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“My Favourite Records”

  • By Robin Guthrie
  • Melody Maker
  • Nov 1993

Robin Guthrie shares his favourite records of all time.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: “The Mercy Seat”

“They’ve been such a consistent band over the years. We used to follow The Birthday Party about, they were the ones that were responsible for getting us a deal with 4AD. Not a bit like the Cocteaus? Naah, it was that big guitar noise you got on ‘The Friend Catcher’ that was one of the things that inspired us. I’ve got a lot of time for Nick Cave. Every couple of years I retune myself into what’s he doing, even the sea shanty stuff as some people call it. I’m a sucker for wasted types, men who can wear tight trousers and pointy shoes without looking like a pillock. Me, I turned out the wrong shape to be wasted!”

Donna Summer: “State of Independence”

“This was a hit in the early Eighties. I love the arrangement of it, the movement, the way it built up. This was just as we were starting out and maybe it influenced the way we built our sound up. It was before she became a born-again Christian and started talking about the evils of homosexuality when most of her fans were on the Hi-NRG circuit.

The Pop Group: “She is beyond Good and Evil”

“I haven’t actually heard this in years but it sums up a particular moment in time for me. Again, it was the noise he [Mark Stewart] made. He’s still really good now. The Pop Group were the first ones ever to mix post-punk with fun and dance rhythms. But it was always harder than the ones doing it now.”

The Birthday Party: “The Friend Catcher”

“I’ve cheated here, having Nick Cave in twice but what the hell—I just remember listening to The Birthday Party on the radio thinking, ‘Fucking Hell!’ We’d be down the front at every gig, follow them around everywhere—when we were still young and stupid, these people were big stars to us. I know we weren’t supposed to have stars but we were still awestruck even though we could approach them anytime backstage, in a way you couldn’t with Bowie and T Rex. The last time I saw Nick properly was a couple of years ago back in Sao Paolo. We got ourselves in a horrible state.”

The The: “Lonely Planet”

“The The and The Birthday party were both on 4AD so there was no question that that was the label we were going to work for. So we made a demo, made two copies, sent one to Peel and one to 4AD. We chose 4AD, it never occurred to us that 4AD might not choose us. We thought it was a dead easy to get a record deal because we were so great&mash;we were fucking crazy. Anyway, ‘Lonely Planet’, what a fucking record. ‘If you can’t change the world, change yourself.’ It’s only recently I’ve come round to thinking like that myself. He was only about 20 when he made it. I didn’t have much time for the things he was doing a few years back but with his last album I’m right back into him.”

Suicide: “Ghost Rider”

“I still rip ‘em off! Them and Roxy Music were the first people I ever heard using keyboards like machines and not just Hammond organs. The first album was great. You try sitting alone, fucked up on drugs, late at night, listening to that 10 minute track, ‘Frankie Teardrop’—you’ll fucking die! It’s so scary. After that, they went on to make a lot of crap.”

Rage Against The Machine: “Killing in The Name”

“Yeah, I love them, love this. It’s not particularly the militant thing about them, it’s more from hearing it in the clubs, the noise it makes. I don’t know if it’s exactly changed my life. I went through a phase a couple of years ago of not listening to anybody else’s music at all, but just this past year I’ve had an incredibly refreshed attitude, I’ve rekindled my love. Also, I used to have a problem about listening to other people’s stuff. The way I saw it, if theirs was good it meant mine must be crap. I’ve had a few problems in my head with that, I can tell you. It’s not being competitive, it’s insecurity and it meant not being able to own up to liking other people’s stuff. It’s only now I can do something like Rebellious Jukebox.”

Patsy Cline: “Sweet Dreams”

“Well, it’s the Voice, isn’t it? The other Voice! Patsy Cline died 20-odd years ago, so it was a bit tricky getting her to join the Cocteaus so I had to get Liz. Just go pick up her greatest hits. It’s not Country & Western, it’s more ballads. Speaking of ballads, if you want a good, poncey ballad, put in Roddy Frame’s ‘How Men Are’. King of the poncey ballads, Roddy! I love him.”

The Ronettes: “Be My Baby”

“I could have picked any number of Phil Spector tracks—I don’t suppose I need to explain why. I’ve been an obsessive collector of Phil Spector’s stuff, I’ve got loads and loads on vinyl, a lot of rarities. Nice tunes, big sounds—yeah, it was an obvious influence.”

Roy Orbison: “In Dreams”

“Just before he made his comeback with The Traveling Wilburys, before he died, I saw him at the Mean Fiddler. It was just him, his guitar and voice, so beautiful, so moving—what a fucking guy. And I was waiting out back to meet him and I did. Y’know what he said to me? “Get out of the way, son,’ as he pushed past me on the way to his limousine.”

Radiohead: “Creep”

“I do love this but I know virtually nothing about the band. There was a time when liking a record meant I would have had to go out and find out everything about the band, these days, as long as it’s a good fucking record, I really don’t care—which is the way it should be, I suppose. But this is another of the records that’s got me listening to music again.”

John Lennon: “Woman”

“This is on his last album, ‘Double Fantasy’. John Lennon’s somebody I never even listened to until a few years ago. Same with The Doors, Dylan—I shut all these people out because punk rock told me to. And the wealth of stuff I was denying myself! Punk had always seemed such a positive energy to me that i never saw the negative side of it…the Cocteau Twins were the beginning of the end for punk? People think that? Oh, no! We’re still making records nbow the way we did then, that’s the bottom line—in the same uncontrived, honest way, doing what the fuck we feel like.” ▣