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)


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)



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

Reachy Prints – Plaid

Music For Small’s Lighthouse – Plinth

Moses On A Snail – Robert Pollard

Your Mind Is A Box (Let Us Fill It With Wonder) – Poltergeist

Paranoic Critical – Port Sulphur

The Two Worlds – Brigid Mae Power

1992 – Princess Nokia

The Dark Realities Of The Moment – Professor Brian Oblivion

Matador Singles ’08 – Jay Reatard

Because Her Beauty Is Raw & Wild – Jonathan Richman

The Colossus – RJD2

A Wonder Working Stone – Alasdair Roberts & Friends

Hope Downs – Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

How To Live With A Phantom – Shintaro Sakamoto

Live In The Earth: In Dub Chapter 2 – Sandoz

Coping Mechanisms – Si Schroeder

The Bells Of 1 2 – Sol Seppy

Whorl – Simian Mobile Disco

Ascent – Six Organs Of Admittance

EARS – Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith

Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve – The Soft Bounce

His Hands – Candi Staton

Funeral Mariachi – Sun City Girls

Pyroclasts – Sunn O)))

Bastard – Tyler The Creator

Thing Of The Past – Vetiver

Turning To The Rooster – Vibracathedral Orchestra

Also In White – Bill Wells Trio

Briarwood – Wooden Wand

Songbook – Woodpigeon


Greatest Records
Begin The Begin

The NME’s all-time top 100 of 1985, which marks the cut-off point for our second poll and the beginning of our third, fixed in the public imagination both the concept and the content of The Canon. There had, of course, been similar lists before  – not least the NME’s initial one in 1974, which set the boundary for our first poll – but they had been comparatively few and seemed to cause few wider ripples.

The 1985 list, though, cast up a barrage of talking points of talking points and set the template for innumerable future lists, including NME reruns, although many simply appeared to shuffle the same albums into a different order and freshen it up with a few more recent releases.
But crucially, its also opened up a raft of, for many, hitherto obscure or unconsidered influences to be plundered  for years to come. It often seems that albums which recur on these lists are more often talked about than played, and those who claim their influence sometimes appear to have only half-heard them through a haze at 5am on numerous mid-’90s Sundays, but curiosity was undoubtedly piqued and that decade, in particular, would prove to be ripe for reinventing the funk, rusticity and hallucinations of another age.
Love Goes On!
The following decade and a half passed through three or four distinct phases and the landscape by the end of the millennium bore as little resemblance to the mid-80s as the mid-80s to the early 70s, or the Jazz Age to the Edwardian era.

In 1986, things were as fragmented and as polarised as they had ever been, with a particularly garish mainstream, the C86 scene which proudly defined itself against rock at its most troglodyte and pop at its naffest alike and the burgeoning house and hip-hop sounds which would come to conquer the solar system. Others didn’t fit into such tidy boxes – The Smiths, Prince, REM, Madonna – but their reward was to epitomise the era.

A lack of cohesion of this kind usually means a blank canvas and so it was that we saw the celebrated and extraordinary blizzard of creativity of 1988.  My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins, Talk Talk and Pixies were among those who, independently but simulmtaneously, hit redoubtable peaks. Better still, they all sustained it with their follow-ups.

Also part of this glorious stampede was Happy Mondays’ Bummed, a cool-as-February bacchanal of physical possibilities, terrifying realities and scrambled visions. Early in 1989, I expressed the hope that it would shape the ’90s; it would, but not as I imagined. Like the Pogues and the Specials, for all their own brilliance, the Mondays’ influence would prove to be largely malign as they spawned a battery of hapless and sometimes horrible imitators. As did their Manc yang, the Stone Roses, of whom more later.

The alignment of both, particularly the Roses, to dance and acid house was, musically if not otherwise, occasionally vivid, more often vague, at times plain spurious. Those scenes were, as its staunchest  advocates were quick to remind us, an entirely different language which had no more in common with rock in any form  than Sanskrit has with Finnish. It came in on a wave of Chicago glory, unleashed drum and bass and delivered well over a decade of thrills, with or without pills.

But for a couple of years in the early ’90s, the nosebleed sound – which made so few demands on the listener that it barely seemed to exist – threatened to derail the whole thing. It coincided with a procession of bands whose primary influence was not the Who or the Clash or the Smiths or Pixies but the Wonderstuff, like a writer inspired more by Jeffrey Archer than by Dickens. Meanwhile, Nirvana brought a sound an attitude to the mainstream that had led from Black Flag, Minor Threat, the Minutemen and Husker Du – and led to Alice In Chains and Stone Temple Pilots.

Aye, they were a bleak time, the early ’90s. There was an upturn in the middle of the decade; Britpop may not ultimately have proved to be much more than a sugar rush but it did clear the air, although its own mould began to grow fast. The real action, though, was happening elsewhere.

After The Flood!

So what do we all see over the millennium bridge of 1986-99? It’s a vast horizon, broad enough to accommodate Paul Simon and the Aphex Twin, Lucinda Williams and the Wu- Tang Clan, Slint and Air. Plenty in here that you could lose yourself in – for me, the likes of Laughingstock, Mezzanine and Ladies & Gentlemen…in the words of Robert Christgau”(repay) prolonged listening with new excitement and insight.

Many I love. Many I like a great deal. None I actively dislike. Quite a few I’d like to explore further. But naturally, some I look for in vain; personal favourites such as the Band Of Holy Joy, High Llamas and Blue Aeroplanes have, despite  my own efforts, failed to gain the required support.

