The Defamation of Strickland Banks

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The Defamation of Strickland Banks
Album cover for The Defamation of Strickland Banks
Studio album by Plan B
Released 9 April 2010
Recorded 2008–2009
The Sanctuary, Miloco Studios
(London, England)
Genre Soul, R&B, Hip-Hop
Length 49:58
Label 679, Asylum
Producer Ben Drew, SMV, Paul Epworth.
Plan B chronology
Who Needs Actions When You Got Words
(2006)
The Defamation of Strickland Banks
(2010)
Ill Manors
(2012)
Singles from The Defamation of Strickland Banks
  1. "Stay Too Long"
    Released: 8 January 2010
  2. "She Said"
    Released: 24 February 2010
  3. "Prayin'"
    Released: 9 July 2010
  4. "The Recluse"
    Released: 4 October 2010
  5. "Love Goes Down"
    Released: 3 December 2010
  6. "Writing's on the Wall"
    Released: 7 March 2011
  7. "Hard Times"
    Released: 19 May 2011

The Defamation of Strickland Banks is the second studio album from British rapper Plan B which was released on 12 April 2010 by 679 Recordings. The album is a departure from the sound heard on Plan B's debut album Who Needs Actions When You Got Words, providing a showcase for the rapper's singing.[1] Lyrically the album's songs tell the fictitious tale of one Strickland Banks, a sharp-suited British soul singer who finds fame with bitter-sweet love songs like the album's opener "Love Goes Down", only to have it slip through his fingers when sent to prison for a crime he did not commit.[2]

Background[edit]

Ben had always wanted to make his second album as a concept album and he had previously abandoned an attempt to make a hip hop follow up to his debut Who Needs Actions When You Got Words.[3] After learning more about the technical aspects of singing[4] and having written some soul songs such as "Love Goes Down", which was written whilst supporting The Roots on tour in 2006, Plan B came up with the concept of a story about a soul singer who gets sent to prison.[5] He commenced recording of the album in which half the songs were hip hop tracks narrated by Plan B and the other half were soul songs told through the eyes of the fictional character Strickland Banks,[3] however this idea was scrapped because the two genres did not work well together and the label 679 Artists thought the idea was too confusing. Hence the album was split into two records[5] and it was agreed that the soul record would be released as Plan B's second studio album.[6] The sound of the album was influenced by Paul Epworth who produced the demo version of "Writing's on the Wall", although the majority of the album was recorded with producers David McEwan and Eric Appapoulay at The Sanctuary, London. Production took more than two years due to the simultaneous work on the hip hop and soul albums.[7]

Concept[edit]

The album tells the story from the first-hand perspective of Strickland Banks, a fictional character played by Plan B. The album's opening tracks, "Love Goes Down" and "Writing's on the Wall", are love songs sung by Strickland Banks at a concert. "Stay Too Long" follows him and his entourage as they celebrate the success of his concert with a night out which culminates in him having a one-night stand with a woman. In "She Said", we learn that this woman is obsessed with his music and believes herself to be in love with him. He rejects her so she alleges that he raped her. The subsequent trial results in his incarceration, and in "Welcome to Hell" he is sent to prison, and much of the rest of the album is about his experience inside. Throughout the course of the songs "Hard Times" and "The Recluse" we see Strickland get more isolated and insecure throughout as he struggles to cope with prison life. This results in his abuse at the hands of other prisoners, resulting in him purchasing a shiv on the prison black market throughout the course of "Traded in My Cigarettes". In "Prayin'" he is confronted by another prisoner who attacks him. With the help of another inmate Strickland kills the attacker in self-defence, with the other inmate taking the blame, and is burdened with this guilt during "Darkest Place". The next two tracks, "Free" and "I Know a Song" detail initially his anger, then his acceptance of his life inside prison. In the last track, "What You Gonna Do", Strickland is in court again as new evidence has been brought up on his case. The album finishes with the listener not sure of whether he is sent back to prison or released, leaving it open to interpretation.

