Tim Burgess has been a restless creative for close to four decades. The mop-haired front person became the lead vocalist of The Charlatans in 1989. The following year, the Cheshire group released their debut album, Some Friendly, a landmark release in the evolution of Madchester sub-genre baggy, which merged elements of acid house and rave music with psychedelic guitar pop.
Burgess’ creative journey has continued untrammelled over subsequent decades. The Charlatans have released a running total of 13 albums, while Burgess has put out five albums as a solo artist. The latest of these is Typical Music, a 22-song, 90-minute exploration of Burgess’ deep fascination with melody and rhythm.
In addition to his estimable musical output, Burgess has become a prolific author. His first book, 2013’s Telling Stories, recounted his experiences in The Charlatans; in 2019, Burgess’ collected lyrics were released under the title One Two Another. But it’s Burgess’ other, less autobiographical books that reveal the most about his personality.
Tim Burgess is one of contemporary music’s most passionate music fans. He looks after a constantly-expanding record collection that numbers in the many thousands. His enthusiasm for record collecting gave rise to 2016’s Vinyl Adventures from Istanbul to San Francisco, while Burgess’ lockdown project, Tim’s Twitter Listening Party, has itself sprouted two books.
Music Feeds caught up with Burgess to find out what he’s listening to, how his relationship with certain albums and artists has changed over time, and where Typical Music fits in the grand scheme of recorded music.
Tim Burgess – ‘Here Comes the Weekend’
Music Feeds: What’s the most recent album you bought?
Tim Burgess: Reset by Panda Bear and Sonic Boom. I’ve been listening to it on repeat and me and my nine-year-old son have worked out some harmonies. We’re available for gigs if they need us.
MF: What are your favourite 2022 releases so far?
TB: The aforementioned album; Bucked Up Space by Nik Void; Tchotchke; Pompeii by Cate Le Bon; Kendrick Lamar; and Molly Nilsson. It’s been a good year so far. There’s one I’m looking forward to in September too: Typical Music, heard it’s a banger.
MF: What are some records that continually sit at the front of your record collection, ones that remain cool to you through all eras of your life?
TB: New Order, The Cure, Dead Kennedys, Cramps, The B-52’s. In my teens I used to carefully curate the order that my records were in. So right at the back was anything I maybe didn’t want people to know about. I think as you get older you’re less bothered about how you might be perceived, so nowadays it’s a bit more ad hoc.
MF: What are some examples of albums in your collection that you disregarded at first only to rediscover and fall in love with much later on?
TB: Almost everything by Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. I was given them by my uncle Andrew but I think my punk stance demanded that I dismissed them as prog, which was kind of a dirty word to my generation at the time.
I sold them to augment my Exploited, Infa Riot and Anti-Nowhere League collections. As much as I still like those records now, I’m more of a fan of Nursery Cryme and The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. I restored the balance of the universe by purchasing them again. Sorry Andrew, if you’re reading this, hope I’ve made up for my misdemeanour.
MF: When you’re making a new album – be it a solo album like Typical Music or a Charlatans album – how conscious are you of the fact that it’s going to become a tangible thing that’ll be cherished and pored over in a similar manner to the way you interact with the records in your collection?
MF: It’s at the forefront of my mind. Way back to when we made our first record, I really wanted to include artwork and sleeve notes that people would enjoy and I could picture a version of myself buying it and running home to listen, just like I did each weekend. And that feeling has never gone away. A record captures the life and the exact moment just like the mosquito in amber in Jurassic Park.
MF: You launched Tim’s Twitter Listening Party in 2020, which has since given rise to a couple of books. To be able to share the experience of listening to and nerding out about music, is that a big part of the appeal of collecting records?
TB: There are so many factors that come with collecting records: an invisible link with everyone else that owns it and the solitude of enjoying it exactly, for the most part, as the artist intended.
The Listening Party made these things into a tangible and shared experience and, as we all know, there were few things that could be shared and enjoyed over the lockdowns. It set up a worldwide community that still exists today. That makes me happy.
MF: Do you ever compare your own career to that of artists you admire? Like, for instance, what era of the Tim Burgess story does Typical Music belong to by way of comparison to some of your favourite career musicians?
TB: Mid-term Little Richard with a nod to 1970s Armand Schaubroeck for good measure. One of the first reviews of the album cited “post-Beatles McCartney”. I was super proud of this so shared the quote on Twitter.
“Stay in your lane Burgess, you are no McCartney” was the first reply. Hence maybe I’ll be slower to link any other names. The glory years of yacht rock was something I was aiming for.
- Tim Burgess’ Typical Music is out now.
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