|Born||3 May 1954|
Ipswich, Suffolk, England
|Instrument(s)||Bass guitar, double bass, piano|
Martin Gordon (born 3 May 1954) is an English musician who plays bass guitar, double bass, and piano. After a long period as band member and session musician, he embarked on a solo career in 2004. His most recent album release was in 2021.
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 in 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..." made No. 2 in the UK Singles Chart but, after one album, Gordon and Sparks parted company.
He then formed Jet (described by AllMusic as "the first supergroup of glam") and then Radio Stars. Both bands featured singer Andy Ellison, drummer Chris Townson, and guitarist Ian Macleod. 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 No. 38 in the UK Singles Chart) 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 who performed on Gordon's 2007 solo debut in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. 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). In 2017, the 4-CD box set Thinking Inside the Box was released by Cherry Red/Anagram Records, featuring the band's entire recorded output, BBC sessions and rarities.
Following the end of Radio Stars in 1979, Gordon 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. He returned to the UK at the beginning of the 1980s, 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 minor talents.
At the beginning of the 1990s, world music took Gordon initially to Bombay with Asha Bhosle and Boy George, and subsequently to Pakistan, Morocco, Egypt, Ghana and The Gambia. After studying gamelan in Bali on a Darmasiswa scholarship, he formed the short-lived Mira ensemble with journalist/musician Peter Culshaw in 1995, releasing an album New Hope For the Dead. They created an elaborate theatrical presentation, which delivered 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 and the South Bank-based (Javanese) New Music Group between 1996 and 1997. Gordon performs with the Berlin-based (Indonesian gamelan group) Lindhu Raras.
Following the recording of an album in Istanbul with Turkish diva Sezen Aksu, Gordon played bass on Aksu's subsequent European tour (2002). This prompted his return to his pop music roots in 2003, via his own label Radiant Future Records.
He has a number of solo albums to his credit, many 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'. 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.
The fourth 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. The fifth album 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).
Gordon and vocalist Almgren made appearances in 2011 and 2012 as part of the Swedish garage-punk outfit 70–5, and various performances are to be found on YouTube. The sixth and final instalment of the Mammal Trilogy was entitled Include Me Out; released in August 2013, it was recorded in Berlin, Germany and Gnesta, Sweden and was accompanied by Words in Your Shell-Like, a book of Gordon's lyrics from Jet to the Mammal Trilogy. This brought the Trilogy to completion.
An album of Gilbert and Sullivan compositions Gilbert Gordon & Sullivan, was released by Radiant Future Records in April 2016, as well as two singles, "Dump the Trump" in October 2016 and "Idiots" in March 2017. In 2018, he released the album Thanks For All the Fish and the single "Will of the People".
In December 2019, Gordon was musical director/bassist of the Liberation Orchestra for a one-off performance in Banjul, The Gambia, with the participation of members of the Ensemble Modern, Wimme & Rinne and others, within the context of the AfriCourage festival. Gordon's album OMG was released in early 2020, along with a reworking of the 'Idiots' single, entitled 'COVIDiots' and in response to COVID-activity. His most recent offering is 'Another Words', a setting to music of Donald Trump's phone call to Georgia governor Brad Raffensperger, released in 2021. At Xmas 2021, Gordon celebrated the political achievements of Boris Johnson with the single release 'Boosted'. Early in 2022, Gordon released an expanded version of 'Another Words' featuring the original audio from the Trump-Raffensperger call, entitled 'Another Words - The Phonecall'. In February 2022 Gordon released an instrumental version of the Ukrainian national anthem 'Slava Ukraini'.
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 that he used H&H amplification for this recording. 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. In Radio Stars, he used a Rickenbacker 3001 and 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.
