It's The Vinyl Countdown: Artists & Their Most Treasured Records
, April 20th, 2012 08:25
Tomorrow, 21st April, is Record Store Day. To celebrate, we asked some of our favourite people to tell us the story behind one of their most treasured vinyl records, from Jerry Dammers (pictured) and Stewart Lee to Neneh Cherry, Aidan Moffat and Maria Minerva
Record Store Day is again about to descend, bringing with it a whole cavalcade of limited edition vinyl releases and an aim to promote international rack-rifling. Tomorrow, 21st April, marks the fourth Record Store Day, a campaign which has over its tenure celebrated the appeal of the physical release - especially on that most hallowed of formats, vinyl.
In an age where people can shift swiftly from never having heard a band before to being intimately familiar with their entire back catalogue - all in the space of a search on Google or Spotify - there’s only so much satisfaction you can derive from tracking down a previously elusive song. Admittedly, the advent of Discogs and eBay has changed the parameters of crate-digging, but there’s still a thrill to be had in discovering a much sought-after 12” somewhere deep in the record racks.
So, ahead of tomorrow’s vinyl fest, we've asked some of our favourite musicians and writers to tell us a little bit about their most treasured slab of wax. The result is a varied selection of rarities and the not-so-rare, from magazine cover flexi-discs to parent-bought Sex Pistols records, chosen by people from Neneh Cherry to Stewart Lee, from FaltyDL to Stephen O'Malley.
But what unites all the stories from our crate diggers is a shared feeling that vinyl records have a value that stretches far beyond the artist, band, song or album cut into them. Your most loved piece of vinyl isn't necessarily going to be a copy of your favourite record of all time. That scratched and dog-eared My Bloody Valentine EP you found in a charity shop bargain bin might be closer to your heart than your copy of Loveless - not just for the music itself, but for the fact that you found it, and for the where and when of that discovery.
As Aidan Moffat told us: “Music is a very emotional experience for a lot of people, and there's a tactile element with vinyl that helps connect with music on another level than just the song itself. It's not just something to listen to, it's something to love.” It’s hard to put it better than that.
Jerry Dammers - The Spatial AKA Orchestra and founder of The Specials
Alternative TV - 'Love Lies Limp'
I don't really have a favourite piece of music, but one piece of vinyl which was an influence on me, and therefore on The Specials, is a flexi disc which was given away free with the legendary original punk fanzine Sniffin’ Glue. This is a song by the editor of that magazine Mark Perry's band Alternative TV, entitled ‘Love Lies Limp’. It wasn't just the Woolworth's cod reggae - with the vocals like a punk answer record to The Piglets’ Johnny Reggae - which inspired me (and apparently Arthur Daley rapping on the Leeds Building Society ad/The Streets a little later in the day). It was the fact that real punk opened the door to creating your own record without a record company, and writing about real life and subjects (in Alternative TV's case - teenage impotence!) that you're not likely to hear about on The X Factor now. The chorus is the immortal "fucking anybody always fucks me up real proper": for one glorious, tiny moment pop/rock's macho bubble burst - one of the best lines in rock, one of the worst reggae records ever released (which may say something about the relative merits of the two genres), and the record itself is made of appropriately floppy limp plastic.
Ultravox - Systems Of Romance
What is your most treasured piece of vinyl?
GN: Systems Of Romance by Ultravox, When I first got into making electronic music I looked around to find out who else was doing it and what they were doing. I was amazed at how far ahead of me Ultravox, led by the very enigmatic John Foxx, actually were. Systems Of Romance was their third album when I was still making my first. It set the standard that I then tried to reach with all my early albums.
When did you get it?
GN: 1978. I was hunting through the racks at a Beggars Banquet shop in London. I loved the sleeve, the album title and especially the name of the band.
Does it have a particular memory or story attached to it?
GN: I became a massive fan of the band right up until John Foxx left. I used to go and see them play live all the time and they became a vital part of my own career evolution as I worked my way through the making of my first three or four albums. The entire process goes back to finding that album in the racks at Beggars Banquet.
