Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Vashti Bunyan and Sally Timms.
Listed: Vashti Bunyan + Sally Timms
As her influencees and imitators continue to flourish, the legend of British folk singer Vashti Bunyan has grown considerably. When Bunyan was a young art school student, she met Rolling Stones manager/producer Andrew Loog Oldham, and in 1965 signed to Decca to release her debut single, the Mick Jagger/Keith Richards-penned "Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind." The record earned little attention, and Bunyan moved to Columbia for the follow-up, "Train Song"; after recording a handful of unreleased tracks for Immediate she cut ties with Oldham and ostensibly retired from music, leaving London in 1968 in a horse-drawn wagon on a two-year journey to the Hebrides, with the ultimate goal of meeting Donovan on the Isle of Skye. Throughout her travels Bunyan continued writing songs, however, and in 1969 she teamed with legendary producer Joe Boyd to record her lone full-length LP, Just Another Diamond Day. After completing the album she left for Ireland, dropping out of music altogether and starting a family. Long out-of-print and a highly-prized collectible, Just Another Diamond Day was finally reissued on CD in the summer of 2000 in the UK, and just this past year in the US. Bunyan has continued to experience a revival, recently performing at the Stephen Malkmus-curated "Down The Dustpipe" festival and recording with Piano Magic, Devendra Banhart, and the Animal Collective.
1. Kathleen Ferrier
My father's collection of 78rpm classical records figured large in my childhood, and no singer figured larger than Kathleen Ferrier. I knew little about her, but her voice had a freedom from the shackles of training and formality that I must have picked up on even as a young child.
2. Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony
My partner was referring to it the other day and rummaged through his old vinyl records and found his recording of it and then I realised how important it must have been to me. My father had played it a lot when I was young and I remember creeping into the room where the old gramophone stood and playing one phrase over and over till I ruined the record and blunted the needle..
3. "O For the Wings of a Dove" as sung by the choirboy Ernest Lough.
Another one that had me in trouble for its ruin - records were so very delicate then. It seemed to me that a female voice could never ever match that of a choirboy. Maybe that's why I sometimes sound a bit like one. Maybe my parents really wanted me to be a boy. Big disappointment.
4. Jack Good's TV shows
An English thirteen year old in the fifties had little access to what was going on musically in the USA. The radio was not a good source. And then along came Six Five Special and Oh Boy! At last, young people's music on the TV. My family did not have a TV but Saturday nights I was sure to be at a friend's house that did. It was like a wave that swept me away. All the singers were in some way an imitation of what was happening in USA - Cliff Richard of Elvis Presley, Marty Wilde of Ricky Nelson for instance - but it was all we had and I for one lived for it.
5. Expresso Bongo
A British film (Wolf Mankowitz) from 1960. Black and white - set in London's Soho - about a sleazy talent scout and the ways of the music business. I saw it at the age of 14 - the night before being sent away to a private boarding school in deep countryside. I had been pretty much a London street child up till then and my life felt on hold until I could get back to where Expresso Bongo left me. The seeds were sown, I wanted to be a pop singer, I wanted that world.
6. Joan Baez
I was introduced to her recordings whilst at art school in Oxford. It wasn't so much her voice - but some of the songs she was singing. I loved the beautiful simplicity of the melodies. This must have been where I first tried fusing the tunes of pop music and folk music.
7. Bob Dylan
I went to New York when I was 18 and found the Freewheelin Bob Dylan in a record store. Like finding gold. I never feel up to the job of talking about him. Too much above anything I could ever have done. Partly why I gave up later on - I thought then that he did it all and that no one else could even come close so what was the point of trying.
8. Rolling Stones
The irreverence, the delighting badness of them and another education in American music. By 1965 many moons orbited the Stonesand I was but one very small moon. Their manager Andrew Loog Oldham gave me a Jagger/Richard song as my first single. From distant worship to suddenly being there with them in a studio or cafe during breaks - best of days. Even if I did feel like a feather blown about by their fabulous disdain.
9. Paul Buchanan
I don't know why but his voice is the one that affects me more than anyone else's. Not just in Blue Nile songs. His contribution to Robbie Robertson's Storyville makes me go back and repeat his part over and over. Like I want to find how he does it. I can't, but I never get bored with it. And it doesn't ruin the record.
10. Devendra Banhart
Whether it's his nomadic spirit or the drawings or the words that speak to me I have no idea. A kinship across years, an admiration of his courage and invention and style - I don't know - he can put words where you'd never dream they'd fit but they do. He's a beautiful wild floating exploding seedpod of picture and song - I write one to his hundred- long live and thank you Devendra.
Best known for her work with legendary insurgent punks The Mekons, Sally Timms has gradually and nicely established herself as a solo artist. Following intermittent solo releases for labels like Bloodshot and Feel Good All Over, Timms' latest album, In The World Of Him was recently released by Chicago's Quarterstick Records. The record finds Timms singing songs (some original, some covers) that are all written from the perspective of a man. It is both haunting and powerful and is her strongest release to date.
Every month a few of my musician friends have a little AV club in Chicago. The movies we watch must have a pop-culture take on the music industry or star a musician. Here are the highlights of some of the ones that get it right or badly wrong, in no particular order of quality.
Mariah Carey‚s starred in this big box office flop. The acting's terrible, but there's something sweet and endearing about its old fashioned "star is born" plot. Worth renting for the fantastic director's commentary which is bitter, pretentious and unintentionally hilarious. Means you have to watch it twice though.
2. Prey for Rock and Roll
About a scuzzy LA girl band who won'y sell out and can't find a record deal. When that band features Gina Gershon, Drea Di Matteo and Lori Petty it takes away from the film's attempts at realism but it does have hot actress/model types indulging in soft-core lesbian sex.
Infamous for the line "It‚s turkey time. Gobble, gobble" as J-Lo directs Affleck to her crotch. This movie is not quite the turkey it was made out to be. Ben Affleck acts like a block of wood but Ms Lopez is actually pretty good.
4. 24-Hour Party People
Michael Winterbottom's film about Factory Records truly captures the era and looks very authentic, which is rare. Good cameos from some of the Manchester musicians who were there when everything started.
5. Queen of the Damned
Vampire Lestat comes back to life as a big rock star who drinks his groupies' blood, parties all night, sleeps all day and minces around in black leather trousers. Aaliyah plays his ex, a hissing ancient Eqyptian demon. Campy and fun.
6. Spinal Tap
The most accurate movie about music ever made, hidden in a faux "rockumentary". The petty squabbles, jealousy, cancelled gigs, exploding drummers, break-ups and reunions, it's all there. If you‚re a working musician, this is your life.
7. Laurel Canyon
I'm sure women record producers exist somewhere but would they ask their son's girlfriend how to mix a track? I don't think so. Sebadoh play the band members, albeit with a hunky actor replacing Lou Barlow as singer.
8. Coyote UglyCute girl works in wild bar by day, plays tuneless songs on her electric piano on the roof of her tenement building by night, and ends up with a showcase at what looks like the Bowery Ballroom after the Queer Eye guys got hold of it. A dull rags to riches story.
9. Swept Away
This movie can't even redeem itself by being campily bad. Madonna's acting defies description and if my husband had put me through this I would have filed for divorce. Possibly the worst film ever made.
This is the old Britney, the sweet, virginal, non-smoking, non-marriage wrecking Britney in a life affirming, girl-buddy road movie. Can't wait to see her next movie now that her cover's blown.
By Dusted Magazine