Don’t you mind people grinning in your face?

There is something about those moments when you are alone and listening to music. I am not lucky enough to have a designated place to listen to music, maybe this is a good thing. I have the stereo in the living room as my parents would call it, even my parents kept the radiogram in the “sitting room” how novel that would be now to have a room just to sit in.

I have no man cave or rumpus room, the wonders of music all happens on full display. Apart from those times when the rest of the household is asleep or out. Over the last couple of days I have been for some reason waking at 4a.m. or so, today I managed to 5:18a.m. must be a Sunday thing. I can find no reason for this other than I wake and want to get up. I feel reasonably rested and my mind is no more pr-occupied than normal.

grinningSo for the last week or so I have had a solid couple of hours alone to sit and listen. I have made the conscious decision not to watch the news, this can be an upsetting experience as the tragi-comedy that is US politics unfolds in all it’s glory. I also have to play at a lower volume than I may normally choose or these moments of solitude will change to less than pleasant experiences as I explain my decision to my wife. Somewhat for this reason my choices of listening has been on the quieter spectrum.

When you have to listen at a lower volume then it becomes almost an intentional practice to hear everything as well as you can. Todays choice was Martin Simpson’s Grinning In Your Face. The album I finally managed to really hear the banjo, also my re-introduction to Dylan in the 80’s and the first time I ever heard Peter Gabriel’s Biko performed in an acoustic format. Somewhere along the way I lost the cover but kept the vinyl. I have a few of these lost souls in my collection and have to wonder is it like socks in the dryer or something.

This was also the album that opened my mind up to country and blues. Yes I had dabbled and pretended to appreciate all these types of music but remained loyal to prog and rock, with occasional forays into folk. I remember being spellbound watching Simpson playing in his red boots sitting surrounded by three or so guitars and a banjo and then he played slide on his guitar and the world changed. There is a difference to sitting listening to someone play slide on a record and then experiencing this in a room with the player.

There is so much on this album to discover and the odd thing is I had forgotten until this morning as I slid it out of the dust jacket and placed it on the turn table.

To end a few pictures of last weeks visit to the high desert as I was thinking about that as I sat listening and sorting through pictures on my phone.

So there you go, last Saturday’s hike in the desert which was considerably cooler than it is going to be here today and we still never managed to get to the river yet.


Sometimes I need you wild…

Transported to a strange place by the stark compositions on Songs from A Room. Sitting in the dark with only the faint crackle of the 47 year old vinyl as the stylus creates the sounds to fill the space.

roomI have to admit this is the very first Leonard Cohen I have ever listened to in it’s entirety, I am on my third play and every listen is as fresh as the first which is really a novel experience in a jaded world of downloads and streaming. There is no brick walling of the sound and it seems that Laughing Len is in the room with me mumbling his exotic lyrics in my ear.

Truth be told it’s just a great album and the back cover captures a time and a place so well as Marianne sits in that stark otherworldly room in Greece.

It’s a truly powerful experience, go for it turn the lights down and huddle with Len as he narrates his stories into the dark.

Empty out your pockets…

Some albums are of a time and some describe a time. Everyone knows the story of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, if you don’t you can find it here:

2001 was a tough year personally for many reasons, in November I went to see Wilco at the Roseland Theater when they played most of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot on tour. I had whiskey and beer spilled on me, drank too much and witnessed something incredible.yankee-hotel-foxtrot1 I had never heard so many strange blips, interference, static in a coherent manner since Julian Cope at the Royal Court in Liverpool. I had also never seen a front man so insanely possessed by  the songs he was singing.

I remember being blown away, the aging hippy Dan I went with had not been to a gig since seeing the Band and Dylan in ’74. He was blown away as well. He never went to another gig but never seemed particularly phased by that. He died last year watching the sunset from an Indian hillside listening to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, at least that was what was in the CD player when they found him in his lawn chair. I like to think it was playing.

Since I got my new record deck I have been wanting to hear this album on vinyl, for nostalgia, to wallow in a moment or maybe just because it is an album on the list that everyone should hear.

Of course it is a serious album covering all sorts of heavy subjects even heavy metal drummers. Apart from that it is an album of melodies and noise with all sorts of cool musical references, whether it is Krautrock drumming or the slightly breathless Lennonesque vocals and ambient Eno noises.

Jeff Tweedy may have written better songs since, performed better shows but I don’t think he has released such a complete statement since.

