Once Upon a Time in the West (album)

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For the soundtrack to the 1968 Sergio Leone film, see Once Upon a Time in the West (soundtrack).
Once Upon a Time in the West
Studio album by Hard-Fi
Released 30 August 2007
Recorded 1 December 2006 - May 2007
Genre Indie rock, alternative rock
Length 37:54
Label Warner Music
Producer Wolsey White
Richard Archer
Hard-Fi chronology
In Operation
(2006)
Once Upon a Time in the West
(2007)
Once Upon a Time in December
(2007)
Singles from Stars of CCTV
  1. "Suburban Knights"
    Released: 6 August 2007
  2. "Can't Get Along (Without You)"
    Released: 4 November 2007
  3. "I Shall Overcome"
    Released: 29 February 2008
Alternative covers
"Once Upon a Time in the West" Japanese Cover

Once Upon a Time in the West is the second studio album by English indie rock band Hard-Fi. It was released on 3 September 2007[1] on Necessary/Atlantic and Warner Music UK. It reached #1 in the UK Album Chart in the first week of its release, unlike its predecessor Stars of CCTV, which took around five months to do so. It also reached #5 in the European Top Albums.

Overview[edit]

The first single from the album, "Suburban Knights", was released on 20 August 2007,[2] reaching #7 in UK charts and a download only release on 13 August 2007.[3] This was followed by "Can't Get Along (Without You)" on 12 November 2007[4][5] charting at #45.[5] It reached #1 in Peru, one week after being released and staying there for two weeks. On 10 March 2008, 'I Shall Overcome' became the third single to be released from Once Upon a Time in the West, again the single showed to be a success. Reaching #4 in South America and hitting #35 in the UK singles chart

The album's cover artwork has received some mixed publicity for being different. The band's frontman, Richard Archer, stated the band wanted "to break the rules".[6] and it was labelled as "The white album of the digital culture" by Peter Saville.

History[edit]

Hard-Fi were approaching a new stage in their career. Commercially successful, the West London four-piece worked on a second album. Stars of CCTV was eventually followed by the eagerly anticipated Once Upon a Time in the West.

After recording their debut, it sold over 1 million copies worldwide and soaring to #1, it spawned the radio mainstay hit singles: "Cash Machine", "Hard to Beat" and "Living for the Weekend".

Nominated for the 2005 Mercury Music Prize and Best British Group at the 2006 BRITs, Hard-Fi had become, in a matter of months, one of Britain's biggest bands. According to some reports their first major tour sold out in a record 15 minutes. They played London's Brixton Academy for five consecutive nights - making them one of the few bands to do so alongside The Clash, Bob Dylan and The Prodigy.

Straight after the tour had finished they had released In Operation which highlighted their gig at the London Astoria on a CD/DVD format, it was now time to go back into the studio with a number of demos. Although the band were offered to work in the Abbey Road Studios, however they decided after searching for a studio that would suit them, that they would keep their "Cherry Lips" studio, which earned its name from the colour used to paint the walls. The band expanded the studios to have more space.[7]

The album was pretty much written, the band had a demo of nearly every song on the demo. The band had about ten songs that he thought were suitable for the album among many more but Richard Archer decided that he wanted to spend at least a year concentrating on those ten, re-working the songs and just trying to improve them. To help them improve the songs, the band would play new songs live to see some reception towards what they had been working on and then seeing what they could add or take off.

Through a video podcast, which was broadcast through YouTube, MySpace and iTunes, the band uploaded episodes of how things were going, offering a taste of what was to come and what recording was like among other things such as Ross giving a step to step guide on how to make the perfect cup of tea.

"The label were breathing down our necks as soon as we started this album. When we were recording, the label wanted it yesterday. They didn't want to take any chances. We built our own studio for the sessions so everything took a little longer than expected. We were in there working, experimenting with our new setup and the label weren't hearing anything. They started freaking out and talking about pulling the plug and putting us in a new studio with a new producer. I had to tell them to get a f**king grip."[8]

The first single from the album was "Suburban Knights", released on 20 August, which had its first play on 18 June 2007 at 19:20 (BST) on Radio 1. Once Upon a Time in the West was finally released on 3 September 2007. The band launched the album on the midnight of release at Virgin Megastore in Oxford Street, London with a performance of a selected number of songs followed by a CD signing.[9] The following day the band performed at Maida Vale Studios to a small audience who earned their tickets through Radio 1.[10][11] On 9 September, Once Upon a Time in the West went straight in at #1 in the Album Charts, giving the band their second consecutive #1 album.

