Mark Jackson is one of my favourtie local performers. His fun and mucky mix of comedy, punk poetry and pub rock, has had him called Barnsley’s John Cooper Clarke, and in the past I’ve drawn similarities between his band, Mark Jackson’s Criminal Waste of Talent with Ian Dury and Dr. Feelgood.
He’s performed under various band names since the 80s and has also trod the boards as a stand-up; already somewhat familiar with his taste in music and his excellent way with words, I thought Mr Jackson would be a perfect choice to currate our next mixtape.
Over to you Mark…
I have great pleasure in being asked to make a #mixtapemonday playlist for Alternative Barnsley. Side One is a chronological run through of some of the acts and songs that influenced me as a young writer and performer. Side two is a random selection of some of my favourite songs that have made me sing, dance, laugh and cry. The list was constantly changing and could be totally different tomorrow but at the time of writing these are my choices.
1. Gene Vincent – Be-Bop-A-Lula
When I was in my first years at Kirk Balk in 1972, the family Christmas present was a record player and everybody got an LP. Mum got Elvis, Dad’s was Jim Reeves, my brother got an Arcade 20 Greatest Hits and mine was a rock n roll compilation. There were some fantastic acts on it such as Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry and Roy Orbison and this was the first song on side one, making it the first song I ever played. I loved Gene’s beautiful voice then and still do now and Cliff Gallup’s guitar solo was probably the first one I played air guitar to. A great song from a great musical era.
2. Roxy Music – Virginia Plain
The first style of music I got into was the glam rock of the early 70’s, such as Slade, Sweet, T.Rex and (dare I say it) Gary Glitter. Roxy were the first band I saw live at Sheffield City Hall in 1973 and they blew my mind. The sheer noise and visuals was something I hadn’t experienced before and those memories are still with me now. This is their first single and was an original sound from a unique band.
3. David Bowie – Heroes
I have always been a big Bowie fan and really appreciate how he can change his musical style and persona without making a fool of himself. I could have picked any number of Bowie songs but ‘Heroes’ gets the vote. I particularly love how it kicks in near the end. Maybe I’m showing my age when I they don’t seem to make rock stars like Bowie any more.
4. AC/DC – Jailbreak
My ‘heavy metal’ phase followed next and although I was a fan of big hitters such as Zep, Sabbath and Lizzy, I also liked some of the less known bands like Budgie, Groundhogs and Family too. My favourite rock band of this type though was Bon Scott era AC/DC. Great riffs and ace screeching vocals. This is one of their lesser known songs but it still rocks. Not to be confused with the Thin Lizzy song of the same name.
5. Jethro Tull – The Minstrel in the Gallery
Here are a couple of songs from two of my favourite bands from the mid 70’s.
A much underrated band in my opinion. I saw Tull a few times and they were excellent live. A charismatic front man in Ian Anderson and another band who weren’t afraid to change their musical style. I got into them after seeing this played on The Old Grey Whistle Test. Not many good flute solo players in rock but Anderson is one of them.
6. The Sensational Alex Harvey Band – Midnight Moses
Talking about charismatic front men, they don’t come much better than Alex. He made his best albums quite late in life and realised some crackers in the 70’s. SAHB Live is one of my favourite live albums of all time. Midnight Moses isn’t on it but it is still a fantastic tune.
7. Tom Waits – Step Right Up
I can remember buying some LP’s from the sale at Scene and Heard in Barnsley. One was the Small Change album by Tom Waits (I liked the cover) and this could be the best purchase I have ever made. I have played this album to death and Waits is possibly my favourite song writer of all time. Step right up is a skit jazz type ramble with brilliant lyrics and he is another artist that doesn’t follow the rule book. Tom Waits – a true maverick
8. Kevin Coyne – I’ll Go Too
Another album I got from the sale was Marjorie Razorblade by Kevin Coyne and this got me into a wonderful British eccentric who wrote some great stuff. ‘I’ll Go Too’ is from a later album and is one of my favourite Coyne songs. I saw Kevin at The Boardwalk in Sheffield and sadly it was one of his last gigs. He died a few weeks later. R.I.P Kevin. You were an inspiration.
9. Dr Feelgood – She Does It Right
I can remember seeing Feelgood on the tele playing this and I thought they were amazing. Wilko had an institution haircut and ran about like a maniac and Lee Brilleaux was as cool as. Shortly after I saw them live at Sheffield City Hall and to this day think it was the most exciting gig I’ve ever been to. These guys had short hair, wore suits and played fast, sharp music. Could this be leading to something?
10. Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop
I first heard this on the John Peel show and thought my radio was broke. You could hardly make out a single word and the guitar playing sounded as rough as anything. I thought it was rubbish at the time but couldn’t get the ‘Hey ho, let’s go’ line out of my head. I now think they are one of the most important bands of all time and as any guitar player will tell you, hitting all six strings on the downward stroke only at such speed is a really difficult thing to do.
11. Sex Pistols – God Save the Queen
As a snot nosed teenager with a bad attitude and a massive chip on my shoulder, punk came at just the right time for me. Out went the flairs and long hair and in came tight plastic keks and mohair jumpers. This album is the punk daddy of them all, every song is a gem and it still sounds as fresh today as it did then. If I had to pick one album that changed my life, this would be it. I have chosen God Save the Queen from it but it could have been any of them
12 The Clash – Clash City Rockers
The Clash were the first band I heard that made me look at the world in a different way. They wrote songs with a strong political stance and had a great intelligence about them. They also weren’t afraid to do what they wanted and not what was expected of them. This is one of my favourite songs of theirs and when Strummer shouts “Yeah Yeah”, well no-one could snarl like Joe.