What do records mean to you?
GN: They form part of a memory, of a time in life, the experiences, hopes and dreams connected to that time, or even to a single moment. They become a part of shaping what you become in a way that file sharing has never done. I cannot look back at an mp3 file with fond memories. The experience is entirely different and today's way, for all of its speed and immediacy, is just a cold and sterile experience compared to the way it used to be.
Louis Armstrong - Louis Armstrong And His Friends
This is a tough question... A really tough question. I’ve got a little pile, when I go back to my house where I grew up in southern Sweden, and probably at the top of that pile is the one that features Leon Thomas on Louis Armstrong’s album singing 'The Creator Has A Master Plan'. That is pretty great. When I’m DJing I always pack my X-Ray Spex album! The best track? It has to be ‘Germfree Adolescents’.
Brett Anderson - Suede
The Fall - Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall
My copy of The Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall will always be quite special to me. I bought it in the mid 80s with hard earned money from cleaning toilets in Haywards Heath. I'd never actually heard the Fall before for some reason but had become fascinated by what I had read about them. When I finally got the hallowed and hard-won piece of black plastic back to my cheap Boots record player it just blew me away. I loved the primal angularity and surreal idiom and immediately knew I'd found a new musical friend. My record collection was of course the centrepiece of my meagre possessions that I took with me to University. I met Justine there and we moved in together and this record was one of a group of albums including Bummed and Hatful Of Hollow that we would constantly play on her old Dansette, replacing the 70s folky stuff that she had previously listened to that I told her was rubbish.
Mark E. Smith - The Fall
Various Artists - Pebbles Volume 3
What is your most treasured piece of vinyl?
MES: Pebbles Volume 3 and 'Groovin' With Mr. Bloe' 45.
How did you come by them?
MES: I got Pebbles via sheer hard work in the 1990s and 'Groovin'' in a record shop in the 1970s.
What do they remind you of?
MES: Pebbles reminds me of traipsing all round the houses for over twenty years and 'Mr Bloe' has no story.
What do records mean to you?
MES: Vinyl, like studio tape, has a depth that none of this laptop crap can ever capture.
Hawkwind - 'Silver Machine' 7"
One of the very first records I bought was the 45 rpm single of 'Silver Machine' by Hawkwind. I was around 12 years old and didn't have a record player - I had to borrow my sister's Dansette. I think I bought the record at a shop at Butlins holiday camp outside Ayr. It was the start of my love affair with pop and rock music. I played that record to death in my bedroom. When I left Fife for university in Edinburgh it went with me. It has since travelled with me to London, where I lived for 4 years, and France, where I lived for 6 years. It's forty years since I bought 'Silver Machine' and I still own it, still play it, and still love the warm analogue sound of old vinyl.
Warren Ellis - The Dirty Three, Bad Seeds, Grinderman
Howlin' Wolf - The Howlin' Wolf Album
I have many treasured records, but one in particular is This is Howlin' Wolf's new album. He doesn't like it. He didn't like his electric guitar at first either. I got it about three years ago. I had been looking for it for a long while and Ed Kuepper told me he had a spare copy and would send it. He sent it, then told me he'd mistakenly sent a rather scuffed one, which was his from the early days of The Saints. It has his name written on the cover and has some bloodstains on it. He told me they were from back in the day, the result of an argument with the guy who first recorded The Saints. They had a punch up and blood was shed. Guess he was on the same page as the Wolf!
Records were a big part of my childhood and continue to be part of my life. Growing up they were an escape from the real world, and I devoted so much time to studying the covers and liner notes. I used to put them on lay-by and pay them off with money from my paper round when I was ten. My father had a pile of Hank Williams on 78 that were his pride and joy, and they were amongst the first music I ever heard. Such a treasure trove. Records were always heavy currency in our house. He used to buy them out the back of a bike shop in Ballarat. They always seemed to hold much promise, and always delivered. I guess you could say they are a family affair.
