6. The Butthole Surfers – Locust Abortion Technician

I first discovered the butthole surfers around 1985 after reading about them in a fanzine who’s name I now forget, it was a double bonus that the music was as great as their name! At the time I was heavily into mind altering drugs and along with Hawkwind they provided the soundtrack to my lysergic adventures. This was their third and in my opinion best album with some cracking tracks. The Sabbath influenced classic opener “Sweat loaf”, “22 going on 23” and “Human Canonball”. Gibby’s hyper effected demented lyrics coupled with Paul Leary’s mad axe mangling made a compelling mix. A few years later touring the US with the Bykers we had the pleasure of staying with the band at their legendary ranch after a show in Austin, happy days!

7. Public Enemy – Fear of a Black Planet

I turned on to a lot of early electro and Hip Hop tunes whilst DJ’ing Leicester just before the Bykers took off, Grandmaster flash’s “the message”, Herbie Hancock’s” Rockit” and Run DMC’s “walk this way” were favourites as were cuts by Schooly D, the Beastie Boys and the great Public Enemy. Any rap act that name checked the clash as an influence was worth checking out. the first two albums were great but it was the third that affected me most, A perfect fusion of Chuck D’s righteous rage with the dense sample heavy production of the Bomb squad “Welcome to the Terrordome” and light relief from Flavor Flav “911 is a Joke”. “Fight the power”. A Powerful call to arms directed squarely against the man, exposing the reality of white supremacy and pointing out the truth of the notion that it’s fear that divides us. Funky and furious this album was on constant rotation in our van as we drove around the US in 1991 on the tour that eventually broke up the band.

8. I’m your man – Leonard Choen

With the Bykers defunct and Hyperhead in genesis, I spent a few months working in warehouse in Crouch End recycling vintage American clothes with Steve Gerrard the dry humoured guitarist from Leicester’s finest and most under rated band the Bomb Party. Steve very kindly introduced me to the lyrical and comedic genius of Leonard Choen. I had always wrongly assumed that his was depressing music to slash your wrists to. Closer listening reavealed a wise poetic lyricist, songs loaded with heavy irony and dark humour, in short songs that were far from depressing. The fact that musically I’m your man wasn’t like his earlier man and guitar singer songwriter stuff, but had a MoR Synthpop production made it all the more interesting. “Tower of song” has to be one of the greatest songs ever written along with” Everybody knows”, “Ain’t no cure for love” and “I can’t forget”.

9. Dummy – Portishead

Around the time of the release of this record I wasn’t in great shape, I was bandless, homeless and dabbling with dark drugs. But there was a chink of light at the end of the tunnel. I moved into Howard Gray from Apollo 440’s back room, I met my future wife and was invited by Apollo to go into the studio to sing over a mashed up metal drum and bass track that went on to be called “ain’t talking bout dub”. Howard turned me on to some amazing music but it’s this album resonated with me more than most. Listening to Beth Gibbons sad and haunting vocals over Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley’s immaculately crafted, languid gothic hip hop soundscapes helped to lift me out of my rut and into a newer more positive stage in my life. Cinematic samples, spooky theremins, jazz noir, snatches of jungle , abrasive beats, great songs beautifully sung. Often imitated never bettered.

10. What’s going on – Marvin Gaye

What’s going on is the sound of an artist at their absolute peak. Marvin’s self produced masterpiece a concept album every bit as political as the Clash but twice as sexy. Marvin’s sweet soulful voice singing from the perspective of a soldier returning from the Vietnam war. Gospel, soul, jazz and even classical influenced songs dealing with poverty “inner city blues”, drug abuse “Flying high (in the friendly sky)” and social injustice “What’s going on”. An album years ahead of the curve highlighting ecological issues and man’s destructive effect on the planet “Mercy, Mercy me”. An album I keep going back to because sadly the issues it delt with then remain to this day.

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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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