Ten Songs by Darren Sant

If you asked me to name my top ten songs again in twelve months I’d probably picked a totally different ten, such is the nature of my ever shifting love of music. It would have been easier to name a hundred tracks. Here goes, in no particular order:

Superstition by Stevie Wonder
Quite simply, this song exudes funk. So much so that it makes a bald, fat old git like me want to dance. It makes me feel alive – that is why it has made my top ten.

Across 110th Street by Bobby Womack
I first heard this track on the soundtrack to the Tarantino film Jackie Brown. I like songs that talk to me about reality and there’s a very hefty dose of that in this track. Funky as hell too.

Sometimes by James
You can hear the rain. You can feel the desperation. A track that is exceptionally well produced and album that would make my top ten every time.

The Needle and the Damage Done by Neil Young
A song that oozes melancholy by a master song writer. Young’s plaintive vocal is a warning so heartfelt it’s impossible not to take notice.

Waterfall by The Stone Roses
With my friend, Shaun Kelly, I saw the band at the height of their powers at a small venue in Paris. Full of cheap red wine we felt like kings of the world and as this track washed over me I felt that anything was possible.

Kelly’s Blues by The Triffids
In the early days of CDs I happened upon their album Calenture. Every track is a gem and the concept of Calenture stays strong with several of the tracks. The album was so different to anything I’d heard at the time. I still play it, often.

Brain Damage by Pink Floyd
Stoned off my gourd having ingested a large chunk of cannabis I lay in bed and although it may be a cliché I played Dark Side of the Moon. As I grew increasingly light headed this album took on a life of its own. Classic album and I’m not ashamed to be clichéd now and again! A good friend of mine lost his Father to a brain tumour and it was his Dad’s wish to play the track at the funeral. The dark humour (and bravery) wasn’t lost on anyone.

Northern Sky by Nick Drake
Because no top ten of mine would be complete without a Drake track. Rest in peace you melancholic genius. You left us too young.

Karma Police by Radiohead
An influence from my late brother. With the release of OK Computer I finally “got” Radiohead. Check out the video to this track and if you’re feeling flush splash out their DVD 7 Television Commercials. You won’t regret it

Just Dropped In (To See What Condition my Condition was In) by Kenny Rogers
Another track I love because of a film. This song could have been written for the dude. Treat yourself and watch the Big Lebowski

daz

Darren Sant is originally from Stoke but now lives in Hull, he is the editor of hard-hitting fiction site http://www.close2thebone.co.uk/, and he is the author of several books and collections, most notably Tales From The Longcroft Estate. You can check him out at his website http://darrensant-writer.yolasite.com/, and follow his tweets @groovydaz39 & @longcroft_tales

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Ten Songs by Michael Bell

1: John Adams: Shaker Loops (Trembling and Shaking)
I realise that I’ve started a list of ten songs with something that technically isn’t a ‘song’ but as I grow older, the type of music I listen to and the effect it has on me has changed. This is a good example, because the best time I have to listen to music is during the 3-4 hours a night while I’m painting. This piece has a restless, rumbling pace and energy that makes me engage with what I’m doing and get down to business. Over the last 2 years I must have played this every day in my studio and I still haven’t grown tired of it.

2: Joy Division: Disorder
Considering Unknown Pleasures is probably my favourite album by anyone, ever! You’d think there would be a good story about how I came to hear it; the truth is it was pure chance. I bought it in an HMV ‘3 CDs for £10’ offer, after choosing 2 albums, I looked for something new and I saw a cover that really caught my eye, just a set of shimmering sound waves in a black void, I looked at the back and there were no track listings, just the band’s name and the album title. So I bought it, got on the bus, arrived home and put it on…….From the first few seconds of hearing this track I was hooked, like never before, by any other band.

3: Radiohead: Idioteque
This is a truly menacing piece of 21st century blues; savage, angry and desperate, all at the same time. I had this playing loudly on repeat when I had a moment of realisation whilst painting many years ago; I smeared, scratched and mauled a half-finished canvas into my first real painting ‘Caught’. Ever since then I’ve played this to remind me of that feeling of being excited by something I had created for the first time.

4: Andrew Bird: Hole In The Ocean Floor
Andrew Bird is an artist who I’ve only come across in the last couple of years, but he’s quickly become one of my favourite contemporary musicians. His work doesn’t really fall into any straight forward genre; it effortlessly draws from every time and style, with wit and faultless musical attention to detail. This track is my favourite from his last album ‘Break It Yourself’ which is a work of art from beginning to end.

5: Patrick Wolf – Wind in the Wires
There’s a strange irony around this particular song for me, as the lyrics talk about the encroaching grip and pace of the modern world and; A) This was that last CD single I ever bought and now that format has completely disappeared!. And B) I bought the single from an independent record shop, a once important part of our high street that now seems as antiquated as a blacksmith’s! Patrick Wolf’s more recent work has been a bit too cheery and bombastic for my taste, but this song typifies his brilliant early work, which mixed elements of classical and English folk with some electronic touches.

6: Washington Phillips: Take your burden to the Lord
6 or 7 years ago, I was sat in my car with mate Ian Allen, we were playing music, smoking and talking shite, like we normally did on an evening. I’d put on a mix CD from a music magazine (I can’t remember which one) and this was the last track, as it played we both sat there in a silent awe, taking in this strange, spooky relic from another age. I love it because it embodies a world view that doesn’t exist today, it seems that devotionally inspired art, of any kind, no longer has a place in our time, but hearing this is a brief reminder of the beauty that someone’s belief give to their music.