Miles Davis - Bags' Groove
For someone who never (?) listened to jazz, my dad had a pretty big collection of jazz records. Why? 'Cos of the USSR pirate music publishing company Melodija that put out all kinds of stuff (illegally), and also a lot of jazz. Since there weren't that many records available, music lovers just bought everything. We're talking like early or mid-1980s here, the time when my dad was studying at uni.
So this why the record I am talking about – Miles Davis' Bags' Groove – was always around when I was growing up. When I became a teenager I got massively into phases, one month listening to hip-hop, then house, then indie and so on. When I was about 15 I decided it was time to go cold turkey, boycott contemporary stuff, and so I tried to listen to my dad’s jazz records only. I think I liked all of them actually, except fusion stuff like Chick Corea.
All in all, Bags' Groove became my absolute favourite, I can still whistle all the Sonny Rollins and Thelonious Monk solos from the beginning 'til the end. Don't really know the difference between be-bop, hard-bop and post-bop, but do appreciate a good groove. So yeah, I was spinning this one a lot. I remember once I just took it with me to the city. There I was: walking down the main street in Tallinn, holding the record in my hand, wearing a beret, imagining I was a beatnik or something. After a while all that jazz caused me a headache though, and then came the long period when I was only listening to Stereolab.
I didn't take the record with me to London, it is at my dad’s still. But even while writing this I am listening to the 'Bags' Groove' (take 1) on YouTube and gotta say - experts do not call this LP the cornerstone of every jazz collection in vain!
Jim Kerr - Simple Minds
Iggy Pop - Soldier
My most treasured piece of vinyl is a signed copy of Iggy Pop's Soldier album. I think I bought it in HMV Oxford Street, London in October '79. While Simple Minds were recording in studio two of of Rockfield Studios in Wales, lo and behold, none other than Iggy Pop was recording in the adjacent studio one. Being a massive fan of his, I was thrilled some nights later to be invited in by Iggy to sing on the chorus of a song called 'Play It Safe'. I was even more thrilled to find, on arrival at the studio, that David Bowie had turned up to also join in. To say that my "gaster was flabbered" would be a gross understatement and to this day the album Soldier, which features said track, is evidence to me that this all actually happened, and is not merely some mad dream. Through the records I have made, I have been able to put bread in my mouth. The records I have bought have given sustenance to my soul.
Tim Burgess - The Charlatans
New Order - Power, Corruption & Lies
I've got a lot of records. They just kind of built up. From when I was first given money it's what I'd buy, from being about 10. There's only ever more, I never get rid of any. Even the ones I'm not keen on, I might grow to love them, so once they're in, they're in. Some are worth a lot of money, many are worth almost nothing. Lots of them have taken up a lot of my time and some of them have been listened to only once. But none in my collection has meant more and been more enduring than New Orders' Power Corruption And Lies. I bought it from Woolworth's in Northwich in the spring or summer of 1983. I had bought their single 'Temptation' in 1982, but it wasn't 'til the chart rundown one Sunday evening in 1983, upstairs at my mum and dad's, that my world was changed. There was no announcement, as I must've missed the very beginning of the song, but for a little over five minutes I was captivated by machine rhythms and lyrics about ships in harbours and "can and shall obey"-ing. The bass was high and the words were cold, but it was the most thrilling and emotional song I had ever heard. The record was 'Blue Monday'.
I read as much as I could about New Order, but info seemed limited. They were not playing by the established rules of pop stardom. Their song titles were not mentioned in the songs, they weren't on the cover of their records. I noticed a review in a weekly and I ran out to get the album. It stayed on my turntable for six months straight. Side one then side two, though it was hard to differentiate, as the writing was in a spiral so I had to keep stopping the record to work out which track I was playing. There was no info on the sleeve, no pictures of the band either and the label info was near impossible to read - I was hooked. The fact I knew nothing about this band made it all the more intriguing. Who was in the band ? Who played what? I remember sitting round at my friend's house listening to John Peel when he played 'Your Silent Face' and it was love at first listen. It was incredibly emotional. Mid-paced and simple, though played with instruments that were so unfamiliar. Stirring, building to its final almost comedic throwaway crescendo, the final line/lyric of the song being - "you caught me at a bad time, so why don't you… piss off."