It’s gratifying to see my own number one, Spirit Of Eden, in the top 10. Its magic and mystery had been widely acknowledged long before Mark Hollis’ premature death last year and had even longer since been detached from the disbelief on its release that such a rich, complex and dazzlingly beautiful record had been made by a band peddling tracing paper-thin synth tunes a few years earlier (though we now know Hollis had aspired to these heights all along but limited resources had thwarted his ambition).

Pleasing as  well to see showings for the likes of Galaxie 500 and Mary Margaret O’Hara, both of whom had magnificent mayfly careers in the late ’80s and early ’90s but are now at risk of being lost to history. We’ve covered the latter and should have the former in the pipeline; that’s our job.

It wasn’t a great surprise to see the Stone Roses’ debut at the top; its popularity and influence aren’t in any doubt but I’ve always found it more than somewhat overrated. This isn’t to say that I thinks it’s a bad record; at its best, it proved that, after years of indie discos filling floors with music that could only be twitched to stiffly, they proved that this music could still be dance music. I just think there’s any number of records in a similar field that have better songs, more imagination, more guile – and haven’t  had the life sucked out of them by unending plays on Absolute Radio and XFM.

But I’m with former NME editor Steve Sutherland, who always maintained they were “a pretty good band” while remaining bewildered by the fuss, and your vote stands. Many thanks for taking part (PG).


Like many of the other contributors to this, the third TNPC poll, I found the task of selecting my own personal Top 30 an extraordinarily uncomfortable one. That contrasted sharply with the previous polls. A considerable amount of time has passed since 1985 and the distance from then until now made it comparatively easy to remain objective in one’s analysis of the music made before then. But for my TNPC colleagues and I, just as for many of you, on this occasion objectivity did not and could not, enter the equation: this was our time, straddling the period between the twilight of our teenage years and ending well after the clock had struck thirty and we’d suddenly transformed into those hoary guys who create conspicuous little spaces around themselves at the odd gig they still manage to limp along to. It was a time which witnessed the golden era of hip-hop, an explosion in electronic music, the grunge phenomenon and something which came to be known as Britpop, most of which was so crassly opportunistic it had us reaching for the sick bag. The era was littered with records by cult favourites such as Felt, Low, Guided By Voices, The Durutti Column, The Chills and The Lilac Time, but unsurprisingly those artists seem destined never to feature prominently in this type of list. Likewise, my faint hopes that Mettle, It’s Time For Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers, Mercy Street and Stop Your Nonsense might dent the chart were soon vanquished by a steady stream of votes for more familiar fare. But the fact that one or two others voted for them at all felt like a small victory. It has been a pleasant surprise too to note artists such as Stereolab, Galaxie 500 and Mick Head / Shack move in from the margins to compete with the big hitters, and if I feel more than a little disappointed by the predictability of the top two, that is partly compensated for by the inclusion of some unheralded cult gems such as Rise Above and Forever Breathes The Lonely World in the Auxiliary Chart, both of which contrived to outscore the bazillion-selling Goliaths that are What’s The Story Morning Glory? (which finished up at no. 221!) and The Joshua Tree. Which is of course very much the spirit of TNPC, where on these pages – for the rest of the year at least – we continue to champion the music of the underdog.

Finally, just remember, whether the poll enthuses or enrages you, the only list that really matters is the one inside your head. Next stop the 21st Century…a whole new world of sound beyond the ‘canon’. Coming soon… (JJ)

[As is customary, the Auxiliary Chart of those albums placed 101-200, follows at the end of the main list, while the ‘One Vote Wonders’ list will be published soon.]


The Top 100…

100. Yerself Is Steam – Mercury Rev (Mint Films / Jungle Records, 1991)

99. Sister – Sonic Youth (SST, 1987)

98. Infected – The The (Some Bizarre / Epic, 1986)

97. Ragged Glory – Neil Young & Crazy Horse (Reprise, 1990)

96. Darklands – The Jesus & Mary Chain (Blanco y Negro, 1987)

95. Radiator – Super Furry Animals (Creation, 1997)

94. You’re Living All Over Me – Dinosaur (SST, 1987)

93. XO – Elliott Smith (Dreamworks, 1998)

92. Harvest Moon – Neil Young (Reprise, 1992)

91. Miss America – Mary Margaret O’Hara (Virgin, 1988)

90. The Colour Of Spring – Talk Talk (EMI, 1986)

89. Car Wheels On A Gravel Road – Lucinda Williams (Mercury, 1998)

88. Dots & Loops – Stereolab (Duophonic, 1997)

87. The Low End Theory – A Tribe Called Quest (Jove, 1991)

86. Today – Galaxie 500 (Aurora, 1988)

85. Copper Blue – Sugar (Creation, 1992)

84. Dog Man Star – Suede (Nude, 1994)

83. In Utero – Nirvana (DGC, 1993)

82. Blood & Chocolate – Elvis Costello & The Attractions (Demon, 1996)

81. Jordan: The Comeback – Prefab Sprout (Kitchenware, 1990)

80. Definitely Maybe – Oasis (Creation, 1994)

79. Nowhere – Ride (Creation, 1990)

78. Goo – Sonic Youth (Warner Bros, 1990)

77. Waterpistol – Shack (Marina, 1996)

76. Odelay – Beck (DGC, 1996)

75. The Boatman’s Call – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (Mute, 1997)

74. California – American Music Club (Demon, 1988)

73. I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One – Yo La Tengo (Matador, 1997)

72. Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot – Sparklehorse (Capitol, 1995)

