The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

Songs Of Life: Leftfield's Favourite Albums
Dom Smith , October 13th, 2015 09:32

As he continues his UK dates in support of this year's Alternative Light Source, Leftfield's Neil Barnes takes us on a tour of some seminal albums that shaped his music, alongside a few current favourites

Curtis_mayfield_1444727628_resize_460x400

Curtis Mayfield - Back To The World
I think I might have heard it around 1978, I was about 18 then. I was quite lucky, I went to an old fashioned grammar school, but very artsy, where we did no work and just played records. One half of the room was into indie and early punk and the other side of the room would listen to soul music and disco. Curtis Mayfield was on there and from that I picked this up when I worked at Honest Jon's.

The thing about this record is that it's truly great, in that every track on it is a masterpiece. In my head there isn't anything on this record that people shouldn't listen to. Curtis Mayfield is my favourite soul singer. He's important because he was ahead of his time in so many ways. He took control in the studio, he was a complete musician.

This record was written at the end of the Vietnam war, which was a long time ago, but it's relevant because it's about war and the ridiculous nature of war. The first track, 'Back To The World', is about soldiers coming back from the war and not fitting in. Back to a world that they lost touch with and where they forgot what were they fighting for in the first place. It's an anti-war album and it's a very important statement and very relevant.

The musicians on it are incredible. It's Curtis Mayfield at his best: 'Right On For The Darkness' is genius. These are songs about hope for the future. I saw him play twice later in his life and he still had it. He's just an amazing musician - an amazing band, one of my all-time favourite artists and a big influence on me.


If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.