I could go through the album track-by-track, but that's a bit much isn't it ? It isn't? OK let's… 'Age Of Consent' - fast/ Siouxsie and the Banshees style bass and ace lyrics - "you're not the kind who likes to tell me about the birds and the bees". 'We All Stand' - As slow as the previous track is fast, about a soldier/reggae. Bernard sounds pissed off, I like that. 'The Village' - probably about Macclesfield but it could have been about Northwich, there's not much in it in terms of nightlife or art or culture. Probably about Ian Curtis, very Europop, unbelievably happy/sad. '586' - disco similar to 'Blue Monday' deadpan. Closer of side one ends with a slow down and fizzles out like a deflated balloon… Eager to underwhelm maybe/probably. 'Your Silent Face' - will always be in my top three. 'Ultraviolence' - menacing, spiraling, Clockwork Orange inspired. 'Ecstasy' - wow, predicting Hacienda drug yet to be invented by about five years. 'Leave Me Alone' - political desert island must-have. 'Blue Monday' - though not on the eight track album, was part of the same plot. It just came separately. I loved this aspect of the band too. Seemed like amazing value for money. Did I mention the flowers on the cover? The most beautiful LP sleeve ever.
Rose Elinor Dougall
Young Marble Giants - Colossal Youth
One of my most precious records would be my copy of Colossal Youth by Young Marble Giants. I bought it in Rat Records in Camberwell when I first moved to London when I was 18 and started at Camberwell Art College. I had heard the record once in the back of someone’s car, but I wasn't really familiar with Young Marble Giants; partly I just really liked the title of the album, because it felt defiant and bold, and that was what I was attempting to be (to limited degrees of success). When I got back to my halls and stuck it on, I was so mesmerised by this sparse cold sound, and it felt so fresh and awkward. I remember having a fag out of the window listening to it and feeling like I was really arriving, in this ridiculous cliched way.
Whenever I listen to it I always think of that time, and the feeling of desperately trying to define oneself, and in some ways I think records have always been catalysts towards that, for me. Records mean a great deal to me. My parents always had a brilliant vinyl collection, and pillaging it was how I discovered much of what is now the foundation for my musical appreciation. The main starting-point for most of my relationships has been determined by peoples’ record collections, and I feel sad that this has become less of a currency in recent years. I love the tactility of vinyl, it feels more human to me somehow, and I really like the element of chance that comes with flicking through racks of old LPs, the potential for discovery. I can't really imagine music without them.
Ty Bulmer - New Young Pony Club
David Bowie - Low
I choose Low not because it’s my favourite album (because I don’t think I’ll be picking a favourite until I’m on my death bed), but because it’s the one album I continue to revisit. It seems to grow as I do. The older I get, the more the album reveals itself, and the more I understand. How magical.
I bought Hunky Dory and Low on the same day. I was 18. I understood David Bowie in terms of 80s smooth big suit Dave, looking a bit orange in the video for 'China Girl'. My love affair with Hunky Dory was immediate. It was sweet and melodic and instantly catchy. I basked in front of my stereo with it blaring out as if it were an open fire.
Low was different, cold, and adult. It spoke in a language I didn’t yet comprehend. I’d seen the Alan Yentob documentary with Cocaine Dave, swigging milk and cutting up newspapers. I assumed – stream of consciousness. I’m not meant to understand it. I didn’t know who Brian Eno was. I loved Iggy Pop and this record was made at the same time as one of his records by his friend and producer so I persevered.
