Rebellious Jukebox: Graham Massey
Melody Maker
23 January 1993
Page: ??

GRAHAM MASSEY of 808 STATE talks about the records that changed his life:

1. STEVIE WONDER: "Inner Visions"

"I'M an albums person. I've never bought singles. I bought this in Woolworths when I was fourteen. I'd seen 'Livin' For The City' on 'Top Of The Pops', and you knew he meant it. The sound was brilliant, he'd got into synthesizers and electronics, and he'd made the whole LP himself. I love the idea that you can be experimental and still be commercial. That happened a lot in the Seventies."

2. FRANK SINATRA: "Songs For Swinging Lovers"

"I HATE the nostalgia industry but this transcends it. It's something about his voice that takes me back to the womb. There's that parental quality in the voice. My ideal parents would be Frank Sinatra and Karen Carpenter. Did you see the Karen Carpenter story on the TV the other day?"

3. TODD RUNDGREN; "A Wizard A True Star"

"AYE, he was funny looking. Again, it's one guy making a record by himself. He started off as this singer/songwriter and then, I suspect, there was a huge influx of drugs. He was always teetering on the edge of losing it. He was an engineer, so his big thing was production. He was dead in control of the music, and really good at taking something ordinary and decorating it into something other-wordly. It's aural fantasy. Also, it's the soundtrack to when I first fell in love when I was 17 years old."


"SIDE two is what makes this, really, because that's the ambient stuff he did with Eno. We grew up with Bowie. He seemed like a decent kind of pop star when I was a teenager, when the alternatives were Mud and Sweet, who were naff. Me older brother was completely into him - carrot hairdo, white make-up, peg trousers, the lot. There was some kid in our school who had his back teeth taken out just to be more like David Bowie."

5. MARVIN GAYE: "What's Goin' On?"

"I GOT this second-hand when I was 18 and didn't get into it for five years until somebody spiked my drink with Window Pane, which is like a horrendous form of acid. So I went off on a weird bender for a day and a half and somehow this LP got put on and the whole thing just clicked for me. I don't think there's been a day since that I haven't played it. Again, it's the voice. The lyrics are on-the-surface, socio-political stuff about issues, but it's something buried deeper in the delivery and orchestration that really leads you. I get a lot out of it. It's an album to lean on."

6. MARTIN DENNY: "Exotica"

"THIS is cheesy but weird. He was this American bloke who lived in Hawaii in the Fifties. He had a cocktail group. They'd perform in this hotel where they had tropical birds floating around in the trees and the group would imitate the bird calls on the LPs. I got into this because of a friend of my dad who used to do South Pacific cruises before World War II. He repaired double basses and we'd go round his house, which was like the British museum, and smoke a bit on a Sunday afternoon and he'd drag these LPs out. They're bizarre. Remind me of going to the pictures when I was really small."

7. MILES DAVIS: "Live Evil"

"I BOUGHT this when I was 15, when I first discovered that jazz didn't have to be boring. I hate the term jazz-rock because that conjures up bland, self-indulgent musos, but this really has an edge. He's a big influence, the Bowie of the jazz world. Each LP was a chapter in the story. The others in 808 rib me about liking jazz cos it's easy to call it old crap, but the big joke with them is you go round one of their houses and they get out their electro box set. That's the bible to them."

8. JOHN COLTRANE: "A Love Supreme"

"I BOUGHT this because I'd read articles where musicians quoted him as a big influence. So I got it and it went over my head for about four years. It stayed at the back of the pile. It was a real 'I must like this' kinda thing. I don't understand how I can like it so much now when I didn't then. Mind you, I didn't like HP Sauce until I was sixteen and now I can't live without it. So there you go. This is my special LP for keeping love letters inside the cover."

9. ULTRAMARINE: "Every Man And Woman Is A Star"

"THIS is one of the records I played most last year. They've done what I wanted to do, basically, which is to make technology sound organic. You don't have to pick out tracks to suit your mood, just stick it on from the beginning. There is some singing on it. I wish I could sing. I do loads of singing along to records. But it's very hard to find people I like the words of. I haven't got a clue who Ultramarine are. I like their anonymousness."

10. RAHSAAN ROLAND KIRK: "The Vibration Continues"

"RAHSAAN is blind and an incredible musician - he played three saxophones at once. He used to construct instruments out of other ones and break all the rules. He'd do brilliant versions of naff pop songs like 'Never Can Say Goodbye', but with loads of bollocks. When I was 15, I got into jazz and the first group I was in played it -not very successfully, mind you. I played guitar, electric violin and drums. We learnt a lot. It was 1977 and punk was on so we didn't have to be able to play. The music scene wasn't as snobby then as it is now."

11. JONI MITCHELL: "Hejira"

"I HAD this album hanging about for two years before I took it on the American tour and it all fell into place. It fitted in with the American landscape. And I do like her words. She's one of the few people I would choose for words. I always thought from looking at her that she'd be a bit folky, but there's ambience and jazz and no cliches about her atoll. Once things get clichéd I find they become unlistenable."

12. CHET BAKER: "Let's Get Lost"

"YEAH, more jazz! How f***ing boring, yeah? I'm gonna come across as a right f***in muso here. I don't suppose I really like aggressive music. I'm a Leo which probably means I'm a couch animal and sort of self-indulgent. I really like introspective things. Like Chet Baker. He's a trumpeter but on this album he sang. Anyway, he did songs Sinatra used to do, but he's obviously not been as fortunate as Sinatra and it comes out in his voice. It's dead pure. Bjork of The Sugarcubes got me into it. There's a sad sweetness in it. It's not like the music I make but it's the music I draw from. It's the music I turn off to."