Martin Gordon

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For the baseball player, see Martin Gordon (baseball).
Martin Gordon
Martingordon4.jpg
Martin Gordon
Background information
Born 1954
Ipswich, Suffolk, England
Genres Rock music
Instruments Bass guitar, double bass, piano
Years active 1970s–present
Associated acts Radio Stars, Jet, Sparks, John's Children
Website martingordon.de

Martin Gordon (born 3 May 1954, Ipswich, Suffolk) is an English musician, who plays bass guitar, double bass and piano.

Biography[edit]

Martin Gordon was born in Ipswich, and grew up Hitchin, Hertfordshire. He studied piano and classical guitar as a child, attended summer schools hosted by the British National Jazz Youth Orchestra, where he took lessons from Nucleus bassist Jeff Clyne and later studied harmony and counterpoint.

Gordon began his musical career in the 1970s with the Californian pop brothers Ron Mael and Russell Mael from Sparks, who were seeking a bassist after their relocation to the UK. Gordon played with Sparks on the album Kimono My House, which featured his trademark Rickenbacker 4001 bass. "This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us" and "Amateur Hour" were UK hits from that album. "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us" made No. 2 in the UK Singles Chart. After one album, Gordon and Sparks parted company.

He then formed Jet (described by Allmusic as "the first supergroup of glam")[1] and then Radio Stars, who were in reality Jet wearing different trousers. Both bands featured singer Andy Ellison and drummer Chris Townson. Jet's eponymous album was produced by Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker. Between the demise of Jet and its reincarnation as Radio Stars in 1976, he performed briefly with pioneer of American punk Ian North; along with drummer Paul Simon, Gordon played a handful of dates with Ian's Radio before rejoining members of Jet to form Radio Stars.

Radio Stars achieved a modicum of success with a single 'Nervous Wreck' which charted at #38) and two critically well-received albums Songs for Swinging Lovers and Holiday Album. The band has been anthologised with Two Minutes Mr Smith (Moonlight Records) and Somewhere There's a Place For Us (Ace Records). Ace Records re-released the Radio Stars catalogue on CD in 2003. In 2008, Radio Stars reformed for a gig at London's Blow Up Metro Club, to promote the release of live recordings from the 1970s entitled 'Something for the Weekend'. The performance featured original members Martin Gordon, Andy Ellison and Ian Macleod accompanied by drummer Steve Budney from Gordon's 2007 solo debut in Boston, USA. The band also performed one-off gigs at the Rebellion festival in London (13 December 2008) and at London's 100 Club (22 January 2010).

Session musician[edit]

Following the end of Radio Stars in 1979, he moved to Paris, France, where he worked as house producer for Barclay Records, and played bass with the Rolling Stones during the recording of 'Emotional Rescue'.[2] He returned to the UK at the beginning of the 80s, and worked as producer and in other capacities with such musicians as George Michael, Boy George, Blur, Primal Scream, Kylie Minogue, S'Express, Tiger Lillies and Robert Palmer, as well as a host of soon-to-be-forgotten minor talents.

World music[edit]

At the beginning of the 1990s, world music beckoned – kicking off in Bombay with Asha Bhosle and Boy George, Gordon recorded in orchards and deserts in Pakistan, in cemeteries in Morocco, in libraries in Egypt, in percussion schools in Ghana, in remote villages in The Gambia. After studying gamelan in Bali and recording film sound in Turkey, he formed the Mira ensemble with journalist Peter Culshaw in 1995, releasing an album 'New Hope For the Dead'. They created an elaborate theatrical presentation, which collapsed under its own weight after two performances at the Place Theatre, in London and an appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1997. He was a member of the SOAS-based (Balinese) Gamelan Kembang Kirang between 1996–1997.

Solo[edit]

Following the recording of an album in Istanbul with Turkish diva Sezen Aksu, Gordon played bass on her subsequent European tour (2002). This prompted his return to his pop music roots in 2003, via his own label Radiant Future Records.

