Make room at the inn for a special edition of the Album Club, p10.
In this special edition of the Album Club, Daragh Downes hears from one-time members of Dublin’s homeless community about their favourite albums of all time
JAMES PRIOR, James Harte and Dave O’brien have two important things in common. Each has experienced the nightmare of homelessness. And each is a devotee of good music.
Prior, a blues-harmonica-playing Scot who has been based in Dublin for more than two decades now, has spent the past few days agonising over which album to single out as his all-time favourite. He takes us through an impressively eclectic list of candidates – with classics such as Bob Dylan’s Bringing It
All Back Home, Bob Marley’s Rastaman Vibration and The Pogues’ Rum, Sodomy & the Lash getting namechecked – before announcing his winner: Are You Experienced by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. The memory of first hearing The wind
Cries Mary on AM radio back in 1967 is still gloriously fresh. “It was the B-side of Purple Haze and I thought, ‘This is something different’. It was this lovely ballad with a really poetic lyric and lovely guitar riffs. And I remember getting the whole of the album and playing it on the old Philips Hi-fi in the house and driving my parents mad with it.”
Prior gave the album a fresh listen only the other day. It blew him away all over again. “Looking back at all the cuts on the album, it really has everything. It’s got this kind of funky rhythm and blues sound to it. It’s got these philosophical lyrics like ‘Is this love, baby, or is it just confusion?’ Hendrix is a really old soul! And then there’s this other song on it, an instrumental called Third
Stone From the Sun. It’s really jazzy – drum and bass, even. They were like the precursor of these styles that came later.
“And even when you’re listening to it now, it goes on and on, it’s a really long cut. At that time, most rock-pop tunes were the standard two or three minutes, but these ones were really long, you could get into it and just drift away.”
Even the cover photo is a masterpiece. “Jimi’s wearing this psychedelic flurry shirt, when all the other bands at that time had on this collegiate look. And there’s this sort of fish-eye lens, with the three guys sitting there and Jimi with his hands in front of him. Those amazing hands he had!”
From left: David O’brien, James Harte and James Prior.
Photograph: Cyril Byrne Mural: Kube