Ruth and Martin’s Album Club (or RAM Album Club) has taken the internet by storm since launching in January 2015, with the deceptively simple and genius concept of getting a guest blogger (increasingly famous these days) to listen to and review a classic album that they’ve inexplicably never listened to. They publish a new one each Friday, so check out their site here. You can also buy a book of their favourite ones here.
We haven’t asked Martin to listen to anything new, but he’s told us all about his favourite songs and albums instead.
This is his music…
What is your favourite song of all time?
6am Jullander Shere by Cornershop.
The whole song is sung in Punjabi and I have literally no idea what it’s about. They could be singing about blue tac for all I know – although I admit it’s unlikely. I don’t even know what a Jullander or a Shere is and weirdly, for a favourite song of all time, I can’t even sing along to it either. I’m not 100% sure where the words begin and end.
I could fix all this of course, it would take 10 minutes on google translate, but why would I?
It’s perfect as it is, and much better than all the songs that I can actually understand and sing along to.
Can you remember when you fell in love with it?
Yep, very clearly.
It was about 7 years ago, I was at work and my ipod was on shuffle. Often in that situation I’m trying to drown out the noise around me rather than actually listen to the music, but then this song came on and after about 2 minutes it had taken over my head. I’d never heard it before so looked at the display and saw that it was by Cornershop and was on some Rough Trade compilation that I hadn’t given my full attention to.
I wasn’t even a big fan of Cornershop, which probably explains why I’d never actively listened to it before, but I ended up listening to it for the rest of that day.
The phrase “it sounded like nothing else I’ve ever heard” is often overused but I genuinely hadn’t heard anything like 6am Jullander Shere before. I even ended up seeking out more Cornershop, only to find that all their other stuff sounded nothing like this either.
It’s weird, but for that 6 minutes 20 seconds they totally nailed it. They probably don’t know how they did it either.
Has a song or album ever changed your life?
All the time, in little ways. A great album can lead you places – into scenes or other artists that you may not have experienced otherwise.
To name just a few –
Hunky Dory led me to The Velvet Underground, The Smiths turned me into a teenage Smiths fan (and all that entails), If You’re Feeling Sinister filled a much needed gap in the mid-90s, and Good Kid Maad City dragged me back into modern hip-hop after I had drifted away.
The changes in my life as a result of just those four albums alone are significant – albeit not in a “I met my wife” or “stopped myself being hit by a bus” way.
Although saying that, I never have been hit by a bus so you never know.
If I had to pick an album that had the most direct, and life changing, effect it would have to be Cassadaga by Bright Eyes. It was the fact that I had ignored that album for 8 years, and that my friend Ruth is such a big fan, that led us to come up with the idea of Ruth and Martin’s Album Club.
Without that, I wouldn’t have made 60 people listen to albums they’ve never heard before. Neither would I be releasing a book this year, or even doing this interview.
If you could only listen to five albums for the rest of time, what would they be?
1) A Complete Introduction To Chess Records
2) Bob Dylan – The Cutting Edge (6 disc version)
3) Legend of The Wu Tang Clan – Wu Tang Clan’s Greatest Hits
4) Comet Gain – Broken Record Prayers
5) Madonna – The Immaculate Collection
How much of your day do you spend listening to music?
At least 2 hours – usually an hour in the morning and an hour before I go to bed.
I also iron every day, because I’m really exciting, and always listen to music when I’m ironing.
Seriously, though, people should iron more. There’s load of people walking the streets with creases in their clothes. It’s not right and it’s easily fixed.
What’s your ideal time and place for listening to music?
Whenever I’m not able to look at my phone or ipad – something I do far too often and distracts me from what I’m supposed to be listening to.
So walking is a great time to listen to music, not least because you can imagine yourself in the opening credits of a film – albeit a really boring one that involves a man walking to work whilst listening to Belle and Sebastian.
Oh and ironing is good too because, and I’m not sure I was clear about this earlier, PEOPLE SHOULD IRON MORE!
What’s the best gig/show you’ve ever been to?
Always the ones that surprise you. Here’s my top 3 –
1) I saw The Smashing Pumpkins on the Siamese Dream tour and I thought Billy Corgan with hair was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. I’m not even a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan.
2) The Inspiral Carpets headlined the Saturday night of Reading once after releasing just one mediocre album and some decent e.ps. Everyone was like “what on earth are they doing headlining?” But they were amazing – apparently they spent more money on the show than their fee and it definitely showed. I’m not even a huge Inspiral Carpets fan.
3) I once went to see The Hold Steady in Washington DC and they were being supported by a band I’d never heard of called Art Brut. I’m now a huge Art Brut fan.
Approximately how big is your music collection? And in what format?
Physically it takes up a whole alcove in my house and digitally its 11,354 songs that fit in my pocket. But I’m a huge fan of Spotify and that’s basically my record collection. It has everything – apart from Neil Young and Taylor Swift.
It may surprise some people to know that, despite running an album club and the connotations associated with that, I never listen to vinyl. I’ve always found it incredibly inconvenient and a complete waste of time.
It also means that you have to listen to all your music in just one room, i.e. the one with the record player in.
What sort of lunatic does that?
What does music mean to you?
Well, imagine all the songs in the world that you love didn’t exist and you’d never heard them before.
Think about that for five minutes
Rubbish isn’t it.
What song should we all go and listen to right now to make our day better?
I’ve probably oversold the Cornershop one so try Southern Mark Smith by The Jazz Butcher. I always play that one at least 5 times when I hear it.