10 SONGS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE: BY JAMIE LENMAN
The wait is finally over! Ex-Reuben legend Jamie Lenman is back with his incredible (and highly emotional) new single Mississippi – it's yet another remarkable stage in his evolution as an artist. To celebrate his return, we asked Jamie to reveal the 10 songs that changed his life, and he courteously complied. So get ready for 10 songs that will blow you away...
Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody
JAMIE: "Let’s do these in chronological order. I’d heard The Beatles and The Searchers and ABBA in my mum and dad’s car and they’d always been the background to my life, so even though I loved them, and I still do, they didn’t really change it. I was only nine when Saint Freddie shuffled off this mortal coil and I’d never heard Queen so when they re-released Bo Rap to coincide with Wayne’s World and all the TV celebs did those silly headbanging videos I was pretty amazed. It still boggles me that these guys managed to get a seven-minute heavy metal opera to the top of the UK charts – twice! The other one is Innuendo – check it out. It was at this point I decided that the guitar was definitely for me."
Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
JAMIE: "Again, I was only twelve when Kurt Cobain OBE left us with nothing but squawky demo tapes and the Foo Fighters, and as such I’d more or less missed out on grunge. A couple of years later some cooler kids I met at school caught me up with everything that had been going on and, as overplayed as it may be, it really doesn’t get better than this. Whenever I go back to listen to it I’m always surprised at how heavy it is, even with the shiny production – it really hasn’t dulled at all in over a quarter of a century. Whatever I did musically for myself from this point, I’d always be basically reaching for this shiny pinnacle of perfection."
Coal Chamber - Loco
JAMIE: "I realise these guys are at the uncool end of an already derided genre, but if I’d missed grunge I was waiting on the platform for nu-metal and it was fucking brilliant. My guitar teacher leant me his copy of some technique magazine so I could learn a Gary Moore number but, brilliantly, the cover CD also had this track on it and after being completely weirded out I found myself going back to it and then repeating it again and again. This was a step up in heaviness from Nirvana, and it was the first time I’d heard that sort of Pantera/Sepultura style screaming as opposed to Kurt’s impassioned wails. It took me absolutely years to get it right. Remember the scene in The Lion King where little Simba is practicing his roar on that unimpressed lizard? That’s basically exactly what it was like."
Glassjaw - Pretty Lush
JAMIE: "Most people, if they have one, found their relationship with music in their teens, but even so it’s still pretty embarrassing to talk about. I’d never really related to lyrics or emotional sentiments in rock songs before (“doll steak, test meat?”) but I think this album, and this track in particular, just came along at exactly the right time. Daryl Palumbo was having girl trouble, I was having girl trouble, we were bros. Plus it was even heavier than Coal Chamber, and still is probably my favourite record of all time. The bludgeoning riffs, the soaring choruses. That’s all you need!"
Strapping Young Lad - All Hail The New Flesh
JAMIE: "One of my cooler friends put this on in his room one time and it was just a crazy noise until I heard the lyric, “Hey man, I’m gonna fuck this shit up”, which isn’t particularly clever but impressive to a seventeen year-old, and I started to pay attention. I don’t think it was even the rude words that got me excited (we’ve all worn out cassette copies of Use Your Illusion II from rewinding Get In The Ring), it was more that Devin Townsend sounded really angry and, crucially, he sounded like he meant it. I bought the album and lay on my bed trying my hardest to break through the impenetrable wall of noise… it didn’t sound like anything else I’d ever heard – practically no bass, the vocals buried in the mix, almost constant blast beats – and just when I was starting to regret spending all my hard earned coins on this bizarre rubbish, I realised I was fervently wishing that this one track would never end. I’m still annoyed that it does."
Reuben - Scared Of The Police
JAMIE: "So look, this isn’t ‘My Ten Favourite Songs Ever’, it’s ‘The Ten tracks That Changed My Life’ and if you’re in a band and none of your own songs took you in a new direction you probably aren’t doing it right. Scared Of The Police was the closest thing my old group had to a pop song when we demoed it for EMI, and even though they passed on us we put it out as a single with another company and it started us on our way. It wasn’t the fairytale smash that comes along in other people’s stories, but it got played on the radio and more importantly the thirty-quid video we made went to the top of the MTV2 charts, so lots of people saw who we were. We went from ‘who?’ to ‘the ones who done that song’ and that was pretty great."
C.W.Stoneking - Jungle Blues
JAMIE: "For most of the Noughties (are we really calling it that?) I was caught in a lovely wave of similar bands playing and writing and recording and touring, so although I did hear some fantastic music it was all part of the journey I was already on and none of it really changed my direction or me, for that matter. It was only when my band imploded that I stepped outside of music again and somehow got caught up in folk and jazz and bluegrass, most of which, I’m ashamed to say, I’d scoffed at before. I saw a little bit of Sir Stoneking playing on some TV showcase and more or less forgot about him until a few months later I remembered and looked him up and found this track. I disappeared down a banjo hole (not a sex euphemism) and didn’t come out for several years."
Down I Go - Poseidon
JAMIE: "Somehow, when I was still in the pocket jazz universe, this track reached out to me through YouTube and probably made things even weirder than they already were. Here is a crazy metal track in bizarre time signatures about Greek gods with a full on brass section and a saxophone solo. I mean, rock bands and string sections has been a cliché for decades now (guilty) and some brave folks have attempted to put trumpets into guitar music before, usually with horrible results. But here we have three super intelligent guys doing their level best to make innovative music that is also super fun and it’s incredible. You’re actually getting cleverer as you listen to it. Of course, by the time miss-the-boat Jimmy here had found them, they’d split up, but I looked at them and I thought to myself, 'I’m going to make them my friends and then they’ll get back together and we’ll play on each other’s records', and then unbelievably that’s exactly what happened. I swear to god."
Black Peaks - Say You Will
JAMIE: "My wife doesn’t like turning up early for the support bands at gigs and she’s probably right, they’re usually awful. In fact, most bands are awful. But having been that sad support band more times than I can remember, I always try to get to a show early if I can and hear what they have to offer. Because apart from showing support, you do sometimes happen upon a fantastic little gem, and that’s what happened when I first saw Black Peaks. Everyone was chatting away, pretty good band, you know, interesting technical stuff, and then the singer belts out this incredible note and I think everyone turned into stone (I may be exaggerating) and I’d found my new favourite band. Then we became great friends and collaborators and their manager became my manager and I’m super happy to be part of another scene with people making intelligent, honest music again. Hurrah!"
Genesis - Turn It On Again
JAMIE: "I realise that last one had the sort of feel of a round-up, like it probably should have been the tenth track, but last summer I ran out of CDs for my car and I asked my brother if I could borrow something for the ride home and all he had was Genesis’ greatest hits. I thought fair enough, bit of '80s nostalgia, I can dig that. I put it on and I had a great time, I was surprised by how many songs they had that I knew, you know, the usual. And then I happened to see a documentary on the telly about them, and then I went back to the greatest hits, and before I knew it it was basically the only thing I could listen to. My wife got me all the records for Christmas (not the trippy '70s stuff, just the '80s Phil Collins stuff) and I haven’t looked back. I’m literally singing Genesis in my head while I’m writing this. I can’t wait to finish up so I can go watch the DVD I just got of their 1981 tour. Do yourself a favour and put this track on right now. ONE – TWO – THREE – FOUR!"
The world's biggest selling weekly rock magazine!