- 2022 Another Words - The Phone Call (expanded edition) (download) - Radiant Future Records
- 2021 Another Words (CD and download) - Radiant Future Records
- 2020 OMG (CD and download) - Radiant Future Records
- 2018 Thanks For All the Fish (CD, vinyl and download) - Radiant Future Records
- 2016 Gilbert Gordon & Sullivan (CD and download) - Radiant Future Records
- 2013 Include Me Out (limited edition CD-R, then download-only) – Radiant Future Records
- 2009 Time Gentlemen Please (CD and download) – Radiant Future Records
- 2008 Hello Boston! – (CD free with first 1000 copies of Radio Stars' Something for the Weekend, then download-only) – Radiant Future Records
- 2007 The World Is Your Lobster (CD and download) – Radiant Future Records
- 2006 The Mammal Trilogy (3-disc box set compilation of the above three releases) – Radiant Future Records
- 2006 How Am I Doing So Far? (single CD compilation of the first three solo releases w/bonus tracks) – Radiant Future Records
- 2005 God's on His Lunchbreak (Please Call Back) (CD and download) – Radiant Future Records
- 2004 The Joy of More Hogwash (CD and download) - Radiant Future Records
- 2003 The Baboon in the Basement (CD and download) - Radiant Future Records
- 2003 The Baboon in the Basement Radio EP (promo-only) – Radiant Future Records
- 2013 Exclude Me In - Demos (limited edition CD-R, then download-only) – Radiant Future Records
- 2009 Time Gentlemen Please – Demos (limited edition CD-R, then download-only) – Radiant Future Records
- 2022 Dumber Than a Rock (download) - Radiant Future Records
- 2021 Booster (download) - Radiant Future Records
- 2020 Superior Jeans (single, download only) - Radiant Future Records
- 2019 Will of the People (single, download only) - Radiant Future Records
- 2017 Idiots (single, download only) - Radiant Future Records
- 2016 Dump the Trump! (single, download only) - Radiant Future Records
- 2016 Modern Major General (single, download only) Radiant Future Records
- 2011 Black & White – Acid Jazz AJXCD 234
- 2002 Music For the Herd of Herring (CD and download) - Radiant Future Records
- 2006 Pop Sensibility – Radiant Future Records (download only)
- 1995 New Hope for the Dead – JVC Records
- 2008 New Hope for the Dead – Radiant Future Records re-issued version with extra material including live tracks, remixes and unreleased content – (download only)
- 2017 Thinking Inside the Box – Cherry Red Records
- 2008 Something for the Weekend – Radiant Future Records (live in 1977/78)released 2006 Radiant Future Records
- 2002 Music For the Herd of Herring – Radiant Future Records
- 1992 Somewhere There's A Place For Us – Ace Records (compilation of the above releases)
- 1978 Holiday Album – Chiswick Records (re-released 2006 by Ace Records )
- 1977 Songs For Swinging Lovers – Chiswick Records (re-released 2006 by Ace Records )
- 2020 Jet – Sony BMG - original release made officially available digitally
- 2010 Some Flotsam – Live in 75 – Radiant Future Records live on the Hunter-Ronson tour 1975, download only, withdrawn 2011.
- 2010 Jet & Even More Light Than Shade – RPM Records (UK) – reissue of original album, expanded double album set, withdrawn 2011.
- 2002 Music For the Herd of Herring – Radiant Future Records
- 2003 Jet – Radiant Future Records reissue of original album, withdrawn 2004.
- 2003 More Light than Shade – Radiant Future Records demos for second album, withdrawn 2011.
- 1975 Jet – CBS Records
- 1974 Kimono My House – Island Records
- ^ a b "About Radiant Future Records Official Channel". YouTube.
- ^ "Allmusic > Jet biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 3 August 2006.
- ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 447. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- ^ Nico Zentgraf (19 January 1980). "Rolling Stones database 1979". Nzentgraf.de. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
- ^ a b "Martin Gordon Aug. 2013 interview on Outsight Radio Hours". Archive.org. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
- ^ Thompson, Dave. (13 March 2006) Mammal Trilogy – Martin Gordon : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards. AllMusic.
- ^ Martingordon.de Archived 21 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Martingordon.de.
- ^ "Words in Your Shell-Like - Martin Gordon". Archived from the original on 16 December 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
- ^ "Gilbert, Gordon & Sullivan | Martin Gordon". 21 July 2015. Archived from the original on 21 July 2015. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
- ^ "Rickenbacker International Corporation - Forum • View topic - Sparks Bass man Martin Gordon". Rickenbacker.com. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
- ^ "Martin Gordon - official site". Archived from the original on 24 June 2014. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
- ^ "Martin Gordon". Facebook.com. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
- ^ ''Black & White'' album Record Collector (Kris Needs) review. Recordcollectormag.com.
- ^ modspeedproduction.blogspot.com Black & White album review, Modspeedproduction.blogspot.com
- 1954 births
- Living people
- English rock bass guitarists
- English male guitarists
- Male bass guitarists
- English rock pianists
- English session musicians
- People from Hitchin
- Musicians from Ipswich
- Sparks (band) members
- Musicians from Hertfordshire
- Musicians from Suffolk
- British male pianists
- 21st-century pianists
- 21st-century British male musicians