Wallace Chapman is host of pub politics show Back Benches coming back on Prime next year, and host of Sunday Mornings with Wallace Chapman on Radio Live. His first book is out on Penguin in May 2013. Here are five albums he’s loving right now…
1 – The Verlaines, Pot Boiler: I don’t proclaim to be a Verlaines fan by any stretch, despite working at Radio One in Dunedin, and flatting with the drummer for years. Never really understood Bird Dog. But there’s a warmth and a beauty in their 2007 album Pot Boiler that I love. It’s Easier To Harden A Broken Heart (Then Mend It) is a gorgeous tune, perfectly – but not overly – orchestrated. Through this album I’ve retuned my ears to a band that I previously found unlistenable.
2 – Bob Dylan, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan: Despite having a large 60s album collection there were a couple of gaping holes. One was The Rolling Stones. The other was Bob Dylan. That is until my girlfriend insisted I watch Martin Scorsese’s No Direction Home, about Bob Dylan’s life and music. Now I can’t get enough of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. In fact, of all the music we might have chosen for our wedding dance last month, Tabitha and I chose Corinna, Corinna, from this very album. Welcome to our household at last Mr Dylan!
3 – Lady Gaga, The Fame: Bear with me here. The meteoric rise of Stefani Germanotta reminds me of another New York icon female icon (who also owed an initial wave of popularity to the local gay clubs) when I was at varsity in the 80s – Madonna. The same strong punchy pop hits, the same embarrassingly catchy hooks, the same bizarre out of this world energy. The same ‘star-ness.’ Songs like Alejandro, Bad Romance and Telephone are just made for the car stereo.
4 – Richmond Fontaine, The High Country: I love this Portland band so much I have all of their albums, and just keep playing them. Not so well known, but the singer Willy Vlautin has a great way of laying down a good story. Often involving a dead end job, staying in a motel, and travelling nowhere in particular. He wrote a fabulous acclaimed short novel called Motel Life set in lonely old Reno, Nevada. This album is words set to music. File under Americana, I guess. Probably my favourite band.
5 – Weather Report, Mysterious Traveller: This, ladies and gentlemen is what we call fusion. Or Jazz-Rock. In the 70s jazz-rock was big, for others a bit uncool, and for jazz heads like me, the summit of musicality. Wayne Shorter, Jo Zawinul, Miroslav Vitous, Alphonso Johnson – giants in their field. Latin-funk, percussive, electronic, this album from deepest 1974, is a dense spider’s web of soundscapes comin’ at ya!