published: 3 /
In 'Vinyl Stories' Dave Goodwin chats talks to Luxury Stranger front man Simon York about his favourite vinyl records
This month's ‘Vinyl Stories’ comes from a chap who is no stranger to Pennyblackmusic. Simon York and his band Luxury Stranger have featured on various occasions in this magazine, and have been tipped by us for better things. Simon and the band are touring all over the country at various venues. Live they are a sight well seen.
So, I couldn't think of anything finer than sitting with a pint and trawling through his lovely black wax. The elusive York agreed to have his collection properly delved into, and we spokeabout his ‘Vinyl Stories’.
“To be honest, it is not like there are massive stories behind each one of these choices. They are just the records that I love to bits."
"My first choice is Lou Reed’s ‘Transformer’. The reason is that I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that record because that record brought my mum and dad together. Dad used used to own his own record shop in Mansfield, and he used to see this girl coming in and he thought that he would like to get to know her. She didn’t know whether to get this record or ‘Ziggy Stardust’, and my dad already had Ziggy Stardust, so he thought, “Well, l I can go round to her house to listen to that,” and it went from there."
"Lou Reed was just very basic rock and roll, but it was his lyrics and the way he carried his lyrics that made the difference. It's his delivery that makes it different to everything else that was going on around the time. This was 1972, and so this was the immaculate conception again when I was brought into the world."
"From Lou Reed straight onto Brian Eno and ‘Discreet Music’. I just love Eno. I like what he does whether it is Roxy Music, or when he’s working as a producer, or when he’s just creating his own work or working in conjunction with other artists."
"‘Discreet Music’ wasn’t the first of his solo albums that I listened to , but it is the one that I always come back to time and time again, partially because the main piece ‘Discreet Music ‘helps me go to sleep. I play it in the background a lot."
"One day Brian Eno broke his leg. He was stuck up in bed with his leg up in the air in plaster, and then a friend of his brought him an old record player and a record to keep him occupied. He put the record on for him, and said, “Right, see you, Brian.” But the volume was dead quiet and he couldn’t go and turn it up because of his leg, so he just lay there listening to this really sort of distant music in the background and that's where the idea for this album came from."
"On the other side you've got different variations of Johann Pachelbel's ‘Canon’. Now for me that means a lot because I used to play violin, and we used to play Pachelbel’s ‘Canon’. It is one of my favourite pieces of music, and it is on the other side! It is on the B side and in its three different variations, so in a way this combines a nice ambience for me as well as all my classical stuff. This album was from 1975. I'm going through in date order."
"The next one is David Bowie‘s ‘Low’ and it is in its Japanese version. The remarkable thing is that this is actually the original version that my dad had – this is dad’s old one that he gave to me. Every Sunday was like music day, and we would listen to loads of records and this was always played. This is probably the only one, as much as I like David Bowie’s stuff, that has really stuck with me."
"In my collection I have got two versions. I’ve got the Japanese version and the English version because I picked up an English version at a flea market. It had a different coloured label, and that is when I became more active collecting vinyl. Every track on there is just brilliant, and it is one of those albums where there's not a bad track on it. There are elements of him trying to do a bit of punky stuff probably because he was working with Iggy Pop on it, and then you've got a bit of tongue-in-cheek rock, and then right at the end on the other side you've got all those atmospheric instrumentals which I find totally absorbing."
"That album was the first album to teach me how to make the voice into an instrument rather than just singing some words. He has used the vocal chords like stacks and layers just to broaden the sound, and its sounds amazing. It is probably the biggest influence on all the music that I’ve worked on, whether it's been with the band or doing solo stuff."
"My next choice is Kate Bush’s ‘The Kick Inside’, which again is in a Japanese version. I’ve loved her since I was little. I even wrote to ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ to meet her, but he never came back to me and the reason Ifound out later was because of my dad. He met Kate Bush via getting gig tickets through the record shop, and he said that she's just the most humble person imaginable. You can understand why she just came away from the music scene and everything to do with it for years."
"I think this a fantastic album. ‘Wuthering Heights’ is the key track. You can tell that that it was written by somebody who wasn’t just a musician. She was into the arts. In a way she was doing a directly feminine version of what Bowie was doing with Ziggy. While he was androgynous, she was saying, 'I’m a woman and I can do this.'"
