Public Service Broadcasting: Records that changed my life
J. Willgoose Esq. of Public Service Broadcasting shares the records that changed his life, including David Bowie and DJ Shadow.
The Holy Bible
by Manic Street Preachers
Even though I could easily present Definitely Maybe and The Bends as almost-as-important albums for me in terms of wanting to learn the guitar and really falling in love with making music—properly—at the age of 14, I don't think there's ever been an album that's formed a bigger part of my life than The Holy Bible. I came to it in reverse order, having discovered the Manics with A Design For Life, then the album Everything Must Go and working back through Generation Terrorists and Gold Against The Soul, but there was something different about THB—something more unsettling, darker, denser and much harder to understand on first listen.
I came to know it in ways I don't know any other album, listening to it to and from school almost every day—religiously, if you'll pardon the—from the ages of about 16-18 (not the happiest years, admittedly) and it made such an impression on me. It was only later, starting to answer the first questions about where PSB came from, that I thought back to it as an influence not just on a musical and lyrical level but also in terms of its samples and how they set the tone for the whole record. An incredible, visceral, uncomfortable and immeasurably powerful record, as good as anything anyone's released in the last 30 years.
by DJ Shadow
I remember hearing The Number Song when it came out and just being floored by it—it's such dextrous, nimble, fun and still hard-hitting stuff that I can't believe anyone wouldn't like it. To think that DJ Shadow made this album on an MPC made it almost seem achievable for anyone in terms of the technology, but it wasn't the technology that made it—instead, it was the (all-too-apparent) lifetime of a love for music that Josh Davis put into the record, taking snippets from all over the place and assembling them into something truly towering and majestic.
I can still listen to it all the way through, over 20 years later, without being bored for even a second; there's so much texture and so much musicality to it that there's always something new to find, and I'm yet to hear a more eloquent description of the act of making music than that put forward in "Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt".
by David Bowie
I came to Bowie relatively late in life, drawn in by my dad's Best Of and fun glam-along songs like "Suffragette City", but a friend of a friend gave me (an mp3!) copy of Low in 2005 and I was knocked sideways by it. I still am—I think it's the most audacious and brave record by a mainstream artist that I can think of, especially the second side. It also conjures up a sound, space and time all of its own, something beyond the famous relocation to (and evocation of) Berlin; despite the relatively primitive, by today's standards, technology that went into making it, it never sounds dated, only dense, intriguing, unknowable and fascinating.
I can't imagine anyone around today of similar star power having the audacity to do something as inventive and bold as this album—it's pure magic.
About our new album Every Valley...
It's the story of the rise and fall of the mining industry in South Wales. I wanted to do something different to what we'd done before (especially different to the super-heroism of The Race For Space), and focus on a more human and localised story.
I think it's also a quietly political record, making a case for workers' rights, the strength of a community and the importance of having a balance in terms of who wields true power in a society, while also not wanting to lecture people or beat them about the head with a big message stick. Ultimately, the album is about community and loss—facing up to losing something that defined you.
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