‘Up The Bracket’ was one of those debut albums that had all the magic of a Rock and Roll band with the danger, the mystique, the band of brothers, the excitement the infamy, the notoriety, but above all the songs to back up all the claims and chaos that went with the band. The intricate workings of the main songwriters Doherty and Barat wouldn’t have worked without the rhythm section of Gary and John holding the ship steady through some choppy seas and letting the two songwriters have the freedom to weave their magic. I say this without hesitation but the Libertines were and are genius bands like this don’t come along that often and sometimes they can fall through the cracks they may have proven to be flawed but their genius is everlasting through their music and the fact they are still together and sounding as good as ever and being older and hopefully wiser right decisions are now being made and charting their early formative years in this box set is a beautiful thing. For a start getting Mick Jones to produce the record was a masterstroke because if anyone knew exactly where the band was coming from it would be Jones.

There’s a mammoth amount of music to get through on this comprehensive labor of love with live recordings, demos, and a remaster of the original album. The box set also includes a treasure trove of extras. a lavish sixty-page book with some amazing photographs and new interviews with the band and those who were circling the orbit of planet Libertine.

Of the 65 previously unreleased recordings many are original demos, radio sessions and live recordings all helping to chart the making of ‘Up The Bracket’, plus the jewel in the crown, a live recording from the 100 club in 2002. Imagine still owning a packet of Up The Bracket rizlas or some other priceless Libertines fanboy curio sadly I don’t. I still maintain that The Libertines sailed the closest to what The Clash was about musically, from the ragged intro of ‘Vertigo’ you find yourself handclapping along as the rowdy good times unfold and you’re taken back in time. After whizzing through the studio album the rapid raw energy of the 100 Club performance is epic and sweat-drenched and every sinew of energy is perfectly captured as a rapid ramshackle ‘Horror Show’ lights the gunpowder. The fantastic non album tracks with their howling feedback and shouting contest are brilliantly captured like ‘The Delaney’ and the shit-kicking single ‘What A Waster’. A fantastically captured time capsule where a band in full flight is captured.

Of the demos and studio jams, songs like ‘Wolfman’ will peak the deep dive interest of fans. I love the late-night jams that are songs like ‘7 Deadly Sins’ and acoustic jam ‘Mocking Bird’ with all the in-between banter left in which is somewhere fans aren’t normally able to attend. Grab a bottle of red sit back relax and turn off the light and imagine you’re in the room with the boys in the band.

There is a fair bit of repetition going on as one would expect when it’s focussed on a single album but there is so much more than what appeared on the record this is a beast of a box set. To hear and chart the progress of a song like ‘Boys In The Band’ is a treat from the germ of a song played with a drum machine Bontempi style, “oh so rudimentary” through the radio session to band-worked demo to what finally was rolled out on the finished shop product.

For the retro kids there is also a DVD for every song on the album as well as so much more cobbled together using never before seen footage and so much more like TOTP and Jools Holland all in one convenient place. Ask Santa or your nan for one of these because as far as box sets go this is right up there with the best.

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Author: Dom Daley