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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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Funkadelic – Free Your Mind... And Your Ass Will Follow
This was the first record I took acid to with Richard [Ashcroft]. My dad bought it for 20p in a junk shop. It was the same shop where I used to get all my pedals from. Twenty quid for a flanger and that was what the first Verve record was based on – that flanger. Funkadelic – it didn't even have the proper cover on it, it was just in a tattered white sleeve. I can remember listening to it not under the influence and thinking, "This is a bit strange!" Then my folks were away for a week and Richard came and stopped with me for a bit and we did acid. It was my first time, but I think he'd done it a couple of times. We were walking about the field at the back of my house for a bit, but then we went back and inevitably starting ploughing through all the records. Electric Ladyland by Jimi Hendrix, stuff like that. But that Funkadelic record was the one really – we put that up against our first demo and it made our demo sound like toy music. We had a moment of revelation. Not as painful as later on, but just that we were heading in the wrong direction. That's the acid cringe – that portentous, pontificating moment. Because suddenly it was like, "Oh fucking hell, that really makes sense now".

Those first three Funkadelic albums for me define what a guitar band should sound like. They're just incredible. Eddie Hazel, he sits in the place for me where Ron Asheton does for most people. I love the Stooges but Eddie Hazel crystallised… I don't know if it's as simple as saying psychedelic guitar. He was cramming lots of ideas in. The violence of it to me is what's really appealing. It's the destructive force behind it, but maintaining a beauty about. With Ron Asheton it's all about annihilation, and I like that as well and I do indulge in that. But with Eddie there's texture and space and atmosphere. There's a big fire burning in the middle of it and it is such powerful music. That's what started my love affair with tape echo. I think I had a tape echo at that point, but I wasn't really using it that much. In fact I don't think there's that much on record that caught me using it, which is a shame. But live we were a bit more ferocious than we were presented on record and this is where that came from. I was also into EVOL by Sonic Youth at the time. That's one of my favourite records.

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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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