White Ladder
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White Ladder

White Ladder
White Ladder.jpg
Studio album by
Released27 November 1998
Labeliht, ATO/RCA, East West
ProducerDavid Gray, Iestyn Polson, Craig McClune
David Gray chronology
Sell, Sell, Sell
White Ladder
Lost Songs 95-98
Singles from White Ladder
  1. "This Year's Love"
    Released: 8 March 1999
  2. "Babylon"
    Released: 12 July 1999
  3. "Please Forgive Me"
    Released: 22 November 1999
  4. "Babylon"
    Released: 12 June 2000 (re-issue)
  5. "Please Forgive Me"
    Released: 16 October 2000 (re-issue)
  6. "This Year's Love"
    Released: 5 March 2001 (re-issue)
  7. "Sail Away"
    Released: 16 July 2001
  8. "Say Hello Wave Goodbye"
    Released: 17 December 2001

White Ladder is the fourth studio album by English folk singer-songwriter David Gray. It was first released in November 1998 through Gray's own record label, IHT Records, but failed to chart. On 1 May 2000, the album was re-released by Dave Matthews' label ATO Records and debuted at number 69 on the UK Albums Chart, before climbing to number one on 5 August 2001, more than a year later. White Ladder produced five singles, including the hit "Babylon", which ignited interest in the album and shot Gray to worldwide fame. Other singles released from the album were "This Year's Love", "Please Forgive Me", "Sail Away" and "Say Hello Wave Goodbye".

White Ladder spent almost three consecutive years in the UK top 100, charting between May 2000 and March 2003. Its total charting time as of 2015 is 175 weeks, making it one of the longest-charting albums in UK chart history. It was massively successful in Ireland, where it spent six consecutive weeks at number one on the Irish Albums Chart and had sold 350,000 copies by 2002. It is currently the biggest selling album of all time in Ireland.[2]White Ladder was the fifth best-selling album of the 2000s in the UK, selling 2.9 million copies.[3]White Ladder has sold over 3 million copies in the UK,[4] making it the eighth best-selling album of the 21st century[5] and the 26th best-selling album of all time.[6] The album has also sold over 7 million copies worldwide.[2]


White Ladder was self-financed and was recorded in Gray's London apartment.[7][2] To support the album, Gray toured the United States with the Dave Matthews Band, whose lead singer Dave Matthews released White Ladder in the United States on his label ATO in 2000 as the label's first release.[8] Following the album's success, he toured the US and UK extensively between 2000-01 to promote the album.[9][10]

A hidden track, "Through to Myself", can be found in the pregap of the original 1998 IHT Records release (by rewinding from the start of "Please Forgive Me").[11] The US CD release does not include the secret track, but instead includes the audio bonus track "Babylon II", as well as an enhanced section which includes a mini-documentary with a live performance of "Babylon", a brief biography and web links.[12] The Japanese release includes the bonus track "Over My Head", which also appears as a B-side on the 1999 "Babylon" single.[13]

The cover of "Say Hello Wave Goodbye", originally by Soft Cell, features additional lines from the Van Morrison songs, "Madame George" and "Into the Mystic".

Commercial reception

White Ladder was originally released on Gray's own label IHT Records in November 1998.[17] It spent six weeks at number one in Ireland, selling 100,000 copies in that time.[21] By September 2001, the album had been certified 20× Platinum by the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) for sales of over 300,000;[22] it remains the biggest-selling album in Ireland.[23]

It was only after its re-release in May 2000 on ATO Records that the album managed to chart in the UK, debuting at number 69 on the UK Albums Chart. On 5 August 2001, fifteen months after the re-release and almost three years after its original release, it reached number one.[24]White Ladder has spent a total of 175 weeks on the UK Albums Chart.[25] Aside from "Please Forgive Me," which charted at No. 72 on the UK Singles Chart, all other single releases charted within the Top 20:[25] the re-released "Please Forgive Me" charted at No. 18, and "Say Hello Wave Goodbye" and "Sail Away" peaked at No. 26. White Ladder was the UK's fifth best-selling UK album of the 2000s.[26] It had sold 2,940,575 units in the UK by 24 July 2011[27] and hit the 3 million mark in March 2015. As of June 2015, it is the eighth best-selling UK album of the 2000s.[5]

In the United States, the album peaked at No. 35 on the Billboard 200, spending a whole year on the chart.[28] The album earned Gray a nomination in the United States at the 44th Grammy Awards for Best New Artist.[29]

