As the revived Music For Nations label gears up to re-release the four albums by Swedish stoner metal legends Spiritual Beggars, keyboard player and former Opeth man Per Wilberg has hand-picked a 25-track playlist showcasing the classics, odds & sods that influenced ’Beggars and his own input into the band. Take it away, Per…
**Deep Purple - **Bloodsucker Every time I hear a song from this album it reminds me of why I started to play in a rock band. It’s so wild and balls out heavy, yet still extremely well performed. The combination of the middle finger attitude and insane instrumental and vocal delivery is unbeatable. I don’t exactly feel like adjusting my reading glasses while discussing phrygian scales in a gentle manner when listening to this album. I just wanna play air guitar and rock out, as you should when being caught by the rock’n’roll bug.
Motörhead - Stay Clean Being a kid in the late 70s and hearing Overkill by Motörhead for the first time was a complete mind fuck, how could anyone play this fast, raw and heavy!? Very cool song from my fave album and still one of my fave bands. I’ve always found Mr Kilmister’s lyrical wit to be just as inspiring as all the great songs and riffs through the years. Here’s to many more!
The Who - The Real Me Timeless piece of classic rock from the Quadrophenia album. The Who often had an epic vibe to their songs, something we all like in Beggars and have tried to work with a lot. Even though this is a rocker and a fairly short song it still has that certain vibe that when you hear it, you want the chorus to go on forever and ever and ever and ever…
Accept - Run If You Can Great metal band, still is. This one’s from Breaker, my album of choice by Accept. One of many classic bands we all grew up on in Beggars and really like. Riffs and leads aplenty to get inspired by, and even though I play organ in Beggars I’ve always listened a lot to the so-called twin guitar bands. I’d like to think it gives me great insight in how to approach the riff playing part of Beggars when we write songs and play live.
The Meters - Fire On The Bayou I wouldn’t say we’re a funky band as such, but we do have quite a few influences from this end of the spectrum as well. Especially the late 60s and early 70s bands/artists like Sly Stone, Undisputed Truth, Betty Davis and of course, The Meters. The playfulness and interplaying is something all musicians, regardless of genre should study with this band. If you ain’t got that swing, you ain’t got a thing!
Judas Priest - Island Of Domination In many ways the quintessential metal band and of course a huge inspiration for any heavy rock/metal band. This song with its heavy shuffle groove and middle riff breakdown could be the blueprint for many modern bands, particularly any band labelled stoner. Usually Sabbath gets most of the cred for these type of songs but in our case I’d say Priest have been just as influential.
ELP - A Time And A Place Being a keyboard player it’s impossible to ignore the influence of Keith Emerson and in a sense he’s the Hendrix of rock keyboards to me. Tarkus was the first album I ever heard by ELP and I remember listening to this on headphones at the library in my hometown as a kid. It’s a shorter riff-driven track compared to the longer suites they featured on most of their albums. It still goes back and forth between the rock and classical influences though, just as they’re known for.
Pentagram - All Your Sins Drum fill and then…RIFFS! If you don’t headbang, tap your feet or at least smile when hearing this, there’s a strong possibility you’re just never gonna get it. Out of the earlier doom bands, these guys, Trouble, Candlemass & The Obsessed always played an important role in the Spiritual Beggars riff department.
Manowar - Metal Daze Very few bands can get away with having a chorus consisting of the two words Heavy Metal without sounding like complete morons. Well, we’re all morons anyway, and that’s what I like about the NYC vikings: they’re so over the top and when playing rock or metal it has to be a little over the top to cut through. They really had a special energy on the earlier albums too, and Eric Adams is such a great metal vocalist which doesn’t hurt.
Hawkwind - Hassan I Sabbah I’ve always been inspired by the Space Lords and their way of incorporating far-out sounds to enhance the vibe of the song. Never got to see them live ’til the Palace Springs tour in 1991 and was super psyched to see they were playing my little hometown. A friend of mine had made a 4x1 meter banner saying, ”Welcome Hawkwind, please play Hassan I Sabbah”, they did and needless to say we went apeshit!
Buddy Miles - Crossfire A personal fave and a very underrated multi instrumentalist. Obviously most known for being in Band Of Gypsys with Hendrix and the California raisins commercial, but he’s done so much more. His way of making music seem so effortless, regardless if he’s singing or playing an instrument is very impressive. This one’s from the 7th Chapter album and it’s such a heartfelt piece of soulful rock. Strongly recommended.
MSG - Assault Attack The crisp 80’s production, fantastic vocal delivery, epic guitar playing and the classic Tear Gas/Alex Harvey rhythm section on board really makes this my favourite album by MSG. For those who have followed Beggars through the years I’d say it’s fairly easy to recognise the Schenker influence. Personally I’ve always had a weak spot for Bonnet and to me it’s a shame they only did one album together.
Jethro Tull - Something’s On The Move A pretty straightforward track from Stormwatch, an underrated album even though it’s got so many great songs like Dun Ringill, Orion and Dark Ages. As a 12-year-old I watched the Tull movie Slipstream on Swedish television and was immediately hooked. They got such a distinctive sound and I wish that bands nowadays would take note of this and focus a little more on identity rather than being content with belonging to a genre or a scene.
