I put this together for Music Week a couple of years ago…. here it is again!
1. David Bowie – Heroes
2. Brian Eno & Robert Fripp – The Heavenly Music Corporation
3. Masqueraders – Thats The Same Thing
4. David Crosby – Laughing
5. The National – City Middle
6. Sufjan Stevens – Chicago
7. Felix The Housecat – Silver Screen Shower Scene (Thin White Duke Remix)
8. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – They Reminisce Over You
9. The Trammps – Rubber Band
10. Debussy – Clair De Lune
David Bowie – Heroes
What can you say about this record – David is one of the great visionaries of music. The arrangement, the production, the soul of the performances (Robert Fripp outstanding on guitar) elevates a stolen kiss between Tony Visconti and his lover beside the Berlin Wall, to a stream of consciousness reflection on the nature of life, love, hope, dreams and mortality.
Brian Eno & Robert Fripp – The Heavenly Music Corporation
Perhaps the most accessible of the Fripp collaborations involving the tape looping technique known as Frippertronics, this was truly a groundbreaking record. Eno had invented the technology years prior to working with Fripp on these projects, and finally found a worthy musical counterpart. Other outstanding releases which feature the technique include “Let The Power Fall” and the vastly underrated “League Of Gentleman” LP.
Masqueraders – Thats The Same Thing
I’ve loved Northern Soul for all my adult life, running clubs in Dublin as a teenager. How to pick a favourite Northern track from the thousands of dusty 7″ classics out there? Melba Moore’s “Magic Touch” is up there, as is “Lay This Burden Down” by Mary Love (I had the honour of remixing this some 15 years after hearing the original). The Masqueraders is one of those records I’ve only heard at All-Nighters, usually played out by Butch, legendary Northern Soul DJ. The record is a tale of bitter heartbreak and loneliness, sung in late night harmonies with a storming backing track. The atmosphere is something you can almost physically feel, the lead vocalist spending all night wandering through the foggy, deserted city streets – what’s more, its a great great record to dance to!
David Crosby – Laughing
Taken from the aptly named masterpiece “If Only I Could Remember My Name” the track is a trip through the more profound dusty corridors of the subconcious mind. Walking through the darkness of a depression David emerges into what he thinks is deep enlightenment, only to find the simple joy of a child, laughing, in the sunlight. Appearances from Greg Nash, Joni Mitchell and Jerry Garcia lift this into the realms of blissed out, mindblowing, transcendance.
The National – City Middle
The National really are one of the great bands today, and an experience to witness live. Their 2005 LP “Alligator” is an intimate, angry, drunken, sorrowful, raucous diary of lust, love and loss. This particular track chronicles a doomed road trip, the singer asks his girlfriend to take him to the “nearest famous city middle, where they hang the lights”, he’s on a good mixture and has a ton of great ideas. The lyrics are the nearest thing I’ve hear to Raymond Carver – profound insights into the joy and pain of human life, glimpsed in moments of clarity through the most everyday of events. This song means a lot to me.
Sufjan Stevens – Chicago
No matter what you think you know, and what you think you have heard already, artists such as Sebastien Tellier, The National, Sol Seppy, Arcade Fire and Sufjan Stevens come out with something that stops you in your tracks, catches your breath, transports you somewhere else, and reminds you why you love music. This track is stunning,… fragile yet immensely strong, secular yet spiritual, and unapologetic in its honesty and simple beauty.
Felix The Housecat – Silver Screen Shower Scene (Thin White Duke Remix)
From the desk of Stuart Price with sublime orchestral strings evolve to pounding electro beats and drill-sharp synths, this record moves the mind, body and soul in obscene quantities. Older electronic dancefloor favourites include Orbital “Chime” and Hardfloor “Acperience”.
Pete Rock & CL Smooth – They Reminisce Over You
In 1993 Pete Rock and CL Smooth unleashed an Double LP that raised the bar for Hip Hop production permanently. Pete structured intricate combinations of soulful rare grooves while CL added effortlessly complex lyrical flows over trademark basement beats. This standout track is based on a sample of Tom Scotts “Today”, and lifted the art of sampling onto another level.
The Trammps – Rubber Band
I include this to cover a big love of the Funk, Rare Groove and Disco scene many moons ago – starting with bootleg tapes of Norman Jay and Gilles Petersons pirate KissFM shows. Arranger/remixer Tom Moulton is also one of my favourite artists of all time. Needless to say Norman’s ORG evenings at the Bass Clef, in pre-“Hoxtonia” Hoxton, were some of the best clubbing moments I can (just about) remember.
Debussy – Clair De Lune
An instrumental love poem to the living and the dead on moonlit nights. At my grandmothers funeral I travelled in the front of her hearse, and felt that my eyes were taking in this last journey for her, all the time I could hear Clair De Lune. If there was one song for my own funeral it would be this.