Tag: Electric Light Orchestra


Seja VogelSeja Vogel is solo artist from Brisbane, well known for her love of the synthesiser. You may recognise her from her former band Sekiden and as a member of Regurgitator. More recently she has released a couple of great solo records under her own name ‘Seja’. Check out the tracks “When You Said You Were Mine” from 2013’s All Our Wires, and “I’ll Get To You” from 2010’s We Have Secrets But Nobody Cares. Speaking with Seja, I mentioned (referring to her ELO album selection) that I’m a big fan of Jeff Lynne’s work, to which she replied “I could write about how much I love him ALL day”. Which left me recalling an episode of The Simpsons where Homer asks Lisa, “Who’s your favourite Travelling Wilbury Lisa, is it Jeff Lynne?” I’m confident Seja would agree.


GRANDADDY Under the Western Freeway (1997)

seja-grandd-underI remember the first time I heard “A.M. 180” – it was at a small café in Brisbane that used to have all ages solo shows on a Tuesday night or something every week. It was just around the time I started to play in bands and this song was so inspirational in its melody, lyrics and energy. The whole album is really special – so many great keyboard parts, perfect pop guitar riffs and cynical lyrics. It also sounds really wonky, out of time and noisy in parts, which is something I was really drawn to instantly. This album also had that beautiful thing where just when you think you know where a song is going, it takes a turn and goes to a minor or a seventh chord and it really hits you in the guts in a good way. And then it ends with a few minutes of crickets. Perfect.



seja-humanl-dareMy husband and I own about 5 copies of this album on vinyl because it’s too special to walk past when we see it in a thrift store. There’s nothing I don’t like about it. Sweeps up to every chorus, drum machines, synth programming, their cool-but-untrained voices. This album is so much more than “Don’t You Want Me”. Like when you notice some of the more obscure lyrics such as “Alsatians fall unconscious at the shadow of your call”. Also – Roland System 700 modular, Jupiter 4, Korg 770, Korg Delta, Yamaha CS15, Casio VLT1, Casio M10 and Linn LM1 – these are the things, these are the things, the things that dreams are made of.



Seja-ELO-NewWRI probably could have put ten ELO records in here as my favourite and most influential, but that’s another list for another time. The production on this album is so over-the-top it borders on ridiculous (what AREN’T you good at Jeff??). The intro is so dramatically orchestral and works up to a powerful crescendo, only to turn into a completely hilarious ‘dumb rock/pop’ riff.  I love how most the songs on this record are super-complicated and intricate, with the perfect amount of delay on the vocals in all the right places (I’m taking a dive, dive, dive, dive) and then this album, as well as all his others, has one of those whamma lamma bamma lamma songs on it that make you question why you liked this band in the first place. You can see why John Lennon called them ‘son of Beatles’, and a lot of his songs are obviously influenced by the melodies and sentiment of that band, which in my book has never been a bad thing.


BECK Mellow Gold (1994)

seja-beck-mellowI’ve probably listened to this album more than any other album. I know it back to front. I discovered this album on a bus heading to Falls Creek for a school ski trip in 1994 or 1995. I remember finding a tape on the bus that someone had left in the seat pocket. I put it in my Walkman and “Beercan” came on. And my little mind was blown. I think the tape had a bunch of other songs on it by bands like the Butthole Surfers and stuff, but I kept rewinding and listening to the Beck songs (just “Beercan” and “Pay No Mind”) on the tape until I wore it out. The first full songs I learnt how to play on the guitar were “Pay No Mind”, “Nitemare Hippy Girl” and “Truckdrivin Neighbors Downstairs”. Funnily enough, this record also got me more into hip hop because I loved (still do!) his weirdo apathetic rhymes like “I got bent like a wet cigarette, and she’s coming after me with a butterfly net”. I wish he would do more of that now.


HARRY NILSSON Aerial Ballet (1968)

seja-harryn-aerialThis album is a masterpiece of orchestral pop. Again, I could have put 5 Nilsson records on this list. I love this one in particular because it’s full of so many effervescent and cleverly beautiful songs. It’s also packed with his trademark silly nonsense sounds (doowakkadoo) and some fantastic whistle solos. I always thought it was a shame that the most successful song on this record wasn’t written by him (“Everybody’s Talkin’”), because it takes the focus off what a lovely songwriter he is. Apart from the obvious “Everybody’s Talkin’” and “One”, songs like “Good old Desk” and “Together” strike some kind of nostalgic chord in me that feels a bit like home.  And that voice!


THE CARS The Cars (1978)

seja-the-carsThis album was very influential to me and how I play keyboards. I remember the first time I heard “Just What I Needed” I knew I wanted to play synth lines just like that, and I’ve pretty much spent my whole musical career trying to replicate/channel them. “Good Times Roll” is such a great opener and sets the tone for the whole album. Other stand-out parts for me include that backwards drum bit in “Just What I Needed” and the outstanding solo on “Bye Bye Love”. What’s phenomenal about this album is that almost all 9 tracks are still played on the radio to this day. That’s pretty rare. Overall I find the whole record a perfect mix of sleazy and cool.


