The "New" Perfect Collection

THE NEW PERFECT COLLECTION Follow @terrytochel @tnpcollection @PgallagheretgGg

Greatest Records, Psychedelia, Punk Rock, Rock Music

The Perfect Collection was published in 1982. Subtitled “The Rock Albums everybody should have and why”, editor Tom Hibbert and his contributors selected 200+ albums, which would give you, if you bought them all, a “broad, balanced, lively, collection of all thats best in rock music”.

When this book appeared in our local library it consumed and obsessed us. It wasn’t perfect. It didn’t inspire us to track down all of the records like some other lists of the “greatest records ever made” (I’ve still not heard some of them). It included Vanilla Fudge’s The Beat Goes On which it claims is probably the worst album ever made. It included Pat Boone, Cliff Richard and Gary Glitter and omitted Howlin’ Wolf, Link Wray, T Rex and Can.

Where the book got it right was the inclusion of some records which I have never seen included in any other best of lists. It turned us on to records like The Standells’ Try It, The Seeds’ Raw & Alive and The Flaming Groovies’ Teenage Head which remain firm favourites thirty plus years after first reading about them. It included Gene Clark’s No Other and Big Star’s Radio City which were not acknowledged as classics for another decade or two.

While it included many of the big hitters and acknowledged classics, what was clear was that the rest of these albums were the real personal favourites of the contributors, the ones that you would fight for.

What we intend to do is write about the 200 or so albums that we would include in our perfect collection. While it would be tempting to only include records recorded since the books publication, it may include what we would consider glaring omissions from the original book. Like the book, if an artist has two albums of equal artistic merit, an alternative  choice will be denoted with an ‘a’. Various artist compilation were not included in the book, and will not be included here (sorry Nuggets et al) We have tried to avoid the bigger names and shine a light on those names that don’t usually figure in best of lists.

Dedicated to

Tom Hibbert, Andy Schwartz, Brian Hogg, Bill Knight, Chris Charlesworth, C. P. Lee, Chris Welch, Fran Kershner, Giovanni Dadomo, Harry, Shapiro, Ian Birch, John Tobler, Kerry King, Michael Heatley, Mike McDowell, Martin Plimmer, Mark Williams, Nigel Cross, Neville Wiggins, Peter Clark, Patrick Humphries, Paddy Poltock, Paul Whitcombe, Stephen Lee, Sally Payne.

TNPC presents… The 100 GREATEST COMPILATIONS OF ALL-TIME

Greatest Records

Right, first things first. Where the hell is James Brown?! As I sat down to analyse the results of our latest poll, it wasn’t simply that inexplicable omission which was making me feel decidedly anxious. In fact, to all you good folk who contributed: you got good taste (although The Cramps – with three collections splitting the vote – also missed the cut). Rather, it was the questions racing round my head which were making me jittery: what actually constitutes a ‘compilation’ album anyway? Why have some people included soundtracks on their lists while others have assiduously avoided them? Most crucially, one question began to niggle at me me more than any other: just how many klassic Kinks kompilations are actually out there? (The answer apparently, is seven)

With our previous polls, the inclusion of compilation albums had only been a mildly divisive issue, as among the majority of contributors there seemed to exist an unwritten code that selecting them was off limits. A few people voted for them, but it didn’t really matter. That is until now (would anyone have really noticed the trifling anomaly of The Clientele’s Suburban Light making an appearance in two polls – this time round as a compilation – without me pointing it out? Dang!)

So, the compilation album: some lovingly curated by obsessives; some thrown together randomly to become perfect accidents; label samplers; genre samplers; greatest hits packages; collections of rarities and out-takes; artist retrospectives; box sets and anthologies; mail order cassettes. They come in all shapes and sizes and most of us either love them or hate them. For many of us they may have played a pivotal role in introducing us to a band or a particular genre of music. For me a cassette of Can’s Opener was a revelation in my musical education, handed to me by a TNPC colleague and spun faithfully on those wheels until it tangled itself forever inside the machine. But by that point I’d bought most of the studio albums on vinyl. I am sure most of our contributors and readers could point to similar formative experiences.

Another reason compilation albums are important is that they ensure some genres of music (folk, reggae, R&B, soul, garage punk in particular) are adequately represented when it comes to celebrating the great and the good. Some of us are albums geeks – the LP is our bread and butter – but how much our lives have been enriched by hearing an old rocksteady tune – probably recorded on the singer’s one visit to a Kingston studio shack, singing her heart out for her three glorious minutes of fame – played on a scratchy slab of lumpy vinyl. And how much heritage and history would have been lost to us without the efforts of Harry Smith? Or even the good folks – with their exceptional taste – at Soul Jazz.

We made a late decision to disqualify Original Soundtrack albums (American Graffiti, Wattstax, The Harder They Come etc) from inclusion in the final poll. Most people omitted them in any case, and there was a certain degree of confusion regarding their eligibility. Apologies to anyone who voted for them. You shall have an opportunity to rectify that in a future TNPC venture.

What we are left with are 100 albums celebrating everything that is great about popular music. Despite my anxiety, of all the polls we’ve done, this may well be the one we are happiest with. We hope you’ll like it too. (JJ)

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Part One: Various Artists Collections

50. Pebbles Volume 3: ‘The Acid Gallery’ (BFD, 1979)

49. It’s Different For Domeheads (Creation, 1985)

48. Goodbye Babylon (Dust-to-Digital, 2003)

47. Club Ska ‘67 (WIRL, 1967)

46. Bumpers (Island, 1970)

45. Ultra Lounge 2: Mambo Fever (EMI, 1996)

44. The Psychedelic Snarl (Bam-Caruso, 1984)

43. (Thanks to Rough Trade for) A Constant Source Of Interruption (Rough Trade, 1990)

42. 20 Mod Classics (Tamla Motown, 1979)

41. This are Two-Tone (Two-Tone, 1983)

40. The In Crowd: The Story Of Northern Soul (Castle, 2001)

39. Pebbles Volume 1 (BFD, 1979)

38. Country Got Soul Volume 1 (Casual, 2003)

37. Tougher Than Tough: The Story of Jamaican Music (Mango, 1993)

36. Time To Go: The Southern Psychedelic Moment 1981-86 (Flying Nun)

35. Take Me To The River: A Southern Soul Story 1961-77 (Kent, 2008)

34. Perfect Unpop: Peel Show Hits & Long-Lost Lo-Fi Favourites Volume 1 1976-80 (Cherry Red, 2008)

33. The Look Of Love: The Burt Bacharach Collection (Rhino, 2008)

32. Wanna Buy A Bridge? (A Rough Trade Compilation of Singles) (Rough Trade, 1980)

31. This Is Soul (Atlantic, 1968)

30. Doing It For The Kids (Creation, 1988)

29. Disco Not Disco: Leftfield Dance Classics From The New York Underground (Strut, 2000)

28. Deutsch Elektronische Musik: Experimental German Rock & Electronic Musik 1972-83 (Soul Jazz, 2010)

27. Lee Scratch Perry: Arkology (Island Jamaica, 1997)

26. Tighten Up Volume 2 (Trojan, 1969)

25. On The Soul Side: Sixteen Soul Grooves (Kent, 1983)

24. Gather In The Mushrooms: The British Acid Folk Underground 1968-74 (Castle, 2004)

23. Bob Stanley & Pete Wiggs present English Weather (Ace, 2017)

21. The Pebbles Box (Hit / Ubik, 1987)

20. Another Saturday Night (Oval, 1973)

19. A Christmas Gift For You from Philles Records (Philles Records, 1963)

18. The Sound Gallery Volume One (EMI, 1995)

17. For Dancers Only (Kent, 1982)

16. The Rock Machine Turns You On (CBS, 1968)

15. Mutant Disco: A Subtle Discolation Of The Norm (Ze, 2003)

14. If Deejay Was Your Trade: The Dreads At King Tubbys 1974-77 (Blood & Fire, 1994)

13. Fast Product: The First Year Plan (Fast, 1979)

12. Get Primitive: The Best Of Pebbles (Ubik, 1986)

11. 100% Dynamite (Soul Jazz, 1998)

10. I’m Your Fan – The Songs Of Leonard Cohen (Atlantic, 1991)

9. Dave Godin’s Deep Soul Treasures: Taken From The Vaults Volume 1 (Kent Soul, 1997)

8. C81 (NME / Rough Trade, 1981)

7. Back To Mono (1958-69) (ABKCO, 1991)

6. New Wave (Vertigo, 1977)

5. C86 (NME / Rough Trade, 1986)

4. Pillows and Prayers (Cherry Red, 1982)

3. Anthology of American Folk Music (Smithsonian Folkways, 1997)

2. Motown Chartbusters Volume 3 (Tamla Motown, 1969)

1. Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era 1965-68 (Elektra, 1972)

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Part Two: Artist Collections

50. Transparent Day – The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band (Edsel, 1986)

49. Floored Genius: The Best of Julian Cole & The Teardrop Explodes 1979-91 (Island, 1992)

48. Ten Bloody Marys & Ten How’s Your Fathers – Elvis Costello & The Attractions (F-Beat, 1980)

47. The Great Twenty-Eight – Chuck Berry ( Chess, 1982)

46. Future Crayon – Broadcast (Warp, 2006)

45. Greatest Hits – Diana Ross & The Supremes (Tamla Motown, 1967)

44. The Very Best of The Byrds (Columbia, 1997)

43. 1 – The Beatles (Apple, 2000)

42. Bauhaus: 1979-1983 – Bauhaus (Beggars Banquet, 1985)

41. The World of Arthur Russell (Soul Jazz, 2004)

40. Discography: The Complete Singles Collection – Pet Shop Boys (Parlophone, 1991)

39. Terminal Tower: An Archival Collection – Pere Ubu (Rough Trade, 1985)

38. The Sun Sessions – Elvis Presley (RCA, 1976)

37. Golden Hour of The Kinks (Golden Hour, 1971)

36. Louder Than Bombs – The Smiths (Rough Trade, 1987)

35. Big Hits (High Tide & Green Grass) – The Rolling Stones (Decca, 1966)

34. Still – Joy Division (Factory, 1981)

33. 40 Greatest Hits – Hank Williams (Mercury, 1978)

32. Suburban Light – The Clientele (Pointy, 2000)

31. Bolan Boogie – T.Rex (Fly, 1972)

30. Substance – New Order (Factory, 1987)

29. Hit Singles – The Kinks (PRT, 1987)

28. Big Sixteen- The Impressions (ABC, 1965)

27. Chronicle: The 20 Greatest Hits – Creedence Clearwater Revival (Fantasy, 1976)

26. Greatest Hits – Four Tops ((Tamla Motown, 1967)

25. Snap! – The Jam (Polydor, 1983)

24. Kaleidoscope World- The Chills (Flying Nun, 1986)

23. Songs To Learn & Sing – Echo & The Bunnymen (Korova, 1985)

22. The Glasgow School – Orange Juice (Domino, 2005)

21. Cannibalism – Can (United Artists, 1979)

20. The Kink Kronikles – The Kinks (Reprise / US, 1972)

19. The Ultimate Action – The Action (Edsel, 1980)

18. Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy – The Who (Track, 1971)

17. 20 Golden Greats – The Beach Boys (Capitol, 1976)

16. Rolled Gold: The Very Best of The Rolling Stones (Decca, 1975)

15. Fire Escape In The Sky: The Godlike Genius Of Scott Walker (Zoo, 1981)

14. Andy Warhol’s Velvet Underground featuring Nico – The Velvet Underground (MGM, 1971)

13. ChangesOneBowie – David Bowie (RCA Victor, 1976)

12. Relics – Pink Floyd (Starline, 1971)

11. Greatest Hits – Sly & The Family Stone (Epic, 1970)

10. Greatest Hits – Al Green (Hi, 1975)

9. The Original Singles 1965-67 Volume 1- The Byrds (CBS, 1980)

8. Boy Child: The Best of… 1967-70 – Scott Walker (Fontana, 1980)

7. Greatest Hits / The Best of… – Leonard Cohen (CBS, 1975)

6. 1962-1966 – The Beatles (Apple, 1973)