I listened to the melodies and the amazing glacial beauty of the sounds and they drew me in. I immersed myself in it sonically. A new experience for a teenager obsessed with the word play of Q-Tip and KRS One. I forgot about the lyrics. Delicious. Fragmentary. Paranoid.
“Don’t look at the carpet. I drew something awful on it.“ And more tantalizingly “Pale blinds drawn all day, Nothing to do, nothing to say. Blue, blue. I will sit right down, waiting for the gift of sound and vision.”
“Not important, “I thought, “its probably just about the music.” But I got older. I learnt more, experienced more, not all of it good or positive.
As my life unfolded, I would have “Oh” moments, when those fragments of language would bleat in my head and send me scurrying back to Low, amazed by the perspicacity and economy of those words. How they encompassed so much while appearing so oblique. Until finally I sat with heartbroken in my room, blue, blue and waiting for the gift of sound and vision that it seemed would never come. Smiling to myself, though I was miserable, because I finally understood.
Simon Fisher Turner
Jimi Hendrix - Live At The Isle Of Wight
A double album is a special thing. I still have a great badly recorded bootleg of Jimi Hendrix, live at the Isle Of Wight. I bought this in Virgin Records in Oxford Street. To get to it you walked through a shoe shop selling the latest suede mustard colored clogs. I bought a pair and went upstairs to the one room shop. It overlooked Oxford Street and had puffy cushions to sit on and headphones to listen to new records on. The album cover is pink and bright turquoise. The quality is suprisingly bad, and rather like my cassette of Led Zeppelin I recorded in Oxford around the same time... ish. I liked bootlegs a lot, and also have Skyhigh by Hendrix. The walls of the room were covered with bootlegs, and I wanted them all. It's an album with great atmosphere almost because the quality is so bad and he died a few weeks later. I wore a purple armband when he died. I also bought the first Faust album at that Virgin shop - it was my local shop, as I lived in Grape Street on the side of Shaftsbury Avenue. What a record. What a pair of clogs.
I've got loads and can't choose one.
There's the first and only 7" single by Dickless; Santo & Johnny's first LP from 1959, which has my favourite song on it; the rare version of The Beatles' Revolver with the wrong mix of 'Tomorrow Never Knows'; old easy listening LPs by George Shearing with the most beautiful covers; a rare Moondog 10"; I genuinely treasure every record I've got, even the tatty old 80s 7"s that most folk would be embarrassed about by now.
The most recent addition is a Morecambe & Wise flexidisc from 1974, 'Happy Birthday From Eric & Ernie'. My mum's boyfriend found it in a charity shop and bought me it as birthday card and I love it. I hold onto everything, so I've still got my entire youth on vinyl, and I spend a lot of money on eBay when the mood takes me too. That's how I got the Santo & Johnny one and the rare Revolver, for instance. All my records have memories attached. I can go in my room and pull out a record and tell you a story behind just about all of them. There's a pretty rare Babes In Toyland 7" on Sub Pop, 'House' was the A-side, and I remember buying that in London in 1997 for £80. Arab Strap were doing a gig at the time, and I had all the money on me, which amounted to £100 for petrol money home, but I spent it on that record. Still can't remember how we got home, but I imagine we've got someone's dad to thank.
Vinyl remains the sexiest of all music formats, and always will. There's something erotic in the physical contact required to listen to a record that still excites me today. Don't get me wrong, I love the modern world and digital formats are a welcome and brilliant evolution, but music is a very emotional experience for a lot of people, and there's a tactile element with vinyl that helps connect with music on another level than just the song itself. It's not just something to listen to, it's something to love.
Guy Garvey - Elbow
The Strawberry Statement soundtrack
It was something I went out and bought myself, it was £2 and it was an LP which was an MGM Studios record. It was the soundtrack from a film called The Strawberry Statement. I’ve never seen the film, but it’s about the hippy movement. I bought it - I don’t know why I bought it, I think I bought it because it was £2. I bought it from the Corn Exchange in Manchester, which is now a pretty awful modern shopping centre, but it used to be an open-planned indoor market and it had everything from Afro barbers to antique dealers to hippy juggling stores.
