‘Who are your influences?’ It’s the first question new bands face and a neverending source of fascination for fans and critics alike.
Now a new book seeks to answer that question by persuading ‘punk’ musicians, journalists, authors and personalities to share their thoughts on their favourite music.
Punks Listen is the third in a series of books put together by Ireland’s Hope Collective in aid of good causes.
Compiled by Niall McGuirk and Michael Murphy the book, which features more than 200 contributions from the likes of Suggs, Tim Burgess and The Waterboys’ Mike Scott, will raise funds for the Red Cross Ukraine Crisis appeal.
The kind of book you can dip in and out of, it’s also an opportunity to expand your horizons and your record collections.
Inevitably some choices are more predictable than others, but there also several notable surprises.
Few would be shocked, for example to find Henry Rollins choosing a Stooges album as his all-time favourite, but would you have expected Crass’ Steve Ignorant to be a Joni Mitchell fan?
“It gave me, not a sense of freedom but a sense of hope,” Ignorant says of Mitchell’s Court And Spark album. “It gave me a sense of wanting to get out there and start doing something.”
Long an admirer of Steve Albini‘s production and engineering skills, it’s no surprise to find The Wedding Present‘s David Gedge plumping for Surfer Rosa by the Pixies.
“Surfer Rosa lifts my spirits and reminds me how great pop music can speak to you,” Gedge remarks.
Elsewhere comedian Graham Fellows, alias Jilted John, extols the virtues of Son Of My Father by Chicory Tip – a choice another of his comic creations John Shuttleworth might well endorse.
While the bigger names inevitably get the headlines, what’s cool about this book is that not all the contributors and many of their choices are that widely known.
Dipping into these mini reviews could send you down a rabbit hole of discovery, not just of the cherished albums chosen, but also of those doing the choosing.
There’s much love expressed for Portand’s The Wipers, for example, and who wouldn’t want to check out recommendations for Five Fingers Four Fingers A Thumb A Facelift And A New Identity by Stretcheads, or SNFU‘s The Last Of The Big Time Suspenders.
Towards the end there’s a brief section devoted to live performance, where author Roddy Doyle (The Commitments, The Van) – eloquently describes being the oldest person in the room at a The Comet Is Coming show.
Fittingly the last word goes to the late Cathal Coughlan, frontman of Microdisney, The Fatima Mansions and Telefis – who sets out his Commandments of Gig. Sample Commandment: The Audience – Proximity to livestock makes them sleepy.
Running to an impressive 318 pages and chock full of endorsements of everything from Abba to classical, blues, jazz, easy listening and inevitably punk – this is a fun book for a fine cause.
Who can say fairer than that?
- Punks Listen is available priced €16/£15 from the Hope Collective Ireland here.