Man like Gutta nominated me for this…

It’s a weird one because like Kek, I don’t really feel ashamed about music any more – I’ve almost always been into pop stuff and… other stuff. Anyone who checked the office party mix will know that, right?

So this is more of a “ten records I have trouble justifying to other people”.

10. Rachel Stevens – Come And Get It (2005)


When you’ve seen the rest of the list, it might surprise you that this humble album has been the item which has caused the most vehement disagreements in our house.

I have no fear of owning up to liking Rachel’s earlier stuff like “Sweet Dreams My L.A. Ex-“, and the singles off this album are wicked as well. “Some Girls”, “Negotiate With Love” and “So Good” are extraordinarily well-produced slices of sci-fi pop in which the vocalist is almost incidental.

We also have CDs in the flat by the Sugababes, Girls Aloud and Goldfrapp, which I have mentally filed in the same slot. For me, this is just an update to my Soft Cell and Human League records of yesteryear.

Regrettably the better half doesn’t agree and thinks it’s symptomatic of my mid-life crisis looming large in the form of lustful urges towards Ms Stevens. Which would be fine if I was constantly jerking off to her videos on youtube or had bedecked the bedroom with posters of her, but (as I never tire of saying) she isn’t my type and it isn’t about her.

Unfortunately my argument is slightly undermined by the fact that the non-single tunes on the album are rubbish, apart from the one which samples The Cure.

9. Anything by Vagina Dentata Organ


Probably the best example of industrial culture’s overloading of theory at the expense of tunes, Vagina Dentata Organ are more akin to conceptual art (with a nod to Dali) than music. Essentially the work of one man – Jordi Valls, the “group” focussed on releasing limited edition picture discs featuring unnerving field recordings.

Jordi managed to be one of the few people to exist in both of the notoriously antagonistic Throbbing Gristle and Whitehouse camps, possibly because he doesn’t seem to give a fuck about politicking. I met him briefly at some TG art opening and he was completely pissed – staggering about and spilling wine everywhere. Admirable.

So anyway, I don’t have any of the picture discs, just one album of wolf noises, one album of motorbike noises and one album featuring the last 40 minutes of 900 members of the People’s Temple committing suicide in Guyana at the behest of Reverend Jim Jones.

It’s not uplifting party music that’s for sure… but I still respect VDO’s sheer bloody-mindedness.

8. Howard Jones – Pearl In The Shell (shaped picture disc, 1984)


So, talking of vinyl fetishism – this was the first vinyl I ever handed over my pocket money for (having previously bought cassettes for me walkman). I actually have a big post about luscious pouting synth-pop sensation Howard saved in ‘draft’ that I should pluck up the courage to unleash on the world.

Suffice to say that the disc is slightly yellowing these days and the music hasn’t aged that well either. Furthermore, my teenage dreams of owning really rare artifacts that future generations would look at with awe lie in tatters and prove that I am a rubbish capitalist.

7. Two Muppet Show albums (1977, 1978)


These are pop culture genius! It’s fair to say that Jim Henson has had more influence on me than punk. The aesthetic of the puppets (notably their garish fur and googly eyes) is still brilliant and the arrangements of the songs on this are perfect – not least because they are delivered with crazed muppet voices. Me and my sister must have played these a thousand times as kids as well as making my parents suffer them recorded onto cassette on interminable pre-M25 car journeys to see in-laws.

My love of huge horn sections (fnarr fnarr) in reggae might come from here too. It’s more playfully surreal than Vagina Dentata Organ could ever hope – songs about the sound of worms, chicken love, the Great Gonzo eating a rubber tyre to the sound of ‘the Flight of the Bumblebee’, it is all here.

So I probably shouldn’t own this, but make no excuses for it. And anyway I’m now able to enjoy it with my daughter…

6. Five ‘christian pop’ albums


Pop music was one of my main vehicles out of believing in all the Church of England stuff I grew up with, so I have a weird fascination with xtian pop and keep meaning to write something about it. (Seriously – I’d love to do a documentary or book.)

