Reviewed by Paul S Ganney
As someone who had no idea who Delirious? were until they sold out a venue in Hull I'd previously only ever seen half-full, I was late to the party. It's therefore very interesting to hear all the early stuff (ie, before 'King Of Fools'). The very early sound is in secure Hothouse Flowers territory (although Martin Smith's vocal already has a Bono-esque edge). The bit that never changed was the lyrical theme: Delirious? thoroughly intended to sing God's praises forever. It contains songs that are now staples of any praise and worship group: "Lord You Have My Heart", "Shout To The North" and "What A Friend I've Found" to name but three, of which only the latter made it onto 'King Of Fools'. This material was the original viral stuff: originally only released on cassette tapes and never officially published/distributed, the songs still made their way around the world. I guess the sound reflects where they came from: a youth praise band, it's a product of its time. The songs, however, show exactly why Delirious? became bigger than the country they grew up in, much like U2, whose sound they later came more to resemble (this is probably most in evidence on CD3 - 'Live And In The Can'). As the CDs progress you can start to imagine whole stadia jumping up and down in unison ("Coming Back", for example) and hear the transition into the sound that most people would recognise as theirs, with the high-tempo stuff interspersed with very soft reflective numbers. The change between CD1 and CD2 is very marked, as the band clearly found their sound - if it wasn't for Smith's vocals you might think they were different bands. The bonus DVD is a valuable addition, containing footage from a Hammersmith Apollo gig, a live song from Abbey Road and a "story of" documentary. All in all, a valuable sift of the archives both for new fans and d:boy completists.
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