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Baker's Dozen

Corrupting Sonic DNA: Moby's Favourite Albums
Luke Turner , September 24th, 2013 08:18

Moby talks Luke Turner through his formative musical influences, from Nick Drake and OMD to the sound of New York via Suicide, Silver Apples, Eric B & Rakim and Public Enemy


Suicide - Suicide
One of the first jobs I ever had was working as a caddy on a golf course, and I worked just long enough so I could buy Lodger by David Bowie. The second job I had was cutting lawns, and I remember it was one of those hot summer days, I was sweating and getting attacked by wasps, and I was just thinking 'This is all worthwhile, because when I'm done here I'm going to ride my bike and go and buy the cut out vinyl of Suicide'. Cut outs were like the discount version. To be honest with you, I don't really even remember why I was fixated on buying the first Suicide album. Part of it was the cover, and the guy who ran my local record store, his name was Johnny, he was this alcohol and drug-addicted crazy person, and you'd walk in and he'd be playing all these random records, from Nick Drake to the Grateful Dead to The Clash to Miles Davis, and one day he was playing Suicide. It sounded like nothing I'd ever heard before. I think I was about 14.

It wasn't until many years later that I met anyone who liked Suicide. I don't know if you experienced this as well, but when I was growing up albums were these almost, not to sound too grad studenty, totemic things that you would take into your house. Nowadays if I hear a song and it doesn't immediately resonate with me I probably won't spend any time on it. Some of the early records that I bought, like Public Image's Second Edition or Suicide, I'd made the effort to bring these into my house. I only had nine or 10 albums in my possession, so if I didn't understand a record back then I would think it was my fault. I'd think that the people making the record were smarter and more sophisticated than I was, and the fact that I didn't understand it was indicative of my own shortcomings.

It was the middle of the summer, and I didn't really have a lot of friends, I didn't have a lot going on. My mum would go to work in the day and I was pretty much left alone to read books and watch TV. I had a lot of free time to listen to records. I took the Suicide album home and it didn't make sense to me, but I spent day after day and week after week listening to it until I cracked the code and it started to make sense. The first song is 'Ghostrider', and I still remember that Saul on the road to Damascus moment when I was listening to it for the third or fourth time, and there's that recurring line "America America is killing its youth", and I'd never heard anyone say anything like that before. And to say it in such a throwaway, casual way, it wasn't delivered in a portentous way, it's a throwaway lyric in a song, and that was the moment that really resonated. At the same time I was taking guitar lessons, and my teacher loved very complicated well-produced modern jazz fusion and heavy metal with long guitar solos, and he'd force me to listen to Van Halen or Larry Carlton and then when I listened to Suicide I was first confused - am I allowed to like something that clearly my music teacher hates? And finally I admitted to myself I don't like these well-produced records, I like these strange sounds. I think it also really corrupted my musical DNA.