To lead into an album with the line “Nile Rodgers gave me the seal of approval for Europiana,” is not a bad way to go. After a year of seemingly endless winter, both literally and spiritually, summer is finally upon us and there is no finer way to celebrate that than in the sun-drenched sounds of Europe; once you’ve thrown a healthy dose of Nile Rodgers into the mix and career-high songwriting, you’ve got yourself a chance at soundtracking the summer that we’ve all been craving.
Ahead of the much-anticipated release of Europiana, Jack Savoretti caught up with us for the latest instalment of our Doctor’s Orders feature in conjunction with the mental health charity, CALM. We’re looking at the songs that have inspired him throughout his life and led him on his musical journey to the sanguine sounds of the forthcoming “sunshine in a can” LP.
Continuing with our Mental Health Awareness campaign, 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 and day-to-day lives.
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. Now lockdown measures are starting to ease, the impact of the last twelve months has led to CALM seeing a huge spike in their workload.
We at Far Out believe in music’s ability to heal. It could be the moment that the needle drops on your favourite song 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 sees some of our favourite musicians, actors, authors, comedians and more, offer up the most important records, which they deem essential for living well.
With a selection of absolute classics in tow, Taylor eulogised a range of emotive masterpieces, some of which are detectable within Flyte’s mercurial oeuvre. The mix is a joyous collection of records that Will and the band clearly cherish, and you can find them all wrapped up in a playlist below.
Jack Savoretti’s 9 favourite records:
Una Donna Per Amico by Lucio Battisti
To kick off proceeding’s, Savoretti delved back into the archives of his life in song to focus on Lucio Battisti, the influential Italian singer-songwriter and composer who dominated the airways of the Mediterranean throughout his career from 1969 until his final record in 1994. The artist sadly passed away in 1998 but brought about a revival of his back catalogue.
“He died when I was about 15, so there was this kind of renaissance at the time which tragically happens so often when artists pass away, you kind of rediscover their music. Overnight when I was 15 everybody started coming into school with Lucio CDs,” Savoretti explains. “Everyone started looking in their dad’s car or their mum’s car looking for these things.”
Later adding, “He was such a subconscious soundtrack to my childhood because he father was listening to him a lot, and everybody was every time I would go back to Italy in the summer that’s the kind of music you would hear in the background.
“This particular album was kind of like what I’m trying to do now. He ventured away from his classic singer-songwriter sound and he actually came to London to make this record and it got more soulful, disco, funky and just more bold.”
Graceland by Paul Simon
The great thing about a seminal album is how significantly it permeates our lives. Paul Simon returned from the brink of obscurity and personal trauma in 1986 with Graceland, and the album has provided that same salvation for fans forevermore; Savoretti is no different.
As he explains, “I think that’s my desert island disc. I went backpacking when I was about 17 and I had this cassette with me, and we had this tiny boombox. And me and my friend carried it everywhere with us and the only cassette we had was Paul Simon’s Graceland and it didn’t get old. It never got boring, we never got tired of it.”
It wasn’t just out of necessity that they listened to it on that backpacking trip either, “It’s one of those albums where there’s a song for every emotion,” he adds. “It’s all covered. So many albums you put on these days and it just sounds like one long song for the whole record, Graceland is not one of those. Every song has such personality and it’s like that all the way through.”
Bookends by Simon & Garfunkel
Naturally, for many songwriters, Paul Simon represents a gold standard for his lyrics that do anything other than “tear and strain to rhyme” and the beautiful melodies that he seems to craft on a whim. Savoretti, however, evidently likes him even more than most. Simon & Garfunkel’s debut record, Bookends happens to be one of the greatest ever made and its graceful quality has never gone amiss on Savoretti ever since he first heard it.
“Well, for me Elvis is the king of rock, Sam Cooke is the king of soul, James Brown is the king of funk, but when it comes to songwriting I think Paul Simon is the king,” he says. “Bookends is just a masterclass. The simplicity of it is like a conversation with an old friend. “
Adding: “There is such nostalgia to it. It’s very beautiful too and beauty is not always put on records these days, it’s not as marketable as other things, but there’s a lot of beauty on it, it’s like looking through an old photo album, and for me, it has that same lovely effect as doing that.”
‘Tutto Al Più’ by Patty Pravo
Patty Pravo is another singer from the Old County. The Venetian musician is renowned in her homeland for the daring bravura that she exhibited throughout her career, most notably in the 1960s and ’70s before experiencing a second revival in the late ’90s. The hit ‘Tutto Al Più’ from her 1970 record Bravo Pravo is one that he has always drawn strength from.
Savoretti explains, “Patty Pravo is everything I would want to be if I was a woman. She is one of the strongest most courageous artists I have ever come across. The audacity to be so grand on some of the string arrangements and production is so cool, it’s just shameless and so confident in its presentation. Whether she was secretly terrified on the inside you just can’t tell, because it’s so cool and it has the same effect on the listener.”
