heard on the wire

And then there were 12


I’ve now been asked twice to do this. I know it’s one of those Facebook memes, but this blog got up and running with one of those, so who am I to resist?

Anyone, the challenge, if that’s what it is, is:

List 12 albums that made a lasting impression on you, but only 1 per band/artist. Don’t take too long and don’t think too hard. Tag 12 friends to do the same, including me, so I can see what you listed. No compilations.

So without taking too long and thinking too hard, this is my list, a little predictable perhaps, but I feel that’s perhaps the point. I’m listing them as I heard them — as far as I recall — but feel free to wrest them into any order you wish.

1 The Sex Pistols // Never Mind the Bollocks

I came to this late. I was 14 when I first heard it, some four years after its 1977 release. It’s cliche to say so, but it changed everything.

God Save the Queen

2 The Clash

Joe Strummer — what more needs to be said? The Clash encapsulated an alien world of which I was never a part but it was everything I wished I could be. Still, we managed to get this song played in assembly at a Hereford comprehensive, so maybe we did our bit.

Career Opportunities

3 Joy Division // Closer

Regular readers won’t need reminding that this is of course the greatest record ever made. The first time I heard Love Will Tear Us Apart changed music for me forever, but it’s the contemporary LP that perfectly distills everything I want music to be. Even today, it sends shivers through me. A viscerally intense, heartbreaking, joy of a record.


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4 Adam and the Ants // Kings of the Wild Frontier

I loved Adam and the Ants. I wanted to be Adam Ant. Enough said.

Killer in the Home

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5 The Jam // The Gift

It’s not the best Jam LP, it’s certainly not my favourite, but the requirement is for a list of records that made a lasting impression and, of all Weller, Loxton and Buckler’s all-too-brief contribution, this is the one. Like the Clash’s London Calling, it’s eclecticism was eye-opening to a narrow-minded youth such as me.

Happy Together

6 The Farmer’s Boys // Get Out and Walk

Aged 16, I moved from Hereford to York and thus to a new school. There were two other new arrivals, as far as I recall. Andy, who admitted to only liking two bands — the Beatles and Echo and the Funnymen, yes he was from Liverpool — and Chris, who, like me, was an avid John Peel fan. He taped this LP for me and it was the soundtrack of those first months in York.

The Way You Made Me Cry

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7 The Smiths // Hatful of Hollow

I’m not sure if this breaks the rules or not. Compilations are not allowed, but this isn’t really a compilation, more a bringing together of various and otherwise unavailable recordings. It certainly was not a “best of”/“greatest hits” cash-in. More importantly it taught me to love the Smiths, for which I am ever grateful. It just saddens me that Morrissey is now doing his best to reverse that,

This Night Has Opened My Eyes

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8 The Fall // This Nation’s Saving Grace
There’s a theory that your first fall LP will be your favourite. This was definitely my first and remains my favourite. Anecdotal evidence sure, but I think there’s something to the theory. After all, the Fall are not an easy listen. Liking them it takes something of a mental leap and perhaps a little intent. No-one likes the Fall unless they want to. When you make that leap, which used to mean when you made your first purchase, it was a commitment to something completely new and completely different. There was no turning back.

Gut of the Quantifier

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9 New Order // Low Life
Again, this is neither my favourite New Order LP nor, I feel, their best, but like the Farmer’s Boys debut before it, this always puts me in a certain time and place. Looking back it was most peculiar of times. Having left home and then, a year later, moved into lodgings with people I barely knew, this record was the soundtrack for those six months when I lived with a school friend’s family as I completed my A Levels.

This Time of Night

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10 The Boo Radleys // Giant Steps
This was one of three LPs that helped me fall in love with music again. Together with New Order’s Republic and Nick Cave’s Henry’s Dream, it dragged me out of the dark days of the early 90s, which were dominated by three genres that made me feel, rightly as it turned out, that I was falling out of step with musical trends. One was “Madchester”, the second was acid house and the third grunge. I neither shuffled, danced nor felt particularly miserable. Giant Steps is an LP that was on almost permanent loop on my walkman in the months after it came out and is really one that needs to be heard in its entirety. For once the NME was right when it made this its album of the year.

Take the Time Around

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11 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds // Let Love In
Henry’s Dream was the LP that finally convinced me of the genius of Nick Cave, but Let Love In was the one that I fell in love with, aptly so. Like Giant Steps, this was on constant loop and did as much as any other record has to change the way I listen to music.


12 Cinerama // Torino

Those eleven LPs span the time from when I first fell in love with music as a teenager, which is when that’s supposed to happen, until, 17 or 18 years later, I fell all over again. They leave this list just one record short and once again it’s one that changed my expectations of music and caused me to fall even more deeply in love with it than ever before. Closer will always be my favourite record, not simply because it’s so perfect but also because of a deep, 30-plus-year, sentimental relationship with it. But Torino runs it oh-so-close. It may only be the strange decision to include an outtake of a studio conversation about headphones that prevents it tying for first place.


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