Life Is Like A Box Of Records: Vic Galloway

Some time ago I was sitting on a bus with a token playlist of songs that had influenced my life in some way or another. Being somewhat refreshed, I started thinking of all the times that these songs had become significant and thought, wouldn’t it be an excellent idea to delve into other people’s ‘Life Record Boxes’. Luckily people have been wonderful and we have an incredible series continuing.

Today is the turn of Vic Galloway. He is one of the biggest supporters of new music and has greatly inspired and helped Podcart over our 4 year stint. You can listen to Vic or read his words at the following places:

BBC Show: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0074hgc
BBC Podcast: http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/scotintro
Book: http://www.birlinn.co.uk/Songs-in-the-Key-of-Fife.html
Hipflask Podcast: http://www.hipflaskpodcast.com

1. Little Richard – Tutti Frutti

My Dad was a teenager during the very first wave of 1950’s rock’n’roll and it obviously made a huge impression on him. I remember him giving me a cassette of 1950’s rock’n’roll hits when I was a wee boy and they were all amazing! Little Richard was and still is my favourite… I still DJ this in every set. He’s the architect of rock’n’roll… I’ve seen him play live and be interviewed in front of an audience. He’s a wild cat!

    2. Adam & the Ants – Dog Eat Dog

    The first music I discovered for myself was Adam & the Ants… It was music, fashion, theatre, showmanship, fantasy and sex all rolled into one with distorted guitars and 2 drummers. What’s not to like!?? The first single I bought was ‘Stand & Deliver’ but I had the album ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’ before that and this is one of my favourites from it. Bizarrely, this guy helped shape my entire life!

    3. Madness – Embarrassment

    Aside from the Ants, my next favourite group as a nipper was Madness – again, incredible songs with humour, wit, theatre and showmanship in one. I bought every single up to ‘Wings of a Dove’ but this was an important one – great lyrics too! I still think they’re good LIVE, and they are masterful with pop-song structures…

    4. Sex Pistols – Bodies

    After discovering ‘pop’ with the aforementioned artists, things got serious when my pal James (Yorkston) brought a blank tape back from school and we listened to it in my bedroom one afternoon. It was the Sex Pistols’ ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ album – I was utterly shocked by ‘Bodies’ and yet totally thrilled at the same time. It was a call to arms for a young boy… especially an angry one from a broken home. It’s still a terrifying piece of music… I must give a BBC swear warning at this point!!

    The Damned – New Rose

    Once you start to investigate punk rock, you soon open up an Aladdin’s cave of gems and jewels. James and I got heavily into the first wave of UK bands (although we were too young to ‘live’ it then) but seemed to warm to The Damned most of all. They were faster than anyone else, had a daft sense of humour and were probably a bit more musical than most. This was their first single and the first UK punk single too – it’s like a rush of blood to the head, heart and groin all at once! They were also James and my first concert on 1st June 1985 in the Edinburgh Playhouse. I was 12 years old and it was unforgettable! That’s another reason I do what I do today…

    6. Jesus & Mary Chain – Never Understand

    As punk had blown the door off the hinges, then I started to discover all sorts of other stuff. Goth, post-punk and indie-pop were next up… When I heard J&MC aged around 13, it was an eye and ear opener – they were so noisy, looked so cool and they were from East Kilbride! Psychocandy, the squaling feedback and all that early stuff still sounds great…

    7. Cocteau Twins – Sugar Hiccup

    One of my favourite bands of all time is Cocteau Twins, and I heard them first as a teenage in the 1980’s. I didn’t know they were Scottish for a long-time, but when I found out, it just added to their mystery. Liz Fraser is still the finest female vocalist in all pop music in my opinion… She can reduce me to tears, and often does as I continue to listen to them regularly. The band and their sound are still hugely influential and inspiring globally to this day.

    8. Linton Kwesi Johnson – Sonny’s Lettah

    I love reggae music and it probably all started with Madness, Specials and The Clash, who turned me onto it via cover versions. Punk and independent music was liberating for me and opened up my mind; but I sometimes find people constricted by certain styles and genres. For me, listening to John Peel on BBC Radio 1 and investigating ALL musical genres was crucial. Here’s a dub-poet and upsetter – LKJ – whose records are essential protest songs (aligned with punk) with sumptuous reggae backing tracks from Dennis Bovell’s dub band. I’ve seen him live twice and would recommend his early albums to anyone. One of MANY reggae artists I could point you towards…

    9. Stone Roses – Fools Gold

    As I left school and was exposed to acid-house and dance culture, I was still rooted in indie and rock music for the most part. A band, alongside the Happy Mondays, who seemed to effortlessly combine the two were these guys… I bought the 7” vinyl of this (although I should have bought the 12”) at the time. I still think it’s their finest moment. It, alongside other baggy and lysergic anthems of the moment, sound-tracked my first summer out in the real world…

    10. Guy Called Gerald – Voodoo Ray

    To me this is still the finest piece of house ever made and still makes an appearance in my DJ sets. It’s got the funk, the acid squelch, the bassline and the perfect vocal sample over that essential four-to-the-floor back-beat… This invited me into the world of dance music, which I continue to find inspiring across all its micro-genres. DJ’s, producers and releases on Lucky Me and NMBRS are currently floating my boat…

    11. Pixies – Bone Machine

    Towards the end of the 1980’s and into the 1990’s, the ‘alternative’ US rock, punk and hardcore scenes which I was well into began to have some mainstream success. REM maybe started things, but a band with a huge impact on the UK in their initial short life was Pixies. They somehow subverted the simple formula of guitar, bass, drums & vocals by adding or subtracting a beat from the bar, and singing about aliens or surrealist art; they screamed their lungs out, but were still perfect pop. This opening track from ‘Surfer Rosa’ was mind-blowing on a first listen… It’s like everything’s backwards!