Film[edit]

The Defamation of Strickland Banks is intended to be made into a musical film directed by Plan B himself. It was originally conceived as a short film to be released alongside the album and the original trailer was uploaded online in late 2009.[8] The film intends to incorporate all the music videos from The Defamation of Strickland Banks and The Ballad of Belmarsh with scenes of dialogue.[9] Kelly Brook and Roger Daltrey have also been rumoured to have roles in the film.[10][11] A second film trailer was uploaded to YouTube in February 2011.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 75/100[12]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[13]
BBC Music (Highly positive)[14]
Clash 7/10 stars[15]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[16]
Mojo 4/5 stars[17]
NME 6/10 stars[18]
Q 4/5 stars[19]
Spin 8/10 stars[20]
The Telegraph 4/5 stars[21]
The Times 4/5 stars[22]

Upon its release, The Defamation of Strickland Banks received generally positive reviews from music critics.[12] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 75, based on 16 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[12] The critics tended to compare this work with Plan B's previous album, Who Needs Actions When You Got Words, from four years earlier. The change from "spectacularly violent soliloquies"[18] on his debut to crooning soul on his second effort caught some reviewers by surprise, though not all unhappily. Ian Wade of the BBC gave the album and Plan B great praise, calling it "tremendous work", admiring its range, as for example "on 'Welcome to Hell' he trills like a scared-to-pick-up-the-soap-in-the-prison-shower Smokey Robinson, while 'Hard Times' and 'Love Goes Down' are just lovely – anyone operating in the greasy world of pop would give a limb for such songs."[14] For Pete Paphides of The Times, Defamation deserved 4 out of 5 stars.[22]

The Guardian '​s Alexis Petridis gave it 3 out of 5 stars. Though dissatisfied with the its concept and "gaping holes in the album's plot", he said, "Drew's reinvention suits him. The strength of his voice was understandably overlooked on his debut, but it comes into its own here: a high, aching croon that adds an appealing touch of self-doubt to the hardest-hitting lyrics. Rather than simply drafting in Mark Ronson to add a retro-soul veneer, he's clearly studied the source material: the result is a string of uniformly well-done Smokey Robinson pastiches. In a neat touch, the bleaker Strickland Banks's story becomes, the lovelier the melodies.".[16] John Freeman, writing for Clash, gave it a 7/10 rating, while suggesting that the style change.[15] NME '​s Sam Wolfson gave the album a rating of 6 out of 10, and expressed regret at Plan B's move into new territory.[18] At The Telegraph, Thomas H Green gave it 4 out of 5 stars, calling it "accessible, polished and brimming with verve". He closed his review saying, "The rapping hasn't been completely abandoned, either, but the emphasis here is on his sweet soul voice and a thumping Motown groove, an intriguing change of direction that's both passionate and populist."[21]

Singles[edit]

"Stay Too Long" was released as the first single from the album on 8 January 2010. It entered the UK Singles Chart on 17 January 2010, where it reached a peak of No. 9. It also peaked at No. 3 on the UK R&B Chart, making it Drew's first Top 10 single.

"She Said" was released as the second single from the album, on 24 February 2010. It reached No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart on 4 April 2010 as well as peaking at No. 1 on the UK R&B Chart, making it Drew's biggest selling single to date.

"Prayin'" was released as the third single from the album, on 9 July 2010. It climbed up the chart. before peaking at No. 16 on the UK Singles Chart. It also peaked at No. 9 on the UK R&B Chart, and overall, is Drew's second biggest single.

"The Recluse" was released as the fourth single from the album on 4 October 2010. The single peaked at No. 35 on the UK Singles Chart, and at No. 19 on the UK R&B Chart, making it Drew';s fourth consecutive Top 40 hit, and fifth overall.

