1. The First Record I Bought
I think the first record I bought with my own pocket money was the single ‘Rock Lobster’ by The B-52’s. There were birthday present records before then but I think that was the first one I actually spent my own saved funds on. I saw the film clip on the TV show Countdown and I liked the guitar riff and that it was a kinda silly, fun song. I was giving an ear to anything that featured any guitar that was on the TV – Devo, Cold Chisel, AC/DC, B-52’s. Strange bedfellows!
2. The Last Record I Bought
The latest album I bought was Semper Femina by Laura Marling. I’ve been really enjoying her last few and was keen to hear this one as it’s produced by Blake Mills, who’s a current favourite of mine too. It’s a really simpatico pairing – her songs and singing are as great as ever and her guitar style is really complemented by the arrangements and production touches on the recording.
3. The First Thing I Recorded
I learned clarinet from the age of six to 14 and the teacher worked at Deakin University, a guy named Tony Hughes. They had a two-track reel-to-reel tape machine in the room he’d teach in and he must’ve noticed some kind of aptitude for the machinery because he’d let me stay in after my lesson and experiment with recording stuff on it unsupervised. A lot of trust! I would’ve been about 12 when he was teaching me. The songs would’ve been pretty dire, but it planted a seed in me for enjoying experimentation with recording that flourishes still.
4. The Last Thing I Recorded
My latest album is called Alone In Bad Company. I recorded and mixed it myself at the Enclave in Melbourne. Apart from drummer extraordinaire Danny McKenna playing on one song and ace songwriter Alison Ferrier singing harmonies on that same song, I played everything myself. The main difference would be that there’s a bit of overdubbing on the album – some bass here, some piano there, et cetera – whereas the gig is a raw, stripped-back affair.
5. The Record That Changed My Life
Bob Dylan’s Desire is an album I heard when I was growing up. It came out when I was six or seven and my folks played it a lot around the house and on car drives interstate. Dylan has been a constant through my life. His songs, his singing and his fearlessness as an artist have all continually kicked me in the arse throughout my life. I go back to Dylan in general and this album in particular when I need a shot of the divine. It’s a wild, untamed beauty he captures, all first-take spontaneity, the sound of band members learning the song as the tape rolls.
Alone In Bad Company is out now through ABC. Jeff Lang plays The Basement on Saturday May 27.Write a Letter to the Editor