The end of my recollection is summer 2002 after buying the CD, barreling north on I205 in an overheating rusting ’85  F150 pickup and realizing I was living in America. The geeky English guy trying to find out how Liverpool was doing in the Premiere League before the all pervasiveness of the internet, trying to find a way to buy Fairport Convention albums without going bust listening, to a song about bad ’80’s heavy metal drummers and realizing it may not get much better than this.

Anyway how does the vinyl sound? Just perfect is the answer as I keep my wife awake with the strange bleeps, whistles and static.


All alone the captain stands

In 1979 I was browsing the records in the library, trying to decide what to listen to. There was no T-Rex in and the Bowie had been heard. Prior to this trip to the library most of my musical education was through my cousin but he was not available.

There was an odd looking album called After the Goldrush, the sleeve was almost a negative of some hippy strolling past some railings passing an old lady who had almost become part of him.goldrush, or was bursting out of his back. On the back was some patched jeans and inside a lounging stoner. Everything about the album said take me home.

My Dad was making those gestures that only parents can intimating that we should leave and knowing the ritual of checking an album out of the library I grabbed the album and prepared for the scrutiny.

Before you could take the album home you had to with the librarian examine every inch of the vinyl and record every scuff and scratch on a piece of card that was held at the library. The ritual would be repeated on the return and the librarian would compare the card you had drawn with him and the returning record. Any new scratches would be recorded and you would be fined or if it was minor damage chastised. You had to have a parent with you to check out records and they had to agree to replace the album if you ruined it.

This is the way my relationship with Neil Young’s music began. In a library with a fussy librarian examining a piece of black vinyl under a lamp and an admonishment not to damage the album.

Once I got home and heard the first notes of Tell Me Why I was hooked. There was incredible sadness in the album and anger. It spoke to the teenager listening probably as it had spoken to every teen and young adult who listened to it prior to that. Heart ships, broken hearts, desolation, anger at injustice, fear for the world, lust, hope, hopelessness and romanticism. Neil Young covers it all and in one album. Pastoral folk wimsyness and searing guitar workouts and harmonies. I am still convinced it is a perfect album with not a single bad track on it. It is a whole everything about the album makes sense and still sounds fresh.

I found a used copy the other day, it is not perfect, maybe very good plus in the discogs rating system. Some surface noise but funnily enough this is almost how I remember the album.

After that library album I bought my very own copy. That was in the days when you could walk into Woolworths and buy records. I played that album to death. There was one memorable night I played Oh Lonesome Me over and over after my then girlfriend explained how she really was looking for a more fulfilling relationship. There was another night I was convinced that Don’t Let It Bring You Down held the secrets to the universe, but there may have been several reasons for that, however I am still looking to find someone who is turning. I have likewise sat and marveled at the beauty of Birds.

It is an album that when you begin it you are committed to the whole experience not just one or two songs.

That fateful day in 1979 led me to borrow Decade next, then I discovered Live Rust and all was lost.  However I always come back to After the Goldrush which is I am convinced one of the few perfect albums in the history of recorded music.

somebody help me I am falling…

I seem to write a lot about Progressive Rock, maybe because it is I am really going back to when I started buying records right now. I spent a lot of my teen years listening to progressive rock while my contemporaries spent time with Joy Division and Magazine. Over time I have got some of my prog tendencies under control, although I am still fascinated by the music, recently in a record store I spent time thinking about the Police, The Clash, some Stiff Little Fingers and other albums I ignored as a youth, I ended up carrying out some Tull, Genesis, Fairport Convention and Beatles, totally predictable as always.


Not many progressive rock bands can claim to have influenced punk but Johnny Rotten was good enough to cite Peter Hamill as an influence. He never managed to make Van Der Graaf Generator hip but it did give them some kudos in 1977. Of course the album he chose was Nadir’s Big Chance which was technically a solo album at the time but contained all the members of the band. Nowadays punks are appearing on all sorts of albums by those dinosaurs they were seeking to replace at the time or at least admitting that those were the albums they were listening to prior to ripping their shirts and piercing whatever piece of the anatomy they could find. Some are even delving into the concept album.

You can hear the show here:

This album must be one of the most aggressive progressive rock albums, it is consistently disturbing throughout which King Crimson at this point would only achieve in small doses and eternally fascinating. It does have Mr Fripp on one track and I have to think some of the brutal attack present on this album leaked over into Crimson.

I bought this album as a cheap pressing sometime in the early 80’s because it was on the Charisma label, home of Genesis, Lindisfarne and Monty Python among others.  I had no idea what to expect, I was expecting melodies and whimsy, some fantastical elements and beauty, what I got was songs of dark violence.

