Your questions answered
Charles Jenkins tackles some of life’s big questions.
– October 2012
The first album I bought with my own money
The Who Live at Leeds, from a second hand store. I had milked my older brother’s collections for far too long apparently. The first new release album I think was The Reels Quasimodo’s Dream, the title track is a cool piece of writing and production. Much earlier Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, similarly a highpoint in song construction and execution.
The album I’m loving right now
I played at Basement Discs the other day, and finally got around to picking up The Beach Boys Smile box set. It’s even better than I remember it. I also picked up an Eliza Carthy’s latest, Suzannah Espies new one, both brilliant. I got Jimmy Dowling’s latest the other night, I love Jimmy’s records. Liz Stringer’s latest. Anything by Van Walker. Alison Ferrier. The new Cactus Channel album Haptics! Good Lord what a cracker! And my new album Love Your Crooked Neighbour With Your Crooked Heart, naturally I’m loving that right now, otherwise I wouldn’t be bothering to launch it this Sunday at the Northcote Social Club this Sunday from 2pm.
My favourite party album
At the moment it is Dr John’s Locked Down. But a party needs more than one obviously. I’d start with some Hawaiin music probably, and some of the punch thanks. I’d try and fail to come across cool and sophisticated by playing some Charles Mingus at some point. I have a Kinks greatest hits with more booze stains on it than any other album, so that’s probably the winner. But if my out of tune sing-a-longs to that record should fail to impress the ladies, I’d naturally start drinking too much too quickly and play the Soft Boys ‘I wanna destroy you’ really loudly over and over, and then The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter by the Incredible String Band to finally creep everyone out so they left.
My favourite comedown album
A Whiter Shade of Pale – The King Curtis version and The Kiss by Judie Sill are two songs I could listen to a million times, coming down, trying to get back up again, hoping to mesh the rapidly diminishing pieces of my brain back together again, whatever the occasion. George Jones or Hank Williams or Randy Newman’s debut album are good too for Sunday mornings, so too The Velvet Underground, up to a point. How about Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, it’s my sons favourite album of all time.
The most surprising record in my collection
The two I’m very pleased I own are by Carl Stalling (think Warner Bros cartoons of 1940s/50s) out takes and highlights of his orchestrations and compositions, an absolute joy ride of a record. I put it on in the car and grin like an idiot all over town. And ‘Fishing with Charlie and other selected readings’, Jim Dickinson’s spoken word album is one I return to over and over. It’s story telling at its highest.
The first gig I ever attended
Devo at Memorial Drive in Adelaide a long time ago. My school mates and I went and met them at the airport! It was the first time I’d seen people wearing long shorts. Yes folks they were ahead of their time. On stage they wore energy domes, rode conveyor belts from the front to the back of the stage, they climbed scaffolding – my performances these days with The Zhivagos are remarkably similar.
The weirdest gig experience I’ve ever had
Icecream Hands at Penquin Football Club Oval, North West Tasmania, on the back of two trucks, parked side by side in the middle of the oval. My amp on one truck, my singing mic on the other. A small leap across the abyss for each amp modification. A rider comprising of nothing but King Island cheese. A limo ride with champagne to and from Devonport airport.
The biggest non- musical influences on my music
Book stores! I begin to levitate merely thinking about entering one. They are one stop idea factories for me, I can’t walk past them and libraries. Were it not for the fact I now owe hundreds of dollars in late fees at libraries all over this town, which means I have to run past them.
The coolest person I’ve ever met
Suzanne at Basement Discs and Siobhan at The Drunken Poet/The Last Jar are sharing this award. Both smart and gracious, tireless and inspiring, they both support hundreds of local musicians with their own passions. They both look good too.
The biggest celebrity crush I’ve ever had
Alfred Russell Wallace – Co-inventor of the theory of Evolution due to natural selection, explorer, anthropologist. John Shaw Neilson. Horatio Horn Blower. People with three names are obviously big on my list. I should get myself one. Evil Roy Slade, there’s another one. Evil Charles Jenkins? Sir Isaac Newton. Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about Sir Isaac Newton! Even guys with two names I like, like Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart.
If I could hang out in any time and place in history
I’d be in the audience at Sam Cooke’s recording of Live at the Harlem Club. Dancing like a fool. Losing my mind. In the audience listening to King Curtis Live at the Fillmore. The Battle of Hastings. Hanging with Goya, Van Gogh, Picasso, Dr Who. When Otis Redding walks into Stax and convinces them to let him sing ‘These arms of mine’.
If I wasn’t making music
I’d be a beekeeper, or a cheese maker (blessed are the cheese makers) or preferably both. A bird spotter. Or maybe a deep sea diver, or a ticket inspector, preacher, priest, lion tamer, clown, comedian etc. Nothing I’d want my daughters to marry.