WARMER MIXTAPES #316 | by Max McElligott of Wolf Gang
1. The Rolling Stones | Beast Of Burden
I was watching the film Basquiat about the American artist, and this song came on in one of the scenes, I was surprised not to have heard it before. I love the artwork by Basquiat, there's a little alleyway in London where you can still see where he graffiti'd some beat poetry along a brick wall, near Holborn, it's pretty cool. David Bowie plays Warhol in the film and does a pretty good job. Anyway I really like a large handful of Rolling Stones songs, big fan of Mick's style through the ages too, he's worn some pretty mad bastard costumes in his day... I dropped out of the LSE a couple of years back, and have to say that knowing he had done exactly the same helped my decision...
2. Talking Heads | This Must Be The Place
I heard this song first when watching Wall Street, after a friend lent me the DVD and told me to watch out for the sharp suits Michael Douglas wore in his role as the infamous Gordon Gecko. But after the film finished the only thing I could think about was how incredibly romantic and poetic the lyrics of that song had been, and how satisfying the music and the tempo was. I was familiar with Talking Heads already as my parents had their records, but I'd never come across this song. Since then it has sort of become the soundtrack to my life, I'm rehearsing a cover of it at the moment with my band...
3. Paul Simon | Under African Skies
When I was 18 I worked for a summer on a farm in Scotland with some friends, walking through the fields picking out wild outs from among the crops, it's called Roguing. The days were hot and in the evening after a long day's work we would all sit up on the hay bales and have a beer or two as the Sun set. It was a very hardworking but satisfying and peaceful time in my life. Anyway I had just discovered the Graceland album at that point so had it playing constantly on my iPod, there's something calming about this song that I compare to my short lived days as a farm hand.
4. Arthur Russell | That's Us/Wild Combination
I was told to check out Arthur Russell by Orlando from Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. We were sitting in a pub in Oxford drinking an old ale which is traditionally green, and he mentioned that I should really check this dude out. Anyway I did and fell in love with this song, it's so uplifting despite the melancholy in Arthur's voice. It reminded me a bit of Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division. When I researched his life, and realised it had been a rather sad one ending in an untimely demise, the comparison seemed pretty legitimate. Only I prefer this song, it's more playful sounding.
5. Elvis Costello | Shipbuilding
I feel particularly attached to this song because I lived for a while in the house of the man who wrote and produced it. His name is Clive Langer, he moved out as I moved in, so I had the good fortune of meeting him. When he moved out he couldn't get the piano out of the basement, so left it for me to tinkle on. I wrote most of the songs from my upcoming debut album on that white upright piano, and also had a lot of parties in which the piano heavily featured. But it was always cool thinking that a lot of artists Langer had worked with (Bowie, Madness, Costello) had probably played on it at some point too... Anyway the recording features a solo by jazz trumpeter Chet Baker, who is one of my heroes. Trumpet was the only instrument I ever had any lessons in, and Chet was like the James Dean of the trumpet world. His story is quite incredible; he became addicted to heroin, lost all of his teeth, had to learn to play the trumpet all over again with dentures in, then fell out of a window and died. I think Shipbuilding was the last thing he actually recorded on, which makes it even more meaningful to me.
6. Talk Talk | Give It Up
This song needs to be played REALLY loud to do it justice. And then it's incredible.
7. Jimi Hendrix | Little Wing
I drummed in a band for six years when I was in my teens, and the lead singer/guitarist was a huge Hendrix fan and got me hooked as well. I like to think I styled my drumming on Mitch Mitchell who played with Hendrix. Though obviously no where near as good...! The drum fills in Manic Depression are fucking amazing. Anyway Little Wing is a Hendrix song that I keep coming back to, I want to say the intro is the best part but the whole song is brilliant.
8. Nina Simone | Love Me Or Leave Me
I enjoy going to a good party, and if that means getting in a car and speeding out of London to make one, this track usually gets burned onto the compilation cd that accompanies the drive. We always try to sing along to the piano solo halfway through but it's too long to remember all the notes. Anyway, I love the way she plays piano, merging classical into jazz, but then also the lyrics have such charm to them, it's hard not to love this song, especially in summer.
9. Radiohead | Pyramid Song
Love the band, pretty much every album, and in particular this song, there's a psychedelic nature to Yorke's vocal on top of the weird piano (does anyone even know what time signature the song is in?!) that I find really interesting... I've always loved playing and singing it whenever I'm at a piano, in fact I've just recorded a little cover of it too, which will be up on YouTube soon...
10. Kate Bush | This Woman's Work
This song is definitely one to listen to before bed. I have so much respect for Kate Bush, I absolutely hate it when music people compare modern day female artists to her, no one comes close to what she does! She's in a league of her own, but what I particularly like about this song is the use of silence, as Debussy once said, music is the space between the notes.