The 10 records that changed my life, by Hey Colossus' Joe Thompson
Hey Colossus bassist Joe Thompson dives into his record collection
"Being a vinyl buying nerd and owner of a zillion records (this is not a boast, it's more a cry for help), this was real tough. I could have picked 400 records that have influenced and inspired [me]. So, I started writing, picked the first 10 that popped into my bonce, and [fired] them off, stream of consciousness style.
As a band, we are all vinyl nerds; it's probably the main requirement for entrance. We've played gigs where we've been paid, then split the money and spent it all on the record stalls at the show. So, here's my list... [but] ask me tomorrow and it'll be totally different."
Godflesh - Pure
"This came out the day before my 18th birthday, and I bought it because I'd seen Mike Patton wearing the Streetcleaner T-Shirt. There you go – owning up. It took a big MTV star to make me discover a band from 100 miles up the road. I was doing work experience in central London, so had to catch a train into town, with my cassette walkman as protection. Something my dad used to say: "Tape your records, then play the tape rather than wear the record out!" So, I immediately taped Pure, and it was the only tape I listened to for two weeks, going into Soho, and home again. The sound and visuals are etched in my brain. Such a monster of a record, each time I listen to it (as I am right now, on vinyl – the cassette is long gone) I FEEL the train chuntering into Euston, through north London. This and Streetcleaner are untouchable. Mike Patton taught me to stop listening to what the mainstream was telling me to listen to – so I stopped listening to his band. We played with JK Flesh at Supersonic Festival five or six years ago. I told no one, but it felt like a full circle moment."
Dead C - Secret Earth
"Nothing sounds like this band, and that is inspiration enough. Doing your own thing, finding a different route. A threesome from New Zealand, [together] for [over] 30 years now, with numerous releases of which I am missing a fair few. This one is probably my favourite. They have the sound of three people who have only ever played music with each other, and have grown with each other and exist outside of all other rock music.
There's a truly splendid little film called 27 Minutes With Mr Noisy about Bruce Russell, made by his daughter. He takes you on a little trip around their home town of Dunedin, taking in the old venues and their old houses. It's sort of beautiful and well worth checking out – it has a slight 'at odds with the world feel' which I can't quite put my finger on. The Dead C's music makes me want to make music that is like no other, which as an ambition is rather grand and pretty much unobtainable, unless you're the fucking Dead C."
Fugazi - Margin Walker
"You can tell the age of your copy of this record by the amount the post-paid price is on the rear of the sleeve. There's no band that has meant more to me than this band. This is the first record I bought by them, [from] Oven Ready Records, High Wycombe, [on] a family shopping trip on a Saturday afternoon around 1990. I was an avid heavy metal magazine reader, one of those must have reviewed them, as I cannot think how else I would have checked them out. (I remember digging into Kyuss at the same time PURELY because there was a photo of the band playing live, and the guitarist was wearing Vans, which weren't quite so ubiquitous back then...).
When this record starts, and the guitars do that harmonic slide scrape over the bass – [that] in itself was remoulding what you should do with the bass in a punk rock band. Holy fucking shit. I cannot tell you how much those few seconds changed what I thought [about] the job specifications of the guitar. I'm not sure I can even argue that it's the best Fugazi record, although it could be to me. Listening now – and I heartily recommend everyone puts down what they're doing and does the same – you can hear the sound of positive action. The sound of a band tearing off on their own and stripping the whole thing down to the nuts and bolts – you don't need THEM, you can do it for YOU and do it for YOUR crew. My copy of this record is $5 postpaid, and I'd buy it again and again and again."
DJ Rashad - Double Cup
"When you avidly consume music, I'm convinced it's because you're after that high you experienced aged eight, when you first heard Rod, Jane and Freddy or whatever children's programme you used to watch whilst whoever was looking after you was sleeping or making lunch or whatever. Finding new sounds is key, as you can't keep buying the same music style and expect to be stunned time and again. This record was one that came out of nowhere for me – sound-wise, it was baffling. Having watched numerous YouTube documentaries about the Footwork/Juke scene out of Chicago, I'm sort of still none the wiser, but I will say it blows me away – the cut up rhythms, the crazy energy, the DANCING, which, for the record, I don't traditionally do. So, when I went to see Jlin play up in Bristol a year or so back, I was fairly stunned to find myself shuffling back and forth. This record is, in my very limited knowledge of the scene, a total banger and well worth the entrance fee. Jlin's Dark Energy record and DJ Roc's The Crack Capone are also worth picking up. It's all about finding new highs, not getting trapped in the same scene. You gotta keep moving."
