Back to Bedlam

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Back to Bedlam
James Blunt Back to Bedlam Alt Cover.png
Studio album by James Blunt
Released 11 October 2004 (2004-10-11)
Recorded 2003
Length 39:28
James Blunt chronology
Back to Bedlam
Chasing Time: The Bedlam Sessions
Singles from Back to Bedlam
  1. "High"
    Released: 18 October 2004
  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
2005 reissue cover

Back to Bedlam is the debut studio album by the English singer-songwriter James Blunt, released on 11 October 2004 through Atlantic Records.[1] It is named after the famous psychiatric institution of Bethlem Royal Hospital, which is commonly known as Bedlam.

Initially lingering in the lower regions of the UK Albums Chart in its first few months of release, it became a major international 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 2017, it has sold 3.33 million copies in the UK[5] and over 11 million copies worldwide.[6]

Background and recording[edit]

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[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[19]
Common Sense Media4/5 stars[20]
Q4/5 stars[20]
BBC Collective5/5 stars[21]
RocknWorld4/5 stars[23]
Slant Magazine3.5/5 stars[25]

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, said that "To aptly describe James Blunt's music in his debut album Back to Bedlam, it would be an injustice to ignore the backdrop of his past and its relation to his music – in fact it's impossible to do so" and gave praise to the songs which they called "Hauntingly captivating, his words paint the pictures of many stories lived, masterly recited through his songs. Back to Bedlam seems not so much a pop compilation as it does a reflection of a life through the art of music."[24] Nate Murray of Relevant gave a similar review, and compared his work to the likes of Elliott Smith, calling it "endearingly honest" and continued " any great writer, he invites the reader, or in this case, the listener, into the intimate details of life that resonate with most anyone. Combine such candid writing with a voice one interviewer has called 'disgustingly gorgeous', and you have a recipe for musical addiction. Blunt's talents have earned the endorsement of Elton John and led to comparisons with John’s early work, as well as the late Elliott Smith."[26]

Track listing[edit]

1."High"Tom Rothrock4:03
2."You're Beautiful"Rothrock3:33
4."Goodbye My Lover"
  • Blunt
  • Skarbek
5."Tears and Rain"Rothrock4:04
6."Out of My Mind"BluntRothrock3:33
7."So Long, Jimmy"
  • Blunt
  • Hogarth
  • Blunt
  • Skarbek
  • Ghost
  • Blunt
  • Skarbek
10."No Bravery"
  • Blunt
  • Skarbek
Linda Perry4:00
Total length:39:28


  • James Blunt – lead vocals on all tracks; guitars on tracks 1, 5, 6 and 9; organ on tracks 3, 4, 6 and 9; piano on tracks 1, 4, 5 and 10; Wurlitzer electric piano on tracks 5, 6 and 7; acoustic guitar on tracks 2 and 7; Rhodes piano on tracks 3 and 4; keyboards and marimba on track 1; classical guitar on track 3; twelve-string guitar on track 4; church organ on track 5; backing vocals on track 6; grand piano on track 8; mellotron on track 9
  • Sasha Krivtsov – bass on all tracks except 4, 7 and 10; backing vocals on track 6
  • Charlie Paxton – drums on all tracks except 10; backing vocals on track 6
  • John Nau – Hammond organ on tracks 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8; Wurlitzer electric piano on tracks 1, 3, 8 and 9; piano on track 2; guitar sustain on track 4; backing vocals on track 6; 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



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Argentina (CAPIF)[54] 2× Platinum 80,000^
Australia (ARIA)[55] 9× Platinum 670,000[56]
Austria (IFPI Austria)[57] 2× Platinum 60,000*
Belgium (BEA)[58] 3× Platinum 150,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[59] 6× Platinum 600,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[60] 2× Platinum 80,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[61] Gold 13,158[61]
France (SNEP)[62] Diamond 1,000,000*
Germany (BVMI)[63] 9× Gold 900,000^
Greece (IFPI Greece)[64] 2× Platinum 80,000[65]
Ireland (IRMA)[66] 14× Platinum 210,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[67] 2× Platinum 500,000^
Mexico (AMPROFON)[68] Gold 50,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[69] Platinum 80,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[70] 7× Platinum 105,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[71] 2× Platinum 80,000*
Portugal (AFP)[72] 2× Platinum 80,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[73] Platinum 100,000^
Sweden (GLF)[74] 2× Platinum 120,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[75] 5× Platinum 200,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[76] 11× Platinum 3,338,000[5]
United States (RIAA)[77] 3× Platinum 2,900,000^
Europe (IFPI)[78] 6× Platinum 6,000,000*