13. Ian Dury – Sweet Gene Vincent
This was the first singer I saw who made me want to be a performer. I first saw them on Sight and Sound supporting Feelgood and Dury mesmerized me. Plenty of charisma and a man who hadn’t let his misfortune hold him back. A great lyricist and this is my favourite Dury song and the song I have probably played more than any other. Brilliant.
So that’s side one done. Now onto side two for some of my favourite songs.
1. Hank Williams – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
“Did you ever see a robin weep, When leaves begin to die That means he’s lost the will to live,
I’m so lonesome I could cry”. Don’t sit on the fence Hank will you? The saddest song I’ve ever heard. A songwriting genius who died of alcoholism at the age of 29. A sad short life but some great songs.
2. Jonathan Richman – Roadrunner
“188.8.131.52.5.6. Roadrunner, Roadrunner”. A classic intro. I like a lot of songs where the riff is repeated throughout the song and this is one of them. I thought this was great when I first heard it and still do. See also Warren Zevon-Werewolves in London.
3. Velvet Underground – Sweet Jane
Another simple song with one repeated riff. Lou is one of my favourite artists of all time. Kept writing great stuff up till his death and never lost that distinctive tone of voice. Effortless but affective, He could play guitar a bit too.
4. Al Wilson – The Snake
I was pretty late getting into soul. When I was a kid, if you liked rock music you shouldn’t like soul music and vice versa but we all know now that is rubbish. One advantage that soul music has is that you can actually dance (or at least try) to it. This is one that will get me up on my feet and making a fool of myself. Fantastic rhythm section and a dirty vocal. Sssssighed the sssssnake. Apparently it’s about a todger.
5. Van Morrison – Crazy Love
I loved those early Van Morrison albums, particularly Astral Weeks, and I was going to go for Madame George from that album but it is too long and would have taken too much of the tape up. Crazy Love is a short sweet lullaby that is beautifully sung and performed. Van has lost it now but in this era he really was the man.
6. Neil Young – Don’t Cry No Tears
Another very consistent song writer who has changed with the times, without losing his principles. I could have gone for one of early folk songs, mid-era rock or later grunge stuff but I went for this song as I love the words and want it played at my funeral (but hopefully not for a while).
7. Captain Beefheart – Ice Cream For Crow
A great act with an impressive back catalogue who I admire loads. I first saw this song on the Whistle Test and got into his back catalogue after this. Like most great Beefheart songs it has totally bonkers lyrics and some weird and wonderful sounds in it. A total one off.
8. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Deanna
There are some lyricists who set the bar far too high for us mere mortals and Cave is one of them. Dark, mysterious and far too thin for a man his age. He can rock with the best of them but also write some tender, beautiful ballads. I could have filled a dozen mix tapes with his songs alone but I have gone for Deanna because I love the intro and of course the words.
9. The Pogues – A Rainy Night in Soho
Shane MacGowan. Another total genius wordsmith, who like the others on this list, fronts a great band. One of the best live bands I have ever seen and this song is a wonderful example of tender words and a beautiful melody. Also shows you don’t have to be a looker to front a band (thank God).
10. Tindersticks – Dancing
An excellent and much underrated British band. Their albums are all quality with usually simple songs that are well crafted and played. This is a perfect example from the Curtains album. I wrote a song called Dancing once but it wasn’t as good as this.
11. Arctic Monkeys – Fake Tales of San Francisco
I think the Monkeys are the finest British band to come out in years. I saw them on one of the smaller stages at the Leeds festival and a year later they were on the main stage. This was the first song I heard of theirs and it was a breath of fresh air and they have lived up to the hype since. Good to see you can have success by singing in a Yorkshire accent (although it hasn’t worked for me).
12. Sun Kil Moon – I Love My Dad
I am a big fan of a lot of Americana acts such as Bonnie Prince Billy and Bill Callahan but Sun Kil Moon (aka Mark Kozelek) is my favourite at the moment. I saw him recently in an intimate gig with a stripped down band at it was awesome. His songs are pretty much stories set to music and they are some of the most personal and moving you will ever here. “I love my Dad”. Who wouldn’t love a song called this?
13. The Fall – Theme from Sparta FC
I couldn’t possibly have a mix tape without including the most consistent and enduring band of my musical education. The wonderful Fall. I have seen them loads of times. Usually brilliant, sometimes dreadful but always The Fall and there is no-one quite like Mark E Smith to keep you entertained. It just goes to show that a shambolic tuneless singer with a tight band behind him can produce great music (and I didn’t mean my band).
So that’s it. 45 minutes (well just over); a side of some of my favourite songs and artists. I have had a lot of pleasure putting it together and I hope you like my selection.
MARK JACKSON’S CRIMINAL WASTE FO TALENT are currenly recording their debut album. Their debut EP ‘What’s the Situation’ is still available via the band.
The band play the Walkabout Stage at the Live In Barnsley metropolitan festival, on Saturday 20th June, 6pm.
You can keep up to date with the band by visiting their facebook page www.facebook.com/MarkJacksonsCriminalWasteOfTalent