Asleep in the Back

Asleep in the Back is the debut studio album by English rock band Elbow, first released in the United Kingdom on 7 May 2001, and in the United States on 22 January 2002.[1] The title track, "Asleep in the Back", was only included as a bonus track on later editions of the album after it had been released as a single and became the band's first Top 20 hit.[2] The album release came in four different versions: the 12-track version, two 11-track versions only featuring either "Asleep in the Back" (later editions) or "Can't Stop" (UK version) and a 10-track version including neither of them. The record was shortlisted for the Mercury Prize in 2001.

Asleep in the Back
Studio album by
Released7 May 2001
GenreAlternative rock, art rock
ProducerSteve Osborne, Ben Hillier, Danny Evans, Elbow
Elbow chronology
The Any Day Now EP
Asleep in the Back
Cast of Thousands
Singles from Asleep in the Back
  1. "Red"
    Released: 23 April 2001
  2. "Powder Blue"
    Released: 9 July 2001
  3. "Newborn"
    Released: 8 October 2001
  4. "Asleep in the Back"/"Coming Second"
    Released: 4 February 2002

Though Asleep in the Back was the first Elbow album to be released, it was not the first to be recorded. An album's worth of recorded material had been scrapped by the band several years earlier after they were dropped by their first major label, Island Records.

A 2CD/1DVD deluxe edition of the album was released in the UK on 2 November 2009. The release included almost all tracks of the near impossible to find The Noisebox EP: a live version of "George Lassoes the Moon" was included instead of the studio version.

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic     [4]
The Daily Telegraph     [5]
Entertainment WeeklyB−[6]
The Guardian     [7]
Los Angeles Times    [8]
Pitchfork7.4/10 (2002)[10]
8.4/10 (2009)[11]
Q     [12]
Uncut     [14]

Q listed Asleep in the Back as one of the best 50 albums of 2001.[15]

Track listingEdit

All tracks are written by Elbow; all lyrics by Guy Garvey.

Asleep in the Back album
1."Any Day Now"6:17
3."Little Beast"4:15
4."Powder Blue"4:31
5."Bitten by the Tailfly"6:16
6."Asleep in the Back" (not included on initial release)3:47
8."Don't Mix Your Drinks"3:16
9."Presuming Ed (Rest Easy)"5:26
10."Coming Second"4:56
11."Can't Stop" (all UK and most recent editions)4:36
12."Scattered Black and Whites"5:30
Japanese Bonus Track
13."Vum Garda"7:55
Double 12" vinyl album
1."Any Day Now"6:17
3."Little Beast"4:15
4."Powder Blue"4:31
5."Bitten by the Tailfly"6:16
6."Vum Garda" (bonus track)7:55
8."Don't Mix Your Drinks"3:16
9."Presuming Ed (Rest Easy)"5:26
10."Coming Second"4:56
11."Can't Stop"4:36
12."Scattered Black and Whites"5:30

2009 Deluxe EditionEdit

Disc one
Same as 12-track version.
Disc two (bonus disc)
1."Powder Blue" (The Noisebox EP Version)4:37
2."Red" (The Noisebox EP Version)3:31
3."Theme from Munroe Kelly" (The Noisebox EP Version)5:47
4."Can't Stop" (The Noisebox EP Version)4:21
5."Bitten by the Tailfly" (Live at the Astoria)6:22
6."Coming Second" (Live at the Astoria)5:10
7."Don't Mix Your Drinks" (Live at the Astoria)3:46
8."Can't Stop" (Live at the Astoria)5:19
9."Scattered Black and Whites" (Live at the Astoria)6:27
10."George Lassoes the Moon" (Live at the Astoria)3:27
11."Newborn" (Live Radio 1 Steve Lamacq Session)2:59
12."Don't Mix Your Drinks" (Live Radio 1 Steve Lamacq Session)2:13
13."Red" (Live Radio 1 Steve Lamacq Session)4:57
Disc three (DVD)
1."Asleep in the Back: The Movie" (directed by Soup Collective) 

