Merrill Garbus

Merrill Garbus of Tune-yards reveals the first and last records she bought and the one she couldn’t live without


Michael Jackson Thriller album cover, 1982

Michael Jackson
(Epic, 1982)

I was probably four or five years old. Which in retrospect is really young, especially for the title track, no? I remember being completely freaked by the Vincent Price outro “rap” and running to get my parents. Otherwise I was glued to the cassette player. I still don’t like listening to ‘Thriller’ alone. Later on, in my early teens, I may have worn band-aids on my fingers to emulate ‘Bad’-era MJ…


(NuBlack Music, 2016)

I was first introduced to her when she was a collaborating artist on my monthly Red Bull Radio show CLAW and I was hooked. ‘Mighty Morphing’ was the track that got me. She shoots down all these shallow ways others define her, including white folks calling her “articulate”. You can feel the suffocation and the busting out of the box. It’s really magnificent, and she does her own supersonic production t.


Johnny Clegg & Savuka
‘Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World’
(EMI/Capitol, 1989)

I always talk about this album. It’s the one that still makes me cry in the back of the tour van when I’m sick of music, but need music. The sounds are truly 80s, so you have to get over that part if you’re new to it, but this was one of my first introductions to South African music and it is so rich, musically. It’s where I learned about extremely joyful music expressing utter heartbreak.

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