WARMER MIXTAPES #1413 | by Sean Cook of Lupine Howl, The Guaranteed Ugly, The Creeping Meatball, Spiritualized and The Flies
I have to start by saying that to choose 10 or so songs that I would call my favourite songs of all time is very difficult. I have never been a maker of my favourite lists. There is so much stuff out there that I like for different reasons at different times and much of it is not directly comparable. Having said that, I’ll have a go and include some tracks that have stuck with me for many years and which I always come back to and, despite having listened to them for 30 years+, I still think are great, exciting and fresh.
1. Roy Orbison | In Dreams
I think Roy Orbison is one of my greatest influences. He effortlessly and almost unintentionally combines Beauty, Sadness and Darkness and, for me, is a serious contender for the title of greatest male vocalist of all time. Never afraid to tackle subjects that today’s air heads would label depressing, this song about his dead wife visiting him in dreams encapsulates everything that is great about The Orb; from the chilling vocal delivery, to the sublimely dark lyrics, to the constantly ascending arrangement which by-passes any traditional verse/chorus structure - the Simplicity of this haunting masterpiece belies its complexity.
2. Elvis Presley | Don’t Be Cruel
My earliest memories of Music were provided by my Dad’s collection of Rock ‘N’ Roll records. As a small child I would continually pester the old man to play and write out the lyrics to tracks by Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, Jerry Lee Lewis, and particularly, Elvis Presley. Don’t Be Cruel was the first record I ever actually bought (OK, my Dad gave me the money) …I guess I was 5 or 6 years old and I played it to death on the old stacking record player my Dad got for me. I actually wanted Hound Dog, but the shop didn’t have it… Don’t Be Cruel still kills though.
3. The Beatles | Helter Skelter
Another one from my Dad’s collection that I obsessively trawled as a little kid. This track fascinated me with its Viciousness and sewed the seeds for my later interest in the aggressive Punk Rock sounds of The Stooges, MC5 and Sex Pistols. The track still sounds as aggressive and frenzied to me as anything out there. We tend to think of Lennon as the aggressive one in The Beatles, but McCartney’s vocal on this track rips your head off!
4. The Stooges | 1969
I think I’m on my 3rd copy of The Stooges classic first LP. The other two were probably both worn out during my teens. The repetitive, pounding of this anthem of despondency in a fucked-up world taught me more in three minutes than I learned in years at School. I remember exactly where I was when I first heard Ron Ashton’s searing wahwah on this track… Unforgettable and even more relevant today than it was in 1969 (the year I was born).
5. Joy Division | The Eternal
When I was a teenager all the bands/musicians I admired were either dead or disbanded, so it was ironic to discover a great current band only to find out the singer had just killed himself! The ethereal majesty of this track is hard to top, the lyrics cover you like a funeral veil… Music at it’s honest, most uplifting best.
6. Dead Kennedys | Police Truck
As I became more interested in Politics in my late teens, the Dead Kennedys hit me like a freight train… I couldn’t stop listening to them. The frenzied energy of the band topped off with East Bay Ray’s turbo charged surf guitar and Biafra’s political vitriol was hypnotising. This track, raging against the moronic savagery of the SFPD, is one of their best.
7. The 13th Floor Elevators | Roller Coaster
Despite the fact that I preferred to listen to Rock 'N' Roll on hallucinogenics rather than overtly Psychedelic Music, the Elevators would always make an appearance. They made much more sense to me in that state than most of the other Psych bands. Where as other Psych groups focussed on the Peace and Love side of things, the Elevators were all about Isolation, Frenzy and Madness… Much better!
8. The Beach Boys | Surf’s Up
Pet Sounds may be a more complete LP than Surf’s Up, but Feel Flows and this, the title track, are so sublime that they almost tip me towards saying Surf’s Up is the band’s best LP. The web of unsentimental mystery created by the Music and lyrics on this track seem to take the band to a whole new level. There is old footage of Brian Wilson playing this track alone at the piano quite some time before it was officially recorded for the LP and the first time I saw that footage I thought it was just about the best musical performance I had ever witnessed.
9. Love | You Set The Scene
I could pick just about any track from Forever Changes, but this one is truly epic. It’s meandering yet dramatic arrangement, sweeping strings and cynical lyrics delivered with real spirit by Arthur Lee make this one of the greatest pieces of Music ever committed to vinyl.
10. The Doors | The Crystal Ship
Scarcely more than 3 chords and only 2mins 30 seconds long, but this track is every bit as epic as You Set The Scene. A mesmerising Eulogy to the End of the Line… If I cared about after Death stuff I would have this played at my funeral!