Music 2017

1. Elwan, Tinariwen, Wedge

2. The Kid, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Western Vinyl

3. American Dream, LCD Soundsystem, Columbia

4. Modern Kosmology, Jane Weaver, Fire Records

5. Masseduction, St Vincent, Lorna Vista Recordings

6. Blue Lips, Tove Lo, Universal

7. Out in the Storm, Waxahatchee, Merge Records

8. Dark Days + Canapés, Ghostpoet, Play It Again Sam

9. Piano is Evil, Amanda Palmer, 8ft. Recordings

10. Hitchhiker, Neil Young, Silver Stars and Bars

2017 was a year filled with music. Listening to every piece listed in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die was the big project for the year. To some extent it was an impressionistic listen – randomly working through one album after another with nary a break in-between. Pause, reflect, get on with the next entry. It was great for filling in gaps, for confirming prejudices and occasionally for challenging them. The huge variety, of music, lyrics, stories, artists, was heartening. The odd discovery made the whole project worthwhile, the tying together of genres and bands enlightening. I’m glad I did it, but I won’t be doing it again. However, I have annotated the book with albums I shall revisit in a more leisurely way.

All this historical dabbling made for little time for new music. I only managed three gigs – The Jesus and Mary Chain, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Goldfrapp. Each had a new album to promote (the BRMC one is an early 2018 release), so plenty of music from these as well as the backlist. Seeing the JAMC so long after their glory days was a gamble and one I wasn’t too confident about once I had heard the new material, which seemed to be a weary self-pastiche. Live, they were OK, anything from Psychocandy was bound to be special, even if the execution was a touch ponderous, but the new songs were forgettable.

BRMC played the gig I had hoped for from JAMC – alert and angry, tight and varied, potent and airborne – it was an excellent mix of old hits and new tracks, corporate noise and mellower solo performances, all delivered with intensity and conviction. A week later and it was Goldfrapp, sold out, packed but with a gentler vibe. I had been listening to the new album, Silver Eye, quite a bit, and enjoying it – partly because it is pretty much more of the same and what Goldfrapp does, they do very well – so was filled with high expectations for the evening. I wasn’t disappointed – much new material but all the hits that mattered as well, even if I did record them upside down on my phone – delivered with sensuous skill and clear delight. Alison Goldfrapp commanded the stage performing how and when she wanted, proud of the new songs but also blasting through the hits with celebratory vigour. It was a cracking gig, only slightly dampened by the two hour wait for a bus home.


New music listening was mostly crammed into the last two months of the year, although I had picked up on Elwan back in the early spring and kept going back to it. Even without knowing anything of the background to Tinariwen, Tuareg musicans who have been working together for years and were forced out of their homes in Mali in 2012 by Islamic militants, there was something hypnotic and compulsive about the music. I love the mix of scuzzy Western guitar fuelled rock with more traditional sub-Saharan rhythms, visions and aspirations. These are songs of lament, loss, defiance, both communal and individual, contemporary psalms, grounded but with spirit.

Modern Kosmology 1Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s The Kid is probably my second most played album of the year. That’s partly because her style of electronic layering works well with sermon writing. This puts her in the same category, for me, as Juliana Barwick and Grouper, but really her music on The Kid has kinship with Goldfrapp, combining both a quirky accessibility with a more nuanced vision of growth and humanity. There are echoes of Tomita and Jean Michel Jarre alongside an organic exuberance which is immensely affecting and enjoyable. Modern Kosmology, by Jane Weaver, feels like a close cousin to Smith’s work, which is probably why I like it. Again, there are hints of Goldfrapp, indeed they are strong at times, building into an album that is more overtly dance than meditative swirl, but still with a reflective anchoring.

I most surprised to hear from LCD Soundsystem again, I thought that James Murphy had laid the project to rest. Even more surprising and pleasing was the strength of American Dream, which mixes together all those wonderful musical references, which have long been a Murphy staple, to create something both fresh and knowing, invigorating despite its underlying cynicism. At his best Murphy’s sound is off-kilter Teutonic and in this, which is some of his finest work so far, Can and Kraftwerk seem to have melded with late David Bowie into an extended riff on the morality of mortality. There is something nostalgic about listening to American Dream, but nothing like that which comes from Neil Young’s Hitchhiker, which is recorded in 1976 but never before released. Young and just an acoustic guitar is often a winning and wondrous combination. Yes, just about all these songs are well-known in other versions, often heavier, more rambling, but here they stand up on their own as masterful mini-stories.

Out in the Storm 1

There was a time when my reading switched from literary fiction to crime thrillers. I didn’t feel any connection with contemporary literature, it didn’t seem to touch my life, or expand it. Crime fiction was about a puzzle and a good story, so satisfied my need to read but not any desire to explore. At the moment I’m in a similar place with contemporary music. Little of what new or established male artists, with a few exceptions such as Nick Cave and Michael Gira, are producing seems to affect me. I can’t find common ground with most bands, they are not speaking to me neither are they speaking about me. So I’ve switched to listening to many of the young female bands and artists, especially those of Scandinavian origin. Again, there is no connection between me and these millennials, their lives are foreign to me, but their music appeals in its innovation, energy, ennui, mix of dark introspection, fierceness, skill and celebration. St Vincent’s Masseduction, like Laura Marling’s almost equally fine Semper Femina, is subtle, deep, serious, sad and yet also fizzing with life, exuberance, passion, challenge, while Tove Lo is just plain raunchy on Blue Lips, a reprise of last year’s Lady Wood, that is sensual, charged and yet also emotionally draining. Waxahatchee, who’s music I’ve followed for a while, pushes that blending of the internal and the external further. Out in the Storm builds from fine song-writing into a swirling, dirty rock ride, excoriating a dead relationship, escaping from the slough of post parting blues.

Piano is Evil

Like Neil Young, Amanda Palmer released two albums in 2017 and also like him, one, Piano is Evil, is pretty much just her and one instrument, this time a piano that is hammered, banged, pulverised into compliance with dense and angry song-telling. This is the stripped-back version of her 2012 album Theatre is Evil, and the excising of the big band type production benefits the songs hugely, giving her space to inhabit them and let the sheer bloodiness of life, love, loss pour out compulsively and comprehensively.

Finally, Ghostpoet, who, in his themes of immigration, intolerance and strangers in a strange land, takes us back to the beginning and Tinariwen. Dark Days + Canapés was a bit of grower for me, requiring several listens to begin to warm to it. The world, according to Ghostpoet, is not a happy place – immigrants drown desperately trying to bring their families to lands that offer work and opportunity, relationships curdle, social media blocks out reality and fantasy leads us further and further away from making a positive difference to the physical environment. The lyrics are taut, fragile without being frail, finely attuned to the music which slips through a Bristol trippy vibe (that I was only ever marginally aware of) into a more funky mix ameliorated by drainpipe black Goth guitars which scratch the stories of alienation and attrition under the skin. It is not an easy album, but it is a discerning one that deserves attention.

From the desert to the sea via bedrooms, bawdy, birth, bigotry and break-up, there has been much worthwhile to listen to in 2017’s music. Without the blessing and curse of 1001 classic albums to plough through, I am looking forward to exploring new creations in 2018.


