From Kraftwerk to John Cale: New Order’s Stephen Morris picks his favourite albums ever
Stephen Morris may well be one of the most important drummers in recent rock and roll memory. As part of two of Britain’s most influential bands in Joy Division and New Order, Morris’ metronomic drumming has made him an instrumental musician for the modern time.
What were the songs and records that influences him? Well, below we look at some of Stephen Morris’ favourite albums of all time and pulled together a perfect playlist to get your evening off to a great start.
His output is undeniably essential to the evolution of rock, so 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 studio and on to the stage.
Morris’ drumming is unquestionable and his list of favourite albums is surely influenced by it. His selections show off a deep adoration for both percussionists and those artists that wish to push the envelope. With Joy Division and New Order, Morris was always at the sharp end of music’s cutting edge, 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,” he explained. “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 also 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 wholly influential back then.
One particular album, Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express, is a number that Morris says to use to be a part of Joy Division’s backstage preparation when they were charging themselves for another electrifying performance. “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 said, adding: “Trans-Europe Express just seemed to express an optimism—even if people see it as machine music.”
Another artist was Velvet Underground’s John Cale, with Morris picking his solo record Paris 1919, with the drummer admitting that the selection “came to me straight away — it’s one of my all time favourite albums. It’s like the anti-Transformer; I see it as the antithesis of that record, and I definitely have more love for Paris 1919. I think it’s the best album John Cale’s ever made.”
The New Order drummer continued to pay homage to his early life as a music lover (not player). On Picking Television’s dark and brooding classic 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.