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Have You Heard This? - Q Magazine, Summer 2020

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Title: Have You Heard This?
Publication: Q Magazine
Date: Summer 2020
Photos: Alex Lake

QMagazine, Summer 2020.jpg

James Dean Bradfield: The Manic Street Preachers singer and guitarist on his busking money purchases.

Thomas Dolby - The Flat Earth (1984)
“Me and Sean [Moore, Manics drummer and James’ cousin] were brought up together and living in the same house in 1984. I’m 15, he’s 16 and me and him have that thing of being really close when we were young, then as I was 10 and he was 11, I became extremely fucking embarrassing to him cos we were in the same school, so we drifted a bit. Then we were started to come together again, listening to a lot of music. I remember him going to buy this and it immediately seemed to link in to so many things that me and Sean were listening to together. Sometimes, we’d just listen to records together in silence and we’d watch films deep into the night with each other, stuff like Blade Runner, Brazil and The Emerald Forest a year later. It seemed like the songs on this album could’ve been songs in those films. It’s a strange mixture of technology, organic and jazz. I think this is how me and Sean really came back together after he disowned me when he was a year above me. A very special bonding experience for me and Sean, and we didn’t even know it at the time.”

George Benson - Shape Of Things To Come (1968)
“It was 1989, I’d been busking and Nick [Wire, Manics bassist] hadn’t come busking with me so I was on my own in Cardiff, travelling from the Valleys. I’d made quite a lot of money that day, there was a convention in town and lots of people walked past and I earned about £30. I was like, ‘Amazing! I’ve covered enough for lunch, I’ve covered my bus fare and also I can go and buy some old vinyl in Andy’s Records in Cardiff market.’ I bought Days In Europa by Skids, I bought Chairs Missing by Wire and I came across the cover of this and it struck me, a classic post-Italian futurism kind of cover and saw the name George Benson and was like, ‘What’s this?’ I just loved it. I play this album at least five times a year, and that’s been happening since 1989. I love the way jazz culture had a bit of fatalism to it. Jazz music knows how to deal with defeat, it had a real tender heart in defeat. The opening track Footin’ It just sums up languid, calm, cool and collected class. It’s just cool, like, 'I’m gonna fucking get there, I'm gonna do this my own way.'”

Badfinger - Straight Up (1972)
“This is Badfinger’s defining album. It’s got Baby Blue on there, which was a hit in America, it’s got Day After Day on there, which has been a hit in America, and subsequently, Martin Scorsese can’t stop using Baby Blue and Day After Day in all his fucking movies in the last 15 years or so. They are amazing songs. Badfinger were always downed by being a Beatles knock-off but it’s so much more than that. They managed to overcome it by writing songs that I’d just kill to write and so many other groups would just kill to write. It never gets into any classic lists and I don’t know why. They never get the credit they deserve. Martin Scorsese knows how magnificent they are, he can’t stop using their music, why doesn’t the rest of the world realise? It’s bizarre. This album has astounding rock’n’roll songwriting moments on it.”


The Bad Plus -Never Stop II (2018)
“They’ve been one of my go-to bands since around about the mid-’00s. I’ve been listening a lot to them when I’ve been running. Never Stop II, from two years ago, is the one when they drafted in new musicians to play with them.”