Classic Rock

Soundtrack Of My Life: Chris Magee

todayMarch 12, 2024 2

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We tracked down the Bopflix Films founder, Chris Magee, who reveals the pivotal records that rock his world

Chris Magee is the intrepid founder of Bopflix Films and the adventurous soul that’s travelled the globe for over a decade to bring music fans into the orbit of some of the hottest acts in the world, across rock’n’roll, rockabilly and R&B through to Americana, western swing, bluegrass, country, blues, garage and far beyond.

He has brought us a truly unique and captivating catalogue of the most intimate and tasteful live performance footage around, filmed everywhere from festival chalets to vast open landscapes – and even in 360° VR. From a privileged position such as his, Magee is a prime candidate to deliver his Top 10 game-changing tunes. And it makes for a fascinating list, that takes in everything from rockabilly and rock’n’roll standards through to shadowy alt-rock. Newbies can find the Bopflix channel on YouTube (@bopflix), Instagram, TikTok and Vimeo.

 

Soundtrack Of My Life: Chris Magee Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly – It Doesn’t Matter Anymore (1959)

For many, Elvis Presley was the artist that got them into 1950s rock’n’roll but for me the gateway was Buddy Holly. I sang his songs at school at a time before I was aware that there was a worldwide scene – 15-year-old me was obsessed. There’s too many Buddy songs to love but It Doesn’t Matter Anymore is a favourite because it was one of the first that I learnt off by heart. I love the breathless, rolling nature of the lyrics and it has a superficial sweetness, but it’s full of bite.

Soundtrack Of My Life: Chris Magee Johnny Kidd

Johnny Kidd – Please Don’t Touch (1959)

For me, the first punk record – incredible energy and way ahead of its time. So many artists of the era tried to sound American but this doesn’t hide the accent and it becomes a truly British rock’n’roll record. I always mourn the early loss of Johnny Kidd and what he never got to write and, as the Pirates showed in the 70s, they were a badass punk rock band in the wrong era. It also amazes me that very little footage of Kidd survives, which is culturally criminal but gives him a greater mystery.

Soundtrack Of My Life: Chris Magee Whitey Gallagher

Whitey Gallagher – Searching (I’m Always looking) (1956)

I first heard this – and the amazing flip Gotta Roam, which my first band used for an album title – on the Country Hicks series. I’ve always been a sucker for obscure, poorly recorded songs. I feel like you have to work a little harder to hear what was intended due to whatever restraints they had at the time. The track oozes mystery – Gallagher has a distinct vocal with a haunting charm conveying loss and obsession. With the minor key and lulling pace, it’s like a lullaby evoking dusty landscapes and empty places.

Soundtrack Of My Life: Chris Magee Joy Division

Joy Division – Transmission (1979)

Joy Division was my New Wave, post-punk Buddy Holly. First encountered via the film 24 Hour Party People with Steve Coogan. Whilst Love Will Tear Us Apart is an easy classic, Transmission is on another level, the hypnotic guitar rips, it gets into your bloodstream and demonstrates the transcendent power of music, taking you to other places and putting a bazooka to your soul – all whilst managing to perfectly convey a bleak landscape of post-industrial Britain. My post-punk love started here.

Soundtrack Of My Life: Chris Magee Kate Bush

Kate Bush – Experiment IV (1986)

I grew up in a Kate Bush-loving household – there’s too many songs to pick from and easy to go full Alan Partridge, which is why I’d choose a lesser-known track with an amazing music video. Ironically, Kate Bush has been revived in the interests of new generations since Running Up That Hill became a featured track of Stranger Things, but the music video for Experiment IVseems to eerily predict the tone and mood of the Stranger Things universe – a 1980s military base overrun by a dark force, alien monster. Weird.

Soundtrack Of My Life: Chris Magee Gang of Four

Gang Of Four – What We All Want (1981)

I somehow missed Gang Of Four until quite late in life. Me and my wife were in a pub in Dublin just after filming with a band and What We All Want came on. We both looked at each other with an expression of awe – what is this!? I later found out Gang Of Four pretty much back-bone influenced many of the post-punk revival bands of the 2000s, many of whom I loved and had no clue that this was their influence. A great mix of post-punk, angular sounds mixed with dance beats.

Soundtrack Of My Life: Chris Magee The White Stripes

The White Stripes – We’re Going To Be Friends (2002)

The White Stripes is one of those bands where you’ll struggle to find a bad song. We’re Going To Be Friends is sweet and minimal but the promo sold it for me and was the influence for my one-shot session videos. I love its simplicity, a single take where nothing much happens: Jack and Meg on a couch in the garden, Jack playing and Meg asleep, and right at the end Meg wakes up. The perfect expression of less is more. I was delighted to see Jack White recently liked a Bopflix session on Instagram – it’s like poetry!

Soundtrack Of My Life: Chris Magee St Vincent

St Vincent – Birth In Reverse (2014)

St Vincent is an enigmatic artist like Bowie who constantly evolves, one minute dabbling in folk, another synth-pop, then 70s disco. Always interesting and with every song coming with cool David Lynch-style videos. Birth In Reverse is a rock’n’roll driver, laced with post-punk sharpness that makes you want to dance, probably with robot moves. I first saw Annie at Brixton Academy a few years ago and despite being a solo show played to a backing track, it still felt like a band had melted my face off.

Soundtrack Of My Life: Chris Magee To My Boy

To My Boy – I Am Xray (2006)

Continuing on from my forays into revival post-punk in the 2000s, a band that seemed to go mostly unnoticed and after they split up, just vanished. A cool indie, electro, post-punk duo from Liverpool making music reminiscent of that itchy, jagged early gang of four/ vapours sound, with videos in the style of Garth Marenghi meets 80s Chock-A-Block. So far I’ve only met one person who has heard of them. I truly hope that they play again someday but at least they recorded two amazing records for posterity.

Soundtrack Of My Life: Chris Magee Sierra Ferrell

Sierra Ferrell – In Dreams (2021)

Sometimes you need a reminder the best music wasn’t all written years ago. In Nashville there seems to be a movement of new artists, channelling a punk, indie attitude through a resurrection of old-timey roots Americana, bluegrass and country. It’s blossoming everywhere and Sierra is leading the charge. When I heard In Dreams I thought it was an old obscure folk song, but was amazed to find out it was new and, more incredibly, later that day, I met Sierra and got to film her playing the same tune. The universe speaks.

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