He’s not appreciated (some thoughts on Mark E. Smith)


For someone who is avowedly Northern-phobic, Manchester bands have been forcefully influential. Topping the list would be Joy Division’s sublime deconstruction of raging youth, followed by New Order, the Stone Roses, Buzzcocks and then, above the Smiths and their greyly romantic explorations of gauche ennui, The Fall. The Fall, a band so necessary that if they didn’t exist you’d have to, well, you’d have to do what Mark E. Smith was forever doing: invent, destroy, re-invent, destroy, renew, destroy, create them again.

Listening to Live at the Witch Trials is a very different process from hearing Unknown Pleasures. The Fall challenge at every level – sonically, linguistically, on stage and off – never explain, never back down. Through Martin Hannett, Joy Division turned anxiety and anger into a carefully crafted elegy for doomed youth. Ian Curtis railed at his own weakness, Mark E. Smith raged against the futility of everything. Curtis cultivated his own outcast persona and couldn’t handle the loneliness, Smith curdled pariah status into an art form.

Joy Division produced only two studio albums – Unknown Pleasures and Closer – both are so tight, so stacked with musical and lyrical layers, so desperate and so crystalline in their beauty that they still speak with an impotent potency today and have been hugely influential on great chunks of Western popular music, post post punk.

The Fall have released over thirty studio albums and while, perhaps, three of them – Live at the Witch Trials, The Infotainment Scan and This Nation’s Saving Grace – may be described as classics, with others – Hex Enduction Hour, Bend Sinister bubbling under – and many more becoming contenders for single tracks or the individual impact they’ve had on listeners, it is perhaps the profligacy of their offerings that is as important as the quality.

I say ‘they’, but the Fall, was, of course, Mark E. Smith and anyone he was still talking to at the time. Just as he subverted song structure, melody, the entire notion of the pop song, so he deconstructed the ‘group’, taking apart the integrity of a team working to project a vision, and replacing it with the cult of the charismatic leader surrounded by disposable workers. The Fall was the private out-working of one man’s mind: his loves and hates, his paranoia and his prejudices, his thinking and his fantasies, his dolour and his humour.

Like the Biblical Fall, that bends humanity out of the star seeds of divinity into the muck of mortality, The Fall have always been the jawbone of an ass with which to strike the straw man of manufactured pop. Mark E. Smith has been an absolute necessity for the music scene. If he hadn’t have been the man he was, made the music he did, then popular culture would have been infinitely weaker, less valuable, less influential, less vital and varied. His influence was attitude as much as style. Do what you want, when you want, how you want. Create because that’s what you want to do, not because there is a deadline or a deal. Say what you want to say, be who you want to be, don’t compromise, don’t provide your own commentary – just put out there whatever you want and let it be.

The scabrous, scarifying, sound of The Fall was just too off-melody for many tastes. Perhaps it took Sonic Youth or My Bloody Valentine to give those complicated tunings and caustic multi-layerings the twist of uncommercially commercial ravage. Perhaps it was Jarboe or Diamanda Galas who had the strength to turn Smith’s rambling non-singing into utterly original, primal, dark beauty. Perhaps it was Michael Gira who best translated the whole essence of Smith into a sacred behemoth, a spiritual scouring, a rampant and vicious casting of the money lenders out of the Temple. Perhaps it was Billy Childish who, above all, took the Smithsonian work ethic to heart and has just done whatever he has wanted to do, whenever, with whoever, as often as possible and just thrown the results out into the open to see what sticks – ‘The day I beat my father up’ is almost classic Fall.

In a violent and disintegrating world the death of Mark E. Smith is not the biggest news. But his was a prophetic voice, in the sense that it stood outside of the mainstream and offered a cracked mirror back onto a society sweating under the tyranny of status and possession. We need artists of his energy, his single-mindedness, his bloody individuality, his tenacious work practice (if not his human resources skills), his fire and ire to keep the rest of us from arid complacency. Without them our arts, and perhaps even our society shuffles another swaying step closer to plastinated sterility.

Yes, Smith would have hated a piece of writing like this. But so be it – not everything went his way, and maybe the blessing and the curse of social media is that we can all be grumpy old men.

Recently Read 2017

Books 2017

Only 44 books read in 2017, which is a little disappointing. Partly this came from writing more, partly it was from listening to so much music (see book 44.), and partly it came from attempting to be gregarious and chatting to various folk on the bus in the morn. However, I still managed to work through a fair number, and had more to review professionally. Book of the year would be Thomas Dilworth’s David Jones: Engraver, Soldier, Painter, Poet, which vividly introduced me to an artist of whom I was previously only dimly aware.

  1. Parrot and Oliver in America, Peter Carey, Faber, 9780571253326. Good start to the year. A rolling ride through the Frenech revolution and nascent American nationhood with a presumptuous French peer and a cantankerous English servant. Swelling with muck and shining with a multifarious cast of the pinched, the punched, the pretentious, the political, the put-upon, the proud, the pretty, the prodigal and the prodigious, this is a very long and highly readable road-trip tale that is fun and frank and frolicsome from start to finish.

2. Too Brave to Dream, R.S. Thomas, Bloodaxe Books, 9782780373072. Two classic art books by Herbert Read were found on the bookshelves of R.S. Thomas. Inside were three dozen previously unknown poems, each a direct response to a painting in the books. Published here are the poems with the reproductions of the paintings as Thomas saw them in Read’s original books. The juxtaposition of paintings and poems is revelatory. In themselves the verses are minor additions to the Thomas canon. Short, quirky, sometimes just the breath of an idea. But alongside the art works, both light up with fresh colour, depth and insight. This is a fascinating book and one that I am very glad to have found.

**** Too Brave to Dream set me a challenge for the year, and I sat down with an art book from my own shelves, about the Moderna Museet in Stockholm and took an artwork a month to write a poem about. You can find the rather mixed results elsewhere on this blog. ****

3. A Good Year, edited by Mark Oakley, SPCK, 9780281077038. Bishops and archbishops writing about the different seasons of the liturgical year. Hearing from some of the new bishops who are women – Libby Lane, Karen Gorham, Sarah Mullaly – and from some of the more established liturgical writers such as Rowan Williams, Stephen Cottrell and Stephen Conway, means that the mix is fresh and the insights tread a broad path. Justin Welby writes thoughtfully on Lent, Rowan Williams is excellent on Christmas and Sarah Mullaly drew me into a good Advent. But, but, but, there is no chapter on Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time, green time, makes up a good proportion of the year. The preconception is that this is the time when nothing happens. Yet that is so wrong. Ordinary Time includes the Transfiguration, the Assumption, Harvest, plus all those wonderful and inspirational (or weird) saints’ days, and if you include the red Sundays we tend to call the ‘Kingdom season’ then there is Christ the King, Bible Sunday, All Saints’ and All Souls’ as well. I’m sorry, but without Ordinary Time this is only half a book. Worse than that, ignoring Ordinary Time reinforces a false view of worship that God is only worth praising, seeking, serving in the high days of the year.  Badly done Canon Oakley, badly done.

4. The Way of Christ-Likeness, Michael Perham, Canterbury Press, 9781848259010. Sadly, it looks as if this will be Bishop Michael’s last book. Here is a thoughtful and helpful distillation of his deep liturgical knowledge covering the key seasons of the Christian year – Lent, Holy Week and Easter. There is much practical and spiritual information in here to help people, clergy and worship teams especially, create transformational liturgies. It wasn’t an eye-opener for me, rather a refresher, making me think again about the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of the worship I am used to creating and leading during this time, teasing out some of the important details and giving a fresh perspective on some of the most ancient of services. I particularly enjoyed his suggestions for how to make the most of the Great Fifty Days of Easter, the time I always feel gets the least attention, when the joy of the resurrection should be bubbling over in our worship and in our lives.