7: Tino Rossi: Catari, Catari
In an attempt to escape living in Hull/East Yorkshire, I briefly moved to York for a year, where I held down a truly demeaning office job and lived in a depressing bedsit. During this rather regrettable chapter in my life, I had two things that kept me sane, the visits from my girlfriend (now my wife) and losing myself in books from the library and music. Listening to Tino Rossi would always transport me, from my dreary surroundings, to world of smoke filled cafes on winding Parisian streets and black and white movies from the 1930’s.

8: Nat King Cole: Nature Boy
I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that (for me) Nat King Cole is the greatest male vocalist who has ever lived and Nature Boy is the best thing he ever recorded. For as far back as I can remember, I’ve known and loved everything about this song, the arrangement is like something by Rachmaninoff, perfectly setting the mood for the haunting lyrics about an ageless child who personifies nature and wisdom. This piece of lucid and timeless music is a real oddity, especially when you consider that it was recorded in 1948, by someone whose music is now often thought of as easy listening.

9: Nina Simone: I Loves You Porgy
I have to thank my wife Claire for opening up my taste in music to now include ‘musicals’ (although technically, Porgy and Bess which this is taken from is an opera, not a musical, but that’s splitting hairs). When we first started living together, we went to London to see Porgy and Bess at the Savoy Theatre, needless to say we felt very posh and sophisticated, but my strongest memory of the night was of us both welling up with tears when this song was performed.

10: Arvo Part – Speigel Im Speigel
I started this list with an instrumental work, so it only seems fitting to end on one. Words genuinely fail me when it comes to Speigel Im Speigel, how a composition can be so utterly simple and yet so moving is beyond me. It seems to me that Arvo Part was put on earth, to make being alive more bearable for those who listen to his works.

Mike BellMichael Bell is a 30 year old artist, who lives with his wife Claire in Beverley. He exhibits his artwork under the utterly pretentious pseudonym of BAEL. His artistic output mainly consists of paintings that depict angry, naked people. His only claim to fame is that when he worked at GAP in York, Vic Reeves came in and asked him if they sold ‘Boys Pyjamas’? Sadly they didn’t. – His artwork can be found on his website: http://www.bael.co.uk

Ten Songs by Aidan Thorn

1. Paradise City – Guns N’ Roses
I’d like to pretend that my passion for loud music was awakened in some exciting way. To be honest nothing could be further from the truth… It was the late 1980s, I was on a family holiday at a caravan park in Dorset, there was a clubhouse on site and karaoke was at the height of its inexplicable popularity. Maybe it was the fact that I’d sat through endless attempts to make already terrible songs by the likes of ABBA and Cliff Richard sound worse than they already did, but when the post intro part to Paradise City roared from the speakers I suddenly stopped staring at the walls and paid attention. It helped that the fella doing the karaoke version was a better singer than what had gone before (not a glowing recommendation I agree) but what really struck me was the music. That Christmas I asked for Appetite for Destruction, and thankfully my parents ignored the parental advisory sticker, and the concern of my older cousin (‘Are you sure?’) and got it for me. I played that album until the tape reeled itself around my cassette deck in a tangled mess. It opened my eyes to so much music that I love today and it’s still an album that I go back to from time to time and enjoy as much as I did as a wide-eyed 10-year-old.

2. Lithium – Nirvana
Whilst the rest of the world was falling over themselves to tell us that ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ was the best song in the world ever I was a bit ‘meh’ about it. It was probably because people were suggesting that this was the end for the likes of GN’R, Metallica, Maiden and I wasn’t ready for that – In fact the idea of that made me want to collapse in a crumpled mess and cry until my eyes bled. Still, once Lithium hit my ears I could no longer resist, I wouldn’t say I was converted, I was never going to turn my back on the more ‘traditional’ rock sounds that I was so fond of, but I’d certainly found a new one to add to them, my ears were open to the ‘grunge’ sound.

3. Fade to Black – Metallica

I could not believe what I was hearing – there was that almost medieval haunting rhythm guitar part with the howling lonely lead part in the introduction. Then Hetfield sings. And then, crunching heavy metal… This song is a lesson in heavy metal song writing at its very best. I picked up a guitar purely with the aim of learning this song. I was rubbish at the guitar, this is a difficult song, and it’s the only song I persevered with enough that I could do a competent job of most of it. Even today when I hear this song the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end and I’m transported to a distant place – I’m not sure where it is but it’s magical.

4. Supersonic – Oasis
All change – up to this point I was all black t-shirts, black jeans and Doc Martins. I even went through a bandana phase – honestly it was a mess! And then along came two brothers from Manchester with more self-belief than the collective casts of The Apprentice and changed my life. It was still guitar music, but it had a swagger about it that I hadn’t heard before. It was simple and catchy – it almost said, anyone could do this stuff. I dispensed with the Halloween costumes, pulled on a pair of blue 501s and a pale blue tee with stripes down the sleeves and lightened up a bit.

5. She Don’t Use Jelly – The Flaming Lips
I went through a phase of liking those kooky songs by the likes of Presidents of the USA, Green Jelly, Primus – I think I discovered this song during that phase. Thankfully, The Flaming Lips were never a phase I got over. This song opened my eyes to one of the best bands on the planet with a huge and diverse catalogue of music. They’re still my go to band if nothing else is inspiring me. I’ve only managed to catch them live twice and both occasions have to go down in my top five gigs of all time, great music and great shows – those great experiences are thanks to this song.