Further information[edit]

The name of the album was chosen as the band had been watching a lot of westerns on their tour bus, being big fans of Ennio Morricone they decided it was perfect as they go on stage to "Man With The Harmonica".[12] Other titles, now deemed by Archer as "silly" were "Bat Out of Staines" and "Songs In The Key Of Staines".[12]

Tracks on the album include the 70s ska-inspired "We Need Love", and "Tonight". "The latter is a big piano-driven number – it had a few incarnations before it became what it is, but it's about the possibility of night time. History is made at night." said Archer.[13] Meanwhile, the former harks back to The Specials and was inspired by Billy Bragg's novella "The Progressive Patriot". Other tracks include the R&B-influenced "Can't Get Along (Without You)", "Help Me Please" – a track written about the death of Archer's mother – plus, "I Shall Overcome" which echoes an early The Clash, along with the lead single "Suburban Knights".

The album leaked to peer-to-peer networks on 23 August 2007; however, this did not stop it from going to #1 in its first week of release.

"Tonight" went to #6 in Q's Top 50 Essential Downloads, where they described the song as "Richard Archer's written his first power ballad, all piano , surging chorus and lyrics about "feeling alive". If Chris Martin dropped his aitches, this is what he'd sound like."[14]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars[15]
Daily Record 5/5 stars[16]
Drowned in Sound 5/10[17]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[18]
Hot Press 8/10 stars[19]
NME 6/10 stars[20]
Observer Music Monthly 5/5 stars[21]
Pitchfork Media 4.2/10[22]
PopMatters 6/10[23]
Uncut 4/5 stars[24]

Initial critical response to Once Upon a Time in the West has been generally favorable. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album has received an average score of 70, based on 16 reviews.[25] Review compendium site 'Metacritic' recorded seven reviews with scores of 80 or above, but nine reviews scored at 60 or below. Its overall rating was lower than their debut Stars of CCTV which is rated at 74. An example among the positive reviews was Q's, which gave the album four stars and quoted "goodbye Staines, hello big league".

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Richard Archer.

  1. "Suburban Knights" — 4:29
  2. "I Shall Overcome" — 4:16
  3. "Tonight" — 3:55
  4. "Watch Me Fall Apart" — 2:51
  5. "I Close My Eyes" — 2:26
  6. "Television" — 3:40
  7. "Help Me Please" — 3:12
  8. "Can't Get Along (Without You)" — 2:58
  9. "We Need Love" — 4:02
  10. "Little Angel" — 2:52
  11. "The King" — 3:14

Bonus tracks[edit]

  • "You and Me" – 3:50 (iTunes album exclusive)
  • "Tonight (Acoustic)" – 3:50 (iTunes Store / 7digital album exclusive)
  • "Suburban Knights" (Acoustic) – 3:34 (iTunes / 7digital album exclusive)
  • "These Four Walls and I" - 4:12 (iTunes album exclusive)
  • "Suburban Knights" (Steve Angello & Sebastian Ingrosso Mix) – 8:47 (iTunes / 7digital album exclusive)
  • "Suburban Knights" (Live at Air Studios) (video) – 3:59 (iTunes album exclusive)

Bonus[edit]

By placing the Once Upon a Time in the West CD in a PC CD/DVD drive you can access a special Hard-Fi microsite. The site has two videos and some extras.

  • "Suburban Knights Live @ Air Studios" (video stream)
  • "Can't Get Along (Without You) Live @ Air Studios" (video stream)
  • "I Shall Overcome" Live @ Air Studios (video stream)
  • "Tonight" Live @ Air Studios (video stream)
  • "Cash Machine (Alternative X-Rated Video)" (video stream)

Also available are mobile wallpapers.

Credits[edit]

Mixed by Paul PDub Walton, Wolsey White, Spike Stent (Oasis, U2, Björk and Madonna).

Charts[edit]

Chart (2007) Peak
position
UK Albums Top 75[26] 1
Ireland Albums Top 75[26] 3
World Albums Top 40[26] 21
Peru Albums Top 40[26] 2
Germany Albums Top 50[26] 39
Swiss Albums Top 100[26] 49
Croatia Albums Top 100 55
Austria Albums Top 75[26] 51
Dutch Albums Top 100[26] 73
France Albums Top 150[26] 99
Preceded by
"Hand Built by Robots" by Newton Faulkner
UK number one album
9 September 2007 – 15 September 2007
Succeeded by
"Graduation" by Kanye West

Alternative covers[edit]

Singles[edit]

Cover Information
Hard-Fi - Suburban Knights.png
"Suburban Knights"
"Can't Get Along (Without You)"
"I Shall Overcome"

References[edit]