The rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen albums you’ve heard that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag fifteen friends, including me, because I’m interested in seeing what albums my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste rules in a new note, cast your fifteen picks, and tag people in the note– upper righthand side.) AMENDMENT TO THE RULES – DON’T SELF CENSOR, BE HONEST – WRITE ONE SENTENCE TO EXPLAIN WHY IT’S IN THERE – LOOK BACK OVER YOUR WHOLE LIFE TO KEY INSPIRATIONS (in no particular order..):
1. Blowzabella – A Richer Dust
I’m a bit of a folky at heart, and I think that I picked this up second hand at a record stall when I was an undergraduate. Blowzabella have a sound that could best be described as ‘challenging’, if you dislike hurdy-gurdies and bagpipes. Fortunately, I like them.
2. Les Troubadours Du Roi Baudouin – Missa Luba
I have Simon to thank for introducing me to this, via the Lindsay Anderson film if…. I then waited for the best part of twenty years for it to be released on CD (even to the extent of buying scratchy second-hand vinyl and getting Steve Harris to rip it).
3. The Pentangle – Basket of Light
Another schoolboy introduction, I have Jon Baldwin to thank for giving me a C90 that he’d taped from his parents’ LP. Jazz-influenced British folk rock.
4. The Grateful Dead – Aoxomoxoa
I got into the Dead in a big way when in sixth form and an undergraduate. I prefer their earlier stuff – fresher, more vital – and this is no exception. For me, the high points are Mountains of the Moon and live favourite St. Stephen (although I prefer the recording of the latter on Live/Dead)
5. Various – London is the Place for Me
I’ve acquired many of my favourite albums by chance; this was picked up in the stock clearance at the Andy’s Records in Boston (2003ish? whenever the company folded). This is a collection of Trinidadian calypsos from London in the early 1950s that record the experiences of West Indian immigrants in Age of Austerity Britain (two of the musicians – Lord Beginner and Lord Kitchener – arrived at Tilbury on the Empire Windrush in 1948). Touching and acidic by turns.
6. Various – A Treasury of Library of Congress Field Recordings
This was a recommendation by Phin Head, back when he worked in Southampton (2002ish?). A collection of American folk recordings from the 1930s and 1940s, mostly collected by Alan and John Lomax – think of the soundtrack to Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, but authentic and better.
7. Outback – Baka
Heard by chance busking in Covent Garden in 1990 or thereabouts. Mandolin and didgeridoo two-piece.
8. Carter USM – 101 Damnations
Matt Gibson was responsible for this in my first year as an undergrad. I’d heard Sheriff Fatman (who hadn’t), but he raved about Midnight on the Murder Mile so much that I (eventually) bought the album.
9. Moby Grape – Moby Grape
Cheery, late 60s San Francisco band. If they’d had the luck that the Dead had, you’d probably have heard of them. I listened to this a great deal as an undergrad.
10. Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues
Obligatory appearance by His Bobness, included mainly on the strength of Love Minus Zero (which I once, while in a sleep-deprived and hungover stupor, accused Dave Warry of snoring in tune to). Again, I listened to this a lot as an undergrad.
11. The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat
The second Velvets studio album – still with John Cale, but significantly harsher than VU and Nico. Plus, it has Sister Ray. I got into the Velvets while I was in Edinburgh,
12. Philip Glass/Kronos Quartet – Dracula
Glass’s re-scoring of the 1931 film with Bela Lugosi. Really, really rather good. I’m not a goth, btw.
13. Pulp – We Love Life
Somewhat of a return to form for Pulp after the bleakness of This is Hardcore. I’ve never understood why Bob Lind and The Night That Minnie Timperley Died didn’t get singles releases – I think that they’re the strongest tracks on the album. I always associate this album with Issy’s time as an SRT in Bath.
14. Ludwig Van Beethoven – Symphony No.9
But which recording? I’m torn between the Furtwängler recording from the 1951 Bayreuth Festival, and von Karajan’s 1962 recording with the Berliner Philharmoniker. And it’s the 9th – what’s not to like?
15. Ozric Tentacles – Strangeitude
Emmeline introduced me to the Ozrics in 1992, and I still have a well-worn C90 of Pungent Effulgent with a track listing written in her fair hand. Their inclusion on this list probably means that I’m some kind of crusty hippy, but you’d probably worked that out yourselves.