The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

Thirsty For Song: James Johnston Of Gallon Drunk's Favourite LPs
Julian Marszalek , November 16th, 2016 09:31

As well as being the lynchpin of suited rock howlers Gallon Drunk, James Johnston has played with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and PJ Harvey - but we're not going to hold the fact that he's picked both of them for his Baker's Dozen against him. Portrait by Steve Gullick.

Cale_1479226180_resize_460x400

John Cale - Animal Justice EP
I know it's an EP rather than an album, but it's got to be in there as it meant a lot to me. And it is at least 12" size!

I got this in the Record And Tape Exchange in London in the mid-80s and that shop was a Mecca for the penniless music enthusiast. I basically got it because of the cover, and it was cheaper than the albums. I knew the Velvets, and knew he'd produced the first Stooges album, the Modern Lovers, Patti Smith etc, all amazing records, so I wanted to know more about his own stuff.

And bloody hell! 'Chicken Shit'! Unbelievable! What a fantastic noise and what a riff! Just brilliant! It seems to just churn on forever but it was only three-and-a-half minutes long. It totally fitted into what I liked at the time, but went even further, and this was a recent release by someone more associated with the 60s.

And as if that wasn't enough, on the other side you get a couple of tracks, one of which is 'Hedda Gabler', which is probably one of my favourite songs by Cale, or anyone. This is what really got me about this record. It's just so beautiful. The song twists and turns, changes character, and has this sublime coda. His voice just totally astonished me. I hadn't really heard that level of drama in a song before, and the chord structure and arrangement are just so fantastic As a result it led me to Sabotage/Live, the glorious Paris 1919, Fear, and songs like 'Heartbreak Hotel' and 'Big White Cloud', the list just goes on and on.

One of my favourite singers, without a doubt.


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.