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Dessert Island Discs

December 6, 2017

Like most music fans I fantasise about what 8 records I would choose if the BBC invited me onto R4 Desert Island Discs 

Realistically that is never going to happen. So I have written it anyway. At the risk of sounding a bit Nick Hornby it is liable to change on a weekly basis.

1. Lola, The Kinks
This was the first song I can remember listening out for on the radio. I was around 12 and I thought it was weird the way Ray Davies sang “Cherry Cola” – only much later would I discover that the BBC had made him re-record this line. The rest of the lyrics added considerably to my teenage confusion about everything.

2. Virginia Plain, Roxy Music
The second band I ever saw live (the first was the rather less credible Uriah Heap). A gang of us saw their first UK tour in 1972 at Guildford Civic Hall just as Virginia Plain was entering the charts. Somehow we ended up backstage after the gig and were massively impressed by the champagne and glamorous girlfriends.

3. Couldn’t I Just Tell You?, Todd Rundgren
The soundtrack to a lot of teenage and early 20’s angst (see also the first two Big Star LPs). For some reason Todd Rundgren was massive in the suburbs of South West London during these pre-punk days: his Everybody’s Going To Heaven is an all-to-accurate description of our then lifestyle. I even tried to mimic the multi-coloured hair he sported on the cover of Todd (1974) with purloined gold and silver brush-in hairdye.

4. Lovers Of Today, The Only Ones
Punk cut through the London music scene like a knife through butter and I was a convert, having seen the Pistols in 1975. It was a time for great singles, but albums – not so much. Exceptions were the Heartbreakers and The Only Ones. In my 20 years of writing for Bucketfull of Brains magazine the band I liked the most were the Only Ones, and their guitarist John Perry remains a friend to this day.

5. Start Me Up, Rolling Stones
I have not missed a Stones tour since Knebworth 1976 – a gig it took me a week to get home from. Most recently I saw the band in Paris on the No Filter tour and they can still cut it. This is my wife’s favourite song and we paid daft money to be down the front at Wembley Arena in 2003. We were so close we could have counted Keith Richards wrinkles (he calls them laughter lines, but as George Melly pointed out, nothing is that funny)

6. Sunrise, The Who
Really a Pete Townshend solo track from The Who Sell Out and a key song from the cassette I made to accompany our wedding breakfast. Breathtakingly beautiful.

7. Left Of The Dial, The Replacements
With my collection of 7” vinyl singles approaching 1,750 I decided to start working as a DJ. My highest-profile gig to date has been the brace of Replacements gigs at the London Roundhouse in June 2015 where I met Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson and was able to thank them for all the fine music they have given us since 1981 . Left Of the Dial is not just a great song and a brilliant performance: it also functions as a call-to-arms for independent music.

8. Where Did Our Love Go?, The J Geils Band

The best gig I ever saw was J Geils in at Manchester Free Trade Hall, June 2nd 1980. A crowd of less than 200, rattling around in a huge venue – the band could have been forgiven for going through the motions. Instead they played as though it was a sold-out Wembley Stadium. This cover was a highlight, check it out on the Blow Your Face Out double live LP

The One Record I Would Keep
Start Me Up.

Book (excluding The Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare)
The All Music Guide To Rock (3rd Edition, 2002) – nerdy but sometimes you just have to know when Da Capo was released

An infinite supply of cheese and pickle sandwiches (has to be cheddar and Branston)

So what are your 8 platters that matter?


From → Music

  1. Mike Baess permalink

    I’ll come back later this afternoon on my list as just selling in a couple of stories to The Daily Mail and The Sun – the Mail one is about record numbers of shoppers switching from Champagne to English sparkling wine.

    There are a couple of surprise on your list for me Simon. Really surprised to see Start Me Up there. Of course I love it but damage has been done to my listening pleasure by them incessantly opening gigs with it over the years and knowing full well they were going to do.

    Overjoyed to see Todd there – I saw hist first gig – at Hammersmith Odeon in 75 – and got A Wizard A True Star when it came out in 73. I absolutely adore Couldn’t I Just Tell You. Holy Mother Of God indeed.

    And luxury – not the Stones song which I love – is also cheese. let us talk cheese one day. I’m a huge fan and will be visiting La Fromagerie before Christmas. Fave cheese – probably Banon but believe it or not, Tesco does one called Saint Felicien du Dauphine. It’s incredible – soft, runny and made for slightly toasted baguette.

    Back with you later.