Reflecting on White Ladders success in 2010, Gray stated: "I still pinch myself when I think about it. That record will be there for ever. It just connected in such a big way with people. [...] It was the period that came after that was difficult. [...] I'm sort of seen as a pop artist. I'm dismissed as slight, I'd say, because of White Ladder."[30]

In Ireland, 'White Ladder' was originally released on November 27th 1998, entering the Irish chart at #25. 61 weeks later, and for the first time, the album went to #1 on January 24th 2000, spending six weeks at #1, and subsequently spending much of the next four years in and around the top 10. It eventually went 23x Platinum and remains the bestselling album in the Republic of Ireland; at one stage, it was said that 1 in every 4 Irish households had a copy of the album.[31]

Track listing

All tracks written by David Gray, unless otherwise noted.

1."Please Forgive Me" 5:35
2."Babylon" 4:25
3."My Oh My"Gray, McClune4:37
4."We're Not Right"Gray, McClune, Polson3:03
5."Nightblindness" 4:23
6."Silver Lining" 6:00
7."White Ladder"Gray, McClune, Polson4:14
8."This Year's Love" 4:05
9."Sail Away" 5:15
10."Say Hello Wave Goodbye"Almond, Ball, Morrison9:03
UK hidden pregap track
0."Through to Myself"1:56
US-only bonus track
11."Babylon II"3:38


  • David Gray - vocals, guitar (1-7, 9-11), piano (1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 11), keyboards (1, 4, 5, 7, 9)
Additional musicians
  • Craig McClune - drums (1-7, 9-11), vocals (1-7, 9-11), keyboards (1, 4, 5, 7, 9), bass (2, 5, 8, 9, 11)
  • Tim Bradshaw - keyboards on tracks 2, 3, 6, 8 and 10
  • Simon Edwards - bass on tracks 3, 6 and 10
  • Colm Mac Con Iomaire - violin on track 6
  • Terry Edwards - string arrangements on track 11
Technical personnel
  • Iestyn Polson - producer, engineer, programmer
  • Marius de Vries - additional production and programming on "Sail Away"
  • Steve Sidelnyk - additional programming on "Sail Away"
  • Dave Turner - mastering
  • Donal Dineen - photography
  • Phil Knott - photography

Charts and certifications

See also

Release history

Country Date Label Format Category no.
United Kingdom November 1998 IHT Records CD IHT CD001
1 May 2000 IHT/EastWest CD (re-issue) 8573-82983-2
United States 21 March 2000 RCA/ATO CD (11 tracks/enhanced) 07863 69351-2
Japan 11 October 2000 EastWest/WEA CD (11 tracks) AMCE-7198


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  2. ^ a b c d Casey, Ruairi (26 April 2015). "Cultural Toolbox: David Gray's White Ladder to success". Newstalk. Retrieved 2016.
  3. ^ "The Noughties' Official UK Albums Chart Top 100". Music Week. London, England: Intent Media: 19. 30 January 2010.
  4. ^ a b Jones, Alan (4 November 2016). "Official Charts Analysis: James Arthur tops albums chart with Back from the Edge". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 2016. (Subscription required (help)).
  5. ^ a b Copsey, Rob (9 June 2015). "Official Biggest Selling Albums of the decade so far revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2015.
  6. ^ Copsey, Rob (4 July 2016). "The UK's 60 official biggest selling albums of all time revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2016.
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  13. ^ "David Gray White Ladder Japan Promo CD ALBUM (222673)". Eil.com. 29 August 2002. Retrieved 2012.
  14. ^ Ikeda, Jaime. "White Ladder - David Gray". AllMusic. Retrieved 2009.
  15. ^ Browne, David (15 January 2001). "White Ladder". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009.
  16. ^ Sweeting, Adam. "David Gray: White Ladder (IHT Records)". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group (14 April 2000): 19.
  17. ^ a b "David Gray: White Ladder". NME. 14 July 2000. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 2009.
  18. ^ "David Gray: White Ladder". Q (167): 118. August 2000.
  19. ^ Walters, Barry (12 October 2000). "David Gray: White Ladder". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 30 April 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  20. ^ Randall, Mac (2004). "David Gray". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 344. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  21. ^ Perrone, Pierre (16 April 2000). "The infinite shades of Gray". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 20 September 2011. Retrieved 2010.
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  45. ^ "American album certifications - David Gray - White Ladder". Recording Industry Association of America.If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.

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