The Fall - Your Future Our Clutter
"A fairly recent (2010) Fall record, and I reckon it makes it into their top five records, which I realise is a bold statement. Let me clarify: I love The Fall. I got into them around the release of Code: Selfish, then had to work backwards whilst also following their onward path. It's not easy doing this. They release a lot, and it's for this reason (along with their stubborn excellence) that they're included in this list. Bands with vast discographies, who crash on through, are like cobwebs holding the music industry up. You need them. The Fall are important because Mark E Smith is so fucking gruesomely snarky, so riddled with history, and virtually always musically correct when guiding his ship. This record bubbles with bluster. Personally, for the last 15 years or so, it's the bass on The Fall's records that has me tuned in. It's distorted and belligerent, happy to sit on one or two notes, and on this record it thunders like no other – check the tune Bury Pt.s 1+3, when it drops in... Oh man. The whole band is on form, and for that to be the case 34 years in, to create a maelstrom like this, is medal-worthy. All should aim to build up a discography like it – raise a glass to Lancashire's finest."
Anthrax - Among The Living
"My favourite record by the big four. It has zest and is positive, lyrically and in spirit, and mixes it up like a NYHC record. Scott Ian's rhythm guitar is absolutely and utterly terrifyingly on point, and the bass at the beginning of Caught In A Mosh... YESSSSS! In fact, Frank Bello's bass all the way through is so prominent it runs the show. I initially bought it on cassette in Our Price, Hemel Hempstead, but soon swapped it for the vinyl version, and have owned it now for almost 30 years and it still tears it up. We all went to see them on the State Of Euphoria tour at Hammersmith Odeon, by this time they were wearing Bermuda shorts and looked like the fucking Red Hot Chili Peppers, but we kind of forgave them. I drifted away from them, but always knew I loved this record and would occasionally dig it out on drunken nights. THEN, a couple of years ago my son, aged 16, said to me: "I like Slayer and Anthrax." SECONDS later we had tickets to see both bands in Birmingham (I paid a few pounds more to get a physical ticket, you GOTTA have gig tickets to look back on, what are people gonna look at in years to come? Emails? Fuck's sake) and watching both bands with him almost made me cry. Time had passed, he was my age when I discovered them, I'd had and lost jobs, bought a house, got married, and there we were sitting at the back of the venue, staring down at the mosh pit going crazy, and he had a look in his eyes that said 'I WILL NEVER FORGET THIS', and I had a look in my eyes that said 'I WILL NEVER FORGET THIS', then we got a £40 parking ticket and drove home."
Braid - The Age Of Octeen
"I got this record around 1998, [when] it had been out for a couple of years. There wasn't such a rush to keep up with stuff back then, the internet wasn't judging you for not owning something. No daily emails from record shops telling you a new BEST RELEASE SO FAR THIS MONTH is out, SOLD OUT AT SOURCE. Whatever. I was into bands like Rites Of Spring and the aforementioned Fugazi, and was working at Southern Records for free because I loved music and had no problem being ripped off. In fact, there was a two week period where all I did was insert Shellac records into sleeves. If you own Terraform have a look inside the sleeve – if you see any blood, it's mine. Those sleeves were heavy and thick and they destroyed my fingers – you're welcome. Anyhow, back to Braid. Southern must have distributed Polyvinyl, as the album after this one, Frame And Canvas, came out on it, and the people who worked at Southern put a gig on in Gypsy Hill, South London (famous pretty much only for the Hard Skin lyric 'Betting on the dogs down Gypsy Hill, William Hill is fucking skill', or something like that). They played with The Get Up Kids, The Tone and Mouthwash. I picked this record, the bands second, up at that show – it's on Mud Records. It has that old-school mid-80s emo sound, like what Moss Icon or the UK's Bob Tilton were peddling – both of whom could have made this list, actually.
This record, though, was perfectly-timed for when we started our own label and released our band's first 7" (Stanton was the band at the time, made up of Bob who is in HC, Simon, my brother Chris and myself). We made very vague attempts to be something like this and Sebadoh. The sleeve art was hand-stamped, the record label was hand-stamped, we pressed 545 copies and have spent the rest of our lives trying to get rid of them. But the doing-it-yourself incentive came from going to that gig and owning records from that world. The show itself is probably one of the greatest I've seen. Stanton split up in 2003, when Chris moved to Australia. The day after we split, HC started, and by the end of that year we'd recorded and self-released our first album."