6. Soul to Squeeze – Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Red Hot Chili Peppers are an important band for me. They’re not my favourite band, they’ve probably never even been in my top 10 bands but they’ve made some incredible pieces of music (they’ve also made some absolute dross) that cross genres and have led me to explore music more. Their blend of rock, funk, soul, hip-hop gave me cause to listen to the likes of Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, Parliament etc… For me there’s no better example of their fusion of styles than this song that never made it onto any of their studio albums. Also, as a bass player you have to take your hat off to Flea!

7. Move On Up – Curtis Mayfield
Does music come any cooler than this? Possibly, but I don’t think so. I’ve picked this one song to represent all of Curtis Mayfield’s music, perhaps the obvious choice but to me it epitomizes what the guy was all about. The sort of music that played over the titles or the credits of shady movies that I used to watch in bed when I couldn’t sleep, poorly acted but compulsive viewing due to the cool characters and the funky soundtracks. Whenever I have the iPod on and Curtis shuffles into the ear I feel like my life is being sound-tracked and I walk with a little more bounce – I probably look ridiculous!

8. Hey Man (Now You’re Really Living) – Eels
There are some songs that just lift you up and if this one doesn’t do that to you, I think you’re probably dead. I love Eels, people say they’re melancholy and depressing, yep at times that’s right, but at times they’re bouncy and uplifting – like here. I like melancholy and depressing, a lot of the best songs are written by miserable people. I read ‘Things the Grandchildren Should Know’ – the autobiography of Mark Oliver Everett (E of Eels), believe me he’s got more reason to be melancholy than most – and having read that book I have even more love for ‘Hey Man’, it seems to mean more having read through Everett’s life with him. I mean, the fact that the same man that wrote ‘It’s a Motherfucker’ and ‘Cancer for the Cure’ penned such a happy, bouncy song – there’s something quite special about that.

9. That’s Alright Mama (live version 1968) – Elvis Presley

There’s a video of Elvis from 1968 when he did an hour-long show for NBC in America. He’s just sat around with his band, leather jacket, guitar, microphone – cool… There’s not a white jumpsuit in sight. This is Elvis Presley clearly enjoying the simplicity of what he does, he’s laughing and joking with his band, he’s smiling and playing to the audience. There’s no escaping the fact that Elvis was a beautiful man, with a velvet voice, I could have picked any number of songs from this session but ‘That’s Alright Mama’ seems to be the one that captures what he was and his enjoyment of that session the most – I implore you, if you haven’t seen it head straight over to Youtube after this.

10. Toxicity – System Of A Down

As diverse as my musical tastes have become over the years the heavier side of music will always be my first love. There was a period when I probably didn’t listen to anything new and heavy for about five years… That changed on the day I heard ‘Toxicity’ by System Of A Down. After grunge I thought ‘heavy’ appeared to be going down a route that I wasn’t all that impressed with (Papa Roach, Limp Bizkit I’m looking at you!). System Of A Down made me realize that there were still great bands out there doing ‘metal’ well – God bless ‘em.

Aidan Thorn is a 33-year-old writer from Southampton, England, home of the Spitfire and Matthew Le Tissier but sadly more famous for Craig David and being the place the Titanic sailed from before sinking. Aidan would like to put Southampton on the map for something more than sinking ships and terrible R’N’B music. His first short story collection ‘Criminal Thoughts’ will be available on Kindle very soon and more about his writing can be found here http://aidanthornwriter.weebly.com/

 
 

Ten Songs by Shane Simmons

ABBA – S.O.S.
In the first ever piece I had published (a non-fiction story for Pure Slush) I detailed a moment in my teens where my older brother used my liking for ABBA as definitive proof that I was a ‘gay’. He may have been correct but he missed two crucial facts: 1) in his late teens he was a Madonna fan (pot, kettle, etc) and 2) no one crafted songs like ABBA did. The verses are amazingly maudlin (which will fit in nicely with so many of following selections it would seem…) but many of ABBA’s best songs have a bleak undertones to them. When the chorus kicks you get a much needed shot of pure power-pop to the veins. Gay? Nah, just genius.

Joan Armatrading – Love and Affection
I think one of my sisters introduced me to this song. As an awkward teen I often felt the one thing missing in my life was a bit of ‘love’. In my family and person life, *aww*. “If I can feel the sun in my eyes and the rain on my face, why I can’t I feel love?” That question hit me like a ton of bricks, and yet there’s nothing more brash in this than a slightly cheesy saxophone solo. Joan Armatrading’s meek voice still sends shivers down my spine when she repetitively demands “Give me love!” as chords descend one by one behind her. The whole thing is like chocolate for the ears.

Nirvana – About a Girl (Unplugged Version)
It’s 1993. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” clears the dance floor at my primary school leavers’ disco, save for our lovely, grungy teacher, Miss Nicola Phillips, and one boy from my class, holding hands and ‘dancing’ to it. I’m so jealous, I fancied Miss Phillips rotten (My mum got piss-farting drunk at this do, something she rarely did, and told her this… *cringe*) A few years later I see a clip of this straggly guy singing this song, surrounded by black candles, it looks like a musical wake, and I’m won over. Even my mum liked it. I got “Unplugged” out of the library (I didn’t have much pocket money to buy stuff, for years the local libraries were my musical godsend) and with that, I began to learn how to play guitar. It underestimates the statement when I say that discovering Nirvana changed my life, and it all started here.