71. Giant Steps – Boo Radleys (Creation, 1993)

70. Document – REM (IRS, 1987)

69. HMS Fable – Shack (London, 1999)

68. The House Of Love (Creation, 1988)

67. Liquid Swords – GZA (Geffen, 1996)

66. Reading Writing & Arithmetic – The Sundays (Rough Trade, 1990)

65. Tilt – Scott Walker (Fontana, 1995)

64. Spiderland – Slint (Touch & Go, 1991)

63. Bend Sinister – The Fall (Beggars Banquet, 1996)

62. Songs For Drella – Lou Reed / John Cale (Sire, 1990)

61. Graceland – Paul Simon (Warner Bros, 1986)

60. Nevermind – Nirvana (DGC, 1991)

59. Slanted & Enchanted – Pavement (Matador 1992)

58. Moon Safari – Air (Virgin, 1997)

57. Secrets Of The Beehive – David Sylvian (Virgin, 1987)

56. Warehouse: Songs & Stories – Hüsker Dü (Warner Bros, 1987)

55. Parade – Prince (Warner Bros, 1986)

54. The Magical World of The Strands – Michael Head & The Strands (Megaphone, 1997)

53. Fear of A Black Planet – Public Enemy (Def Jam, 1988)

52. She Hangs Brightly – Mazzy Star (Rough Trade, 1990)

51. If I Should Fall From Grace With God – The Pogues (Pogue Mahone, 1988)

50. Emperor Tomato Ketchup – Stereolab (Duophonic, 1996)

49. Songs From Northern Britain – Teenage Fanclub (Creation, 1997)

48. Selected Ambient Works 85-92 – Aphex Twin (Apollo, 1992)

47. Disintegration – The Cure (Fiction, 1989)

46. New York – Lou Reed (Sire, 1989)

45. Maxinquaye – Tricky (4th & Broadway, 1995)

44. Automatic For The People – REM (Warner Bros, 1992)

43. Laser Guided Melodies – Spiritualized (Dedicated, 1992)

42. Mezzanine – Massive Attack (Circa, 1997)

41. Green – REM (Warner Bros, 1988)

40. Paul’s Boutique – Beastie Boys (Capitol, 1989)

39. The La’s (Go!, 1990)

38. Bummed – Happy Mondays (Factory, 1988)

37. It’s A Shame About Ray – The Lemonheads (Warner Bros, 1992)

36. Grand Prix – Teenage Fanclub (Creation, 1995)

35. If You’re Feeling Sinister – Belle & Sebastian (1996)

34. Liberty Belle & The Black Diamond Express – The Go-Betweens (1986)

33. Hats – The Blue Nile (1989)

32. Isn’t Anything – My Bloody Valentine (Creation. 1988)

31. Grace – Jeff Buckley (Columbia, 1994)

30. Endtroducing – DJ Shadow (Mo Wax!, 1996)

29. Blue Bell Knoll – Cocteau Twins (4AD, 1988)

28. Music Has The Right To Children – Boards Of Canada (Warp, 1998)

27. Laughingstock – Talk Talk (Parlophone, 1991)

26. Time Out Of Mind – Bob Dylan (Columbia, 1997)

25. Deserters Songs – Mercury Rev (V2, 1998)

24. Life’s Rich Pageant – REM (IRS, 1986)

23. 16 Lovers Lane – The Go-Betweens (Beggars Banquet, 1988)

22. Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) – Wi-Tang Clan (Loud, 1993)

21. Crooked Rain Crooked Rain – Pavement (Matador, 1994)

20. Heaven Or Las Vegas – Cocteau Twins (4AD, 1990)

19. Dummy – Portishead (Go! Beat, 1994)

18. Blue Lines – Massive Attack (Wild Bunch / Virgin, 1991)

17. On Fire – Galaxie 500 (1989)

16. OK Computer – Radiohead (Parlophone, 1997)

15. Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space – Spiritualized (Dedicated, 1997)

14. Daydream Nation – Sonic Youth (Blast First, 1988)

13. Bandwagonesque – Teenage Fanclub (Creation, 1991)

12. Technique – New Order (1989)

11. Screamadelica – Primal Scream (Creation, 1991)

10. The Soft Bulletin – The Flaming Lips (1999)

9. Sign O The Times – Prince (Warner Bros, 1987)

8. Spirit Of Eden – Talk Talk (Parlophone, 1988)

7. 3 Feet High & Rising – De La Soul (Tommy Boy, 1989)

6. Surfer Rosa – Pixies (4AD, 1988)

5. Loveless – My Bloody Valentine (Creation, 1991)

4. Doolittle – Pixies (4AD, 1989)

3. It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back – Public Enemy (Def Jam, 1988)

2. The Queen Is Dead – The Smiths (Rough Trade, 1986)

1. The Stone Roses (Silvertone, 1989)


The Next 100:

