This has to be one of the hardest task ever. Do you talk about all the cool albums? What about the ones that your parents got you into? The ones that got me into Ska? Or Punk? The embarrassing ones? They all influence you in one way or another…. And there have been countless albums over the years that have has massive influence on me as a growing musician, singer and songwriter. So here’s three albums that influenced me. No more or less influential than dozens of others, but these came to mind first.
Candy Dulfer – Sax-A-Go-Go
I started playing clarinet at 7 and was enamoured by the sounds of Acker Bilk, but discovered big band jazz soon after and wanted to try out the sax after watching Glenn Miller’s orchestra (then headed by his son Herb Miller). I’m not sure wether my Mum or Dad gave me the album but it was a birthday gift and I fell in love immediately. I had just started to learn alto and soprano sax – alto being my preference and this unbelievably beautiful, firey red haired, amazingly talented lady was creating soulful horn hooks I could only dream about over classic 90’s funk and hiphop tracks.
I have never got to her level – singing took over at 15 and I sold my saxes at 16 because I was stupid and young but she made me want to be the best sax player I could be the same way Acker (and a Blues bros tribute singer but that’s another story) made me want to be the best clarinetist I could be. I still play Candy sometimes and it still gives me shivers.
Aretha Franklin – Greatest Hits
I first remember hearing Aretha Franklin singing “Think” on the Blues Brothers movie (it was one of my all time favourites as a kid) and being awestruck by the power, range and tone of her voice. I wanted to be her. I wanted to sing like her, and boy did I try! I got bought her Greatest Hits album and played it to death. Sang along to every hit over and over trying to reach every note.
Aretha had one of the most unique vocals ever to grace this earth, not least because her voice is so smooth throughout her range it’s difficult to tell where her chest voice ends and her head voice (falsetto) begins. Her techniques were incredible. She will forever be one of my greatest influences as a vocalist and her renditions of Say A Little Prayer, Think, Respect, Natural Woman and so many more hit my heart like a freight train and still do. So much soul in that sound.
Skunk Anansie – Stoosh
First and foremost, Skin. Another forever influence for vocals. Her ability to scream and sing, to push her chest voice and click to head voice at any given moment in a song is just captivating.
Stoosh for me was the first time I had heard a woman sing rock like that. It was the first time I had heard a rock album that made me crave hearing it again. The whole album is hooky and poppy and delicious. The raw emotion of the lyricism politically, socially and everything else made me want to write lyrics like that. The grittiness of it made me want to be in a band like that. To be surrounded by rock musicians and to write heavy metal guitars. I wanted to learn to scream and control my voice like that and I wanted to get my inner angst out on a page like Skin did.
Other mega influential albums:
Green Day – Dookie
No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom
Rage Against The Machine – Rage Against The Machine
Cypress Hill – Black Sunday
Jurassic 5 – J5
Millie Manders and the Shutup are a cross-genre punk band from London, England. Their tunes are up on Bandcamp and Spotify.