RECORD COL­LEC­TION

They met as kids and sub­verted the school pa­per. Now they’re do­ing the same with Lady­bird Books For Grown-Ups, BBC TV’s Philom­ena Cunk and more, with Ravel, Ra­dio­head and Jeff Wayne in their heads…

Prog - - Contents - Words: Jo Ken­dall Por­trait: Will Ire­land Lady­bird’s Story Of Brexit is out now, also Cunk On Ev­ery­thing: The En­cy­clo­pe­dia Philom­ena is avail­able now via www.tworoads­books.com.

Com­edy writ­ers Ja­son Haze­ley and Joel Mor­ris, re­spon­si­ble for the Lady­bird Books For Grown Ups, BBC TV’s Philom­ena Crunk and more, find that prog is no laugh­ing mat­ter. As their record col­lec­tions prove…

“THE FIRST TIME THAT I PUT RELAYER ON, I THOUGHT IT WAS AT THE WRONG SPEED!”

If you grew up in the 70s you were steeped in prog any­way,” be­gins Joel Mor­ris. “We both love Jeff Wayne’s The War Of The Worlds, which was the first cas­sette of mu­sic that I owned.” Ja­son Haze­ley: “I love it so much I’ve got the mul­ti­disc cof­fee ta­ble ver­sion. I’d loved to have been at the meet­ing where Jeff an­nounced a multi-record con­cept al­bum based on a Vic­to­rian sci-fi novel with the best ses­sion guys in town and an or­ches­tra and some­one said, ‘That sounds like a rea­son­able com­mer­cial prospect.’” Joel: “Peo­ple who said Rick Wake­man’s Jour­ney To The Cen­tre Of The Earth was ‘prog non­sense’ would have this. It’s not seen as prog, it’s seen as retro. But it’s the last of a cy­cle of prog records based on a novel.” Ja­son: “It’s also very good – Richard Bur­ton’s nar­ra­tion then that fuck­ing great D mi­nor string sec­tion. Bernard Her­rmann would have been proud of this. Then there’s those elec­tronic sounds, all re­ally well done.”

Joel: “Be­cause of the elec­tron­ics, it plugged straight into the first LP I ever had, the Ra­dio­phonic Work­shop’s BBC Sound Ef­fects No 19. If you liked Doc­tor Who, Jeff Wayne was com­pletely com­pre­hen­si­ble to a kid who has lis­tened to TARDIS sound ef­fects. But you weren’t into prog rock, were you?”

Ja­son: “I tried Tan­ger­ine Dream but they wouldn’t let me in. I played clas­si­cal pi­ano since I was about four.”

Joel: “When we met we crossed into each other’s mu­si­cal worlds. I’d been into rock and heavy metal. When I first heard Led Zep­pelin I ex­pected them to be heavy, but there was folk and prog and flutes and Sandy Denny, songs about Hob­bits and shag­ging. I went look­ing for who else was do­ing that and some­one rec­om­mended Yes. I got Relayer, which I bought se­cond hand for 25p. The first time I put it on I thought it was at the wrong speed. Re­cently I tried to learn the gui­tar parts and found I didn’t have enough frets. I love the big­ness of it, the art… the af­ter-the-bat­tle bit in The Gates Of Delir­ium is one of the finest pieces of mu­sic I’ve heard.” Ja­son: “At this time I’m lis­ten­ing to Changes by John Wil­liams, put to­gether by Stan­ley My­ers and his or­ches­tra. My­ers is a lu­di­crously un­der­rated mu­si­cian most fa­mous for writ­ing the tune on this al­bum, Ca­vatina. He’s a great or­ches­tra­tor and this is a bril­liant al­bum that says, ‘I’ve got John Wil­liams who can play the gui­tar re­ally well, what can we do with him?’ So there’s a thing based on a Bach pre­lude strung out to four min­utes of weird­ness. Af­ter this, I move into Brian Eno and min­i­mal­ism.”

