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Crab-Walkin' Callisthenics: James Yorkston's Favourite YouTubes
The Quietus , February 22nd, 2013 09:04

In anticipation of his set at Field Day, Scottish folk man and Fence collective member has given us a rundown of his top YouTube videos, going from Scott Walker to Sonic Youth by way of Nimrod Workman and Dexys' on-stage fitness routine

Scott Walker - 'Rosary' - Jools Holland, 1995

Scott Walker was someone whose music I discovered in the early 90's – I was a fan of Jacques Brel and stumbled across the Scott Walker Sings Jacques Brel compilation in the Edinburgh Record Library. I didn't like it all, but there was enough there for me to wonder what he sounded like singing other material – so I got the Boy Child compilation and from then on I was hooked. When word got out that he was releasing a new album (Tilt) I was reasonably excited – and then when I heard he was going to be on Jools Holland, well, that was something to look forward to. I wondered what on earth he was going to do though – full band? Orchestra? None of that. He just freaked us all out a bit, like this.

At The Drive-In - 'One Armed Scissor' - Jools Holland, November 2000

It's all about the energy, isn't it? And how on earth the song is somehow surviving amidst all the chaos that's going on around it. The only bad thing about this clip is everything else I've heard or seen by them has left me disappointed, in that it's not as good as this. But what is?

Skip James - 'Devil Got My Woman'/'I'm So Glad'etc - Newport Blues Festival, 1966

The internet, eh? It's got all sorts. I was never a Chicago blues fan, found Robert Johnson (mostly) a little tame and boring, although he has his moments of true greatness, of course. For me, I preferred the roughness of Sam 'Lightnin'' Hopkins, or this guy, Skip James. He's a very original guitar player and I think one'd be allowed to call his voice “haunting” without fearing too much comeback. Seeing him here, playing away surrounded by peers and onlookers, is quite a treat.

Dexys Midnight Runners - 'There There My Dear' – The Tube, 1983

And we're back to the energy again. I'm not a huge fan of Dexys, but was played this by a man who is. It's an astonishing performance by what looks and sounds like a great band. Press-ups on stage? Yes please.

Dag Nasty – 'Can I Say?' - 1985

And this is just me harking back to my childhood. I LOVED this album when I was 14 years old and seeing the original band playing it live, despite it being from crappy video tape, is great fun.

Josh Stegall – 'I Awoke'

One of the most flattering things that can happen to me as a songwriter is when people cover my songs. It doesn't happen too often, they're pretty wordy beasts and – well why cover one of mine when you can cover 'Hallelujah' and 'Song To The Siren' like everyone else? But this guy did a cover and I reckon it's better than the original.

Nimrod Workman - 'Lord Bateman' - 1983

I love this. Nimrod Workman was a Kentucky coal miner who hollered along unaccompanied. He had an amazing repertoire of the old ballads and quite a voice. Listening to him is a cleansing experience - at first it may seem a little harsh, but when you're in there, it's quite something. Recommended LOUD MUSIC for driving and shouting along to.

And just to prove that sometimes you need more than one string to your bow, here's Nimrod doing the crab-walk from 1983.

Linton Kwesi Johnson – 'If I was a top notch poet...'

I'm a huge fan of LKJ, I've been listening to his music and reading his poetry since the late 80s. This is from his most recent album More Time. He's one of only a couple of musicians that I still follow from way back then. I'd love to do a show with him, although I think he's one of the few artists I'd be in awe to meet. I have no idea why his poetry - which mostly concerned being a young black Briton living in London - appealed so much to me, a young white fellow living in a farming village in the East Neuk of Fife.

Mike Waterson - 'Cold Coast of Iceland' - Hull Truck Theatre, August 2010

I knew Mike a wee bit, mainly from doing the BBC Electric Proms tribute to his sister Lal, where I was a musical director. He was an amusing chap, full of interesting stories and odd wee facts. When he was diagnosed with the cancer that got him in the end, I sent him a copy of Lewis Grassic Gibbon's Sunset Song and was delighted when he told me he loved it so much he bought the rest of the trilogy – as that was what I had done upon first reading it. This was filmed just before Mike passed. He's still in fine voice and I love to watch it, it reminds me of a short but fun time working with him.

Sonic Youth - 'Tunic (Song For Karen)'

Jings. This album is something special and this song? Well. There you go. The video's pretty good, too. I saw them live around this time, somewhere dark and smoke-filled, when they played this, it was an extremely intense moment. A nice bit of poppy noise, or noisy pop.

James Yorkston will be playing Field Day 2013 on May 25 at Victoria Park, London. For tickets, head here