Tag: Elvis Costello


emmaswiftI know I stated last time that My Top Ten was done and dusted for the year but we now officially have one lucky last! Emma Swift will be doing a run of dates in Australia in December (one of those includes supporting the great Ryan Adams). Emma has garnered a massive following, splitting her time gigging and recording between Sydney, Australia and Nashville, Tennessee. She was duly nominated for an Aria award for her debut self-titled record that you must indeed check out. She has also recently recorded a Limited Edition vinyl-only single with Robyn Hitchcock (of The Soft Boys fame). You can also catch Emma along with Robyn Hitchcock & The Soft Boys at The Tote, Melbourne on December 20. Here’s Emma’s most awesome list. Merry Xmas! LT


I’ve never been very good at absolutes, so putting together a Top 10 list is a fun way to try and stick to something, even though I know that this list belongs only to this moment in time, November 2016. I hope some of these records resonate!

T. REX Electric Warrior [Deluxe Edition] (1971 / 2012)

emma-trexThe shimmering galactic eroticism of this record blows my mind. From the quivering vibrato in Marc Bolan’s voice on “Cosmic Dancer” to the vampiric lust pulsing throughout “Jeepster”, each track is a joy. Whenever I feel down and out, I close my eyes, listen to T Rex at maximum volume, and think about getting a fresh perm and a silvery jumpsuit. The best part of the deluxe re-issue is the addition of “Hot Love”, my personal favourite Bolan track. I will always get a pervy kick out of the following lines:

Well she ain’t no witch and I love the way she twitch, a ha ha
Well she ain’t no witch and I love the way she twitch, a ha ha

Marc Bolan & T.Rex – Hot Love


ROWLAND S. HOWARD Pop Crimes (2009)

emma-rowlandI love this album so much I almost want to record a cover version of the whole thing. It is however, already perfect and needs no re-interpretation. The title track is a devastating masterpiece with the coolest groove and mesmerising, howling guitar and the verses show off the very best of Howard’s sardonic wit:

The Catholic church cannot verify
That there’s a single soul in hell
It’s just a wasteland of adversity
Devoid of all but the sound of wedding bells
From this vast expanse of nothing
Nothing good will come of this
But the hole in the zero
And an open-heart-surgery kiss

I am working on songs for my new record at the moment and there’s a decent amount of weird Catholic shit bubbling beneath the surface there. I know Rowland gets it.

Listen to Pop Crimes on YouTube


MARIANNE FAITHFULL Broken English (1979)

emma-marianneOnce upon a time, in a small country town far, far away, I lived with my parents and their very limited selection of CDs. As far as fathers go, I had the classic Australian “fuck-up disguised as a top bloke” Dad. He taught me many dubious skills, including how to place bets at the TAB and how to smoke a bong. He also passed on how to obsessive-compulsively listen to the same record over and over again until you live it and breathe it and feel like it’s in your DNA. And that’s how I came to discover Broken English. Now, I don’t know any other kids whose father blasted “Why’d D’ya Do It?” at maximum volume to their 13-year-old daughter as a rite of passage but I’m glad mine did. Among many revelations this album delivered, I’m certain it was the first time I’d ever heard the word “snatch” used in a couplet.

Marianne Faithfull – Why D’ya Do It?


THE SMITHS Strangeways, Here We Come (1987)

emma-smithsIn fairness, I could put any Smiths record in my Top 10 but I’m going with Strangeways because “Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me” is absolutely perfect and always makes me weep. Every songwriter knows that unrequited or doomed love is the best muse and none knew it more than 1980s Morrissey. There’s enough pent up longing in this track to fill a million teenage bedrooms and yet as a fully grown adult woman I still feel that desperation acutely. And thus, Strangeways.

The Smiths – Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me


NEIL YOUNG On The Beach (1974)

emma-neilyoungMy love, my one true musical love. A loner’s masterpiece rich in woozy guitars and bleak imagery, I never loved Neil truly until I played this record on repeat one summer in Sydney in the early 2000s. I remember the rain on my bedroom window, piles of clothes on the floor, a creepy landlord, an angry boyfriend and being utterly hypnotised by “Ambulance Blues” with its subtle jangle of tambourine and haunted harmonica. I listen to this record a lot.