Jeff Buckley – Nightmares by the Sea
Whilst tidying racks of CDs in Woolies, I noticed Jeff Buckley’s “Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk” at a bargain price, £3.97. I stuck my name on it so I could purchase it when my shift ended. As it was scanned through the till it came up at £15.97. Some arse had stickered it wrong, buggery! This girl (one of a manager’s daughter with many more years experience than me) said it would be fine to sell it at the price on the sticker. Hmm. She insisted. A few days later I was to be found in the office blubbing and being suspended so an investigation could take place. But in my time off I grew a pair and built up a defence that would’ve got a murderer off (maybe) before going in to fight my corner. It paid off, I wasn’t sacked. The next day I gleefully handed in my notice. I’d hated that place passionately anyway. Jeff Buckley helped me get out of my miserable job. It took me years to listen to that album again and this song is the highlight for me. Considering the circumstances surrounding Jeff’s death it’s eerily physic of his own demise, “Stay, with me, under these waves tonight.” There’s those shivers again…

Nick Drake – Things Behind The Sun
One summer, my choice of music on, driving from one campsite to another, I suddenly realised where we were and suggested a detour. I grabbed the giant road atlas (this is before smartphones with GPS and sat-navs) and guided us to Tamworth-in-Arden. It was a sunny Sunday, we arrived in a quiet, quaint village. In the centre of it all was the church with accompanying graveyard in the grounds. We wandered through, and eventually found a humble looking stone. Stood there for a while, I wasn’t entirely sure what to do or say. When faced with Nick Drake’s final resting place it once again hit me that we always seem to lose the best ones far too soon. I put this on as we quietly drove away.

Hope of the States – Don’t Go To Pieces

I don’t discover many new bands so it was thanks to my mate Stevie that Hope of the States came onto my radar. He dragged me to see them play the now defunct Glasgow Barfly. He’d won tickets courtesy of XFM, so if I hated them, it was a freebie. The six-piece crammed themselves onto the tiniest of states and began belting out, “Blood Meridian”. My jaw dropped, as per the Barfly the sound was awful, but I fell in love in instantly. I ran out, bought everything by them (I also bought a violin, which I never learned to play…) and realised that “The Lost Riots” is one of the few musical masterpieces of this millennia so far. Choosing one song, it had to be this because I always think of Stevie and his wonky circulatory system when I hear it. “There’s a million good hearts like you and like me.”

The Four Fifty’s – I’m All Wrong
I had to ask the Gill Hoffs (who’d suggested I give Sitting on the Swings a shot) if it would be a bit of a faux-pas to include a song by one of my own bands, albeit one that wasn’t written or sung by myself. Stevie McEwan, (previously mentioned mate as well as musical co-conspirator), was a much more prolific songwriter than myself, I was used to him bringing me new songs, but when he brought this to me it made complete sense first time around, and I knew it was going to be a special one, if even just for us. It ended up closing our last release as The Four Fifty’s (misplaced apostrophe intentional, so we said). Stevie had hellish problems with his heart and palpitations whenever we played live and overall we’d found ourselves weary of the rigmaroles of playing a ‘scene’ we didn’t sit well with.

“I’ve got nothing else
I’ve tried everything before
Is it worth the effort, I don’t think so

We can only pack our things and go.”

Soon afterwards Stevie and his then wife-to-be had a kid, we took a few years out, and nowadays we occasionally reconvene to strum out some tunes. But of everything we ever did, this one will be with me for an eternity.

Manic Street Preachers – Faster
Nirvana obsessed teen Shane did not understand “The Holy Bible” when he first took it out of Catford Library back in the day. Fast-forward a decade and for a reason I can’t remember, the album stormed back into my life. At one point I was listening to that it four, five times a day in its entirety. I was fucked up about, well, everything at that point. I was angrier than I’d ever been before, life seemed bleak and pointless. With that, it seems logical that “The Holy Bible” and Richey Edwards’ words finally made sense to me. So I went to the GP, took some pills, got a little better as well as fatter, stopped pills, but I never left this album behind. I’d put this song one on each and every time I had to walk out into the world, like a boxer climbing into the ring. It still hits the defiant side of me like a punch in the gut, and as long as I have functioning ears, I suspect it always will.

Siouxsie and the Banshees – Spellbound

When compiling some contenders for this list, I had to have something sporting John McGeoch on guitar. He was one of the most astoundingly original musicians I’ve ever heard, and certainly the best thing to ever come out of the hellhole that is Greenock, Scotland. When I listen to him play I’m awestruck, Japanese fan-girl down the front staring up and crying awestruck, but alas he’s no longer with us and that is one humongous shame. Recently I was trying to explain just how special his playing was to my better half, and I struggled to put it into logical words. So I slapped this on. McGeoch quietly chirps throughout the song, weaving in with these beautiful, unusual picking patterns and bursting into the chorus with frantically strummed acoustic chords. McGeoch had a knack of composing perfectly for the feel of a song, and I’m ‘entranced’ by his skill each and every time.

Elliott Smith – Independence Day
And so my ten songs end here. It had to end here because I reckon “Independence Day” is possibly my favourite song of all time. I could’ve filled this list with ten Elliott Smith songs but that would’ve been boring as anything. It’s the perfect mix of happy/mournful and often it replaces “Faster” as a my ‘going out into the world again’ song. It somehow appeals to the best and worst sides of me. When I’m down, considering disappearing for all eternity, this song simultaneously fits and lifts me out of that frame of mind. “Go to sleep, and make the change, I’ll meet you here tomorrow, independence day.”

shane picShane Simmons writes in between being a till monkey, stuffing his face and having brain frazzles in the middle of the night. He lives in miserable Glasgow, came from miserable London and is generally of a quiet yet angry nature. He is willing to listen to strangers talk about their lives if they buy him cakes. He doesn’t like Twitter as there is a word limit but he can be found blogging at http://scribblingsimmons.wordpress.com/ He is currently working on twelve short stories for publication through Pure Slush next year.

