We asked Rikard to list 3 albums that have played a big influence on his musical career. Read about his 3 very interesting choices here…
Rikard Sjöblom’s Gungfly recently announced the release of Friendship, their brand new studio album, due out on 9th November 2018 on InsideOut Music. Following the release of 2017’s On Her Journey To The Sun, as well as 2018’s retrospective 5CD collection Rumbling Box, the band masterminded by former Beardfish frontman and current Big Big Train member Rikard Sjöblom.
I have to have a Frank Zappa album on this list because it would be unfair not to. The sound and style of this band on this album has influenced me more than anything else musically, I would say. When I first heard it I think it was David Zackrisson of Beardfish (before Beardfish existed, mind you!) who played it to me and I was immediately taken by how tight it was for a live album. I later found out they overdubbed some stuff, but I’ve heard Roxy by Proxy and the box set with all the sets, which are completely live and the overdubs they did on the original album doesn’t take anything away from their live performance. Zappa’s melodies and harmonic language just speaks to me on a level that is unmatched, Napoleon Murphy Brock is easily among my all-time favorite singers, George Duke is my favorite keyboard player because of his groove and his chops which are just amazing, plus he uses some of my favorite keyboards: ARP Odyssey, Fender Rhodes and Clavinet. The only thing that’s missing there (although he did play it from time to time) is of course my main go-to keyboard: the Hammond organ. Roxy & Elsewhere doesn’t have a weak spot in my opinion. The band is the grooviest band Frank ever had imo plus they had a deep understanding of Frank’s music and the chops to play the more difficult stuff.
When I got hooked on Zappa I couldn’t really listen to anything else for about 5 or 6 years because nothing else was good enough. He had the best musicians and the hardest music (in rock and pop) to play. That’s when The Band came in like an antidote for me. I saw the film The Last Waltz, their farewell (well… not really, but yeah) concert and when they played ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’ it was such an emotional moment for me and I still get goose bumps just thinking about the end of that version (arguably Levon Helm’s best vocal delivery ever, period). So I got into The Band and found out they were called The Hawks at first, backing Ronnie Hawkins, and later started playing with Bob Dylan. When they moved into this house they decided to call Big Pink (Music From Big Pink being the title of their first album) they started writing and recording their first album and everyone in town just referred to them as The Band, so they ended up calling themselves that. Well, the second album is just a masterpiece from start to finish. It holds these rocking songs dealing with down-to-earth subjects such as the farmer who after a few years of drought is still defending the union while in desperation trying to stay alive basically. The aforementioned ‘…Dixie’ deals with the civil war and we follow this man fighting for the south and I just love how it portrays how the people are just cogs in a machinery, fighting for one side or another depending on where we are born and where we live. Robbie Robertson penned some fantastic songs and with the realization (and remarkable vocal blend) of Levon Helm, Rick Danko and Richard Manuel they made this beautiful album of songs that is a big favorite of mine. I haven’t mentioned Garth Hudson, the keyboardist, yet but he is also among my keyboard heroes.
I only recently realized that this album means a whole lot to me. I decided to buy a re-issue on vinyl (because Wigwam is celebrating 50 years and many of the albums have been re-issued by Svart Records) and hadn’t heard the album in maybe ten years. As I dropped the needle on the first cut I Immediately understood what an impact this made on me when I first heard it as a teenager in 2000 or 2001. It has influenced my writing for both Beardfish (‘Until You Comply’ or ‘The Stuff That Dreams are Made of’ are clear examples) and later Gungfly (‘River of Sadness’ or ‘If You Fall’) a lot and when I later read that Wigwam themselves were inspired by bands like Traffic, Frank Zappa, The Beatles and Stevie Wonder, to name a few, it’s not hard to understand because they’re all bands that I love too. Hailing from Finland, with one of the singers being a British bloke called Jim Pembroke (who also released several awesome solo albums) Wigwam also had their own thing going on of course and while they have made albums before this and continued making albums in different incarnations until today, Being is still my favorite of theirs. It’s a very political and soul-searching album lyrically, dealing with the different forces in society and the world in general and who you, as an individual, want to be, I guess. Musically it’s such a treat, not only because of the great blend of Jim Pembroke’s pop-oriented sound and Jukka Gustavsson and Pekka Pohjola’s jazzrock-infused prog, but also because their all fantastic players and singers. Pembroke has a lot of Lennon/McCartney in both his writing and singing while Gustavsson is more soul-based vocally when he’s not flying around on the Lowrey organ with his lightning-fast fingers. It’s just a fantastic album and I love it, check it out!