  2. Mike, there are Stones songs I love more than Start Me Up (agree with you about its ubiquity) but it is all about context – these are not the best songs but the songs that have the most significance to me. Otherwise you’d have most of Exiles on the list…

  3. Mike Baess permalink

    I noticed you cunningly wrote Dessert Island Discs instead of Desert Island Discs.

    Is this for records best heard whilst enjoying chocolate or even my favourites; Tiramisu, Panna Cotta and Creme Brulee?

    Anyway, here’s my list – not necessarily my favourites but records that have a lot of meaning in my life. If you ask me tomorrow I might tell you something different but I guess we’d all be a bit like that, wouldn’t we?

    1. The Shadows – Apache

    This is where it all started for me. My first memory of non classical or jazz music which was played a lot in my house, my dad being a jazz pianist. My older

    half brother, who was 20, had the single and I remember being mesmeriesed by that incredible guitar riff. Western films were still all the rage and the general vibe felt like an imminent tomahawk attack was about to take place.

    2. The Beatles – She Loves You

    The first single I requested, which was bought at Christmas 1963. I remember The Beatles almost from the word ‘go’ and seeing them on Thank Your Lucky Stars and Sunday Night At The London Palladium. Did the world go from black and white to colour? Most definitely so! For me The Beatles symbolised power shifting for the old, grey establishment and energising the young generation.

    3. The Who – I Can See For Miles

    I remember seeing The Who mime to this on Top of the Pops and Keith Moon cockily rubbing his finger under his nose as the camera zoomed in on him. I guess they were like the first punks and I followed them from this point on. The clatter of those drums and those fabulous power chords and magical, mysterious lyrics sewed the first seeds of my lifetime long love for psychedelia and probably even punk.

    4. The Temptations – Just My Imagination

    Well girls eventually broke up my obsession with all things football and suddenly I found a new thrill, born out of playing spin the bottle at my first Saturday night parties at the homes of school mates. It was the early 70s and music like The Temptations, Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield was the backdrop for those early kissing sessions.

    5. The Rolling Stones – Tumbling Dice

    While (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction is my favourite song of all time my fondest Stones memories are of buying Exile On Main Street the week it came out, in May 72, and hearing this track endless on the radio across that great summer of 1972. For me it is the last truly great Stones’ single before their long, slow into balladry and self-parody. They are still the greatest rock’n’roll band of all time but this was kinda of where they peaked in the rock era.

    6. The Clash – Complete Control

    As an energising call to arms I don’t think there’s much to beat this. I love the Pistols and was excitied as anyone seeing my Kingsway college mates John Lydon and Sid Vicious make it to rock’n’roll fame but for me Complete Control captured the blurry, aggressive power of punk as it ran side by side with reggae and dub in 1977 London.

    7. Primal Scream – Movin’ On Up

    To all intents and purposes rock’n’roll was pretty much over by the 80s. Suddenly there’s dance music but then the brilliant Screamadelica was released in 1990 and created a link between dance, psychedelia and pretty much The Rolling fuckin’ Stones. My favourite band introduced to a new audience, new genre and things started looking rosy again. For a while.

    8. Pulp – Common People

    I love Pulp but this is also my wife’s favourite ever song and I have great memories of us dancing to this at parties when we first met.

    So no room for the man who, lyrically at least, helped shape modern music more than anyone else – Bob Dylan. Nor for The Kinks, or Syd’s magnificent See Emily Play, or even the Groovies’ Shake Some Action which I have played to death over the years. How can I forgive myself for not including Bowie or even some of those early Springsteen epics. But as I said, it’s a list governed by records that helped change the course of my life.

    The one record for keep would be Tumbling Dice. The Stones have always been there and always will be.

    My book is The Oxford English Dictionary.

    My luxury would be fish and chips. Love the stuff and delivered from either The Sea Shell in Lisson Grove or my nearest fish bar, Godfrey’s in Harpenden. Plaice, please.


  4. Nicely done Mike.

    Dessert Island Discs was to avoid charges of passing off.

    Never believed that Complete Control was produced by Lee Perry (as claimed on the label), sounds like pure Mick Jones to me.

    Movin’ On Up – absolutely, another stonking Jimmy Miller production. The Scream were a dynamic singles band although like so many others struggled to sustain a truly great LP (discuss). Which is why boys like LPs and girls like singles / Greatest Hits (ducks to avoid objects hurled by women enraged by this over-simplification).

    And of course Shake Some Action – I am certainly still shakin’ after all these years.

    Spin the bottle eh ? You were forward…

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