Jacques Brel (1929-1978)
In my opinion simply the greatest singer/songwriter/performer who ever lived. He had been dead for three years by the time I first saw a clip of him singing Amsterdam on the telly in France in 1981, but it was a mind-blowing experience that changed my life. Up until that point (having been a punk rocker) I’d thought the only way to be powerful on a stage was to shout into a microphone while someone played an electric guitar as fast as they could behind you – and yet here was a man in a suit singing with an orchestra and nobody else before or since has ever been able to touch him. Marc Almond described him as the first punk. I’ve spent my entire singing career trying to copy him.
Jake Thackray (1938-2002)
One of the finest singer songwriters ever in the
English language, criminally overlooked, he should be
treasured and revered by all. Often seen as a
'novelty' songwriter because of the humour in some of
his songs, his lyrics contain an insight and
tenderness that so many 'stars' can only dream of.
Good old Jake, he should be required listening for
every shit up-and-coming singer-so-called-songwriter
before they're allowed to smear their contributions on
a market already creaking under the weight of so much
musical effluent. Particular favourites are 'The
Bull', 'The Ballad of Billy Kershaw', 'Poor Sod', and
'The Brigadier', though trying to pick out diamonds
from so many gems is perhaps inappropriate.