CHILLY GONZALES Solo Piano (2004)

seja-chillyg-solopI suppose this has been compared to Erik Satie a bunch, but I love this album because to me it seems way more modern and pop. And contextually, the thought of the same guy whose usual shtick to my knowledge was being a maniac electro dude, singing about how he has an extra testicle, playing these beautiful songs is something really special. Stand-outs for me are “Gogol”, “Bermuda Triangle” and “Basmati”. This album also reminds me of my grandmother playing piano to us as kids which is a happy memory.



DEVO New Traditionalists (1981)

seja-devo-newtradThis record is interesting to me as it was the first of Devo’s I bought. I instantly loved its sarcasm and social commentary (which seems to still be applicable today). The synth patches are something to behold (“Race of Doom”, “Love Without Anger”) and the counterintuitive arrangements made it stand out to me from other records I was listening to at the time. People say this is their angriest album, a result of being misunderstood by the mainstream. It was funny for me to get familiar with this one first, then later go back and listen to their pop classics. Whilst listening to this in high school, I did feel like Devo and I had a sort of kindship, an understanding of what was good and bad in the world. I think this is why I love this album so much – it’s like an old friend who’s always in your corner.


STEREOLAB Emperor Tomato Ketchup (1996)

seja-stereol-emperIt’s a risky move to put an eight-minute song first on a record, but Stereolab can get away with that kind of thing. This album makes me want to filter all my instruments and vocal tracks through synthesizers for the rest of my life. Every keyboard on this album gloriously squelches, splats and squirts in a way that massages my brain. I love a band whose harmonies are out of the box and percussive. Stand-out parts for me include the running bass line for “Percolator”, “Noise of Carpet”’s frequency and resonance sweeps, and the synth blips in “Motoroller Scalatron”. This album sounds like the music in my head.


WEEN Chocolate and Cheese (1994)

seja-ween-chocolThis is another album that I discovered in that magical time when I was about 14 or 15 when everything was cool and exciting.  Another album I learnt all the words and chords to. I remember playing guitar and singing “Beuenas Tardes Amigo”, “What Deaner Was Talkin’ About” and “Don’t Shit Where You Eat” around my school to my friends, trying to be cool. (Did people think I was cool? No, but at least I was playing Ween and not Crash Test Dummies or something). This more easily palatable record than their previous was the beginning of my love affair with Ween that continues to this day. Even though I was embarrassed buying it because of its slightly naughty album cover (I was a kid!), the songs were definitely JUST offensive enough for it to strike a chord in my adolescent self. Bloody love this album. Bloody love this band.


daveyWelcome to the first week of My Top Ten Records! To kick it all off for us in a big way, we have You Am I guitarist, my former bandmate and Boronia boy done good, the wonderful Davey Lane. I’m not going to give you his life story but what I will give you is a few of my favourite Davey moments. Check the fuzzed out guitar layering at 2:23 on The Pictures track “Can You Hear It” (Kicking Indifference, 2009), the guitar solo at 2:12 on the You Am I track “Gone, Gone, Gone” (Dress Me Slowly, 2001), a Pink Floyd/Beatlesque moment in “Downhill From Here” from the The Pictures’ debut album (Pieces Of Eight, 2005), and most recently from his debut solo record of last year (Atonally Young, 2015) the sublime pop of “Not An Option Now”. Without further ado…here’s Davey’s top ten!


TODD RUNDGREN  A Wizard, A True Star (1973)

DDL-toddru-wizardA complete fuckin’ bonkers record, written, engineered and produced by one of my all-time heroes, Todd Rundgren. It’s not an easy listen, but that’s what makes it so amazing. The first side is basically a bunch of vignettes rarely more than a minute long, each one a different perspective on Rundgren’s psych/prog/pop majesty. If there exists a template for everything I strive for as a solo artist, it’s the song “International Feel”.



ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA The Essential Electric Light Orchestra (2003)

DDL-ELOI know, I know, its not an actual album but I don’t think ELO actually ever had a great album, per se. Plus Noel Gallagher once told me that he only likes compilations, if it’s okay for him then it sure is okay for me. He also told me never to drop names. Ahem. Anyway, this is complete genius from top to tail. Whether you like him or think he sucks, Jeff Lynne just had an amazing knack for writing (performing, recording and producing, mind you) infectious, joyous, euphoric rock ‘n roll songs. If Mr Blue Sky doesn’t make you feel instantly happy, then you’re made of, or have recently turned to, stone (ELO fans will get that one)


THE BAND The Band (1969)

DDL-band-bandHere’s an album that looks exactly like it sounds. 5 guys in civil war-era/southern gent attire, standing in the rain, in the woods. The whole thing rendered in earthy, sepia tones. This is one of the most effortlessly brilliant records of all time. It’s joy and heartbreak all wrapped up. Dixie Down is an argument for Levon Helm being one of the all time great vocalists. The same goes for Richard Manuel on Whispering Pines, my number one all time heartbreaker. I rarely hear it without getting a little misty eyed.