Ten Songs by Paul Featherstone

Okay, so after far too much deliberation over this (I have over 400 CD’s to condense it down from) here are the ten songs that “blew my mind”. Now this list is not necessarily my favourite ten songs of all time, there are in fact many “standards” that have missed the list because they’ve always been around for me. Songs by The Beatles, The Jam, The Kinks, Michael Jackson, Elvis Costello etc that all get smashed up to 11 when they come on, but due to their all encompassing fame, I can’t remember first hearing them. No, these are 10 songs that are essentially heroin, hearing them again is simply “chasing the dragon” and often or not, the pursuit of new music is to attain the feeling that songs such as these bring about. As requested, I’ve put them in the order of when I first heard them. If it’s slightly out of sync, brain damage from heavy drinking is the explanation.

Hope you like them, and if not, who cares we are all probably dead in a horrific nuclear firestorm as the fallout from Syria begins soon.

1. Oasis, The Masterplan

The music of Noel Gallagher has been in my life for almost 20 years now, and as with many artists here, I could have slung a full list of ten in. I know Oasis have a poor reputation, but really when was the last time a band ruled the country so much that people knew the names of every member like they did in the nineties? This song stands out the most as it is the one where I really became obsessed and started just buying everything the band ever produced. The idea that a song of such a majestic scale could be tucked away as track fucking four of a single is amazing. It encapsulates everything both great and frustrating about Noel Gallagher as a songwriter. If he had held it back for album three, imagine how much it would have sold and yet if he had just shoved shit on the b-sides would anyone have cared as half as much about them as they do? This song just has it all- strings, an arms-round-your mate chorus, backwards guitar and it set my mind whirling to dig out music by the next band.

2. The Beatles, A Day In The Life

It’s naturally hard to escape the music of The Beatles, but it is only when you begin to get turned onto them as a band that you really start to appreciate what it must have been like to hear and experience their work for the first time. No-one had told me about this song. I had read about Sgt Pepper being such a huge milestone, but when this came on? Fuck me. It is pretty much the song that marks the end of Lennon-McCartney honeymoon- for The White Album after they essentially recorded apart but what a way to go out. Lennon’s LSD-ridden mind pontificating on “the news today, oh boy” as end-of-the-world strings swirl around the song. McCartney gives the song focus with his middle section followed by Lennon’s “aaaaahs”, giving way to the strings and brass that drop us back to Earth, probably my favourite moment in music. As a 16 year old, it brought me to my knees and I immediately bought everything they produced.

3. David Bowie, Life On Mars

Quite appropriately, I first got into Bowie off the back of Top Of The Pops. Okay, it was Top Of The Pops 2, but by then I was obsessed with the 60’s and 70’s and so Whigfield was a “no” for me on the parent show. My Dad had an extensive Bowie collection that I had been planning to raid on vinyl, as I had done with The Beatles. This song came on and I just stopped there and then and watched transfixed. It wasn’t so much the video (although Bowie does look a fucking geezer in it) but the songcraft coming out of my tiny TV’s speakers. The piano, my obsession with strings from The Beatles and Oasis and the crescendo to one of, if not the best. of Bowie choruses. If you watch the video, Bowie pretty much experiences the music like us- swinging his arms to the drums, playing air guitar and piano. It’s pop music at its finest and he leaves such a void by not recording an album every few years. I ran downstairs, pulled out Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust, and recorded them onto tape. It’s the reason I own CD’s and refuse to use Spotify etc, so that anyone can just dip in when they like. Cheers Dad. Oh, and Dave.



4. Spiritualized, Broken Heart

I’m not gonna lie, if you ain’t into strings you won’t be interested in the first stages of my musical forays. Anyway, on one of my regular jaunts to record stores to pick up bootlegs or rarities, I came across The Spiritualized album Ladies And Gentleman, We Are Floating In Space- which I had wanted since seeing them perform “Come Together” at Glastonbury on TV. When this track came on, it did what it does with every play- it just stopped me dead in my tracks. It’s a musical gut-punch that you can play when you have lost someone you care for in your life. Whether it be a death, or a parting of ways. It doesn’t go down the Adele-esque, “I will survive without you” route, it offers genuine solace. Then you hear it again at a normal time, and you feel the lump form in your throat. Quite how Jason Pierce wrote anything so sprawling and well-conceived given the wheelbarrows of drugs he consumes is beyond me, but his exhausted “..and I’m wasted all the time” can be identified by anyone that has ever had to drown said broken heart, only to have it all wash back when you’re sober again. Why anyone would chose “Angels” at a funeral rather than it, is beyond me. It has nine dislikes on YouTube, probably from Talk To Frank call workers.



5. The Who, Love Reign O’er Me

After catching Quadrophenia on ITV late one night, I ventured once more to the record shop to buy this album. As though Phil Daniels shouting “fuck off all you Mr Postmen” wasn’t majestic enough, the music intersecting between the scenes had to fit into my now vastly expanding collection. This song was the one I really wanted though, from the moment I heard it, and the way it is dick-teased on the album with its piano intro, before you finally get to hear it, just makes it even better. It has everything that makes me love The Who as a band, but especially the album. There isn’t a band ,in my opinion, that had it all like The Who, when it came to pure musicianship and the drumming from Moon throughout this song is just untouchable. It greatly distresses me that some people only know them as the “CSI theme song” band, when this exists on record.