The first lyrics are:

So you live in the bottom of the sea
And you kill all that come near you
But you are very lonely
Because all the other fish fear you

The vocal was delivered in a dramatic, aggressive manner with a range I had never heard before. The major instruments were keyboards and saxes but at times it sounded like violins or the screeching of strange animals, the songs were about killer sharks,  homicidal and ultimately remorseful emperors, loneliness and disillusion and  I was dumbfounded, I played it three times straight through on the fourth time my dad complained so much I had to stop.

I spent days trying to understand the lyrics. I tried to get my head around the music, few if any guitars, violent imagery about loneliness, torture and death. It is an album that has stuck in my head since I first heard it. I have owned that cheap vinyl, the CD and mp3 it has apparently always been around since the first day I bought it.

So when I had a $12 dollar coupon for ebreggae and found the vinyl on sale I got excited as all I would pay was the postage and what can be better than that? The package arrived all nicely protected and sealed up pristine and then I looked at the label, 4 Men With Beards.

When I got back into buying vinyl I did a little research especially about reissues and this label has a patchy reputation. There is speculation about mastering from CD’s, poor sound quality. little quality assurance. Ultimately the album sounds fine to my ears, it has a warm rich sound I remember from that 8o’s vinyl and is clear so maybe I got away with it this time and at the end of the day it was $4 postage so not so bad.

Buying records has certainly got more difficult than it used to be, as usual the popularity of something is causing a certain amount of cashing in and taking advantage of the hipness of something. It is a significant investment to buy an album which it always really was as a teen as well regardless of how rose tinted we see the past. However it is more difficult to spot the good deals with so many fakes and bad pressings out there.

Guide Vocal

I am going to say, well write, this in public for the first time ever.

Duke is the best Genesis album without Peter Gabriel.

I am well aware this contravenes common opinion, we are all supposed to bow down to the glory and pomp of A dukeTrick of the Tail or the flawed genius of Wind and Wuthering, we are not supposed to raise the three piece band up as excellent. It is ok to admire the longevity of the band or their pop sensibilities but we are not supposed to prefer their output.

Don’t get me wrong I love Mad Man Moon and One For The Vine but Trick and Wind and Wuthering would have made a great album if combined without the silly songs about mice and Squonks.

Duke is a classic album, it is the first that really breaks away from Gabriel and it thankfully has no songs on it about animals.  It even has a  concept for the old progheads among us.The strange story of the funny Duke guy Albert. It is often referred to as the Duke suite and was meant to be, Behind the Lines, Duchess, Guide Vocal, Turn It On Again, Duke’s Travels, and Duke’s End. On one side of the album and the other songs on side 2.

Instead of doing this the band decided to integrate all those songs from side 2 into the album proper and thereby in my opinion created a masterpiece, Songs of loss alienation, confusion and love all mixed in with some serious prog leanings and no songs about mice.

FullSizeRenderDuke was the first Genesis album I bought, I remember listening to it while my Dad watched the news to realize that the band were playing the Liverpool Empire that night and I did not have a ticket. So I never saw Genesis but I certainly played this album to death.

The German pressing I am listening to tonight does not have the crazy Duke guy running around the label like my old vinyl but it does have my favorite label of all time the Famous Charisma Label. There is that cray mad hatter going round and round on the turntable all out of focus and fun. I miss watching the little Duke guy running around though.

The Collins songs on this album are truly things of beauty as well, they are some of the simplest things Genesis had played they are also not as calculated as some of the later songs after Abacab.

There you have it then the word is out, I am out of the closet, Duke rocks it is the best post Gabriel album by Genesis and I shall continue to relive my teenage fascination with this album through the wonder of second hand German vinyl. Remember now Turn It On Again.

I defy any band to produce as exciting an end to an album as Duke’s Travels and Duke’s End, they are transcendent and worth the price of admission alone.

Now I’m Just A Cosmic Man

I have loved Hawkwind since the first time I heard them. I have been l at times completely infatuated with and then at other times totally dismissive of them. The first album I ever heard was Hall of the Mountain Grill and I was captivated almost immediately. Swirling mellotron’s, thunderous bass from Lemmy and the relentless guitar of Dave Brock all crowned with Nik Turner parping away on untutored sax and violin, rock violin. It is a cacophony that only one band can ever get way with, strange dystopian science fiction lyrics sung so seriously all surrounded by driving drums and an almost punk attitude.