5. Singing God’s Psalms, Fred R. Anderson, Eerdmans, 9780802873217. When the going gets tough go back to the psalms. Wise words from a tutor to Fred R. Anderson who, after years in ministry, experienced the inevitable ‘dry’ patch when burnout beckoned. So he turned to the Psalms and, being a musician, gave himself the challenge of re-translating them in a metrical form that could be set to common hymn tunes. Great idea and the result is a collect of psalms to fit the Revised Common Lectionary. Sure Watts and Wesley and others have done this in the past, but these fresh versions have a more contemporary feel and work well as part of the liturgy. They are accompanied by a meditation on each psalm which is less of a reflection and more of a brief overview of the context for the verses. Great idea, which has many uses.

6. Craigie Aitchison: Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné, Andrew Lambirth, Louise Peck, Royal Academy of Arts, 9781907533471. Crucifixions and Bedlingtons, sometimes in the same luminous print, each with a simplicity of form, vibrancy of colour and studiedly artless balance that resonates with mystical profundity. There are hints of Indian colourists channelled through an afterglow of Howard Hodgkin. Interesting essay describing Aitchison’s print process and an illustrated catalogue that fair buzzes with energy, tenderness and spirit.

7. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, Haruki Murakami, Vintage, 9780099488668. Satisfying my Murakami lust for a short while, this old collection of short stories doesn’t disappoint. Sure, a handful of the stories got worked up into novels, but much is fresh and startling. There is the usual mix of hyper realistic attention to detail and quirky, disturbing strangeness that twists and buckles reality. In the concentrated short story form Murakami asks tough questions about who, or what, we really are, what drives us and what makes existence tolerable or worthwhile.

8. Dirty Glory, Pete Grieg, Hodder, 9781473631700. An easy reading style with a tough message for any Christian who is wonted to separate prayer from action or prayer from the dirt of daily living. The jet-setting I found hard to take – how to destroy the planet singlehanded. But the power of prayer breaking out in ‘boiler rooms’ all around the world post 9/11 was compelling and challenging. Grieg’s trust in Christ is immense and the results impressive, but this is not a book about sitting on deserved laurels but a call to action.

9. Dancing Standing Still, Richard Rohr, Paulist Press, 9780809148677. Starting with Archimedes’ saying ‘give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the world’, Rohr makes a passionate and persuasive case for prayer – deep, contemplative prayer that goes far beyond the ego of the individual – as an integral aspect of an engaged and active life that builds the Kingdom on earth. Rohr is hard-hitting about the failings of the Church to move people beyond their own ‘I’ to the one-ness with God that cuts away personal desire, fear, hatred and rules-based belief. A challenging read – much like ‘Dirty Glory’.

10. The Summer Book, Tove Jansson, Sort of Books, 9780954221713. I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this, but I had heard good things about it and thought I’d give it a go. My feeling was that it was going to be like jazz – noodling all over the place and going nowhere, neither novel nor memoir, with no plot or focus. But I read it in almost one sitting and could see myself going back to it and meditating over short passages for long periods of time. The construction is painterly, with much attention to fine, impressionistic detail on a broadly sketched in canvas. A young girl with her silent father and her elderly grandmother spend their summers on a tiny island in the gulf of Finland. The girl is exploring the world, emotion, relationships. The grandmother is winding down from life, memories, health. The father goes fishing and never speaks. He is a cipher, an archetype in the strong silent mould. It might be that he is not important. But he might also be the physical manifestation of the girl’s musings on God. Hers is the animating spirit of the piece. The grandmother is the prime creator, tired but caring for her world. The girl’s name is Sophie but it is the grandmother who imbued her with puckish wisdom. Gently stirring – quiet, understated and powerfully observed.

11. Hanging by a Thread Samuel Wells, Canterbury Press, 9781848259072. Short and sharp – 60 pages for £7.99. Is it worth it? Well, last year SCM published Walter Brueggemann’s equally short ‘Into Your Hand’ at the same price and was so struck by it that I shall read it again this Holy Week. Sam Wells book isn’t quite as forceful, until the last two chapters when he explores two films (both of which started as books) – Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and The Boy in the Stripped Pyjamas. At this point his exploration of the questions of the Cross comes into stark and potent focus. I shall read the rest of the book in the light of these final chapters. Wells ends up underscoring that Emmanuel, God with us, is what Good Friday is all about. The Cross is not something God does for us but with us. As the title of Rowan Williams Holy Week focussed book for this year is God With Us I shall be interested to see how the two intertwine.

12. The Pattern of Our Calling, David Hoyle, SCM Press, 9780334054726. This is a well written theological book, carefully thought through, using language precisely, with clear explanations, a quiet lyricism, profound imagery, gentle humour and just enough authorial vulnerability to shift the book from the academic to the pastorally grounded. In essence this is a great overview of priestly ministry, exploring how it has changed and developed over the last two thousand years through the writings of key thinkers such as St Ireneaus, St Ignatius of Antioch, St Cyprian,  St Gregory of Nazianzus, St Gregory the Great, St John Chrysostrom, St Clement, St Ambrose, Richard Baxter, George Herbert, H.P. Liddon, John Keble, Charles Gore, Roland Allen, John Fisher, J.B. Lightfoot, Wesley Carr, Michael Ramsey, Robin Greenwood and John Pritchard. Yes, this isn’t a purely dispassionate text, it does have its own slant, which comes alive most tellingly when describing Michael Ramsey’s theology of priesthood. For Hoyle leadership is only one element of many in what it means to be an effective priest. Actually, I’m not sure he would be happy with the word ‘effective’ – too clinical for something which is so amorphous. You don’t have to be a leader to be a priest, but leadership might be what some communities require. Others will benefit more from a facilitator, a liminal guide into the mystery of faith and meeting with God. This is a vital book for anyone in ministry or contemplating the priesthood. I recommend it thoroughly and shall read it again.

13. The Things He Did, Stephen Cottrell, SPCK, 9780281076239. The last book in Cottrell’s Holy Week trilogy is actually the first, describing the events leading up to Good Friday. As ever the writing is gentle, introspective, looking in at the thoughts, actions, reactions of the disciples as well as exploring Jesus’s own understanding of the events unfolding around, to and through him. This doesn’t have the depth of insight, or the poetic imagination of The Things He Carried but it is still a book to ponder on as it opens out the multitude of vested interests, weaknesses, greed, intolerance, fear and misunderstanding that brought Christ to the Cross. The questions at the end of each short chapter bring the action back to us – what is our part in this story?

14. The Innocent Eye, Marion Whybrow, Sansom and Company, 9781900178969. An overview of primitive and naïve painters in Cornwall, especially Alfred Wallis, Bryan Pearce and Mary Jewels. Just noticed this book, which had been sitting on my shelves for ten years. Fascinating read about Wallis, the seaman who took to painting in retirement, using offcuts of cardboard and decorating paint to create a vast body of seascapes. And Pearce who was born with a genetic condition that caused phenylketonuria that impeded his brain development. He worked within his own parameters to produce a very distinctive and enigmatic oeuvre. His work, like Wallis’s is highly sought after. Mary Jewels doesn’t quite fit in with Wallis and Pearce. She was educated with a more middle class background and her work is neither naïve nor primitive, but it is individual, unconventional, finding her own depth and vision without recourse to art school disciplines.

