The lengthy, bewildering, but never less than inspired Clinic catalogue just received a new prescription.
The Mersey psychedelic wonders released their new album 'Wheeltappers and Shunters' a few moments ago, a record whose title harks back to an often forgotten – perhaps with good reason – variety show from the 1970s.
A dose of forward-thinking lysergic exploration, it's a record that deals with the strange, slippery beast that is Britain, with all its foibles and moments of bigotry.
“It’s a satirical take on British culture – high and low,” explains Ade Blackburn. “It fascinates me that people look back on the 1970s as the glory days. It’s emerged that there was a darker, more perverse side to that time. When you look back on it now it was quite clearly there in mainstream culture.”
Clash caught up with Ade to uncover his Foundations – the records that first shaped and forged his imagination, offering sanctuary from Britain's darker moments.
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Teardrop Explodes – 'Kilimanjaro'
Teardrop were the first band I could truly relate to after listening to John Peel’s show in the late 70’s/early 80’s. They were weird enough but also a great pop group. The fact they were from Liverpool only added to the appeal.
It’s strange to think now that the singles ‘Reward’ and ‘Treason’ were proper hits and on daytime radio. Their second album ‘Wilder’ is well worth investigating but the poppy, foot-tapper side to ‘Kilimanjaro’ just edges it out in front.
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V/A – 'Florida Punk Bands From The Sixties Vol. 1'
This was one of the first 60’s garage compilations I bought as a teenager. Suitably daft and with strange lyrics, these compilations really opened me up to another world.
They were primitive and sounded on the edge of falling apart, a severe contrast to 80’s chart music. Everything from the cover artwork to the liner notes was an inspiration. My favourite on this LP is The Esquires ‘Heat’, a bizarre instrumental broken up with a girl laughing. It sounds fun and eerie all at the same time.
All the Eva label compilations are worth a listen and quite underrated compared to Pebbles and Nuggets.
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Kraftwerk – 'Autobahn'
Hearing Kraftwerk as a teenager made perfect sense. I thought, why not dress up in weird outfits and make pop music?
'Autobahn' is my favourite Kraftwerk LP, the mixture of electronic and acoustic sounds is perfect. The lyrics took the piss out of mainstream German culture and still managed to sound like The Beach Boys!
There always seemed to be a sadness to the melodies as well, as if they were striving for a future they knew wasn’t possible. The songs were a big influence on Clinic in the way they used very simple short melodic themes.
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The Modern Lovers – 'The Modern Lovers'
The first Modern Lovers album is an absolute delight. A mixture of rock ‘n’ roll and melancholy, which on paper sounds pretty crap but works a treat.
Songwriter Jonathan Richman combined vulnerability in the lyrics with a raw Velvets/Stooges sound to the music. It was also music that sounded quite amateur and that was a big inspiration for us.
The Modern Lovers are always rightly cited as one of the best proto-punk bands. They made it sound within reach to make your own music.
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Echo and the Bunnymen – 'Crocodiles'
Along with The Teardrop Explodes, the Bunnymen were inescapable in early 80’s Liverpool. Both bands had emerged out of the scene at Liverpool club Eric’s.
The Bunnymen were more mysterious than Teardrop, creating otherworldly atmospheres over which Ian McCulloch’s lyrics fitted perfectly. The outsider observations and bits of wisdom meshing with Will Sergeant’s nighttime sounds.
It was that sense of mystique that really appealed to me, that you didn’t have to act like a Butlin’s red coat to make people listen or like you. They did things their own way and in their own time, which was a valuable lesson.
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Clinic's new album 'Wheeltappers and Shunters' is out now.
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