
As he wandered round, assessing each room’s potential, muttering away to himself like Martin Roberts on ‘Homes Under the Hammer’, my eyes alighted on the household CD collection, and to this album in particular.
Looking back, 1994 produced some bloody marvellous albums: Morrissey’s “Vauxhall and I”, Johnny Cash’s first volume of “American Recordings”, Manic Street Preachers’ “The Holy Bible”, Suede’s “Dog Man Star”, Beck’s “Mellow Gold”, Pavement’s “Crooked Rain Crooked Rain”, Nirvana’s “Unplugged in New York”, all of which would feature prominently on my list of things I had to save in the event of a fire.
At the time , I was still an avid reader of the NME, and I’d read a particularly glowing review of this album in their esteemed pages and had been intrigued
Here’s what they wrote:
“This is, without question, a sublime debut album. But so very, very sad. These are avant garde ambient moonscapes of a ferociously experimental nature. In other words, seriously spooky shit. 9/10”
These were the days when if the NME said something was good, I still paid attention, and who could resist such a write-up?
Not me. I pocketed the CD, taped it back at his house, then returned it the following day.
As I listened to it whilst it recorded, I knew this was an album I had to actually own for myself, and a visit to some record store or other in Manchester a day or two later secured it.
I could pick any track from the album as being suitable to post here. There’s no need for me to be a smart-arse about it though, I’m sure everyone reading this already has a copy. So, I’m going to go for an obvious one:
Portishead – Glory Box
22 years after I first heard it, that still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.