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Baker's Dozen

Getting Hypnotised: John Robb Finds The Funk In Unusual Places
Julian Marszalek , July 12th, 2017 08:35

How did it take us nearly a decade to ask Brother John Robb for his Baker's Dozen choices? The Membranes frontman sits down with Julian Marszalek to discuss 13 favourite records where over the years he's dug out the most funk


Prince – Sign O' The Times
That title track pretty much touches on everything we've spoken about so far. That's a drum machine in the background that's on a loop, but like Kraftwerk he somehow manages to make it sound funky because it's electronic music. But he does it! It's such a jam and so loose and so sticky and it's a wonderful rhythm. And a weird one, as well.

It's a precursor to a lot of modern pop music. A lot of today's chart music is so fucking clever. I was talking to someone who writes pop songs and he was telling me there are people sat in rooms making drum loops – that's all they do – and they then send them on to people to write the topline melody to go on top of it. You listen to this stuff and you realise that's not a 4/4 but something really weird and people are dancing to it. If you'd have put those beats out in 1978, only John Peel would've played them; now they're all over the charts and are world-wide hits!

It's way ahead of what we're doing with rock music. Loads of these records are making rhythmic progressions that we're not making. And 'Sign 'O' The Times' is isn't the first to do it but it's so off-kilter and you can dance to it. The rhythm alone creates such an atmosphere that you almost don't need the rest of the song.