Robert (‘Bob’) Scott plays in The Clean and The Bats and started with Electric Blood in 1978 in East Taieri. He went to Art School in 1980 and left shortly after to pursue music full time. Over the last 10 years he has been painting quite a lot and selling a few too. He is finishing his fourth solo album at the moment in Port Chalmers. Here are five albums he’s loving right now…
1 – Paul Giovanni/Magnet, The Wicker Man (OST): I remember seeing this movie some years back and falling in love with the story, the scenery and the soundtrack. This album was written by Paul Giovanni and the band Magnet. The songs were pitched to sound pre-Christian and pretty much hit the mark evoking the other worldly feel of the movie. Some are original and some are old folks songs, One is a piece of Robbie Burns poetry, and even Ba Ba Black Sheep. There is a strathspey, a jig and a reel. These tunes really resonated with me as I grew up listening to my Mum and Dad playing English and Scottish folk songs on the piano. It was first released in 1998, dubbed off the film reel in mono, it was rereleased in 2002 as a much better sounding version with extra songs. It may sound a bit corny to some ears but for me it does the trick.
2 – Nic Jones, The Noahs Ark Trap: I only discovered this about ten years ago when a friend in England sent me a CD copy. The original albums are unavailable and locked up in a legal tangle, the original albums of which he did three are very very rare. This guy amazes me with his guitar playing, sometimes it sounds simple and other times very complex but is always played with an amazing feel, he uses a lot of different tunings as well. The notes jump out and dance across different time signatures weaving complex melodic patterns. The songs are mostly old folk songs he has gathered over time but he certainly puts his own stamp on them, The Wanton Seed is about farming and unplanned pregnancy, then there are tunes like 10,000 Miles, The Golden Glove, Anachie Gordon and The Isle of France, epic tales of love, murder, war and mistrust, heart wrenching stories all of them. The Indian Lass is one of the most beautiful/sad melodies I have ever heard. The tale is a bit naughty but normal for the time it is set in. What sounds like an old ship’s pump organ drags the song along through its six minutes, it often makes me cry. I have tried to cover this a few times live and people have commented on the melody. Sadly he had a very bad car crash in the early 80s and nearly died, he made a slow recovery and only now has returned to the stage to sing some of his songs, he can’t play guitar any more unfortunately.
3 – Sufjan Stevens, Come On Feel The Illinoise: A concept album recorded mostly by himself in various locations around New York. It is his fifth solo album and he stated he would be releasing 50 albums named after the American states, he later admitted this was a gag. He is a classically trained oboist and this really comes through in some of the songs, huge orchestral soundscapes and differing time signatures abound. He studied in great depth the stories, history and people of Illinois coming up with songs about John Wayne Gacy Jr the mass-murderer, UFO sightings and many old historical tales. He is a smart cookie and some may find this album over the top but I love its ambition and scope. Decatur, or, a Round of Applause for your Grandmother is a great song and some of the melodies are very catchy and poppy. He references a lot of stuff in the songs including his Christian faith, although it doesn’t come across as over the top. He spent months in seclusion researching and recording this album and was rewarded when it was released as it was quite a big success especially in the indie world. He certainly wasn’t worried about how he would do it live that’s for sure. I hear something new every time I listen to it, very pleasing.
4 – Low Roar, Low Roar: Low Roar is Ryan Karaija from the US but recently shifted to Iceland to be with his girlfriend. Over the winter he recorded this album and the cold of the Icelandic winter seeps through this beautiful album. Shimmering cold shards of sound, icy yet warm guitars and lonely aching vocals, he is superbly back by different keyboards and some low-fi blips and beeps. I came across this by accident in late June and watched a lot of YouTube clips of these songs. I thought they must be off several albums as they were all so strong, it turns out there is only this album. I was in a certain way myself during this time and was really sucked into this guy’s world and sense of melody. The guitar playing is great all the way through and live he is backed by great subtle keyboards, well worth having a look at the live clips. My vinyl copy is on the way from a friend in the US…I wait by the letterbox.
5 – The Stranglers, Rattus Norvegicus: I’ll never forget hearing this for the first time, especially the growling Fender P Bass jumping out of the speakers, this sound inspired me to take up the bass so mean and dangerous. I know they were frowned upon by the true punks as a bunch of old codgers jumping the wagon, originally called The Guildford Stranglers they soon tore up the London pubs, they could play a lot better than the young punks. The songs have a sense of true pop in them but it’s all about the delivery, Hugh’s snarling vocals, Jet Black’s [ex ice-cream salesman] meat and potatoes drumming and of course Dave Greenfield’s swirling organ providing colour. I still cover Grip in my covers band and Down in the Sewer with its tales of rats is a grimy epic. Every time I listen to it I am taken back to another time, my vinyl copy is very worn and party stained.