This Music Made Me

This Music Made Me: Tim Burgess



Tim Burgess

Tim Burgess

The Charlatans front man Tim Burgess has joined forces with New Yorker Peter Gordon to release a collaborative album called Same Language, Different Worlds.

Burgess originally met Gordon in 2012, with the former already a long time fan of of the latter’s work with Arthur Russell and The Love Of Life Orchestra. Gordon produced the album, which features many of his and Tim’s previous collaborators: Ernie Brooks who played with Russell on the first Modern Lovers album; trombone player Peter Zummo; conga player Mustafa Ahmed; and Nik Void from Factory Floor and Carter Tutti Void.

“What I love about working with Peter is that in the late ’70s with Peter Zummo and Arthur Russell and all the New York cats at The Kitchen, they were all making futuristic records,” says Burgess. “Now Peter in his mid-60s is still looking to do that. It’s the world that I want to be in.”

Ahead of the album release, and with the paperback edition of his second memoir, Tim Book Two, just published, it was beyond high time Tim Burgess laid down some words about the albums that have influenced him most for his This Music Made Me

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The Sex Pistols - The Great Rock 'n' Roll SwindleThe Sex Pistols – The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle

One of the first albums I owned, and when your record collection is in single figures, every detail of every song and every sleeve note is pored over.

I was 10 in 1977 when punk really blew up – I’d never felt part of the musical generation before. It seemed so old and serious.

There was more to bands like The Sex Pistols – comedic, threatening and seemingly unbothered if anyone likes them or not, compared to The Eagles, harmonising with their fingers in their ears, this was something a kid not even yet a teenager, could feel a part of.

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The Clash - SandinistaThe Clash – Sandinista

Six sides of vinyl. It was like the answer to the perfect album but they gave you all the workings out as well – a brilliant painting complete with sketches.

I’d been late to the party of the first two Clash albums – not by much but the financial restrictions of being a teenager meant you couldn’t own all the records you wanted to. Sandinista! was the first Clash album I bought when it came out and it was a revelation – as much a news broadcast on the state of the world.

Freddie Cowan from The Vaccines recommended it as his album for Tim Book Two – you can still hear its influence over 30 years on.

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Crass - Penis EnvyCrass – Penis Envy

In 1980 I was living in a Cheshire suburb that had a cricket team and was famous for not much happening. Then Crass arrived in my world via Bloody Revolutions and 12 year old me converted my cricket whites into bondage trousers.

Their records were like a hatch swinging open to reveal a world so far from my own, it was hard to believe that it existed. Their artwork by Gee Vaucher were as arresting as their politics and their desire to overthrow the establishment. Their collective power and refusal to accept anything from the mainstream was a brutal way of showing us we should question everything around us.

This album still sounds as angry and as relevant as when it was recorded.

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New Order - Power Corruption & Lies

New Order – Power, Corruption & Lies 

What an LP – in terms of albums that made me, this is the one. I turned 16 in the May of 1983, the year this record came out. Albums were topping the charts that were from a different world – London may as well have been New York to kids where I lived.

The thought of being ever being part of the music world, of Top of The Pops, was a universe away. Then this – two band members from Macclesfield, near where I was living and two members were from Salford where I was born. It was like a portal to that whole world had opened.

Then there’s the actual songs – the bassline from Age Of Consent on its own was enough for my jaw to hit the floor. They didn’t do interviews, their name wasn’t on their records, the song titles weren’t mentioned in the songs. I was in love.

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Sonic Youth - Daydream NationSonic Youth – Daydream Nation

Coolness in what we might call rock music seemed to be missing in 1988. Hip hop had so much of it but guitar music had lost its way, at least it had from where I was standing.

Kim Gordon & Thurston Moore changed all that in an interview on Snub TV I was taking my first tentative steps being in a band and Daydream Nation came and pointed the way. It captured Sonic Youth at a particular moment in time and, to me, there was nobody cooler.

A double album that good and only 18 months later they released Goo. A band at the peak of their powers.

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Bob Dylan - Blonde On BlondeBob Dylan – Blonde On Blonde

I’d never really paid much heed to Dylan while I was growing up – he seemed to write songs for a generation that I wasn’t part of.

I wanted to like him but couldn’t find a way in – Tom Sheehan who photographed The Charlatans many times, became my guide. One US tour I stocked up on Dylan albums and listened to them as we drove across America – it was the perfect way to listen and I cracked the code.

Everyone has a favourite Dylan period or album, for me Blonde On Blonde is a masterpiece.

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Angelo Badalemnti and David Lynch - Soundtrack From Twin PeaksAngelo Badalamenti and David Lynch – Soundtrack From Twin Peaks

David Lynch has always blurred the line between music and film and original music and well known songs given a new twist with his visual input.

Hearing the first moments of Falling just land you right in the middle of Twin Peaks territory and open the door to almost anything being possible. I always loved the way incidental music on soundtracks have titles that evoke the story – Audrey’s Dance and Laura Palmer’s theme are hypnotic.

