Long ago there must have been genetic mutation that made it impossible for humans to dislike David Gray’s White Ladder. A final joke from the Neanderthals, maybe. Statistics show that every house in Ireland owns at least one copy, and many have dormer extensions made solely of White Ladder CDs.
We vaguely remember the era BG — Before Gray — when he was a cultish singer-songwriter. Then came White Ladder, recorded in his flat and released on his own label.
It multiplied rapidly once released into the wild and became one of those ubiquitous albums that can destroy a career (Dido, Magic Numbers). Motorhead had many years of playing after the classic trio of Lemmy, Philthy Phil and Fast Eddie but all people wanted to hear was the songs from that era. Similarly, none of Gray’s later work has done as well, simply because it’s not White Ladder.
This release is clearly above criticism, then (except from Haj Ali, a detainee in Abu Ghraib, who said he was forced to hear a loop of Babylon as form of torture).
It’s mix of acoustic folk, electronics and Gray’s voice is still highly listenable. Though it’s all remastered, they left in the car recorded driving past his flat on Babylon (listen from 20 seconds, just after the lyric on traffic lights).
After listening to this several times we think its success is down to the facts that (i) Gray seems a nice guy (ii) doesn’t seem cool, clever or intense, and (iii) you can sing along to any of the songs and sound good.
There are some bonus songs on this, to force Irish people to buy even more copies but if you don’t own it, you should.
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