5. VU – The Velvet Underground (Verve, 1985)

4. 1967-1970 – The Beatles (Apple, 1973)

3. Hatful Of Hollow – The Smiths (Rough Trade, 1984)

2. Decade – Neil Young (Reprise, 1976)

1. Singles: Going Steady – Buzzcocks (United Artists, 1979)

Contributors:

Andy (Birmingham 81), David N Atkinson, Marc Baines, Billy Bell, Matthew Berry, Darren Betts, Caroline Binnie, Andy Blamey, Andy Bolton, Lloyd Bolton, Stephen Boyd, Johnny Browning, Rob Chapman, Ben Cook, Stuart Cosgrove, Bob Cveticham, Laura Lee Davies, Steve Davies, Michael Deane, Jon Dennis, Mick Derrick, Andrew Divine, Philip Downer, David Everall, Peter Ferguson, Jim Ferry, Paul Gallagher, Stephen Gallagher, Ben Graham, Robert Hodgens, James Hornsey (The Clientele), Jim Howie, Maartje Jansma, Johnnie Johnstone, Harris King, Jim Lambie, Peter Latimer, Huw M, Leon Massey, Stephen Mcauley, Jim McCulloch, Raymond McGinlay, Grant McPhee, Felonious Monk, Jason Myles, Richard Oxley, Nick Portnell, Johnny Purcell, Mark Raison, Ian Rankin, Seamus Reilly, Steve Rhodes, Chris Roberts, Martin Ruddock, Keith Shackleton, David Sharp, Simon Shaw, Jonathan Small, Jason Spence, Iain Stansfield, Terry Tochel, Joan Valdes, Judah Warsky, Helen Whiteley-McPhee, Dominic Whittingham

One Vote Wonders

Here are 100 of the more curious nominations – each received only one vote.

Peter Gabriel
Ela Orleans
American Primitive
Hit The Road Stax
The Perfumed Garden

137. IF’N – fIREHOSE (1987)

Greatest Records

IF’N – FIREHOSE (1987)

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“Utter fizzle” was the sniffy dismissal of If’n which appeared in the 1992 edition of the Rolling Stone Record Guide, with a rating of one and a half stars out of five appended. It mainly referred to the sound of the record and, ok, its production is of a plain, brown paper bag variety but, at a time when what were purportedly drums were actually often the sound of doors being slammed, its understatement verged on a political declaration and was the only way fIREHOSE could have sounded without ceasing to be fIREHOSE.

It’s also the sound of a band taking its own shape but, of course, this comes with a vast caveat – if things were as they should be, fIREHOSE would not have existed at all. They came into being in the wake of the fearfully abrupt end of the Minutemen, when Dennes ‘D’ Boon, their guitarist, singer and torrential political conscience, died in a road accident. Everyone seeks to cope with bereavement in their own way; in music, bands who irrevocably lose key members have the – equally entirely valid – options of ceasing or continuing. Led Zeppelin and Nirvana chose the former; Joy Division/New Order, the Who and AC/DC decided on the latter.

The remaining Minutemen ultimately carried on but not as the Minutemen and D Boon’s colleagues required some persuading. Bassist Mike Watt and drummer George Hurley had lost a bandmate, a friend, a kindred spirit like few others; D Boon was irreplacable and, even after fIREHOSE were established as a captivating band and pyrotechnic live act, no one ever claimed otherwise. Just as Joy Division and New Order have always been rightly seen as different bands, the Minutemen and fIREHOSE had, inevitably, significant elements in common but Ed ‘FromOhio’ Crawford in no way resembled D Boon; as a performer and lyricist, he didn’t share his predecessor’s explicit political ire but anything resembling a direct imitation would have been not only pointless and contrived but in questionable taste – a charge which could never be levelled at either the Minutemen or fIREHOSE.

With the likes of Double Nickels On The Dime and Three Way Tie For Last in contention, there’s a strong likelihood we’ll return to the Minutemen (for now, their story is comprehensively covered in their chapter in Michael Azarrad’s Our Band Could Be Your Life – the title copped from Minutemen song History Lesson Part II – and in Tim Irwin’s definitive band documentary We Jam Econo.)

If’n’s title derives, depending on who you believe, from an arresting turn of phrase in the opening verse of Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right or from a hippy pastiche sung by Samantha in a 1968 episode of Bewitched; the former is the story told at the time of release and is the one my money’s on (either way, a song with the same title showed up on 1989’s fROMOHIO). It may be stoury in its presentation and production but this links to the philosophy which gave Irwin’s film its title. And in any case, like every Minutemen album – and fIREHOSE’s debut, Ragin’ Full On – it combusts with ideas, the notion of limitations to a guitar-bass-drums trio scrunched up and tossed in the bin like so many empty crisp packets. The limitations, naturally, are imposed not by the instruments themselves but by the minds and ambition of those who brandish them.

Take Anger, side one’s closer and a joint composition between Watt and his then partner, Kira. It does a fine job of imitating the eponymous emotion – ebbing, flowing, simmering and unleashing – but is all the more potent for never quite reaching an outright eruption. It’s a particular showcase for Hurley as a Terpsichore of the traps – a bit like the unwavering focus on Nick Mason during One Of These Days in Pink Floyd at Pompeii – but overall, the Minutemen’s legendary tightness didn’t slacken one degree in fIREHOSE. It wouldn’t have been demanded by the hardcore crowds both bands were often in front of – let’s face it, it would have sent quite a few less than open minds scurrying – but it was what set them apart. It came over less as the product of musicians rehearsed to destruction than, as some have observed, intuitive, jazz-oriented performers taking leaps together like synchronised divers.

It’s there again on Honey, Please, a straightforward enough title which gives little indication of the lyrical pandemonium Watt unleashes: “Meter reading, facts a-feeding/ Got a place in book o’ mason/ ‘Pert near hahd koa, almoat nearly more/I’m embarassed for showing you the other door.” Later, “Watch the watching men watching Washington” is a reminder that, however improbable things may have got in the District of Columbia over the past couple of years, it’s not actually all that far removed from certain past eras, and that fIREHOSE were still well disposed to flinging the odd political ball bearing. All to the fingerest, snappingest rhythm and a guest appearance from the most Jerry Lee of pianos.

Watt’s penchant for holding both rock music and the English language in painless halfnelsons recurs throughout If’n’. Try Making The Freeway, which hitches fIREHOSE’s distillation of funk – James Brown mashed in Gang of Four and fermented in Bad Brains – to hip-hop’s by then Mach speed juggernaut. Watt’s rhyming follows the Rapper’s Delight meter, which, in the face of advancements by Public Enemy and Rakim, was already becoming outmoded and can now sound somewhat quaint even on pioneering rap records, but how about the lines he volleys out: “Pounds, let’s say pounds is the weight of the town/Coming down all around, grinding me into round/Like the noun that’s found when you’re looking straight down/A handgun barrel firing off a round, yo!” This is bleak stuff – repression, drudgery, threat, fear – yet Watt’s delivery has a timbre of wit and swagger offsetting, but never disguising, the grimness.

Little grim, though, about Me And You Remembering. A year before Watt’s literally phoned-in appearance on Sonic Youth’s Providence, he recounts a conversation with Thurston “You” Moore about (sorry, ’bout) Richard ‘Dick’ Hell, repeatedly entreating his illustrious pal”‘member?” before it somehow reaches the sudden punchline of “You and me singing songs ’bout…Madonna!” while the not too material boys’ chattering funk and Watt’s gruffly droll delivery place it at the exact midpoint between a hip-hop skit and a Tom Waits monologue. He veers into Marlowe/Mike Hammer gumshoe territory on Operation Solitaire, a curious, twilit study of solitude written by Minutemen associates Dirk Vandenberg and John Rocknowski, where instrumentation which would dissolve if it became more muted gives way halfway through to the gentlest feedback you’ll ever hear. The meaning of “men’s machines wake ma” is pretty ambiguous – perhaps just as well – but “Showers of morning rinse away nightmares” has a good deal more unfortunate clarity. And you’d be hard put to find a couplet which evokes the gulf between the have and have not, the ostentatious and the ordinary, the getting on and the getting by more eloquently than: “Some lives cause some to stare/Others try to win operation solitaire.” Not the only game in town but how often must it seem like it for many.

The variety and the plethora of forms that fIREHOSE hewed from a traditional palette while recording If’n (over a total of 85 hours, according to the characteristically detailed sleevenotes) is even more apparent with Crawford and Hurley’s contributions. The latter raises the curtain with the album’s single, Sometimes, which is concocted from a reliably momma-used-to-make recipe – the slightest tweak to the venerable Gloria riff, a slender twist to the time-honoured tale of going on tour (“Now I’m up and on my way/Rolling night and day/Highway’s been calling my name” but also “You know sometimes, almost always/ I remain”) but Hurley’s drums, drilled to Marine standard, smuggle in an extra ingredient of a lurching rollercoaster around the toms which turns on a farthing and gives way in the chorus to the kind of tightly pinched military tattoo that general’s son Chris Frantz brought now and again to Talking Heads (Tentative Decisions, Thank You For Sending Me An Angel and, most famously, Road To Nowhere).

He has a couple more showcases before the day is done. Closer Thunder Child could legitimately be called fIREHOSE’s Toad, their Moby Dick – I’m afraid so, it’s mainly a drum solo – but, at 100 seconds of a four and a half minute songs, it’s concise as these things go and its jazz-wristed dexterity at least as close to Blakey and Krupa as Bonham and Baker, possibly closer. After all, few rock rhythm sections have ever swung like Hurley and Watt and if an economical drum solo seems like an oxymoron, it harks back, of course, to that Minutemen maxim once more. Then he contributes Backroads, a sleepy stroll which could have slipped drowsily from the pen of JJ Cale – an unlikely influence, it might seem, but, again, it carries on from the Minutemen’s variegated palette of covers; while they reinterpreted the Meat Puppets and Roky Erickson, they did the same with Van Halen and Blue Oyster Cult, not to mention Creedence; an autograph from John Fogerty to Crawford adorned the label of Ifn’s side two.

Back with Mr FromOhio, he has the loud-quiet dynamic going, firstly loud on Soon, which revolves on a recurring volcanic harmony of power chords and tom-tom detonations; the resulting thud resembles one huge rock smashed downwards on to another and Crawford’s breathless strumming in between resembles the water spring it uncovers. All of which makes it completely worthy of joining in the Namesake Series alongside the carnival of sweet noise that My Bloody Valentine unleashed a couple of years later. Then quiet on In Memory Of Elizabeth Cotton (sic), an unexpected but heartfelt eulogy for folk singer Elizabeth Cotten, who died at the age of 94 a couple of months before If’n was recorded. Crawford is sincere in his homage, admitting “I couldn’t shed a tear, I never knew you well” but, as so often happens, goes back to the music of the departed: “I am listening and it makes me grin.” When Phranc takes the notes high on a chorus which explicitly nods to Freight Train, Cotten’s best known song, it’s almost certainly the most beautiful moment ever to have appeared under the SST banner.

