Hello. I’m Darren. I sing, play guitar and banjo, and write the vast majority of songs in Crazy Arm. I also play solo, under the name Warshy, and moonlight on bass for local post-punks, Tripper. Other interests include cycling, Seinfeld and psychology. There are many albums that could have made it here, so honorary mentions, off the top of my head, must go to ‘Wild Gift’ by X, ‘Fugazi’ by Fugazi, ‘London Calling’ by The Clash, ‘Tyranny Of Distance’ by Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, ‘Replicas’ by Tubeway Army, ‘Secret South’ by 16 Horsepower and ‘No Division’ by Hot Water Music.
ELVIS PRESLEY – 40 Greatest Hits
I wouldn’t go so far as to say my dad got me into music but his meagre record collection certainly did. He had about five classic rock’n’roll LPs. I must’ve been around eight years old when I began playing them. One of them was a double album of Elvis Presley live in Memphis. I was completely hooked. A year later I bought this double album. It was on lurid pink vinyl and I played it to death, jive dancing to ‘Hound Dog’ or welling up when ‘Old Shep’ came on, and occasionally breaking to play my equally adored Buddy Holly album (I learned to play guitar from the Buddy Holly songbook). Elvis’ effect on me can’t be understated. I devoured everything about the man, including all the movies, good or dire, and despite Tom Parker’s cold-handed manipulation of Presley’s naivete. I was nine when Elvis died in 1977. I cried and played his music all day long. I’d like to think my dad did too, not that he’d ever admit to it. ‘In The Ghetto’ is still one of my fave songs of all time and Elvis always gets played in the Crazy Arm van at some point on tour. Nobody complains. Nobody would dare.
CRASS – Stations Of The Crass
I got into punk a year later, when I was ten. The first punk single I ever bought was ‘Something Else’ by the Sex Pistols: a cover of an old Eddie Cochran rockabilly tune. The progression from Presley to the Pistols seemed logical to me, as it clearly did to Sid Vicious et al. But then Crass reared their beautifully ugly heads and everything changed. A motley crew of working- and middle-class anarchists who lived in a shared house in Epping Forest (some of them still do), Crass took punk and turned it into a battering ram, gleefully, yet joylessly, smashing through preconceptions and prejudices, cursing the state, the press and the punks who worshipped them with equal ferocity. You had to be over 18 to buy ‘Stations Of The Crass’ due to its spicy language and political themes. I was 14. I asked my dad to buy it for me and cried when he refused. He relented. Once again, my old man was there, providing necessary, indirect support. It took me a while to understand quite what was going on here, as the music was so harsh and the lyrics impenetrably intense but like a fine wine (albeit one spiked with a heap of bitterness) it only improved with (my) age. Now, I have Crass to thank for turning my blissfully ignorant brain into a seething mass of revolutionary intent. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
JONI MITCHELL – Court And Spark
I remember being introduced to Joni Mitchell’s music, and this album in particular, around 1987, soon after I’d left the family homestead in search of radical new pastures. The antithesis to pretty much everything else I was listening to at the time, Joni’s unfettered voice resonated so deep that I couldn’t find words to express it. I still can’t. After five amazing folk albums, ‘Court And Spark’ was her first foray into jazz-inflected roots music but the songs still stand as towering paeans to all matters of the heart and head, troubled or otherwise. I was going through my own unrequited love dilemma at the time so songs like ‘Help Me’ were almost too painful to listen to. When I hear those songs now, the feelings come flooding back. From this entry point, it was only a matter of time before I discovered ‘Blue’, her fourth album and, in my opinion, one of the greatest albums of all time. No matter what mood I’m in, any song from ‘Blue’ (or any number of her albums) will completely floor me and leave me an emotional wreck. Whether it’s the clever, personal-as-political poetry, the desolate piano chords or that octave-leaping voice, nothing comes close to Joni and I suspect that nothing ever will.
Crazy Arm is a roots-punk band from Plymouth, England. You can listen to their music on their Bandcamp page.
Warshy is Darren’s solo project. His music is available to listen to on Bandcamp.
Tripper are a post-punk band and they also have their music on Bandcamp.