Ah, the Georgian town house, favoured residence of the long-established,
"didn't he do well" rock star. Inconspicuous, elegant and possessed of a
certain "Don't bother me, I've got a solo album to concoct" charm. Which is
all rather appropriate, for 51-year-old Richard Wright has, indeed, coined
it via his Pink Floyd tenure and is currently flourishing his third one-man
work, Broken China. Tucked away in an Earl's Court side street (the Wright
residence for three years), there's a green Audi estate in the drive and a
bouncing four-month-old boy named Ben in the long, thin living room.
If babies are good for anything it's interior destruction, as soon as they can move unaided, so Richard and wife Millie are enjoying their last days of decorative equilibrium. Chinese vases stand untouched by superglue, cream coloured sofas resolutely free of sick stains. In the corner there's the old joanna, covered by a dust jacket and looking decidedly unplonked of late.
"Just back from our other place in the South of France," chirrups our host, before leading us through the verdant garden and out of the back gate to "my office", where the Wright record collection resides. Laden with some choice albums, it's back over the road to the living room, to the gong announcing induction into the 1996 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and the gonk proclaiming "I Love Atlanta", to the record player with a broken turntable and, above all, to a rather entertaining discussion about Richard Wright out of Pink Floyd's favourite records.
Music From Big Pink (Capitol, 1968)
The centerpiece of this album, The Weight, is an incredible tune. I remember seeing The Band at the Albert Hall in the late '60s and in my head I can virtually hear them singing The Weight at that gig even now. The way the song is sung is so emotional I really can hardly describe it. How do you describe an emotional response to music? I could tell you that a piece moves from an E flat major to F sharp or whatever, but that's not the point at all, is it? The Band were the best thing happening at that time. When I was first in The Floyd I wasn't into pop music at all - I was listening to jazz and when The Beatles released Please Please Me I didn't like it at all. In fact, I thought it was utterly puerile. There wasn't much around at the time that excited me, but then I saw The Band and they were totally different, totally exciting. Like all these recordings there's something about this album that touches me emotionally. The music is just lovely and it makes this a particularly sentimental choice. I must also mention Tears Of Rage - a brilliant song.
Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop With Terry Bozzio And Tony Hymas (Epic, 1989) As far as rock guitarists go he's got to be my all-time hero. He started as a blues guitarist just like Clapton, but he's investigated the possibilities of the instrument much more. You probably won't know this, but when Syd left Pink Floyd we actually asked Jeff Beck to join, he was our first choice. He was doing OK at the time so he turned us down. There's one track on Guitar Shop called Where Were You? that's just this beautiful, melodic guitar sequence. I loved it so much that I took that feel for an instrumental called Sweet July on my new solo album. I wanted Beck to play on it but he turned me down. Again.
Appalachian Spring: Bernstein Conducts Copland (CBS, 1962) Aaron Copland's an American classical composer and this is his most famous work. I discovered him back in the late '60s after hearing something on the radio. Like all of my favourite music there's something in his material that touches me; I think it's the chordal progression and the melodic lines just above them that do it for me here - and the fact that it's very peaceful. When I listen to a lot of the stuff that I've played over the years I feel I've been heavily influenced by Copland, albeit subconsciously. I haven't played this in some time, but it's safely stored in the memory and pulling the album out will definitely force me to get my broken turntable fixed.
Porgy and Bess (Columbia, 1959)
I could quite happily give you ten Miles Davis records as my ten favourite records of all time. The first music I ever heard was classical, because I was growing up in the days before rock'n'roll, but then I was exposed to jazz on radio stations and started listening to the more traditional players like Humphrey Lyttelton and Kenny Ball. Then I discovered Miles
Davis' Kind Of Blue album and got very excited. Porgy And Bess is a brilliant record - the nearest thing to hearing a trumpet being made to sound like the human voice. I have to put this record on from beginning to end, becauce it stops you dead in your tracks. People might be surprised to hear me being so infatuated with jazz, but the influences in The Floyd came from lots of different areas. Syd was more into Bo Diddley; I had the more classical approach. If I was forced to pick an all-time favourite record, this would probably be it.
