This album, A Grand Don’t Come for Free, by The Streets, is in my top five of the noughties (others in this list White Stripes Elephant, The Strokes Is This It? PJ Harvey Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, The Killers Hot Fuss).

I used to listen to this album most days when I commuted a certain route for my work for almost a year. I happened to take the train on this route one day recently and I had an urge to re-listen to this album and re-discovered my love for it.

Mike Skinner wrote a concept album – he calls it a rap opera – about a regular guy’s life during the early part of the century in Britain.

The main focus is a relationship from start to finish and the apparent loss of £1,000 – the grand of the title. Alongside these, the album also covers gambling addiction “Not addicted” a holiday romance (well, a near miss) “Fit, But You know it” as well as drugs “Blinded by the Lights”. Within this story about the lives of working class people in the early  noughties there is true beauty within the lyrical construction, repeatition of lines as well as the ensemble of singing voices which take us through a range of emotions from joy and love through to bitterness, betrayal, rejection, regret and in the finish of “Empty Cans” finally hope for the future.

If you haven’t listened to A Grand Don’t Come for Free, I recommend you really should.

And if you like it, check out other albums by The Streets. They each have great tracks – such as, on The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living, “Never Went to Church” juxtaposes alcohol and religion while lamenting Skinner’s father’s death. Pure genius.

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