6. Arctic Monkeys, Do Me A Favour

So, finally to some songs that I can talk about when I truly heard them first, as intended on release day. Arctic Monkeys are really the only guitar band of modern times I truly hanker for new material from, apart from Doves (who seem to have retired). I know lots of people lost their minds over “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor”, but for me, this song heralds the arrival of Alex Turner as a truly great songwriter. The structure and tightness of the arrangement is years ahead of where he should have been at his age, and it’s arguably his greatest song. Like many bands, the song is elevated to greatness by the drumming and Matt Helders is just un-fucking-believable on here. Yet, there is so much more. The breakdown into an almost acapella middle is followed by the furious guitars and drums that somehow bring relief to the listener, as every argument you’ve ever had with a loved one is dredged back up and the anger is brought back to the surface- “hold onto your heart” indeed. The final line of “perhaps fuck off might be too kind?” is probably one of the best put downs in a song too. If anyone shouts to “play Mardy Bum” at their gigs rather than this, humanely suffocate them with a pillow.



7. Jarvis Cocker, Running The World

I’ve tried to have just one track from one artist, and despite long deliberations, I’ve knocked off “Common People” for this. Released on the same day as the Live Aid 2 concert, it was a bile filled song that, quite rightly, pointed out that standing in a field for one day as Johnny Borrell played a guitar topless was not going to change anything. It mixes that rare trick of being politically nailed on and having a great hook. Coming after a long period of absence from music, for one of my heroes to come back with something so gloriously sarcastic and that could resonate even to this day, just emphasised his qualities as one of our greatest ever songwriters. Every single line in the song rings with truth (unless you’re right wing) as he discusses obsolete working classes, unheard protests and the fact that despite it all, takings were up by a third. It pre-dated the stock market crash, and he had them all figured out whilst we smugly signed petitions to drop the debt as we racked up huge credit card bills. “Bluntly put, in the fewest of words- cunts are still running the world”. Indeed.

8. The Cribs, Be Safe

In many ways, this is the hardest one to pinpoint what I love the most. The Cribs certainly have superior songs, but this has that charm that it’s hard to explain to those who dislike the Jarman’s music. Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth sprouts prose over the band, until the song is stirred into life with the kind of crashing chorus that Alex from Franz Ferdinand had managed to coax out of them when he took over production duties. It sounds shit on paper, it shouldn’t work- but it does, and it’s fucking genius. To be honest, the majority of that is down to Ranaldo and the work he does over the music, but if the band behind him weren’t doing such a tight job it would be in vain. You just have to sit back and admire the words that accompany the sounds and it has probably one of my favourite ever lines in- “your smile so loud it still rings in my ears”. None of us are good enough to touch something like that, you just have to doff your cap at it. Think of it as you miss someone one time, try not to blub….and people actually LIKE music by Taylor Swift. “Mine were alright….but who cares?”…..”That’s the spirit!”

9. Kanye West, Lost In The World/Who Will Survive In America?

I’ve covered the genius of West in a previous article, so if you haven’t read it- tough shit! Anyway, this comes at the end of his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album. That album pushes just how good he is, I assure you it will grow in stature over the years. The fact that I’ve binned off “Runaway” for this, which I fucking adore, tells you how highly I rate it. I listened to it again the other day and I realised that Kanye actually steps back on this track and lets the music do the talking. Apart from a small rap, it is all about creating soundscapes and his ability as a producer. What that results in is stunning. Like many songs on the album, it starts pretty sparse and then builds into ideas smashing against each other- all tribal drums and electronic sounds. It then flows into an outro as Gil Scott Heron picks apart the American Dream over West’s beats. For anyone who says music should be just guitars and singing, strap them into a chair and play this Clockwork Orange style.



10. And I Will Kiss, Underworld

Released last year as part of the soundtrack for Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony soundtrack, it was again a struggle to put this in rather than “Born Slippy”, but the sheer boldness of what is going on here musically, secures it a place. The biggest compliment I can give it is that it is about 17 minutes long, but it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. I first heard it at the opening ceremony rehearsal and was unaware it was by Underworld or specially commissioned, which I think added to it’s impact. The idea that these dance artists could build a piece of music as outstanding as any classical score, for such a major stage, literally blows my mind. Like every song on this list I can’t imagine how you would write it, and it says a lot that I would put it up there with the likes of The Beatles and Bowie for greatness. Everything works here, from the apocalyptic drums, to the tiny respite that pays respect to the dead of war, onto the growth and growth of the musical spectacle before we are brought full circle to that war dead moment, as choirs and strings top off the piece. That Britain could create something so astounding for the biggest stage on Earth is a testament to it’s musical heritage and it’s a fine place to end.

Paul FeatherstonePaul Featherstone is 31 years old and lives in Hull. Most people call him “Fev.” He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of football and music and uses the word “c*nt” far too much in everyday conversation. He spends a lot of his time blagging his way into celebrity parties. He is to be commended for once meeting Jo Whiley and refraining from beating her to death with a big stick. You can read more of his vitirolic comments on http://twitter.com/FevTheRevoff

Ten Songs by David Stothard

Dave – Boomtown Rats
Most people think Sir Bob, Simon Crowe, Gary Roberts, Pete Briquette, Johnnie Fingers, Gerry Cott where crap. My response is….. bollocks to you. They were the first band I really got into when I was about 13, and still just about one of my favourite bands. Looking after Number One, Mary of the Forth Form and She’s so Modern blew me away. If you get to see a list of all the songs they did its surprising how many top forty hits they had. Dave is one of those that have beautiful lyrics and is a gorgeous song. They played at the Isle of Wight festival this year but no one in my ever decreasing circle of friends wanted to go.

