Hall of Fame: Always like this: looking back at Bombay Bicycle Club’s ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose’

Always like this: looking back at Bombay Bicycle Club’s ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose’

Bombay Bicycle Club’s game-changing debut takes up a spot in DIY’s Hall of Fame.

Though they’re doing all of these things now, on the regular, Bombay Bicycle Club didn’t start up a band to release hugely popular albums, play giant arenas or headline major festivals. Actually, they first got together to play their school assembly. Dodging record label interest while they were still at sixth form, the minute Jack Steadman, Jamie MacColl, Suren de Saram and Ed Nash left formal education, they leapt straight into ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose’. Greeted by divided critical reception at the time, Bombay’s debut album - a ferociously well-written, boisterous racket of songs - has gone on to become the defining, stand-out record from a rising rabble of young chancers with guitars.

Bloc Party’s ‘Silent Alarm’ - which has previously had its very own turn in DIY’s hallowed Hall of Fame - paved the way for Hot Club De Paris, Good Shoes, The Maccabees, and countless other innovating new bands that Bombay Bicycle Club no doubt blasted out of their common room’s stereo. And, don’t forget Cajun Dance Party, who Bombay Bicycle Club quite literally went to school with. Bombay Bicycle Club’s combination of fidgety rhythms, wiry, darting guitar lines, and Steadman’s quaking, torsioned vocals undeniably take many cues from the whole bevy of bands surrounding them, but vitally, ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose’ is something uniquely their own.

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This is an incredibly honest record written by a band still finding its voice.

The album artwork - of a man being flung high up into the air, watched by his beaming wide-mouthed mates below - is more or less how ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose’ sounds, too. It’s a warm, joyful debut record that sounds like four young men having the times of their lives making music together, and it captures the excitement of their rapid ascent. Though it’s ever-so-slightly naive at times, crying “I want to go back to old times” on ‘The Hill,‘ and chasing the dream in ‘Ghost’, it’s because this is an incredibly honest record written by a band still finding its voice.

Bombay Bicycle Club, like many Hall of Fame inductees before them, have reached scaling, ambitious - and perhaps more technically complex - heights after releasing their debut record. Being technically complex, though, does not an iconic album make. Bombay’s second album ‘Flaws’ might’ve tugged the band in a totally unexpected acoustic direction straight afterwards, and on ‘A Different Kind of Fix’ and ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’ Bombay Bicycle Club became increasingly experimental and diverse. Although the years following brought along festival main stages with David Guetta-proportion lighting rigs and packed crowds, this debut is the magic sucker-punch that booted it all into action.

Bombay’s debut album has become the defining, stand-out record from a rising rabble of young chancers with guitars.

‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose,’ is Bombay Bicycle Club’s special record. It has magic beans bouncing round inside, pinging off the inside walls, and sunshine pouring out of every melody. Stick it on the hi-fi, and it’ll whizz you straight back to skiving German class on a lazy day leading up to the end of term, lolling about on freshly cut grass, and thinking this was the most perfect album you’d ever heard. Six years on, it’s still pretty darn perfect.

For DIY’s full Hall of Fame coverage on Bombay Bicycle Club’s ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose,’ head here.