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Rebellious Jukebox Gold: James Dean Bradfield - Melody Maker, 10th April 1999

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Title: Rebellious Jukebox Gold: James Dean Bradfield
Publication: Melody Maker
Date: Saturday 10th April 1999


In our continuing series of the pick of the best Rebellious Jukeboxes to appear in The Maker, here's James Dean Bradfield on the records that inspired him to form the Manics and break out of Blackwood...

DIANA ROSS: "My Old Piano"

"The first record I ever bought. It took me o week to save up for it. I remember walking out of Woolworths in Blackwood High Street, and I met one of my friends. He was into heavy metal, he was three years older than me, and I really admired him and everything. So I had to show him the record I'd bought. He told all my friends, and they took the pin out of me for about six months. Bull was really young, and it was probably the purest motivation I've ever had for buying a record - I hod no fashionable intents. Uh? Yeah, I suppose it is Motown Junk..."

THE CLASH: "Garageland"

Can you remember when Tony Wilson did that Channel 4 retrospective on punk in 1987? I remember seeing The Clash doing this, and thinking it was one of the most glamorous things I'd seen in my life. It just gave me a lot of hope. They were for from perfect, f***ing up all over the place, Joe Strummer was forgetting all the words, but it was the first time I thought I could, you know, do it. It was a real turning point. I know it's a cliché, but it did actually demystify it for me: there was no stopping us, man. They were so shit, but still good... I saw ourselves in it, basically!"

GUNS N'ROSES: "Appetite For Destruction"

"By this time, I'd gone past the point of the naivety of punk and began to see through the iconoclastic thing of trying to destroy... I didn't want us to have that horrible anti-star ethic that 'anyone can do it'. I wanted us to keep the basic premise of punk, but be quite snotty too. For me, Axl Rose o nd Slash replicated the Jagger/Richards axis. Slosh was such a big lumbering bloke but really gentle too, just like, millions of contradictions, but everyone just thought he was a twat in a top hat. This was an incredibly romantic time for me. Nicky and Richey were still in university, and when my parents were out at work I'd just shut the curtains and learn this whole album on guitar. Sweet Child O' Mine' has become so strongly associated with Slosh, and I wonted to create something that people would immediately identify with my guitar. That was probably the biggest motivation for 'Motorcycle Emptiness'. Pretty egotistical, I suppose."

THE SEX PISTOLS: "Did You No Wrong"

"This is me being quintessentially myself, choosing this, because the lyrics are a pile of shit. It's always been the music that's hit the spot for me, and if the song by pure accident has good lyrics, then it has an effect. I wanted our message to be so powerful but quite unintelligible, in such a way that people would want to find out more, find out what would drive us to create music that sounded like that. I get pissed off that no one ever quotes Steve Jones as their favourite guitarist. He hasn't been canonised by musos. But the one thing true musos always want to do is crystallise everything down to its core essence, and create something simple: 'Uhh, the easiest songs are the hardest to write'. I've always wanted to create something like this, but I just haven't got it in me. It sounds so condensed, like GBH musk. The Sex Pistols and The Clash are completely opposite for me. For a start, The Sex Pistols were completely nihilistic, and The Clash were very earnest. I don't think any earnest band has ever been sexy. Even Public Enemy were never sexy. You can draw up equations: Public Enemy=Clash/NWA=Pistols, or Pearl Jam=Clash/Nirvana=Pistols. That's the simple way my brain works. And without the Pistols, the star ethic would have been dead fora lot longer than it was."

ULTRAMAGNETIC MCs: "Travelling At The Speed Of Sound"

"It was always obvious that white music wasn't that sexy. And this was one of the first records that made me go home and try to dance and look cool in the window. I've never ever played air guitar in front of a mirror in my life, but I danced like a dickhead in front of the mirror to this. When a record makes you give leave to your senses and do something you've never done before... you can safely soy it changed your life."

TROUBLE FUNK: "Still Smokin'"

"This was around the same time, 1987 and at the time I was obsessed that all records should manifest some sort of raw power. This was the first record I'd bought which didn't have blaring guitars all over it, but was just as powerful as any ock record. I never thought I'd ever buy a record by a bond called Trouble Funk. And they wore big white jumpsuits and everything. There were a million reasons not to buy it, but I bought it anyway and I'm glad. There's this absolutely P"ing massive drum breakdown in the middle, and I remember Nick saying 'We've got to try and assimilate this'. Because he was speaking in journalist's speak then, using words like 'assimilate'. But we weren't even playing our instruments yet. I just said, 'I don't think it's gonna happen, Nick. We don't come from Washington. I don't even know what the White House looks like.'"

