(Diversions, a recurring feature on Aquarium Drunkard, catches up with our favorite artists as they wax on subjects other than recording and performing.)
As noted in my end of the year ‘form letter,’ John Grant’s solo debut, the dark horse that is Queen of Denmark, made quite the impression in the latter half of 2010. And rightly so. As with all of the Diversions features found on Aquarium Drunkard, the series is intended to provide a deeper look into the artists we cover here, on the radio show and in our live ‘presents’ series. Below, Grant discusses six albums that got under his skin—in one way or another—over the years. Illuminating.
Nina Hagen :: Nunsexmonkrock — This will always be one of my top albums. Rolling Stone called it «the most unlistenable album of the year» in 1982 but for me it was an introduction to a world I had no idea even existed. I was just a church-going choir-boy and when I saw the cover (vinyl) of Nunsexmonkrock I was shocked and horrified and completely fascinated all at the same time. I spent weeks going back to it in the store and then, one day, I finally worked up the nerve to buy it. Such things were forbidden in our house and so I knew there could be dire consequences if it were to be discovered by my parents. When I first listened to it, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was listening to it under the covers in my waterbed because I didn’t want to be discovered, but I was too horrified to continue, then slowly, over the course of the next months it became my number one favorite album. It represented everything that was different and foreign to me and also that I couldn’t wait to get away from Parker, Colorado. Favorite tracks: “Antiworld,” “Smack Jack,” “Future is Now,” “Born in Xixax.”
Divinyls :: Desperate — I guess you can say I really loved the ladies, I felt rejected by a lot of men in my life and strong, confident, take-no-prisoners women like Christina Amphlett were my heroes. I remember seeing her on a late-night video show in the early eighties and I was transfixed. She looked and acted like a monster and was drawing all over her face with red lipstick. Every song on Desperate is a short pop masterpiece in my humble opinion and it cant be more than 35 or 40 minutes in length and always leaves me wanting more. It is full of energy and engaging, personal lyrics that tell of scenarios that were completely foreign to me at the time. “Boys in Town,” “Elsie,” “Take a Chance,” “Ring me Up”. I keep going back to it time and time again.
Kate Bush :: Hounds of Love — This is another album that totally blew my mind. It is a cohesive unit and it flows from beginning to end and it is a masterpiece (so is The Dreaming imho). There lots of bleak landscapes but there are also times when there is a little hole in the thick, gray cloud cover and the sun shines through. I’d never heard a voice like hers, I’d never heard such longing and melancholy and beauty, plus it was primarily listened to during long trips late at night on the road to take home the boy I was in love with at the time. He didn’t love me, I don’t know if he even liked me and he was just using me because he needed someone to drive him back to the sticks where he lived. There was no one else on the road that late out in the country and I just remember the light from the dashboard hitting his face and his hand on my arm, because he knew he had to invest a little something to get what he wanted.
Eurythmics :: Touch — This is probably the album that turned me on to electronic music. I hadn’t heard Kraftwerk or Cabaret Voltaire or Visage or Blancmange or Yello yet although it wasn’t long at all before I would. I love every song on this record except for Right By Your Side which I considered to be too positive and up-beat and major-key for my liking at the time. “Here comes the Rain again,” “Who’s That Girl,” “No Fear, No Hate, No Pain (No Broken Hearts),” “Aqua”!!!!!!! all got me through yet another horrifying year of High School.
The Carpenters :: Horizon – This is probably where I learned about chorus and layering and amazing harmonies and cheese. But the cheese didn’t bother me. We were a church-going family, so there was cheese aplenty. Anyone who says they don’t like Karen Carpenter’s voice is either a Nazi, a Liar, or both : )
Yello :: Stella — Yello has accompanied me through about 3 decades of my life and it all started with this record. I was intrigued by the strange vocals and the accents (I thought they were Mexican) and the cinematic soundscapes mixed with infectious electro-beats and catchy lyrics were a very bizarre and welcome in my tiny world. «Sometimes» is probably one of my all-time favorite tracks and who doesn’t love Vicious Game or at least one of the many fantastic remixes it has yielded through the years? It is one of my dreams to visit their mansion in L.A. and check out their massive collection of synths. I would also like join Shirley Bassey, Stina Nordenstam and Billy Mackenzie as one of their collaborators. That would be beyond all belief systems and off all hooks.
MP3: John Grant :: I Wanna Go To Marz