Track Record: Tim O’Donovan (Buffalo Woman)


Tim O’Donovan – one half of synth pop duo Buffalo Woman and a long time DJ based in Dublin – shares his favourite records from Prince to Jean Michel Jarre. Photos by Aaron Corr.

Prince and the Revolution – Purple Rain

I never saw the movie the first time round. But the music was just too powerful to ignore. All the songs are so different and have such a personality of their own, but they still all sound like Prince. I love the fact that ‘When Doves Cry’ has no bass in it. I love the fact that Purple Rain was recorded pretty much live in a club. I love the fact that the end of ‘The Beautiful Ones’ still makes me go nuts when he starts screaming, “Do you want him…” The melodies, the synths, the funk, the sonic inventiveness of it ‘I Would Die 4 U’ with it’s incessant sequenced bass, the finger cymbals and ridiculous drum fills in Take Me With You to name but many). Prince also takes the opportunity in the first track, ‘Let’s Go Crazy’, to show you the best way to end any song ever. It’s also an excellent party starter when you’re DJing.

A Tribe Called Quest – People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm

The name and cover alone intrigued me. ‘Can I Kick It?’ was irresistible. ‘I Left My Wallet In El Segundo’ sounded like nothing else. I had to know who these guys were. The rest of the album didn’t disappoint. Lyrically, sonically, musically, humorously. It was a real musical education, with a wonderfully diverse range of samples used. Q Tip and Fyfe’s lyrics never disappointed, even if they’re just rapping about ham and eggs or wandering around chatting or going on a road trip and forgetting your wallet.And those beats taught me how to drum – find a groove and stick with it, none of your fancy stuff.

Roxy Music – Avalon

This reminds me of a wonderful ex-girlfriend. She had a copy of it and we listened to it a lot. The smooth synths and grooves drew me in. I think I loved the melancholy in Bryan Ferry’s lyrics as much as anything else. The album’s in no hurry to go anywhere, it just draws you in after a while, into it’s smooth sophisticated world of longing and possibly emptiness. That’s a good place to be for the duration of this. Beautiful cover art too – apparently it’s his then wife-to-be in the helmet with the falcon.


Jimi Tenor – Innervision

I first came across this Finnish funk synth jazz weirdo on MTV’s 120 minutes, with his brilliant ‘Outta Space’ and accompanying video featuring lots of 50’s style girls in pink getting drunk on Jimi’s mysterious green potion, as he honks away on his sax and floats by in a shopping trolley. What more could you want? A future jazz odyssey with copious amounts of harmonies, filthy Prince-like humour, gorgeous synths and brass awaited when I finally got the album.
One of the many high points is Sugardaddy – a huge one-note filthy synth bass riff over which Jimi let’s us know he’d like to be paid for certain unnamed acts. He’s gone on into more cosmic jazz territory of late, with a great album featuring Tony Allen on drums one of my favourites.

Queens of the Stone Age – Songs for the Deaf

I recall I bought this as a present for myself in London after one of my first paid gigs as a professional drummer. I had to wait til I got home to Dublin to actually play the thing, and boy did it not disappoint. Every bloody song had ace riffs, guitar tone unlike any other band, awesome and creepy melodies delivered by three completely different sounding vocalists. Oh, and it had Dave Grohl on drums. I’d never heard drumming like it. I’d also never heard rock music that had such a groove to it, yet it wasn’t in any way funky. Weird. The sonic blend of Josh Homme’s choirboy falsetto, the very distinctive guitar sound he got (apparently from a hollow body guitar among other things), the ridiculous drums, the filthy bass, unearthly harmonies. I also love the trick of starting an album with a song so quiet you have to turn up the stereo and them BAM! they hit you with track two. This has a great live Kinks cover tacked on to the end too. Show’s Homme love of a good pop melody. Powerful and satisfying stuff.


Chic – C’est Chic

What can I say – Chic are dance music to me. They mean business on this album. They’re looking sharp in their suits and they’re going to make you party. The combination of Nile Rodger’s unmistakeable rhythm guitar and Bernard Edward’s awesome bass playing is irresistible. The most overlooked part of Chic is Tony Thompson on drums – he could hold a groove forever. Apparently when he started they kept removing bits of his kit so he’d just concentrate on the beat and little else, and boy could he. He also hammered those skins with such conviction that Led Zeppelin got him to play their Live Aid show. Like all the best dance music, this album has plenty of melancholy shot through it, all the while making you dance, dance, dance.

Jean Michel Jarre – The Essential Jean Michel Jarre

This is the first ever album I bought. My dad took me to Metro Music in Rathfarnham shopping centre and the seven year old me I handed over my hard earned cash. Little did I know this album would cause me to be obsessed with synthesizer music forever more. Thanks Jean Michel. It must have been the otherworldly cosmic sounds that attracted me, plus the hugely memorable melody of ‘Oxygene Pt4’. I think I also love the mysterious shot of him on the cover. I stared at it for hours. It also had a bizarre Chinese tune called ‘Fishing Junks At Sunset’ which I couldn’t quite get my head around. This album took me away on a space journey any time I played it.


Money Mark – Push The Button

A synth and organ heavy, wonderfully melodic, fun pop album. He had previously release a super lo fi album, but was persuaded to tart up the production slightly on this one. He got various musicians in to help, including two of my favourite drummers, Jim Keltner on the Elvis Costello-esque ‘Tomorrow Will Be Like Today’ and the ace Russell Simmins on ‘Hand In Your Head’, which had the great camper van bunny rabbit video. All the songs sound like someone else and Money Mark at the same time, as if he’s going through his record collection and making songs of his own favorite artists. I had the privilege of supporting him live in a previous existence – lovely regular guy. I love the fact that he helped build the Beastie Boy’s studio before he started playing with them. Good to have a day job.

Daft Punk – Discovery

So. Much. Fun. Funk workouts. Chic style workouts. Electric piano Supertramp style workouts. 10cc style mellow moments. Barry Manilow samples. Vocoders everywhere. One More Time and it’s endless breakdown. ‘Something About Us’s’ sweet and tender lyrics. The completely gorgeous synths and delicious bass of ‘Voyager’. I could go on. They got that dance music should grab you instantly. They also knew how to choose and use a sample. This album really takes you on a beautiful journey from start to finish.

Stevie Wonder – Innervisions

It’s got Superstition on it!

is the co-editor / photo editor. She also contributes photos and illustrations to The Thin Air print magazine.