SIMPLE MINDS: "Empires And Dance"

I've always liked records which are completely misinformed and displaced. They were aware that they were Scottish, and trying to shun it. Ws obvious we felt the same way about Wales, until the press went on about it so much that it bred resilience. Anyway, that's why they tried to become really European, this dark, unemotive, industrial band, but in demographic/geographic terms they were really confused, and that can produce brilliant records. I don't think the British look towards Europe in the rose-tinted way Americans do. We see it in Basil Fawlty-ish terms. I remember reading Jim Kerr going on about the Baader-Meinhof gang, and the Red Brigade, and trying to make sense of all these conflicting ideologies. On musical terms it really does make sense. The best bands manifest their lyrics into their music, and it f***s me off when people don't realise that. This is why I refuse to call a music journalist a musk journalist. I make a connection - but nobody else does - between Simple Minds and the Situationists. Because the Situationists were very efficient and scientific, but not that lyrical. This is one of the coldest records in the world. Happy Mondays' '24 Hour Party People' and U2's 'Achtung Baby' are really ripped off Simple Minds, but no one wants to admit that. Yes, we did plagiarise the sleeve art for The Holy Bible'. A little nod."

JOY DIVISION: "The Eternal"

This was responsible for my most perfect 20th century moment. We were travelling into Tokyo in a taxi, it was pissing down with rain, we were all really tired and silent, we were going over this passover, and everything all of a sudden went into slow motion. I know it soundest 'my life is a film', but it wos. It was the only time music has turned a living moment into moving cinema for me. You always want to write your own script... I don't subscribe to that lemming theory about Japan, but the regimentation of the whole situation was perfect. I just remember imagining that everyone could hear this song: the cars in the distance, the people walking to work"

PUBLIC ENEMY: "Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos"

"They were the first rap act to sound like a band - they had the composite personalities, the music was so involved, but then again, here they go to the other extreme. This was a throwaway Thelonius Monk piano riff with a crappy old school beat behind it. It's really small, but Chuck D's lyrics were so dense that the music had to be minimal. It's much more post-modern than people would give Public Enemy credit for. The way they made music was an academic assault. They were always on a mission."

FRANK SINATRA: "Summer Wind"

I Can't be a Manic Street Preacher all my life. Sometimes I've got to revel in a romantic moment. I remember going out with one of my first girlfriends, and this record just epitomised it for me. Admittedly, we always steer clear of any kind of 'romance', but one thing I've always tried to incorporate into our music is some sort of melancholic longing. The most romantic rve ever felt has been during moments alone, 'Hey, the rain's beating down outside', in a dark room, and you put a record on, and incorporate yourself into the storyboard of the song. I've always hated any martyristic instinct or suicidal tendency - it's a sickness of the working classes - but you can lie back and enjoy feeling a failure"

McCARTHY: "Red Sleeping Beauty"/BIG FLAME: "Rigour EP"

"We got into music when the miner's strike was happening, and that had a massive bearing on us: you couldn't write about going out with a girl because you'd only gone out with a girl for about a week. You had to write about what affected you, directly or otherwise. After Red Wedge, the political edge of white rock bands became completely lost, and bands like these tried to make it not sound earnest: records with some sort of commentary, but trying to not sound like they cared So much academia had gone into the lyrics. That's when the Guns N'Roses Vs McCarthy argument came up: was it more important to be like Guns N'Roses and use it as a vehicle, or be like McCarthy? That crystallised us. We realised it was the saddest thing in the world to glorify the indie ethic when you're saying important things."

HOLE: "Doll Parts"/VERUCA SALT: "Seether"

"This one might surprise people. I already knew who Courtney Love was, I knew what she looked like, but when I heard 'Doll Parts' I immediately fancied her. First time that's ever happened. Looking down my list, I'm guilty of being quite misogynist in my taste in records. Not willingly, but it looks like I make no attempt to empathise with any female songwriter. So many aspects of Courtney confound any kind of intelligent compassion, because people see her as pursuing a very calculated escapade-style rockstardom. But this cuts it through all that."