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Back to Bedlam

Back to Bedlam
Studio album by James Blunt
Released 14 November 2004 (2004-11-14)
Recorded 2002
Genre Pop rock, folk rock
Length 39:28
Label Atlantic, Custard, RCA
Producer Tom Rothrock, Linda Perry
James Blunt chronology
Back to Bedlam
Chasing Time: The Bedlam Sessions
Singles from Back to Bedlam
  1. "High"
    Released: 3 December 2003
  2. "Wisemen"
    Released: 7 March 2005
  3. "You're Beautiful"
    Released: 30 May 2005
  4. "Goodbye My Lover"
    Released: 16 November 2005
  5. "No Bravery"
    Released: 17 April 2006
Alternative cover
2005 reissue cover
James Blunt's "Goodbye My Lover" from Back to Bedlam

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Back to Bedlam is the debut studio album by English singer-songwriter James Blunt. It was released on 14 November 2003 through Atlantic Records.[1] It is named after the infamous psychiatric institution of Bethlem Royal Hospital, which is commonly known as Bedlam.

The album was met with universal acclaim from music critics, who praised Blunt's voice and songwriting skills. Initially lingering in the lower regions of the UK Albums Chart in its first few months of release, it became a major interntional success after its third single, "You're Beautiful", was a huge hit worldwide in the Summer of 2005. Back to Bedlam was the highest-selling album of 2005 in the UK, with over 2.4 million copies sold.[2] By December 2009, the album had been certified 10× Platinum by the British Phonographic Industry for sales of over 3 million, making it the best-selling album of the 2000s in the UK.[3] In 2011, it was overtaken by the Amy Winehouse's Back to Black as the best-selling album of the 21st century in the UK.[4] Back to Bedlam currently ranks as the 16th best-selling album in UK chart history. As of 2015, it has sold 3.31 million copies in the UK[5] and over 11 million copies worldwide.[6]


  • Background and recording 1
  • Critical reception 2
  • Track listing 3
  • Charts 4
    • Weekly charts 4.1
    • Year-end charts 4.2
    • Decade-end charts 4.3
  • Certifications 5
  • Credits and personnel 6
  • Use in other media 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Background and recording

Blunt had piano and violin lessons as a child, but his first significant exposure to popular music was at Harrow School. There, he was introduced to the guitar by a fellow student, and started playing the instrument and writing songs at age 14.[7][8] At University of Bristol, his undergraduate thesis was The Commodification of Image – Production of a Pop Idol; one of his main references for the thesis was sociologist and rock critic, Simon Frith, chairman of the Mercury Music Prize panel of judges since 1992.[9][10]

Because the British Army sponsored his university education, Blunt was obliged to serve a minimum of four years in the armed forces. He stated on an interview in his Back to Bedlam sessions that he chose to join the military as his father was "pushing for it, so that [Blunt] could obtain a secure work placement and income". Blunt trained at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.[11] While still in the army, he worked on demos during his time off. A backing vocalist and songwriting collaborator suggested he contact Elton John's manager Todd Interland, with whom she used to share a house.[12] Interland told HitQuarters that he listened to Blunt's demo while driving home and after hearing the track "Goodbye My Lover", pulled over and called the mobile number written on the CD to set up a meeting.[12]

Blunt left the British Army in 2002 so that he could pursue his musical career.[13] It was at that period that he started using the stage name "Blunt", in part to make it easier for others to spell; "Blount" is pronounced the same way, and remains his legal surname.[14] Shortly after leaving the army, he was signed to EMI music publishers and Twenty-First Artists management.[15] A record contract remained elusive, with recording label executives pointing to Blunt's posh speaking voice as a barrier in class-divided Britain.[8] Linda Perry, who was just launching her own Custard Records label in early 2003, heard Blunt's promotional tape when visiting London, and soon after heard him perform live at the South by Southwest Music Festival. She made an offer to him the same night[16] and within a few days, Blunt signed a recording contract with Perry, and one month later he was in Los Angeles working with producer Tom Rothrock.[15][17]