I inherited a hi-fi system off my next door neighbour and good friend James Holdsworth and expressed an interest in starting a record collection and he had a new system, so he gave me his old record deck and a pair of Mission 720 speakers, which I’ve still got and use to this day - over 20 years old, and they work great. On this record, they had a terrible version of ‘Circle Game’ by Buffy Sainte-Marie - I think she was a singing nun or something, an awful voice, really awful - that used to make me laugh. And it also had the theme, the main theme to The Strawberry Statement. I wanted to be a drummer originally and the first band I ever joined, aged 14, I claimed to be a drummer. I didn’t have a kit, I had a coffee jar with two toothbrushes. They had a really over-the-top, flamboyant studio musician drum solo at the beginning of this theme tune and I loved it - I loved miming along to this drum solo, and then it went into this very cheesy theme tune to this film.
But the real find on the record was the full nine-minute version of Neil Young’s ‘Down By The River’. I kind of was vaguely aware of his voice, cos my sisters would listen to him while we were growing up, but I’ve never really appreciated until I got into that tune. So simple - three-note guitar solo, it just chugs along, the relaxed way it was made, extreme stereo, so you had drum kit in your left ear and the bass in your right, and it got me really into Neil Young. With him, I fall in and out of love with it: most of the time I love it, then sometimes you need a couple of months off, because he has got a very particular style. If I’m honest, I don’t have a lot of time for his epic guitar solos, but by and large he’s a staple. Neil Young led me to John Martyn, led me to Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell was always there - I discovered that whole side of music that I still love to this day through this film soundtrack. That was the thing that got worn out, definitely.
Swans Way - 'Soul Train'
In 1983 I got a much-coveted Plustron TVRC (5" TV screen, radio, cassette player) and the first thing I managed to tape 'off the telly' was a haunting song called 'Soul Train' by Swans Way that had its debut on The Tube. The very next lunchtime I took myself into Tracks in St. Andrews thinking it'd be simple enough to just order the 12" single. Nobody could find it on any lists, and it didn't appear in the shop until the spring of 1984 sometime, by which time I'd all but worn out the tape. Hunger makes the best sauce alright. Last summer I found the 7" single from 1983 in a second hand shop in Mossley, and the Plustron lives below my teenage daughter's bed. Both copies and TV are working fine, thanks.
Tjinder Singh - Cornershop
Yellowman - Mr Yellowman
Sometimes quite rightly referred to as King Yellow, Yellowman’s delivery was termed “slack” – that is, casual violence, sexism, homophobia, and general rudeness - but I think that is just slack in itself. To me he takes soul and funk music to give us a great, often humorous insight into areas of Jamaican, London & New York life. I buy it, whenever I can, especially on vinyl, just to be able to give it away. Backed here by the classic Roots Radics and Earl “Chinna” Smith’s Hi Times Band, and a production duty by Henry “Junjo” Lawes, for a dub-based hot summer stereo spread.
The start-up 'Natty Sat Upon The Rock' has the best drum roll start ever in my opinion. His lyrics are like nursery rhymes, simple and have you remembering them throughout the day. In fact some of them are nursery rhymes, which help him to temper the heaviness of his lucid toasting. 'Morning Ride', a song with multiplication timetable – do songs get more educational? 'How You Keep A Dance In Your Area' - the dance has started, and here is how one keeps it ram. 'Jamaica A Little Miami' shows how well travelled he is. 'Cocky Did A Hurt Me', added to the end and best left, sounds like a rough demo, unless you really like the King Yellow.
The artwork is great too, with Yellow in a blue Adidas tracksuit in J.A.
