To mark the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week, Far Out Magazine has teamed up with the suicide prevention charity CALM to help connect you with your favourite artists and hear how music has helped them during their darker times.
The organisation, with the full working title of ‘Campaign Against Living Miserably’, offer a free, confidential and anonymous helpline for those most in need of mental health support. At a time when millions of people have been forced to stay home during strict lockdown measures, CALM have seen a huge spike in their workload.
We at Far Out Magazine believe in music’s ability to heal. It could be the moment that the needle drops on your favourite album and provides respite from a chaotic world or, conversely, it might be the fanatic conversation you have with friends about which guitarist was the greatest. Music, it’s safe to say, has always allowed us to connect with one another and ourselves.
In support of CALM, we’re asking a selection of our favourite people to share nine records that they would prescribe for anyone they met and the stories behind their importance. Doctor’s Orders will be a new weekly and ongoing feature will see some of our favourite musicians, actors, authors comedians and more, offer up the most important records, which they deem essential for living well.
Taking on the challenge today is none other than Eccentronic Research Council (ERC). The band, formed by Adrian Flanagan and Dean Honer, have developed their synth driven sounds into a whole new entity. After convincing critically acclaimed actor Maxine Peake to star in their video a few years back, the band did what they do to every listener and whipped her up into the madness of a ERC world and now, somewhat bizarrely, she’s one of the orchestrators of the chaos.
Ranging from the best of David Bowie and right through to The Temptations with a bit of The Cramps and more in between, ECR are breaking down their prescribed audio calmness.
The CALM helpline and webchat is open every day 5pm – midnight for anybody who is finding things tough, follow this link to reach out to their specialist advisors. CALM has experienced a record surge in demand for their helpline recently… 37% more daily calls in the first week of lockdown, to be precise.
For now though, if some sonic relief will ease your mind, relax and let Eccentronic Research Council provide the soundtrack.
Eccentronic Research Council’s 9 essential albums:
666 – Aphrodite’s Child
Maxine Peake: “Adrian Flanagan introduced me to this marvel of music making and it’s posted Kaftan housewives choice, Demis Roussos.”
The Cramps – Smell of Female
Adrian Flanagan: “This album was my ground zero into a whole world of weird and wonderful sleazy music and the start of me becoming, dare I say it, a ‘musician’. I bought this album when I was 13 years old from Piccadilly Records in Manchester, the same week my dad brought me home a second hand Kay’s catalogue electric guitar that was left in a house he was renovating.
“I was brought up on Elvis and rock and roll so The Cramps didn’t entirely ‘break my mind’ — but they sparked something in me that changed everything for me and enriched my life with something wild, raw and sexy — it was also the first album I learnt how to play all Poison Ivy’s guitar parts on my new guitar. From listening to the Cramps, that brought me to the Pebbles & Nuggets compilation albums and a whole lot of ace R&B, garage rock, sleazy rockabilly and blues and a whole other world of ridiculous B-movies…from this point on I bought myself a baseball jacket and had my hair cut into a flat top and, instead of people shouting ‘Yo Adrian’ at me Rocky style in the playground, they now shouted ‘Draygo’ at me…Rocky’s flat-topped nemesis!
“I didn’t give a shit though because in my head I was no longer like them, I had a plan, I was gonna see the world and work with all my heroes…that was my period of puberty and I’ve not really wavered from it since!(ha!)”
Some Bizzare Album – Compilation album
Dean Honer: “1981 I’d just discovered local band Depeche Mode, Basildon was a few miles up the road from me. I’d been a member of the various youth tribes in the previous three years, Soul Boy, Punk, Two Tone Skinhead/Mod but this was different and futuristic.
“I bought the first Depeche single ‘Dreaming of Me’ from a market stall in Basildon and, at the same time, I bought this album. It was a revelation. Strange and much darker than DM. It featured very early songs from the likes of The The, Blancmange and Soft Cell and very weird tracks by the likes of Blah Blah Blah and Jell.