He has six solo albums to his credit. These are The Baboon in the Basement (2003), The Joy of More Hogwash (2004), God's on His Lunchbreak (Please Call Back) (2006), The World is Your Lobster (2007), Time Gentlemen Please (2009) and Include Me Out 2013, all recorded in collaboration with Swedish vocalist Pelle Almgren. The first three solo releases were collected in a box-set titled The Mammal Trilogy (2006). Allmusic noted that 'any release that reminds the world of the brilliance of Gordon's first three 21st century solo albums can only be applauded'.[3] His solo albums also feature a selection of Lennon–McCartney and Gilbert & Sullivan tunes alongside Gordon originals. In 2007 Gordon made his live debut as a solo performer in Boston, United States.

Gordon's album God is on His Lunchbreak was accompanied by a book detailing the origins of the material, lyrics and assorted musing entitled The Illustrated and Annotated 'God's on His Lunchbreak, Please Call Back' Companion Volume, with illustrations by drummer Chris Townson,.[4] The fifth part of the Mammal Trilogy, entitled Time Gentlemen Please was accompanied by the album Time Gentlemen Please – Demos, featuring Gordon's original demos of the material (available only via his website).

Prior to the completion of their next album, Gordon and vocalist Almgren made appearances in 2011 and 2012 as part of the Swedish garage-punk outfit 70-5. The sixth and final instalment of the Mammal Trilogy was entitled 'Include Me Out'[5] released in August 2013 and recorded in Berlin, Germany and Gnesta, Sweden. It was accompanied by a book of Gordon's lyrics, 'A Word in Your Shell-Like' and brought the Mammal Trilogy series to completion.

Gordon performed with (Indonesian gamelan group) Lindhu Raras in Berlin in September 2013.[6]

Equipment[edit]

Gordon is known for using the Rickenbacker 4001 bass guitar, most notably on the Sparks album Kimono My House and the later album Jet by the British group of the same name. He has stated in the Rickenbacker Forum [1] that he used H&H amplification for this recording, specifically a H&H bass combo. He used Rotosound round-wound strings to produce his benchmark sound. Such was his identification with the 4001 that he stated that he preferred to be sacked (from the group Sparks) rather than accommodate the request for him to use a different instrument [2]. In Radio Stars, he used a Rickenbacker 3001 and then, when the demands of punk became irresistible, a Fender Precision bass. In more recent times he has used Yamaha 5-string basses and Stagg upright e-basses, before returning to the Rickenbacker 4003 in 2014 [3].

Discography[edit]

Sparks[edit]

Jet[edit]

Radio Stars[edit]

  • 1977 Songs for Swinging Lovers – Chiswick Records (re-released 2006 by Ace Records )
  • 1978 Holiday Album – Chiswick Records (re-released 2006 by Ace Records )
  • 1992 Somewhere There's A Place For UsAce Records (compilation of the above releases)
  • 2008 Something for the WeekendRadiant Future Records (live in 1977/78)

Mira[edit]

  • 1995 New Hope for the DeadJVC Records
  • 2008 New Hope for the DeadRadiant Future Records re-issued version with extra material including live tracks, remixes and unreleased content – (download only)

Blue Meanies[edit]

John's Children[edit]

Solo[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ )"Allmusic > Jet biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 3 August 2006. 
  2. ^ Emotional Rescue. Satisfaction.dk.
  3. ^ Thompson, Dave. (13 March 2006) Mammal Trilogy – Martin Gordon : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards. AllMusic.
  4. ^ Martingordon.de. Martingordon.de.
  5. ^ "Martin Gordon Aug. 2013 interview on Outsight Radio Hours". Archive.org. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  6. ^ "Martin Gordon Aug. 2013 interview on Outsight Radio Hours". Archive.org. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  7. ^ ''Black & White'' album Record Collector (Kris Needs) review. Recordcollectormag.com.
  8. ^ modspeedproduction.blogspot.com Black & White album review

External links[edit]