Release historyEdit

Country Date Label Format Catalogue #
United Kingdom 7 May 2001 V2 CD (10 tracks) VVR1015888
CD (11 tracks) VVR1015882
Double 12" vinyl (one bonus track) VVR1015881
11 February 2002 CD (12 tracks) VVR1019012
United States 22 January 2002 63881-27116-2
Japan 2 May 2001 V2 Japan CD (one bonus track) V2CI99
United Kingdom 2 November 2009 Polydor 2CD/1DVD Deluxe Edition 5321322


In the UK, there were four singles released from the album:

Also, three EPs preceded the album's release, all of which included versions of songs that later appeared on Asleep in the Back:



  • Guy Garvey – Lead vocals, backing vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, percussion, analogue synth, wine glasses, harmonica, wybercron
  • Mark Potter – Electric and acoustic guitars, backing vocals
  • Craig Potter – Piano, organ, backing vocals, analogue synth, percussion, wine glasses, keyboards
  • Pete Turner – Bass guitar, analogue synth, backing vocals, wine glasses
  • Richard Jupp – Drums, percussion, backing vocals

Additional musicians

  • The Elbow Choir – Vocals (9,10)
  • Danny Evans – Percussion Loops (1)
  • Ben Hillier – Percussion (2), Backing Vocals (10)
  • Ian Burdge – Cello (2), Musical Director (6)
  • Francoise Lemoignan – Saxophone (4)
  • Bob Sastri – Brass (5), French Horn (6)
  • Nick Coen – Brass (5)
  • Martin Field – Bassoon (6)
  • Stuart King – Clarinet (6), Bass Clarinet (6)
  • Matthew Gunner – French Horn (6)
  • Jonathan Snowden – Flute (6), Alto Flute (6)
  • Dominic Kelly – Cor Anglais (6)


  • Production
  • Woodwind Arrangement on Track 6 - Ian Burdge and Elbow
  • Recording
    • Danny Evans (1)
    • Ben Hillier (2,3,4,5,6,9,10,12)
    • Andrea Wright (2,3,4,5,6,9,10,12)
    • Elbow (3,8,9,12)
    • Steve Lloyd (4)
    • Ed Chadwick (6)
    • Danton Supple (7,11)
  • Mixing
    • Danny Evans (1,8)
    • Ben Hillier (2,4,5,6,7,9,10,12)
    • Andrea Wright (2,4,5,6,7,9,10,12)
    • Ed Chadwick (6)
    • Steve Osborne (11)
    • Clare Lewis (11)
    • Bruno Ellington (11)


  1. ^ "Elbow - Asleep in the Back". Discogs. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  2. ^ Roberts, Dave (2 June 2006). British Hit Singles and Albums (19th ed.). Guinness World Records Limited. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. ^ "Reviews for Asleep in the Back by Elbow". Metacritic. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  4. ^ Kellman, Andy. "Asleep in the Back – Elbow". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
  5. ^ Perry, Andrew (23 October 2009). "Elbow: Asleep in the Back". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  6. ^ "Elbow: Asleep in the Back". Entertainment Weekly: 72. 29 March 2002.
  7. ^ Aizlewood, John (4 May 2001). "Howling at the moon". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  8. ^ Hochman, Steve (20 January 2002). "Elbow 'Asleep in the Back' V2". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  9. ^ Kessler, Ted (2 May 2001). "Elbow: Asleep in the Back". NME. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
  10. ^ Tangari, Joe (5 February 2002). "Elbow: Asleep in the Back". Pitchfork. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
  11. ^ Cohen, Ian (7 December 2009). "Elbow: Asleep in the Back: Deluxe Edition". Pitchfork. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
  12. ^ "Elbow: Asleep in the Back". Q (177). June 2001.
  13. ^ Wolk, Douglas (March 2002). "The British Evasion". Spin. 18 (3): 127–28. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  14. ^ O'Connell, Sharon (9 November 2009). "Elbow – Asleep In The Back (R2001)". Uncut. Archived from the original on 6 December 2010. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  15. ^ "The Best 50 Albums of 2001". Q. December 2001. pp. 60–65.