"Love Goes Down" was released as the fifth single from the album on 3 December 2010. It was later added to the A-List BBC Radio 1 Playlist, and peaked at No. 62 on the UK Singles Chart, making it Drew's worst performing single to date. "She Said" / "Prayin" was released a digital download medley single on 20 February 2011 after Drew performed the medley at the 2011 BRIT Awards. It charted at No. 72 on the UK Singles Chart. The medley also includes an excerpt of The Ballad of Belmarsh.

"Writing's on the Wall" was released as the sixth single from the album on 7 March 2011. The single did not chart on the UK Singles Chart. Two versions of the music video were released; the first available in February 2010.

"Hard Times" was released as the album's seventh and final single on 19 May 2011. The single version features newly recorded vocals from Elton John and Paloma Faith and peaked at No. 147 on the UK Singles Chart, in aid of Drew's chosen charity.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Ben Drew

No. Title Producer(s) Length
1. "Love Goes Down"   Ben Drew, David McEwan, Eric Appapoulay (add.) 3:52
2. "Writing's on the Wall"   Paul Epworth 3:42
3. "Stay Too Long"   Epworth 3:44
4. "She Said"   Drew, McEwan, Appapoulay (add.) 3:31
5. "Welcome to Hell"   Epworth 4:32
6. "Hard Times"   Drew, McEwan, Appapoulay (add.) 3:57
7. "The Recluse"   Drew, Appapoulay (add.) 3:19
8. "Traded in My Cigarettes"   Drew, McEwan, Appapoulay (add.) 4:14
9. "Prayin'"   Epworth 3:46
10. "Darkest Place"   Drew, McEwan, Appapoulay (add.) 4:20
11. "Free"   Drew, McEwan, Appapoulay (add.) 3:42
12. "I Know a Song"   Drew, McEwan, Appapoulay (add.) 3:10
13. "What You Gonna Do"   Drew 4:11
  • The deluxe edition sold at HMV does not contain the Shy FX remix of "She Said".

Personnel[edit]

  • Ben Drew – vocals, producer, mixing
Production[24]
Additional musicians[24]
  • Aleysha Gordon – backing vocals
  • Hannah Kemoh – backing vocals
  • Samantha Smith – backing vocals
  • Jennifer Dawodu – backing vocals
  • Marvin Cottrell – backing vocals
  • Tom Wright-Goss – guitar
  • Eric Appapoulay – bass, backing vocals
  • Jodi Milliner – bass
  • Richard Cassell – drums
  • Paul Epworth – drums
  • Everton Newson – violin
  • Louisa Fuller – violin
  • Sally Herbert – violin
  • Warren Zielinski – violin
  • Bruce White – viola
  • Sonia Slany – viola
  • Ian Burdge – cello
  • Harry Escott – additional cello
  • Jason Yarde – alto saxophone, baritone saxophone
  • Zem Audu – tenor saxophone
  • Harry Brown – trombone
  • David Prisemen – trumpet, flugelhorn
  • Mark Crown – trumpet
Other personnel[24]
  • Fabrice Spelta – art direction
  • Mike Hosey – art direction
  • Ben Parks – photography
  • Roy Eldridge – management
  • Sam Eldridge – management

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Format Catalog
United Kingdom[25] 9 April 2010 679/Atlantic CD 5051865847120
2xVinyl 5051865899303
2xCD 5051865899327
Australia 12 April 2010 CD 5186584712
United States 19 April 2011 CK 52757-6

Chart performance[edit]

On 18 April 2010, the album debuted on the UK Albums Chart at No. 1, selling 68,173 copies in its first week and a further 47,950 in its second week. It was the 5th biggest selling album of 2010 in the United Kingdom, with sales of 826,400. The album has sold over 1,000,000 copies to date.