101. Mogwai- Come On Die Young

102. St. Etienne – Foxbase Alpha

103. Neutral Milk Hotel – In An Aeroplane Over The Sea

104. Silver Jews – American Water

105. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Your Funeral, My Trial

106. The Breeders – Last Splash

107. Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man

108. Plush – More You Becomes You

109. Pulp – Different Class

110. Dinosaur Jr. – Bug

111. Bjork – Debut

112. Jane’s Addiction – Nothing’s Shocking

113. The Cure – Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me

114. Manic Street Preachers – The Holy Bible

115. Magnetic Fields – 69 Love Songs

116. Wilco – Summerteeth

117. Julee Cruise – Floating Into The Night

118. Eric B & Rakim – Paid In Full

119. Kate Bush – The Sensual World

120. The Chills – Kaleidoscope World

121. The Fall – Extricate

122. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Tender Prey

123. Underworld – Dubnobasswithmyheadman

124. XTC – Skylarking

125. The Triffids – Born Sandy Devotional

126. High Llamas – Hawaii

127. Belle & Sebastian – The Boy With The Arab Strap

128. Guided By Voices – Bee Thousand

129. Radiohead – The Bends

130. Johnny Cash – American Recordings

131. Electronic – Electronic

132. Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream

133. The Costello Show – King Of America

134. Depeche Mode – Violator

135. Hüsker Dü – Candy Apple Grey

136. Tindersticks – Tindersticks (first)

137. The Lilac Time – The Lilac Time

138. Wilco – Being There

139. Epic Soundtracks – Rise Above

140. Felt – Forever Breathes The Lonely Word

141. Big Black – Atomizer

142. Paul Weller – Wildwood

143. Sebadoh – Bakesale

144. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – The Good Son

145. Bonnie Prince Billy – I See A Darkness

146. Spacemen 3 – Playing With Fire

147. Tom Waits – Frank’s Wild Years

148. Beastie Boys – Ill Communication

149. Beastie Boys – Check Your Head

150. Edwyn Collins – Gorgeous George

151. Blur – Modern Life Is Rubbish

152. Tindersticks – Tindersticks (second)

153. A Tribe Called Quest – People’s Instinctive Travels…

154. Elliot Smith – Either Or

155. High Llamas – Gideon Gaye

156. The Orb – Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld

157. NAS – Illmatic

158. Stereolab – Mars Audiac Quintet

159. AR Kane – 69

160. The Chills – Submarine Bells

161. Spacemen 3 – The Perfect Prescription

162. David Bowie – 1. Outside

163. Blur – Parklife

164. U2 – The Joshua Tree

165. Suede – Suede

166. The Replacements – Pleased To Meet Me

167. Mogwai – Young Team

168. The Cramps – A Date With Elvis

169. Grant Hart – Intolerance

170. Goldie – Timeless

171. The KLF – Chill Out

172. George Michael – Listen Without Prejudice Vol.1

173. PJ Harvey – Rid Of Me

174. REM – Out Of Time

175. The Go-Betweens – Tallulah

176.. Whipping Boy – Heartworm

177. Daft Punk – Homework

178. Public Enemy – Yo! Bum Rush The Show

179. Beck – Mellow Gold

180. St. Etienne – So Tough

181. Cowboy Junkies – The Trinity Session

182. Radiohead – Pablo Honey

183. U2 – Achtung Baby

184. Etienne DeCrecy – Super Discount

185. Leftfield – Leftism

186. Nirvana – MTV Unplugged

187. Felt – Me And A Monkey On The Moon

188. Julian Cope – Peggy Suicide

189. Stereolab – Transient Random-Noise Bursts…

190. Happy Mondays – Pills ‘N’ Thrills & Bellyaches

191. The Fall – Shiftwork

192. The Breeders – Pod

193. The Wedding Present – Seamonsters

194. Gang Starr – Step In The Arena

195. The Durutti Column – Vini Reilly

196. Momus – The Poison Boyfriend

197. Slowdive – Souvlaki

198. Arthur Russell – World Of Echo

199. Thin White Rope – Moonhead

200. Throwing Muses – The Real Ramona


Strange, Sublime or still loved by some… (One Vote Wonders 1986-99)

Barry Adamson – Oedipus Schmoedipus

Apples In Stereo – Tone Soul Evolution

Autechre – Tri Repetae

B12 – Time Tourist
Baader Meinhof – Baader Meinhof
Basic Channel – BCD
The Bodines – Played
Bongwater – Too Much Sleep
Black Science Orchestra – Walter’s Room
Bronco Bullfrog – Bronco Bullfrog
Brian Jonestown Massacre – Their Satanic Majesties Request
The Cardiacs – Sing To God
The Chamber Strings – Gospel Morning 
Chorchozade – Made To Be Devoured
Coil – Astral Disaster
Bobby Conn – Rise Up!
The Cook The Thief His Wife & Her Lover (OST)
Current 93 – Swastikas For Noddy
Holger Czukay – Rome Remains Rome
Damon & Naomi – More Sad Hits
Richard Davies – There’s Never Been A Crowd Like This 
Miles Davis & Michel Legrand – Dingo
Dead Moon – Unknown Passage
DreamWarriors – And Now The Legacy Begins
EPMD – Strictly Business
Eno / Cale – Wrong Way Up
John Fahey – Red Cross
Tav Falco’s Panther Burns – Red Devil
Field Mice – Snowball
Robbie Fulks – South Mouth
Godspeed You Black Emperor – Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada EP
Jean Luis Guerra – Bachata Rosa
The Gun Club – Mother Juno
A Guy Called Gerald – Black Secret Technology
Half Japanese – The Band That Would Be King 
Roland S Howard – Teenage Snuff Film
Hugo Largo – Drum
Zakir Hussain – Making Music
Jazz Butcher – Cult Of The Basement
Daniel Johnston- 1990
Jungle Brothers – Done By The Forces Of Nature
Katherine – Les Creatures
Kreisler String Orchestra – 226
Laughing Hyenas – Life Of Crime
LL Cool J – Radio
Low – Christmas
Luna – Penthouse
Lush – Scar
Luxuria – Unanswerable Lust
MC Solaar – Prose Combat
Madder Rose – Bring It Down
Kirsty McColl – Kite

