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Michael Rother was half of the band Neu!. However, his solo stuff has really blown me away. His minimal use of melody in his songs is so emotive. The hooks are incredibly catchy, I can listen to his stuff over and over again. There’s something about his personality that I really like, too. He’s really quiet and reserved, almost the anti-rock star. He’s a guy that loves making beautiful, interesting music.
Scott Engel, a ’60s teen idol in The Walker Brothers, couldn’t cope with fame, suffered a breakdown, joined a monastery, tried to commit suicide, then reinvented himself in 1967 as a romantic balladeer. His subsequent solo output was reduced to one album a decade, each more void-staringly abstract than the last. Walker’s music is some of the most breathtaking ever written, his voice colossal, his songwriting daring.
King Crimson’s ‘In The Court Of The Crimson King’ was the record that made me want to be in a band. It blew my tiny child mind. The man behind the music was Robert Fripp. Fripp felt that music offered “the capacity to re-experience one’s innocence” and listening back to ‘Zootime’, our first seven-inch, I couldn’t believe how indebted to King Crimson it sounded.
I listened to Rory Gallagher’s records from the age of 12 or 13. It was the glorious guitar playing that first inspired me to really go after the instrument. Not that I had any ambition then, other than just learning how to play. I saw him in Macroom in 1976. I love his early stuff, the pure energy. That was the era of the trio: Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream… and Ireland had Taste.
Now that Syd’s gone there is nobody else in UK music surrounded by such enduring mystique as Lee Mavers of The La’s. The perennial lost boy of Merseybeat, but he endures because of the quality of those songs he left behind: ‘Tears In The Rain’… ‘Callin’ All’… these ‘lost’ tunes are as strong as the likes of ‘Feelin’’ and (almost) ‘There She Goes’.
He’s one of the most underrated writers ever. He was the best writer in The Byrds, but his album ‘No Other’ is one of the best albums ever made, it should be up there with ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’. He got all the best studios, all the best musicians for it. Listen to him singing, listen to his words. I think he’s a great songwriter who you can learn off.
When David Berman decided to stop the band I was sad, but then he put out a book of annotated drawings. Everything he does is part of the same landscape that he’s been creating throughout his career. It’s totally original, and like all the best art I feel his work is a world in itself for me to return to whenever I choose.
Nomi was so confusing that none of the record shops knew where to put him. In California, he was seen as a death rocker. I’d go in my local record store and see his albums sandwiched between Diamanda Galas, Lydia Lunch and pitbull punks like Christian Death. It didn’t matter what he was singing about, he sounded dramatic and fabulous.
“I drive I don’t know where I’m driving/I am I don’t know what it is to be/You can just find me floating, sometimes/down rivers of t-tears”. These were my first moments spent with Jandek, on ‘Remain The Same’ from ‘Graven Image’, and by God does it sound like you’re in there with him. He lays himself bare but reveals nothing; he is the antimatter of song.
My first boyfriend had pulled out Captain Beefheart’s ‘Trout Mask Replica’ from his parent’s record collection and I knew that this was going to be a lifelong love affair. Then I heard it. It was too much for my 13-year-old mind to comprehend. I wouldn’t come across it again for another five years, when it swanned back into my life insisting on a second chance. It was the most exciting music I had ever heard.