Kid Congo Powers: My Favourite 10 Albums

Kid ‘Congo’ Powers is one of those great musicians whose top ten list of favourite albums actually sound like a list of contemporaries and not a list of godlike heroes.

A key player in some of the great bands from the Cramps to the Gun Club his suave presence and his killer guitar have been a big part of my record collection for years and his top ten is as fantastic as you would expect – and his comments about each album are an education on their own.

Currently fronting his own band, Kid Congo Powers and the Pink Monkey Birds, he has played some great shows when he comes through town (review of kid Congo playing live here) and is always touring so check out his website, have a listen and get down to one of his shows.


Patti Smith  – Horses

Like almost everyone I know from my generation, “Horses” hit my 16-year-old psyche like a punch to the solar plexus. And yes, we enjoyed the pain to the brain. Equal parts irreverent and stark raving worshipful, songs about genderless (or genderful) Sex, UFO’s, Rimbaud, Razors, The Watusi and Warhol. The band wail, scratch and claw their way thru the images. It’s sublime. This is the beatnik alchemy punk learned from. Feed it to your young!


Roxy Music – Country Life

I know this is ‘post Eno” era Roxy, not the coolest era to snobs, but for my money this is their strongest era.  I actually had a hard time picking between this and “Siren.”  The songs, denseness, decadence and playfulness made a complete vision and feeling of an alternative kind of “Country Life”, one in which hell is a pretty chic place to be. Phil Manzanera’s soaring guitar drives me wild on this album.


John Coltrane – OM

Prepare for transportation to another plane.  Truly mind blowing free jazz from the master.  Words cannot describe.  Loosen up your wig and ride the ride.


The Slits – Cut

I could listen to this LP forever. So bratty. These girls drop you into their Ladbrook Grove world where you hear dub reggae, punk and pop wafting out of the shops and apartments.  Boys are a nuisance and shoplifting is funny. Simple stinging guitars are somehow sophisticated and Budgie’s drumming pulls you’re herky-jerky tail.  Long Live Ari Up and The Slits. I’m taking you to my desert island.


Dr. John The Night Tripper – Gris Gris

Psychedelic swamp thing. Voices from beyond. Voodoo. Dr. John the night tripper lets you know it will be all right, if you let him treat your ills.  This record can calm me down when in a tizzy and make me happy when I’m sad. Masterpiece from start to finish. There is definitely good Ju Ju in the grooves.


Jimi Hendrix – Axis Bold As Love

As a pre teen, my older cousin David played me this album and I was amazed at 9 years old that someone could make there their guitar sound like a UFO taking off, as exemplified on “EXP”.  The songs are catchy and I sang along to this record before I had any pubic hair! “ Girl was crippled for life and couldn’t speak a sound, she wished and prayed she’d stop living, so she decided to die” Thanks Jimi! I didn’t bat an eyelash then and am quite frankly shocked now! Axis Bold As Love still delivers.


Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited

Little Bobby Dylan is quite the kook on this record. I listen and laugh and laugh and laugh at the lyrics, I believe with him, but I’m not sure if he might be laughing at me.  That’s art!


Pere Ubu – The Modern Dance

When David Thomas was still Crocus Behemoth I was in NYC, tripping on purple microdot LSD with Bradley Field from Teenage Jesus, whom was a Cleveland transplant and friend of Pere Ubu.  We saw the band at CBGB and afterword went to a diner. I sat across from Crocus B, The jukebox was playing The Rolling Stones and I thought to myself, “what an I doing in a Country and Western bar with Jackie Gleason?”   Truly “The Modern Dance” is a jaw dropping piece of work. Awe –inspiring.  Aside: I met Jeffrey Lee Pierce at the Whiskey A Go Go when Pere Ubu toured for this record and we decided to form The Gun Club on the spot.


The Ramones – Ramones

My teenage dream band.  I saw a photo of this band and knew I would love them before I had any idea what they may sound like.  When I got this record home and played it I went insane and started jumping up and down on my suburban teenage bed. I started a fan club! Loudmouth , Beat On The Brat, 53rd and 3rd, Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World are all classics in my book. I would jump up and down on my bed now, but memory foam mattress is just not the same!


The Cramps – Gravest Hits

I know this is not an actual album but an EP, but I can hit repeat many times in a row and make up for the length.  This Alex Chilton produced masterpiece twists my wig with its otherworldly, revolutionary rock n roll. The cavernous sound of the rockabilly guitar mixed with the creamy fuzz one. The boom boom of the drums, and Lux Interior’s feverish, lecherous, seductive vocals are pure heaven on earth.  I could never get enough of this. I stalked them and got in the band. It pays to be a groupie sometimes. Or a Human Fly on the wall.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.



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