15. God With Us, Rowan Williams, SPCK 9780281076642. If you are searching for a clear explanation of the meaning of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ, both in history and today, then this book is a great starting point. ‘Clear’ does not mean simplistic, as ever there is great depth to Rowan Williams writing, but it is a pertinent overview of the various New Testament and historical theologies of both the Cross and Resurrection. However, it is at its most apposite and striking when discussing their value for us now. Worth reading for the last chapter alone, which became a major influence on my Easter morn sermon. The theme of God with us that Samuel Wells explores in Hanging By a Thread is amplified by Rowan Williams to make it clear that while God never abandons us and walks with us, God also works through us and the Cross is an integral part of who we are as Christians.

16. Stations of the Cross: Then and Now, Denis McBride, Redemptorist Publications, 9780852314722. A very powerful book, accessible but with potent spiritual and practical application. I like to find a book to mediate on during the Maundy Thursday Watch, and this was just perfect. A modern rendering of the traditional set of fourteen stations of the Cross is drawn alongside striking contemporary photographs, some which will be instantly recognisable, that depict the injustices, the crucifixions we put people through today. So, in no particular order, for the deposition we see a Turkish police officer cradling the limp body of three year-old Syrian-Kurdish boy, Alan Kurdi, drowned reaching a beach on Kos; for the moment when Christ is stripped bare the accompanying image is of emaciated naked men lining up for the gas chambers in Auschwitz; alongside Veronica wiping the face of the struggling, cross-bearing Christ is Saint (Mother) Teresa working with and for the poorest in Calcutta society. If you need to look again at the traditional devotion of Stations with prayerful contemporary resonance then I highly recommend this book.

17. Paul Nash, edited by Emma Chambers, Tate Gallery, 9781849764353. What an amazing artist Nash was – the Tate exhibition really hit the spot for me – I was bowled away by the breadth and spiritual depth of his work. This, the accompanying book, contains a crackling collection of essays that really do add much more to the exhibition, giving fresh colour and vigour to the work. I loved it.

18. Splash of Words, Mark Oakley, Canterbury Press, 97818482546888. Cracking work, Oakley – an immensely perceptive introduction to the intertwining of poetry and faith is followed up by a canny exploration of a marvellously varied collection of poems from a variety of cultures and faiths. Invigorating and exciting.

19. Volunteer Revolution, Bill Hybels, Zondervan, 9780310257110. Hmmm, I might be missing something here, but this was a slim volume stating the blinking obvious and then throwing in so many ‘here’s how we built a mega-church’ anecdotes that it becomes very difficult to translate any insights to much smaller communities with far fewer resources.

20. Julian of Norwich: A Very Brief History, Janina Ramirez, SPCK, 9780281077373. Neat, sweet, erudite and pacy – this is a smart overview of the genesis and history of Mother Julian’s groundbreaking work on spiritual growth. Rather like the BBC TV programme it accompanies, this is a very useful layperson’s guide to one of the most important English texts.

21. Cuckoo: Cheating By Nature, Nick Davies, Bloomsbury, 9781408856581. You know the story – cuckoo’s song heralds spring, cuckoo’s behaviour offends all with parental inclinations, but here it is told with verve and plenty of fascinating scientific knowledge. Davies wears his learning lightly and tells the tale of his work, and others, in discovering the complexity of the cuckoo’s story with delightful joy and energy.

22. Cathedral, Raymond Carver, Vintage, 9780099530336. Do not read these carefully crafted short stories if you are feeling blue. These tales of small town American ennui are gritty and closely descriptive. They pull you into a stifling world of loss and losers that even the fuzzy ending of the last, the title story, can’t fully erase. Well written but sad.

23. Ragnarok, A.S. Byatt, Canongate, 9781847670649. Having already read Jeanette Winterson’s contribution to Canongate’s ‘Myths’ series asking well-known authors to retell famous mythic stories, I was keen to see what Byatt would do with the Norse tales of the end times. Her sinuous description is lushly evocative while also spiky, dark and threatening. Her dismissal of the Christian story as a pale player in the mythic pantheon is poorly argued from the most simpering version of Margaret Tarrant’s Jesus Christ from Somerset, but her celebration of the elemental potency of the Norse sagas is both and chilling and timely as today declarations that we have triggered the sixth great epoch of extinction abound.

24. David Jones: Engraver, Soldier, Painter, Poet, Thomas Dilworth, Jonathan Cape, 9780224044608. The best book I have read this year (so far), an absolute gem and an eye-opener. Before reading this beautifully presented and wonderfully illustrated biography (who’s only faults are the shabby quality of the binding and the occasional sloppy proofing error) all I knew about David Jones was that he had spent some time working with Eric Gill and that Rowan Williams profoundly admired his work (using it to illustrate Tokens of Trust). I thought he was Welsh, but it seems his background was more complex than that – London Welsh might be more correct – yet he did have a deep affinity for Wales and its people. What I knew nothing about was his war service, surviving in the trenches right through the First War, or the power and influence of his poetry – Stravinsky, Eliot, Henry Moore, Dylan Thomas, Seamus Heaney and many others were all in awe of his modernist verse. I remembered that he was a Roman Catholic, but I hadn’t picked up that he was an Anglican convert, nor that his faith influenced everything he did. It was a faith that he tested and probed and that provided a vital bedrock for his existence. The range and versatility of his work, as well its detail, delicacy and depth are outstanding and Dilworth’s descriptions of the quality and influence of his poetry have led me to it (review to follow). What makes this all the more remarkable is that Jones’s home life was pretty desperate throughout his post-war life. Constantly in poverty, with poor health, agoraphobic, suffering from what would now be diagnosed as PTSD, often in love with many of the lovely, intelligent women around him (especially the wives of his friends), yet never able to make love, he moved to and fro across London from one seedy lodging to another. There is a tangible sadness about his life, and the way that he is currently hardly remembered (a bit like Graham Sutherland) despite the quality of his work. Exploring his art and poetry opens up a wholly fresh aspect of modernism, one which is intimately bound up with the sacramental. Dilworth is a Jones expert, with many specialist books to his credit, who writes well, if occasionally a trifle archly. His passion for his subject is well-founded and communicates strongly from every page. If at times it feels like a one man crusade to champion Jones’s place amongst the first rank of British twentieth-century artists, poets and writers then, on the strength of the evidence he puts forth, I think he is fully justified.

25. Raptor: A Journey Through Birds, James Macdonald Lockhart, Fourth Estate, 9780007459896. This book has won several awards and rightly so. While on one level it is a descriptive trip around the UK in search of the fifteen birds of prey found here (excluding the wintering-only Rough Legged Buzzard) this is also about much more, including habitat and our changing relationship with the land. Woven throughout are snippets from the life of William MacGillivray, Scottish ninteteenth century naturalist, artist and inspiration for the famous chronicler of US bird life, James Audubon. Lockhart writes with an easy style, knowing his subject well, conveying his obsession with following the birds about with gentle humour, getting under the skin of MacGillivray and his youthful plant collecting walk from Aberdeen to London. There is a great deal going on in this book, and the birds don’t always stand clear – but that isn’t a bad thing. It is more that Lockhart shows how each species is integral to its environment and that exploring the nature of theses isles isn’t about tick boxes for fauna and flora spotted, being, more holistically, an understanding of the complex relationships and equations that make ecology sing.

