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Baker's Dozen

Elements Of Confusion: Nick McCabe Of Black Submarine's Favourite LPs
Joe Clay , March 11th, 2014 09:21

With New Shores, the long-awaited debut by Black Submarine, out this week, the former Verve guitarist goes from teenage mainstays to recently-heard favourites in his top 13 albums

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John Carpenter – Halloween (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
I grew up in the seventies – the era of the video nasty. My friend had Betamax, while we had VHS, but it seemed like Betamax had all the best horror movies. That was the time when I got exposed to quite a lot of electronic music. I was going to chuck in A Clockwork Orange's soundtrack too. It was 'Timesteps' on that that made the big impression. That and Holst's The Planets. I started to enjoy being frightened by music. My partner at the moment really doesn't understand that. She's a real soul and R&B fanatic. She doesn't get the fact that music's got to scare you.

The Halloween soundtrack gives me a knot in my stomach… that's become a mark of quality for me in music over the years. Unless it's IBS [chuckles]. It's the tension. Quite a lot of my descriptions of music have little tags like "nosebleed". Music can induce a very physical response. I developed this theory that music was analogous to physical activity. Like sneezing; something as simple as that. It mirrors the rhythms of the body. A couple of years back I got Phantasm on DVD and the music on that had a similar effect. It's clear to me now, looking back after years and years of being a music fan, that John Carpenter's stuff in general opened up another field of things I enjoyed in music. The whole krautrock thing. There's a huge element of fear in that. And John Carpenter's work on Escape From New York… that dense, heavy atmosphere. He was consistently brilliant up until about 1988 when the novelty of synthesisers wore off. They became a kind of cheesy thing. But during that era, there wasn't that kitschy element to electronic music – it was genuinely seen as otherworldly and that still comes through to this day. The best of it transcends that kitsch vibe. Like Computer World by Kraftwerk. That sounds more modern and harder than most of the electronic music being made today. It seems weird to me really – to put this ironic slant on something that still works.

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Mar 11, 2014 2:25pm

Sounds like a guy with eclectic tastes, which I didn't expect from knowing his work with The Verve. Good stuff.

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Star sail
Mar 11, 2014 9:15pm

This was a revelation. Full of interesting stories about records that I now look forward to checking out. Always the best thing about this excellent series. (Nick, your music has been a huge part of my life since I - somehow - managed to get into a Verve gig at the Jericho Tavern aged 15.)

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Mar 11, 2014 11:16pm

Seems a nice lad

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Mar 12, 2014 11:34am

Love Nick's guitar playing so much; 'Reprise' from A Northern Soul still gives me goosebumps after about 1000 listens ;)

Nice to see shout-outs for Autechre and Mobb Deep as well...

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Mar 12, 2014 12:37pm

In reply to autechrejambo:

This, totally! Just an astonishing piece of music/guitar playing/alchemy!

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Mar 12, 2014 1:11pm

Great to read about someone's obvious love and passion for music, made me want to check a few things...thanks.

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Mar 13, 2014 10:16am

Sometimes I google 'Life's An Ocean - Jools Holland 1997' to be reminded of the moment when everything I knew about what guitars could and should do was irrevocably changed. This man is a genius in the true sense of the word.

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teddy dogs
Mar 22, 2014 7:29pm

Love Nick's descriptions of why these albums mean so much to him. Can't wait to check out a lot of this stuff.

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lisa m. washer
Mar 24, 2014 8:07pm

I would be the first to comment on nick and simons jones talent as well. My god simon soooo good looking back the and talented and still is. And nick as well,. Too bad richards ego got in the way or who knows the verve might still be together,. I will buy the black suberine c. D. When it comes out look forward to it lol lisa m. Washer

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May 24, 2014 12:32pm

Fantastic interview. Some of the greatest guitar lines in British rock from the 90s come from this guy. There were supposed to be deluxe reissues of A Northern Soul and A Storm In Heaven but it takes all 4 members to sign off on it. Imagine the studio outtakes! Also there was talk of a live Verve record release.

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