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The 10 albums that changed Justin Currie's life

Justin Currie of Del Amitri isn’t the least bit vague when discussing the 10 albums that changed his life.

By Chris M. Junior


As a songwriter, Justin Currie of Del Amitri fame says he tends to gravitate toward “the ambiguity of feelings.”

But Currie — whose second solo album, “The Great War” (Rykodisc), was released in early May — isn’t the least bit vague when discussing the 10 albums that changed his life.

The Feelies
Crazy Rhythms
Del Amitri modeled everything they did from 1980 to 1982 on this album. Clean guitars, abstruse lyrics about shyness and reticence and beautifully recorded — it was everything we aspired to.

The Damned
Damned Damned Damned
This, for me, is the best punk record. It’s deranged in a way that [The Sex Pistols’] “Never Mind the Bollocks” isn’t. … Rat Scabies’ drumming is a thing of sublime madness, and Brian James was by far the best punk rock guitarist.

The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground

It is sensuous and wry and perfect. Everything is so impossibly quiet, close and personal but poised at the point of fracturing into violent mayhem. Many bands have tried, but this is unbeatable.

Bob Dylan
The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
I took a formative trip to London in my teens with one of Del Amitri’s founding members, Donald Bentley, and he had a cassette copy of this. I found it staggeringly mature and vivid and soulful.
The love songs are delightful, and it surely features his greatest acoustic guitar picking.

John Cougar Mellencamp
The Lonesome Jubilee
By 1984, Del Amitri had a new American manager, and she introduced me to post-hit Mellencamp. We were hugely influenced by the way these rock songs were arranged for acoustic instruments. Heavy drums with big stadium riffs played on fiddle and accordion: It sounds like it should be catastrophically awful, but somehow it works.

The Beatles
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
My mother came home with this album shortly after we had moved back to Glasgow [Scotland] from Leicestershire [England] in the ’70s.
Shortly after discovering this album, I inherited my mum’s old “portable” reel-to-reel machine, and my dad was kind enough to dub this album onto a blank bit of quarter-inch tape. … I must have listened to that tape a thousand times.

The Replacements
All Shook Down

I can’t count the times Del Amitri ripped this off. The thing about it is that it’s so loose and ramshackle and yet it drives and rocks, like the Stones with better lyrics.
Bob Dylan

Time Out of Mind
Here is an aging artist, deeply disaffected with the world he’s been given, groaning with distaste, disgust and an excoriating wit. The love songs are yellow with odium, the blues are pestilent and “Highlands” is the most moving and funny thing he’s written in 30 years.

Curtis Mayfield
I can’t remember the year I found this, but it is one of very few records that has made me cry. It’s heartbreaking and joyful and angry and celebratory. He sings like the most beautiful bird, and the arrangements are devilishly clever.

Gillian Welch
Time (The Revelator)
This album has a strong theme of absconding straight society to join the rock ’n’ roll circus running throughout. It is an awesome piece of oblique storytelling. I am still frightened at how good it is.

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