No.1: Townes Van Zandt – Our Mother The Mountain
I have been challenged to post 10 album covers in 10 days that significant to me…day 1 has to be this Steven Ingman. ‘Borrowed’ from my Uncle Brian Butler in about 1985 still on loan.
I had no idea who he was just loved cover and songs before I even really knew about Texas songwriters..had a lifelong influence….and still my favourite of all his albums..
Discographical note this the UK RCA edition not the US Poppy copy…uber rare:-)
The Triffids – Born Sandy Devotional.
No-brainer..loved the Triffids almost as much as the Go-Betweens. This their finest LP.
Was lucky enough to be stood on stage at Glastonbury 1987 with Heidi Berry as they played a fabulous set that started with Wide Open Road…only time I saw them.
David McComb sadly passed away too young.
No.3: Roy Orbison – In Dreams
Long before I’d ever heard of Richard Hawley I picked up a single of Lana/House without Windows..and the b-side was amazing..haunts me still. Written by Fred Tobias, Lee Pockriss.
It is also Leonard Cohen’s 6th favourite all-time jukebox song..so there you go….what a song..
No.4: Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska
Hugely influential on my songwriting from the muddy fields through the dash cover to the contents near perfect and you can hear echoes of this album in just about every serious americana act since..
No.5: Lucinda Williams – S/T Rough Trade
Possibly her best record alongside Car Wheels I went with this of the two. Bought it when it came out on Rough Trade in 1988. I did not know then that her father Miller Williams was a poet..it is a poetic record
No.6: Peter Case – S/T
Huge influence in my younger days and my introduction to T Bone Burnett who plays and produced the album. Others involved read like a roll-call of LA music including Gurf Morlix. I have seen Peter play three times..first time was magical as he as a trio played in a huge tent at Greenbelt Christian Festival supporting Sweet Honey in The Rock. Second time was at Borderline in London and third was a Cosmic American gig here at the Maze in Nottingham.
I have carefully preserved a Steel Strings demo on flexi-disc from Bucketfull of Brains magazine released in October 1986 and the accompanying magazine the first copy I had seen and bought from a record shop in Wimbledon:-). I went on to write for B.O.B. later. For a while I even carried a suitcase like Case and got me a stetson too…..fandom .
Never did learn to play and sing like him though
Hugely under-rated talent and a very good songwriter.
No.7: Tom Russell – Poor Man’s Dream
Got this some time in mid 1980s and links to Peter David Case album as he and Tom Russell have worked together most notably on Beyond the Blues with Neuwirth. Got to see the band that made this LP in 1992 when they played the Garage London which was a great gig and I got a bemused Tom to sign a beer mat as I could not afford a CD. Roundtower later sent me some of his catalogue when I sent them a rather dodgy tape of myself maybe as an example of how to do it properly
Have seen him a couple of times since at the Borderline and The Maze Nottingham. Like Case a songwriter of depth who under appreciated.
Trivia: A young Claudia Scott sings back up on this LP as it recorded and released in Norway. The same Claudia that beautifully covered my lyric The Devil’s House later
No 8: Dave Alvin – Every Night About This Time
This completes the trio of like-minded mid 80s LPs which to be honest the foundation of my interest in americana. Having discovered Townes via my uncle then Texas songwriting in general the trio Case/Russell/Alvin were my guiding stars.
They have all worked together at some point but this where my Dave Alvin collection began. I didn’t know when I bought it that some songs carried over from The Blasters but Border Radio and Fourth of July are just beautiful. Another fine songwriter. Many great records since of which my current fave is Eleven Eleven which a masterclass in songwriting.
No. 9: Tom Waits – Rain Dogs
Had to one Tom Waits in the list and this the one that I hear in my head when I being a ‘third-rate’ Tom Waits which fine by me to be ranked that high The original vinyl still bares the scratches from a way gone love affair in North London but the woman it involved did buy me a ticket to the Dominion show in October 1985 by Waits around this album’s release. To be honest Tom has had a longer lasting impact than that affair …..superb artist, superb album..and Janice Broad thank you for the tickets wherever you are….and the scratches on my heart:-)
No. 10: Terry Clarke – Call up a Hurricane
Will the circle be unbroken? Coming full circle..Started in Texas..end up there…Bought this LP when it came out as Terry comes from Reading, Berkshire a couple of train stops away from my home town of Didcot. Terry is a consumate songwriter who mixed with the best ..Rosie Flores, Joe Ely and Butch etc…he a direct line between Sligo and Austin as I wrote in a review in my younger days. This was his first solo album but all his records worth seeking out. He showed me that a writer from Berkshire could dream of Austin so had a big impact on me. I also designed the CD cover for Night Ride to Birmingham which he made with Wes McGhee and is outstanding too. This is Americana before the term was coined from 1989….