Stephen Morris may well be one of the most important drummers in recent rock and roll memory. As part of two influential bands; Joy Division and New Order, Morris’ metronomic drumming has made him an instrumental musician for the modern time.
While his output is absolutely essential to the evolution of rock, we’re looking back to this 2010 interview with Quietus where Morris provided an insight into the inspiration that took, and continues to take, him into the upper echelons of music fame. Here, Morris picks his favourite albums of all time and we’ve got a new playlist to go along with it.
Morris’ drumming is unquestionable and his list of favourite albums most certainly points to that. His selections show off a deep adoration for percussionist and those which look to push the envelope. With Joy Division and New Order Morris was always at the forefront of music, always looking to make one step beyond, one step over the line. His selections all point to the avant-garde.
One particularly noticeable album, Morris selects is Steven Reich’s Drumming, which Morris describes as a pivotal LP in his life, “There aren’t many tunes here – it’s just a way of making music, really. It’s one of those things where you read the sleeve notes and listen to it and just become completely engrossed. It’s a bit pretentious being a drummer and liking Drumming by Steve Reich. But it’s basically really, really simple and primitive, and I like it. ”
Morris doesn’t just focus on the drumming side of things though. He picks from a variety of different areas – some from the past, some from the near-present. Some which are inspirational now and some which were inspirational back then. One particular album, Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express which Morris says to use to be a part of Joy Division’s backstage preparation. He said, “Joy Division used to play Trans-Europe Express before we went on stage, to get us into the zone. It worked because it gets up a lot of momentum,” he continued, “Trans-Europe Express just seemed to express an optimism – even if people see it as machine music.”
He continued to pay homage to his early life as a music lover (not player). On Picking Television’s Marquee Moon, Morris said, “This was the great danger of me picking these records – that they’d all come from 1974, but that was when I was most enthusiastic about buying records. And Marquee Moon… I just played it over and over and over again. I just love it.”
Morris did, however, look to more modern albums for his list too. He picked LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver which he described as, “easily the best album of the last 10 years. James Murphy can do no wrong, and being an unlikely frontman shouldn’t be any reason to stop you from being one. He just makes me think “I wish I’d thought of that. I wish I’d written that song.”
What culminates is a list brimming with nods to the past, present and the constant push towards the future. Stephen Morris has always been the engine of every band that he was in. Reliable and powerful in equal measure, Morris delivers a list which pops with creativity and nuance.
Listen below to a playlist of Joy Division and New Order’s Stephen Morris favourite albums of all time.
John Cale – Paris 1919
Television – Marquee Moon
Neu! – Neu!
Steve Reich – Drumming
Can – Tago Mago
Brian Eno – Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)
Sparks – No. 1 In Heaven
Van der Graaf Generator – Pawn Hearts
The Fiery Furnaces – Bitter Tea
Betty Davis – They Say I’m Different
LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver
Kraftwerk – Trans-Europe Express
DJ Shadow – Entroducing