Grant McLennan – Fireboy

Mekons – The Mekons’ Rock’n’Roll

Missy Elliott – Supa Dupa Fly

Morphine – Cure For Pain

Le Mystere de Voix Bulgares – Vol. 3

Negativland – Escape From Noise
Olivia Tremor Control – Black Foliage

Opal – Early Recordings

Orbital – In Sides

Augustus Pablo- Rising Sun

Paragon Ragtime Orchestra – On The Level, You’re A Little Devil

The Pastels – Mobile Safari

Pere Ubu – The Tenement Year

Lee Perry – From The Secret Laboratory

Louis Philippe – Azure

Prince – The Black Album

Steve Reich – Different Trains

Jonathan Richman – I’m So Confused

Kevin Rowland – The Wanderer

Royal Trux – Cats & Dogs

Salt ‘n’ Pepa – Hot, Cool, Vicious

Scott 4 – Works Project

The Sea & Cake – The Fawn

Shop Assistants – Shop Assistants

Silver Sun – Silver Sun

Spectrum – Soul Kiss

Stars Of The Lid – Avec Laudenum 

The Stone Roses – Second Coming

Sun Ra Arkestra – Mayan Temple

James Taylor Quartet – Wait A Minute

Martin Taylor – Don’t Fret

Til Tuesday – Everything’s Different Now

To Rococo Rot – Amateur View

Truman’s Water – Spasm Smash XXXOxox Ox & Ass

Maureen Tucker – Life In Exile After Abdication 
UNKLE – Psyence Fiction
Alan Vega – 2007
The Verlaines – Bird-Dog
Volcano Suns – Bumper Crop
Gillian Welch – Revival
Jim White – The Mysterious Tale Of How I Shouted Wrong-Eyed Jesus
Wild Swans – Bringing Home The Ashes
The Wolfhounds – Blown Away
The Woodentops – Giant
Robert Wyatt – Shleep
The Young Gods – The Young Gods
John Zorn – Naked City

Thank You!

As ever we are greatly indebted to the following list of contributors:

Bill Ainsworth, Camilla Aisa, Andy (Birmingham’81), David Ayling, Michael Bailey (Soft Hearted Scientists), Billy Bell, Caroline Binnie, Nick Blakey (Underground Jukebox), Chris Bounds, Stephen Boyd, Johny Brown (Band Of Holy Joy), Johnny Browning, David Bruce, Colin Brunton, Helen Bull, Kevin Byrne, Paul Callanan, Chris Canham, Chris Coleman, Iain Conroy, Mike Convery, Dave Coulter, Marnie Coulter, Brian Crandall, Campbell Davidson, Laura Lee Davies, Jon Dennis, Mick Derrick, John Dickie, Andrew Divine, Neil Douglas, Seamus Duggan, Maureen Dunlop, Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn (Cosmic Range Records), Matt Elliott, Peter Ferguson, Jason Finch, Declan Flanagan, Feargus Flanagan, Mikki Francis-Lawton, Paul Gallagher, Alfie Gildea, Paul Gildea, Darren Grayer, Theo Hakkert, Andrew Hall, Mark Harrison, Jeff Hartley, Mark Hillier, Sophie Jay, James Johnstone, Johnnie Johnstone, Martin Johnstone, Peter Johnstone, Allan Jones, Jukebox Rebel, David Kelner, John Kilbride, Harris King, Graham Kingsbury, William Knott, June Lewins, Paul Lowman, Huw M, Alastair Macduff, Gary Mackenzie, Marc (Captain Howdy), Jon Marcus, Leon Massey, Will McAlpine, Jim McCulloch, Paul McLoone (The Undertones), Grant McPhee, Fiona McQuarrie, John Medd, Graham Meikle, Rob Morgan, Greg Morse, Tony Mulraney, Paul Murray, Peter Murray, Jason Myles, Kris Needs, Huw Neill, Brendan O’Leary, Jake Palmer, Thomas Patterson, Mark Paytress, Andy Pidluznyj (New Apostles), Nick Portnell, Mark Raison, Steve Rhodes, Don Richmond, Chris Roberts, Matt Rogers, Marco Rossi, Alice Salvesen, Chris Sawle, Jo Scollin, Paul Scollin, David Sharp, Simon Shaw, Angela Slaven, Jason Spence, Iain Stansfield, Theo Stockman, David Stubbs, Andrew Thompson, Daniel Thompson, James Timoney, Terry Tochel, Ben Travers, Paul Turnbull, Ian Wade, Judah Warsky, Stevie Watt, Richard Watterson, Dominic Whittingham, Peter Wilson, ‘Winna Ding’, Sandy Wishart, Colin Wright, David Wright.


Greatest Records

So, 1974 to 1985, right?

I suppose the first thing to do is to answer the question everyone’s been asking: “Why 74-85?” A seemingly random period of time. The rationale behind the recent pre-1974 poll was perhaps a tad easier to explain. For that exercise we reimagined the 1974 NME Top 100 albums, through 21st century eyes. For this one, we’ve drawn a line at 1985, the year the NME published their second Greatest Albums poll. There would be little point in voters duplicating some of their choices from the pre-74 list, so instead, TNPC is planning a four part feature. The next one will focus on albums released between 1986 and 1999, and the last will be a 21st century rundown. Expect to be harassed into taking part in those over the coming months.

Where did jazz go?

While this is a terrific collection of albums, there isn’t a great deal here to be surprised about. One might note perhaps how Wire’s legacy, like that of The Kinks (as evidenced by their performance in the pre-74 poll) is becoming more secure. Wire was conspicuously absent from the ’85 NME poll, pictured above. The balance and breadth of the entries was striking too: people seem more relaxed nowadays to mix prog, punk and hip-hop together in their lists, something which might not have been the case in 1985.