Titles like Psychedelic Warlords, D-Rider and Paradox and You’d Better Believe It, do not prepare you for what you are about to hear never mind Goat Willow, the cover of a space ship crash landed in a swamp can only hint at the insanity inside. hawkwind-hall-of-the-mountain-grill-non-sticker-lpIt was a revelation to me, almost Floyd but too harsh, not metal, not pop it was something I later discovered is space rock, although that term can’t really do what you find inside justice. The best term I have ever heard to describe the music is BLANGA, for a full description of what the term means go here:

For me it is that moment when the chaos settles, the beat goes on and all is well with the world, Crazy Horse can get there but Hawkwind do it almost without thought on a good day.

Hawkwind while a bunch of anarcho hippies did not have that slightly fey west coast hippy vibe, they looked like they may destroy your town when they arrived and you would feel good about it after they leave. They were more influenced by the metronomic music of German rock music such as Amon Duul, Neu and Can. They were relentless in their drive and their search for the perfect trance like moment. Space Ritual is the epitome of this but Hall of the Mountain Grill is my album.

I remember the strange days of my teen life crouched around a pye record player listening to a borrowed scratched copy of the album. Trying to understand what was going on and almost succeeding. I read the entire Hawkmoon trilogy by Michael Moorcock to this album.hawkmoon And then I got to that point in my Eternal Champion reading and I knew I had to get the album again before I started so off I went searching it out and buying it for the 5th or 6th time in my life. It is one of those audiophile 180gm vinyl versions, They have spread it over two albums and it has lost some magic because of this, they should have kept the original package. Audiophile and Hawkwind are two words that do not make sense.

The album sounds great from that 1st wash of synth and the riff to the ending insanity of Paradox but it was never a double album, it was 40 minutes of perfection and now we have extra tracks and alternate versions stretching it out.

Oh well it is still my Hawkwind, raucous and comforting, dangerous and safe all at the same time, as my friend Greg would say, it’s the dialectic man don’t you get it?

Or in the words if Dave Brock:

You think you know the answers but we don’t tell no lies
We can take you anyway thro’ seven different highs
World turned upside down now, there’s nothing else
to do, but live in concrete jungles, but they block up the views

I crossed my old man back in Oregon…

This was the first time I ever consciously heard the name of the state I ended up living in. It’s from Don’t Take Me Alive on Steely Dan’s The Royal Scam. I know somewhere on the wonderful internet there is an explanation of the song:

See told you so.

Royal Scam is the first Steely Dan album I ever heard, I bought it by mistake thinking it was a Steeleye Span album. I am going to bet I am the only person willing to admit this publicly. Imagine my dismay when I got home to discover the entire lack of fiddles and no Maddy Prior. I almost sold it so many times as it was way too different to anything I was listening to at the time, the only song I liked was The Fez, it was many years before I figured out what the song was about. Go on google it.

Over time and with perseverance it became a favorite. This was a time when the height of sophistication in my  record collection was Very ‘Eavy by Uriah Heep,eavy which is still a classic by the way or Steeleye’s Rocket Cotttage. Learning to appreciate such an uncool album led me to be able to listen to other styles of music that my friends mocked relentlessly. Suddenly Springsteen was attainable as an artist, I could listen to Zappa and when I learned that all pop was not Kylie Minogue I could hold my head high and listen to the likes of The Teardrop Explodes. So my willingness to listen to a diversity of music and deal with the ridicule is because of Steely Dan in a way.

That willingness to listen to just about anything eventually led to an overload of music with almost 400 gig’s on a hard drive and the current search to slow down and enjoy the tunes. Vinyl has allowed me to take a breath and really listen again. To take things in 20 minute chunks and then flip the disc. It has also raised a little anxiety at times, who knew a cat, a dog, a wife and three kids could be so heavy footed. Vinyl standards have improved as well, gone are those flimsy discs, replaced with heavy solid substantial discs that settle on the turntable with a solidity that is reassuring.

Incidentally not only is listening to vinyl more restful, Neil Young is right it sounds better and I have a ridiculously cheap set up that would be ridiculed by any audiophile. I did however buy a spinclean cleaner to deal with those dirty used records. And yes the thought has hit me to update my stereo already but I am determined to hold out.

That song about Oregon did however stick in my mind. Then I met a girl from Oregon, she told me they were pronouncing it wrong and it became even cooler in for me. Then I married that girl and all was lost.  You have to believe Becker and Fagen knew exactly what they were doing with their pronunciation, they new how much those granola crunchers out west would cringe every time they heard it. I bet they grin every time they sing it too.