26. Hopeful Imagination, Walter Brueggemann, Fortress Press, 0800619250. Published in 1986, but still absolutely relevant to today, this subtle, thoughtful, searching and stimulating exploration of exile and prophecy. Brueggemann outlines the exile of the Jewish people in 587 BCE, with the Temple burnt, Jerusalem destroyed, the Davidic throne broken, the best of the people taken into captivity and the remnant left with the scorched earth. He shows how Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Second Isaiah are prophets charged with a tough task – to convince people that God has not abandoned them, is working through the nations of Babylon and Persia to create a new relationship, a new Israel that will grow from the exiles, when they return, not the remnant who think of themselves as the faithful ones. Freedom, courage and imagination are required to break free of the past and understand that one comes next is new, different but no less of a true relationship with a faithful God. He demonstrates that the position of the church today, in a culture and society that is alien to the values of God as Israel regarded Babylon and Persia to be, also requires breaking free of old certainties and a mythical rosy past to die and rise again in a new relationship of hope.

27. Follow Me: Living the Sayings of Jesus, Ian Black, Sacristy Press, 9781910519448. This could become an excellent complementary resource for developing a life of discipleship. Many will be familiar with Black’s lyrical, perceptive collections of intercessions. This much shorter book presents eight chapters covering communion, service, love, forgiveness, possessions, prayer, sacrifice and mission. While there is nothing exceptional in what is said about each subject, Black nevertheless writes with a quietly elegant clarity that allows him to raise multiple points swiftly and precisely; and through contemporary illustrations that acknowledge the intricacy and untidiness of our daily lives, show how Jesus’ words and actions still have much to teach us. Chapters conclude with a tightly focused, expressive prayer and a series of discussion prompts comprising particularly incisive questions, very challenging for an individual to explore on their own, but perfect for group study. This material might even form the basis of a valuable sermon series, using the questions to stimulate whole-church discussion and incorporating the prayers into the liturgy.

28. A-Z of Discipleship, Matthew Porter, Authentic, 9781780784564. Twenty-six pithy chapters alphabetically arranged to introduce subjects such as ‘B is for Bible’, ‘K is for Kingdom’, ‘W is for Worship’ and so forth. Light on jargon but rich in anecdote, the intention is to provide a snapshot of foundational topics, with guidance in good practice for those wishing to grow their commitment to Christ. Every section closes with an action and pointers to prayer which firmly introduce the disciplines of daily Bible reading, prayer and spiritual reflection along with practical engagement in the work of the Church. Sometimes this approach, by its very brevity, can slide towards a paternal didacticism, which not everyone will appreciate, while simultaneously raising as many questions as answers. Drawing on writers ranging from Polycarp to Bill Johnson, however, Porter clearly moulds his material to serve as a taster for a deeper quest to be more fully explored with the guidance of a supportive Christian community.

29. World Without End, Thomas Keating, Bloomsbury, 9781472942487. In the midst of conversations with film-maker Lucette Verboven that make up this book, Cistercian monk and founder of the Centering Prayer movement, Thomas Keating, declares that ‘God is becoming everything at every nanosecond of time and wants us to join him in that adventure’. Now in his nineties, Keating’s health is unsteady, so Joseph Boyle, Abbot at their Colorado monastery, adds an extra voice to this short and spaciously laid-out series of interviews. The book will have slight value for anyone familiar with Keating’s core works such as Open Mind, Open Heart, but it provides a useful and lively introduction to his thinking, and especially to the concept, though not the detailed practice, of Centering Prayer. Wherever Verboven’s questions probe, Keating steers back towards the mystical revelation, drawn from Teilhard de Chardin, that Christ is present at every moment in every particle of creation; his is ‘a cosmic body that extends throughout the universe’. Such an approach produces a deep impact on our perception of discipleship: a practice of silent, open attentiveness to the intimate presence of God will shape a path of simplification in our personal lives, alongside action towards others that is receptive, peaceful and self-forgetful.

30. Secret Passion to Noble Fashion: The World of the Portrait Miniature, Ann Sumner & Richard Walker, Holbourne Museum of Art, 0951757431. Portrait Miniatures, especially British ones from the seventeenth to the late nineteenth century, are an absolutely fascinating art form which double up as unique snapshots of social life, fashion and sentimentality. This book is in effect the catalogue of a 1999 exhibition. The collection exhibited contained over one hundred miniatures from a private collection. The anonymous collector was obviously someone of wealth and discernment because this is a remarkable assemblage of absolutely top quality miniatures by some of the most highly renowned  artists. What is even more amazing is that the collector had his entire first collection stolen and had to start again from scratch. Portrait miniatures are pictures I have begun collecting in a very modest way and the insights given in the opening essays about the changing role of the miniature in society, the artists, the styles and the collection were riveting and informative. Quite a beautiful little book.

31. The Holbourne Museum, Scala Editions, 9781857596656. This book length museum guide contains a number of fascinating articles, not just about the genesis of the collection and the museum but also about the various constituent parts of the collection as they are laid out in the current building. I was most interested in the portrait miniatures, but the whole place is packed full of beautiful and elegant items which are photographed in great detail for the guide. The chapters describing the history of the collection and the way it has outgrown its buildings was enlightening. although I’m still not convinced by Eric Parry’s 2002 extension, but then I don’t think there is any architecture post 1950 that I like.

32. Maverick Mark, Bonnie Thurston, Liturgical Press, 9780814635520. Like Morna Hooker’s classic The Message of Mark’ this is a swift but hard-hitting ride through the shortest Gospel. The Mark that Thurston portrays, with much scholarship and conviction, is a person not willing to compromise, whose portrayal of Jesus and the disciples is of a leader and movement that requires total commitment, commitment at a level that far exceeds that given by the majority of Christian’s today. Discipleship is a way of living that impacts on every aspect of who you are and what you do. This is a quick read but with many profound implications for anyone wishing to be a follower of Christ today. Powerful and astute, I highly recommend it.

33. Loving Luther, Allison Pittman, Tyndale, 9781414390451. Having recently read an article in the Church Times about Katharina von Bora, the nun who became wife to Martin Luther, I was keen to find out more, so when I was given this novel at the Christian Resources Exhibition I quickly gave it a whirl. I suspect that I am not the target audience for this romp through a dark and bloody upheaval in European history, but I feel that it captures well the spirit of the times and especially the essence of the character of Katharina – a strong-willed and intelligent woman who had to work hard to find her true calling and the right outlet for her gifts. This is my one concession to the celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation as it is a revolution I am, at best, ambivalent about. I’m more aligned with the Eamon Duffy view of the Reformation – that it threw out as much that was good in religion and society as it did the bad. The primacy of the ‘word’, which ushered in the Enlightenment, is something which I am deeply suspicious of (despite being a bookseller). As for Luther himself, I’ve always seen him as a baddie, but then I carry a quote of his in my Bible – ‘This is the glory of faith, simply not to know: not to know where you are going, not to know what you are doing, not to know what you must suffer… and captive to follow the naked voice of God. Faith goes forward, whatever the outlook.’ If the events recounted in this novel are correct then, in her bumpy ride through life, Katharina found out the truth of these words.

