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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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Various Artists – Street Sounds Electro 5
There isn't really one definitive album in that series. We were completely addicted to those Electro albums when they first came out. One of us had one album and we used to trade them between the lot of us. I bought Electro 2 and I was a bit pissed off at the time, but it's one of my favourites now. Electro 5 has got some of the best tunes on it. And Crucial Electro has got 'Clear' by Cybertron, which is amazing. Jerry Calliste, Jr. is a genius I think. He was the man behind 'Al Naafiysh' and High-Fidelity Three's 'B Boys Breakdance'. That's one of my favourite tunes on Electro 5. 'Breaker's Revenge' [by Arthur Baker] is a killer. Beat Street – the film and the soundtrack – was huge for me. I was a terrible breakdancer. Embarrassingly bad. I had a couple of moves and I could barely do those, but I loved the culture of it. UK Electro was also a key record – I found out recently that it's all by one guy.

It's perhaps easy to see this in retrospect, but there are lots of parallels between Detroit and Sheffield and Manchester. I can remember looking out at the cooling towers from my bedroom window. They were maybe two miles away. You could see a big urbanised bit to the side of it. It made the landscape magical listening to that music. I think this was probably what Kraftwerk were getting at originally. Talking about it now it seems obvious, but it adds magic to your own mundane landscape. You need that. That's what happened with Detroit techno. You've got this utterly bleak landscape and the only way to make it palatable is to lend it some kind of majesty.

I think we were very lucky growing up when we did. We had lots of momentous moments. Things are very fractured now. Back then, everybody had an opinion on something like Star Wars – especially boys, well, men now. We all have this notion that we were privy to something amazing. It's very rare now that something is that omnipresent. The whole thing with the electro scene was that it was a bit left of centre. I got a lot of stick for it at school. I can see why, looking back now. It was such a huge thing. It pushed you in a certain direction. I've grown up a bit now, but it used to be quite extreme. Y'know, like, "If you don't share my taste in music you can fuck off."

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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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