Neil Young – Ambulance Blues


LUCINDA WILLIAMS Car Wheels On A Gravel Road (1998)

emma-lucindaLike The Smiths, there’s a place in my heart for all of Lucinda’s records. She’s rock and roll and sadness and beauty and poetry and sex and all life’s great offerings. Listening to her is the closest I get to going to church. I find so much comfort in her words and melodies I should pay her for therapy. I’m going with Car Wheels On A Gravel Road because I’m listening to “Metal Firecracker” right now and I’m admiring the sweetness in her voice as she sings “All I ask is, don’t tell anybody the secrets, don’t tell anybody the secrets that I told you…” What a line! There’s a very subtle harmony vocal on the chorus being sung by Jim Lauderdale too and that makes me think of people in country music with really fucking good hair and that’s a thought vortex I could stay in forever.

Lucinda Williams – Metal Firecracker


YOU AM I Hourly, Daily (1996)

zac-you-am-i-hourly-dailyI was 15 in 1997 and had never been to a rock show before I attended the Big Day Out festival in Sydney. I wore a purple t shirt, purple corduroy pants, silver Doc Martens and a goofy grin. I watched Patti Smith preach to thousands. I cried seeing The Clouds. I soaked up Tiddas and their magnificent harmonies. And… I got concussion while crowd surfing in the mosh pit to You Am I. It was the best day of my young life. Hourly, Daily makes me think of being a teenage girl growing up in Wagga Wagga, which isn’t a place I think of with great fondness usually. But when I hear this, I’m happy. I think about my suburban bedroom strewn with candles, I think about my twin baby brothers in nappies, I think about my sister playing this record on repeat, I think about having lustful thoughts about boys who played guitar and yearning to be a fully grown adult woman living in the city and going to see rock bands every night. I love that this record gave me something to grow up for.

You Am I – If We Can’t Get It Together


THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN Honey’s Dead (1992)

emma-jesusmarySince the apocalyptic US election result, I’ve been listening to the first single from this album, “Reverence” with some devotion. The noisy guitars are suitably chaotic from the get go and build to an instrumental that sounds like an amplified emergency room. This is how my brain feels when I’m walking down the streets of my adoptive American hometown at the moment. When Jim Reid sings “I wanna die” over and over again, I feel suitably adolescent and ready for the end of the world.

The Jesus And Mary Chain – Reverence


LINDA RONSTADT Living In The USA (1978)

emma-lindaLinda is the first singer I heard that made me want to be a singer. A lot of other ladies have followed – from Hope Sandoval and Harriet Wheeler to Sandy Denny, Tammy Wynette, Karen Dalton and Emmylou Harris, Dusty Springfield, Joni Mitchell… I’ve studied plenty of female voices… But Linda was the first one I listened to repeatedly. I was eight years old when I heard her version of Elvis Costello’s “Alison” and decided I wanted to be able to sing like that. This record not only introduced me to Linda and Elvis but also to Warren Zevon and that’s a musical crush I’ll have until the end of time, so there’s a lot of gold here. A sentimental favourite for sure but I’m a sentimental girl.

Linda Ronstadt – Mohammed’s Radio


ELVIS COSTELLO Imperial Bedroom (1982)

emma-elviscIn the mid-1990s, I was very much into the Britpop music that dominated the charts. I imagined England as a kind of art paradise, home to my favourite young bands as well as all the dead poets my teenage heart could handle. I discovered Oasis, Pulp, T.S. Eliot and Sylvia Plath in the same year: 1996. This was also the year I discovered that the local bakery had weekend work and if I was willing to set my alarm to six o’clock in the morning every Saturday and Sunday, I would earn enough cash on the weekends to start building a real music collection instead of taping songs I liked off the radio. I spent all my money on mostly British albums and more money on Elvis Costello than anyone else. A teenage word nerd, I was drawn to his verbosity, his lyrical ambition and the way he sounded slightly pleased with himself whenever he’d come up with something really tasty. Imperial Bedroom is my all-time favourite Costello record. Time stops when I listen to “Kid About It”.

Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Kid About It


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zacThis fortnight we’re stoked to have singer/songwriter/guitarist and frontman for Melbourne power pop aficionados The Wellingtons, Zac Anthony. Not only does he sing, write songs and play the guitar, he’s an absolute monster on the drum kit. If you ever get the chance to see him on the drums go check him out cos he goes bananas on ’em and he’s one of the best around.  I was honoured to have him as a band mate of mine for a little bit so I got to see first hand. Anyhoo here’s Zac’s top ten!