34. In Parenthesis, David Jones, Faber & Faber, 9780571315796. Some might find a 187 page poem appended by 25 pages of explanatory authorial notes rather too much to take, however, that would mean missing one of the great jewels of twentieth century poetry, an intensely powerful evocation of the stark mix of the visceral and the mundane, grinding routine punctuated by stabs of ultra-violence that made up trench life in the First World War. It was only through reading Thomas Dilworth’s biography of David Jones earlier in the year that I came across his poetry and I am so glad to have found it. At its best, Jones’s fine art – his engravings, paintings and drawings – convey a sense of liminality, of borderlands, of thin places where different realms seep through to the here and now. Without romanticising the soaking, brutal lot of the mass of ordinary foot soldiers he time and again draws in oblique allusions to the great legend cycles of the British Isles, alongside the eternally rolling routine of the Mass and Divine Office.

Jones was that foot soldier, serving the duration of the war, living through the cattle-like conditions and the casual sacrifice of so many for so little. It could be argued that the rest of his life was spent trying to deal with the trauma of war service, and in that he would not be alone among his generation. But where he is possibly unique is in his mind’s ability to make connections, to draw, from Malory and the Mabinogion, from the Crucifixion and the host raised in Thanksgiving, not pretty excuses for war, not a redeeming beauty of blood congealing in muddy pools, but deep sense of time torn, humanity slipping and sliding through a dangerous schism in reality, a brutal tearing apart of the very nature of personhood, community. Jones’s soldiers are Everymen, jittering across the duck boards and slithering through the borderlands of life and death, stillness and destruction, ennui and bloody engagement. He bends and shapes language into a stream of thought that has echoes of Joyce and Eliot while being also entirely his own, free floating through concepts, theology, legend but rooted, grounded squarely in the helplessness of the individual faced by national, political, hierarchical idiocy and muscle-flexing intransigence. This is wonderful writing, powerful and human, transcendent and corporeal, elegiac and elemental. A true classic.

35. (Re-read) Living on the Border Esther de Waal, Canterbury Press, 9781853119620. Of we go to liminal lands, the thin places where life and death, divine and human merge and emerge renewed, refreshed, changed. Normal rules don’t apply here – think of the wild Borderers, the tribes who place their priests on the edges of the community, wiggling line that demarcated Wales from England and where you were never quite a member of either place. Lovely book, deep and easy, open and porous, poetic and allusive.

36. The Wild Geese of the Newgrounds, Paul Walkden, Friends of WWT Slimbridge, 9780956107008. Here is a border land, the space where estuary meets land, water slides into mud, into grassland. The place where every autumn the wild geese gather and every spring they depart for other lands, their other homes, their breeding spaces. Geese whose numbers rise and fall with the direction of the winds, the warming of the environment, the availability of safe places elsewhere. Geese whose gaggles and flocks may always turn up a treasure – a rarity or an old-stager coming to rest one last time. In this short, factual account of Sir Peter Scott’s vision becoming reality of a wildfowl reserve coming reality on the banks of the Severn there is so much hope, so much inventiveness, so much human love for the otherness of life. It is a charming, if all too brief read, brought up from the prosaic by anecdote and Sir Peter’s own illustrations.

37. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J. K. Rowling, Bloomsbury Publishing, 9780747546290. The only one in the series I hadn’t read. It is good – short and tightly plotted, clear and with a gripping, twisting story that moves the over-arching tale along very nicely.

38. Miniatures in the Wallace Collection, Stephen Duffy and Christoph Martin Vogtherr, The Wallace Collection, 9780900785832. Gorgeously illustrated with a mass of information about a truly stunning collection, here are miniatures on snuff boxes, on pendants, in lockets, depicting whole families, copied from great masters, copied from each other, miniature landscapes, miniatures as erotic art. More, please.

39. The Gilbert Collection: Portrait Miniatures in Enamel, Sara Coffin and Bodo Hoffstetter, Philip Wilson Publishers, 9780856675331. Here they are, more portrait miniatures, but this time almost all in enamel, which gives stronger colours and images less affected by the light than watercolour on ivory or paper. So, these are jewels that glisten and glow, tiny entry points into over worlds, lives, marital transactions and mourning. Some amazingly over-the-top frames and mounts, but none can detract from the star quality of the images they contain.

40. Custard, Culverts and Cake Ed Cara Courage and Nicola Headlam, Emerald Publishing, 9781787432864. The ‘dum-de-dum’ beat of ‘Barwick Green’ – theme tune to Radio 4’s The Archers – was my womb music, my mother being an inveterate listener. As a Birmingham boy, the fictional county of Borsetshire seemed to me both beguilingly local and bewilderingly other. Now, as a rural parish priest, I still discover Ambridge resonances in village life which, if the latest Archers’ scholarship is anything to go by, might possibly be creatively interpreted in the light of faith and ministry.

The programme has numerous well-organised, vocal followers, who are internet savvy and not shy to voice their opinions on the show. There are dozens of fan sites, especially on Facebook, and, yes, I am a member of many of them. Now established as an interdisciplinary ‘scholarly wing’ of avid listeners, the ‘Academic Archers’ connects researchers and subjects in surprising ways. The group explores a virtually inexhaustible supply of germane issues from a academic perspective by taking Ambridge as a paradigm for contemporary village life. From the negative aspects of competing at flower and produce shows to the absence of primary education in the programme; from cake consumption and the health of village residents to Ambridge’s response to the catastrophic floods of 2015; and from kinship networks to coercive control and prison diet, this intriguing collection of the most recent conference papers, presented in Custard, Culverts and Cake, captures both the inventiveness of current debates and their relevance to the ever-shifting pattern of twenty-first century rural life.

True, Ambridge is (allegedly) a fictional, dramatic setting; but in the breadth of the analysis contained in the twenty-four papers presented here, the Academic Archers successfully illuminate some of the complexities of communities where many of us minister. In ‘God in Ambridge’, rather than addressing the pressing issues of how small village churches and multi-parish benefices can maximise their missional resources, Jonathan Hustler uses The Archers as a valid field for testing practical theology in a rural context. With reference to specific situations, such as replacing a herd to provide milk in lower quantity but higher quality, or abandoning intensive, chemical-dependent soil fertilisation in favour of herbal leys and no-till agriculture, he raises wider questions about our relationship with God and creation.

However, it is the long-running, convoluted and, at times, unbearably painful storyline concerning Rob Titchener’s abusive control of his wife, Helen, that focuses much abstract observation down into the mess of daily life. When vicar, Alan Franks, tries to minister to the disgraced and wounded Rob he finds it impossible to reach this self-proclaimed outsider. Alan’s struggles to deal with the restrictions Rob’s intransigence seems to place upon what he believes to be God’s limitless grace were played out on prime-time radio, tackling faith matters over several episodes in a way that most soaps would eschew. Perhaps this is why, as this book reminds us, The Archers may still have value as a tool for theological and pastoral reflection.

41. Flying Under Bridges, Sandi Toksvig, Sphere Publishing, 9780751531336. This wasn’t quite what I expected it to be. I was hoping for a witty biography, but it is actually a sharply perceptive murder un-mystery. Characters are mainly female and some contain elements that you might expect have been drawn directly from Toksvig’s own experience, but they are drawn with clarity and complexity, bringing to life a story of middle age ennui and unravelling that leads to a modicum of self-knowledge and confidence, even in the midst of incarceration at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

42. Men Without Women, Haruki Murakami, Harvill Secker, 9781911215370. Another satisfyingly unnerving set of short stories that dip back and forth through borderlands of mind and place, creating characters who are viscerally ethereal and shimmering with reality. As ever with Murakami nothing is quite as it should be, everyone and everything teeters on the brink, slipping over the edges of normality and sliding back into clockwork regularity.