So now I am in Oregon and have to pronounce my states name appropriately if I don’t it could well cause an international incident.

This weeks listening:

Fisherman’s Blues, The Waterboys

Royal Scam, Steely Dan

The Yes Album, Yes

Close To The Edge, Yes

Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd

Past Present and Future. Al Stewart

A brief question though, how many people when they see the sign, Rummage Sale Tomorrow 10am wonder if there will be vinyl??


What’s In A List?

So many lists, honey do’s and honey don’ts and things to think about.

  1. Sell the damn house.
  2. Move somewhere cheaper.
  3. Open a book store/cafe. Twenty years ago this would have been a bar but I don’t think I could stay up that late anymore.
  4. Listen to more records, yes records, those large pieces of plastic we used to carry around.
  5. Read more books.
  6. Take deep breaths.
  7. Eat more veggies,

No that isn’t really the list, well some of them are the list but not all. And at the end of the day it really is a list but not the A – List.

There is a budding list of what my vinyl play list should be, I started compiling it two weeks ago when the turn table took up residence. It has grown to 23 records so far and who knows where it will go. It is far from complete, although I assigned the completely random number of 50 as the top number so it may take some time to edit and get to where I want it. I am not even close to ready to share the number yet.

The list is symbolic of aspirations, what has made that more meaningful is the changing nature of the list. As well as how hard it is to find some of these albums. It is all tied up in hopes and how you get there. It is wonderful to have goals but sometimes they can be as hard to find as a copy of Solid Air by John Martyn. So the search goes on and the rummaging through Goodwill piles of vinyl and the online browsing. All I can do is sit here and wait for my much anticipated copy of I Often Dream of Trains by Robyn Hitchcock. An album I have not touched in excess of twenty years.

The wait goes on.

I have this image of this idyllic place, shady but warm, lazy and relaxing, Passersby stopping in to hang out and play chess or checkers, look at books and drink coffee. Every morning begins with a stroll  and every day ends with a stroll. In between there are conversations about music, books and the best place to sit and read. Neighbors stop to say hi and people care about each other. People lean their bike against the wall and stop to chat as children run down the street laughing.

Maybe it will happen one day, it is a good place to go though when needed. It is in the future somewhere, some when though.

Another thought. Why are there so many Gordon Lightfoot albums laying around in used record stores? If all the Gordo fans out there got rid of there vinyl did they then go out and binge buy all those records on CD again. I have the same thought about Neil Diamond, augit is not Frampton Comes Alive that was the soundtrack of the suburbs but Gordon Lightfoot and Neil Diamond. Hot August Night is an awesome album though, I hide it next to Gordo and Frampton so it feels happy in it’s suburban home, the only question really is why did Neil approve that picture, he looks like he is doing the robot dance or holding a very large… well let us not got there.

nowhereTalking about Neil’s. I have played Cowgirl In The Sand three times so far this week. Each time I focus on a different part of the song, the solo, the harmonies, the lyrics, the bass and the rhythm. It is a psychedelic anthem, a meandering statement, a gorgeous song and it fades out. I can’t help but wonder what did I miss every time I hear it. What happened after the fade, how much more was there that night as Neil and Crazy Horse played. It’s a song with a groove as much as any Motown or Atlantic cut, it meanders and travels like an old blues song but hits places the Dead never will and the Airplane only think about.

In fact Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere is a masterpiece in it’s own right. I remember sitting one evening playing Round and Round over and over again many years ago. It is probably the least of the songs on the album and I remember thinking that there must be some really deep reason Neil had placed it on the album. It surely must hold the secrets of the universe in its almost 6 minutes. But no, after hours of listening and consulting the lyrics it really is just a kind of cool weird psychedelic country song. Very fun but not so deep after all. Those hours may have been wasted.

The first time I heard Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere I was floored. The album is almost a force of nature. It was all the more powerful because I had just played the Neil Young album which at times sounds like poor mans Buffalo Springfield. I remember thinking he should have taken The Loner and squeezed it onto the follow up album, it would have been perfect with a little Horse injection. The first time I heard the big songs from Everyone Knows… I knew I would be a young fan forever.

So another week of vinyl ends. This weeks playing was:

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, After the Goldrush, Zuma, Neil Young

Now We Are Six and Bedlam Born, Steeleye Span

All Things Must Pass, George Harrison

The Icicle Works first album

The Royal Scam, Steely Dan

Beautiful Vision, Van Morrison

Bare Trees, Fleetwood Mac

There you go another list.


