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Matt Berry / The Blue Elephant

Second studio album in less than a year

Matt Berry returns in May with The Blue Elephant, his ninth studio album.

A prompt follow up to last year’s Phantom Birds (one of SDE’s best of 2020), much of The Blue Elephant was actually recorded before its predecessor, and finds Matt in full-on psychedelic mode and showing off his impressive skills as a musician (he plays every instrument barring the drums) and well as his acumen as an arranger/producer.

The 15 tracks are actually woven into two long, gapless extended sequences of music (24 mins and 21 mins, respectively) which of course works perfectly for side A and side B of the vinyl. The label describe this as “a dizzying trip through an idiosyncratically British love of Psych, Freakbeat, Acid Rock and late ‘60s pop” and having heard a preview of the album, that’s probably spot on! It’s a real trip (man) and you can have a taster, below.

As well as the CD and black vinyl, there’s an indies-only blue vinyl edition, a mustard-coloured vinyl (think Triumph Dolomite) and even a cassette tape designed to look like those, frankly, awful EMI tapes of the 1970s. The designers didn’t know how to make a square fit into a rectangle, so ‘solved’ the problem by dumping a massive block of gold colour at the top where the title would also sit (most of The Beatles albums were like this).

You have to doff your hat to this playful touch and I guess if you’re going to buy a tape you’ll never play, it may as well be one that someone has put some thought into.

Incidentally, the mustard coloured vinyl is exclusive to the Acid Jazz Records online shop along with various bundles.

The Blue Elephant will be released on 14 May 2021.

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Matt Berry

The Blue Elephant - black vinyl

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Matt Berry

The Blue Elephant - CD

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Matt Berry

The Blue Elephant - cassette tape

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Tracklisting

The Blue Elephant Matt Berry / Vinyl LP

    • Side One

      1. Aboard
      2. Summer Sun
      3. Safe Passage
      4. Now Disappear
      5. Alone
      6. Invisible
      7. Blues Inside Me
      8. I Cannot Speak

    • Side Two
      1. The Blue Elephant
      2. Life Unknown
      3. Safer Passage
      4. Like Stone
      5. Story Told
      6. Forget Me
      7. Now Disappear (Again)

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23 Comments

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Harcourt Fenton Mudd

I must say I was a bit put off by the cover art……

Only inasmuch as the late Mr Merrick was a real person and who is giving permission for his likeness to be used?

Mind you, it also bothers me that the late Audrey Hepburn’s likeness is being set to sell galaxy chocolate in tv ads in the uk. It ain’t right, in my book.

Returning to the album cover here, it might be considered artistic but it is at the expense of a real man who cannot agree or otherwise to his likeness being used. Maybe it is no different to the likeness of Charles Hawtrey being on the cover of The Smiths best of album.

The blue man would be more precise too, not the blue elephant. Bah! Humbug!

Andy Haines

What’s with all the hate towards the cover art? God help us if we have to conform to a “standard”. Album covers will end up like car design if we go down that route, all the same, bland looking shapes. Why can it not be a tribute to Mr Merrick? Or a nod to his possible emotional state, being blue? Perhaps Paul, you could pull some strings and get Matt to explain. ( Then again, why should he?). There have been many pieces of cover art over the years that have offended people and most if not all have become iconic in some way, some even becoming highly sought after. The Beatles “meat” cover springs to mind as an obvious one. If you are offended, look away now. Buy the download and then you don’t have to look at the cover!!

DiscoDave2000

Personally I feel the cover art and title together are definitely tone deaf especially in 2021. To refer to Joseph Merrick as the Elephant Man in 2021 is no different than referring to someone with a mental disability as a ret**d or someone who is gay as a fa**ot. It’s just not acceptable. Being in America, sadly I have come to expect such insensitivity from many who command a microphone. Matt Berry should have done better. If Matt identifies with Joseph Merrick as an outcast or being disfigured in some way, then he should own it and not take the easy route of reusing the label that it unfortunately seems Joseph Merrick will be associated with forever.

Erik

Love Matt Berry and love how we never know what the next album is going to be like. I enjoy artists who not only constantly stretch themselves but make their music according to what they are feeling, not what they think they have to produce. May mean not every album will hit the spot for me, but I’d rather someone be a Steven Wilson or Matt Berry who is always following their own muse than an Enya who kept creating the exact same album over and over again. Can’t wait for this.

Have to say, dig the album cover, is striking and memorable. Somehow don’t think someone who has been dead for over a hundred years, or his heirs that don’t exist, will have any more of an issue with it than he would the movies, plays and TV shows about him. People need to stop being offended for others, let them be offended for themselves…if they are at all. Remember, Fahrenheit 451 was meant to be a cautionary tale, not a user manual.