43. Charcoal Joe, Walter Mosley, Wiedenfeld and Nicolson, 9781474604512. An Easy Rawlins novel, full of hard characters living hard lives, a twisty plot, familial jeopardy, beautiful women, ugly killers, plenty of greed, ingrained racism and tough morality. Great to meet again some familiar folk who bring a smoking, crackling, sensual energy to a violent, brutish world.

44. 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, Ed Robert Dimery, Cassell Ilustrated, 9781844038909. And I did. Listened to the whole 1001, read the reviews explaining why these albums had been chosen and obviously disagreed with much of the selection. Yes, even though they had tried for inclusivity, it still felt as if there was a white, male, rock bias. Yes, the 1950 starting point meant the best of the blues were left out. Yes, the majority of albums which I didn’t already know I probably won’t play again. Yes, some of my heroes got short shrift, especially Michael Gira. But I learnt much (although listening/reading at this pace I might not have retained much), I found some new favourites, I joined some of the dots in my popular music education and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge the book presented.

December Poem

Chagall Le viellard et le chevreau v2

The Old Man and the Goat

Bottle-green was his coat but
the bottle was empty –
no milk of sweetness or human kindness,
no divine munificence,
maybe no divinity to be found
at the bottom, the middle, the uncapped top
of his life-sized bottle.

A goat and an old man alone in the stained snow.
Atonement frozen in the act of release,
sins dis-remembered,
family dismembered, a pogrom, a feud,
a cutting off or a cutting out.

No sheep in this scene, just a goat,
squatting in sinistral space,
a sign of things to come:
landmarks shorn of significance by snow fall,
an old man emptied of all identification,
sliding into winter dormition.

Today, nursing homes are chilled by blizzards
of those same bottle-empty stares,
when families do not visit
and the single chair, in the cubic room,
stripped bare of all personality,
becomes the last stop on the road
for a thousand old men,
bereft even of a goat for warmth and stimulus.
Frozen faces, frozen fingers, frozen memories,
lying down in submission, awaiting total whiteout.

Le vieillard et le chevreau/The Old Man and the Goat
Marc Chagall, 1930


November Poem

'Cap de pagès català

Head of a Catalan Peasant

Blue washed, bird crossed sky,
fills the space we call a face,
soaks up the heavens,
and saturates fields strewn with pimpernels.

Barretina bags the crown position –
diminutively demonstrating the dominant identity –
while a line takes an eye out to stalk the cerulean field
which may be iris deep in dreams
or the hint of a blink
from a pagesos bored
with the questing corvid scratches
of pen, ink, brush and pigment.

Tête de paysan catalan/ Head of a Catalan Peasant
Joan Miro, 1925




1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die

1001 Albums crop

So, I’ve done it – in just over 10 months I’ve managed to work my way through the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die and I have now listened to all 1001 albums. The full list is below. It started when Graeme, my brother-in-law, was given the book for Christmas 2016 and I said I’d like to join in listening. Graeme began by texting me randomly generated numbers and we would both listen and report back. After a while he found his listening going in a different direction so I decided to keep going taking one album from the start of the book and one from the end to work towards meeting up somewhere in the middle. By then I needed to listen to 18 albums a week to complete the 1001 by Christmas 2017.

The list begins with Frank Sinatra: In the Wee Small Hours in 1955 and ends with David Bowie: Blackstar in 2016. By upping my listening to 25 albums per week I finished on 31 October with Simple Minds: New Gold Dream from 1982.

So, what, if anything have I learned from this audio marathon?

(1) Me and Kanye West have very little in common and having listened to three of his albums I fully expect to never hear another one again. The same goes for Ghostface Killah, the Wu Tang Clan and most of their peers. Run DMC, Public Enemy and NWA still feel more grounded and with a stronger political message. Yes, I’m mixing genres here, but maybe that’s the downside of taking on so much music so quickly.

(2) Jazz – I just don’t get it. Noodling around a note but never getting to the point. It feels so utterly self-indulgent and intensely irritating. However, I shall probably listen to Miles Davis: In a Silent Way and Frank Zappa: Hot Rats again.

(3) Guitar solos – talking of self-indulgence, what is it with guitar solos? Onanistic meanderings, they ruin half-decent songs. Totally pointless, they add nothing and spoil much.

(4) Heavy metal at its best is just a beat away from the glories of post punk Sub Pop. The sharpest grunge has drunk deeply from the metal. Black Sabbath: Paranoid was a joy to dive into, Mötorhead: Ace of Spades was limp and repetitive in comparison, although the live album No Sleep ’Til Hammersmith was fun, as was Megadeth Rust in Peace, while Metallica: Metallica was a good ‘un. Moving up a notch, Napalm Death were just as I remembered them and still not quite where I want to be.

(5) The hardest albums to listen to were Tina Turner: Private Dancer – I had to have two goes at that, I found her voice so excruciating (but reading the lyrics of the title song was sobering) and Elbow: The Seldom Seen Kid nearly defeated me. Indeed, much of the lad rock – Oasis, Supergrass, Super Furry Animals, Jamiroquai, et al was completely alien to me. Oh, and Crowded House: Woodface – mediocre faux indie MOR.

(6) Some positive prejudices were confirmed: the genius of Joy Division’s beautiful elegies to masculine ennui, the overarching power of an on form Neil Young, the subtle theology of Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave, the perfect anti-pop of the Velvets and Raw Power era Iggy, the scuzzy poetry of the Jesus and Mary Chain and Mudhoney, the utter gorgeousness of Sonic Youth’s infernal reinventions, the stunning force of Sleater-Kinney, this list could go on.

(7) World music in its multifarious forms was almost always a joy to hear. So much to explore in this direction – from Baba Maal to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Many ideas for music in liturgy were found in this quarter.

(8) Surprise finds: Turbonegro: Apocalypse Dudes (Scandi punk viscera – potent despite the almost constant guitar soloing); Janelle Monáe: The ArchAndroid (witty, intelligent, conceptual, big and bold genre twisting); The Monks: Black Monk Time (out MC5ing the MC5, proof of punk’s sixties roots, sharp, short distinctive and raging); The Dictators: Go Girl Crazy! (pre-Ramones punk, funny and furious).

(9) Artists I should have listened to more of a long time ago: Pavement, X, Go-Go Girls, Fiona Apple, My Bloody Valentine, Einstürzende Neubauten (Kollaps was an absolutely wonderful find during the last week of otherwise prosaic listening), Kraftwerk (other than a live set I’d never sat down and listened to a whole album), David Bowie (I had avoided him as too mainstream, and certainly the nine albums included were very mixed, but each one had some cracking tracks), Violent Femmes (their eponymous album was a raw, adolescent, wistful corker).

(10) Surprise likes: Brian Eno’s ambient work (not as twiddly-twee as I was expecting and good for writing sermons to); Taylor Swift (well-constructed, thoughtful pop); Pink Floyd: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (perhaps because I had to write a funeral sermon based around this album I listened to it many times and examined the lyrics more carefully, but it struck a chord – unlike their other albums).

