Andy Partridge and Peter Blegvad list the tracks that influenced the making of ‘Gonwards’
1 ‘American Haikus’ Jack Kerouac, from Blues and Haikus
Stuart Rowe (project engineer and musician) and I were listening to this in his car only a short time before starting Gonwards. It’s as if this is one of the spiritual fathers of this project. Nice coincidence that we should hear it right at the outset, as if fate was saying “it’s alright”.
2 ‘Like A Baby’ -Peter Blegvad, from The Naked Shakespeare
The first time I worked with Peter was on the 1983 album The Naked Shakespeare. This track was what we called an exploded pop song – a song and its arrangement that had been pulled apart to form a loose, open structure shot through with holes. We continue to use this form on Gonwards.
3 ‘Father Cannot Yell’ Can, from Monster Movie
The ghost of Malcolm Mooney’s declaiming monotone over this almost mechanical track gives, for me, a possible template for the track ‘What a Car You Are’, Peter’s take on becoming a car as a child.
4 ‘Bathtub Admiral’ Danny Kaye, from Mommie Gimme a Drinka Water
Where would the number ‘The Dope On Perelman’ be without the guiding hand of Danny Kaye? It was impossible to pick one track from his spooky 1950’s orchestral album Mommie, Gimme a Drinka Water, but this one will do.
5 ‘Foggy Road’ Prince Far I, from Black Man Land
This eerie rolling dub is the only pattern in the back of my mind that can make a skeletal finger pointing towards From Germ to Gem, Peter’s travelogue/life path map.
6 ‘Shame and Scandal’ Lance Percival
This daft 1965 rendering by lanky comic fume Lance Percival was brought to my attention again recently, and may have subconsciously steered the chorus of St Augustine Says towards its stepping skank. The verses are probably closer musically to Steve Reich though.
7 ‘River of Orchids’ XTC, from Apple Venus Volume 1
With apologies for self-selection, but this is an ongoing relevant template for me. The repeated orchestral pattern is this same device used in The Dope on Perelman. A juddering wall of loose bricks blurring against each other that burst out now and then in a slightly ‘moderne’ if a little Gershwin-esque theme.
8 ‘In The Land Of Oo Bla Dee’ Dizzy Gillespie, from Cubana Be, Cubana Bop
This totally sideways melody was in my brain on the run up to working on ‘Sacred Objects’. The dusty old Mellotron loops we based the recording on also recall this era. If odd is good enough for Dizzy, it’s good enough for us. This is also where the Beatles got the title from.
9 ‘Trains’ Reginald Gardiner, single release
Although Peter’s voice is radically different from Reggie’s – one doused in plums and silver spoons, the other in milk and alcohol – they both have the lull, the rhythm, the quiet invention, the casual and natural eccentricity. Reginald’s trains go “Kiddly dah, diddly dee, diddly dah, kiddly dee” and Peter’s cars go “Book of the dead book of the dead book of the dead”.
10 ‘Aries’ Lyrics by Jacques Wilson, from Zodiac, Cosmic Sounds
This silly hippy fartifact has a lot to answer for. It probably informed my growing brain that it was alright to speak over music and, therefore, J’accuse. I wonder if we’ll do the same thing to somebody in future?
“Three Angels” by Bob Dylan (Spoken word track from “New Morning” (1970) I’d say it was an influence of sorts on “Looking at the Sun”. On one level Dylan’s track reminds me of the great ending to Kafka’s novel “Amerika”, while being at the same time innocent/corny enough to be a Hallmark card.
“If Dogs Run Free” another spoken word track from the same album should be cited too. And let’s add “Clothes Line Saga” from “Basement Tapes” while we’re at it. No one else mixes ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture with such wit and casual aplomb as the mighty Zim.
“Christian Automobile” by the Dixie Hummingbirds. “What a Car You Are” joins this gospel masterpiece and Robert Johnson’s “Terraplane Blues” in a short list of songs about people who are cars/cars who are people.
“Those Were the Days My Friend” – this wasn’t an influence really, but when we were working on “Worse on the Way” I found it irresistible to imagine Mary Hopkins singing our song as a response of sorts to her 60’s hit.
I think of “St. Augustine Says” as a (cautionary) drinking song. It doesn’t sound anything like “Quiet Whiskey” by Wynonie Harris or “Sunday Morning Comin’ Down” by Kris Kristofferson, but distant memories of those songs haunt the lyrics. Musically, the bass line reminds me of “All My Loving” and the verse melody evokes “Eight Days a Week” both by the Beatles.
The verses of “The Devil’s Lexicon” are built around chords I lifted from another song Andy and I wrote together years ago, “Child Then” (released in 1998 on the Slapp Happy album “Ça Va”).
Lyrically, both “The Devil’s Lexicon” and “Sacred Objects” continue to mine a theme that harks all the way back to a song called “Catalogue of 15 Objects and Their Titles” written by me and John Greaves and sung by Lisa Herman on the album “Kew. Rhone.” (1977).