Still amazed that guy who makes me laugh so hard on I.T. Crowd and Garth Merenghi (apologies as I am sure I botched that spelling) makes such wonderful & eclectic music.

Fogarrach

As for Mustard covered vinyl.

Very offensive, my dad had a Mustard coloured Austin maxi and the mere mention of the colour has triggered my 70s ptsd…..

Fogarrach

Great cover, and I’m a fan of matt berry’s work.

A representation of a disease should not preclude someone from being considered for a cover?

Similar thing happened a few years back on cbbc kids TV in UK.
A beautiful female presenter received mega flak from some sections for not concealing her disability. Turns out none of it mattered, she was and is a great professional and role model.

Peter Muscutt

I’ve changed my mind. The cover has deeply offended me and I certainly shan’t be purchasing anything else by Mr. Berry (!) Maybe just re-release it in a plain paper bag or a completely black cover for the snowflakes!! While we’re at it, can we retrospectively ban the cover of Sgt. Pepper? I’m sure there’s someone on that cover image who said/did/thought something controversial once and now deserves airbrushing from history! Can’t we just wait for the inevitably great album? Still, if you want to opt out of what should be one of the top albums of the year because of the cover, more fool you…

Kevin Brown

That’s one horrible designed album cover and distasteful to the memory of Joseph Merrick along with another album cover I can’t bare to look at is When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? By Billie Eilis, that image reminds me of a film made in the 70s and I won’t even utter it’s name. I guess it’s the music what really matters.

Chris Squires

The Year of the Easily Offended.

God help artists when you have to take care that not one single person can construe something negative, real or imagined. Even if they have been dead 131 years. So many great pieces of art would just never pass muster. Pink Floyd encouraging self-immolation?

Matt has a fertile mind and his music has bought hours of joy to this listener. Let alone the fact that his visual work has also bought many more hours of joy to this viewer.
Saw an article about Al Murray this morning and his Drum obsession now employing 20+ people to make drums. God damn these multitalented people making us look bad.
I first saw Al linked to drums when he played the drummer in the absolutely brilliant but largely unknown Brian Pern series.

Maybe Matt should have got Al to play the drums if that was the only thing he couldn’t do.

Metal Mickey

As a former graphic designer, I have some sympathy with that generic EMI-style cassette packaging. It retains the original square layout of the album (that some designer would have potentially slaved over), and gives all the label’s releases a house-style that might encourage collectors (they’d also look nice racked together in-store or on the shelf at home.) And as you suggest Paul, some of us “of a certain age” would have some residual goodwill for those original Beatles tape designs, that might well have been amongst our first music purchases…

A side-conversation would be about how few tape versions of records actually had unique sleeve designs… in fact, the only one I can bring to mind is Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell, which had a different set of head sculptures to the CD (stone ones, compared to metal)…

[Butchered running-orders is a different conversation! ;-)]

Chris F

Rich E-
Have you seen Year of The Rabbit?
John Merrick is a recurring character… must be a thing Matt Berry has going.
Hoping that Theme song and End Credit music os part of this.
Brilliant.

Dominic

Year of The Rabbit was my first thought too.

The portrail of Merrick as a showbiz luvvie had me in stitches the first time he was on. There’s great performances all round, a second series can’t come soon enough.

p britten

Well, about that “tasteless album cover”, it’s quite obvious it makes reference to the play and David Lynch film “Elephant Man”, no? And if you look at the titles of some of the songs (“Now Disappear”, “Alone”, “Invisible”, “Forget Me”…), the album probably shares the same themes as that play/movie… Just saying…

colm47

That LP cover is crass.
Is it supposed to honour Joseph Merrick?
I don’t think so, it is truly awful.

Rob

Haven’t a clue about the music but the cover is a bit rude, considering a real human being suffered from the disfiguring disease.

Richard Carmichael

“Frankly awful EMI tapes of the 70’s.” Jeeezzzz – thought I was reading a 1996 issue of Smash Hits for a moment.

Matthew McKinnon

I like those EMI tapes. It’s quite an elegant solution.

Mark

“I guess if you’re going to buy a tape you’ll never play, it may as well be one that someone has put some thought into”.

Take a bow, sir :-)

Peter Muscutt

He’s certainly prolific – probably on par with Luke Haines. Should make for an interesting tour if Matt gets out on the road, what with two albums to showcase! Love his work, it has a style all its own, yet feels familiar and timeless. I think his high point was ‘Solstice’ from his Kill the Wolf album, nine minutes of Mike Oldfield style prog featuring distinct phases or movements within the track.

Rich E

Well that’s the award for tasteless album cover done for the year. I like Matt Berry and am at a loss as to why he would do that.