Song of the Week – Little Beast, Elbow


This week marks the 9th anniversary of the SotW; more than 450 posts and over 600 songs! Thank you for your continued support.

Elbow is a British group that is sometimes saddled with the description as a “modern prog” band. What does that even mean?

Yes, the band’s songs are moody and atmospheric but they don’t have many of the usual hallmarks of prog rock like uncommon time signatures and long solos. They are only prog in the same way that Radiohead, Talk Talk, or Coldplay might carry that mantle.

All that aside, Elbow is one of the best bands you probably never heard or heard of. They have been working together since 1990, but it took them a very long time to get off the ground.

In the late 90s they won a contract with Island Records and recorded an album but Island was sold to Universal and the band was dropped by the new company before the album was released.

It took until 2001 for the band to get a new contract with V2 Records and release their critically acclaimed debut Asleep in the Back. (Take that, Universal!) Band leader Guy Garvey said of the title:

“It’s a memory we all share, from when you were a kid and you were coming back from a holiday in the car with your folks. There was that moment where you heard the engine switching off and you knew you were home. That warm feeling. Your dad would scoop you up and carry you up to bed.”

That’s an apt summary of the vibe of Asleep in the Back. Take, for instance, today’s SotW, “Little Beast.”

It starts with a dreamy vamp with some Eraserhead like industrial sounding percussion. About halfway through the song gets a little lift with added instrumentation.

In an interview Garvey said “Little Beast” is about:

“… growing up in Bury, not being a fighter, and occasionally being in dangerous environments. When there’s nothing to do in a small town apart from what’s expected of you, you can get caught up in it all. My favourite lyric is “the whole town’s dripping down a hill like the spine of something dead”. There’s actually a mill town north of Bury where the street layout looks like the spine of a dinosaur coming over the hill.”

Enjoy… until next week.

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