And so For The Singer Of REM. Possibly If’n’s most conventional song, certainly one of its strongest and probably its most discussed by virtue of its title alone, which continued a Minutemen tradition of songs – Under The Influence Of The Meat Puppets, Bob Dylan Wrote Protest Songs, Political Song For Michael Jackson To Sing – which were neither ostentatious namedrop nor unctuous homage but simply a door to another room in their house of a hundred possibilities. Once the title was chosen, the question: “so what does Michael Stipe think of it?” would be asked as surely as Justin Vernon will be asked about wintering in a log cabin. It’s not all that clear how he reacted but Watt is quoted as saying the Minutemen had heard of, but not heard, REM when the invitation came to tour with them and, while flattered, couldn’t fathom what Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe saw in them. He then proceeded to tell a lengthy and extremely odd yarn about Stipe offering him treatment for burns sustained from an exploding Volkswagen and following it up with a, seemingly unfulfilled, offer to collaborate on songwriting. But Watt came up with this song for starters and while it’s something of a mystery how all this translates into “First you dream next you’re scheming, searching through your drawer/For an oar for your trip bound for a yet uncharted shore,” the song’s locomotive pace, teeter-totter melody and battle to disentangle itself before verses make it fit to pull up a seat alongside REM’s finest moments. Some saw it as a dig; it isn’t but it’s also not so much pastiche as a proud and visceral wink of kinship. And, as we learn from We Jam Econo and Our Band…, REM were, not for the first or last time, adamant on their choice of support; the last of these gigs turned out to be the Minutemen’s last, ending with both bands together covering Television’s See No Evil.

And so that’s If’n, fIREHOSE’ “second wailer” as billed on the back cover. It’s a dripping roast of invention, gusto and, if I might be so bold, fun. That fun multiplied deliriously when they were caught live; the first time I did so, they were supporting Sonic Youth at Glasgow Rooftops (see Sister, review no 18). As well as filling us in on the highpoints of their formidable debut, Ragin’ Full On, they expressed undisguised glee at visiting Alex Harvey’s home city and the headliners were required to be on Olympic form to avoid being blown offstage; they achieved it on this occasion, though they fell short when supported by Teenage Fanclub at the Barrowlands three years later.

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The return visit by fIREHOSE, though, at Glasgow Tech in 1989, gave even more reason for their namesake apparatus to be deployed. For the Singer of REM singed; Operation Solitaire smoked; a cover of Public Enemy’s Sophisticated Bitch scalded. Watt sealed it all as he clasped his fists together and declared: “Glasgow – San Pedro – it’s a BOND!” He may have said that to all the towns but his sincerity ran through everything like a solo, not on his bass but his thunder broom.

That bond had been cemented earlier in the day, during a signing session at the long-vanished Rat Records in Buchanan Street; my request to have my Husker Du album signed (confusingly, fIREHOSE placed a picture of their mighty peers on the cover of If’n; fast imploding at the time of release, gone forever by the time of autographing) resulted in ‘Ed FromOhio’ being scrawled on the front and “Beads are now missing: Mike Watt” on the back. He’d circled the picture of himself, bass slightly askew, with a set of blue beads around his neck plotting an escape route which, he told me, they would soon find after one agitated flight too many. Truly, this man was a future Stooge (oddly, the picture of Hurley shows him similarly in the thick of performance and wearing identical-looking beads with a similar urge for freedom).

Perhaps even more than the Minutemen, fIREHOSE were a new kind of power trio, relying less on brute force and (apologies for the first and last time to Def Leppard) bludgeon riffola than on agility and fleet-footedness – but still capable of sticking it about when required. If Cream were a heavyweight boxing champion then fIREHOSE were a seventh dan in judo, casting up flicks and throws when least expected and ever alert to pounce. Fizzing? Definitely. Fizzle? Not a chance (PG).

136. BETH GIBBONS & RUSTIN MAN – OUT OF SEASON (2002)

Chamber Pop, Folk/ Folk-Rock, Greatest Records

Perhaps now is the ideal time to fall in love with Out Of Season, an album so quietly bewitching you’d imagine it wrought by spectral engineers in some abandoned woodland cottage. But it is also a record which sounds completely in love with this world of ours – although one imagines its makers had to retreat from the furious pace of 21st century technosociety in order to rediscover how to be human again in the midst of it all. It is certainly tempting to draw parallels between how ‘out of season’ this record sounded in 2002, with the disconnect from normality which many of us are experiencing just now.

Yet somehow, the clock-stopping silence of lockdown might help us make perfect sense of it. And thankfully the arrangement is a reciprocal one – listening to Out Of Season again could help you to remember the simple joy of being. Things you had forgotten. Things you have discovered. Things you have rediscovered. When Beth Gibbons sings “God knows how I adore life” (one of the great opening lines on any album) on its otherworldly opening track ‘Mysteries’, as if sharing some secret stored up for millennia, it almost causes my heart to burst free from its flesh.

Out Of Season contains several such luminous moments: the whispering wind on ‘Sand River’, the little interjections on ‘Romance’ – like popcorn poltergeist or little elfin Chordettes dancing around your ear lobes; the luscious Kirby-esque arrangement on ‘Drake’ (no explanation necessary for the song’s title) or the hypno-electrical interference and echo on the creaking finale ‘Rustin Man’, the solitary track for which the Pitchfork reviewer at the time harboured any fondness. He proceeded to slate the rest of the album, presumably for its retreat from Portishead’s visionary sampladelics.

Portishead had indeed been visionary. But if they had embraced technology, it was never for its own sake, but provided a foil for the substance underneath. They borrowed a few hip-hop beats, and sampled liberally, but the heart of their sound  was locked in a past of cold war spy film themes, lavish orchestral soul, Morricone soundtracks and jazz ballad and torchsong. Gibbons had been possibly the most gifted British singer to emerge in 20 years, much more than the caricature she was often portrayed as: stooped over the mic, bleeding Billie’s blues, lassoed by rising coils of smoke. Rather she was a perfectionist, her timing and phrasing immaculate. Webb meanwhile had been an accomplished bass player for Talk Talk, up to and including their zenith, the pastoral masterpiece Spirit Of Eden, released in 1988. He had been involved in other projects subsequently, none of which were tremendously successful. The pair were accompanied here by Portishead’s Adrian Utley amongst several other seasoned musicians. The credentials of its creators were clearly impeccable, so it is little wonder that upon its release more than a few critics – Pitchfork aside – declared it to be amongst the greatest albums ever made.

Aside from its autumnal folk leanings, the album also boasts songs of real assurance and conviction: ‘Tom The Model’, with its brassy soul chorus and ambitious string arrangement the perfect antidote to ‘Show’s’ creeping piano figure. ‘Romance’ meanwhile has that widescreen ambition in abundance, the interplay of horns and strings pitching it somewhere between Kind Of Blue, Hawaii and some lost John Barry soundtrack theme. Perfect in other words.

https://youtu.be/7hasnaQsZWo

‘Funny Time Of Year’ sails closest to Gibbons’ work with Portishead – a brooding (“I can see no blossoms on the trees”) dread doowop drone ruptured by her sudden Grace Slick banshee release as the fuzz guitar splinters into an ecstatic Michael Karoli-esque spray of sound which then evaporates to reveal some medieval string picking and a ricochet of reverb cranked up to the max . Take my word for it, it is fabulous.

And if the lyrics often betray a lovelorn pessimism – that is hard to deny, hers are songs haunted by memory and defeat, but each always contains a kernel of hope and renewal – ultimately it’s an album whose introspective beauty treasures in its heart the little secrets that make life worthwhile.

‘Mysteries’

“God knows how I adore life
When the wind turns on the shores lies another day
I cannot ask for more
When the time bell blows my heart
And I have scored a better day
Well nobody made this war of mine
And the moments that I enjoy
A place of love and mystery
I’ll be there anytime
Oh mysteries of love
Where war is no more
I’ll be there anytime
When the time bell blows my heart
And I have scored a better day
Well nobody made this war of mine
And the moments that I enjoy
A place of love and mystery
I’ll be there anytime
Mysteries of love
Where war is no more
I’ll be there anytime.”

Therapy. (JJ)

TNPC presents… SEVEN & SEVEN IS: THE GREATEST 100 TRACKS OF OVER 7 MINUTES DURATION

Greatest Records
Goes on a bit, dunnit? Anything which elicits this response from you will have had no place in your submission to our latest list, of songs lasting seven minutes or longer. 
Making a song last for this duration is a venture fraught with danger which should not be undertaken lightly. Essentially, for the listener, lengthy songs need to be handled in much the same way as a well-refreshed guest; if they start to ramble aimlessly, repeat themselves unnecessarily or generally outstay their welcome, then it’s time for them to go. If, on the other hand, they continue to hold you rapt with charismatic presence and engaging storytelling, then let’s open another bottle. Let’s face it, anyone can drone on for a quarter of an hour or more (insert feeble joke about the House of Commons here) but commanding undivided attention for that length of time is an art in itself.
Speaking only for myself, it’s why I have Heroin on my own list but not European Son. You Can’t Always Get What You Want bit not Can’t You Hear Me Knocking. Dirt but not We Will Fall. This doesn’t mean that I dislike any of the songs I’ve rejected, far from it. It’s just – well, I find they do go on a bit. For me at least, strip away the Iconic and Canonical status and they just don’t hold my attention in the way that the best seven-plussers do. But what’s meandering for some will be mesmerising for another.
Going into this, we were well aware that the Ramones, the Minutemen and Guided By Voices wouldn’t be well represented but the likes of Miles Davis, Can and Dylan would have a rather better chance. The Fall could, if they chose, do the business in 120 seconds or fewer, as on Dice Man or Prole Art Threat, but they could with equal adroitness pummel the mangled message repeatedly home on The NWRA or Hip Priest. It’s been interesting, as well, to reflect on all of those who rarely, if ever, crossed the seven-minute rubicon but would have easily had the gumption and ideas to pull it off if they wanted – the Clash, REM, Magazine, the Go-Betweens, to give a few random examples; you could count on either one or no hands the number of occasions they and many others took the long jump.
There’s no question that extra time suits some genres and periods infinitely better than others. In rock and pop, radio stations were discombobulated in the late ’50s and early ’60s when the Animals’ House Of The Rising Sun and Marty Robbins’ El Paso had the effrontery to exceed four minutes but before long, as with so many things, Dylan rewrote the rules – from the start, he was going beyond not only four minutes but five and his House Of The Rising Sun was even longer than the Animals’, as well as preceding theirs by two years. In an often-repeated quote, Bruce Springsteen likened the snare crack which opened the (six-minute – getting there) Like A Rolling Stone to “somebody (kicking) open the door to your mind”; meanwhile, his long-standing lieutenant, Steven Van Zandt, lamented this period as the time when the primary response to pop ceased to be dancing and became listening. Of course, they both have a case but few would be able to sustain frenetic footwork to, say, Going To A Go-Go or Gloria beyond their allotted lengths, while jazz, psychedelia, funk, ambient and, of course, classical don’t have freneticism written into their job description and so have greater scope for reach, exploration and, at least sometimes, longueurs.
But anyway, why should a song just be two or three minutes? If a story needs time to unfold, if hypnosis is the most powerful instrument you have, if you have more to explore than seven inches can accommodate, then why not crack out the compass and get voyaging? If the 10pm curfews were being imposed by The Man, then the three-minute curfews were being breached by The Maaaan and it’s way too glib and too simplistic to equate longevity with self-indulgence. Marquee Moon’s vertigo-inducing skyscraper climb, performing all of its own stunts; the tense but patient unravelling of Visions Of Johanna, which still refuses to yield the enduring secret of the ghost of electricity; the Mercy Seat’s terrified, terrifying green mile march, almost as if it really were the last seven minutes of a life; Autobahn’s odyssey from a nation’s fearful past to a place of anxious hope, now more poignant than ever; Land’s bloodless conquering of new territories, increasing 1000 dances to 100,000. Layers of noise, torrents of texture; this is music you can’t take your ears off for one minute, five minutes, 10 minutes. No lumbering or tail-chasing here; this is how the long game should be played.
There’s ample opportunity for flexibility and loopholes to smuggle some songs in through alternative versions – 12-inches, remixes, live versions and, increasingly in the era of archive plundering, alternate takes. Tempting as it might be to  look on one version of a song as definitive, it’s a pretty short stroll from set in stone to petrified; after all, Deadheads and non-Deadheads alike would be unlikely to acknowledge the 2:44 original of Dark Star over the Live/Dead and manifold Dick’s Pick’s and bootleg incarnations which inflated the length 10, 15, 18 times over. At least one submission we received nominated a live recording of the Byrds’ Eight Miles High, which boosted the (pretty much perfect) sub-three minute stripling of a single version into 16 minutes and four seconds of flight, while you can even, if you wish, get more than double your Sister Ray from numerous live forays.
For my part, while both the Banana and Live 1969 versions of the aforementioned Heroin qualify, I specified the latter in my vote. It’s simply subtler and more dramatic; where the acceleration on the most renowned studio version is out of the gate each time like a greyhound on sight of the rabbit, the San Francisco take holds it back, slipping into fourth gear but resisting overdrive until near the end, when the panic and desperate energy have been firmly ingrained. I’ve also always felt it actually benefits from the absence of the viola of the by then departed John Cale; without it, Venus In Furs would struggle to exist but in Heroin it gets in the way and the song thrives and capers in the spaces it leaves.
As it turned out, Television’s Marquee Moon was a convincing and deserved winner, continuing the success of the album which bears its name in our 1974-1985 poll; the fact that it was a top 30 hit becomes ever more glorious and even harder to believe with the passage of time. It has perhaps benefited in our poll from its place in a comparatively small body of work which leaned heavily on fairly long songs but, crucially, only a few of those songs breached seven minutes.
David Bowie also ran only a handful of marathons but they’re even more conspicuous in his vast catalogue. Station To Station, our runner-up, saw its reputation spike in the wake of his death and it’s been maintained ever since. Blackstar, inextricably linked with his passing but brilliant in his own right, also easily qualifies in length and that leaves just a couple of others – Cygnet Committee, Width Of A Circle – which were worthy contenders but missed out, perhaps occupying relatively unexplored corners of Bowie’s repertoire.
Among those with more of a penchant for going the distance, Van Morrison and Miles Davis are tied for the most songs receiving votes – 17 each – but wound up with just two entries each in the final 100, on the rough end of a split vote (Birth of the cruel? Unfair play?). Highest number of entries went instead to Bob Dylan, with five entries out of 16 songs voted for. The Velvets,  Neil Young and Can secured four places each, while there were three entries for Pink Floyd and Kraftwerk. Others squeezed out included Mogwai, who saw just one of their 11 nominated songs reach the hanging-around 100, and Yo La Tengo, who had no return at all on the eight songs which received votes.
Let’s also spare a thought for those unfortunate songs which fall a few agonising seconds short of our brutally arbitrary cut-off point and are forced to watch on like losing semi-finalists. Our commiserations to, among others: Elvis Costello’s I Want You; Neu!s Seeland; Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express; Neil Young’s On The Beach and Love’s You Set The Scene. Longer versions of some of these do cross the line and could have got them in on a technicality but we assure these songs that it’s nothing personal and we’ll keep playing them, however long or short they may be.
I hope I haven’t gone on too long. Many thanks for voting and, especially right now, keep well (PG).