In 1974, few could possibly have foreseen the changes that were about to take place in popular music, and the outward ripples of punk and new wave flow freely through the list. But there’s a real shortage of soul. While reggae and dub are at least represented with a handful of entries, it was after all the golden era of JA music. Jazz meanwhile has fallen of the radar spectacularly, despite Miles making some of the most adventurous music, and Sun Ra some of his most accessibly celestial, during the period in question.

All the others you’d expect to be there – well, they’re here. And the top choice? Won by a landslide…

As with the last poll, I’ll post an Appendix of the next 100 over the next few days. Some great albums just missed the cut, Marcus Garvey, one of my all-time favourites for example. I also intend to post an Alternative Top 100 of albums which were nominated only once. I guarantee that will be an eye-opener and will set you off on new journeys of discovery.

Once again, I can’t thank enough all those who were kind and enthusiastic enough to contribute. I’m very grateful to you all. Hope you enjoy the list. Back soon. (JJ)

The Top 100:

100. Kings Of The Wild Frontier – Adam & The Ants (CBS, 1980)

99. Fried – Julian Cope (Mercury, 1984)

98. Soul Mining – The The (Some Bizarre, 1983)

97. The Undertones – The Undertones (Sire, 1979)

96. New Gold Dream [81-82-83-84] – Simple Minds (Virgin, 1982)

95. I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight – Richard & Linda Thompson (Island, 1974)

94. 154 – Wire (Harvest, 1979)

93. Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen (Columbia, 1975)

92. Imperial Bedroom – Elvis Costello & The Attractions (F-Beat, 1982)

91. Super Ape – The Upsetters (Island, 1976)

90. Desire – Bob Dylan (CBS, 1976)

89. More Songs About Buildings & Food – Talking Heads (Sire, 1978)

88. Exodus – Bob Marley & The Wailers (Island, 1977)

87. Nebraska – Bruce Springsteen (CBS, 1982)

86. Physical Graffiti – Led Zeppelin (Swan Song, 1975)

85. Grievous Angel  – Gram Parsons (Reprise, 1974)

84. Rust Never Sleeps – Neil Young & Crazy Horse (Reprise, 1979)

83. Sulk – Associates (Beggars Banquet, 1982)

82. Diamond Dogs – David Bowie (RCA, 1974)

81. Court & Spark – Joni Mitchell (Asylum, 1974)

80. Get Happy!! – Elvis Costello & The Attractions (F-Beat, 1980)

79. Lexicon Of Love – ABC (Neutron, 1982)

78. The Man Machine – Kraftwerk (EMI, 1977)

77. Let It Be – The Replacements (Twin/Tone, 1984)

76. This Nation’s Saving Grace – The Fall (Beggars Banquet, 1985)

75. Colossal Youth – Young Marble Giants (Rough Trade, 1980)

74. The Modern Dance  – Pere Ubu (Blank, 1978)

73. Rain Dogs – Tom Waits (Island, 1985)

72. A Walk Across The Rooftops – The Blue Nile (Linn, 1983)

71. Kilimanjaro – The Teardrop Explodes (Fontana, 1980)

70. Purple Rain – Prince & The Revolution (Warner Bros, 1984)

69. Reckoning – REM (IRS, 1984)

68. Don’t Stand Me Down – Dexy’s Midnight Runners (Mercury, 1985)

67. The Hissing Of Summer Lawns – Joni Mitchell (Asylum, 1975)

66. Rocket To Russia – Ramones (Sire, 1977)

65. Rumours – Fleetwood Mac (Warner Bros, 1977)

64. Sound Affects – The Jam (Polydor, 1980)

63. Steve McQueen – Prefab Sprout (Kitchenware, 1985)

62. Pacific Ocean Blue – Dennis Wilson (Caribou, 1977)

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

60. All Mod Cons – The Jam (Polydor, 1978)

59. Lust For Life – Iggy Pop (RCA, 1977)

58. Another Green World – Brian Eno (Island, 1975)

57. Hex Enduction Hour – The Fall (Kamera, 1982)

56. Heroes – David Bowie (RCA, 1977)

55. Ocean Rain – Echo & The Bunnymen (Korova, 1984)

54. Hejira – Joni Mitchell (Asylum, 1976)

53. Tonight’s The Night – Neil Young (Reprise, 1975)

52. . Entertainment! – Gang Of Four (EMI. 1979)

51. The Specials (Two-Tone, 1979)

50. Another Music In A Different Kitchen – Buzzcocks (United Artists, 1978)

49. Dare – The Human League (A&M, 1981)

48. Swordfishtrombones – Tom Waits (Island, 1983)

47. Two Sevens Clash – Culture (Joe Gibbs, 1977)

46. Real Life – Magazine (Virgin, 1978)

45. Treasure – Cocteau Twins (4AD, 1984)

44. Hounds Of Love – Kate Bush (EMI, 1985)

43. Meat Is Murder – The Smiths (Rough Trade, 1985)

42. The Smiths (Rough Trade, 1984)

41. Cut – The Slits (Island, 1979)

40. Parallel Lines – Blondie (Chrysalis, 1978)

39. Veedon Fleece – Van Morrison (Warner Bros, 1974)

38. Pink Flag – Wire (Harvest, 1977)

37. Radio City – Big Star (Ardent, 1974)

36. High Land Hard Rain – Aztec Camera (Rough Trade, 1983)

35. Songs In The Key Of Life – Stevie Wonder (Tamla Motown, 1976)

34. Rattlesnakes – Lloyd Cole & The Commotions (Polydor, 1984)

33. The Idiot – Iggy Pop (RCA, 1977)

32. You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever – Orange Juice (Polydor, 1982)

31. Neu! 75 – Neu! (Brain, 1975)

30. Rock Bottom – Robert Wyatt (Virgin, 1974)

29. Ramones (Sire, 1976)

28. The Clash (CBS, 1977)

27. Kings Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown- Augustus Pablo (Yard, 1976)

26. Trans-Europe Express – Kraftwerk (EMI, 1977)

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

24. Heart Of The Congos – The Congos (Black Ark, 1977)

23. Rum Sodomy & The Lash – The Pogues (Stiff, 1985)

22. Chairs Missing – Wire (Harvest, 1978)

21. Fear Of Music – Talking Heads (Sire, 1979)

20. Power Corruption & Lies – New Order (Factory, 1983)

19. 3rd [Sister Lovers] – Big Star (PVC, 1978)

