July sees the release of Imaginary Walls Collapse, the new album from Falkirk’s Adam Stafford. Expertly crafted and wonderfully delivered, it’s one of the years finest and most inventive pop records. Ahead of the albums two release shows – July 4th (Edinburgh) and July 5th (Glasgow) – Adam has put together this mix featuring a bunch of the songs that inspired the new record – and it’s fucking fantastic. Stream it and read his words on each track below…
Adam Stafford | Magnatory Baws Prolapse
Music that inspired Adam Stafford’s latest album
1. The Rivingtons – Mama-Oom-Mow-Mow
This is a novelty Doo-Wop song from the early 60’s that later became the basis for The Trashmen’s Surfin’ Bird. It purports to be about aliens but is, allegedly, actually about prison rape. I love the frivolous, real-gone vibe!
2. The Pilgrim Travellers – Jesus Hits Like The Atom Bomb
A wonderfully demented Gospel Doo-Wop track from the late fifties that addressed the great white elephant in the room of the time – the Atomic Bomb. Dig deeper and the song is actually a warning about a move towards secularism and science and the abandonment of Jesus Christ.
3. Shelly Mann – Daktari
I am far too young to remember the early 60s kids TV show Daktari, but I picked the soundtrack up on a whim because I liked the front cover. It turns out to be a terrific African proto Rave-up featuring maniacal thumb-pianos, whistles, whizzing percussion, Timpani drums and a very menacing voice right on the last note.
4. Golden Grapes – Please Don’t Bother Me Anymore
Kingy from The Sweethearts of The Prison Rodeo gave me this amazing compilation featuring South Korean guitarist Shin Joong Hyun and his various incarnations, featuring this psychedelic beat track from 1972. I can hear a lot of the early Doors in the instrumentation, but it has a much more immediate, loose swing to it. Correct use of Fuzz-Wah, too.
5. Irma Thomas – Anyone Who Know What Love Is
I’m of the opinion that this is hands-down one of the greatest songs ever written. That line, “I just feel so sorry, for the ones who pity me”, fucking floors me every single time.
6. Shelly Duvall & Jon Brion – He Needs Me
This technicolor melchbox, for me, sits on the right side of the Twee Fence – a genre that persistently makes me want to batter my face in with a claw-hammer. You may recognise it from the surreal sequence in Punch Drunk Love where Adam Sandler’s Barry Eagen visits Hawaii, but it was originally sung by Shelly Duvall in Robert Altman’s Popeye – to a clam, I believe.
7. Bobby Womb – Century Swell
Bobby Womb is my good man Jon McCall who played clarinet and drums in Y’all is Fantasy Island in the early years. I visited him down in London a few years ago and he played me some songs which he described as, “Like Boards of Canada but on Clarinet”. I instantly thought it was beautiful and cinematic.
8. Toumani Diabaté – Elyne Road
This is from the album The Mande Variations which is Diabaté in a room playing the Kora – an African harp – completely live and unaccompanied. The level of command he has over the instrument is mind-bending, which must make for heavily protracted practise sessions I imagine. It’s at once soothing, deeply intense and transcendent.
9. Steve Reich (Performed by Synergy Group) – Drumming Part 3
Out of all of the influences on Imaginary Walls Collapse, Reich is probably the most prominent – the way he weaves multiple layers of repetitive rhythm and melody into his compositions, his skill at de-constructing time signatures through phasing, so that everything seems to fall out of shape then slip back into focus effortlessly. His influence on electronic music, post-rock and jazz is immeasurable. This is the third movement in his Magnum Opus Drumming, which he wrote after observing drummers in Ghana for six months.
10. Voches Du Sardinia – Dillu
For some reason, when I hear this track of a capella Sardinian Throat Singers I imagine rodeo cowboys riding bulls in extreme slow motion – like 1000fps.
11. Kossy Sisters & Erik Darling – Bowling Green
This track reminds me of summers getting drunk in Falkirk, my home town. A friend bought a compilation called Real Appalachian Mountain Music for 99p and we spent the whole summer listening to that and another cheap-o comp called As Good As It Gets: Hillbilly Swing when we were about eighteen. Rural Falkirk in the summer slightly resembles the American South with it’s overgrown flora, abandoned industry, dirt roads, small villages, widespread boredom, rampant alcoholism.
12. Rocky Bill Ford – Mad Dog in Town
Talk about Hillbilly Swing! I can’t tell where the guitar ends and the clarinets begin!
13. Leonard Soleman – The Grand Gallope
I’d love to be a DJ at a wedding and drop this 60-seconds of fresh lunacy in-between Easy Lover and the Grease Megamix, just to see people try and dance, look very embarrassed, then go and sit down.
14. Duane Eddy with The Lee Hazlewood Orchestra – The Girl on Death Row
One of those songs that seems so recognisable on first listen that you feel you’ve know it all your life. It’s very simple, melancholy and cinematic. Lee Hazlewood’s dramatic strings are pure Hollywood and the twangy guitar, bongos and reverb (recorded in a huge swimming pool) are utterly perfect.
15. Los Zafrios – He Vendio
Mexican Doo-Wop from the late fifties that is infinitely better than some of its American counterparts.
16. Sun City Girls – Holy Ground
One of the most under-rated and consistently fascinating groups of recent times, this is from their last album Funeral Matriarch, which was finished after the death of their drummer. The LP begins in a typical SCG daft, manic style but this song on marks a shift when the shadows begin closing in and you sense there is something sinister a cosmic afoot.
17. Skip James – Cypress Grove Blues
Skip James was one of the best musicians that ever lived, no argument. His songs and playing were infused with so much sadness and bitterness, sometimes it’s hard to listen to it.
18. Wounded Knee – Helmsdale Herring
This is my favourite song from 2011 from one of the best Scottish artists currently doing the rounds. I picked a number out of his “Baw Bag” (a sort of Song Bingo, with random picking of balls out of a cloth bag) in Edinburgh last year and out of the 50 baws, Helmsdale Herring was the song I chose! This was recorded in an old ice house, with magnificent natural reverb.
19. Canberra Sacred Heart School – Flame Trees
I implore anybody to listen to this children’s choir version of Aussie Obscuro’s Cold Chisel’s song and not well-up. Puts a huge snooker-ball in my gullet every time. A heartbreaking song about regret, disappointment and small-town arrested development.
Imaginary Walls Collapse is out on July 15th, via Song, By Toad.