For example, there is something quite compelling about this christian response to Crass. What I like about the genre is that it’s obviously all ideologically driven, like anarchopunk and to a lesser extent industrial music, but always manages to get it a bit wrong.

What is also hugely entertaining is that for every xtian rocker there will be some fusty old vicar going on about how they are either great for “the youth” or actually crypto-satanists who are trying to lure kids into a vortex of evil with their primitive carnal rhythms.

Anyway, these records are all great in their own way, but not the sort of thing to play in front of relatives or children.

5. Sheena Easton – 9 To 5 (1980)


Yes yes, she was the first “reality” pop star and went on to get all pervy with Prince. That’s not the whole story for me, really.

I think I must have bought this at some point in the 90s when I was pissed. It cost 70p and was well worth it just for conjuring up all those images of yesteryear. It has that quasi-Nolans trebly singalonga vocal style but it’s the lyrics which drew me in, I think. There is a drudgery about commuting (which is what my Dad did every day) but also this weird hedonistic frisson running underneath it “he works all day, to earn his pay, so we can play all night”. This comes to the fore towards the end:

“I’m crazy, mad for him,
and he’s crazy, mad for me,
When he steps off the train
Amazingly full of fight”

Which I always misheard and thought was Sheena getting all orgasmic at the prospect of commuters engaging in hand to hand combat. I think it just reminds me of St Pancras and London in the old days, a bit grim but full of possibility…

Several years later I was living in a dive in Haringey and saw Sheena on some daytime TV programme with an L.A. accent talking about how she didn’t understand how people could take drugs because it was all about altering your reality and her reality was pretty amazing. As I looked around our living room I decided that going to get some drugs might not be such a bad idea.

4. Twenty Psychic TV live albums (and twelve other ones… er, and a load of singles)


There’s really no excuse for this at all, and I can only apologise profusely to everyone who has ever helped me to move house.

3. Matt Bianco – Get Out of Your Lazy Bed (1983)


Possibly another pissed charity shop purchase, I don’t actually know if I like this or not. It has a weird skank to it and the daaaaaaaa-dooooooooo-da female vocals probably relate in some distorted way to my love for fifties and sixties (and 00’s – see 10 above) girl groups.

It is unforgiveably jaunty, though, and I have to confess to having used it as a weapon of torture one hungover morning fairly early on in my relationship with my better half.

2. Trio – Da Da Da (1982)


This is just genius, proper minimal synthpop with a casiotone and boom-tish drummng. It even eclipses Laurie Anderson’s “Oh Superman” in the pop art states by having hardly any lyrics in it and then having those lyrics in German on the b-side.

I have this on loud right now and it reminds me of Kraftwerk and the Art of Noise and Suicide and a whole heap of totally credible stuff that isn’t nearly as fucking POP as this. It seems to annoy the shit out of everyone else in the world though – fellow bloggers aside, no doubt 😉

1. A golden 7″ flexi disc by Jonathan King (1978)


Nobody, of any age or gender, should own this record.

Which is probably why I’ve kept the thing. Did you know Jonathan King once stood as an MP? Neither did I until I found this in yet another (probably sober this time) 90s charity shop trawl.

The record is titled “Vote For Yourself For A Change” and seems google-proof. It features the man himself, talking animatedly, accompanied by the music from the Hamlet cigar adverts (which is of course called something, which eludes me now).

He was basically a populist Tory (“what do you think? Let me represent your views in parliament”), but had “liberal moral views”. Exactly how liberal certainly became clearer later.
On a more positive note, I would like to keep this thing going by nominating:


Expletive Deleted

Panda Rescue

I’m fairly sure they are men…


  1. Sir Foley – it is indeed something of a classic of the genre – some great talky bits between tracks.

    Dub – yes of course! It’s on the first one.