BRIAN ENO AND DAVID BYRNE
My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts (Polydor/EG, 1981)
I've often eulogised Eno's musical abilities, but alongside his talent he's also a very nice guy. Sickening, isn't it? This knocked me sideways when I first heard it - full of drum loops, samples and soundscapes, stuff that we really take for granted now, but which was unheard of in all but the most progressive musical circles at the time. There's a song called The Jezebel Spirit where there's a snippet of a preacher and the way the sounds were mixed in was so fresh it was amazing. And as if that wasn't enough there was also David Byrne's voice, which in itself is almost worth buying any album for.
Passion (Virgin, 1989)
I admire just about everything Peter Gabriel's ever done, from progressive to world music to pop. He's a great man with great ideas - oh, and he's a great musician. This album features instrumentals from the score that he wrote for the Scorsese movie The Last Temptation of Christ, plus some additional bits and pieces. I feel very close to this music. I think in many ways Peter hears music the way that I hear it, so I'd have to say he's a kindred spirit.
The Royal Scam (ABC, 1976)
Another wonderful band. There's something about the title track that insists I listen to it immediately. I might not have heard it for six or seven years, but it's been implanted in my brain and that's what I think makes favourite records, things that you can't get out of your head. I really admired Steely Dan and I almost picked Aja for this list, but I finally went for The Royal Scam because of that one track. What about them playing together again? I'm very wary of going to see bands that reform - can you re-kindle the magic?
Remain In Light (Sire, 1980)
Reamain In Light really knocked me out with all the cross-rythms. The bass never seems to come in where you'd expect it. If you want to hear some incredible rhythmic things that are really working then the title track's the place to be. Of course I didn't analyse it when I first heard it, but I just knew that there was something different going on. Eno does it all the time as well, which is probably why he and David Byrne get on so well. I couldn't stop playing Once In A Lifetime when I first got the album, because it was the perfect example of that fantastic Talking Heads trick where they combine quirkness with a real melodic ear. That's not easy to do, especially if you're trying to retain some integrity. You could always tell with this band that they weren't writing to be commercial - they were just doing the music that they really felt. There was something incredibly spontaneous about them. I've never seen Talking Heads live although I wish I had. That's the problem with being in a band yourself. You never have the time to see anyone play. When they're on somewhere you're invariably on somewhere else.
Symphony Number 3 (Elektra, 1992)
When I was recording Broken China, my new album, I wanted to put some percussion and drums on Sweet July but I simply couldn't get the right feel for the track. Then someone suggested that we needed something that sounded like G=F3recki. I'd never heard of him, so I went out and bought this album and now I really love it. Although G=F3recki's a classical composer I think of this music as being in the same space as Gabriel or Eno, peaceful and ethereal. The voice on it is incredibel too; it's used just like another instrument, so the whole feel is almost ambient. I admit the word suggest a lot of terrible music, but it's still the best way of describing the floaty sort of feel to it. If I'm ever tense this is the kind of album I put on.
The Colour Of Spring (EMI, 1986)
The simplicity of the songs and Mark Hollis's voice make this album just incredible. The first tune, Happiness Is Easy, says it all - nothing but a bass, a snare and a weird chord. That's Talk Talk all over, great songs and simplicity with a twist. Pink Floyd have never done anything that straightforward, except maybe Wish You Were Here, because I tend to put a lot of sound colour into the music. In some ways this type of stuff is much more brave, because there's absolutely nothing to hide behind. Why does it touch me? Hard to say, but it's got the feelgood factor, which all my favourite records have. I wouldn't choose anything that didn't make me feel happy.
Picture: Page 31. Pic of Rick sitting in an armchair in his living room looking intelligent with a lot of records on the floor around him. There's an acoustic guitar standing in an armchair in the back of the room. Text: Rick Wright, Earl's Court, August 16, 1996. "We're just back form our other place in the South of France," chirps Floyd keyboardster heart-breakingly.