“This new wave of British electronic music led me to discover artists like The Normal, The Human League and my favourite at the time, Fad Gadget. My band at the time sacked the guitarist and drummer and we all bought synths and a drum machine.”
Nico and the Faction – Fata Morgana
Maxine Peake: “It’s a recording of her last ever performance on June 6th, 1988. Six weeks later she had left us. It’s just beautiful and haunting and the ultimate Nico.”
The Fall – Perverted by Language
Adrian Flanagan: “The best bands are the ones who open up whole new worlds of music, culture, literature to you and no group or artist has enriched me more than The Fall and Mark E Smith. This was another album I heard round an older school pals house and it petrified me at first—unlike the Cramps it wasn’t familiar music, it was almost non-music and the frontman was the total antithesis to everything else ‘the kids’ in my school were listening too.
“Mark E Smith was certainly no Simon Le Bon which, to me, was totally attractive. Eventually, The Fall helped me desensitise myself to their left-handed krautish horror stories and I pretty much jumped into their vast back catalogue with both feet and without a safety net and, still to this day, they are some of the most precious things in my record collection. Days after me hearing this album for the first time, Mark E Smith walked past me in the street in Salford wearing a long Crombie coat with a suit jacket underneath and riding boots on—it was the height of summer but he looked as cool as fuck!
“It just happened he lived in the next street to my mam and dads house. A few years later I did my first live gigs supporting The Fall (aged 16) at Leeds & Keele University, I was so nervous that I think I threw up solidly before and after we played. Being neighbours and that I got to know Mark and his family quite well in my twenties. A very funny, generous and inspiring man and I’m struggling to cope with the fact they’ll never be another proper Fall album, without a doubt the greatest group that ever was!”
David Bowie – Low
Dean Honer: “In 1981 I started going out to a club called Crocs in Rayleigh in Essex. It was called Crocs because it had two live crocodiles in a glass enclosure in the club. They used to play a great selection of tracks, new wave, electronic music and also influential stuff from the past.
“They played a weird harmonica lead instrumental, ‘A New Career In A New Town’ from Bowie’s Low album. I liked Bowie, mainly because of my older siblings being into him in the early ’70s. But this album seemed to fit in perfectly with what was going on at the time even though it was four-years-old.
“It was also the first time that I had noticed that Eno was a producer, not just an ex-member of Roxy Music. When the internet finally arrived, it made discovering new music so much easier. I was able to track down Eno’s numerous projects, which were for me, a gateway to bands like Cluster, Harmonia, Roedelius and Neu, which is all I listen too nowadays.”
I Am Moron – The Lovely Eggs
Maxine Peake: “One of my most recent acquisitions. It’s a vinyl delight of psyche strangest routed in their fantastically real observations of modern existence!”
Add N to X – On the Wires of Your Nerves
Dean Honer: “I had a little 8-track recording studio in Sheffield. In 1994 my mate Parrot had bought in Add N to X to record their first EP — Vero Electronics. I loved what they were doing. It was experimental electronic music that was completely separate from the techno, dance and ambient scene that was happening at the time. It was much edgier and slightly out of control.
“A few years later they contacted me and asked if I wanted to record their first album. My studio had closed by then, but I still had a little set up in my bedroom, so they came up from London and we recorded this album.
“It was the first project, (that wasn’t my own music), that I had worked on as a producer. It was really exciting as we felt like we were making something unique.
“What was also amazing was the music from the ’60s/70s that they played to me, things that I never knew existed. Bruce Haacks Electric Lucifer, The White Noise — An Electric Storm, various Radiophonic Workshop pieces, film soundtracks. This was pre-internet, so these records were rare and impossible to find.
“The album went down well and they got a deal with Mute Records off the back of it. I ended up working on more of their releases. In Sheffield they definitely inspired a new wave of synth music, bands like Fat Truckers, Kings Have Long Arms etc.”
The Temptations – Psychedelic Shack
Adrian Flanagan: “One of my favourite feel-good, party records…uplifting Motown psychedelic soul at its finest.
“Put it on, strip off and dip yer hose in treacle…things are gonna get sticky!!”