updated over 2 years ago
In 1970's London, three fervent record collectors came to be friends: John Fothergill, Steven Stapleton and Heman Pathak. They scoured record store bins and even took collecting trips abroad. They might have remained unknown, but for the fact that they were offered some cheap studio time. With no previous musical experience, they recorded a strange album and released it under the group name Nurse With Wound in January 1979. The LP included a list of artists the trio admired - many for obvious reasons, others for a single outstanding track. The list was a group effort omitting some individual's favorites and seemingly including a few not enthusiastically loved by all. Due to Steven Stapleton's provocative sleeve design, the LP sold well amidst the excited commercialism of punk and industrial music. A year later, reduced to the duo of John and Steve, the group released a second LP with an updated version of the list including new discoveries, many of them new artists. This extended list offered further details on the artists listed to those writing in. Here the list ends. Both of these LPs were limited editions of 500 (although would be reissued in later years), and nothing similar was offered in future releases. In the world of collectors, these two LPs and their inserts became important reference guides to younger collectors pointing them to what to explore. While some have painting this list as a checklist of experimental artists that have influenced Nurse With Wound, the truth is that the artists include cover a wide range. The insert does after all open with the words, "categories strain, crack and sometimes break, under their burden - step out of the space provided". It would seem that the artists were selected specifically for their ability to cross boundaries. That said, many of the names here come from the world of progressive rock. Perhaps if the members of Nurse With Wound could play instruments, they would have been a rock band instead of an experimental one.
Many people have speculated what specific album an artist is on the list for missing the point that several were included for making many great records, while a few just made one good track surrounded by crap. Also, it is a very subjective list. There are a host of very talented artists from this time period that are omitted (and quite possibly were enjoyed by one member of NWW), and several that it can be hard to see the interest in. For example, given the strong representation of the German scene, it is surprising not to see Embryo included. Also, despite the international flavor of the list, there is a conspicuous lack of black artists - the only ones included are Sonny Sharrock and a few in bands with more white people such as Fred Braceful in Exmagma and James Rhodes in Xhol Caravan. It seems like groups such as Sun Ra and his Arkestra and The Art Ensemble of Chicago should gain a higher place than some of the Euro improv groups included on the list.