Hang The DJ: An Alternative Book of Music Lists is now in shops, and editor Angus Cargill blogs here. Last Saturday night Angus and I did a phone interview for the Irish radio show Cultureshock. I don’t know what was going on round Angus’s homestead that night, but for my part I kept cupping the receiver to muffle the Noises Off of a very tired little girl whose mummy was trying to entice her into the Land of Nod.
The presenter Fionn Davenport also had a female rock writer in the studio with him, and in the back-chat for my list of Top Power Ballads this scribe rather stunned me by endorsing my #6 pick of 'Alone' by Heart as her own personal All-Time Top Tune, albeit with the qualifier that it is ‘ridiculous’. It's not a record I feel the need to own or even hear too often, but I think it's great and reflects my general feeling that I'd rather overhear music (e.g. on the radio) than consume and collect it. As I say in the book, '[Alone'] was playing in Woolworth’s just the other day as I was buying my daughter some sweets, and I found myself loitering in the aisles long enough to hear Ann [Wilson]’s unearthly howl of frustration that launches the second chorus.'
Talk later turned to Alexandra Heminsley's list of 'Songs for the Dumped', and I gave a shout to Lloyd Cole whose unexpectedly delightful Don’t Get Weird On Me Babe album has two peerless pieces of solace in that department, 'There For Her' and 'Margo’s Waltz'. The marvelous 'Like Lovers Do' from his Love Story album is also a witty, wise retrospective on the whole fraught business, just right for the age you get to when you can see your romantic history as an interesting sequence rather than anything more painful or disappointing.
Then we discussed John Williams' list about great ‘Rehab’ records, where the hopelessly soused/doped artist nonetheless did far better work than he/she would ever accomplish while clean and sober. I’m not entirely behind this thesis but I see its appeal, and as an 'Oo fanatic it reminds me to stick up for the oft-maligned Who By Numbers, for which Keith Moon was often incapable/nearing the sorry end, and Pete Townshend was steeped in brandy (cf. the self-hating 'However Much I Booze'.) Yet plenty of this record is brilliantly barbed and rocks hard, and it also contains the inimitable brass-and-ukelele of 'Blue, Red and Grey' one of Townshend’s loveliest songs, not about eros but, rather, the unconditional love of this world, a tune to which I was happy to introduce my darling wife, and which we played (not very loud, mind you) at our wedding.