Blunt recorded Back to Bedlam in 2003 with producer Tom Rothrock at Rothrock's home studio, using session musicians and performing on many different instruments himself.[8][18] While in Los Angeles, he lodged with actress Carrie Fisher, whom he had met through the family of a former girlfriend. Fisher was very supportive of Blunt's aspirations, suggesting the name of the album and providing use of a bathroom in her home for Blunt to record the song "Goodbye My Lover".[7]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic [19]
Common Sense Media [20]
Q [20]
BBC Collective [21]
IndieLondon Positive[22]
RocknWorld [23] 8.6/10[24]
Slant Magazine [25]
Relevant Positive[26]

The album received universal acclaim from music critics. AllMusic felt "...the Soulful British crooner James Blunt's wistful debut infuses the listener – in order – with rainy-day hope, the wistful comfort of unattainable love, and finally, world-weary resignation. While his parched and effeminate falsetto recalls Gasoline Alley-era Rod Stewart with a healthy dose of Antony and the Johnsons, it's the late Elliott Smith who casts the largest shadow on Back to Bedlam."[19] Q magazine and Common Sense Media awarded the album four stars out of five.[20] RocknWorld stated "It's hard to describe James Blunt or his music without falling prey to many a cliché or hyperbole. Comes from the UK, serves in the army then makes an album of movingly sincere ballads which make a huge impression on his homeland and Australia, thus allowing him to enjoy phenomenal, chart topping success. However, in this case, the music Blunt is making does really deserve and warrant the hype surrounding him. Strangely enough, even with his music being all over the radio here in Australia, I cannot begrudge the fact that Blunt is truly talented and has made himself a damn good debut record."[23] BBC Collective said "It's very rare I give an album 5 stars. Many have come close, but just missing it. I never thought i would say this, but Back To Bedlam has not got one bad track on it. I've listened to it 3 times back to back, just to make sure."[21] Slant Magazine said, in a three and a half star review, that "Bedlam is an overall raw listening experience" and that though "Blunt's writing often juxtaposes love with death" that it's "More reason for American girls to go gaga over this able British bloke."[25]

Indie London praised the album, and went on to call it "...a masterful debut and one which you mustn't allow to pass you by."[22] In a 4 star review, Elton John and led to comparisons with John’s early work, as well as the late Elliott Smith."[26]

Track listing

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "High"   James Blunt, Ricky Ross Tom Rothrock 4:03
2. "You're Beautiful"   Blunt, Sacha Skarbek, Amanda Ghost Tom Rothrock 3:33
3. "Wisemen"   Blunt, Skarbek, Jimmy Hogarth Tom Rothrock 3:42
4. "Goodbye My Lover"   Blunt, Skarbek Tom Rothrock 4:20
5. "Tears and Rain"   Blunt, Guy Chambers Tom Rothrock 4:04
6. "Out of My Mind"   Blunt Tom Rothrock 3:33
7. "So Long, Jimmy"   Blunt, Hogarth Tom Rothrock 4:26
8. "Billy"   Blunt, Skarbek, Ghost Tom Rothrock 3:37
9. "Cry"   Blunt, Skarbek Tom Rothrock 4:06
10. "No Bravery"   Blunt, Skarbek Linda Perry 4:00
Total length:



Region Certification Sales/shipments
Argentina (CAPIF)[53] 2× Platinum 80,000x
Australia (ARIA)[54] 9× Platinum 670,000[55]
Austria (IFPI Austria)[56] 2× Platinum 60,000x
Belgium (BEA)[57] 3× Platinum 150,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[58] 6× Platinum 600,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[59] 2× Platinum 80,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[60] Gold 13,158[60]
France (SNEP)[61] Diamond 1,000,000*
Germany (BVMI)[62] 9× Gold 900,000^
Greece (IFPI Greece)[63] 2× Platinum 80,000[64]
Ireland (IRMA)[65] 14× Platinum 210,000x
Japan (RIAJ)[66] 2× Platinum 500,000^
Mexico (AMPROFON)[67] Gold 50,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[68] Platinum 80,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[69] 7× Platinum 105,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[70] 2× Platinum 80,000*
Portugal (AFP)[71] 2× Platinum 80,000x
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[72] Platinum 100,000^
Sweden (GLF)[73] 2× Platinum 120,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[74] 5× Platinum 200,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[75] 11× Platinum 3,310,000[5]
United States (RIAA)[76] 2× Platinum 2,900,000[77]
Europe (IFPI)[78] 6× Platinum 6,000,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Credits and personnel

