(Diversions, a recurring feature on Aquarium Drunkard, catches up with our favorite artists as they wax on subjects other than recording and performing.)
If you’re reading this blog than you’re most likely familiar with the band Gordon Gano co-founded in the early 1980s — The Violent Femmes. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Modern Lovers and the Velvet Underground, the Femme’s crafted what is arguably one of the most heralded underground LPs of the decade – their 1983 self-titled debut. Hormonally charged punk-rock infused folk, where I grew up the album was as much a rite-of-passage, passed down by older siblings, as it was simply a recording. Tomorrow sees the release of Gano’s latest LP, with the Ryan brothers, out on the Yep Roc label. AD took the opportunity to ask the artist about the records that changed the way he listened to music, much in the same way the Violent Femmes changed ours.
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The Velvet Underground :: The Velvet Underground & Nico. Andy Warhol presents the “Banana” record. If the 3 original members of Violent Femmes (myself included) listed all-time favorite records this, I think, would be the collective favorite. Everything about it is exciting to me. The songs, the playing, and the arrangements. It crackles with energy. There was a time-still is?-when if a writer really liked a new group they would compare it positively with the Velvet Underground even though in most cases these groups didn’t sound anything like each other. I first had a copy at Christmas-time and so I still see flashing Christmas tree lights when the first song starts.
Sly and the Family Stone :: Fresh. The first record where I really loved funk. It is so funky. Maybe the first records that made me not want to just play and listen to simple rhythms. All the musicians, Sly’s singing, even the lyrics. I or a neighborhood kid had the 45 single of “If You Want Me to Stay” when it came out. I was probably about ten years old. I heard the full album a few years later. That song is still an all-time favorite and I still listen to this album currently. More often than all the others on this list combined.
Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers :: Live at Max’s Kansas City ’79. On an Easter vacation trip to New York City in ’78 or ’79 an older brother took me to see Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers at Max’s Kansas City (hi Chris). (I got the “souvenir” LP afterwards) It was and is the most exciting rock n’ roll show of my life (no doubt a lot to do with being 15), I didn’t know them before the show but, J. Thunders reckless swagger was inspiring. I have remained a big fan of his guitar playing. He made me want to play electric guitar (including leads) and be in a rock band more than ever.
The Ramones :: The Ramones. A friend in high school was raving about them and lent me his vinyl. I have never had such an intense immediate reaction to hearing a record for the first time. It was instant. I loved this. It was different from anything I had ever heard before. I was about 14 I think. Hey, Ho, Let’s Go!
Man of La Mancha :: Original Broadway Cast Recording. My mother tells me that I could and would sing this through word for word from start to finish when I was 3 or 4 years old. It was a new hit musical and my parents had the records. I still remember many of the songs. This was, I assume, an early and profound influence on me. Singing words that were from and for different people. Different characters. Also, telling a story in song. “(To Dream) The Impossible Dream” is the popular hit song and the climax of the show but, it does not stand out more for me than any other of the songs. words/ gordon gano
+ MP3 after the jump….