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Baker's Dozen

Champion Versions: Steve Mason's Favourite Albums
Joe Clay , March 2nd, 2016 11:04

With his new solo album, Meet The Humans, just released, the prolific musician and former Beta Band man gives Joe Clay a tour of his record collection, meandering through electro, hip-hop, punk and more


The Prisoners – The Last Fourfathers
At the time I bought this I was in a band. We were a kind of surf band at school. I suppose I was a mod. And the way we used to hear about what was going on in the mod scene is there was an A5 pamphlet called The Phoenix List. It was the records that were coming out, the gigs going on all over the country – that kind of thing. And I can remember reading about The Prisoners in that so I thought I'd give it a go. I'd already bought a few more American garage records, and I liked it straightaway. Other friends of mine were really into The Milkshakes, and some of that Medway stuff that was happening, and I realised these guys were from the Medway. There was an album, Thee Milkshakes Vs The Prisoners, and one side was the Prisoners and the other was the Milkshakes. The surf band I was in, two guys were psychobillies – they were really into rockabilly and The Cramps and The Sting-Rays and all that Stomping At The Klub Foot stuff. One of the guys from the band saw the Prisoners records in my house. In my head they were a mod band, but in his head they were a garage, psychobilly band, because of the links with The Milkshakes. So they were a very important band for me because they joined two different scenes together. They straddled both camps. You'd never say to your mod mates that you were listening to a Cramps album, y'know? That wouldn't go down well.

Later on I read interviews with them and realised that they were a right bunch of miserable cunts who seemed to hate everything that they did. This album was produced by Russ Wilkins, who was in The Milkshakes. I kind of know Russ now, because he's in a band with some friends of mine. I think it's the best Prisoners album, especially in terms of production. He nailed their sound, but they still whinge about it. All their songs are brilliant. They sowed the seeds for bands like Inspiral Carpets and The Charlatans. They were ahead of their time, even though it's retro music. The stuff that they were listening to then, nobody else was. Nobody had been digging in these long-lost crates that they'd been digging in and finding the stuff that they found. I always admire bands that are way off on a tangent – stuck out in the Medway doing their own thing and then loads of people discovering it. You don't really get that anymore because we're all connected to this internet contraption. There's far less scenes developing in isolation, which is a great shame.