Friday, May 26, 2006

My Desert Island Discs

David Cameron has done it, so has Iain Dale, so without further ado here are my eight Desert Island Discs - with not a Benny Hill novelty record or piece of aspirational M People rubbish in sight!

1. 101 Eastbound - Fourplay. Smooth jazz has been the music of choice in the Linford household for the past few years, perhaps because my wife got fed-up with me listening to The Smiths and Prefab Sprout all the time. But I needed no musical re-education to get into this wondrous, uplifting piece of jazz funk. Whenever we hear it, it seems that God is in his heaven and all is right with the world.

2. Piano Concerto in C Minor - Sergey Rachmaninov. Rach 2 is, quite simply, the most romantic piece of music ever written. Forget the fact that Barry Manilow ripped off the tune of the 2nd Movement for "All By My Self," and immerse yourself in those luscious chord sequences and impassioned climaxes.

3. I Trawl the Megahertz - Paddy McAloon. Paddy is of course best known for his work with Prefab Sprout, but this solo effort released in 2003 is his masterpiece. A 22-minute voiceover set against an orchestral theme, it builds into a musical poem which is astonishing in its sheer breadth of imagination - full lyrics here.

4. Adagio - Samuel Barber. This will forever be associated in my mind with the 2001 Last Night of the Proms when, in the wake of 9/11, American conductor Leonard Slatkin dispensed with all the usual nationalistic rubbish and played this instead. "This is our music of grief," he explained. Totally moving.

5. Thieves Like Us - New Order. There are any number of things I could have chosen from my student days in the 1980s when most of my musical tastes were formed, but this stands out for its sheer symphonic sweep and immensity. The lyrics - something about the air supporting eagles - are best forgotten though.

6. Blood on the Rooftops - Genesis. A unique song-writing collabration between Phil Collins and the great Steve Hackett, who sadly left the band the shortly afterwards, this pips "Supper's Ready" as my favourite Genesis track. Perfectly captures the spiritual hangover of the 1970s, "dark and grey...the Wednesday Play."

7. Come Together - Primal Scream (Album Version). An extended remix featuring a voiceover from Martin Luther King. When the long instrumental introduction finally cranks up and the full works kick in, it's supposed to mirrror the rush of E - hence "Come Together" - but when the music's this good, who needs the drugs?

8. "I Cannot Tell...." - Londonderry Air. Set to the tune of "Danny Boy," "I cannot tell, how he whom angels worship" is my favourite hymn. We had it sung at our wedding in 2001 and, one day, it will be sung again at my funeral, whenever that is. I hope it raises the roof.

Book: The Bible. No contest here - as the Westminster Confession says, this contains all that is necessary for salvation.

Luxury Item: My Tent. Apart from the fact that I might need it from time to time, most of my happiest memories are mixed up with it and if I ever was stranded on a desert island, I could close my eyes and imagine I was back in my favourite place, the Lake District.


Ellee Seymour said...

I can Danny Boy on the clarinet while you hum, on our desert island.

I have teenage boys and I've never heard of Primal Sprout? What year were they around. But I do love Adagios, though I have never heard the Samuel Barber version, is it available from Samuel? I often buy music which celebrities I admire have recommended from Desert Island Discs. I believe they are looking for a new presenter, maybe you could try, or introduce a BBC Derbyshire version for your local radio.

Anonymous said...

I am with you on Barber; as for the rest, save Rachmaninov, I have not got a clue. Perhaps I am far to old than you and our Dave at 40 or just not trendy enough.

Anonymous said...

Tut tut. You don't know your Desert Island Discs. You get the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare anyway. You can choose another book.

Paul Linford said...

Ellee - you're a tease.

Prefab Sprout were around in the 80s and 90s. Their debut album Swoon (1984) was followed by Steve McQueen (1985), From Langley Park to Memphis (1988), Protest Songs (1989) and Jordan, The Comeback (1990). After a long break they came back in 1997 with Andromeda Heights.

All these LPs are worth a listen but Steve McQueen is the best, although if you're into Gershwin and/or Americana you'll love Langley Park to Memphis.

Matt - you're quite right about the Bible. In which case I guess I would choose Watership Down, by Richard Adams which is ostensibly about rabbits but, like the Bible, is really about the triumph of good over evil.

Anonymous said...


How can I put this?

But don't forget the songs that made you smile,
and the songs that saved your life.
Yes, you're older now, and you're a clever swine,
but they were the only ones who ever stood by you.

Unknown said...

It's funny how lefties that I know assumed that DC's choice was a spin doctor/focus group inspired choice designed to touch buttons.

DC and I are about the same age and it is clear that a lot of the music that I was listening to as I grew up was making its way to his ears too.

It seems some people are desperately trying to find ways of knocking him down. Did you see how much coverage was given to the fact that Thom York said that they hadn't played Fake Plastic Trees specifically at DC's request?

I can claim a little bit of innovation as I have a top ten list on my site for years, although I have recently given it more prominence.

Paul Linford said...

Yours is a pretty good top 10 in my view James - better than Iain Dale's at any rate!

Ellee Seymour said...

It's a long time since I've been called a tease, I'm blushing!