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Baker's Dozen

Constellations In The Sky: Jonathan Donahue Of Mercury Rev's Top LPs
Yousif Nur , October 22nd, 2015 10:15

From spooky narrations in the Catskill Mountains to avant-garde masterworks, the New York band's singer and guitarist tells Yousif Nur about the albums and one song that have had a lasting impact on his own music


Richard Burton - The Little Prince
Back in the late '60s and early '70s, children's records were all the rage, with stars making cameo appearances. The Little Prince was no different. It featured Richard Burton in the role of the narrator in the audiobook. It had a who's who at the time as well, with big Hollywood names such as Jonathan Winters and a whole other bunch of people. The idea was that you'd read the book and along with it, you'd hear some sort of strange synthesiser. I got it for my birthday in 1974 when I was eight years old. It had one of those effects where the moment it was on the vocoder, I was paralysed, I stopped what I was doing - this I could vividly remember and I would sit down and listen. I literally started to pound tables to turn onto side two! The whole story is read out and the idea of a concept such as narration going over an orchestration or some sort of a continuous, linear soundtrack is something that stayed with me. It gave me the momentum to later on follow on with the idea of a concept record. Certainly a lot of our music has that fairy tale aspect to it and The Little Prince would have been one of the first influences - along with one or two others - that embedded in the DNA of Mercury Rev very early on. This is also probably my favourite book and after 40-45 years it still hits me. Try as I might to go in another direction sometimes, this musical aspect still comes out of me.

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