BÖC - Godzilla I hear a lot of people within the metal/rock community talk about ”strong melodies/strong choruses” etc., but whatever happened to strong riffs!? If you have a riff like Godzilla you don’t need choruses… I’ve been intrigued by these guys since I was really young and there are so many layers to this band. Moving between heavy riff rock, garage and pop sounds with really entertaining lyrics makes for a rewarding listen, and this track is no exception. I remember Fu Manchu did a cool version of this one when we toured with them in 1998.
Bobby “Blue” Bland - Ain’t No love In The Heart Of The City I heard this after hearing Whitesnake and was floored, of course. No shadow over the Whitesnake version though, and we’ve given the same treatment with ’Beggars to another standout performance of his, Dreamer. It’s on our most recent album Earth Blues, and for some weird reason his stuff seems to work well within the rock formula.
Journey - I’m Gonna Leave You Most people know about the radio hits Journey era but not the first three heavy psychedelic albums. Before Steve Perry joined the band the music was just as heavy and out-there as anything else at the time. Both Neal Schon and Gregg Rolie came from the Santana band and are very accomplished players, vocalists and songwriters. This is a heavy jammy track landing somewhere in between Mahogany Rush and Grand Funk with amazing guitar and Hammond work.
Slayer - Die By The Sword The first time I heard Beggars I could tell they came from a completely different angle than the other Swedish bands playing 70s inspired rock. It was heavier, dirtier and had lots more attitude than the other bands around, it was definitely my style. There’s a big difference in how you approach a song if you’ve listened to Discharge and Slayer as compared to Dokken and Poison. Just saying! On certain tracks you can definitely hear the Tom Araya influence in Spice’s vocal delivery when listening back to the old albums. Very cool!
Alice Cooper - Go To Hell Alice Cooper is one of those artists where you just let the music sink in, enjoy the great songwriting, smart lyrics and clever arrangements. It’s not that the musicianship is dull: on the contrary, I’d say but the whole vibe is about the concept and he’s always been a master of dragging you into his fictional worlds. All of us are Cooper fans and there’s so much classy songwriting and production qualities to draw inspiration from here, all the way from Pretties For You up to the modern stuff, like Eyes Of Alice Cooper.
Rory Gallagher - Bad Penny Classic track by a very honest musician and great songwriter. He was known for playing marathon live shows and being super dedicated to his art. The album’s called Top Priority and I got it on cassette when I was 11. I’d say it’s even more inspiring nowadays when you understand what it takes to stick to your guns through thick and thin. Unfortunately Rory left too early but he had quite a productive career which for a music fan is a great thing, since we still can enjoy the many albums by this artist.
Rainbow - Kill The King Obviously a big influence on ’Beggars. This has everything one would wish for in a traditional rock/metal song as far as musicianship and energy go. It still sounds so powerful which shouldn’t be a surprise when you have Blackmore, Dio, Cozy and Daisley in the same band, pretty impressive. I don’t care for labels so much but I’ve seen the tag ”proto-metal” being used for the early Rainbow albums and I totally agree on this, especially considering when it was released.
Frank Zappa - Dirty Love In ’Beggars I’m the Zappa nerd: every band needs one. I enjoy all sides of Zappa, from the avant-garde instrumental pieces to the more accessible stuff. At least one week every year I’m on a serious Zappa binge and I totally get lost in that vast back catalogue of his. Dirty Love is from one of the most well known albums, Overnite Sensation and has great tongue-in-cheek lyrics and some seriously groovy playing.
Saxon - Judgement Day Don’t know how many times I’ve seen Saxon live through the years but they’re always great. I’m always impressed by how they deliver their brand of metal with total class and conviction, regardless of what sub-genre is hip or not. If I could perform like Biff at his age I’d be a very proud man. We’ve talked a about doing a Saxon cover with ’Beggars so many times, maybe now’s the time? Here’s a great number from their self titled album debut.
T2 - J.L.T Me, Jan-Erik (Anekdoten) & Stefan (Landberk/Paatos & Morte Macabre) formed a band called Kajuku in 1985. We were playing originals as well as cover songs by lots of obscure 70s bands like Blackwater Park, Toe Fat, Stray Dog and T2. I love the beautiful melancholic vibe and it’s a song I think of every time I’m supposed to record mellotron or acoustic piano overdubs on something.
Mahavishnu Orchestra - Resolution When my dad played me Eternity’s Breath from Visions Of the Emerald Beyond as a kid I was totally blown away. It sounded just like Sabbath to me, heavy, dark and out there. The first two albums have an evil, almost occult vibe to them. This is a short track but it still demonstrates the power of this band. For some reason this one always makes me think of the french band Magma as well.
Gillan - Fighting Man My favourite of all the post-Purple bands. They had a sound completely their own, more contemporary than Whitesnake or Rainbow at the time. Colin Towns was my biggest keyboard inspiration when growing up and I still blush when I think of how much I’ve stolen from him. This song is from Mr Universe and it’s kinda their Stairway To Heaven. The piano playing and vocal performance are to die for, enjoy!
The four albums released by Spiritual Beggars are Another Way To Shine, Mantra III, Ad Astra and On Fire. All four are being re-released by the revived Music For Nations label, and are available to pre-order from the band’s PledgeMusic page.