This month’s playlist has been chosen by non other than the legendary journalist, DJ and author Kris Needs. His colourful career has taken in punk rock, acid house and hip hop, he’s hung out with the Clash, Keith Richards and Primal Scream. He was also present when Irving Welsh had an argument with an Aylesbury taxi driver in the mid-90’s. This guy is cool as fuck…
1. SUN RA – ‘Saturn’ (Saturn)
Much of last year, while recuperating from major ankle surgery, I compiled a boxset of early stuff by Sun Ra, the pioneering jazz genius who claimed to come from Saturn and took music the furthest out it‘s ever been. This was his first single, released around 1956 when his Arkestra were a shit-hot jazz outfit with interplanetary aspirations. The compilation’s called Sun Ra: A Space Odyssey: From Birmingham To The Big Apple; The Quest Begins and just released!
2. THE GUN CLUB – ‘Walking With The Beast’ taken from the album ‘The Las Vegas Story’ (Animal Records)
Jeffrey Lee Pierce was one of my closest friends and partners-in-mischief during the 1980s, a sweet guy under the hell-raising image who made some amazing records. Sadly, Jeff‘s no longer with us, but I’ve been helping one of his old collaborators, Cypress Grove, preserve his memory with a series of albums covering or even finishing his songs. We’re on to volume 3, already got Debbie Harry, Nick Cave, Iggy and many more on board. I’m doing a space blues version of this with a singer down here in Cornwall called Beatrice Brown, who used to be in Beastellabeast with the late Steve New. We’re going to be working in former Aylesbury lad Crispin Payne’s studio with several other musicians to form the latest lineup of the Astro Unicorn Arkestra, the name me and Jeffrey used when we formed a band.
3. FUNKADELIC – ‘I Call My Baby Pussycat’ taken from the album ‘America Eats its Young’ (Westbound)
George Clinton is the baddest, most spaced out dude in the galaxy and I’ve finally landed the deal to write the book! Really excited about this as the guy who took The Funk to the same cosmos as Sun Ra has been a hero for over 40 years, when he made this ultra-funked, intergalactic rumpo masterpiece. Bootsy had just joined on bass.
Another big project I’m excited about is compiling a boxset for Ace Records based around this guy, who first hypnotised me when John Peel played him in 1967. Fahey revolutionised acoustic guitar playing before launching off into his own, surreal world, which still confuses many who go near him nearly 20 years after he died. It’s weird how I’m getting to do projects on three of my all-time heroes in the space of a year!
5. JOHNNY THUNDERS & THE HEARTBREAKERS – ‘Chinese Rocks’ taken from the box set ‘L.A.M.F.: Definitive Edition’ (Freud)
Me and my mate Dick Porter just done a cover story for Viva le Rock magazine on Johnny Thunders. I got to know him in the 70s and saw some amazing gigs, including the New York Dolls in 1973 and High Wycombe’s Nag’s Head four years later with the Heartbreakers. The latter only made one album but the new boxset features the cleaned-up original album as it was supposed to sound, hitting harder than ever. For the boys and girls on 3rd Street.
6. LOREN CONNORS – ‘Pretty As Ever’ taken from the album ‘Sails’ (Table of the Elements)
I discovered this New York guitarist through Fahey. His solo guitar excursions into ‘Venusian blues’ are like no one I’ve ever heard, dating from the 70s to now but absolutely underground. A unique, unknown genius. This reminds me of someone special.
7. SECRET KNOWLEDGE – ‘Sugar Daddy’ taken from the compilation ‘So Hard’ (Deconstruction)
It’s hard to believe it was 20 years ago since I recorded this with US singer Wonder and Andrew Weatherall’s studio guys. It reminds me of the great times going out clubbing all weekend with the Aylesbury raving squad. I’ll never forget seeing Weatherall demolish a club in Chesham with this when he had the only copy. There are plans to afoot to remix and reissue it this year.
8. THE ORB Presents Lee ’Scratch Perry – ‘Golden Clouds’ taken from the album ‘The Orbserver In The Star House’ (Cooking Vinyl)
It’s also hard to believe that my good friend Alex Paterson has been steering the Orb’s mighty starship into unchartered musical realms and aural lunacy for a quarter century now. The most recent project saw Alex and long-time Orb satellite member Thomas Fehlmann hooking up in a studio with reggae pioneer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, including this marvellous space-shuffle. Dick and me are promoting gigs down here at St Ives Guildhall and have The Orb playing the first one on June 15.
9. SUICIDE – ‘Frankie Teardrop’ taken from the album ‘Suicide’ (Bronze)
There’s also a monumental New York book-TV project brewing with Craig Leon, who produced the first albums by Blondie, the Ramones and Suicide, New York City’s first and most confrontational punk ethos pioneers. I first saw them in 1978, opening for The Clash and getting pelted with gob and glasses – basically born from blind panic as they were so alien and overwhelming, with Alan Vega’s possessed vocals and Martin Rev’s malevolent keyboard meteor storms creating this most extreme form of noise terror which no one has ever topped. Looking forward to seeing them when I go to New York this year.
10. HONEY – ‘Feral’
There’s a very healthy band scene down here in Cornwall, which reminds me of Aylesbury in the 70s, when there were plenty of venues and decent groups to play in them. Honey are two girls and a guy who produce a raw, glorious racket, somewhere between the Stooges and Nirvana. I’m hoping to get them in the studio too. Like I said, exciting times ahead!