Now, this is NOT some definitive list that should be considered Freaks gospel. I’m sure, before I even start typing that many people out there will disagree with some, if not ALL, of the albums on that list. And that’s totally fine! You’re absolutely entitled to have your own opinions, that’s the fun part of music! Everyone can and in fact SHOULD have their own opinions. These are just the albums that had an effect on us.
I hope you enjoy them, as much as we did and still do!
First off, and coming as a surprise to precisely no one: DOREMI FASOL LATIDO – HAWKWIND (November 1972)
What Can I say about DOREMI that I haven't said before?.... a million times. DOREMI was a life changing experience: I had seen the band live a couple of months prior to DOREMI being released, in Lausanne, Switzerland (Although DikMik insisted it was Lucerne!) and as soon as I heard it was out, I rang my sister who was living in London at the time, to send it to me. I first listened to it with my brother, Speedy and after the record ended, we looked at each other and went ‘WOAAAAH! Play it again!’ and thus, it became our bible. It taught me you didn’t need to be a virtuoso to make a great album, that 3 chords could do the job as long as your heart was in it, that you had something new to say/play, It would take days for me to explain its full impact but the hypnotic effect of the same chord being played with modulation through the way your attacked the strings and with pedals stayed with me for ever. To this day, I still think it is the template of an iconic Hawkwind album and it is still my favourite rock album…. with an honourable mention for the ‘Space Ritual’ (May 1973) but some of us lived in a world where the Space Ritual didn’t exist therefore DOREMI will always be #1.
For our second album on the list, we take a walk on the wild side! TRANSFORMER – LOU REED (August 1972)
I was a great fan of the Velvet Underground so following Lou Reed was a natural step in my freak educational and aural journey. The VU were a controversial band, especially as they were around in the 60’s when people could still get banged up for smoking a spliff or 2 gay people would be arrested if they held hands: yes, we were once that barbaric. This album taught me that pop music could be subversive: ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ was a massive summer hit in Europe, it was played in every club, disco, bar and shop but that was due to its great melody and hook. 99% of people in Europe didn’t understand the lyrics and in the days before the net, it stayed that way for a long time. But us freaks, we knew…. we knew it was far more important than just being a summer hit: it was Freaks 1-0 Straights!
At third, neither rising, nor falling, but just where it needs to be! THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS – BOWIE (June 1972)
At one point in the 80s, Bowie was everything to everyone: you just couldn’t get away from it, everyone loved Bowie. I loved Mick Ronson. I travelled from France to see them at the Hammersmith Odeon and afterwards as everyone was waiting for Bowie in that little alley next to the venue, I waited for Ronson. He was really nice and gave me one of his guitar picks and it was PINK! I still have it too. That album, a loosely formatted rock opera, taught me that rock music could also be presented as a story (I know Tommy preceded it by 3 years but I wasn’t into the Who) and that vanity is a dangerous thing. ‘Rock’n’Roll Suicide’ still has the power to make me sad while ‘Suffragette City’ can still make me dance/sing. But more importantly, it taught me that ‘concept’ album’ and ‘rock opera’ were not dirty words!
Fourth , it’s like second place, but more. Which is why it’s got to be: THE VELVET UNDERGOUND & NICO – THE VELVET UNDERGOUND (March 1967)
I discovered that album a few years after it was released, around 1971, I think, and I immediately ordered it from my local record store. I was coming down from a trip when ‘Sunday Morning’ hit me. I was enthralled by it, mesmerised. When it finished, I begged the girl whose flat we were in, to play it again. I just couldn’t get enough of it. This was meant to be art-rock but I don’t know of any art school that was so…deviant! This was deviancy in all its forms and it was OK to talk or sing about it. This album, more than any other, taught me there were no limits, that an album could be about anything, beautiful or ugly and that rock music’s favourite subjects of girls, cars, the boy/girl who fell in love were not all there was to it, that some of us deviants and freaks had a part to play too. Sadly, and more importantly, it was a warning I didn’t heed.
Can we think of a great album, for this fifth and final slot? You bet we CAN - EGE BAMYASI (November 1972)
In many ways, Hawkwind and CAN are linked in my mind. I saw CAN a few weeks before I saw Hawkwind, although CAN played in Grenoble in front of 300 people thanks to local freaks, Pomme Acide. Their live version of ‘Vitamin C’ blew me away so I bought the album. It opened my mind to new ways of making music, of hypnotic rhythms pretty much like Hawkwind did. A friend showed me how to play ‘Vitamin C’ very easily on a guitar and Speedy and I used to go busking, playing it for hours while wailing ‘hey you…you….you’re losing, you’re losing, you’re looooosing you vitamin C…oolala…your vitamin C….yeah, yeah! VITAMIN C!’, Speedy trashing his bongos while I broke all the strings on that poor guitar. But, hey ho, we waz punks even then!!
And then, because we couldn’t find a place for it on the list, but we had to give it an honourable mention: GENESIS - FOXTROT (‘Supper’s Ready’ really -October 1972)
I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t acknowledge ‘Supper’s Ready’ as a piece of music that had an impact on me. This was the ‘real’ Genesis, the Peter Gabriel led line up of Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett, Tony Banks and Phil Collins, a very different beast from the Genesis of ‘Duke’ (March 1980). That track has so many hooks built in the various bits that make up the whole (there are 7 sub-tracks under the title of ‘Supper’s Ready’) that it keeps you on your toes for 23 minutes. What’s important to me is that I saw that show live and we had nothing to smoke and thought we wouldn’t enjoy it but we did and then some! And that taught me that life without drugs was also good. 666 is no longer alone….
So there you have it, folks! That’s our list. There are many like it, but this list is Frenchy’s and therefore ours. Without this list, we might not be here but this would still be a collection of fantastic albums. So, I guess it would be fair to say, these are the albums that made Flicknife Records
We hope you enjoyed this Aural Odyssey, and if you feel inspired to give any of these albums a listen because of this, wonderful! Of course, if you want to see what all these albums inspired us to do, and check out some of the releases on Flicknife Records, all the better :) .
So, stay safe out there, as the world stumbled forward for a little while longer, and we all remember that lifting others up is the surest way to keep ourselves going; stay safe, rock hard, and listen to excellent music!
Catch you on the flipside.
Taheg Gloder, and the Flicknife Kru