Preceded by
The Fame by Lady Gaga
Iron Man 2 by AC/DC
UK Albums Chart number-one album
24 April 2010
8 May 2010
Succeeded by
Iron Man 2 by AC/DC
Songs from the Tainted Cherry Tree by Diana Vickers
Preceded by
The Element of Freedom by Alicia Keys
Recovery by Eminem
UK R&B Albums Chart number-one album
24 April 2010 – 5 June 2010
9 October 2010
Succeeded by
The Element of Freedom by Alicia Keys
Disc-Overy by Tinie Tempah

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fulton, Rick (15 January 2010). "I'll shock my fans with my soul singing on new album but I haven't sold out, says rap star Plan B". The Daily Record. Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  2. ^ Lewis, Pete. "PLAN B: From A to B Plan B". Blues & Soul (1049). Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Lamb, Bill (20 September 2011). "Plan B, aka Ben Drew, Interview – Interview With Plan B, aka Ben Drew". Top40.about.com. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  4. ^ Gregory, Jason (22 March 2010). "Plan B – Strictland Business". Gigwise. Giant Digital. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Green, Thomas H (12 April 2010). "Q&A Special: Musician Ben Drew, aka Plan B | New music". The Arts Desk. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  6. ^ Florino, Rick (10 January 2011). "Plan B Talks 'The Defamation of Strickland Banks,' Favorite Books, and Telling Stories – ARTISTdirect News". Artistdirect.com. Rogue Digital. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  7. ^ Inglis, Sam (July 2010). "Plan B". Sound on Sound. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  8. ^ "Plan B – The Defamation of Strickland Banks". DNR Films. Retrieved 27 December 2009. 
  9. ^ "Plan B to retire Strickland Banks". The Guardian. 6 January 2011. 
  10. ^ "Plan B plans 'Banks' film with Kelly Brook". Pressparty. 9 November 2010. 
  11. ^ "Plan B Lines Up Roger Daltrey for Movie". Pressparty. 11 January 2011. 
  12. ^ a b c "The Defamation of Strickland Banks – Plan B". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  13. ^ Birchmeier, Jason "The Defamation of Strickland Banks – Plan B". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 7 December 2010.
  14. ^ a b Wade, Ian (12 April 2010). "BBC – Music – Review of Plan B – The Defamation of Strickland Banks". BBC.
  15. ^ a b Freeman, John (24 March 2010). "Plan B – The Defamation Of Strickland Banks | Clash Music Latest Album Review". Clashmusic.com. Clash Music.
  16. ^ a b Petridis, Alexis (8 April 2010). "Plan B: The Defamation of Strickland Banks". guardian.co.uk. Guardian News and Media.
  17. ^ Mojo review link (ADM)
  18. ^ a b c Wolfson, Sam (16 April 2010). "Album Review: Plan B – 'The Defamation Of Strickland Banks' (679)". NME.com. IPC MEDIA.
  19. ^ Q review link (ADM)
  20. ^ Walters, Barry. "Plan B, 'The Defamation of Strickland Banks' (Atlantic)". SPIN.com. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  21. ^ a b Green, Thomas H. (9 April 2010). "Plan B: The Defamation of Strickland Banks, CD review". telegraph.co.uk. Telegraph Media Group.
  22. ^ a b Paphides, Pete (10 April 2010). "Plan B: The Defamation of Strickland Banks review". Times Online. Times Newspapers.
  23. ^ Plan B: Defamation Of Strickland Banks: 2cd: Deluxe Edition: Hmv Exclusive (2010): CD: hmv.com
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  32. ^ "lescharts.com – Plan B – The Defamation of Strickland Banks". lescharts.com (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
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  34. ^ "Album – Plan B, The Defamation of Strickland Banks". charts.de. Media Control. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
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  37. ^ "Gaon Album Chart" (in Korean). Gaon Chart. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
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  39. ^ "2010-04-24 Top 40 Official Scottish Albums Archive". Scottish Albums Chart. The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
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  41. ^ "2010-10-09 Top 40 Official UK R&B Albums Archive". UK R&B Albums Chart. The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
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External links[edit]