Classic Compilation: Ed Harcourt – Until Tomorrow Then

Ed Harcourt was one of those artists that came tantalisingly close to mainstream success, but for whatever reason feel short and has spent the majority of his career being feted by a small and enthusiastic crowd of followers as one of the great ender-appreciated talents of his generation, while the vast majority of the record buying public struggle seem largely ignorant of his output.

As Until Tomorrow Then ably demonstrates from the off, this is a great shame, as it opens in grand style with irresistible “Born in the 70s” and proceeds to lay out its case for exactly why Harcourt should be enjoying far more success than he is. In a music scene in which Badly Drawn Boy, Elliott Smith and Ben Folds all have their vocal converts, it seems a shame that so very few people are aware of Harcourt’s output, which is probably why this compilation was released, just four albums into his career. Until Tomorrow Then is a heady reminder just how criminally overlooked he is as both songwriter and performer, displaying as it does his range from commercial pop, introspective self-analysis, balladeering and all backed up with some good old fashioned songwriting.

I initially purchased Until Tomorrow Then as someone who was pretty ignorant of Harcourt’s career outside of his debut (which I dumbly gave as a gift to someone when I was cash-strapped one Christmas), I was pleasantly surprised at how consistently enjoyable this randomly sequenced collection of his work is, though I have to confess that of all the material here, I still have a soft spot for “Shanghai”, which was a high point of his first album. Taken as a sampler of Harcourt’s career, there is enough here to convince the unconverted into investigating his studio albums in the future, which is exactly what a release like Until Tomorrow Then was intended to do.

Until Tomorrow Then is not a compilation for the completist, but one for those of us that maybe just picked up one Ed Harcourt album and then stalled at investing any further, or if you just have a vague recollection of his name, but never bought an album. Were it not for the relative lack of commercial success Harcourt has endured so far, you might consider Until Tomorrow Then a cynical cash in, but in some ways it’s almost a necessity for newcomers to appreciate what great work he managed put out over the first four albums of his career, before inevitably splashing the cash on those albums anyway. As introductory compilations go, Until Tomorrow Then absolutely does its job.

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