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The Top 100

100. ‘Little Red Riding Hood Hit The Road’ – Robert Wyatt (from Rock Bottom LP, 1974)

99. ‘B Movie’ – Gil Scott-Heron (from Reflections LP, 1981)

98. ‘Rapper’s Delight’ – Sugarhill Gang (single – long version, 1979)

97. ‘Southbound Jericho Parkway’ – Roy Orbison (single, 1969)

96. ‘Good Times’ – Chic (from Risqué LP, 1979)

95. ‘Poptones’ – Public Image Ltd. (from Metal Box LP, 1979)

94. ‘The Rainbow’ – Talk Talk (from Spirit Of Eden LP, 1988)

93. ‘As’ – Stevie Wonder (from Songs In The Key Of Life LP, 1976)

92. ‘I Think I’m In Love’ – Spiritualized (from Ladies & Gentlemen…We Are Floating In Space LP, 1997)

91. ‘Small Hours’ – John Martyn (from One World LP, 1977)

90. ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’ – Mogwai (from Mogwai Young Team LP, 1997)

89. ‘Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys’ – Traffic (from Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys LP, 1971)

88. ‘Paperhouse’ – Can (from Tago Mago LP, 1971)

87. ‘1983 (A Merman I Should Turn To Be’ – The Jimi Hendrix Experience (from Electric Ladyland LP, 1968)

86. ‘When The Levee Breaks’ – Led Zeppelin (from Led Zeppelin IV LP, 1971)

85. ‘Voodoo Chile’ – The Jimi Hendrix Experience (from Electric Ladyland LP, 1968)

84. ‘Future Days’ – Can (from Future Days LP, 1973)

83. ‘In A Silent Way / It’s About That Time’ – Miles Davis (from In A Silent Way LP, 1969)

82. ‘Losing My Edge’ – LCD Soundsystem (from LCD Soundsystem LP, 2005)

81. ‘New Grass’ – Talk Talk (from Laughing Stock LP, 1991)

80. ‘What Goes On’ – The Velvet Underground (from 1969: The Velvet Underground Live LP, 1974)

79. ‘So What’ – Miles Davis (from Kind Of Blue LP, 1959)

78. ‘Love From Room 109 At The Islander (On Pacific Coast Highway)’ – Tim Buckley (from Happy Sad LP, 1969)

77. ‘Shine A Light’ – Spiritualized (from Laser Guided Melodies LP, 1992)

76. ‘Little Johnny Jewel (Pts 1 & 2) – Television (single, 1975)

75. ‘Sinnerman’ – Nina Simone (from Pastel Blues LP, 1965)

74. ‘Good Morning Captain’ – Slint (from Spiderland LP, 1991)

73. ‘A Love Supreme Part 1: Acknowledgement’ – John Coltrane (from A Love Supreme LP, 1965)

72. ‘Soon’ – My Bloody Valentine (from Glider EP, 1990)

71. ‘Loaded’ – Primal Scream (from Screamadelica LP, 1991)

70. ‘Free Bird’ – Lynyrd Skynyrd (from Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd LP, 1974)

69. ‘Pictures Of You’ – The Cure (from Disintegration LP, 1989)

68. ‘War Pigs’ – Black Sabbath (from Paranoid LP, 1970)

67. Für Immer‘ – Neu! (from Neu! 2 LP, 1972)

66. ‘Interstellar Overdrive’- Pink Floyd (from The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn LP, 1967)

65. ‘LA Woman’ – The Doors (from LA Woman LP, 1971)

64. ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Pts I-V)’ – Pink Floyd (from Wish You Were Here LP, 1975)

63. ‘Fun House’ – The Stooges (from Fun House LP, 1970)

62. ‘Matty Groves’ – Fairport Convention (from Liege & Lief LP, 1969)

61. ‘MacArthur Park’ – Richard Harris (single, 1968)

60. ‘Layla’ – Derek & The Dominoes (from Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs LP, 1970)

59. ‘One Nation Under A Groove’ – Funkadelic (from One Nation Under A Groove LP, 1978)

58. ‘All My Friends’ – LCD Soundsystem (from Sound Of Silver LP, 2007)

57. ‘Jenny Ondioline’ – Stereolab (from Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements LP, 1993)

56. ‘Melody’ – Serge Gainsbourg (from Histoire de Melody Nelson LP, 1971)

55. ‘A Very Cellular Song – The Incredible String Band (from The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter LP, 1968)

54. ‘Hurricane’ – Bob Dylan (from Desire LP, 1976)

53. ‘The End’ – The Doors (from The Doors LP, 1967)

52. ‘Echoes’ – Pink Floyd (from Meddle LP, 1971)

51. ‘Idiot Wind’ – Bob Dylan (from Blood On The Tracks LP, 1975)

50. ‘Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ – The Velvet Underground (from Loaded LP, 1970)

49. ‘The Mercy Seat’ – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (from Tender Prey LP, 1988)

48. ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’ – Crosby Stills & Nash (from Crosby, Stills & Nash LP, 1969)

47. ‘BlackStar’ – David Bowie (from Blackstar LP, 2016)

46. ‘O Superman’ – Laurie Anderson (single 1981)

45. ‘Hey Jude’ – The Beatles (single, 1969)

44. ‘Some Misunderstanding’ – Gene Clark (from No Other LP, 1974)

43. ‘Riders On The Storm’ – The Doors (from LA Woman LP, 1971)

42. ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ – The Beatles (from Abbey Road LP, 1969)

41. ‘Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands’ – Bob Dylan (from Blonde On Blonde LP, 1966)

40. ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ – Bauhaus (12″ single, 1979)

39. ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking’ – The Rolling Stones (from Sticky Fingers LP, 1971)

38. ‘Down By The River’ – Neil Young & Crazy Horse (from Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere LP, 1969)

37. ‘Come Together’ – Primal Scream (from Screamadelica LP, 1991)

36. ‘I Am The Resurrection’ – The Stone Roses (from The Stone Roses LP, 1989)

35. ‘Purple Rain’ – Prince (from Purple Rain LP, 1984)

34. ‘Ambulance Blues’ – Neil Young (from On The Beach LP, 1974)

33. ‘The Message’ – Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five (12″ single, 1982)

32. ‘Halleluwah’ – Can (from Tago Mago LP, 1971)

31. ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ – The Who (from Who’s Next LP, 1971)

30. ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’ – The Temptations (from All Directions LP, 1972)

29. ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ – The Rolling Stones (from Let It Bleed LP, 1969)

28. ‘Living For The City’ – Stevie Wonder (from Innervisions LP, 1973)

27. ‘Jungleland’ – Bruce Springsteen from Born To Run LP, 1975)

26. ‘Neon Lights’ – Kraftwerk (from The Man Machine LP, 1978)

25. ‘Like A Hurricane’ – Neil Young & Crazy Horse (from American Stars ‘n’ Bars LP, 1977)

24. ‘Astral Weeks’ – Van Morrison (from Astral Weeks LP, 1968)

23. ‘Frankie Teardrop’ – Suicide (from Suicide LP, 1977)

22. ‘Walk On By’ – Isaac Hayes (from Hot Buttered Soul LP, 1969)

21. ‘Cowgirl In The Sand’ – Neil Young & Crazy Horse (from Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere LP, 1969)

20. ‘Madame George’ – Van Morrison (from Astral Weeks LP, 1968)

19. ‘Land’ – Patti Smith (from Horses LP, 1975)

18. ‘Mother Sky’ – Can (from Soundttracks LP, 1970)

17. ‘I Feel Love’ (extended version) – Donna Summer (12″ single, 1977)

16. ‘Europe Endless’ – Kraftwerk (from Trans-Europe Express LP, 1977)

15. ‘Move On Up’ – Curtis Mayfield (from Curtis LP, 1970)

14. ‘Visions Of Johanna’ – Bob Dylan (from Blonde On Blonde LP, 1966)

13. ‘Cortez The Killer’ – Neil Young & Crazy Horse (from Zuma LP, 1975)

12. ‘Blue Monday’ – New Order (12″ single, 1983)

11. ‘Maggot Brain’ – Funkadelic (from Maggot Brain LP, 1971)

10. ‘Heroin’ – The Velvet Underground (from The Velvet Underground & Nico LP, 1967)

9. ‘This Is What She’s Like’ – Dexys Midnight Runners (from Don’t Stand Me Down LP, 1985)

8. ‘Slip Inside This House’ – The 13th Floor Elevators (from Easter Everywhere LP, 1967)

7. ‘Desolation Row’ – Bob Dylan (from Highway 61 Revisited LP, 1965)

6. ‘Street Hassle’ – Lou Reed (from Street Hassle LP, 1978)

5. ‘Hallogallo’ – Neu! (from Neu! LP, 1971)

