Upon its release 10 years ago, The Streets’ second album, A Grand Don’t Come For Free, was instantly hailed as another masterpiece to equal his initial clarion call, Original Pirate Material. Unavailable on vinyl for the best part of the intervening decade, Be With Records marks its second release by issuing Mike Skinner’s electronic soap opera on this format.
Whereas Original Pirate Material was a record that garnered acclaim from the electronic/dance fraternity and the forward-thinking wings of the rock/mainstream press, A Grand Don’t Come For Free swept the board in prompting critical praise.
This was the album that saw Skinner compared to the likes of Ray Davies and Paul Weller in evoking the glorious mess of everyday life. A striking concept album set to an inventive sonic backdrop, the seemingly prosaic tale of a young man unlucky in love (and, so it seems, money) is brought brilliantly to life in a barrage of astute lyrics, lurid tales and memorable hooks.
Deservedly awarded a 9.1 review from Pitchfork, the record sees Skinner reveal his most vulnerable self: “Dry Your Eyes” and “Blinded By The Lights”, in particular, manage to articulate painfully familiar feelings that appeal to music fans of every hue. This record marked Skinner’s creative peak, received international acclaim and, thanks to its distinctiveness, propelled its maker to the top of the musical tree.