You Dumb F**K – Crackout
Have you ever followed a band from their beginnings’ that you thought were brilliant? I saw these at The Adelphi Club when they were supporting another band who were slightly better known at the time. Crackout had released the album This is really Neat, which was to become critically acclaimed and that fat obnoxious twat from Leeds, Chris Moyles gave their first single You ought to Know some airplay on Radio One. I think it charted at number 72 or something. They even supported Sum 41 on tour and a few others. I thought they would be superstars. I also saw them at Reading. They played in the Radio One / NME tent at about 12.30pm when most of the festival goers were usually either still staring into space or lying in their own filth in a collapsed flooded tent. The arena was packed even at that early time. I suppose some people did listen to Moyles. They lasted a couple of more years then split up. O
The only problem is for me is that no one has heard of them, no one remembers them. Just another band that could have and should have made it. Am I the only person with both their albums? But instead we have to watch the likes of people who look like they have come straight from the grave yard prancing about at places like Glastonbury performing the same songs that they have been singing for over 50 years. What a crap world. Please get a copy of their first album This is really Neat and listen to it. There are a few videos of them on U Tube. Take a bow Steven, Jack, Nicholas.
There was another band, this time from Hull that I thought were good and sometimes very good and could have done something and gone places. I went to quite a few of their gigs and was sometimes around 50% of the audience. Just shows how hard it is to succeed sometimes. Shame.


Poor Misguided Fool – Star Sailor

People slag me off for liking these but what a voice James Walsh has. Some people say its depressing music. So what! Nothing better than listening to this on your own with a bottle or three of wine feeling sorry for yourself when times are bad or sad. Yes we all do it. One of those bands that didn’t produce loads of albums but what they did do was quality.

Freedom – The Housemartins
Hull’s best ever band? Don’t really know. I don’t claim to be a musical encyclopaedia like some but they must be up there. I remember a review in the Sun newspaper on London 0 Hull 4 saying forget the Marxist Christian bullshit just listen the brilliant lyric’s. Probably the only worthwhile statement in that rag for the last 30 years. So this is freedom, they must be joking, they must be joking, they think it’s true. Says it all really.

Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground – The White Stripes

I dare anyone to disagree that Jack White is a musical genius. Listen to this song and the lyrics. I bet he could sing anything and it would end up covered in stardust. I could have chosen any song from White Blood Cells they are that good. I’ve seen them at the Reading Festival twice, once in the Radio One / NME tent, and once on the main stage. How can only two people hold 30,000 people in their grasp, spellbound for two hours? A genius, nothing less nothing more.

I Am The Mob – Catatonia
Apart from a superb song from a brilliant album there are two reasons for this. When people talk about who they would have for a dinner party if they could choose from anyone, I won’t be choosing from The Pope, Nelson Mandela, The Queen bullshit type of list. I’d have Cerys Matthews every time. What a night that would be. Only problem is would I remember any of it. She has one hell of a pair of lungs on her. A bit of a wasted talent to be honest. Good whilst it lasted. The other rather bizarre reason is that I love anything to do with the mobster / mafia genre. If we were doing a top ten films list they would all be gangster movies. If I could choose what I would come back as after reincarnation it would be a mobster boss. Ultimate power trip.

You’re Beautiful – James Blunt
Don’t laugh, the man is a war hero. Another song writer who has a few good songs but was / is soon forgotten but this is one of those songs that is full of lines that just resonate. Some songs are just simple and beautiful, the type that the music snobs like to have a go at. This song reminds me that the world is full of people who worship, fantasize or who simply stalk beautiful people that are out of their league. Sad but true. I never believed that there was something such as leagues when looking for a partner. And I don’t believe it now either. Some will understand.

Anarchy in the UK –The Sex Pistols
Love it. Stick two fingers up to the establishment every time. Parasites on society. The French had the right idea. But also they were a very good band too. They might now be either older or dead but the songs haven’t aged at all. Still classics. You wonder if today’s kids who follow their “stars” have ever listened to the raw power and feeling a punk rock song can portray.

The Beautiful People – Marilyn Manson

I resisted going to music festivals for years but finally started going to Reading in around 2004. People ask us why we went to Reading and not Leeds which was about 200 miles closer. Simple really, Leeds festival was usually full of northern scum fighting and thieving. Sunday night on the main stage Eminem was headlining and was preceded by Marilyn Manson. They hugged on stage between their sets, something to do with a gay slur. Eminem was crap, and still is, but Manson was simply outstanding. Brilliant, brilliant set. Stood with thousands of Goths in the dark is a scene never to be forgotten.

Territorial Pissings – Nirvana
One of the best song titles ever, closely followed by a song I have just found on my phone called Automatic lover by The Vibrators. God knows where that came from. Never knew it existed.
Of all the people who have died whilst I have graced the earth Kurt Cobain must be one of the most missed. What a genius. What a waste. What a legacy. What a band. He achieved more in his short time that most of us ever will if we live a long enough. Can’t think of a band that had a bigger effect on the way their fans were portrayed. Changed the way grunge was viewed. It wasn’t just a set of dirty misguided youths. This song is from one of the best albums of all time. No dispute possible.

Stothard pic“Who the fuck is David Stothard?” I hear you all asking. He is mister self-deprecation himself, West Hull’s answer to Jack Dee. 47 years old, single and gorgeous. Massive supporter (literally) of both Hull F.C. and Hull City and hater of all glory supporters even if their dads did made them go. Sees religion for what it really is and politicians for the self-publicising greedy bastards they really are. And contrary to popular belief, that film called “The 40 Year Old Virgin” wasn’t about him. Find him tweeting @davyhull22

Ten Songs by Gill Hoffs

Seven Seas of Rye, Queen – between the ages of about nine to fifteen, my home-life was fairly grim. One of the very few upsides to the horror was that the man I was forced to live with was a Queen fan. For the few minutes that the piano rang out and Freddie’s voice soared, my mind could follow the notes and flee. This was one of my favourites and I still love it but that love is tempered with memories of a shit who talked a bit like Billy Connelly. Worth it? Probably, yes.

