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A Grand Don't Come For Free
Armed with a hood-load of forceful character and a (Ben Sherman) pocket full of poesies, Mike Skinner has single-handedly altered the British urban/garage landscape
Tanya Sweeney, 06 May 2004
Armed with a hood-load of forceful character and a (Ben Sherman) pocket full of poesies, Mike Skinner has single-handedly altered the British urban/garage landscape, spawning a veritable gangland of chav-tastic imitators (Audio Bullys, Goldie Looking Chains, Lady Sovereign). Original Pirate Material, which initially looked like a rather dubious project (22-year old bolshy Brummie, resplendent in Fred Perry, rhymes about birds, booze, banality and ‘fucks in the dock’) became one of 2002’s most pleasant and unexpected surprises. As an added bonus, it baffled the shite out of the Americans.
A Grand Don’t Come For Free is gilded with the same bawdy and irreverent streak as its predecessor – you have to love any album with a song entitled ‘Such A Twat’ on it for starters. ‘Could Well Be In’ is certainly a contender for future single, and ‘Dry Your Eyes’ is startlingly soft and touching.
With A Grand Don’t Come For Free, Skinner has inadvertently created what he calls his first ‘concept album’. The narrative starts with ‘It Was Supposed To Be So Easy’ with Skinner down on his luck, and concludes with ‘Empty Cans’, where he philosophises about his life and place in the world. But for those of you who prefer their townies without a side of pragmatism or existential angst, fear not; Skinner’s canny knack for cobbling together a killer urban track is still very much intact. The beats on ‘Not Addicted’ and ‘Blinded By The Light’ are the height of Zeitgeist, and serve as perfect sound-beds for Skinner’s inane stream of consciousness.
In other words, he’s done it again.