Drew Lustman - FaltyDL
Moodymann - Black Mahogani
I love Black Mahogani. I had this woman over at my apartment a few weeks back and I was playing her records. I started with Roberta Flack, and then decided I wanted to go even deeper cause I was feeling her visit. So I put on some Moodymann. Around the middle of side D the LP gets incredibly dark, but it's still so smooth so I didn't think it would ruin the mood. It freaked her out! I was so surprised. Maybe it was an excuse for her to get closer to me, but she was really scared, like legitimately frightened! 'Riley's Song', that's the one that messed her all up.
It's rare, without the help of chemicals, to get a different perspective on an album you have heard over 50 times. I'll never look at the record again in the same way. Probably because I fell in love with her and she slipped away. Or ran away. Thats the other thing, tracks where they sing run away, run away, run away... and I'm gonna find someone else. It's a love album, but a hard honest album as well, where the listener is given power. It's encouragement in an LP. And the movie samples. Where to start? 'Back At Bakers', into the final disc with 'Mahogani 9000' and 'Black Mahogani'. It's a concept album. The Walter Murphy sample in the title track is flawless.
I think Kenny Dixon Jr. is as much of the art as his music is. And he might not admit that, but it only works because he is a genius. I hear new things in the LP every time I listen to it, which is about once a week these days. I've played every track of the album out in my sets before. It goes down like a treat. It's maybe a selfish move on my part, but it always works. I'm endlessly moved by this album and lucky to have such a strong connection to it. I hope you buy it and listen to it a thousand times.
The Fall - Hex Endunction Hour
I bought Hex Enduction Hour in a Birmingham record shop that no longer exists, where a member of The Sea Urchins worked behind the counter, after hearing tracks on Peel, age 13. It was the first grown-up record I bought. The vinyl was thick and heavy, the sleeve complicated and ready for endless cryptic scrutiny in a way that doesn't really read on the CD. The disc was played so often it is worn and scuffed but sounds right to me with all its wear and tear in a way the CD doesn't. I ran the record into the ground and grew up with it. Some vinyl I let go, and up/down-graded to CD copies. Hex will never go. The album in the abstract is my favorite record. My actual physical copy of it is one of my favorite things.
Lee Dorrian - Rise Above Records
The Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks
I guess it would be the copy of Never Mind The Bollocks, which my dad bought me for my 11th birthday. I have many rare and obscure records of all genres that I treasure, but this album was my first proper entry into music. I’ve since acquired the first press with poster and one-sided ‘Submission’ single etc, had the picture disc, Japanese, Greek, Canadian, US and various other pressings, but this pretty much non-valuable copy is the one that led me to so many other things, not only musical but also general life experiences.
Stephen F. O'Malley - Sunn O)))
Miles Davis - Pangaea
Well, not so straightforward as I have the hoarder/collector disease... So there are items which I've "quested" (as my old pal Tyler Davis puts it) and obtained like various EMI Perspective Series LPs, La Monte Young LPs, Aske MLP, Dead Man LP, Fushitsusha originals, etc, etc etc, etc.... etc! Not to mention the weekly obsessions which trawl up various rare records in terms of 'research' to the taxman (and fair enough, my brain as well). But, if we are talking artistically/musically it has to be either Get Up With It (KG 33236 Columbia 1974) or Pangaea (SOPZ 96~97 CBS/Sony 1975) as far as pure pleasure and number of plays over the last 12 years or so. You can track down a lot of items much easier these days of course, and there is a flood of €40-€60 collector-edition reissues on the market and more everyday. Somehow this $10 find at Academy in Manhattan beat them over the years. Miles ages like a great wine.
Aaron Coyes & Indra Dunis - Peaking Lights
Ohio Players - 'Funky Worm' 7"
Kind of a funny one, but I think the 'Funky Worm' 45 by Ohio Players on Westbound will always be a classic for us. It was our song we played for our first dance at our ritual wedding! So it always makes us smile. 'Funky Worm' is one of those 45s it seems like I find every couple months digging around in bins. So where it came from is a mystery. It fit the mood cause this is such a wild cut! It's party and freak out all in one, far out at its finest!
