The Durutti Column, aka Vini Reilly, is my favorite guitarist of all time. His vast discography stretches over countless incredible rhythms, solos, and experimental moments of unbridled joy. To hear him play is to witness a musician in total communion with his instrument, his true voice.
For an artist with more than two dozen releases under his belt, Vini is still offering up real-deal surprises. A couple years ago, his “lost” album, Short Stories For Pauline, was finally given an official release. Recorded during the halcyon Factory Records days of 1984, it’s a mostly instrumental affair with only a hint of the sampling magic he’d go on to perfect. Naturally, it’s stuffed with transcendent moments of guitar mastery.
One of my favorite moments is the final track, A Room In Southport.
Since a bootleg has been floating around forever, I’d listened to the album half a dozen times before realizing what made this melody resonate deep in the caverns of my memory. It sounds exactly like a certain song that I spent hours with as a teenager.
That song is the Balamb Garden theme from Final Fantasy VIII.
This gorgeous instrumental seems to have been directly inspired by the Durutti Column song, and for good reason. The bucolic charm of the twinkling melody perfectly fits a futuristic, utopian floating high school in a fictional Japanese world.
Classic video game music has a secret history of inspiration from pop and jazz music around the world, a history that’s rarely acknowledged. It’s a history that I love plumbing and sharing about. My favorite revelation before today was that the underground level music from the original Super Mario Bros is a dead ringer for Miles Davis’ 30 minute epic Calypso Frelimo. Now I’ve got something even more special, even more direct.
Hear it for yourself:
I have no idea if Final Fantasy music composer Nobuo Uematsu was a big fan of The Durutti Column, simply stumbled upon this song, or was inspired in some other unknown way. But I do know that the connection is undeniable.