Sunday, June 06, 2010

Which three artists are at the heart of your musical DNA ?

The intense musical internal interrogation goes on. It has been stimulated by a teasing question posed on The Word website here: Which three artists are at the heart of your musical DNA ?

It's hard to answer this beyond the first one. The Jam. That starts everything else. More so than the Clash and their glorious use of reggae riffs on Guns of Brixton and covers like Police and Thieves. The Jam were also about concept albums, showmanship, political anthems and working class anger. They were the first band I absorbed. But it was just the beginning of a musical journey. Even when he ran The Jam Paul Weller encouraged diversions into Motown (Heatwave, In the Midnight Hour). A review of Sound Affects I read compared it to The Beatles album Revolver, which I bought the very next day and loved. And if there had been no Jam, there would have been no Oasis - and so many others. And then there are Weller's other later trends - house music, folk, Dadrock.

Second is just bewildering. I love a female voice in a harmony. My early memories of music growing up were Captain & Tenille, Carly Simon, Helen Reddy and The Carpenters, but I couldn't and don't think about them hardly at all. And certainly can't trace a huge portion of my musical love to them. Do you know what, I think the stirrings of something started with Abba. That melancholy, that hurt, that celebration and expectation of love. It's probably why I like the Cardigans, Texas, disco divas like Donna Summer, but also Prefab Sprout and Scritti Politti. The vote of this jury gives Sweden the full 10 points.

Third then starts to feel like an exercise in showing off. I'm desperately trying not to, and much as I'd like to pretend I have some gritty Northern artists in my musical genes I don't. I LOVE The Stone Roses, well, their only good album is in any top 3, I like The Smiths a lot. I love New Order, but can only really endure half a dozen Joy Division songs. No, I've got a guilty secret and it's bombastic rock with a heart. And there is no-one better at this than the Boss. From there comes U2, REM and the Manics.

That's a long way of answering the question. The short way is The Jam, Bruce Springsteen and Abba.

1 comment:


Waterboys: Everything folky or vaguely Celtic that I like can be traced back to my love for this band, even some stuff that came before then. I only bothered finding out about Bob Dylan and Van Morrison because they influenced Mike Scott.

The La's: Melody and a catchy chorus are everything. Lee Mavers is a genius. The Beatles in jeans and a check shirt. Oasis with knobs on.

Billy Bragg: Being a BB fan in your teens was a rite of passage for anyone with a brain. Whether or not my claiming to be left wing or radical was just a fashion statement, posturing or immaturity is irrelevant now. Billy Bragg is the only English singer that made me feel politics had something to do with me and wasn't just for the grown ups. They don't make 'em like that any more.