  • grand piano on track 8; mellotron on track 9
  • Sasha Kristov – bass on all tracks except 4, 7 and 10; backing vocals on track 6
  • Charlie Paxon – drums on all tracks except 10; backing vocals on track 6
  • John Nau – tack piano on track 8
  • Eric Gorfainstrings on track 2, 4 and 5
  • The Section – strings on tracks 2, 4 and 5
  • John "Gumby" Goodwin – electric guitar on track 3; backing vocals on track 6; slide guitar solo on track 7
  • Matt Chait – guitar sample on track 4; electric guitar on track 7; guitar on track 8
  • Jimmy Hogarthacoustic guitar and keyboards on track 3
  • Sacha Skarbek – Rhodes piano on track 3
  • Amanda Ghost – backing vocals on track 3
  • Guy Chambersguitar feedback on track 5
  • Tom Rothrock – backing vocals on track 6
  • W. Vincent – bass on track 8
  • The Producer – slide guitar on track 9
  • Linda Perry – guitar and production on track 10
  • P. III – bass on track 10
  • Brian McCloud – drums on track 10
  • Tom Rothrock – production, mixing
  • Mike Tarantino – engineering; lead guitar on track 1; electric guitar on track 2; Mississippi guitar on track 7
  • David Guerrero – engineering on track 10
  • John Morrical – engineering assistance
  • Andrew Chavez – engineering assistance on track 10
  • Don Tyler – mastering

Use in other media

Eight of the ten songs on Back to Bedlam were licensed for use in television shows, movies, advertising campaigns and trailers, a total of 34 times. This included "Tears and Rain", "So Long Jimmy" and "Cry", tracks that had not been released as singles.[79]