18. Remain In Light – Talking Heads (Sire, 1980)

17. Murmur – REM (IRS, 1983)

16. Psychocandy – The Jesus & Mary Chain (Blanco y negro, 1985)

15. Suicide (Red Star, 1977)

14. The Modern Lovers (Beserkley, 1976)

13. London Calling – The Clash (CBS, 1979)

12. Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols – The Sex Pistols (Virgin, 1977)

11. Horses – Patti Smith (Arista, 1975)

10. Searching For The Young Soul Rebels – Dexy’s Midnight Runners (EMI, 1980)

9. Metal Box – Public Image Ltd (Virgin, 1979)

8. Station To Station – David Bowie (RCA, 1976)

7. On The Beach – Neil Young (Reprise, 1974)

6. No Other – Gene Clark (Asylum, 1974)

5. Closer – Joy Division (Factory, 1980)

4. Unknown Pleasures – Joy Division (Factory, 1979)

3. Low – David Bowie (RCA, 1977)

2. Blood On The Tracks – Bob Dylan (CBS, 1975)

1. Marquee Moon – Television (Elektra, 1977)


Bill Ainsworth, Camilla Aisa, Neil Alexander, Dot Allison, Mick Anderson, Andy (Birmingham 81), Michael Bailey (Soft Hearted Scientists), Billy Bell, Caroline Binnie, Nick Blakey (Underground Jukebox), Chris Bounds, Holly Boyd, Stephen Boyd, Gerry Braiden, Johnny Browning, Colin Brunton, Helen Bull, Marc (Captain Howdy), Julie Campbell (LoneLady, Warp Records), Rob Chapman, Chris Coleman, Mike Convery, Alison Cotton (Left Outsides), Dave Coulter, Laura Lee Davies, Jon Dennis, Mick Derrick, John Dickie, Andrew Divine, Philip Downer, Spender Downes, Vincent Driscoll, Seamus Duggan, Maureen Dunlop, Matthew Edwards, Liam Elliott, Matt Elliott, Pete Ferguson, Declan Flanagan, Mikki Francis-Lawton, Paul Gallagher, Ash Grace, Theo Hakkert, Jeff Hartley, Andrew Hill, Mark Hillier, Barney Hoskyns, Sophie Jay, Johnnie Johnstone, Martin Johnstone, Peter Johnstone, Allan Jones, Jukebox Rebel, Danny Kelly, David Kelner, John Kilbride, Harris King, Graham Kingsbury, Neil Kulkarni, June Lewins, Gerry Love, Huw M, Alastair Macduff, Gary Mackenzie, John Marcus, Leon Massey, Stephen McAuley, Ryan McCullough, Grant McPhee, Fiona McQuarrie, John Medd, Graham Meikle, Andy Miller, Thom Moore, Rob Morgan, Greg Morse, Tony Mulraney, Paul Murray, Peter Murray, Jason Myles, Brendan O’Leary, Jake Palmer, Thomas Patterson, Mark Paytress, Andy Pidluznyj (New Apostles), Nick Portnell, Johnny Purcell, Steve Rhodes, Don Richmond, Chris Roberts, Matt Rogers, Marco Rossi, Martin Ruddock, David Sharp, Simon Shaw, Angela Slaven, Jonathan Small, Jason Spence, Iain Stansfield, Duglas T Stewart, Theo Stockman, David Stubbs, David Tanner, Huw Thomas, Daniel Thompson, Terry Tochel, Toni Tochel, Ben Travers, Paul Turnbull, Sughosh Varadarajan, Ian Wade, Neil Ware, Judah Warsky, Stevie Watt, Rob Webb, Dominic Whittingham, Sandy Wishart, Colin Wright.

Appendix 1: 101-200:

