The albums and songs that got the boat floating….selected by Julius Vanderbilt and Sinjin Makepeace.
Click on album covers to hear tracks on Youtube
Broadcast and the Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age (Warp 2009)
SM: The record that was the catalyst for us starting to make music together again after a 25-year hiatus, a near-perfect blend of Broadcast’s gritty psychedelic whimsy generally mashed up and weirded-out by The Focus Group’s interventions: snippets of car boot record treasures, uneven tape loops and that mysterious flavour that only late-night radio transmissions on a lost channel can evoke.
JVDB: May seem like a strange choice but this formative record had a huge influence on me with it’s early genre-bending audacity. Rock ‘n’ roll, country music, tango, prog-rock, and experimental pop were all bound together into a startling whole by the evocative songwriting of Brian Ferry, the synthy burblings of Brian Eno and Phil Manzenera’s mind-blowing guitar work.
In its day, just carrying the album around was enough for instant hipdom.
SM: I was a huge fan of the earliest “jazz” version of Soft Machine, especially Third – vividly remembering pressing my nose up to the TV screen for their 1970 Albert Hall appearance whilst on holiday with a disapproving Welsh aunt. Then I found “Volume Two” in a second hand shop and it pushed so many buttons. Music that seems to have emerged fully formed, spontaneous yet full of amazing quirks and twists.
JVDB: From Egg’s 2nd album “The Polite Force” this track starts with a measured fuzz organ riff, morphs into a piece of beautifully crafted classical rock that Bach might have written if he’d been alive in the 1960s, finally emerging as an autobiographical song in 7/8 so typical of the Canterbury scene of that time. My favourite lyric is undoubtedly
“We spent our time avoiding skinheads and the law/ it was a freedom that we’d never felt before.”
At the time of listening I had literally never heard anything like this before. Egg’s musical accomplishment never got in the way of the music itself as it did with so many other bands of their ilk.
Faust Tapes (Virgin 1973)
SM: It was only once we’d completed “A Thousand Strands” that I listened to the Faust Tapes in full again and realised hat a huge influence they’d had on our sound; so many Dandelion Set tropes are there: mini-pop psych songs, primitive electronic weirdness, found sounds, tape manipulation, a certain type of reverb…it remains for me their best ever album.
And only 49p when it came out…
Pink Floyd – Piper at the Gates of Dawn (Columbia 1967)
JVDB: The itself title is enough to describe the sheer childish whimsy that Syd Barrett brought to the world of psychedelic pop. I would listen to this in my brother’s bedroom on an old mono record player in my early teens and I have to say that life was never the same for me afterwards. The doors this record opened in my world changed me forever. It was probably at this point that my parents started to worry that something was seriously wrong.
SM: Like so many on this list, it was nigh-on impossible to pick an individual track so we’ve again gone for the full album. Axelrod’s music has it all – epic strings, super-cool drum breaks, plunky bass and wig-out guitar playing. This particular comp has some desert-island-disc level cuts: Letta Mbulu’s “Pula Yetla” never failing to shiver the spine; Lou Rawls “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” elevating Bread’s slightly schmaltzy original to a beautiful soul ballad.
The Residents – Hitler was a Vegetarian (Ralph Records 1976)
JVDB: The Residents’ 1976 de-construction and simultaneous re-construction of 60’s pop hits was, and remains, a masterpiece of studio trickery and illusion.Recorded in 1976 for the “Third Reich n Roll” album it must surely be the earliest occurrence of the mash-up phenomenon. The opening section of “Hitler was a Vegetarian” is a composite of “Judy In Disguise”,”96 Tears”,”It’s My Party” and “Light my Fire”. A nightmarish vision with moments of rare beauty.
The Beach Boys – Do you like Worms? (Brother Records 1983)
JVDB: At the time of it’s conception in 1966/7 the public were simply not ready for what Brian Wilson was dishing up in the Beach Boys’ “Smile” record. It took nearly forty years for this lost album to surface (like another album we might mention…) When I bought it two years ago the harpsichords, abstract pop vignettes and psychedelic vocals mirrored my own musical fantasies perfectly.
It was an album whose freedom nearly drove it’s composer into the asylum. “Do you like Worms?” is a beautifully fragmented piece of musical derangement.
Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention – We’re only in it for the Money (Verve 1968)
JVDB: On so many different levels this album is an all-time favourite of mine. A psychedelic rock band satirising psychedelic rock, cut and pasted with mad bits of dialogue, phonecalls, paranoid episodes. The cover is a blatant quote of The Beatles “Sergeant Pepper” album. A huge inspiration for the way we conceived our Dandy Hour radio shows and a lesson in sound collage from the master himself.
The Dandelion Set’s debut album “A Thousand Strands 1975-2015” is released on Buried Treasure in April 2016.
Listen to tracks on soundcloud
The Dandy Hour radio shows are available on mixcloud