See also


  1. ^ "Back to Bedlam".  
  2. ^ a b "Christie Scores Top Selling Uk Single of 2005". 3 January 2006. 
  3. ^ Michaels, Sean (30 December 2009). "James Blunt makes decade's best-selling album".  
  4. ^ "Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back To Black’ becomes UK's biggest-selling album of the 21st century".  
  5. ^ a b Moss, Liv (19 March 2015). "Official Biggest Selling Albums of the Millennium so far revealed!".  
  6. ^ Balfe, John (22 October 2012). "James Blunt quits music industry". 
  7. ^ a b Thomas, David (1 August 2005). "To be blunt, James, you are a trooper".  
  8. ^ a b c Neal, Chris (November 2007). "Back from Bedlam". Performing Songwriter (Performing Songwriter Enterprises, LLC). pp. 56–60. 
  9. ^ Davis, Johnny (October 2007). "Where did it all go Wrong?".  
  10. ^ "Staff Profile (Simon Frith)".  
  11. ^ "The Blunt Life".  
  12. ^ a b "Interview with Todd Interland".  
  13. ^ Epstein, Dan (June 2006). "Rocket Man". Guitar World Acoustic Magazine (Guitar World). pp. 34–41. 
  14. ^ Scaggs, Austin (9 February 2006). "Q&A". Rolling Stone Magazine (Wenner Media LLC (Jann S. Wenner)). p. 28. 
  15. ^ a b Poletta, Michael (21 July 2007). "James Blunt – Beautiful and the Beat".  
  16. ^ "Interview with Linda Perry". Retrieved 5 January 2006. 
  17. ^ Neal, Chris (January–February 2007). "Linda Perry". Performing Songwriter (Performing Songwriter Enterprises, LLC). p. 74. 
  18. ^ "Back to Bedlam album liner notes". Atlantic Records. October 2004. 
  19. ^ a b Back to Bedlam - James Blunt | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic
  20. ^ a b c Back to Bedlam - Music Review
  21. ^ a b BBC - collective - james blunt - back to bedlam
  22. ^ a b - music - James Blunt, Back to Bedlam
  23. ^ a b James Blunt - Back To Bedlam Review -
  24. ^ a b James Blunt - Back to Bedlam
  25. ^ a b James Blunt: Back To Bedlam - Music Review Slant Magazine
  26. ^ a b James Blunt - Back to Bedlam Relevant
  27. ^ "Back to Bedlam".  
  28. ^ "Back to Bedlam".  
  29. ^ "James Blunt – Back to Bedlam". Hung Medien.
  30. ^ "James Blunt – Back to Bedlam" (in German). Hung Medien.
  31. ^ "James Blunt – Back to Bedlam" (in Dutch). Hung Medien.
  32. ^ "James Blunt – Back to Bedlam". Hung Medien.
  33. ^ "James Blunt – Back to Bedlam" (in Dutch). Hung Medien.
  34. ^ "James Blunt: Back to Bedlam" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  35. ^ "James Blunt – Back to Bedlam". Hung Medien.
  36. ^ "Top 100 Longplay". GfK Entertainment.
  37. ^ "James Blunt – Back to Bedlam". Hung Medien.
  38. ^ "James Blunt – Back to Bedlam". Hung Medien.
  39. ^ "James Blunt – Back to Bedlam". Hung Medien.
  40. ^ "James Blunt – Back to Bedlam". Hung Medien.
  41. ^ "James Blunt – Back to Bedlam". Hung Medien.
  42. ^ "James Blunt – Back to Bedlam". Hung Medien.
  43. ^ "James Blunt – Back to Bedlam". Hung Medien.
  44. ^ "James Blunt – Back to Bedlam". Hung Medien.
  45. ^ "James Blunt | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart
  46. ^ "James Blunt – Chart history" Billboard 200 for James Blunt.
  47. ^ "ARIA Top 100 Albums 2005".  
  48. ^ "ARIA Top 100 Albums 2006".  
  49. ^
  50. ^ "ARIA Top 100 Albums 2007".  
  51. ^ "ARIA Chart Sales - ARIA End of Decade Albums/Top 100" (PDF).  
  52. ^ Michaels, Sean (30 December 2009). "James Blunt makes decade's best-selling album".  
  53. ^ "Argentinian album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam".  
  54. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2006 Albums".  
  55. ^ "The Tribal Mind: The Music Australia Loved".  
  56. ^ "Austrian album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam" (in German).   Enter James Blunt in the field Interpret. Enter Back to Bedlam in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
  57. ^ "Ultratop − Goud en Platina – 2008". Ultratop & Hung Medien / 
  58. ^ "Canadian album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam".  
  59. ^ "Danish album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam".  
  60. ^ a b "James Blunt" (in Finnish).  
  61. ^ "French album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam" (in French).  
  62. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (James Blunt; 'Back to Bedlam')" (in German).  
  63. ^ "Greek album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam" (in Greek).  
  64. ^ [2]
  65. ^ "Irish album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam".  
  66. ^ "Japanese album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam" (in Japanese).  
  67. ^ "Certificaciones – James Blunt" (in Spanish).  
  68. ^ "Dutch album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam" (in Dutch).  
  70. ^ "Norwegian album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam" (in Norwegian).  
  71. ^ "Portuguese album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam" (in Portuguese).  
  72. ^ "Spanish album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam" (PDF) (in Spanish).   Select the "Chart", enter 2005 in the field "Year". Select '' in the field "Semana". Click on "Search Charts"
  73. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 2007" (PDF) (in Swedish).  
  74. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (James Blunt; 'Back to Bedlam')". Hung Medien. 
  75. ^ "British album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam".   Enter Back to Bedlam in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
  76. ^ "American album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam".   If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  77. ^ Billboard – Ask Billboard
  78. ^ "IFPI Platinum Europe Awards – 2007".  
  79. ^ Poletta, Michael (21 July 2007). "Beautiful and the Beat".  

External links

  • Back to Bedlam
Preceded by
X&Y by Coldplay
Wonderland by McFly
First Impressions of Earth by The Strokes
UK number-one album
17 July 2005 – 3 September 2005
12 September 2005 – 18 September 2005
15 January 2006 – 21 January 2006
Succeeded by
Wonderland by McFly
Life in Slow Motion by David Gray
Stars of CCTV by HARD-Fi
Preceded by
Monkey Business by The Black Eyed Peas
Australian ARIA Albums Chart number-one album
29 August 2005 – 25 September 2005
9 January 2006 – 12 February 2006
17 April 2006 – 7 May 2006
Succeeded by
Have a Nice Day by Bon Jovi
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