4. ‘Autobahn’ – Kraftwerk (from Autobahn LP, 1974)

3. ‘Sister Ray’ – The Velvet Underground (from White Light / White Heat LP, 1967)

2. ‘Station To Station’ – David Bowie (from Station To Station LP, 1976)

1. ‘Marquee Moon’ – Television (from Marquee Moon LP, 1977)

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Bubbling Under: 101-200

101. ‘Oh Yeah’ – Can

102. ‘Dirt’ – The Stooges

103. ‘It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)’ – Bob Dylan

104. ‘This Corrosion’ – Sisters Of Mercy

105. ‘Private Psychedelic Reel’ – The Chemical Brothers

106. ‘Leave Them All Behind’ – Ride

107. ‘A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld – The Orb

108. ‘Fools Gold’ – The Stone Roses

109. ‘Perfect Kiss’ – New Order

110. ‘The Donor’ – Judee Sill

111. ‘Slow Life’ – Super Furry Animals

112. ‘Sea Breezes’ – Roxy Music

113. ‘I Dream A Highway’ – Gillian Welch

114. ‘Dark Star’ (Live) – The Grateful Dead

115. ‘Court Of The Crimson King’ – King Crimson

116. ‘Don’t Worry, If There’s A Hell Below, We’re All Gonna Go’ – Curtis Mayfield

117. ‘Higher Than The Sun (A Dub Symphony In Two Parts) – Primal Scream

118. ‘Metronomic Underground’ – Stereolab

119. ‘Rain Song’ – Led Zeppelin

120. ‘My Favorite Things’ – John Coltrane

121. ‘Djed’ – Tortoise

122. ‘Summertime In England’ – Van Morrison

123. ‘Deacon Blues’ – Steely Dan

124. ‘Got To Give It Up’ (Pts 1&2) – Marvin Gaye

125. ‘A Sailor’s Life’ – Fairport Convention

126. ‘I Believe’ – The Buzzcocks

127. ‘Safe Surfer’ – Julian Cope

128. ‘Thick As A Brick’ – Jethro Tull

129. ‘The Width Of A Circle’ – David Bowie

130. ‘Listen To The Lion’ – Van Morrison

131. ‘Love To Love You Baby’ – Donna Summer

132. ‘Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymystic’ – Isaac Hayes

133. ‘You Doo Right’ – Can

134. ‘Tam Lin’ – Fairport Convention

135. ‘Chasing A Bee’ – Mercury Rev

136. ‘Kashmir’ – Led Zeppelin

137. ‘Refractions In The Plastic Pulse’ – Stereolab

138. ‘Murder Most Foul’ – Bob Dylan

139. ‘Free Your Mind…and Your Ass Will Follow’ – Funkadelic

140. ‘Willie The Pimp’ – Frank Zappa

141. ‘No.1 Song In Heaven’ – Sparks

142. ‘Scum’ – Bark Psychosis

143. ‘I Trawl The Megahertz’ – Prefab Sprout

144. ‘It’s A Rainy Day Sunshine Girl’ – Faust

145. ‘Expressway To Your Skull’ – Sonic Youth

146. ‘Listen, The Snow Is Falling’ – Galaxie 500

147. ‘Protection’ – Massive Attack

148. ‘Higgs Boson Blues’ – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

149. ‘I Walk On Gilded Splinters’ – Dr. John

150. ‘Let It Happen’ – Tame Impala

151. ‘Father Cannot Yell’ – Can

152. ‘By The Time I Get To Phoenix’ – Isaac Hayes

153. ‘You Going Miss Your Candyman’ – Terry Callier

154. ‘The Osmonds’ – Denim

155. ‘Take Me’ – The Wedding Present

156. ‘Lily, Rosemary & The Jack Of Hearts’ – Bob Dylan

157. ‘Hip Priest’ – The Fall

158. ‘Moon In June’ – Soft Machine

159. ‘Ballerina’ – Van Morrison

160. ‘Dead Flag Blues’ – Godspeed! You Black Emperor

161. ‘The Payback’ – James Brown

162. ‘Space Is The Place’ – Sun Ra

163. ‘This Is Just A Modern Rock Song’ – Belle & Sebastian

164. ‘All Blues’ – Miles Davis

165. ‘Faith Healer’ – The Sensational Alex Harvey Band

166. ‘No Bulbs’ – The Fall

167. ‘Water Get No Enemy’ – Fela Kuti

168. ‘Memory Of A Free Festival’ – David Bowie

169. ‘Cypress Avenue’ – Van Morrison

170. ‘Hero’ – Neu!

171.’La Ritournelle’ – Sebastian Tellier

172. ‘Be Thankful For What You Got’ – William deVaughn

173. ‘Yours Is No Disgrace’ – Yes

174. ‘When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease’ – Roy Harper

175. ‘La Femme d’Argent’ – Air

176. ‘Pass The Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind’ – Yo La Tengo

177. ‘Babe I’m On Fire’ – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

178. ‘Frittering’ – Mercury Rev

179. ‘Disco Devil’ – Lee Perry

180. ‘The Bogus Man’ – Roxy Music

181. ‘svefn g englar’ – Sigur Ros

182. ‘Starless’ – King Crimson

183. ‘Three Days’ – Jane’s Addiction

184. ‘Blindness’ – The Fall

185. ‘This Train’ – Bunny Wailer

186. Run Christian Run’ – Super Furry Animsls

187. ‘One Sunday Morning (Song For Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend)’ – Wilco

188. ‘Riding On The Equator’ – Felt

189. ‘He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s The Pilot’ – Grandaddy

190. ‘The Diamond Sea’ – Sonic Youth

191. ‘Revolution 9’ – The Beatles

192. ‘Sea Within A Sea’ – The Horrors

193. ‘Never Never Gonna Give You Up’ – Barry White

194. ‘Paid In Full’ – Eric B & Rakim

195. ‘Man-erg’ – Van Der Graaf Generator

196. The Creator Has A Master Plan – Pharoah Sanders

197. ‘Death Of A Ladies’ Man’ – Leonard Cohen

198. ‘Right Off’ – Miles Davis

199. ‘Melting Pot’ – Booker T & the MGs

200. ‘Bel Air’ – Can

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Long But Not Forgotten

For many of you, this has been the most enjoyable part of our polls – particularly for the more adventurous listener, and this is a list of wonderful curios which were nominated for inclusion but didn’t quite make the Top 200. Enjoy!

‘Love Is Peace’ – Amon Düül (from Paradieswärts Düül LP, 1970)

‘Stone In Focus’ – Aphex Twin (from Selected Ambient Works Vol 2 LP, 1994)

‘Amboss’ – Ash Ra Tempel (from Ash Ra Tempel LP, 1971)

‘Quick Canal’ – Atlas Sound featuring Laetitia Sadier (from Logos LP, 2009)

‘Rhapsody In Druz’ – Robbie Basho (from Zarthus LP, 1974)

‘The Breaks’ – Kurtis Blow (from Kurtis Blow LP, 1980)

‘Happy Cycling’ – Boards Of Canada (from US release of Music Has The Right To Children LP, 1996)

‘Let’s Start The Dance’ – Hamilton Bohannon (12″ single, 1978)

‘Folk Song’ – Bongwater (from The Power Of Pussy LP, 1990)

‘In A Mist’ – Duncan Browne (from Duncan Browne LP, 1973)

‘Funky Drummer’ (long version) – James Brown (from In The Jungle Groove LP, 1986)

‘Fire Eater’ – Rusty Bryant (from Fire Eater LP, 1971)

‘Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet’ – Gavin Bryars (from Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet LP, 1993)

The Crown’ – Gary Byrd & the GB Experience (12″ single, 1983)

‘Ides Of March’ – John Cale & Terry Riley (from Church Of Anthrax LP, 1971)

‘Kandy Korn’ – Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band (from Mirror Man LP, 1971)

‘Time Has Come Today’ – The Chambers Brothers (from The Time Has Come LP, 1967)

‘It’s Broken!’ – Bob Chance (from It’s Broken LP, 1980)

‘Forest & The Shore’ – Keith Christmas (from Pigmy LP, 1971)

‘Ritz’ – Cockney Rebel (from Psychomodo LP, 1974)

Here In The Year’ – Cold Sun (from Dark Shadows LP, 1989)

‘Peace’ – Ornette Coleman (from The Shape Of Jazz To Come LP, 1959)

‘Something About John Coltrane’ – Alice Coltrane (from Journey Into Satchidananda LP, 1971)

The Side of Man & Womankind’ – Tony Conrad & Faust (from Outside The Dream Syndicate LP, 1973)

Saddle Tramp’ – Charlie Daniels Band (from Saddle Tramp LP, 1976)

‘Gondwana Pts 1 & 2’ – Miles Davis (from Pangea LP, 1975)

‘Outside’ – Dead C (from The White House LP, 1995)

‘Out To Lunch’ – Eric Dolphy (from Out To Lunch LP, 1964)

‘Season Of The Witch’ – Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity (from Open LP, 1967)

‘Silence’ – The Durutti Column (from Without Mercy LP, 1984)

‘Lost In The Cold Sun’ – Earthless (from Sonic Prayer LP, 2005)

‘The Great San Bernardino Birthday Party’ – John Fahey (from The Great San Bernardino Birthday Party & Other Excursions LP, 1966)

‘Panther Phobia: Manifesto!’ – Tav Falco’s Panther Burns (from Panther Phobia LP, 2000)

‘The Stagnant Pool’ – Felt (from The Splendour Of Fear LP, 1984)

‘Supper’s Ready’ – Genesis (from Foxtrot LP, 1972)

‘Timeless: Inner City Life’ – Goldie (from Timeless LP, 1995)

‘I Didn’t Know’ – Al Green (from Al Green Is Love LP, 1975)

‘Sun In Your Eyes’ – Grizzly Bear (from Shields LP, 2012)

‘Chameleon’ – Herbie Hancock (from Headhunters LP, 1973)

‘Sehr Kosmisch’ – Harmonia (from Musik Von Harmonia LP, 1974)

‘You Shouldn’t Do That’ – Hawkwind (from In Search Of Space LP, 1971)

‘Living In The Heart Of The Beast’ – Henry Cow (from In Praise of Learning LP, 1975)

‘Cropduster’ – High Llamas (from Checking In Checking Out  EP, 1995)

‘Boy In The Moon’ – Julia Holter (from Ekstasis LP, 2012)

‘Morale…You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’ – The Human League (from Reproduction LP, 1979)

‘Reoccurring Dreams’ – Hüsker Dü (from Zen Arcade LP, 1984)

‘Trieulogy’ – Kak (from Kak LP, 1969)

‘Cemalim’ – Erkin Koray (from Elektronik Türküler LP, 1974)

‘Somehow The Wonder Of Life Prevails’ – Mark Kozelek & Jimmy LaValle (from Perils From The Sea LP, 2013)

‘Time’ – La Düsseldorf (from La Düsseldorf LP, 1976)

‘Rainy Day Bergen Women’ – Jackie Leven (from Creatures Of Light & Darkness LP, 2000)

‘Amazing Grace’ – Low (from Trust LP, 2002)

‘What Went Wrong’ – Grant McLennan (from Horsebreaker Star LP, 1994)

‘Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)’ – Melanie with the Edwin Hawkins Singers (from Candles In The Rain LP, 1970)

‘Pithecanthropus Erectus’ – Charles Mingus (from Pithecanthropus Erectus LP, 1956)

‘Only Skin’ – Joanna Newsom (from Ys LP, 2006)

‘Confessions of 349-18-5171’ – Ken Nordine (from Word Jazz Vol. 2 LP, 1960)

‘A New Dress’ – Nurse With Wound (from Automating Vol 2 LP, 1989)

‘Atomic Bomb’ – William Onyeabor (from Atomic Bomb LP, 1978)

‘Planet Of The Shapes’ – Orbital (from Orbital 2 LP, 1993)