The Only Living Boy in New York, Simon & Garfunkel – the first time I met my dad properly (post-babyhood) I was about 11, and he gave me a cassette of Bridge Over Troubled Water. This track made me cry. I have uncomfortably strong memories of hiding my face against the car window so nobody would notice the tears and snot dribbling down my face and ask what was up – if they asked, I couldn’t possibly explain. I still have the cassette (though nothing to play it on) and feel a bit funny when caught off guard by it on the radio.

Birdhouse in Your Soul, They Might Be Giants – this eccentric, chirpy little song was on a LOT one summer when I was a kid. The school holidays took forever and when I hear it I think of pink skies, still sea, and my eyes smarting from the sand and salt-air that came with living on the coast. I’d stay out all day with books in my pockets and wander the shore, picking out agates and pretty shells, and avoiding people if I could, though one day I went to the tough kid’s house and she had this song as a cassette single in a big plastic jar in her room. She stripped all her singles of their cases and dumped them in. It horrified me.

She Is Suffering, Manic Street Preachers – someone I admired at school (and had a bit of a crush on, to be honest) lent me their tape of The Holy Bible and that was it. I was hooked. Every song on it is perfection and works in solitude or with the other pieces as a coherent whole, but this is the track that most reminds me of hidden razorblades and an awful stash of suicide notes I built up. Most of the songs in this list are to do with bad times, but it’s like looking back at the shitty town at the foot of the mountain from the layby with a chip van near the top. Much improved with a different view.

Creep, Radiohead – this masterpiece summed up everything I felt (and still sometimes do, I think my mind stalled at 19 and refused to grow up any further). In Biology I would sit and write out the lyrics in black ink at the back of my folder. At home I would draw Thom Yorke with eye pencil. The words are simple and beautifully accurate, the vocals exquisitely painful, the guitar clear and elegant agony in music, the drums present but not intrusively so. I think this was the first song I heard that had the word ‘fucking’ in it, and I delighted in singing along LOUDLY.

Torn, Natalie Imbruglia – when I was 18 I met my best friend and future husband, and this track was on the radio ALL THE BLOODY TIME. It became a kind of joke between us, and when we hear it I get the giggles and remember the late 90s, staying up all night watching horror movies and being scared shitless by his cat (she’d jump on my leg during tense bits and I’d eeep with fright). It definitely helps that Natalie Imbruglia is a bit Audrey Hepburn in the video.

I Saw Her Again, Mamas & Papas – I was very ill with depression throughout my teens and early 20s, and ended up in hospital several times. Puking charcoal is NOT a pleasant memory, but I’m glad to be here to remember it. One stay was for a weekend, and my now-husband brought me a Walkman and Best Of… collection of Mamas & Papas songs. I listened to it until the batteries ran out. The melodies and cheeriness retuned my head to the point where I wasn’t gagging for paracetamol and a razor, and gave me enough breathing space to endure what was going on in my brain until the anti-depressants kicked in.

Alone Again, Naturally, Gilbert O’Sullivan – before having my son almost six years ago, I had four miscarriages. The first was undoubtedly the worst, both physically and emotionally. For a couple of weeks I lay on the sofa eating Viennese truffles from Thornton’s (I couldn’t stand anything else, and they were my favourites), watching Buffy and Star Trek TNG and Voyager repeats, and listening to this track over and over. The memories I have of this time are horribly vivid and colourful, but brief considering the weeks it took to get back to normal and lose the tissue designed to protect my baby from harm.

Dream a Little Dream, Mama Cass – when my son was born, these are the first lyrics I sang to him. It’s a song my husband and I both love, and I’ve always loved sycamore trees (especially climbing them) so it was the perfect fit. It’s still something we sing to him late at night or when he’s poorly and fretful or lying horribly still on the couch. I do wonder how it must feel to lose a parent but still be able to hear recordings of them singing (or talking or laughing), especially if your parent’s recordings are popular enough that you could be ambushed with your loved one’s voice at any moment.

The Boxer, Simon & Garfunkel – my son always has one of us at his side as he falls asleep, and when he was very little, I would sing to him to reassure him and keep him lying there. I have a shocking memory, and although I can sing along to quite a few tunes (especially from the 90s) on the radio I find it hard to recall full sets of lyrics especially when I’m trying not to fall asleep myself. The Boxer is one of the songs I particularly liked to sing along to on the cassette my dad gave me, and for some reason the lyrics stuck in my head enough for me to repeat them to my son over 15 years later. Instead of nursery rhymes, he tends to request “pocketful of mongrels”.

So there you go. A couple of wrist-slitters, some happy-smiley choons, and nostalgia. A fair mix, I reckon.

hoffsGill Hoffs lives with her family and Coraline Cat in a horribly messy house in Warrington. Find her on facebook or as @gillhoffs on twitter, email her a dirty joke at gillhoffs@hotmail.co.uk, or leave a clean comment at http://gillhoffs.wordpress.com/ ‘Wild: a collection’, her word-mixture of sea creatures, regret, and murder, is out now from Pure Slush. Get it here.
Gill’s often-sad sometimes-grisly nonfiction book about the Victorian Titanic will be published in January 2014 by Pen & Sword. Feel free to send her chocolate.