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

Use in media[edit]

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[edit]


  1. ^ "Rhino Factoids: James Blunt's Back to Bedlam Rules 2005". 31 December 2015. Retrieved 14 July 2016. 
  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". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 January 2014. 
  4. ^ "Amy Winehouse's 'Back To Black' becomes UK's biggest-selling album of the 21st century". NME. 
  5. ^ a b Homewood, Ben (23 January 2017). "James Blunt announces new album details". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  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". The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 15 January 2014. 
  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?". Q Magazine. EMAP Metro Ltd. pp. 54–58. 
  10. ^ "Staff Profile (Simon Frith)". University of Edinburgh. Archived from the original on 12 November 2013. Retrieved 15 January 2014. 
  11. ^ "The Blunt Life". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner. 4 October 2007. pp. 56–58, 88. 
  12. ^ a b "Interview with Todd Interland". HitQuarters. 29 August 2005. Retrieved 15 January 2014. 
  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". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. pp. 26–29. 
  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 - 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". iTunes Store. (Apple Inc.). Retrieved 13 April 2011. 
  28. ^ "Back to Bedlam". iTunes Store Australia. (Apple Inc.). Retrieved 13 April 2011. 
  29. ^ " – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam". Hung Medien.
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  45. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  46. ^ "James Blunt Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard.
  47. ^ "ARIA Top 100 Albums 2005". ARIA. Retrieved 23 February 2014. 
  48. ^ ">> IRMA << Welcome to our site >>". 
  49. ^ "ARIA Top 100 Albums 2006". ARIA. Archived from the original on 27 January 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2014. 
  50. ^ "End of Year Album Chart Top 100 - 2006 - Official Charts Company". 
  51. ^ "ARIA Top 100 Albums 2007". ARIA. Retrieved 23 February 2014. 
  52. ^ "ARIA Chart Sales - ARIA End of Decade Albums/Top 100" (PDF). ARIA. Retrieved 23 February 2014. 
  53. ^ Michaels, Sean (30 December 2009). "James Blunt makes decade's best-selling album". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  54. ^ "Argentinian album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam". Argentine Chamber of Phonograms and Videograms Producers. 
  55. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2006 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. 
  56. ^ "The Tribal Mind: The Music Australia Loved". Sydney Morning Herald. 2013-01-10. Retrieved 2013-04-22. 
  57. ^ "Austrian album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam" (in German). IFPI Austria.  Enter James Blunt in the field Interpret. Enter Back to Bedlam in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
  58. ^ "Ultratop − Goud en Platina – albums 2008". Ultratop. Hung Medien. 
  59. ^ "Canadian album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam". Music Canada. 
  60. ^ "Danish album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam". IFPI Denmark.  Click on næste to go to page if certification from official website
  61. ^ a b "James Blunt" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. 
  62. ^ "French album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. 
  63. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (James Blunt; 'Back to Bedlam')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  64. ^ "Greek album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam" (in Greek). IFPI Greece. 
  65. ^ [1] Archived 13 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  66. ^ "Irish album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam". Irish Recorded Music Association. 
  67. ^ "Japanese album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. 
  68. ^ "Certificaciones" (in Spanish). Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas.  Type James Blunt in the box under the ARTISTA column heading.
  69. ^ "Dutch album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. 
  70. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam". Recorded Music NZ. 
  71. ^ "IFPI Norsk platebransje Trofeer 1993–2011" (in Norwegian). IFPI Norway. 
  72. ^ "Portuguese album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam" (in Portuguese). Associação Fonográfica Portuguesa. 
  73. ^ "Spanish album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam" (PDF) (in Spanish). Productores de Música de España.  Select album under "Chart", enter 2005 in the field "Year". Select '' in the field "Semana". Click on "Search Charts"
  74. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 2007" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. 
  75. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (James Blunt; 'Back to Bedlam')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. 
  76. ^ "British album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam". British Phonographic Industry.  Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Enter Back to Bedlam in the search field and then press Enter.
  77. ^ "American album certifications – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  78. ^ "IFPI Platinum Europe Awards – 2007". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. 
  79. ^ Poletta, Michael (21 July 2007). "Beautiful and the Beat". Billboard. 

External links[edit]