Field Music Share Some Childhood Memories with “Mam’s Musical Psyche” Playlist
Peter Brewis compiles 11 tracks he’s come around to since he first heard them around the house as a kid.
When we talk about our own musical coming-of-age experiences, it often feels like the conversation is focused on, say, the first Green Day album you borrowed from your friend whose parents didn’t know what “parental advisory” means, rather than loose CDs, tapes, and records scattered around your parents’ house. For me, it was a bit shocking to come across certain titles—my parents had tons of tapes by a group called “Level 42,” a CD of Talking Heads’ mostly untalked about Naked, and a very weird LP of some lady named Kate Bush—as an adult, realizing that they existed outside of the netting between the front seats of our minivan.
It even seems pretty common that a lot of these titles wind up in my siblings’ own music collections—my brother inherited my dad’s copy of Hounds of Love (which we listen to every St. Patrick’s Day, as “Jig of Life” is the closest thing to Irish music he owns), and I intend to some day inquire, in 1,000 words or so, why Naked doesn’t get the respect it deserves. As musicians, brothers David and Peter Brewis are able to pay homage to these records in their own way, blending the influence of their parents’ sophisti-pop and Brit-funk records into the slightly anachronistic sounds they’ve experimented with over the past few decades as Field Music.
With their latest collection, Flat White Moon, arriving this Friday, Peter Brewis took the time to discuss some of these influences with us. “David and me were lucky that our parents were the perfect age to grow up alongside the explosion of popular music from the early ’60s onwards,” he shares. “Our mam especially, being a youth worker, kept up with mainstream UK contemporary pop music pretty much ’til the end of the century. The records that she bought and played throughout our childhood were pretty much dismissed by me and David when we went ‘alternative’ and sought out our own musical choices—then when we rediscovered them it was a little surprising how much of it has become part of our musical makeup. P.S. Don’t expect any deep cuts here. This is the mother’s music.”
Stream the playlist below, and read on for more words from Brewis. You can pre-order Flat White Moon—out this Friday via Memphis Industries—here.
Free, “Mr Big”
Free were massively popular in Sunderland, and we had a best-of and a live album in the house. This was sort of our introduction to “rock.” I think we got Free totally wrong when we were kids, though. We saw them as “rock”—and precursors to all of that “rock” that followed. I think they’re best viewed as a sort of very intense mix of soul and blues.
10cc, “Don’t Hang Up”
Although I think “How Dare You” this was my dad’s album, this tended to make its way onto our mam’s compilation tapes. This is a great example of the playfulness yet seriousness of 10cc—really silly in a very English way, very modular and expertly executed. It’s been a big influence on us.
The Police, “Spirits in the Material World”
A cassette of The Singles compilation was played a lot in our mam’s Ford Fiesta and we’d sing along with gusto at about the same pitch as Sting. It got us singing together, and the oddness of the “Where the hell is one?” verse probably had an impact on where we went with the music we made in later life.
Roxy Music, “The Main Thing”
The dark atmospheric groove of Avalon-era Roxy Music was not in fashion, even when Roxy Music became something that we’d admit to liking when we were making our first records. Now we realize that the late-Roxy pulse is not trivial and we’ve tried to emulate it on numerous occasions.
Soft Cell, “Tainted Love”
This was one of a bunch of singles that my mother bought for me in 1981 when I was three or four. She also bought me Green Door by Shakin Stevens, Happy Birthday by Altered Images, and The Birdy Song by the Tweets. They all hold their own dear place in my heart, but I rediscovered “Tainted Love” as my karaoke song. I made many valiant drunken attempts in my twenties, but nobody does it better than Marc Almond.
Kate Bush, “Cloudbusting”
Our mam loved the Hounds of Love record, and it was often played in full (including weird bits) on the trusty old Panasonic turntable. This track seemed magical and mysterious to me as a child, and even when I rediscovered it, and tried to figure out how it was made, it still retains it’s magic.
Simply Red, “The Right Thing”
Their first two albums were played a lot in the car in the late ’80s, and me and David had all the words and ad libs memorized (and we still do). I know Simply Red haven’t been very cool for a long time, but I really like those first albums and I can definitely hear the sharpness of a bunch of post-punk musicians trying to make their own kind of soul. I don’t think that’s a million miles away from some of the stuff we’ve done
Level 42, “Children Say”
Running in the Family was a major hit album in our house. Again, there’s a sharpness and attack which I really like. The musicianship, arrangements, and songwriting could only have come from a band who were steeped in jazz and who loved great tunes. My mam and us couldn’t have cared less at the time if they’d been into Mahavishnu Orchestra and Stanley Clarke. They were and are just total class in a glass.
Fine Young Cannibals, “Not the Man I Used to Be”
I don’t think we really picked up on FYC at the time, but somehow the mother did. I’d been watching the reruns of Top of the Pops over lockdown and when I heard this, it all came flooding back. The soft organ and delicate melody over that breakbeat was and is still something else—I intend to steal it.
Donna Summer, “Dinner with Gershwin”
A banger beyond belief. This was another compilation tape regular—in fact I recently found a tape where our mam followed the instrumental version with the vocal version straight afterward. Why not? The groove is serious, and it’s one of those tracks where every non-drum sound still has a percussive edge and gives the straightest of straight 4/4 beats variation and feel.
Five Star, “System Addict”
I was not into Five Star at the time. They seemed like five M.J. wannabes filling the gap between “Thriller” and “Bad.” So what? They were great and I was wrong. Our mam had Luxury of Life and knew quality when she heard it. This track must surely be now recognized as a classic of British pop. The arrangement is incredible.