Record stores…Up and over we go.

So we have the turn table and some records, what next? It is obvious really, let’s go buy more records. Who even thought to really consider that question in any serious manner. Luckily I have a supremely patient wife who seems to understand the need to buy an album for the third time. Or maybe she was just too sick to really care today. Either way the die was cast.

So where to go? Luckily Portland potentially being the center of hipsterdom has may record stores selling vinyl by the pound, not to forget Goodwill after all. So off to brave the big city which is a lot easier since GPS became something nestling on my phone. I tried to con one of my kids into coming with me but one wanted to sleep after working an overnight and the other preferred schoolwork. So it was a solo journey, reminiscent of my teen vinyl buying years.

Off to Everyday Music on Sandy Blvd, I had never been in the vinyl section here before, usually buying cd’s, a much safer used purchase than fragile vinyl. The store was large and well laid out and easily navigated. I was however looking for a nostalgia fest maybe or something else than I got at least. Record stores used to be these fun loud flamboyant places with interested people working as well as odd balls,probe or maybe that was just Probe records on Button street. This is how I remember it looking. The repository of all that was cool about records in the day. I managed to buy Harper’s Lifemask, Fairport’s Moat on The Ledge and Give and Take by Here and Now all on the same day.

Before the internet the cork board by the door would tell you where and when the gig was for most bands nobody else wanted to see was. All of the staff were characters and would tell you how badly what you were buying sucked, or if you were lucky or hip enough that you happened to be the only person with any taste that had walked through the door this week. Even the main chain stores such as HMV or Virgin would have knowledgeable people who seemed to realize that they were being paid to listen to music and talk about it all day. Consequently the disappointment of hearing the depressed hipsters at Everyday music complain about how sad they are was not easily overcome. Yes they were pierced by enough hardware and had a dizzying array of tattoos, actually pretty normal for Portland, and tried so hard to be alternative but they did not really seem to realize just how cool their job really was.

Maybe the staff at the Beaverton store will be more fun.

However the important stuff, wow so may records all nicely arranged, new and used all together. Banks of 50c records that I was a little afraid of and most of the records in great quality and reasonably priced. As well as a new arrival section arranged by day of arrival. So I rummaged around for an hour, a few guys my age looking for all those things that they had given away or sold in the past and the young kids looking to discover something they missed as a teen, the joy of records. Out the window went all good intentions of sticking to the idea of albums that blew me away and I just started collecting vinyl to buy. Then I had to go back and put half of it all back, however for some reason I still ended up with three Jethro Tull albums, go figure.

The Purchases:

Stills and Stills 2 – Stephen Stills, not quite on the list but maybe they should be.

Deja Vu – CSNY, of course it is on the list.

Below the Salt – Steeleye Span

Nine, and an odd compilation called Chronicles by Fairport Convention, Nine should be on any self respecting Fairport fans list.

Bursting Out, one of the great live albums, Songs from the Wood, Stormwatch, the first Tull album I ever bought, – Jethro Tull

Hergest Ridge – Mike Oldfield, no idea why apart from it was in perfect condition and everyone needs some Oldfield and it is better than Tubular Bells.

So two from the list if I ever get to writing it. Well I have got to 16 so far.

But in the mail arrived In The Aeroplane Over The Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel,aeroplanejpg the very first piece of brand new vinyl I have bought in over 20 years. So why this record and why is it on the list?

I first heard this album on the same day as I heard Belle and Sebastien’s Lazy Line Painter Jane and they have both stuck in my mind in a good way. So I guess that is the answer, if the record sticks with you for years then it is on the list, of course that leaves space for the Hollies Greatest Hits, which is not a bad thing.

Well it has a great cover. It is also a wonderfully naive, twisted album with some of the best use of trumpet and musical saw ever, despite the slightly desperate sixth form poetry it still manages to hold itself together barely. It reminds me of Julian Cope at his greatest but it is also very American with a vocalist in Jeff Mangum that sounds just about this side of sane. It is as idiosyncratic as it is wonderful, with an epic use of dissonance and melody almost simultaneously and a wonderful punk sensibility.

So there you have it, the first visit to a record store to buy vinyl in over twenty years and the first brand new album bought in twenty years or so. It is still exciting to hold a brand new record by the way, and they really seem to be making them so much better, it is a reassuringly solid feeling piece of plastic.