Monday, 28 December 2009


Well, at least at the time I'm writing this.

Apart from the first, the rest are in no particular order other than how they occur to me. Whether or not this in itself is a kind of order, I'll leave that up to you to decide. What they are are albums I can up any time and play and always enjoy whatever my mood.

SANDY DENNY: Fotheringay.
Fotheringay is actually the name of the band and the title of the album. It's my favourite because Sandy has never sung better. The songs are brilliant. The arrangements are superb. The rhythm section of Gerry Conway and Pat Donaldson on drums and bass are great. absolutely brilliant lead guitar by the American Jerry Donahue. Sandy's husband the Australian Trevor Lucas has a great soulful gruff voice and actually takes the lead on my favourite song with Sandy harmonising beautifully. Sheer perfection, sheer magic.
Alternate selection: Fairport Convention: Rising for the Moon (Sandy back on vocals/piano/guitar with them for the last time.)

His anthemic and also wistful masterpiece.
Alternate selection: The Rising.

His proto-grunge vastly underrated masterpiece with Crazy Horse.
Alternate selection: Decade (anthology 1966-76, or thereabouts).

LIGHTNIN' SLIM: Rooster Blues/Bell Ringer
Many of Lightnin's songs tend to sound familiar because they are often thinly disguised versions of other peoples. This is electric blues at its most basic: rudimentary guitar by Lightnin', harp (often by Lazy Lester), and percussion. But oh that voice, that grainy world-weary voice and the thinly veiled wry humour, that wonderful wonderful voice.
Alternate selection: any of ACE UK's reissue compilations, they all sound the same anyway and I love 'em all.

U2: The Joshua Tree (extended edition)
Don't need to say anything more.
Alternate selection: The Unforgettable Fire (extended edition)

LUTHER ALLISON: Live In Chicago.
2 hours of the most electric rocking blues you ever heard in your life. Luther roars like a lion and his guitar screams like a banshee. Tragically he didn't have much longer to live after these 1995 performances.
Alternate selection: Reckless (or any of his three 90's  studio albums for Alligator).

Their first album of post-punk jagged rock. I've just ordered the extended edition along with extended editions of their next two albums.
Alternate selection: Porcupine.

MUDDY WATERS: Hoochie Coochie Man -The Complete Chess Masters vol.2 1952-1958.
This is actually a relatively recently purchased 2-CD set, a supposedly limited edition on the Hip-O Select label, and it's as fine a compilation of Muddy as anything. Even though the CD is new, I'm pretty familiar with the tracks.
Alternate selection: Authorised Bootleg Live/ Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco 11/04-06 1966. (Another new addition but as good a live album of Muddy's as any and unusual in the lack of a keyboard player.)

THE LEVELLERS:Best of the Levellers -One Way of Life.
Another recent purchase but I've been a fan of this band for ages with their socially conscious left-wing crusty/folk/rock with its great tunes and great fiddle & guitar playing.
Alternate selection: Headlights, White Lines -Best Live.


Originally a triple vinyl album, now on 2 CDs with two extra tracks and, despite having several other live sets which are pretty damn good, this remains my favourite.
Alternate selection: Steppin' Out with The Grateful Dead -a 4-CD set from the UK leg of the 72 tour).

THE WATERBOYS: A Fisherman's Blues (extended edition)
 Probably Mike Scott's masterpiece of Irish folk/rock fusion, packed with memorable songs wrenched raw from his throat.
Alternate selection: Mike Scott & The Waterboys -The Whole of The Moon.

R.L.BURNSIDE: A Bothered Mind
Hill country Blues patriarch on one his strangest records, it being pretty much created in the studio from overdubs, looping and all the other tricksof the producer's trade with contributions, and good ones too, from the likes of Kid Rock and Lyrics Born.
Alternate selection: Come On In.
The classic groundbreaking, if highly derivative, album and the first record I ever bought (though my current version is the extended CD).

In the 60's you were either a Stones or a Beatles fan and that answers that question.

ZZ TOP: Eliminator
Classic sexist grunge blues/rock with the amps set to 11 which is a place, when you get right down to it, is where I'm happiest.

Post Script

Potential future candidate for this list:

HEADLESS HEROES: The Silence of Love.
A collection of covers, brilliantly arranged and produced, with a bunch of highly talented session musicians and featuring the revelatory vocals of Alela Diane who is possibly my favourite singer since Sandy Denny. Check out my Amazon review of this and her two solo albums.

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