Bo Diddley – Bo Diddley   

This crackling, wobbling rhythm goes back centuries, but it was Elias McDaniel who electrified it, and took his stage name from the beat. He put himself in the centre of his songs, casting a voodoo spell over the world as it revolved around the magnetism pulsing from his guitar, his sister The Duchess's guitar, and the rattlesnake hiss of Jerome Green's maraccas. Forget rhythm sections, forget digital delay - this is where it all comes from.


Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced?


Backwards guitars rubbing like sandpaper beat a submarine tattoo - 'watch the sunrise from the bottom of the sea'; and Jimi's crisp, cutting Stratocaster breaks  into tendrils of sound that wave around like erotic sea-anenomies. Or put another way, this is very exciting. 

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – Cold Turkey  

At the other end of the high lurks the low. Euphoria is a mortgage that can leave you weeping, vomiting, and bankrupt. John Lennon mines this torture and conjures thrills and passion from what is usually a tedious and sordid experience. Play loud, as it says on the record label. 


Paul & Linda McCartney – Ram On


And from the other corner of the emotional spectrum, Paul & Linda hit a dreamy plane of contemplation - like a balloon drifting over a field of wheat, or a small boat on a still lake - no turbulence, serene fruit hanging ripely around, lots of good-natured wasps, and a big ripe cheddar in the corner. For once, it really is all good.


Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band – Low Yo-Yo Stuff

My band learned to play this one last summer, with a lot of help from Terry Edwards. What seems like a funky, exuberant groove in praise of self-stimulation is actually made up of hundreds of almost random micro-sections that, glued together, keep the machine going. This is like shaking hands with pure joy. You can take this music anywhere and the world lights up around you.

David Bowie – TVC 15  

Supposedly about Iggy Pop's girlfriend being consumed by a television set, Bowie devised the genre of New Orleans/funk/metal for this 1976 track. Exhilarating yet sad, the singer helplessly pictures his beloved trapped inside a state of the art TV set, a perfect image for the disrupted life of the touring rock idol in full bloom. We worked this one out, too - much easier than Lo-Yo-Yo stuff. This record came out just before my daughter was born, she's always loved Bowie.

Roxy Music – The Main Thing  

From Bryan Ferry's terminally romantic creation, Avalon, this is a broken heart in ice with coloured lights and painkillers. He and the Roxy Music team transform his grief at Jerry Hall's (?) departure from his life into a light-footed, ethereal collection of laments that had the hairdressers of Europe out on the dance-floor on its release in 1982. Recommended with lightly chilled Montrachet-Puligny and a roll-up, on a terrace at about 10 pm, air temperature around 15 c, in early October.

The Psychedelic Furs – The Ghost In You  

Another romantic tune, basted in mid-80's digital delay and drums that probably had Bo Diddley hiding in his TV set, this nonetheless is a haunting, almost 'folky' song that sounds great on an acoustic guitar, too. 'The ghost in you, she don't fade' - somewhere deep in a hollow world beats a true heart. 

Elvis Costello – Brilliant Mistake  

Maybe Elvis is reflecting on his conquest of the US in the late 1970's here. A rueful look back at what worked in the past but doesn't now: 'I was a fine idea at the time - now I'm a brilliant mistake'. A serpentine melody that carries Elvis's torrential lyrics along effortlessly, with a nod perhaps to Dylan's Tangled Up In Blue

Gillian Welch – The Way It Will Be  

An ominous dream of a song. Gillian and her partner David Rawlings shear from unison to harmony and back here, pouring regret, warning, and resignation in equal measures into one cup and serving up a concoction that I can write about but never really explain. Two voices and two guitars create a landscape that mocks 'production' as the music business knows it. Or knew it. Like twilight, Gillian & David's songs reveal all kinds of colours when you look at them slowly.

All these songs are miniature worlds, and are great to draw, paint, cook or just live to.

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