The deluxe editions of St Etienne’s Casino Classics and Sarah Cracknell’s Lipslide were re-issued this week and to coincide with the release we caught up with Bob Stanley about the ten albums that influenced him most.
Earl Bostic – Cherokee
A friend recommended Earl Bostic to me last week as someone who was quite clearly making rock’n’roll records before the term was recognised. I automatically kick against the canon, and the accepted trad history of rock as projected by Mojo, so when I find fabulous records like this – a honking sax instrumental, with vibes carrying the melody – I remember that I’m not just being contrary. Never accept received wisdom.
Ennio Morricone – Metti Una Cera A Cena
It was his 84th birthday last weekend. I went to see him in Hammersmith a few years ago. It was mindblowing to hear this played live and see the maestro in person. My girlfriend started bleeding during the show – it wouldn’t stop, and we had to rush her to A&E. That has somewhat altered my mindset whenever I hear this.
The Hollies – Bus Stop
Every day observation, succinctly done, melancholy Jewish-influenced melody, harmonies that foreshadow Abba, and I think Tony Hicks is playing an acoustic twelve string. All impossibly good. Graham Gouldman (who wrote this) played at a show we put on at the Festival Hall a couple of years ago. I probably looked quite stern when I was talking to him, but I was trying to contain my emotions.
Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Plan B
Songs about music was the theme of our last album, but no one does it better than Kevin Rowland. This is (I’m guessing) about the first Dexy’s line-up leaving him en masse apart from Big Jim Patterson who gets a special shout-out on this wonderful single. “Bill Withers was good for me, pretend I’m Bill and lean on me.”
ESG – You’re No Good
It was odd when ESG became a household name. I remember this being an NME single of the week in 1980 and I bought it because it was described as a futuristic Supremes. It’s definitely more girl group than most of their recordings. I’ll use this opportunity to say Martin Hannett is possibly my favourite producer ever.
Shocking Blue – Rock In The Sea
The best (old) record I discovered this year which may well be on spotify or itunes but – without wanting to sound like a Luddite – I’d probably never have discovered it that way. Instead I picked up a 45. Shocking Blue are amazingly consistent. This sounds like a proto-Strokes doing the Beach Boys’ Til I Die. Amazing!
The Monkees – Head
The film and the album were both a major influence on me and Pete. This, we thought, is how a pop group should look and sound, including ridiculous in-jokes and chunky polo necks. They sound like summer.
The Fall – New Face In Hell
Probably our other biggest influence when Saint Etienne started. Like Bus Stop, it tells a story and sounds very northern – it’s from the Grotesque album which references Haslingden, Roundtable, and mistrust of “fancy groups”. Mixing horror stories (like this) and satire with lo-fi production and real excitement. It’s so atmospheric. Moral: don’t be afraid to use a kazoo and never spend too long working on a song.
Giorgio Moroder – From Here To Eternity
I had this on a 7″ and was quite disappointed when I finally found the album (in a charity shop in Windsor – it’s etched on my memory) as what I assumed to be quite surreal jumps and chord progression were just ham-fisted edits. I Feel Love is untouchable, but this gives me a bigger thrill, maybe it’s that oddly eastern string line.
Van Der Graaf Generator – Refugees
“West is Mike and Suzy” is a perfect, evocative lyric. I’ve always wanted to meet a couple called Mike and Suzy. If only all prog was as beautiful as this – no solos, no showing off, but multi-part and very cinematic.
Words by Bob Stanley. Find out more about the re-issues of Casino Classics and Sarah Cracknell’s Lipslide here.Â