WEEZER Pinkerton (1996)

zac-weezer-pinkerThe first time I heard Weezer was on a school bus heading to Year 7 camp.  A girl who was a few years older than me in school was entrusted with helping the teachers to look after us ravenous year 7s. She had a trusty Walkman with her, and was kind enough share her headphones to turn me onto Weezer. “Sweater Song” was the first song she played me followed by a few other choice cuts from the Blue Album.  Really I could have picked the Blue Album or Pinkerton here for this list, but I’ve gone with Pinkerton for the raw emotion and dynamics they managed to capture onto tape. The way Rivers screams ‘WOAH’ after the first chorus of “Tired Of Sex” under a wall of crunching guitars always gave me chills. The softness and fragility of songs like “Across The Sea” and “Butterfly” really hit home. The immediacy of “Why Bother”, the singalongabilty (yeah made that word up) of “El Schorcho”.  And I haven’t even mentioned my favourite song from the record “Pink Triangle” yet!  Weezer was pretty much the blueprint for what I wanted to achieve with my own songwriting.


PHANTOM PLANET The Guest (2002)

zac-phanto-guestI moved to Melbourne from country Victoria when I was 18, and my band at the time slowly followed me and relocated too.  I can’t recall exactly how it happened but I came to meet Scott Thurling (Popboomerang Records) soon after who showed an interest in our band. At the time he was running a mail order service disseminating pop music for discerning listeners around the world.  I went over to his house quite a few times, dropping off Sweet Chuck (our band) cds that he was selling via his mail order service. Each time I’d drop 20 cds off, he’d kindly lend me a similar amount of CDs of bands he thought I’d like from his excess stock.  Invariably he was right.  Phantom Planet Is Missing (their debut) was one of those CDs, but again (as per Weezer) it’s their follow up record that is my favourite of theirs.  You can hear the Californian sunshine in their melodies. “Always on my Mind” laconically bops along. The mandolin solo, I assume, a suggestion from producer Mitchell Froom (Crowded House, Elvis Costello, The Bangles), only increases the So-Cal jangle of the doubled acoustic guitars (think Byrds/Eagles) and works sublimely well with the bounciness of the mildly distorted Fender Rhodes keyboard.  The rest of the record overflows with memorable melodies summing up those innocent, awkward and sometimes frustrating boy/girl interactions that turn your stomach in knots. “Hey Now Girl” and “Nobody’s Fault” are prime examples of the crafted hooks and idiosyncratic vocal delivery of Alex Greenwald. I loved the record so much we even stole the font from the album artwork to use for The Wellingtons.


SOUL ASYLUM Grave Dancers Union (1992)

zac-soulas-gravedI was in grade 6 when “Runaway Train” was a hit and I liked the song enough to tape it off the telly to VHS for repeat listens. A few months later the single “Black Gold” followed and I gave it the same treatment. The second single hinted that there was a heavier edge to the band, more than the MOR acoustic balladry that was “Runaway Train”. It wasn’t until a few years later when I saw the album in a store. I was record shopping with my Mum and I think she was a little concerned by the name of the band and the album title, and she tried to coerce me into to buying something else (a few years back she had understandably confiscated my copy of the Motley Crue classic Doctor Feelgood) but I went on my hunch and with some trepidation took it home with me. The opening riff of “Somebody To Shove” in its minor key was quite jarring and the darkness of the lyrics delivered with fragility and a clear sense of anxiety was a little alarming for a pre-teen. But the explosion of the chorus with its shift to the major relative key excited me like few songs have before. This might not be their best album but it was their most influential on me. Dave Pirner’s creative and quirky lyrics blew my mind and made me smile, and the melodies and arrangements were like nothing my naive brain had heard before – experimental, punky, and containing enough hooks to have me engaged and wanting more.