    12. Nirvana – Sliver

    I could have chosen anything from ‘Bleach’, ‘Nevermind’ or ‘In Utero’, but went for this… I saw the band 4 times – twice in Edinburgh and twice at Reading Festival. They were touring this single with a new drummer called Dave Grohl when I saw them first at Calton Studios (Studio 24) in 1990 (the record actually features Dan Peters from Mudhoney on it, but Grohl smashed it live!). What more can I say…? Rock music was once again reinvented and reshaped. What a voice, what a guitar sound, what an amazing power-trio!

    13. Public Enemy – Don’t Believe the Hype

    Now Hip-Hop is so utterly mainstream and neutered of all its real anger, dissent and potency, it’s hard to remember when it was actually alive and dangerous. Before ‘bling’ and all that bullshit, it scared the shit out of (white) people in the 1980’s, and nobody did it better, with more intelligence and force than PE… I saw them headline Reading Festival in 1992 at the peak of their powers with around 40,000 people going ape-shit. It was radical and life-affirming… I still have the T shirt!

    14. Teenage Fanclub – Everything Flows

    For the most part in the 1980’s, aside from J&MC, Cocteau Twins, the C86, anarcho-punk and house scenes; mainstream Scottish music meant very little to me. Suddenly in the wake of grunge and ‘alternative’ culture there was a breakthrough for me and many others… The Fannies! This was the first song I heard from ‘A Catholic Education’ LP and I was hooked. Bits of Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth, Neil Young, The Byrds and Big Star all came together in this noisy, melodic mess. Many years later I had them in session on BBC Radio Scotland… I was gob-smacked!

    15. Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy

    Although a lot of this list is made up of white guys with guitars, my music taste is extremely wide and diverse. I looked under every stone and searched in every nook and cranny… Funk, disco, acid Jazz, Nu-Soul, house, techno and all manner of ‘World’ music were all researched and fed through the filter. Another important act in opening me up to UK soul, r’n’b and hip-hop was Massive Attack. A little darker and edgier than Soul 2 Soul (who I also love), they created ‘Blue Lines’ which is a masterpiece of melody and production… Others then followed.

    16. Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares – Shope Shope

    OK, here you go… Some of the most incredible, mind-bending music ever made! This is ultimately the Bulgarian State TV Female Choir (discovered by Marcel Cellier and eventually re-released by the 4AD label in the 1980’s), which may not sound that interesting… But the harmony, dissonance, composition and performance is like nothing on EARTH!! I am still obsessed with this stuff – I listen to them all the time and continually seek musical nourishment from the countless albums available to this day. This is from ‘Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares Vol. 3’ but there isn’t a bad record by them I’ve heard. Investigate and make your life much richer and fuller as a result…

    17. The Beta Band – Dry The Rain

    I played in bands from 1991 onwards with lots of incredible experiences, tours, festivals, DIY releases… and absolutely no success!! When these Fifers (featuring an old pal Steve Mason) suddenly arrived and had a fairly monumental initial impact, I was delighted… Much like Teenage Fanclub beforehand, now you could proudly state they were from your home country and making world-beating music. This didn’t fit into any scene either, which I liked. There was hip-hop, country, folk, 60’s psyche, funk, baggy and a whole lot more. I have a demo of this somewhere on cassette but the ‘Champion Versions’ release is pretty much the same. Obviously, if you buy my ‘Songs in the Key of Fife’ book (available now, kids!!) you’ll find out all about them and other Fife musicians who went onto big things…

    18. Arab Strap – The First Big Weekend

    Much like anyone else from Scotland when I first heard this, it was a revelation… I laughed, I was a wee bit shocked and my creative mind was opened to the endless possibilities that it offered. It was honest, it was unique and it was utterly cutting-edge without even trying to be. It was also really Scottish without sounding naff!! It was so significant on so many levels and continues to be so. This band has to be one of the most important in the entire history of Scottish music, but their influence has since stretched out across the world. I once saw them live in front of a packed audience in San Francisco… And they even insulted me from the stage! An honour…

    19. Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out

    By 1999 I was on BBC Radio 1 and my ‘career’ in the media had started. Every week since then, I’ve presented a BBC radio programme (give or take a Xmas week off…) and been involved in helping to champion the underdog on radio, TV, in print and online. Much like my hero John Peel, I’ve supported thousands of bands and artists who’ve gone absolutely nowhere in terms of ‘success’, but I don’t regret getting behind any of them. However, once in a while you get a little vindication… The B-side to the UK 7” single of ‘Take Me Out’ in 2004 is one of our BBC Session tracks called ‘Truck Stop’… Yay!

    20. Biffy Clyro – My Recovery Injection

    While I’m blowing my own trumpet, here’s a band I championed from the start when unsigned… Didn’t they do well??! So many people told me they were going nowhere, but I continued to support them through thick and thin. When I see them headlining Reading & Leeds, it somehow makes me feel so proud… Aaaaw! They are now the biggest ‘rock’ band in the UK. I was right! This is a great track from my favourite album of theirs ‘Infinity Land’ and has a cheeky video an’ aw…

    21. Iggy & The Stooges – Search & Destroy

    For my last track, I’ve gone for my all-time favourite live act… Iggy Pop! I’ve seen him loads of times and he always astounds me. The energy and the total disregard for his own personal safety is astonishing and hilarious… He is the living embodiment of rock’n’roll, even into his 60’s and 70’s! As a young man, he was beautiful, athletic and indestructible against all odds… and his band helped keep this music I love raw, nasty and full of primal fury. I could have chosen anything from the first 3 Stooges albums or his first 2 solo records, but this one hits the spot every time. Despite adverts and all sorts of faux-pas mistakes over the years, I fuckin’ love Iggy…

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