Portishead – Glory Box – 20 Singles.

I’m kind of beating myself up for not going with Dummy for my 20 Albums. Instead i’ll go for Glory Box for 20 Singles. As great as Dummy is – Glory Box is the show stopper.

Back in 1995 I was working in an independent record shop and a woman of about 25 came in asking for “that” song from Top Of The Pops last night. I hadn’t watched Top Of The Pops the previous night – I had no idea what she was on about.

Then something happened that usually was met with embarrassed attempts not to laugh by the record shop staff. She sang the track. But we did not laugh Рit sounded fantastic.  Unfortunately I still did not know what it was Рthis was pretty rare Рeven with chart material I usually knew what people were on about.

Then on Saturday listening to Radio 1 before work the track came on as I was getting ready. I realised from the DJ namechecking the band that it was that single we had a few copies of with the red cover that i’d ignored. The 3MV rep had left a few copies of it as it was selling quite well in other stores.

When I got into work I went straight for the album to give Dummy my first listen. I was pretty gobsmacked. What was this music, it wasn’t jazz, but it kind of was. Whatever it was, it was a genre way off my radar, but it if it makes the hairs on your neck flex you know it’s music you should be taking note of.

I realised I had read Ian Brown going on about the album. We’d only sold 2 copies of the CD at this point, but boy – it started to shift some copies after Glory Box – and deservedly so.

All of Dummy is fantastic. Roads – in particular is a “what the hell was that stunning track” moment.

Back to “Glory Box”. What makes this single so unique is how deceptively mellow it appears. It ambles lazily in with an outstanding live played loop. The bass is prominent until it is interrupted by that show stopping voice. As the voice stuns you – the steely slide guitar is getting very dark whilst you are distracted by that vocal. The guitar and vocal merge for the choral verse. Then the guitar holds off. It beautifully ambles before the guitar slowly scorches, it wah’s, re-gathers the comes burningly back as the vocal continues to devastate.

It rises, gets unexpectedly boomy, re-gathers again, then fades. As it fades you are left spellbound. Glory Box works so well as it uses space so effectively. It pulls you in, holds off, ambles, it toys with you in many glorious ways.

About a fortnight later the customer came back in. We talked about the track and stuff in general. This will sound like the biggest lie i’ve ever told – but she was quitting her job as she’d got a bit-part in the next James Bond film. No lie – damn, I should have got her number.


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