‘War On The Bullshit’ – Osiris (from War On The Bullshit LP, 1986)

‘Vibrate Onn’ – Augustus Pablo Meets The Upsetter (single, 1977)

‘Jack Orion’ – Pentangle (from Cruel Sister LP, 1970)

‘Hundred Syllable Mantra’ – Phurpha (from Gyer Ro LP, 2017)

‘Acid Tracks’ – Phuture (12″ single, 1987)

‘Otče’ – Agon Orchestra & The Plastic People Of The Universe (from Pašijové hry Velikonoční LP, 1978)

‘Flex’ – Prolapse (from backsaturday LP, 1995)

‘Who Do You Love (Suite)’ – Quicksilver Messenger Service (from Happy Trails LP, 1969)

‘Katy Song’ – Red House Painters (from Red House Painters LP, 1993)

‘Poppy Nogood & The Phantom Band’ – Terry Riley (from A Rainbow In Curved Air LP, 1969)

Da

‘Strings Of Life’ – Rhythim Is Rhythim (12″ single, 1987)

‘Faith’ – Paul St. Hilaire & René Löwe (from Faith LP, 2003)

‘Ask Me No Questions’ – Bridget St. John (from Ask Me No Questions LP, 1969)

‘Upper Egypt & Lower Egypt’ – Pharoah Sanders (from Tauhid LP, 1966)

‘Inspiration’ – Section 25 (from From The Hip LP, 1984)

‘Up In Her Room’ – The Seeds (from A Web Of Sound LP, 1967)

‘Measuring Loneliness’ – Shizuka (from Planning For Loneliness LP, 1994)

‘A Meditation Mass’ – Yatha Sidhra (from A Meditation Mass LP, 1974)

‘Se Lest’ – Sigur Ros (from Takk LP, 1995)

‘This Fear Of Gods’ – Simple Minds (from Emires & Dance LP, 1980)

‘Illegal Bodies’ – Simply Saucer (from Cyborgs Revisited LP, 1989)

Khidr & The Fountain’ – Six Organs Of Admittance (from Dark Noontide LP, 2002)

‘Dopesmoker’ – Sleep (from Dopesmoker LP, 2003)

‘Man Next Door’ – The Slits (from Cut LP, 1979)

‘Patchwork’ – Laurie Spiegel (from The Expanding Universe LP, 1980)

‘Vito’s Ordination Song’ – Sufjan Stevens (from Michigan LP, 2003)

‘Atlantis’ – Sun Ra Arkestra (from Atlantis LP, 1969)

‘In An Autumn Garden’ – Toru Takemistsu (from In An Autumn Garden LP, 1973)

‘Journey Through A Burning Brain’ – Tangerine Dream (from Electronic Meditation LP, 1970)

‘Closer To God’ – Television Personalities (from Closer To God LP, 1992)

‘White Punks On Dope’ – The Tubes (from What Do You Want From Live LP, 1978)

‘Hi-Tech Jazz’ – Galaxy 2 Galaxy / Underground Resistance (12″ single, 1993)

Barely Breaking Even’ – Universal Robot Band (12″ single, 1982)

‘Melody Laughter’ – The Velvet Underground (from Peel Slowly & See Box Set, 1995)

‘The View From Her Room’ – Weekend (12″ single, 1982)

‘The Visitation’ – White Noise (from An Electric Storm LP, 1969)

‘Youth Of America’ – Wipers (from Youth Of America LP, 1981)

‘Harpooned’ – Wire (from Wire LP, 2015)

‘Volga Delta’ – La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela (from The Black Record, 1969)

‘Moon Revolutions’ – The Young Gods (from Only Heaven LP, 1995)

——————————————

Our Contributors:

Bill Ainsworth, Camilla Aisa, Mick Anderson, Andy (‘Birmingham ’81’), David Ayling, Michael Bailey (Soft Hearted Scientists), ‘Barbie’, ‘Belfegore’, Caroline Binnie, David Bishop, Delko Blazanin, Andy Bolton, Eleanor Bolton, Lloyd Bolton, Chris Bounds, Mark Brend, Jim Brown, David Bruce, Paul Callanan, Chris Canham, Sean Cavens, Ben Chasny (Six Organs Of Admittance), Alan Choo-Kang, Si Cole, Chris Coleman, Mike Convery, Stuart Cosgrove, Mike Curry, Simon Cuthbert-Kerr, Stephen Dalton, Campbell Davidson, Laura Lee Davies, Steve Davies, ‘Dazed Bee’, Michael Deane, ‘Decramundo’, Hugh Dellar, Jon Dennis, Mick Derrick, Andrew Divine, Philip Downer, Lionel Duffy, Seamus Duggan, Johnny Echols (Love), Merlyn Edwards, Liam Elliott, Mark Fairhurst, Simon Farrier, Peter Ferguson, Jim Ferry, Declan Flanagan, Jim Flett, Stuart Fraser, Paul Gallagher, Stephen Gallagher, Alfie Gildea, Paul Gildea, Francis Gilligan, Simon Glass, Carl Goldspink, Ian Gosling, Ash Grace, Ben Graham, Grasshopper (Sean Mackowiak, Mercury Rev) Andrew Hall, Mark Hannaby, Paul Hannigan, Jeff Hartley, Gary Higgins, David Hintz, Hodge_nufc, Robert Hodgens, Christopher Hollow, James Hornsey (The Clientele), Jim Howie, Billy Hush, Maartje Jansma, Sophie Jay, Ian Fraser Johnston, James Johnstone, Johnnie Johnstone, Peter Johnstone, Allan Jones, Jack K, Danny Kelly, David Keller, John Kilbride, Harris King, Graham Kingsbury, William Knott, Jim Lambie, Peter Latimer, Adam Leivers, Lesoisogazouil, Paul Lester, June Lewins, Gerry Love, Alastair Macduff, Marc (‘Captain Howdy’), John Marcus, Gavin Martin, Leon Massey, Will McAlpine, Jim McCulloch, Raymond McGinlay, Stef McGlinchey, Grant McPhee, Fiona McQuarrie, Paul Meagher, John Medd, Graham Meikle, Memorial Device, Steve Mitchell, Thom Moore, Rob Morgan, Andy Morten, Tony Mulraney, Gerry Murphy, Peter Murray, Kris Needs, Huw Neill, Mike Norton, Jordan O’Hara, Brendan O’Leary, Paul Osborne, David Owen, Stephen Palmacci, Jake Palmer, Thomas Patterson, Richard Phillips-Jones, Andy Pidluznyj (New Apostles), Matt Piucci (The Rain Parade), Nick Portnell, Colin Pratt, Johnny Purcell, Gary Raine, Ian Rankin, Seamus Reilly, Chris Roberts, Dewey Rolles, Marco Rossi, Martin Ruddock, Jon Savage, Jo Scollin, Paul Scollin, Ann Sequinworld, Keith Shackleton, David Sharp, Simon Shaw, Derek Sinclair, Angela Slaven, John Smith, Sandy Sneddon, Mat Snow, Tim Sommer, Jason Spence, Iain Stansfield, Theo Stockman, David Stubbs, Jack Sullivan, Daniel Thompson, James Timoney, Terry Tochel, Ben Travers, Paul Turnbull, Richard Twine, Ryan H Walsh, Judah Warsky, Richard Watterson, Derek Webster, Helen Whiteley-McPhee, Dominic Whittingham, Ben Wilmott, Peter Wilson, ‘Winna Ding’, Sandy Wishart, Liam Wright, Jamie Young,

135. PLUSH – MORE YOU BECOMES YOU (1998)

Chamber Pop, Greatest Records, Singer-Songwriter

TNPC speaks to Liam Hayes about the making of Plush’s More You Becomes You…

Around 70 seconds or so into the third song on More You Becomes You, comes a moment which betrays the album’s sly masquerade. Liam Hayes, who had switched on the microphone to say “Hi” at the beginning of the record, suddenly buckles with laughter, his delivery cracking under the strain of reaching for a high note, before his voice miraculously recovers to soar through the remainder of the line, now carried on the wings of angels. It is a moment whose significance is unlikely to register with many upon first listen, but which reveals to the diligent listener the album’s little secret. Before the penny drops, one could be forgiven for believing they were listening to a live recording of someone settling down at the piano to knock out a few songs and then walking out of the room again. “I did my job well if you hear it that way” confesses Hayes. “I didn’t want the listener to be hearing all the work that went into it, because there was a lot of that. The irony of it is that the album was very carefully edited, I mean a lot of time went into it, lots of studio sessions, a lot of editing on tape, so to get it to the point where it sounded like that really took a lot of work. I recorded it in a lot of studios, on different pianos with different engineers, but we stitched it all together and that’s what you hear.”

More You Becomes You became Hayes’ debut album in 1998, released like most of his work under the nom de plume Plush (a name suggestive of a band, borrowed Hayes adds, “from an amplifier of that name”). Even then there were signs that here was a pop perfectionist. It had taken him three years to follow his extraordinary first 45 (‘Three Quarter Blind Eyes’ b/w ‘Found A Little Baby’) – to these ears possibly the greatest pop single of the 1990s – with anything at all. A second 45 (‘No Education’ b/w ‘Soaring And Boring’) finally surfaced in 1997. The music press had been swift and virtually unanimous in its acclaim for the first single, which contained all the maturity and composure of the great singer-songwriters of the late ’60s / early ‘70s – the sweeping fingerprints of Scott Walker and Jimmy Webb, the maudlin drift of Randy Newman, with the gnawing guitar jabs of Steve Cropper. It was so good Hayes agonised at length over his next move. “I wasn’t expecting the response we got. I was delighted, really encouraged. But the flipside of that was that it made me put myself under quite a bit of pressure to follow it up with something equally good. So I had to really think about how to do that.”

He succeeded by making his first album a perfect one, a record so intimate and immersive as to make it the listener’s own possession. At a little under half an hour in length, there was not a moment wasted, he couldn’t afford for there to be. The songs with Hayes’ deft production, segue together so inconspicuously that listeners might find themselves frequently double-taking at the track-listing, wondering which song is which. One was tempted to suspect that the album collected together little fragments of ideas for songs with no beginnings or endings and nowhere else to go. Was it initially envisaged as a suite of songs or did each track have a history of its own before the recording? “It sometimes happens like that” continues Hayes. “As I recall, when the album was really coming together it had its own identity, and was pulling ideas into its orbit. I felt like I was hearing things relating to each other in some kind of sequence, though I wasn’t sure at first what it was really about. I really was immersed in its world as the songs were beginning to evolve. It wasn’t part of another group of songs. They were only ever going to be on this album.”

From conception to realisation it would become for Hayes a painstaking labour of love, and yet despite its at times overwhelming melancholy, it is suffused with good humour and a little mischief too. On the title track for instance the subject appears to be “Virginia” – a little bewilderingly so, as that is the title of the preceding track, the album’s opener – which itself sounded as solemn as one of Satie’s ‘Gymnopedies’. Then there’s the little matter of having a track entitled ‘The Instrumental’ which isn’t an instrumental at all, while other ‘songs’ are of such brevity they barely even exist. ‘The Party I’ and ‘The Party 2’ clock in at a mere thirty seconds apiece, the latter containing lines delivered with such achingly fragile earnestness they always make me smile: “I saw the party look at me / They told me that I wasn’t free / I showed them my soul power”. Hayes’ impassioned performances mean the songs somehow manage to communicate something immediately personal to each listener, who may shed a tear or two without really understanding why. “Everything that I’m looking at and putting into my music is personal to me, but I hope that everybody else can take something from that. With every record that I’ve done – some more than others – I really tried to have there be a beginning middle and end. As far as a concept or theme, with More You Becomes You it was obviously a very inner thing. I think that you can enjoy it without it really telling you what’s happening. I’m happy there’s room for other people to make it more personal to them.”