The album underlines the fact that David Lynch is a brilliant lyric writer as well as amazing film maker.

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The Chemical Brothers - Exit Planet DustThe Chemical Brothers – Exit Planet Dust

As The Dust Brothers, Tom and Ed had remixed The Charlatans – it was only their second ever remix and they brought another dimension to our band.

We worked well together and in 1994, Tom, Ed and I headed to Malmo and Stockholm with Martin Kelly from Heavenly. We decided we would all leave our day jobs and travel around DJing together. Reality kicked in but we had such a bond. To me this album redefined where dance music was headed.

They sent me a couple of instrumentals and said to pick one to sing on. It became Life Is Sweet and made it onto the album. We’re still in touch, I’ll always love The Chemical Brothers.

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Gram Parsons - GPGram Parsons – GP

Gram Parsons found me living in Camden in 1993 via a CD given to me by Bobby Gillespie and it took a hold of my all consuming early 20s brain.

GP was released in 1973 but soundtracked my life 20 years later. It featured members of Elvis’s band, Emmylou Harris and a personnel list of some of the best musicians around at the time. Country music had always seemed like it was made for another generation but Gram made it not only accessibly but ultra cool.

Songs like She, Still Feeling Blue, A song For You & Big Mouth Blues makes this a truly amazing record.

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Ennio Morricone – Once Upon A Time In America OST

Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone were heroes to a small group of us who were obsessed with Spaghetti Westerns at the dawn of the age when our Mums and Dads were talked into getting a VCR (convincing them that missing the snooker or Emmerdale Farm was something they really shouldn’t be putting themselves through.

Once The Charlatans had started touring, the tour bus video player was a treasured part of our rider.

This film was a firm favourite and I took to just listening to the soundtrack while watching the world flash past the window.

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Curtis Mayfield - Back To The WorldCurtis Mayfield – Back To The World

In the early ’70s Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye redefined soul – taking the disillusionment with Vietnam and the state of the US inner cities into the charts.

They were the voices of their generation. There was just something about Curtis Mayfield’s style that stirs up so many emotions but it’s always so controlled, so gentle.

I became obsessed with this album around the time The Charlatans were recording Wonderland – a few of the songs on there are definitely a homage to Curtis – I’d never imagine I could be thought of in the same breath but I was definitely channelling some of that Mayfield style soul at times.

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Arthur Russell - World Of EchoArthur Russell – World Of Echo

Music that truly has a life changing effect on you often comes from the underground and therefore might just take it’s precious time to reach your ears but the beauty of the music is not diminished by time, if anything it is increased.

In 2003 some kids from a local radio station in Hollywood were playing a song that made me pull over and stare at the radio until it had finished, for fear of missing who it was by. It was Soon To Be Innocent Fun by Arthur Russell and his music became my new everything from that point.

It was a beautiful obsession which ended up with me working with some of his bandmates on my last album. The fragile beauty of how Arthur Russell puts a song together is unique.

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Factory Floor - Untitled 10’’ mini albumFactory Floor – Untitled 10’’ mini album

I’d always loved the industrial beauty of Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire – for me nobody captured rhythmic sparseness with a hint of horror soundtrack quite like them.

When I first heard Factory Floor they stopped me in my tracks – it was hard to tell when their songs had been recorded – elements of TG, CV and even hints of New Order but original & unique at the same time.

 

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Grumbling Fur - GlynnaestraGrumbling Fur – Glynnaestra

By the definition of albums that make someone, most would be firmly in the past influencing how we go about things and how we perceive ourselves as artists.

And then some albums come along and re-jig things long after you think the formative process is done. In 2013 I heard Glynnaestra by Grumbling Fur and it sounded like a record from another dimension – pastoral psyche alien folk, I’m not sure of the exact genre even now.

I got in touch with them and kind of insisted we work together, and we did. If you ever fall out of love with music, they can restore your faith.

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Small Faces - Ogdens Nut Gone FlakeSmall Faces – Ogdens Nut Gone Flake

I bought this album on a trip to London – new music was like striding forward discovering and sharing albums and bands that friends hadn’t come across yet but we were all aware of history – albums released since the dawn of time (around 1963).

Albums like Forever Changes by Love or almost any Beatles album. Older siblings or even parents would introduce them into your world. This Small Faces classic was one of those – we loved The Jam and The Jam loved The Small Faces.

I saved up and bought a copy in the original, complete with fold out sleeve. I listened to it a couple of weeks ago and it still stands the test of time.

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Tim Burgess’s new album with Peter Gordon, Same Language, Different Worlds, is out now through his O Genesis label. They play London’s Kamio Club on 6 September 2016. Tour dates and further information can be found here.

The paperback edition of Tim Book Two is out now, with details here.


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More on Tim Burgess
This Music Made Me: Tim Burgess
Tim Burgess @ Queens Social Club, Sheffield
Tim Burgess @ Union Chapel, London
Tim Burgess – Oh No I Love You
Tim Burgess – I Believe