I don’t want to boast about my vast knowledge and understanding of popular music, so I’ll cut the introduction short.
I have a weekly column in Hoop magazine where I review music. Last week I decided I’d let the readers know what albums have influenced me, not just as a writer and a musician (http://www.thebungaloproject.net), but as a person. These are the albums that have really changed the way I think — albums that have defined me. Some of these albums are old and some of them are new, but they all have one thing in common: they all have a very special place in my heart.
N-Dubz – Against All Odds
Definitely one of the most exceptional albums of the last decade. It’s an album comprised almost purely of gorilla anthems, authentic chemical rhythms, and liquid urban beats. I genuinely haven’t heard a record this pugnacious and exuberant since DJ 2Tonix released Bad Fever back in 2000, but this has the added emotional donk that Bad Fever just didn’t have.
What can we say about the album cover? Well, it’s got Dappy, of course, looking like a young John Waters, holding up a three finger salute – obviously a reference to the work of E.E. Cummings. Then we’ve got Sheesha lookin’ well bluffty, her eyes suggesting new sounds from the N Dubz massive. Finally, Basil stands at the end with his finger over his mouth, as if to say, “Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but this album is wicked!”
It’s a beautiful cover that really makes you think.
A Lil’ Bitta Dappy Time (Shunt Mix)
Here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
Ken – By Request Only
Back in the ’70s, I wanted to be Ken Powers! I bought the suit, asked my mother to brush my hair for me, and grew a moustache. And boy did the ladies love me!
When By Request Only came out, I was young and impressionable. I just remember my friend Quentin coming round and saying, “Man, you’ve gotta check out this record.” So we popped it down on the record player and this voice came out of the speakers, “Back by popular demand… It’s me, Ken!” It was off the hook. After that first song finished, nothing was ever the same again. The way I thought about life completely changed after that. It was incredible.
A lot of Ken’s earlier albums, Beat Fuzz, Crack Junkie – You Be Ya, and especially Gun Fizz ii, never really grabbed my attention like By Request Only did. They were always a little too noisy for me, but this one is a true classic. Really lovely.
You shut up, you cow, ’cause there’s only one thing I regret
And that’s makin’ love to you, woman.
Cody Matherson – Can I Borrow A Feelin’?
The original bad boy of rock, Cody Matherson, has always been known for his violent approach to his songwriting. Often compared to GG Allin, back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Matherson was known primarily for his crazy onstage antics, which often involved a caged panda and a pair of his own dentures.
Considering how unstable Matherson was at the time, it’s a wonder this album was even made. Matherson was reportedly difficult to work with during the Feelin’ sessions and occasionally trashed his own gear and beat his producer, Rodney Nougat, over the head with a Casio Rapmaster.
Despite this, the results really speak for themselves. Songs like Don’t Protest – You Want It, and Get Off That Stoop really make Can I Borrow A Feelin’? A truly original piece of work.
The cover, which some have compared to The Beatles (White Album), has often been a hot topic among Matherson’s dedicated online fan base. The original cover, taken by Micky Bluff, featured a naked woman performing oral sex on an intoxicated Cody. The picture was later cropped due to pressure from Cody’s record company and Matherson insisted that the new design feature him standing in front of a random suburban house.
Touch me there and you might just feel…
Steve Warren – Reflection
What an album. I know it’s cool to say, “Oh, it’s just a rip-off of Blood On The Tracks”, but it’s not. Sure, the themes are similar, with all the references to Warren’s divorce from model Rita Von Huggentuff, but some of Warren’s mirror-based material on Reflection rivals anybody’s and remains unique, even to this day.
I remember back in ’82, maybe even ’83, when I was lucky enough to see this guy perform at the Perch & Whistle. Wow, what a showman. Out he came wearing his trademark leather jacket, his fists pumping in the air. He took one look at his band as if to say, “Y’all ready for this?” opened his mouth, and sang the first few lines of Reflection:
Who’s that man in the mirror?
Who’s that handsome man?
He’s callin’ out to you, babe,
To take his hand.
Who’s that man in the mirror?
… My reflection.
What a joy.
The cover art sums up the album perfectly. It’s Warren reflecting on his life as a used-mirror sales man. I love the LP version because when you open the sleve up the LP has an image of Warren looking into the mirror and being greeted by a sexy woman.
Pooh-Man – Funky As I Wanna Be
Jeremy Webbles, AKA Pooh-Man (MC Pooh), sold his house and all of his possessions to pay for the Funky As I Wanna Be sessions. A struggling gynecologist with a love for MC Hammer, Webbles had grown up with a passion for both rap music and vaginas, but Funky As I Wanna Be was the first time Webbles introduced those two passions.
As the title suggests, Pooh is as funky as he wants to be, and that’s evidently very funky. He could have possibly been a bit funkier, but this is funky enough for me. Mad beats, women going “Wow-a-wow-a-wow, yeah!”: this album has everything a good gynecological album needs.
Unlike some of his later albums like Pooh-Face and I Just Poohed Myself: Welcome To My World, this album really sums up what Pooh’s about: rapping about the female reproductive system.
Woke up in the morning, threw on my black suit
Workin’ some girl’s V, then I hang with my crew
I said, “you shoulda seen what came in today
I work on more women than Cassius Clay”