Some have called More You Becomes You ‘chamber pop’, others might file it under ‘singer-songwriter’, and it is somehow both of those things and yet neither. Hayes is reticent to discuss specific reference points as influences: “I’m probably not going to be able to pick out individual things too easily, but just generally what it has always been for me is just popular song. Not really songs that were happening contemporaneously, but songs that I was aware of from earlier on in my life. Some people might put it into a singer-songwriter category I suppose – and I like a lot of those artists, but that was not my direct inspiration – it was more pop in general. Maybe because the tempo of the record is slow and intimate it’s easy to cast it in that light, but what I was hearing in my head was something that was a bit broader in scope.” There is certainly a freedom and looseness to the composition which might recall the spontaneity of Todd Rundgren or even Laura Nyro’s oscillating explorations of melody and timbre, but ultimately this is simply a collection of sublime songs, written by Liam Hayes.

With his ecstatic broken falsetto on ‘Soaring And Boring’ (“Like this love I’m ignoring/ Imploring, adoring / It’s mine, all the time / All the time, all the time / See it shine…”) and those minor chords which envelop one in a blissful haze, he gives a studiously understated performance throughout, and even when the ‘production’ becomes more noticeable – the vocal overdubs that rescue the falter on the aforementioned third track ‘I Didn’t Know (I Was Asleep)’, or the horn which suddenly emerges from nowhere on ‘Save The People’ or even the floating gorgeous coda to the album’s glorious finale The Sailor’ – the treatments are sufficiently cushioned so as not to break the spell.

More You Becomes You was released on Drag City / Domino in September 1998, and has developed a bit of a cult following over the years. Despite its ‘indie’ credentials, Hayes has never felt comfortable being positioned in that bracket with the limitations that might suggest. “All of my records are produced. They were not done in the way a lot of people might consider indie records are done. A lot of time and attention went into them. This was before everybody had a recording studio in their bedroom! If you go back in time and think about the way some of those records were being made 20 years ago, how cheaply they were being made, I mean that was what was being presented to me as an alternative. You can go into a studio and spend thousands of dollars or you can use this latest digital portable recording technology. Go back and listen to some of those records now! Hear how they sound. I took the decision. It was more expensive, more time consuming, more financially burdensome, but in the end what I was paying attention to, was making the best record I could. The production should support the songs, and on this album the minimal approach really worked.”

Another indicator of Hayes’ meticulous attention to detail was the original artwork which featured his own childlike drawing on a gatefold CD enclosed in a paper bag. “I’ve done all the designs for all of my records. I’ve been very involved at every level. It’s really about that balance between art and commerce. As an artist you are always going to see something that people from the commercial side of things will be oblivious to. You’re going to spot the defect in the layout or hear the part of the song where the mix turned left when it needed to turn right. I don’t do this just for myself – some people will say that won’t they ‘you know I just make art for myself’ – but if that were really the case, then I wouldn’t be talking to you just now. My effort is always to make it everything that it should be, but it also has to set to sail on the seas of commerce.”

The album hasn’t been available for some time, but thankfully Hayes has plans to reissue it in the near future. “It was a happy coincidence that we talked because I am looking to reissue it within the next two or three years, do a proper reissue of it and remaster it – if I can find anyone with the right old and original technology to really bring out what’s there on the tapes.” (JJ)

TNPC presents The 100 GREATEST ALBUMS OF THE 21st CENTURY

Greatest Records

Beyond the Canon?

For those of us of a certain vintage, there was something quite disconcerting about identifying selections for the final TNPC poll. After all, we had grown up with the ‘canon’ and we lived out our youth through the latter part of the 20th Century. Much of the music made during that time meant the world to us. But what about the music of the 21st Century? There is a theory that when people reach the age of 33, they give up being interested in new music, and are content to revisit the past, seeking refuge in the familiar, perhaps reliving their adolescence? It’s a gross generalisation of course but there is an irrefutable logic to the claim. The responsibilities of adult life and balancing out work and family commitments, means that for many of us, the latest sounds are skimmed through with little patience. How different it was when we were younger – one had to really live with Trout Mask Replica and Bitches Brew, listening to them day in and day out for months on end in order to cultivate a true appreciation of their merits. And of course those albums – and many others – would prove to reward every ounce of perseverance. So when my early invitations to our contributors began to meet with blank responses (“I haven’t a clue”, “I’ve maybe only listened to ten albums since 2000”, “I reckon no classic record has been made since 1980”) I began to fear the worst.

Not all our contributors are middle-aged of course, but many of those, after their initial reticence, opted to take part in any case. The result? 1437 individual albums were nominated by around 120 contributors. From those,only one album received over 30 votes. If we contrast that with previous Poll-Toppers Forever Changes (45 out of 76) Marquee Moon (65 out of 125) and The Stone Roses (59) it points to a staggering lack of post-millennial consensus, with over 500 titles receiving only one vote. Without question then, the vast majority of our contributors have been listening to – and appreciating – a huge variety of contemporary sounds – far more than I have certainly. For myself, this exercise was always going to be something of an educational experience, overseeing the new list take shape.

The Results?

Block votes inevitably throw up one or two anomalies. Sometimes votes are split: consider the case of Mogwai or Six Organs Of Admittance, both of whom had 7 albums nominated, but neither of whose individual albums managed more than 3 votes – resulting in a frustrating absence from the final 100. More pleasingly, there was a plethora of votes for The Clientele, Low and Broadcast, each of whom is deliciously well represented in the list and rightly so. The most popular artist in terms of the sheer volume of nominations was by some distance, LCD Soundsystem,whose vote was also split very widely.

I’m less surprised about the results than I had anticipated, and know far more of these records than I had expected to know. The poll does not of course claim to be a new canon for the 21st Century, but alongside the other three polls, it should offer a few pointers to those looking to expand their horizons, and if anyone is looking to build a collection of popular music’s greatest 400 albums, they could do a lot worse than start here.

And the winner? Well, it’s somehow fitting that we round off this exercise with pop’s greatest star looking down from the summit, but, fine album though it undoubtedly is, it does somehow feel a little incongruous and unrepresentative – another inevitable consequence of the block vote. Only one person actually placed it as first choice. But there it is. I’m sure many will argue long into the night about its merits, but that’s democracy for you.

Once again, immense thanks to you all for your inspiring recommendations over the last three months. I have been furnished with enough new music to occupy me purposefully for the rest of my life. Now how exactly am I going to find the time to listen to it all? Skim listening just won’t do it. (JJ)

[As is customary, those albums just missing the cut (101-200) are listed in the first Appendix – following the list of contributors. A list of ‘One Vote Wonders’ should appear at the weekend]

………………………………………………..

The Top 100

100. Thunder Lightning Strike – The Go Team (Memphis Industries, 2004)

99. No More Shall We Part – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (Mute, 2001)

98. The Drift – Scott Walker (4AD, 2006)

97. Any Other City – Life Without Buildings (Tugboat, 2001)

96. mbv – My Bloody Valentine (m b v, 2013)

95. World Music – Goat (Rocket, 2012)

94. Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill – Grouper (Type, 2008)

93. Norman Fucking Rockwell – Lana Del Ray (Polydor, 2019)

92. Rounds – Four Tet (Domino, 2003)

91. Donuts – J Dilla (Stones Throw, 2006)

90. The Woods – Sleater-Kinney (Sub Pop, 2005)

89. Up The Bracket – The Libertines (Rough Trade, 2002)

88. Turn On The Bright Lights – Interpol (Matador, 2002)

87. Speakerboxxx / The Love Below – OutKast (LaFace. 2003)

86. Raising Sand – Robert Plant / Alison Krauss (Rounder, 2007)

85. Not The Tremblin’ Kind – Laura Cantrell (Spit & Polish, 2000)

84. Voodoo – D’Angelo (Virgin, 2000)

83. This Is Happening – LCD Soundsystem (DFA, 2005)

82. You Are Free – Cat Power (Matador, 2003)

81. Strange Geometry – The Clientele (Pointy, 2005)

80. Love & Theft – Bob Dylan (Columbia, 2001)

79. Bloom – Beach House (Sub Pop, 2012)

78. Tomorrow’s Harvest – Boards Of Canada (Warp, 2013)

77. Diamond Mine – King Creosote & Jon Hopkins (Domino, 2011)

76. Sometimes I Sit And Think & Sometimes I Just Sit – Courtney Barnett (Milk!, 2015)

75. High Violet – The National (4AD, 2010)

74. Veckatimest – Grizzly Bear (Warp, 2009)

73. Master And Everyone – Bonnie Prince Billy (Drag City, 2003)

72. Lost Souls – Doves (Heavenly, 2000)

71. Time (The Revelator) – Gillian Welch (Acony, 2001)

70. I Love You Honeybear – Fr. John Misty (Bella Union, 2015)

69. The Archandroid – Janelle Monae (Bad Boy, 2010)

68. Kiwanuka – Michael Kiwanuka (Polydor, 2019)

67. The Silver Globe – Jane Weaver (Fire, 2014)

66. Ys – Joanna Newsom (Drag City, 2006)

65. Madvillainy – Madvillain (Stones Throw, 2004)

64. Vespertine – Bjork (One Little Indian, 2001)

63. Skeleton Tree – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (Bad Seed Ltd, 2016)

62. The Greatest – Cat Power (Matador, 2006)

61. Light Up Gold – Parquet Courts (Dull Tools, 2012)

60. Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains (Drag City, 2019)

59. Party – Aldous Harding (4AD, 2017)

58. Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven – Godspeed You! Black Emperor (Constellation, 2000)

57. Good Kid MAAd City – Kendrick Lamar (Top Dawg, 2012)

56. Modern Kosmology – Jane Weaver (Fire, 2017)

55. Sea Change – Beck (Geffen, 2002)

54. Want One – Rufus Wainwright (DreamWorks, 2003)

53. Original Pirate Material – The Streets (Locked On / 679 Recordings, 2002)

52. Haha Sound – Broadcast (Warp, 2003)

51. LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem (DFA, 2005)

50. Channel Orange – Frank Ocean (Def Jam, 2012)

49. Oracular Spectacular – MGMT (Red Ink, 2007)

48. Tender Buttons – Broadcast (Warp, 2005)

47. Lost In The Dream – The War On Drugs (Secretly Canadian, 2014)

46. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend (XL, 2008)

45. For Emma Forever Ago – Bon Iver (Jagiaguwar, 2007)

44. Oceans Apart – The Go-Betweens (LO-MAX, 2005)

43. Teen Dream – Beach House (Sub Pop, 2010)

42. Since I Left You – The Avalanches (Modular, 2000)

41. Songs For The Deaf – Queens Of The Stone Age (Interscope, 2002)

40. The Noise Made By People – Broadcast (Warp, 2000)

39. Before Today – Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti (4AD, 2010)

38. Rings Around The World – Super Furry Animals (Epic, 2001)

37. Untrue – Burial (Hyperdub, 2007)

36. American IV: The Man Comes Around – Johnny Cash (American Recordings, 2002)

35. Halcyon Digest – Deerhunter (4AD, 2010)

34. Things We Lost In The Fire – Low (Kranky, 2001)

33. Carrie & Lowell – Sufjan Stevens Asthmatic Kitty, 2015)

32. Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not – Arctic Monkeys (Domino, 2006)

31. Currents – Tame Impala (Modular, 2015)

30. I Am A Bird Now – Antony & The Johnsons (Secretly Canadian, 2005)

29. White Blood Cells – White Stripes (Sympathy For The Record Industry, 2001)

28. Suburban Light – The Clientele (Pointy, 2000)

27. Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots – The Flaming Lips (Warner Bros, 2002)

26. Nixon – Lambchop (Merge, 2000)

25. And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out – Yo La Tengo (Matador, 2000)

24. XTRMNTR – Primal Scream (Creation, 2000)

23. Double Negative – Low (Sub Pop, 2018)

22. Elephant – The White Stripes (V2, 2003)

21. Lonerism – Tame Impala (Modular, 2012)

20. Figure 8 – Elliot Smith (DreamWorks, 2000)

19. In Rainbows – Radiohead (self-released, 2007)

18. Push The Sky Away – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (Bad Seed Ltd, 2013)

17. Queen Of Denmark – John Grant (Bella Union, 2010)

16. Third – Portishead (Island, 2008)

15. Have You In My Wilderness – Julia Holter (Domino, 2015)

14. Back To Black – Amy Winehouse (Island, 2006)

13. Geogaddi – Boards Of Canada (Warp, 2002)

12. Come On Feel The Illinoise – Sufjan Stevens (Asthmatic Kitty, 2005)

11. The Trials Of Van Occupanther – Midlake (Bella Union, 2006)

10. Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea – PJ Harvey (Island, 2000)

9. To Pimp A Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar (Top Dawg, 2015)

8. Kid A – Radiohead (Parlophone, 2000)

7. Is This It? – The Strokes (RCA, 2001)

6. Funeral – Arcade Fire (Merge, 2004)

5. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot – Wilco (Nonesuch, 2001)

4. Sound Of Silver – LCD Soundsystem (DFA, 2007)

3. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes (Bella Union, 2008)

2. Let England Shake – PJ Harvey (Island, 2011)

1. Blackstar – David Bowie (ISO / RCA, 2016)

…………………………………………………..