Adding, “The record is intense and it doesn’t pretend not to be. In fact, it’s so over the top, but lyrically it’s very beautiful too, there’s real depth in them, they aren’t just throwaway pop.”
Déjà vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
As Alex Turner once said, “There is always that one band that comes along when you are 14 or 15-years-old that manages to hit you in just the right way and changes your whole perception on things.” For Savoretti that first seminal musical love affair was with the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young masterpiece Déjà vu.
“This was my sort of coming-of-age record,” Savoretti eagerly tells me. “I didn’t even know you could make music like this when I was young. I was just a pop kid listening to Now 21 and Now 22 things like that, before I was into music. Then I discovered CSNY and discovered three-part harmonies and discovered crucial elements of songwriting and also the live stuff, I fell in love with everything there was Laurel Canyon and California in the sixties. I had a very romantic view on late sixties America and it was all due to this record here.”
And his emotional connection with the record stretches even further than that. “My mum got me this album and I’ve never looked back since,” he adds. “I actually took her to see them at the Royal Albert Hall which was a very special moment for me that this record reminds me of. It was a great show, they’ve still got it, it was incredible.”
Late for the Sky by Jackson Browne
Jackson Browne is perhaps one of the most underrated songwriters in history and this is namely due to the fact that many people don’t realise that hits like ‘These Days’ come from his pen. Initially, Savoretti was no different, but now he lauds him in cannon of greats and says Browne has been a big influence on his work.
“I actually came to him late and I actually have my father-in-law to thank for this one because when I met my wife and went around her parents’ house for that terrifying first supper and after a few bottles of wine he said ‘so, you’re in music, what do you like?’ and I started mentioning my Laurel Canyon friends, and he was and is a huge Jackson Browne. He said, ‘oh so you know Jackson Browne?’ and I was really embarrassed because I didn’t know a thing,” he says.
Thereafter, however, he has never looked back. As he explains, “Once he got me into it, it was a case once again where the purity of Jackson Browne’s songwriting is so common to find done badly, but it’s so rare to find when it’s amazing. It’s actually hard to comprehend how honest he is in a song, he’s really, really honest. And weirdly it’s always really typical in a songwriter who isn’t that good to go too honest but the craftsmanship isn’t there.”
Concluding, “Browne marries those two things together – he can write a song with the same craftsmanship as a John Lennon or Buddy Holly but he has the honesty of a kid doing it for the first time.”
I Want You by Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye has never been too far from the dancefloor and nowhere did he capture a party atmosphere with more clarity than on his 1976 record I Want You. According to Savoretti, it’s been soundtracking his night times since he can remember.
“I just want to be there at this record, it just sounds like a party,” he says. “In actual fact, I put this record on a lot at parties. It’s that sort of record where the whole groove is so fun and improvised sounding. It just puts me in the mood.”
His connection to the record, however, is a little more visceral than merely enjoying the grooves. As he explains, “This was another one that my mum turned me on too. She was a model in London in the sixties and she actually met Marvin.”
The anecdote therein is a cracker, “She went on this trip to a sort of stately manor with him and a bunch of girls and guys. All the guys went off hunting and all the girls stayed back having drinks. Within about 20 minutes Marvin was back in the house having drinks with them because he just couldn’t bring himself to hunt. So, every sort of family get-together we ever have, after a few drinks my mum brings that story out.”
‘One of These Nights’ by Eagles
In the constant discovery and re-discovery of music, some tracks just seem to pass us by only to catch up at the next set of lights. Savoretti may have been a latecomer to The Eagles, but he’s been a big fan in more recent years, particularly their quintessential 1975 single ‘One of These Nights’.
Savoretti explains, “My drummer introduced me to this song. If I could have a theme tune to my life, then this would be the song. There is just something so badass about the intro to this song. Everything about this song has a real flick your hair arrogance and confidence.”
Adding, “I came late to The Eagles because to be honest when I was younger, I always thought they were a bit cheesy. The older I’ve gotten, however, the more I realise how brilliant and relevant these songs are.”
‘Desaparcido’ by Manu chao
The last record that Savoretti prescribes is the one that helped to define his Europiana sound. Manu Chao is a for many Europeans the leading man when it comes to the continental sound of summer, a style which Savoretti eagerly strived for on his new record.
“Across Europe and most of Latin America, this guy wasn’t big, he was huge!” Savoretti tells me. “He had been in other band’s before then he came up with this very conceptual stuff about mother nature and freedom and peace. It was just huge this album. There wasn’t a case logic without this CD in it.”
Before adding how much of an impact this hit album had on his life and his new sound. “I still go back to this record now. The minute I go on holiday this is on a playlist, this is on every summer playlist. There is a consistent progression throughout the record and it’s bizarrely good how well it fits through all the songs. I wanted my record to be sunshine in a can to capture all those things that I was missing last year when I was stuck at home. Yet there is always a touch of melancholy and nostalgia on holiday because you reminisce about childhood and stuff and this record was a big influence on that.”