In It For The Money (1997)

DDL-superg-initfoThis is everything I love about the album format. Songs that flit around in style from track to track, sometimes turning on a dime with the song itself. Bold splashes of wildly different colours. The song In It For The Money I heard for the first time in the pit at Melbourne BDO in 1997, dodging receptacles that may or may not have been filled with piss thrown by sportmetalfolk waiting for Fear Factory by the neighbouring stage. I thought it was the best song I’d ever heard. Rarely does the first time airing of a brand new song leave such a strong impression. The experience may make me especially sentimental about this record but it’s still one of my all time favourites.


THE WHO Tommy (1969)

DDL-who-tommyAn obvious choice of band for me, yeah, but possibly not an obvious choice of record (despite it being one of their biggest). If anything this is in the list because it taught me not only how to play guitar but how to really use the guitar to write songs. Learning how to play D, G and C for the first time was huge for me, don’t get me wrong, but the way Townshend uses inversions of chords, suspensions, etc on this record (possibly gleaned from classical composers) REALLY opened up a whole new world for me. One that I’m still trying to make sense of today. The fact that most of the cunts who made the records on this list weren’t more than 25 or 26 just staggers me. Bastards.


QUEEN Sheer Heart Attack (1974)

SheerHeartAttack_Booklet_BonusPAG_Layout 1An album that opens with a 3 minute guitar solo? On paper, I would have told you to get fucked, but this is different. This is Brian fuckin’ May! Anyone who knows me knows I’m a Brian May tragic – made 2 replicas of his famous homemade “Red Special” guitar, and blagged my way into meeting him to get him to sign one in Melbourne last year. Anyways, this album is perfect Queen for me – just before the hi-fi Roy Thomas Baker drum sounds, just after they’d shed the Tolkien goblins and fairies shit of the first album, with just the right mix of glam and prog with nods to the Beatles (complete with one of Freddie’s flights of vaudeville fancy). Glorious, camp and pompous. Brilliant.


DR. FEELGOOD Down By The Jetty (1975)

DDL-drfeel-downbyHere’s a record for dancing if ever there was one. Gritty, raw, dry ’70’s R&B that pulls no punches. You can almost smell the Canvey Island sea air too. Wilko Johnson’s another all time guitar player for me. So unique, That half rhythm/half lead style is something I’ve been trying to do for years. If I had to pick one party song it’d be She Does It Right. Party music by a bunch of Essex thugs gets a big tick from me.



PAUL WESTERBERG Stereo/Mono (2002)

DDL-pweste-stereoThis record got me through a particularly traumatic breakup a bunch of years ago. If you listen to it you’ll realise pretty quickly why. It’s pretty bleak stuff. As a result I couldn’t bring myself to listen to it for a long time, but nowadays I can love it again free of all the breakup bullshit. Thank you, passage of time. Westerberg’s one of the great songwriters, and this one I love because it was the first time he’d let go of the idea of making “produced” records with session musicians. It’s all Westerberg’s own sloppy drumming recorded in his basement, and all the better for it. The Stereo side is the breakup-friendly half. Conducive to trying to write oneself off, mind-numbingly bleak nights alone with a bottle of cheap Scotch ‘n all. The Mono side is a relative fiesta. Let The Bad Times Roll, indeed, and sometimes, that’s fine by me.



DDL-pmccar-ramOf course I had to put something Beatle-related in here, anyone who knows me knows I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t. Think Macca’s a square who made (what Lennon famously called) “granny shit music”? This record is fruitier than a Mildura summer and moments recall Beach Boys at their most beautiful (“Dear Boy”). Check out “Monkberry Moon Delight”. It makes no fuckin’ sense at all but McCartney’s vocal is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever heard. I guess I’ll never be remembered for my lyrical nous but when you can make complete nonsense like “so I sat in the attic a piano up my nose and the wind blew a dreadful cantata, sore was I from the crack of an enemy’s hose and the horrible sound of tomato” send a shiver up yr spine then I’m sold. And “The Back Seat Of My Car” always brings a tear to my eye – the outro of that song sounds as close to an aural representation of ascension (to heaven or to the clouds – wherever the hell it is you go when you shuffle mortal coils) as I’ve ever heard. I know that sounds like a complete wank but I don’t know how else to describe it.


COMETS ON FIRE Avatar (2006)

DDL-comets-avatarI first heard this on a day off from tour in Birmingham, one of those wonderful “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS I NEED THIS RECORD IN MY LIFE” moments. What blew my head off were not only the sounds but the sheer chaos of it all. I always maintain that music’s gotta have a sense of surprise to keep me on my toes. And this record’s got that in spades. It’s completely unhinged, psych-y, proggy Blue Cheer-ish nuts-ness. So bloody good.



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