Kristin Hersh - Throwing Muses
The Left Banke - Walk Away Renée/Pretty Ballerina
Skimming through my dad's record collection one hot, boring summer morning, I came upon The Left Banke. I'd heard of just about everyone else in his collection, so of course I assumed this last, yet-to-be-discovered band was gonna be exquisitely wonderful, was gonna shift my world on its axis. Never mind that it was my DAD'S record collection, never mind that it was pathetic to hope; I was absolutely ready for the excitement that every twelve year old knows is just around the corner.
And yet... all twelve year olds are so deeply steeped in bitter disappointment. "Please be good," I whispered to these people from another era as I placed the needle on the scratchy vinyl, "please?"
God knows how it happened, but Left Banke came crawling out of the speakers, neat and tidy and messy and throaty and reedy and calm and visceral and...shifted my world on its freakin' axis. Left Banke heard my prayer: they were good. They were GREAT. With a healthy respect for pop music and an intriguing twist on production (baroque? really??) they shook my ears up sweetly. What a lovely thing to do!
I sat on the floor and listened straight through - I don't believe I had ever had the patience to engage a side B of one of my father's records before - while Left Banke turned the wilting eighties sun into happy sixties sunshine. To this day, when I wanna restore my faith in mankind and pop music, I put this record on, my dad having gifted it to me when I left home. It turns wilting into happy, pathetic into enchanted, sun into sunshine.
Stereolab - 'Cybele's Paradise' 10"
I bought my Stereolab 'Cybele’s Reverie' 10" from Beggars Banquet record shop in Putney in 1996 on my way home from school. At the age of 13, that trip to the record store home got me through my hell-on-earth school day, to the secret world of being alone with my record player, avoiding the real world and the homework. This record was the number one hit in my bedroom and changed my life and made me want to start producing my own music, to hopefully one day create a sonic world as faraway and beautiful as Tim Gane and Lætitia Sadier’s. I’ve always put it pride of place in every home studio space to remind me of what it was to fall so deeply in love with one record; from the artwork to its B-sides, I'm forever grateful.
Aaron Hemphill - Liars
The Legendary Pink Dots - Seconds Late For The Brighton Line
While it's not exactly the last record I purchased, The Legendary Pink Dots' Seconds Late For The Brighton Line is the first album I pre-ordered online. Not only did I order the album, I went all out and ordered the super fan T-shirt, double vinyl package and waited anxiously for it to arrive in the mail. I have just about everything they've released in some format or another, which if you're at all familiar with the Dots, you know this is a staggering amount of material.
They're extremely inspiring in how they've evolved their sound, constantly adding new sounds and structures as well as refining their production techniques. Their early work I feel was way ahead of its time, incorporating lo-fi production into the albums as a musical expression rather than a limitation. Always a band that pushes themselves, their records became more and more clear and refined in their recording fidelity. This evolution also seemed to coincide with their incorporation of more electronic sounds and instruments, something of great interest to Liars and what we've attempted with WIXIW.
For a band with so many albums that's been around since 1980, I think it's an incredible feat that their last album is one of their best. I saw them perform on two separate occasions in which they played some of the Brighton Line material, one occasion being a festival we were lucky enough to curate in Belgium. They were one of the first bands we asked, and the first band to confirm their slot on the festival. The newer songs came across incredibly, as did a few of their older songs, flowing seamlessly into an incredible set.
While I try not to categorize their material, for new listeners to The Legendary Pink Dots, I'd say there are two distinct sounds and eras. Their early work being for lack of better words, lo-fi, and their more recent albums being more on the electronic side. To any newcomer I'd recommend starting with their first, and most recent albums to get an idea of the band's range. If you can find it, Only Dreaming is one of their earliest (if not first) releases. Any fan of what people call ‘bedroom pop’, or home recorded epics should definitely become familiar with The Pink Dots early work. Seconds Late For The Brighton Line is available from ROIR records and is an incredible album on its own, but is also a testament to their unending creativity and growth.