The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

Worlds To Walk Into: Darren Hayman's Favourite Albums
Luke Turner , May 13th, 2020 08:55

As he releases a beautifully reflective album on the fall-out from a broken love, Darren Hayman takes us through 13 favourite albums, from Miles Davis collaborating with John Coltrane via Cliff Richard, the kids from Fame, Liz Phair, Nic Jones, ELO and The Damned.

Davis_coltrane_1589213563_resize_460x400

Miles Davis and John Coltrane - Live in Stockholm 1960
This album has multiple covers and titles; it seems to be barely official. This is Coltrane’s last tour with Davis. He didn't want to go. His career had already started. He is sulky and petulant on these shows. His playing is edging towards the more raucous howl of his later revolutionary period. The night before this show he was booed in Paris; Miles would leave the stage during his solos. In Stockholm, eight minutes into ‘All Blues’, Coltrane does a remarkable thing. He hits a split note, a strangled harmonic that is clearly unintentional. He plays the same mistake a second time, and I would be prepared to venture that this second time was also accidental. Then he plays it a third time, then a fourth and fifth. It could be that he is going for the rule that if you play a mistake, then you should play it again and it becomes a part. You underline it and make it seem intentional. But it’s more than that. Coltrane is fascinated by this tortured phrase. He becomes obsessed with what his saxophone is doing, or rather what it isn't doing. He is going into a trance and circling the five notes again and again, sometimes with the smallest changes, sometimes repeated in different ways, but always this curious, odd, raspy note in the middle. The audience doesn't exist. It is just him and this one phrase. In total, he repeats the line 33 times. I just counted. The band goes with him as well, from initial worry to uncertainty and finally to outrageous confidence. It is both the dumbest and most intelligent piece of music I've ever heard, and I think about it all the time when I'm making records. It speaks about the power of repetition, the beauty of pure experimentation, and what you can get away with if you show confidence.


If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.