"My next one – and this was my first taste of electronic music -is Kraftwerk ‘s ‘The Man Machine’, and once again every track is fantastic. It was the intricacies of the interesting sonics that was going on that makes it for me. It wasn’t just music. It was people creating a landscape of sound and a picture, which I suppose you could say a band like Pink Floyd also did to some extent."
"‘The Man Machine’ made me think it doesn’t just have to be wind instruments, string instruments, piano or guitars – it can be synthetic, which then got me into Depeche Mode. I did actually get into Depeche Mode practically the first time I saw them on ‘Top of the Pops’. This was 1978. With hindsight one thing I did like about it is the fact that it’s a clever record, and then smack bang in the middle they chuck in ‘The Model’ which is the pop song to sell it. At the same time it’s not like they went, 'Oh, we need a song to sell it.' It sticks out like a sore thumb, but it fits in.
The artwork as well was a big influence. You can see how it influenced Peter Saville and his work with New Order and Joy Division. The artwork for Luxury Stranger’s second album ‘Commitment and Discipline’ came from that kind of channel. It's just the precision of the artwork."
"This is the first Kraftwerk album that I listened to. I had it played to me when I was a kid, and then as I started to understand music and put records on for myself this is what I was still listening to. Then I eventually picked up on stuff like’ Computer Love’ and ‘Radioactivity‘, which is brilliant. I also listened to ’Trans Europe Express’ and ‘Autobahn’, but I got bored with those. It's very much like young college kids learning how to use electronic stuff."
"My next choice is Peter Gabriel’s second solo album. I first heard this in 1980. It a clever man doing punk. He’d been in prog rock band Genesis and he did his first solo album, which to me is not that good, but this is brilliant. There are elements of political material in there, and this seems like this record which he wanted to make rather than just trying to prove a point. I liked Genesis when Gabriel was in it, but after that they went a bit daft. Like when they came out with 'I Can't dance', that was a joke. When he and Kate Bush did ‘Don’t Give Up’, that was okay as well. It was a good song, but I love to bits everything she has done."
"Every single track I have on the next one, Talking Heads’ ‘Remain in Light’, is brilliant. The last track ‘Overload’ is just awesome. It sounds like, and I don’t mean to be horrible when I say this, but it sounds like clever people doing a Joy Division song."
"‘Once in a Lifetime’ was I suppose like ‘The Model’ on the Kraftwerk album. That was the hit and it was a really clever song, but you don't care that it doesn't fit. It just works. I think a lot of that is down to Eno. He was the producer on this also. This was another one that was played to me by my old man. I think the rest of their back catalogue isn’t that strong, but this is the bollocks. You just need this album in my mind."
"My next record is a four track EP by the Bunnymen – ‘Soundtrack to the Film Shine so Hard’. To me, Echo & The Bunnymen were the greatest guitar band ever but they lost their way. After the third or fourth album they just lost their way and it started to go to pot for them."
"This was a series of videos that became a live film. It took elements of psychedelic music, and there was this nice tie in with people like Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane, and you've this kind of rawness that goes with it and a sense of honesty. And also McCulloch was trying his best to be Bowie half the time and you can hear it in the music at that point. They were still walking around in crappy army jackets because that’s all that they could afford. It wasn't necessarily a look, but it did turn into one in the end because you had folk buying that kind of clothing. For me it was sheer honesty."
"My penultimate choice is Depeche Mode’s ‘Black Celebration’. It is the embossed version from 1986. It finds them reflecting for the first time on the element of darkness in love and politics. This for me is when Martin L. Gore, who is my favourite singer-songwriter, started to understand sexuality, and they put it in a way that was quite risqué. It starts to get really serious on this. It wasn't just bippy boppy pop songs as they had done in the past on here."
"The last one is the Stone Roses’ ‘Turns into Stone’. When I was at school I like everyone else adored the Stone Roses. At the same time I wanted to put their first album in here, but I thought that this one was the better choice because it contains all the B-sides to the hits. What I like about it is that it shows another side to the band. This is where I get a lot of my clean guitar sounds from. I thought ‘The Second Coming’ was rubbish. It was almost as if they wrote that album just to cash in on some money. They used to dress like a gothic version of the Clash."