Joel: “I shared a flat in col­lege with a guy whose record col­lec­tion started with Roxy Mu­sic and then got into all the bands that sprang from that. Know­ing Eno was am­bi­ent I was sur­prised to find gui­tary, poppy stuff such as Be­fore And Af­ter Sci­ence. It’s not only got King’s Lead Hat, the au­di­tion for him to pro­duce Talk­ing Heads, it’s also got all the Ger­man mu­si­cians, like Clus­ter and Roedelius. It’s got a lovely Bri­tish pop sen­si­bil­ity.”

Ja­son: “This is the most im­por­tant record I ever bought: John Adams’ Har­mo­nium. I used to record things from Ra­dio 3 and if there was a name I didn’t recog­nise I thought, ‘I’ll give that a whirl.’ Through this I dis­cov­ered Ligeti, Ju­dith Weir, Xe­nakis and John Adams. I couldn’t stop lis­ten­ing to this. It starts with a sound of just a sin­gle D emerg­ing out of a vast space. Then it gets gi­gan­tic.” Joel: “You got me into Adams ’cos you’d play that a lot in the car when we were kids.”

Ja­son: “I found out Har­mo­nium was min­i­mal­ism so I went in search of more, and then bought Shaker Loops fea­tur­ing Steve

Re­ich. I played it re­cently with [con­duc­tor] Charles Ha­zle­wood at Col­ston Hall in Bris­tol and he ar­ranged us over the floor of the venue so the au­di­ence could walk around and get a dif­fer­ent sonic ex­pe­ri­ence. I’ve fol­lowed min­i­mal­ism my whole adult life and I started go­ing to as many Adams pre­mieres as I can. Last year, as one of the cel­e­bra­tions for his 70th birth­day, I went to a pre­miere in Ber­lin of The Gospel Ac­cord­ing To The Other Mary. On the flight back, I no­ticed John Adams. He was in busi­ness, I wasn’t. I bowled over and said, ‘Great gig last night!’ and he said, ‘Thanks, man.’ I went back to my seat and then thought I should have said to him, ‘You’re the rea­son I’m on this plane.’ Him and Ravel are the two most im­por­tant things in my head.”

Joel: “We both were in bands; in the 90s mine found it­self slid­ing to­wards folk, based on a gut feel­ing that I’d been raised by Bag­puss and The Wicker Man sound­track. We were do­ing a TV show with [pre­sen­ter and Prog sup­porter] Matthew Wright and he said, ‘Have you heard the Strawbs? You re­mind me of them.’ I sought out From The Witch­wood, which I found very pow­er­ful.

“Think­ing about bands that fed into Brit­pop, has any­one men­tioned Camel? There are lines from Brit­pop to prog, such as Da­mon Al­barn’s dad manag­ing Soft Ma­chine. A friend played me Breath­less, say­ing, ‘You’ll like this,’ putting on Down On The Farm, which is Blur’s ca­reer in one song. It’s a whim­si­cal take on coun­try life in­ter­spersed with ‘doo-doo’ har­monies and big gui­tars.”

Ja­son: “Mike Old­field has Tubu­lar Bells hang­ing around his shoul­ders to the ex­tent that he’s made about nine ver­sions of it.

But Amarok is a de­light­ful, sur­pris­ing, weird and ac­ces­si­ble al­bum. A friend told me, ‘It’s one track, it re­quires some com­mit­ment, but go with it.’ It’s great, it starts with a fid­gety thing that can’t make up its mind as a time sig­na­ture, then the thing goes ‘blam!’ and comes to life. His stuff is great to work to.”

Joel: “I work to Mog­wai and Mid­lake, to their al­bum An­tiphon.

I used to like Mid­lake for the lyrics, but this is great, very an­tiver­bal and min­i­mal – a psy­che­delic prog record to get lost in.

I need mu­sic to blot out…”

Ja­son: “Me.”

Joel: “We both love Talk Talk’s Spirit Of Eden. I can’t think of an­other al­bum like it apart from Robert Wy­att’s Rock Bot­tom. An al­bum of iso­la­tion, peo­ple in a strange men­tal space. The only band that have taken that for­ward is Ra­dio­head. All these bands can write a pop song but what hap­pens when you go be­yond that? That’s what prog is.”

Ja­son: “For a band ev­ery­one re­gards as very se­ri­ous and wor­thy, the open­ing track on each Ra­dio­head al­bum is a burst of joy.”

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