Contributors:

Bill Ainsworth, Camilla Aisa, Michael Bailey (Soft Hearted Scientists), Andy Barratt, Billy Bell, Caroline Binnie, Nick Blakey (Underground Jukebox), Chris Bounds, Holly Boyd, Stephen Boyd, Johnny Browning, David Bruce, Helen Bull, Kevin Byrne, Julie Campbell (LoneLady / Warp Records), Marc (Captain Howdy), Ben Chasny (Six Organs Of Admittance), Lucy Clifton, Si Cole, Chris Coleman, Mike Convery, Joe Currie, Campbell Davidson, Laura Lee Davies, Steve Davies, Jon Dennis, Mick Derrick, Neil Douglas, Lionel Duffy, Seamus Duggan, Maureen Dunlop, Peter Ferguson, Jim Ferry, Jason Finch, Declan Flanagan, Feargus Flanagan, Paul Gallagher, Carl Goldspink, Ben Graham, Grasshopper (Sean Mackowiak / Mercury Rev), Darren Grayer, Andrew Hall, Jeff Hartley, Mark Hillier, Robert Hodgens, Dan Holway, Jane Hoskyn, Maartje Jansma, Sophie Jay, James Johnstone, Johnnie Johnstone, Martin Johnstone, Peter Johnstone, Allan Jones, David Keller, Harris King, William Knott, Peter Latimer, Julian Francis Lawton, Paul Lowman, John Marcus, Rob Martindell, Leon Massey, Will McAlpine, Jim McCulloch, Alastair Macduff, Douglas McIntyre, Gary McKenzie, Grant McPhee, Fiona McQuarrie, John Medd, Graham Meikle, Thom Moore, Rob Morgan, Tony Mulraney, Paul Murray, Peter Murray, Huw Neill, Brendan O’Leary, Richard Oxley, Jake Palmer, Thomas Patterson, Mark Paytress, Richard Phillips-Jones, Andy Pidluznyi (New Apostles), Nick Portnell, Brian Randall, Steve Rhodes, Don Richmond, Chris Roberts, Matt Rogers, Coinneach Rooney, Marco Rossi, Martin Ruddock, Chris Sawle, Jo Scollin, Paul Scollin, David Sharp, Amy Shaw, Simon Shaw, Angela Slaven, Jonathan Small, Jason A Spence, Arthur David Spota, Iain Stansfield, Theo Stockman, David Stubbs, Daniel Thompson, Terry Tochel, Ben Travers, Paul Turnbull, Iain Wade, Judah Warsky, Richard Waterson, Stevie Watt, Helen Whiteley-McPhee, Dominic Whittingham, Peter Wilson, Winna Ding, Sandy Wishart, David Wright, Jack Young, Bill Zzuka

…………………………………………………….

The Next 100…

101. You Want It Darker – Leonard Cohen

102. Fever To Tell – The Yeah Yeah Yeahs

103. Heartbreaker – Ryan Adams

104. Lesser Matters – The Radio Dept

105. One Day I’m Going To Soar – Dexys

106. Born To Die – Lana Del Ray

107. Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle – Bill Callahan

108. I’m New Here – Gil Scott-Heron

109. Quiet Songs – Jessica Pratt

110. Modern Times – Bob Dylan

111. Monomania – Deerhunter

112. The Great Destroyer – Low

113. Yellow House – Grizzly Bear

114. Teens Of Denial – Carseat Headrest

115. The Suburbs – Arcade Fire

116. Insignificance– Jim O’Rourke

117. Chutes Too Narrow – The Shins

118. Relationship Of Command – At The Drive-In

119. Rated R – Queens Of The Stone Age

120. Person Pitch – Panda Bear

121. Let’s Get Out Of This Country– Camera Obscura

122. Shields – Grizzly Bear

123. Brothers – Black Keys

124. Human Performance – Parquet Courts

125. Stay Gold – First Aid Kit

126. Sun Structures – Temples

127. Aerial – Kate Bush

128. Morning Phase – Beck

129. Blonde – Frank Ocean

130. The Next Day – David Bowie

131. Primary Colours – The Horrors

132. Sophtware Slump – Grandaddy

133. On Your Own Love Again – Jessica Pratt

134. The Power Out – Electrelane

135. Riot On An Empty Street – Kings Of Convenience

136. Yeezus– Kanye West

137. Oh Inverted World – Shins

138. The Real New Fall Album (Country On The Click) – The Fall

139. Joy As An Act Of Resistance – Idles

140. Depression Cherry – Beach House

141. Crack Up – Fleet Foxes

142. Abattoir Blues / Lyre Of Orpheus – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

143. Supreme Clientele – Ghostface Killah

144. Black Messiah– D’Angelo

145. Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand

146. The Decline Of British Sea Power – British Sea Power

147. Discovery – Daft Punk

148. Post Pop Depression – Iggy Pop

149. Wooden Shjips – Wooden Shjips

150. Hinterland – LoneLady

151. Cole’s Corner – Richard Hawley

152. Campfire Headphase – Boards Of Canada

153. All Mirrors – Angel Olsen

154. We Got It From Here…Thank You For Your Service – A Tribe Called Quest

155. Your Queen Is A Reptile – Sons Of Kemet

156. Want Two – Rufus Wainwright

157. Your Future Our Clutter – The Fall

158. Slowdive – Slowdive

159. Hail To The Thief – Radiohead

160. The Age Of The Understatement – Last Shadow Puppets

161. > – Beak

162. The Life Pursuit – Belle & Sebastian

163. Ease Down The Road – Bonnie Prince Billy

164. Ghosteen – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

165. Sung Tongs – Animal Collective

166. Stankonia – OutKast

167. Takk – Sigur Ros

168. Helplessness Blues – Fleet Foxes

169. Bisch Bosch – Scott Walker

170. Real Gone – Tom Waits

171. Hot Shots 2 – The Beta Band

172. The xx – The xx

173. A Ghost Is Born – Wilco

174. The Coral – The Coral

175. Tanglewood Numbers – Silver Jews

176. Margerine Eclipse – Stereolab

177. Devotion– Beach House

178. Bravery Repetition & Noise – Brian Jonestown Massacre

179. Beet Maize & Corn – High Llamas

180. Transfiguration Of Vincent – M Ward

181. White Chalk – PJ Harvey

182. The Epic – Kamasi Washington

183. Merriweather Post Pavilion – Animal Collective

184. Cucumber – Sexual Objects

185. Arular – MIA

186. Dongs Of Sevotion – Smog

187. My Maudlin Career – Camera Obscura

188. Designer – Aldous Harding

189. Ghosts Of The Great Highway – Sun Kil Moon

190. Let It Come Down – Spiritualized

191. Bavarian Fruit Bread – Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions

192. Titanic Rising – Weyes Blood

193. Rest – Charlotte Gainsbourg

194. Slow Summits – The Pastels

195. The Age Of Adz – Sufjan Stevens

196. Do Hollywood – Lemon Twigs

197. Kaputt – Destroyer

198. Ballad Of The Broken Seas – Isobel Campbell / Mark Lanegan

199. Bon Iver – Bon Iver

200. The English Riviera – Metronomy

……………………………….

And now for something completely different…

One Vote Wonders

Over 500 titles received only one vote. Here are 100 of the more interesting nominations…

Hinterland – Aim

Always – Anti-Socialites

Drukqs – Aphex Twin

Citrus – Asobi Seksu

Moo You Bloody Choir – Augie March

David Axelrod– David Axelrod

Jackleg Devotional To The Heart – Baptist Generals

Disintegration Loops – William Basinski

Every Step’s A Yes – The Bees

The Owl’s Map – Belbury Poly (Jim Jupp)

Antlers And The Sun And All The Things That Grow Old And Pass Away – Bird By Snow

A Sea Of Trees – The Blue Angel Lounge

Childqueen – Khadja Bonet

Hunter – Anna Calvi

Transverse – Carter Tutti Void

Popcorn Doublefish – Malcolm Catto

The Longest River – Olivia Chaney

X-Pianos – Chassol

The Cherry Blossoms – The Cherry Blossoms

Cheval Sombre – Cheval Sombre

Black Ships Ate The Sky – Current 93

Working Class Woman – Marie Davidson

You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine – Death From Above 1979

A Long Losing Battle With Eloquence & Intimance – Dredd Foole

Runout Groove – Stephen Duffy & The Lilac Time

Here’s My Song, You Can Have It, I Don’t Want It Anymore / Yours 4-Ever – Nicolai Dunger

Allegranza! – El Guincho

We Are All From Somewhere Else – Exploding Star Orchestra

Devin Dazzle & The Neon Fever – Felix da Housecat

La Reproduction – Arnaud Fleurent-Didier

Record Collector – The Foreign Films

Insides – Fort Romeau

Personal Record – Eleanor Freidberger

Cabinet Of Curiosities – Jacco Gardner

Pop – Gas

Ghost Dog (The Way Of The Samurai) – Original Soundtrack

Underdog World Strike – Gogol Bordello

The Days Of Mars – Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russon

Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs – Henry Gorecki / Beth Gibbons

The Art Of Funerary Violin – The Guild Of Funerary Violinists

Y Dydd Olaf – Gwenno

In The Pink Of Condition – H. Hawkline

Fletcher Moss Park – Matthew Halsall

Black Blues – Keiji Hano

Excavation – The Haxan Cloak

Bright Penny – Liam Hayes & Plush

Health – The Heavy Blinkers

Chiaroscuro – Arve Henriksen

Proto – Holly Herndon

Human Don’t Be Angry – Human Don’t Be Angry

Edge Of A Dream – Bert Jansch

Black Origami – Jlin

Orpheé – Johann Johannson

100 Days, 100 Nights – Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

Take Me Apart – Kelela

Dracula Boots – Kid Congo Powers & The Monkey Birds

Kite – Steven Lindsay

Nerve Up – LoneLady

Hoverance- Raleigh Long

I Trawl The Megahertz– Paddy McAloon

Something For The Weakened – Meursault

MM Food – MF Doom

Les Revenants – Mogwai

The Moldy Peaches – The Moldy Peaches

Morgan Delt – Morgan Delt

Nichts Muss – Barbara Morgenstern

Entranced Earth – The Myrrors

Songs III: Bird On The Water – Marissa Nadler

Variations On A Theme – Om

Forroleidescope – Orquestra do Fuba

Heavy Rain – Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry