Part Two of Two. Part One can be found here.
Louder Than War continues speaking with Duglas T Stewart about ten of his favourite albums. These albums are in no particular order.
6. Paul Williams Bugsy Malone OST (Polydor UK 1976)
Douglas: Next up Paul Williams! I love the songs he wrote for The Muppets and those he co-wrote such as We Only Just Began, Rainy Days and Mondays and also the songs for Phantom of the Paradise. So this is not in good chronological order as I am going back to being a child again, but yes, Paul Williams Bugsy Malone OST (Polydor UK 1976).
In America everyone knows Paul Williams, I think he was on the Johnny Carson Show more than anyone else, but he was not present on TV in the UK so much. Those songs from Bugsy just stayed with me, I mean, I kind of enjoyed the movie, but even though I didn’t watch it again and again, I do listen to the songs over and over again and again.
It has what like what I like about certain Disney songs, songs from the Jungle Book and Mary Poppins, the quality is incredible for a lot of people it’s their first introduction to really great song writing. I believe a lot of the songs from Bugsy were written on the spot, when Alan Parker had a meeting with Paul Williams he’d be “oh so there is a song about meeting a down and out, okay ‘DOWN DOWN DOWN’. There’s a scene in a boxing ring, okay ‘So you wanna be a…’.
Paul Williams – You Give A Little Love
7. Paul Williams Someday Man (Reprise 1970)
Now album seven is also another Paul Williams album, but it is a very different one. In Japan people know and hail this album as a masterpiece of singer-songwriting, but in Britain it is not so well known. In America it was released just before he became a star: so again it is not so well-known there either. The album was written with Rodger Nicolas who also arranged the album. Now Rodger Nicolas was the guy who co-wrote so many of the great records with and for The Carpenters. The albums musical twists and turns are incredible, they take you on real journeys, there’s something about his voice and his lyrics that kill me.
Now we are so used to people over singing, doing vocal acrobatics or the other thing I hate even more the over earnest angst thing – they’ll be singing the word chair and it is like the most painful chair in the world. Paul Williams almost underplays the emotional depths: the mixture is sad and happy and longing. I heard recently that Paul Williams admires Daniel Johnston and so do I, which leads me on to my next album.
Paul Williams – Mornin’ I’ll Be Movin’ On
8. Daniel Johnston Songs of Pain (Stress Records 1981)
I probably discovered Daniel Johnston in the late 1980s through a guy called Jeff Tartakov who was sort of a manager of Daniel’s at one point. He was sending out tapes and it was suggested I should listen and I really loved it. I see a big connection between Daniel and Brian Wilson, they have an instinctive musical gift with an almost childlike purity and innocence. The first thing I heard was Yip Jump Music, which I love, but I picked Daniel Johnston Songs of Pain (Stress Records 1981) probably because it has this track on it that, more than any other, I would play to people. It’s called Like a Monkey in a Zoo which I just think is an incredible song – it just says so much about life.
Daniel Johnston – Like a Monkey in a Zoo
9. Serge Gainsbourg Anna OST (Phillips 1967)
And so to Serge Gainsbourg. Now, we had a copy of Je t’aime in the house and I loved that. I didn’t just think of it as a dirty record although I saw that part of it as well and I just loved Jane Birkin on the cover, but probably my favourite is Serge Gainsbourg Anna OST (Phillips 1967), a made for TV film that Serge wrote the music and the songs for. I feel it is very overlooked; it’s got really unusual arrangements and a sense of melancholy, but with humour and warmth. That seems to be a theme with Gainsbourg and a lot of the music I guess I listen too is melancholy mixed with humour.
Serge Gainsbourg – Un Poison Violent, C’Est Ça l’Amour
10. Laura Nyro and Labelle Gonna Take a Miracle (Columbia 1971)
I guess this is one that really surprised me. Laura was very much a singer-songwriter. Any way I saw this album it had all these cover versions of girl group classics, Motown classics and songs Phil Spector had worked on and I was stood there looking at it thinking. Why? Why would you need this? All of these songs have their definitive version already. I walked around town for about two hours and I kept thinking about it: it was almost annoying me thinking how stupid it was. I had to go back and get it – it was quite cheap. So I put it on and I was like oh man this is just incredible: it is so life affirming. It sounds like they were just around a couple of mics and pretty much like let’s just run the tapes: it’s got that feeling of what it’s like to feel the joy of being alive.
Laura Nyro and Labelle – You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me
BMX Bandits latest single available ‘Beautiful Friend’ is now as a Limited Edition Yellow 7” vinyl. Details of this as well as other available releases and BMX Bandits news can be found on their Elefant Records band page.
Thank you to Duglas T Stewart and Norio Fukuda for their time, assistance and kindness.
If you wish to go back to Duglas’ first five choices now head over here.