EPMD - Business Never Personal
"I've found your favourite record by a band or artist is more often than not the first record you buy by them – irrespective of the common consensus, you stand by the first record you buy. Like, for instance, Goo by Sonic Youth is my favourite and I KNOW 90% of people would say Daydream Nation or Sister. This is EPMD's fourth album, and it's the first I bought by them. I got into it while retaking my GCSEs at college. A friend at the time – his name was Adrian I think, it was a long time ago – was a rap guru. He had hundreds of records (hundreds was lots when you were 17), and every single one of them was a rap record. The one he played the most, and had two copies of, was this album. He had one for scratching with, and would show me with pride the total state of his scratched up copy, and one for playing. He would talk me through it, explain how it was made and I ate up his knowledge.
Erick Sermon's production on this record, and all the other EPMD records and his solo stuff, is so different to most others. He runs the funk just behind the beat, which suits my slow mind down to the ground. If you want an example check the tune Chill from this record – it sounds like it's slipping, the track is so laid back, but him and Parrish Smith destroy it on the mic. As much as I love bands like Can and Neu!, I get my love of repetition from rap records – the slight builds on the chorus and the drop back on the verses. Total head-nodding shit."
Cypress Hill - Cypress Hill
"I'm not an 'old-school rap is the best', golden age of hip hop sort of person – recent excellence has come from Kendrick [Lamar], Earl Sweatshirt, Run The Jewels, the new Tribe record, and many others. But in terms of influence, the debut Cypress LP is untouchable. I read about them, probably at Adrian's house – he had all the HHC mags – and bought it in Track Records, Chesham (where I worked in the Perfect Pizza – DREAM JOB) in 1991 or maybe 1992, and it was such a bolt of lightning. DJ Muggs’ production was so radical – the hefty funk with the high wails and squeaks – and of course B-Real and Sen Dog were the perfect mix of high pitch whine versus low-rider grind.
I got to see them twice around then. They played a small stage at the Phoenix Festival (Normski introduced them), it was in a tent, they were first on, the tent was rammed and it kicked off like a punk rock gig. Hugely eye opening to see the way they got the tent bumping not using guitars, very refreshing. Then around the same time they played with House Of Pain and Funkdoobiest in Brixton and it was the same deal: carnage. Muggs' productions soon got played out, but for a brief couple of years it was THE sound. Now when I go on about this record people say their second album is the one, but for me the debut is the moment where they had all the energy and were creating something new.”
Lungfish - Talking Songs For Walking
"Standing watching Lungfish at the ATP Festival 10 or so years back with [my partner] Elisa, [when] we had been listening to the band for 10 years beforehand and never thought we'd see them, and had spent so many nights listening to them we ALMOST named our first son Samuel because of the song Samuel... as we were standing there, I swear to God it was dust in my eye. You want a band? This is a fucking band. I know they would argue they'd done better records than this one – they did get slightly more minimal, but THAT rhythm remained, the Lungfish rhythm – but this is the record that we played and played and played. You can take so much from them – the precision of the playing, the economy of the playing, the repetition that never bores but instead brings you up, THE FUCKING HIGGS. Daniel Higgs: now there's a frontman. The day of the ATP show he was walking along the beach with his big coat on and his big beard on and his big hand tattoos on and then he was standing there playing, and all of it was a massive deal to us because we'd listened to this record SO MANY TIMES. It was on my favourite label, and they were the longest-running band on the label, and I'm sure as time goes on every single day a few more people will fall for them, and then eventually they will be our Wyld Stallion and unite this fucking planet and all other planets."
Hey Colossus' new album The Guillotine is available now via Rocket Recordings. You can catch them live at the dates below:
8 Jun: New River Studios, London, UK
9 Jun: Radio Blackout Festival, Turin, Italy
10 Jun: Colorificio Kroen, Verona, Italy
11 Jun: Handmade Festival, Guastalla, Italy
6 Jul: Les Trois Pieces, Rouen, France
7 Jul: Ferme Electrique Festival, Paris, France
8 Jul: Psych Festival, Bristol, UK
25-26 Aug: Sea Change Festival, Totnes, UK