Life Is Like A Box Of Records: The Bara Bara Band

Set to release their new album, The Seeds Inside (The Grapes Upon The Vine), on 15th September, South London’s The Bara Bara Band effortlessly blend the new with the old to create a cocktail of feel-good folk. 

Rupert from the band has shared some of his most influential tracks with us for this week’s Life Is Like A Box Of Records…

‘Holiday’ – Bee Gees

The first record I had was the Best of The Bee Gees Volume 1. I think my grandmother bought it for me. I don’t know why. Volume 1 is the pre-disco version of the Bee Gees. Volume 2 has the disco stuff. Volume 1 is a collection of widescreen lushly orchestrated power ballads. It is a horrendously miserable record to listen to beginning to end. Every song is a heart wrenching call for help in a minor key. Side A starts with probably the most positive song, ‘Holiday’. “Millions of eyes can see, then why am I so blind? It’s unkind” and gets sadder and sadder with each song finishing with the ‘New York Mining Disaster 1941’. Listening to that record at the age of 8, it’s amazing I wasn’t scarred for life!

‘Bushes And Briars’ – Isla Cameron 

It was in the 1967 film Far From The Madding Crowd in which I first heard ‘Bushes and Briars’ sung by Isla Cameron. I was already into the idea of British Folk but it had all seemed quite alien to me thus far. I had grown up thinking folk was Irish or American! When I heard ‘Bushes and Briars’, like Vaughan Williams who collected it from a shepherd in 1908, I felt like I had known it all my life, deep down. I felt like I had arrived home somehow.

‘La Isla Bonita’ – Madonna

At the age of about 9 or 10 I started learning the guitar with my teenage sister. We learnt pop songs. Strumming chords and singing. I don’t remember which song I learnt first but I remember enjoying playing ‘La Isla Bonita’ which would have been in the charts around then. Great song!

‘Truckdrivin’ Neighbours Downstairs (Yellow Sweat)’ – Beck 

For most people Beck was a one hit wonder when the album Mellow Gold came out, my favourite of his albums. For me he was an absolute inspiration. I had recently acquired a four track recording device to record my songs and Beck used a similar device. Like Beck I would piss around with pans, speeds, reverbs, multitracking. It was all so exciting and fun.

‘Orgy Of Bubastus’ – Add N To X 

It’s easy to get stuck into associating certain styles of music must be played with certain instruments. In the nineties electronic music was dance music and was programmed with keyboards. Rock music was generally not programmed and played with guitars. This song gave me and the rest of the band I was in the inspiration to make live rock n roll music with synthesisers. These aggressive electronic analogue sounds were rarely heard then. Now you hear them all the time and maybe it was thanks bands like Chikinki that sprung up after Add n to x.

‘Be Bop a Lula’ – Gene Vincent

At the age of 11, my sister was 17 and a rockabilly. She turned me on to rock n roll. The music and lyrics are so simple that they make you want to join in whether singing, dancing, playing or writing. That became my philosophy of music. It’s what folk music is about for me. Screw the intellectuals, if you like it, maybe someone else will.

‘When We Love Again’ – Morning Star 

After studying at Bristol, the band I was in stayed on to keep at the music. We managed to find our way into a magnificent diy music scene with some great independent record labels. One of the bands I loved was Morning Star headed by Jesse Vernon. If there was a play count of songs you get in your head, this might be my top song. It was therefore like a dream when he asked me to play bass on tour with him in 2009. Boris (fiddle player) and I were playing for Morning Star when we met Ruth who was on the same bill. We got talking and she asked me and Boris later to join The Bara Bara Band!

‘Bonnie George Tyler’ – Cath and Phil Tyler

For the last four years Ruth and I have been running a folk club called Tooting Folk. We’ve been lucky to have some fantastic acts come to play. We were chuffed to have Cath and Phil Tyler come down to London to play. They opened their first set with this beautiful folk song.

‘The Recruited Collier’ – Anne Briggs

Much of folk music is story-telling and there is a definite emphasis on the performer to tell the story. There is no one better than Anne Briggs at this. Hearing this, I fell in love with what a traditional song can do. Although many say this song was half written by A L Lloyd before he gave it to Anne Briggs, it is clearly a fantastic recording of a fantastic folk song.

‘Log Cabin Home In the Sky’ – The Incredible String Band

Very hard to choose one song from the Incredible String Band because every song seems to have such a big effect. Ruth and I’s shared love of ISB has led them to nicknaming their home after this beautiful life-affirming song based on an old time fiddle tune, ‘Mississippi Waltz’.

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