The sounds that shaped Slowdive: Neil Halstead picks his favourite albums of all time
As a member of the integral shoegaze band, Slowdive, Neil Halstead worked alongside Simon Scott and Rachel Goswell to become one of the most influential bands of modern times. Here we take a look through his favourite albums of all time and sees the sounds that shaped Slowdive.
During the late eighties and early nineties Slowdive would change the face of rock music. They departed from the baggy scene with a waft of intellectual prowess and sneered at the rise of Grunge until they disbanded in 1995. Reforming in 2014 they shared their self-titled album in 2017 to mass critical acclaim.
The list features some of the music world’s greatest with Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Byrds and Leonard Cohen all listed out as some of Halstead’s favourite records. In the list, the singer picks albums which influenced his formative years in music and the odd haircut too. We’ve pulled it all together in one perfect playlist.
The good people at The Quietus asked the legendary singer and guitarist for the dream-pop Gods, for some of his favourite albums of all time and we’ve now turned the list into a perfect playlist – full of experimental pop, classic records and heaps of inspiration.
First up for Halstead, and so many others, is The Beatles and their iconic album Rubber Soul. He said of the selection, “When I was about 11 I saw A Hard Day’s Night on BBC Two. The Beatles and The Monkees were my way into pop music.” It feels fitting that one of the architects of shoegaze as a genre would pick, not only George Harrison’s favourite Beatles LP, but one of the Fab Four’s most experimental records.
While The Beatles offered Halstead an open door to the sixties, he wouldn’t finish his exploration there. He also found special inspiration from The Byrds’ Turn! Turn! Turn! who not only influenced The Smiths with their jangle-pop guitar but also had a deep effect on Halstead and Co.’s appearance. He told Quietus, “The reason why Slowdive had those stupid bowl haircuts is pretty much because of The Byrds.”
It’s not the only experimental record that Halstead picks either, as he not only selects a psychedelic compilation from the sixties but also finds room on the list for Aphex Twin, Talk Talk, Can and The Jesus and Mary Chain.
The latter would be an introduction to the subversive side of pop music. Halstead said of the band’s record Psychocandy, “It got me into alternative music. It was the gateway that opened the doors to all this other music. I loved the image and I loved the way the guitars sounded. Plus no one else in my school was into it, apart from Rachel. She was already ahead of me then.”
To end the list of his favourite albums, Halstead selects Bob Dylan’s perfect album Blonde On Blonde – a feature on most people’s list. Halstead says of the record, “I guess the thing with this record is that there’s a slightly psychedelic quality to the lyrics. Dylan was moving away from the political and the personal – he’s just out there. I really like the chaos of it. For me, it represents that mercurial, genius quality that I don’t think many people have.”
It’s a genius quality that, as part of Slowdive, Halstead most certainly has. As a band they changed the style, pace and face of music. Moving the brash rock of old into a more intellectual and cultured space. It’s a feat which hasn’t often been repeated and one which sets Slowdive apart from the rest.
Listen below to Neil Halstead’s favourite albums of all time and hear the sounds that shaped shoegaze legends Slowdive.
The Beatles – Rubber Soul
Various Artists – Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era/Pebbles
The Jesus & Mary Chain – Psychocandy
Cocteau Twins – Treasure
AR Kane – 69
The Byrds – Turn! Turn! Turn!
My Bloody Valentine – Isn’t Anything
Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works 85-92
Leonard Cohen – Songs of Love and Hate
Nick Drake – Way to Blue: An Introduction To Nick Drake