Bill Ryder-Jones has led a truly singular career.
A guitarist, he formed The Coral with some schoolfriends, delivering one of the most outlandish indie hype stories of the Millennium period.
Heading out on his own, he's worked on soundtrack projects, produced other artists and released a flurry of albums under his own name, displaying a rapidly maturing songwriting sensibility.
Set to play Scotland's beautiful Electric Fields event later this summer, Bill Ryder-Jones will draw on the full power of his catalogue.
Ahead of this, Bill has picked out his Foundation albums, painting a musical autobiography...
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Gorky's Zygotic Mynci - 'Spanish Dance Troupe'
This album is just so full of melody. It’s one of those records where it’s so easy to get lost in that even after 15 years of listening, im not always sure where I am with it. For some reason the album sounded like my life as a teenager, I’d walk along the seafront by ours looking for somewhere to stop and listen to Gorky's.
I can’t really put into words just how much Euros Childs songwriting had influenced and educated me, he’s the great influence on my writing for sure. I love how funny he can be without it getting in the way of the message he’s putting out there. There’s a line in ‘She lives on a mountain’ that goes ‘no hermit girl like she, could fall in love with me’ that always stuck in my mind.
'Spanish Dance Troupe' doesn’t really sound like anyone else either, that’s so rare. Normally you can at least hear one other reference point I can't think of a better starting point for people new to Gorky's.
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Lee Perry & The Upsetters - 'Super Ape'
This record completely blew my mind at 16. I’d just started recording The Coral with my four-track recorder and as a band we loved ‘Super Ape’. I’ve got vivid memories of smoking weed with Nick Power in his bedroom and him showing me ‘Dread Lion’ for the first time.
The sound of the record is so entwined with the songs, it’s the same as 'Pet Sounds' in that way. It’s one big complete force coming at you. I think people like that, there’s some comfort to knowing you’re in the midst of something so certain.
In a similar way to 'Spanish Dance Troupe', this record popped into and coloured my life in a way that I don’t understand. There’s no real reason why a middle class, suburban white kid from West Kirby shouldn’t feel so connected to Lee Perry’s music but it does feel odd looking back at just how much it meant to me at 16.
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Nick Drake - 'Five Leaves Left'
I was in and around Cambridge for quite some time as a late teen and in my early twenties. I had a girlfriend there and this album was huge for me back then. The romance of the ultimate bedroom boy and the thought of him wandering miserable around Cambridge with all these songs in him was something that excited me as I was realising my connection to his music.
Obviously the guitar playing is out of this world. Any guitarist will tell you that Nick Drake has to be up there with the great players BUT it's not just his performance that is so staggering, his colouring, the palette of notes used (aided by his own tuning) and rhythm. This music again is a strange world at first. One you’ll be vaguely aware of because of its influence but also because it somehow speaks of a lost England.
The string arrangements alone on ‘Five Leaves Left’ are masterpieces. I don’t know how to end this really, I could go on..
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The Coral – 'The Coral'
Bit mad to pick this as The Coral was my band but we made that record when I was 17 and obviously it had a huge effect on me.
I love this record for so many reasons. It’s fucking bonkers, it’s the sound of five weirdoes from nowhere trying to create a world for themselves. It’s what I want for a young band, it’s fearless and unrelenting. It’s got a couple of songs on there that perhaps weren’t the best available at the time (‘A Sparrow's Song’ and ‘Your Good Fortune’ for me would’ve sat nicely in there) but it’s such a collection of brilliant tunes… ‘Shadows Fall’, ‘Time Travel’, ‘Dreaming Of You’ etc.
Five teens mad on Morricone and Pink Floyd making music they think sounds like those artists. James and Nick’s songwriting was something I was in awe of as a kid, I watched them and wondered how they had the confidence to just write y’know?
Anyway if I wasn’t in this band then I’d have loved them. In a time where Travis were boring us all and The Strokes (whom I love) had just come along and were revamping the sound of New York (albeit with beautifully written songs) we were hangin’ out on hills and making music like nothing you’ve ever heard. Long live The Coral…
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The Verve - 'A Storm In Heaven'
I’d have loved to have seen The Verve play around this time, before the loafers and ballads. This record is a lesson in mood, it starts in one place and finishes in the same. The videos of them playing live around this time are something else.
Nick McCabes playing on this album is unreal. I can’t imagine how this happened. It’s not the sounds of a lad from Wigan. It’s the sound you’d imagine someone who watches an ocean to make. He’s actually the lead on this record. The things he’s doing take over whenever he decides to step up. Equally Richard Ashcroft’s lyrics and melodies are out of this world.
I love how the Pete Salisbury’s drums and Simon Jones’ bass-line are like a weird industrial knock on from the Stone Roses or something but Nick McCabe and Richard Ashcroft were doing something completely different but somehow it works.
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Echo and The Bunnymen - 'Ocean Rain'
Took me ages to pick between this and ‘Waterpistol’ by Shack. I went with this one because I think it’s pretty much the perfect record and it highlights something I’ve talked about before….I’m interested in how and why groups of musicians end up sounding the way they do.
See Shack, it kinda makes sense for them to sound like they do given the time etc but The Bunnymen, can’t figure it out. Like Scott-Walker-banshee-Scousers or something.
The songwriting on ‘Ocean Rain’ is fucking unreal. 'Nocturnal Me' was a stand out early on, it blew me away but the actual song ‘Ocean Rain’ is one of my all time favourites. It’s icy and bleak and almost a bit scary. The band sound like they’re in sync, all complimenting each other perfectly with Ian McCulloch's voice raining down on their music. His for me is one of the finest voices there is. Once again this album is a complete world you step into and become surrounded by.
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Electric Fields festival runs between August 26th - 27th.