YOU AM I Hourly Daily (1996)

zac-you-am-i-hourly-dailyIn Grade 6 I did my work experience at Clarks Sound Centre in Leongatha (don’t look for it, it’s no longer there). My payment for the week’s work was $25 and my pick of any CD from the store. Hourly Daily was due for release on the Monday and I took it home on the Friday night (three days before its official release) with a bonus live disk attached, no less. I first discovered You Am I via JJJ (a national Australian radio station for those outside of Australia). I was deeply saddened and had concerns about my singing career when I couldn’t hit the high note from “Berlin Chair” while singing along. You know the note that not even the great man can hit himself these days just before the musical interlude at the end, he sings TOO LATE……… TOO LAAAAATTTTTEEE…
Hourly Daily built on the pop smarts that You Am I had hinted at prior to this, their most ambitious and dense record. Sounding more like the Kinks (before I even knew who they were) and less like Nirvana, this record was, as you say, right up my alley. Such a clever, well thought-out record. “Good Morning” was instantly added to the set list of my high school cover band. Rusty’s drumming style (flashy, busy and animated) really changed the way I approached playing drums (much to the disgust of every producer that has ever had to record me behind the drums). I went to see Soundgarden at Festival Hall mostly because You Am I were the main support. A diverse record (horns, strings, 12-strings) that ties together brilliantly.


THE POSIES Frosting on The Beater (1993)

zac-posies-frostiI came upon this record around age 20. Hearing “Flavor of The Month” on RRR was enough to prick up my interest and I found the album in Dixons Recyled Records. Starting an album with “Dream All Day”, “Solar Sister” and “Flavor Of The Month” is as strong an opening stanza as you’ll find. Another great drumming record and Jon and Ken harmonizing is a thing of beauty. When The Wellingtons were asked to play our favourite record live top to bottom this was the record we collectively chose.



FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE Welcome Interstate Managers (2003)

zac-founta-welcomHard to pick a favourite album from a band that haven’t put a foot wrong their whole career. I recall my high school girlfriend came over to my house one Friday night after school sometime in ‘96 with a copy of the debut F.O.W. record and Car Button Cloth by the Lemonheads.  Me knowing little to nothing about both bands (and thinking I was abreast of all the cool new bands), I was quick to dismiss her new purchases. I was probably jealous. “Why’d you buy those?” I said. “Nothing good out huh?”  By the end of that weekend I was proven wrong as we played them on repeat and did things teenagers do while behind closed doors.


ELVIS COSTELLO  The Very Best Of (1999)

zac-ecoste-verybeYeah I know picking a Best Of is a cop out. But it’s honestly the way that I began my research on Elvis. I first heard “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love And Understanding” in the movie 200 Cigarettes in around 2000 – the soundtrack featured several of his tunes plus Nick Lowe’s “Cruel to Be Kind” (the author of “What’s So Funny…”)  plus The Ramones and The Cars among others. If I had to pick a favourite album of his without too much thought I’d lean initially towards Brutal Youth or This Year’s Model. Hard to sum up what it is about Elvis that makes him so great. He’s been a Punk, a Balladeer, a Country Crooner and everything in between, but one thing remains: he knows the value of a well-written tune.



zac-candyb-hangonSo hard to pick my favourite record by Mike (the voice of the song “That Thing You Do” and recent member of Ryan Adams’ band and production team). Falling into Place and Lurch are other albums of his I could have easily picked. Mike’s voice has a tonal quality that is just so magical and emotive, you can perhaps sense his vast life experiences in his vocal delivery. This record is really intimate and personal and he lets you inside his life. The perfect combination of piano and acoustic jangle. Beautifully arranged.



JELLYFISH Spilt Milk (1993)

zac-jellyf-spiltmA much-loved, short-lived, ill-fated group. Again, very hard to pick which album (of their two) is best. Another band that I have Scott Thurling to thank for. Peerless harmonies, inventive arrangements, pushing boundaries (and multi-tracking) until they break. Belly Button, their first album, may be more consistent but doesn’t reach the heights Spilt Milk does. “The Ghost At Number One”, “Joining A Fanclub”, “New Mistake” and “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late” are good examples.



RHETT MILLER The Instigator (2002)

zac-rmille-instigExpertly produced and backed by Jon Brion (who nearly made this list himself with Meaningless). The harmonies and guitar playing on this record bring further joy to these great songs. “Our Love”, “Four-Eyed Girl”, and “Hover” would all contend for some of my favourite songs ever written. Rhett’s usual ‘bag’ runs more into the alt country mode with his group Old 97’s but here he focuses on some of the best pop ‘n’ roll ever made. The production is really dry and thick and makes for a rich listening experience. Pretty sure my ol’ bud and ex-Wellingtons keyboard player Amy Walters got me into Rhett.



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