101. The Scream – Siouxsie & The Banshees

102. Talking Heads ‘77 – Talking Heads
103. This Year’s Model – Elvis Costello & The Attractions
104. Nightclubbing – Grace Jones
105. Darkness On The Edge Of Town – Bruce Springsteen
106. Songs The Lord Taught Us – The Cramps
107. Mothership Connection – Parliament
108. Spring Hill Fair – The Go-Betweens
109. Heaven Up Here – Echo & The Bunnymen
110. Crocodiles – Echo & The Bunnymen 
111. More Specials – The Specials
112. WishYou Were Here – Pink Floyd
113. Marcus Garvey – Burning Spear
114. Aja – Steely Dan
115. Damned Damned Damned – The Damned
116. Wilder – The Teardrop Explodes 
117. Leave Home – Ramones
118. There’s No Place Like America Today – Curtis Mayfield
119. The Correct Use Of Soap – Magazine
120. 20 Jazz Funk Greats – Throbbing Gristle
121. Blank Generation- Richard Hell & The Voidoids
122. Movement – New Order
123. New Boots & Panties – Ian Dury & The Blockheads
124. Young Americans – David Bowie
125. Computer World – Kraftwerk 
126. Coney Island Baby – Lou Reed
127. Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables – Dead Kennedys 
128. New Day Rising – Hüsker Dü
129. Zuma – Neil Young & Crazy Horse
130. Emergency Third Rail Power Trip – The Rain Parade
131. Fables Of The Reconstruction – REM
132. Germ-Free Adolescents- X-Ray Spex
133. My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts – Brian Eno / David Byrne
134. Risque – Chic
135. Best Dressed Chicken In Town – Dr. Alimantado
136. Before And After Science – Brian Eno
137. Scary Monsters [And Super Creeps] – David Bowie
138. The Belle Album – Al Green
139. Y – The Pop Group
140. Soon Over Babaluma – Can
141. Perverted By Language – The Fall
142. English Settlement – XTC
143. Tusk – Fleetwood MAC
144. I Just Can’t Stop It – The Beat
145. Grotesque- The Fall
146. Autobahn – Kraftwerk 
147. Red – King Crimson
148. Zen Arcade – Hüsker Dü
149. One World – John Martyn 
150. Underwater Moonlight – Soft Boys
151. The Kick Inside – Kate Bush
152. Head On The Door – The Cure
153. Street Hassle- Lou Reed
154. Red Roses For Me – The Pogues
155. Kimono My House – Sparks
156. C’est Chic – Chic
157. Double Nickels On The Dime – Minutemen
158. Swoon – Prefab Sprout
159. Handsworth Revolution – Steel Pulse
160. The Strange Idols Pattern & Other Short Stories – Felt
161. The Raincoats – The Raincoats
162. Crazy Rhythms – The Feelies
163. Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret – Soft Cell
164. Cupid & Psyche 85 – Scritti Politti
165. Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes
166. Some Girls – The Rolling Stones
167. Here My Dear – Marvin Gaye
168. A Trip To Marineville – Swell Maps
169. Dragnet – The Fall
170. Live At The Witch Trials – The Fall
171. Natty Dread – Bob Marley & The Wailers
172. Inflammable Material – Stiff Little Fingers
173. The Nightfly – Donald Fagen
174. This Is The Sea – The Waterboys
175. Dirty Mind – Prince
176. Even Serpents Shine – The Only Ones
177. Machine Gun Etiquette – The Damned
178. Doc At The Radar Station – Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band
179. The Rutles – The Rutles
180. Give ‘Em Enough Rope – The Clash
181. Winter In America – Brian Jackson & Gil Scott-Heron 
182. It’ll End In Tears – This Mortal Coil
183. Fire Of Love – The Gun Club
184. Suicide – Suicide (2nd)
185. E2-E4 – Manuel Göttsching 
186. Come Away – ESG
187. LC – The Durutti Column 
188. La Düsseldorf – La Düsseldorf 
189. Gentlemen Take Polaroids – Japan
190. What’s The Matter Boy? – Vic Godard & Subway Sect
191. B-52s – B-52s
192. The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway – Genesis
193. Al Green Is Love – Al Green
194. Run DMC – Run DMC
195. And Don’t The Kids Just Love It – Television Personalities 
196. LAMF – The Heartbreakers 
197. Pretenders – Pretenders
198. The Only Fun In Town – Josef K
199. Youth Of America – Wipers
200. African Dub Chapter 3 – Joe Gibbs

Appendix. 2: One Vote Wonders: Journeys of Discovery

Some of the more eye catching nominations – from the sublime to the ridiculous. Happy listening:..

A Certain Ratio – To Each…

The Aggrovators – Johnny In The Echo Chamber

Terry Allen – Lubbock (On Everything)

Amanaz – Africa

Art Bears – The World As It Is Today

Robert Ashley – Automatic Writing

Beat Happening – Beat Happening

Bee Gees – Main Course

Jorge Ben – Africa Brasil

Agnes Bernelle – Bernelle On Brecht and…

Jane Birkin – De Doo Dah

Glenn Branca – Ascension

Jacques Brel – Les Marquises

Butthole Surfers – Psychic Powerless, Another Man’s Sac

Cabaret Voltaire – The Crackdown

Cerrone 3 – Supernature

Don Cherry- Brown Rice

The Chords – So Far Away

The Church – Heyday

Alice Coltrane – Eternity

Cortex – Spinal Injuries

Miles Davis – Dark Magus

Betty Davis – They Say I’m Different

Francesco De Gregori – Bufalo Bill

Dukes Of Stratophear – 25 O’ Clock

Einsturzende Neubauten – 1/2 Mensch

Eno / Moebius / Roedelius – After The Heat

Original Soundtrack- Escape From New York

Felt – The Splendour Of Fear

Fred Frith – Guitar Solos

The Fuzztones – Lysergic Emanations

Game Theory – Real Nightime

Germs – (GI)

Richard Gotainer – Chants Zazous

Great Plains – Naked At The Buy Sell & Trade

Harmonia – Harmonia Deluxe

Eddie Hazel – Games, Dames & Guitar Thangs

Henry Cow – In Praise Of Learning

Higelin – BBh75

Joe Higgs – Life Of Contradiction

Isolation Ward – Point Final

The Jazz Butcher – A Scandal In Bohemia

Eddie Kendricks – Boogie Down

Basil Kirchin – Worlds Within Worlds

Fela Kuti & Afrika ’70 – Sorrow Tears & Blood

RD Laing – Life Before Death

Last Poets – Delights Of The Garden

Jah Lion – Colombia Colly

Lyres – On Fyre

Candy Mackenzie – Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry presents…

MX-80 Sound – Hard Attack

Indoda Mahlathini – Ngibuzindlela

Michael Mantler – The Hapless Child