Bass explorer Paul Gray is best known for his time with Eddie and the Hot Rods, The Damned and, for five years in the ‘80s, UFO. As of now, he is also back in The Damned, as part of an eagerly awaited new TonyVisconti-produced record.
In the can, however, is a record he’s done as part of a rhythm section with his partner in punk grime, drummer Rat Scabies. The Professor and the Madman is the name of the band, led by Alfie Agnew (Adolescents, D.I.) and Sean Elliott (Mind Over Four, D.I.), and their record is called Disintegrate Me, issued via FullerTone records.
Gray: “They sent me across a track about a year ago and I thought it was phenomenal. It was instantly connecting with me, because it’s got all the things that I like. It’s got energy, it’s got spirit, and it’s got great harmonies as well, great melodies. But it’s also got all the right elements for me to go completely nuts on the bass. It’s always difficult to say what type of music it is, but it’s got all those elements that I mentioned. It just drives along; it’s very uplifting.”
Here are 10 records that got Gray to where he is today. — Martin Popoff
The first album they did as Slade, and they’re on the cover dressed like bovver boy yobbos, but the songs inside, they’ve got violins on them… absolutely gorgeous. Fantastic songwriters. And the bass player, Jim Lea, has always been hugely underrated. He’s a bit Jack Bruce-ish but with more melody. He wrote nearly all the songs and he played the bass like a lead. I love that.
Either this or Killer. But School’s Out, that’s the first album I probably learned to mime bass to, before I learned how to play it. (laughs) So obviously a cracking album.
Hawkwind, Space Ritual
I saw Hawkwind live on that Space Ritual tour and that just changed my life. I thought, that’s what I want to do. Standing in front of Lemmy and his Rickenbacker and his Marshall cabinet painted all these weird colors, and Stacia dancing under the psychedelic lights, just sort of this incessant drive — brilliant. Hawkwind really did change my life. That’s really what I aspired to be.
Simply because there’s a track on it called “Dream Sequence.” It’s pretty much the whole second side, and again, Felix Pappalardi, fabulous bass player, and playing between Corky Laing and Leslie West, just fabulous. So I love Mountain, and that particular track, brilliant.
Johann Sebastian Bach, St. Matthew Passion
Gotta chuck that in. Yeah, it’s the nearest I ever get to believing in God. (laughs) Bach, you know, I could’ve given you the whole 168-CD set as one album, because I listen to Bach constantly. But that particular St. Matthew Passion just takes you to another place.
Specifically because that’s the album … without that album, I wouldn’t be here today, doing what I do. That set me off, and everything happened after that album. Billy Bragg said Eddie and the Hot Rods were the first punk band, and if anybody tells you otherwise, they’re lying. That’s on YouTube somewhere.
Every track on it. I mean, I could include any of those Pebbles albums, too. I could include any Seeds albums. But to me, (Nuggets) is four sides of vinyl of perfect, you know… three-minute pop songs with a bit of fantastic psychedelia down the front. Love it.
For obvious reasons. Just phenomenal. That and the MC5’s Kick Out the Jams are the two probably most exciting and edgy and dangerous albums ever done. Live at Leeds… John Entwistle, I mean, enough said. What can you say? And I just love the interplay between him and Townshend.
I was lucky enough to work with Rob Tyner in sort of ‘77, do a single with him. And, you know, that voice, but that particular album, again, three-minute, perfect high-energy pop songs. Chock-full of melody, but chock-full of a kind of danger and spirit and fun and excitement and joie de vivre.
That’s an album that I grew up with at school — we all had it at school. I just fell in love with that bass sound, and then I found it was a Rickenbacker, and I thought, yeah (laughs), one day I’m gonna own one of them. Roger Glover, I think is a extraordinary bass player. I love bass players who take chances.