This fortnight’s top ten comes from comedian, actor, author, radio host and all round loveable funny chap, Alan Brough. Most of us recognise him from his regular weekly spot as team captain on the now-legendary TV show Spicks & Specks (repeats of which you can still catch every night on Aunty). More recently in June this year, Alan released his fantastic new children’s book Charlie And The War Against The Grannies to great acclaim. I was pleasantly surprised to see selections by Alan’s fellow NZ natives, The Clean and The Verlaines on the list. The Verlaines are also a personal favourite of mine – imagine a ‘punkier’ version of The Go-Betweens. If you’ve never heard of them I recommend you check them out. Here is Alan’s ripper of a top ten list.
DE LA SOUL Three Feet High and Rising (1989)
I was waiting for a bus. I had just bought Three Feet High and Rising on cassette. I popped it into my Walkman. Pushed play. Then lost my fucking mind. I had never heard anything even remotely like it. All I wanted to do was stand up and tell all my fellow passengers they should stop whatever it was they were doing and immediately go out and buy it. I couldn’t though because I didn’t want to take off my headphones. I didn’t want the experience of listening to that record for the first time to end.
TRACEY THORN A Distant Shore (1982)
Tracey Thorn’s voice is the very definition of bittersweet. The songs on this, her first solo album, are simple and spare. Her voice and a guitar is all she needs to transport me to small towns full of heartbreak, anxiety and the ache of saying goodbye to long-cherished dreams.
KATE TEMPEST Everybody Down (2014)
Hip-hop poet Kate Tempest combines the beats of The Streets, the theatrical intensity of Patti Smith and the poetic chops of W. H. Auden to relate 11 song-length stories about an intertwined group of millennials disenchanted and forgotten by the world their parents have left them. It’s is both wounded and wounding.
THE FALL Fall In A Hole (1983)
Fall In A Hole was recorded live in Auckland, New Zealand. It was the first Fall album I ever heard. It will always be my favourite. The record is dirty, pugnacious, erratic, ecstatic and furious. All the reasons I will always love this record and always love The Fall.
DAN KELLY Dan Kelly’s Dream (2010)
Dan Kelly is one of my favourite songwriters. His combination of un-ignorable melodies, hilarious lyrics and blazing guitar solos is unmatched in contemporary Australian rock and roll. As with every album I truly adore, each and every song on this record has been my favourite at one time or another.
COCTEAU TWINS Treasure (1984)
I have tried and tried to find some way of describing how and why I love Cocteau Twins as much as I do. I can’t. My reasons for loving them and the depth of my love for them defies reason and description. In some way my reaction to them may be the essence of music appreciation: love which defies reason and description.
DEXY’S MIDNIGHT RUNNERS Too-Rye-Aye (1982)
The below lyrics are from “Let’s Make This Precious” – the second track on Too-Rye-Aye. They best sum up what I think about this record.
Somebody sing me a record
That cries pure and true.
No not those guitars. They’re too noisy and crude.
The kind that convinces refuses to leave,
There’s no need to turn it up.
If it’s pure I’ll feel it from here…
THE CLEAN Boodle, Boodle, Boodle (1981)
I probably first heard this record about three or four years after it was released. It had a huge impact on me. Not just musically either. All around me people were listening to AC/DC, Cold Chisel and Icehouse. I didn’t like those bands and I didn’t like the people who liked those bands. I desperately wanted to find MY bands so I could, in turn, find my people. I discovered The Clean. I discovered other people who had discovered The Clean. Everything changed.
THE VERLAINES Bird Dog (1987)
This record perfectly suited the 20-year-old me who first heard it. It’s melodramatic, pretentious, tender, dismissive, dark, exuberant, vulgar, gentile, guileless and calculating. After nearly 20 years of listening it still thrills me.
JAMIE XX In Colour (2015)
I was never a fan of the xx. So I’m not even really sure how I ended up listening to Jamie XX’s debut solo record. I’m glad I did though. Supposedly, while on tour, Jamie XX was watching a lot of obscure 1990s rave clips. In Colour emerged from that obsessive trawling of the past. There are hints of the past but this record sounds about as modern as a record can sound. I am, however, an old dude, so what the fuck would I know.