Amorica by The Black Crowes – The record that made me want to get real
We’d already been playing in bands for a couple of years when we first heard the Black Crowes. Their second album (The Southern Harmmony and Musical Companion) chimed with the rose-tinted 1971 dreams we had for ourselves and they became a totemic reference point for how we wanted to sound and look (back when I was 13). Amorica, which was the first record I ever bought in the week of release, came from a completely different place. The songs were odd and forlorn, the swagger was muted, even apologetic and to me, it sounded like a new type of music - they still wore bellbottoms but it wasn’t retro, they still played guitars but it seemed a million miles from the other rock music of the time. It made me want to make better music and write better songs. I listened obsessively to the sonic details of the record and Peter and I would feverishly dissect the percussion parts and the guitar sounds. Along with the mid-period Beatles albums we got around the same time, it opened my ears and brain to the intricacies of production, arrangement and engineering.
Big Star’s Third – The record which redefined success for me
For Christmas back in 1997 I was given a ‘Top 1000 Albums Ever As Voted By You (and some music writers)’ type-of-thing. As a teenager just discovering how much music was out there, I found it fascinating. especially in trying to figure out why a particular album was in there. Once you get the general public involved all sorts of bizarre things go on - if I remember rightly, the top 30 included both Jagged Little Pill and Be Here Now and also probably K by Kula Shaker. Spice by The Spice Girls just scraped the top 100. So far, so justifiable (in that they were huge-selling albums of that year which hadn’t yet suffered a major critical backlash). More interesting were the albums which I’d either never heard of or knew next to nothing about and which had never enjoyed any commercial acclaim. Five Velvet Underground albums (including an out-takes album) were in there, along with all three Nick Drake albums and all three albums by a band called Big Star. I spent most of my student loan on albums like these. Back in the early days of internet shopping, Big Star’s Third was particularly difficult to get hold of (an album so obscure you couldn’t even buy it???) but the emotive force and strangeness of the album was absolutely worth hunting for. As well as being extremely beautiful, it’s a very odd-sounding record and discomfiting in many ways (you’re never far from the feeling that Alex Chilton is just toying sarcastically with the listener) – it certainly wasn’t a mystery that no-one had bought it. But at the same time if the record-buying public at large don’t like this then why make records for the record-buying public at large?
Soft Bulletin by Flaming Lips – The record that made me glad to be alive now (rather than in the some imagined golden era in the past)
I’m sure everyone who’s involved in making music occasionally comes to a point where they hit a dead end and the aim of trying to create something new, original or interesting seems futile. Hopefully some record or idea comes along which kicks you out of the mire and gives you a reason to keep at it. At a time when I felt very little connection to new music, a flurry of albums from American weirdos came along and chief among them was The Soft Bulletin by The Flaming Lips. It sounded old and modern, heartfelt and intellectual, ambitious and humble all at the same time. Looking back, it took me a couple of years to get away from making unintended homages to this record but I absolutely needed to go through that process if only to realise that it’s always worth trying to make things a bit better.
Field Music will release a special 500 edition run of white 7″ vinyls to celebrate Record Store Day, featuring the songs ‘Heart’ and ‘Rent’.
Their album Plumb is available now through Memphis Industries and the band will be performing at the following UK dates:
14 April, Independent, Sunderland
07 May, The Black Box, Belfast
04 June, Forbidden Fruit Festival, Dublin
23 June, Transmission 003, Jodrell Bank, Manchester
22 July, Tramlines Festival, Sheffield
04 August, Standon Calling, Hertfordshire
12 August, Wilderness Festival, Oxfordshire
18 August, Green Man Festival, Wales
08 September, Bestival, Isle of Wight
03 October, The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen
04 October, Oran Mor, Glasgow
05 October, The Cockpit, Leeds
06 October, Kazimier, Liverpool
10 October, Cellars, Southampton
11 October, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
12 October, Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton
13 October, Sumo, Leicester
17 October, Electric Ballroom, London
18 October, The Haunt, Brighton
19 October, Komedia, Bath
20 October, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry