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The Streets - Original Pirate Material

The Streets – Original Pirate Material – Perfect Album #6

Over halfway through the list now, and I’m only slightly slipping in post frequency. Original Pirate Material from The Streets is the sixth of my Ten Perfect Albums.

Discovery

I can remember the first time I heard Original Pirate Material, mostly because it’s the sort of thing that doesn’t happen any more. It was after I’d moved “down South” and I was working in a nearby town in another indie PC shop (not a patch on the one in Stoke mind). The manager from our other store in Brighton was visiting, he insisted we go out to his car to listen to “this incredible new tape”. We left one of the other lads in charge, and went and sat in his car out the front of the shop, listening to the album straight through in its entirety, rewinding “The Irony of it All” twice for repeated listens. Yes, it was on tape.

It’s almost a cliche to say, but it didn’t sound like anything else I’d heard before. This was around the time I was just getting into Hip Hop (as referred to in my discovery of Jay-Z). Unlike the American rappers I was listening to, Mike Skinner’s lyrics were immediately more relevant to 20 year old me.

Standout Songs

The Irony of It All

The track that stuck with me most from that initial listen, still sounds great today and remains pretty relevant.

My names Terry and I’m a law abider

Let’s Push Things Forward

UK Garage seemed to be a thing for 6 months or so, but as much as I enjoyed some of the tracks at the time, the genre didn’t seem to be going anywhere. (UK Garage compilations over the last 20 years seem to agree with me, featuring the same tracks by DJ Luck, Craig David & The Artful Dodger etc, in slightly different orders.) The Streets emerged from that sound, and essentially added poetry. Let’s Push Things Forward is something of a manifesto.

So it’s just another show flick from your local city poet
In case you geezers don’t know it, let’s push things forward

Too Much Brandy

Bit of light relief for an album that at times is pretty melancholy. Too Much Brandy takes us along for a night out, which is all very familiar. Why yes I will dance the fandango and sing all my favourite jingles.

Far gone on one, call me Baron Von Marlon
One has a monocle and cigar, dickie-bow and long johns

Relationship with the album

Original Pirate Material is the sound of an era for me. The soundtrack to the time of my life where I’d just left home, and moved 200 miles away to start my own story.

I found a great review of the album below, well worth a read as it really touches on why it’s great, and I’d echo much of the sentiments.

Kind of wish I’d written this review, it expresses much about the album that I agree with.

The Streets

For a while it seemed that Mike Skinner was going to capture every element of life in music. His knack for producing a relatable song for every emotion led to myself and a good mate simply referring to him in conversation as #TheArtist.

I remember The Streets being dismissed by some friends and family at the time with “he’s just talking”. I don’t think that’s really a criticism. There is a poetry to The Streets that is bridging the gap between Spoken Word and Hip Hop.

I’m delighted The Streets is a thing again, and hope the recent new music leads to more albums.

Other albums and songs

Never Went to Church

Devastatingly haunting, but lyrically real; Never Went to Church did for loss what “Dry Your Eyes” did for breakups. Always guaranteed a listen on my late brother-in-law’s birthday. Miss you Kev.

I guess than you did leave me something to remind me of you,
Every time I interrupt someone like you used to,
When I do something like you you’ll be on my mind or through,
‘Cause I forgot you left me behind to remind me of you.

The Sherry End

Another more lighthearted track, The Sherry End captures the easy friendship of close mates, and the comfort found in shared experiences.

The secret handshake of three mad mates
It makes me pleased to share traits

Love You More

Mike Skinner does relationship insecurity.

I drew a drawing of you after last time I saw you
I never felt to draw a picture like that before
I learnt a lot about myself drawing all morning
It was absolutely shit, I’m awful at drawing

On the edge of a cliff

There were easily another eight or so tracks that could have made this section, but thought I’d round it out with some existential reflection.

For billions of years since the outset of time, Every single one of your ancestors’ survived
Every single person on your mum and dad’s side, Successfully looked after and passed onto you life

Conclusion

A compelling case can be made that “A Grand Don’t Come For Free” is the better album, and as a concept album it rewards a straight play through with a coherent story. If I did fifteen perfect albums, it would make an appearance. The Streets narrowly missed out on having two albums in this list.

For me however, Original Pirate Material is the one I go back to most often. It is perfect.