  2. Hmmm, an opportunity for me to lower the tone of your blog and disbelieve your protestations by deploying the old stag party conundrum; would you shag Rachel Stevens if you then had to shag Shakin’ Stevens?

  3. for reasons that remain a mystery to me, i’m virtually salivating at the prospect of your big Howard Jones piece. Here’s hoping you find the inner-strength to publish it!

  4. STN: No way!

    Gutta – Paul believes every single one of his records is the best thing in the world ever, so it would be a pointless exercise. Plus loads of them are in storage 😉 The HoJo piece is part of a larger series of intensely squirm-inducing autobiographical posts… I shall have a look!

  5. look, count yourself lucky, had you chosen a different record you’d be working your way through the entire nation of Jordan. Anyway, I don’t believe you, email me your REAL answer forthwith!

  6. Psychic TV? Rachel Stevens? Vagina Dentata Organ? You must have more embarrassing records than that… Well, you did say it was tricky… i’m not really embarrassed by anything (must be an age thing – the same gene that clocks in when you go to weddings and decide you’d better be the first to dance)

    I sold one of my VDO pic-discs to a guy outside one of the Notting Hill Gate shops – they offered me next to nothing, he needed it more badly than i used to need the gold foil Kenny Dalglish footie sticker – and, as with almost every other record i ever sold, i regretted it immediately… same with all my old PTV albums… sold when i needed space or kebabs and then moped about in the blogs… those covers were just beautiful…

    Actually, if i did my list again i think i’d probably include loads of old Wax Trax 12″s -(that was one genre that i delved too deeply into when even then i knew there were probably only 4 good records released by those guys, and one of them was by 10,000 maniacs…)

    Oh and anything i still have by Lil Louis…

  7. A couple of years ago I was working on a market stall in Milton Keynes and the guy on the next stall along was flogging Christian pop CDs, and banging on to anyone who’d listen about how he was once the vice president of MGM and how he’s mates with Elton John and Cliff Richard (‘good old Cliff’, he referred to him as). The old liar/drunk/drunk liar gave me a batch of Christian pop CDs as I was leaving; never listened to them once.

    I promised myself last week that i was going to pack this blogging lark in, as I have much more fun reading other peoples and find updating my own one a bit inane, but I’ll give this a go.

  8. i would not want to associate with anyone who didn’t have the muppet show albums…. and da da da is superb too – top marks for the hideous howard jones picture disc though!

  9. C&AYW – yeah just say where you want it… 🙂

    STN – I have got some Chumba seven inches and maybe a CD but they are in the “to ebay pile” so…

    Tom – ah you are surfing the wave of people who are giving up blogging? Bah!

    Dub – well, have you got ten Chumbawamba albums? 😉

    And thanks to the rest of you, it’s all worked out like a bit of a soiree here!

  10. i must confess

    in high-school i owned several Stryper records…it didnt have anything to do with Christianity…i just liked their tunes


  11. in high-school i owned several Stryper records…it didnt have anything to do with Christianity…i just liked their tunes

    For some reason this reminded me that i have a kula shaker album somewhere. fucking hell.

  12. “They threw sticks of rock into the crowd that had bible chapter references running through them” lol! That’s genius. Wish I’d thought of that…

  13. “For some reason this reminded me that i have a kula shaker album somewhere. fucking hell.”

    Is it cos you’re a wizard in a blizzard with a mystical machine gun?

  14. I have Matt Bianco’s half a minute, still a good party tune for that early evening cocktail sipping moment – oh sorry I thought it was still the 1980s. As for Howard Jones, I have some good stories about the guy who used to dance with him – remember he used to wear chains and stuff. Basically he renamed himself Argon and opened up a healing centre in Glastonbury, I stayed there a couple of times in a hippy bed and breakfast kind of way (couldn’t afford the healing, nor was I particularly inclined)

  15. Matt Bianco’s ‘Get out of my lazy bed’ was the first single I ever bought. The Trio song is *genius* and never fails to please.

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