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Baker's Dozen

Stir My Teenage Soul: Karl 'Regis' O'Connor's Favourite LPs
Luke Turner , July 1st, 2020 08:47

Karl O'Connor guides Luke Turner through the 13 teenage hits that made him Regis, with tales of smelling like a badger on the mail train to Brum and what happens when you get a member of Einstürzende Neubauten the wrong gravel on the way


Robert Rental & The Normal – Live At The West Runton Pavillion 1979
This is a gateway. I didn't buy this at the time, maybe four years after it came out. I can remember where I bought all these records, it was purchased at the outdoor Oasis market in Birmingham. Money was very short so used to share records and this was one of those. We knew the 'Warm Leatherette' / 'TVOD' single of course but thought it was the only thing Daniel Miller had done as The Normal. We asked the guy on the stall to play it - bear in mind it's an outdoor market, he put it on, and anyone who's heard that record will know that it's an onslaught of electronics and insanity that then breaks down into jazz, and people were looking 'what the hell is that going on?', so we said 'we'll take that' and then were on the bus thinking 'I hope this is the right thing'. We sat at home and put it on, and I can remember it clearly like I can with all these records, everything just unfolded, it was the greatest 25 minutes of music, it hit me on every level - it was experimental without being wilfully experimental, and it was melodic and tuneful but still on the edges of avant-garde. When you talk of British sound visionaries, you have to put Daniel Miller up there with Joe Meek, both of them went about applying their own unique sound and techniques and took it into the charts. Miller and Robert Rental knew what they were doing onstage, they fully knew that it was a war that they were encountering. Unlike other groups like TG or the Cabs, it's a continuous piece of music, like a modern DJ or live set, it segues seamlessly. There's no obvious references in any of the music, in the way that you could hear where TG or the Cabs were coming from. It sounded like the future and it still sounds like year zero to me. When I started doing live gigs I limited it to 25 minutes because of this, I thought it was enough for people to deal with. Now I resent playing more than ten minutes, I've honed it down. Since then I've found out that they had a particularly tough time in Newcastle and Birmingham, which doesn't surprise me at all. William Bennett was on that tour and he told me that in the bus Daniel Miller predicted the future - he said it'll be drum machines in nightclubs all night long - you can be a pioneer but to be a prophet like that is something else.