(11) Omissions: reggae gets short shrift, what was included was fine but very centre stage – no Toots and the Maytals or Junior Murvin, no U-Roy or Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. Tears for Fears: The Hurting is a far more vital album than Songs from the Big Chair (which always reminds me of Ronnie Corbett), Nirvana: Bleach is their best album and should have been included alongside the rest, Hole: Celebrity Skin is sellout trash compared with the filthy fury of Pretty on the Inside, M.I.A. is represented by Kala which is a tame and unexacting when compared with her debut Arular, but well, of course, everyone is going to have their cherished favourites who haven’t made the cut. In my case it is Michael Gira – he only gets a namecheck as co-producer of Devendra Barnhart: Rejoicing in the Hands – when Swans are incredible influential on the underground art rock scene and The Seer is, for me, one of the greatest, most powerful and most intelligent albums of all time.

(12) The Blues: the greatest omission, mainly because of the 1950s start date which precludes much of the best and most influential music. Yes, there is Muddy Waters: Hard Again, an outstanding album, but other than that it is John Lee Hooker: The Healer, live Muddy Waters and B.B. King before the white guys take over – John Mayall, Eric Clapton, the best bits of Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and The White Stripes. So, no Son House (Death Letter would most certainly be on my own 1001 list), Robert Johnson, Howling Wolf, Leadbelly, Elmore James and company. Billie Holiday makes it, but only when she is past her prime.

All in all I’m glad I went for this challenge – it has filled in many gaps and helped pull my musical knowledge together – but I don’t think I’ll be doing it again. Time now to pick up on some of the new music I’ve missed from 2017, listen to some old favourites, revisit some of the albums on this list that have resonated with me, refresh my acquaintance with some bands that had dropped out of my consciousness, but still sound great (Sister Sledge, Adam and the Ants, Elvis Costello) and get to a few gigs.

And now, the list – what albums do you think are missing?

Abba: Arrival
Abba: The Visitors
ABC: The Lexicon of Love
AC/DC: Back in Black
AC/DC: Highway to Hell
Ackles, David: American Gothic
Adam and the Ants: Kings of the Wild Frontier
Adamson, Barry: Moss Side Story
Adamson, Barry: Oedipus Schmedipus
Adams, Ryan: Gold
Adams, Ryan: Heartbreaker
Adele: 25
Adverts: Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts
Aerosmith: Pump
Aerosmith: Rocks
Aerosmith: Toys in the Attic
Afghan Whigs: Gentlemen
A-ha: Hunting High and Low
Air: Moon Safari
Air: The Virgin Suicides
Alice Cooper: Billion Dollar Babies
Alice Cooper: School’s Out
Alice in Chains: Dirt
Allman Brothers Band: At Fillmore East
American Music Club: California
Amos, Tori: Little Earthquakes
Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion
Anthrax: Among the Living
Aphex Twin: Selected Ambient Works 85-92
Apple, Fiona: Tidal
Arcade Fire: Funeral
Arctic Monkeys: Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not
Armatrading, Joan: Joan Armatrading
Arrested Development: 3 Years, 5 Months and 2Days in the Life of…
Ash: 1977
Associates: Sulk
Auteurs: New Wave
Avalanches: Since I Left You
B-52s: The B-52s
Bad Brains: I Against I
Bad Company: Bad Company
Badu, Erykah: Mama’s Gun
Baez, Joan: Joan Baez
Baker, Anita: Rapture
Bambaataa, Afrika, And the Soul Sonic Force: Planet Rock – The Album
Band: The Band:
Band: Music from Big Pink
Barnhart, Devendra: Rejoicing in the Hands
Barrett, Syd: The Madcap Laughs
Basement Jaxx: Remedy
Basie, Count: The Atomic Mr Basie
Bauhaus: Mask
Beach Boys: The Beach Boys Today!
Beach Boys: Pet Sounds
Beach Boys: Surf’s Up
Beach House: Teen Dream
Beastie Boys: Ill Communication
Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill
Beastie Boys: Paul’s Boutique
Beatles: Abbey Road
Beatles: The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album)
Beatles: A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles: Revolver
Beatles: Rubber Soul
Beatles: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Beatles: With the Beatles
Beau Brummels: Triangle
Beck: Odelay
Beck: Truth
Bee Gees: Odessa
Bee Gees: Trafalgar
Belle and Sebastian: If You’re Feeling Sinister
Belle and Sebastian: “Tigermilk”
Ben, Jorge: Africa/Brasil
Beyoncé: Beyoncé
Big Black: Atomizer
Big Brother and the HoldingCompany: Cheap Thrills
Big Star: No 1 Record
Big Star: Third/Sister Lovers
Birthday Party: Junkyard
Björk: Debut
Björk: Vespertine
Björk: Vulnicura
Black Crowes: Shake Your Money Maker
Black Flag: Damaged
Black, Frank: Teenager of the Year
Black Keys: Brothers
Black Sabbath: Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath: Black Sabbath Vol 4
Black Sabbath: Paranoid
Blondie: Parallel Lines
Blood, Sweat and Tears: Blood, Sweat and Tears
Blue Cheer: Vincebus Eruptum
Blue Nile: A Walk Across the Rooftops
Blues Breakers: Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton
Blur: Blur
Blur: Modern Life is Rubbish
Blur: Parklife
Boards of Canada: Music has the Right to Children
Bon Jovi: Slippery When Wet
Bonnie ‘Prince Billy’: I See a Darkness
Booker T and the MGs: Green Onions
Boo Radleys: Giant Steps
Boston: Boston
Bowie, David: Aladdin Sane
Bowie, David: Blackstar
Bowie, David: ‘Heroes’
Bowie, David: Hunky Dory
Bowie, David: Low
Bowie, David: The Next Day
Bowie, David: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
Bowie, David: Station to Station
Bowie, David: Young Americans
Bragg, Billy: Talking to the Taxman about Poetry
Bragg, Billy, and Wilco: Mermaid Avenue
Brel, Jacques: Olympia 64
Brown, James: Live at the Apollo
Brubeck, Dave, Quartet: Time Out
Buckley, Jeff: Grace
Buckley, Tim: Goodbye and Hello
Buckley, Tim: Greetings from LA
Buckley, Tim: Happy Sad
Buena Vista Social Club: Buena Vista Social Club
Buffalo, Grant Lee: Fuzzy
Buffalo Springfield: Buffalo Springfield Again
Bukem, LTJ: Logical Progression
Burke, Solomon: Rock’n’Soul
Burman, RD: Shalimar/College Girl
Burning Spear: Marcus Garvey
Burton, Gary: The New Tango
Bush, Kate: The Dreaming
Bush, Kate: Hounds of Love
Bush, Kate: The Sensual World
Butthole Surfers: Locust Abortion Technician
Buzzcocks: Another Music in a Different Kitchen
Byrd, Charlie: Jazz Samba
Byrds: Fifth Dimension
Byrds: Mr Tambourine Man
Byrds: The Notorious Byrd Brothers
Byrds: Sweetheart of the Rodeo
Byrds: Younger than Yesterday
Cale, John: Paris 1919
Can: Future Days
Can: Tago Mago
Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band: Safe as Milk
Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band: Trout Mask Replica
Cardigans: First Band on the Moon
Carey, Mariah: Butterfly
Carpenters: Close to You
Cars: The Cars
Cash, Johnny: At Folsom Prison
Cash, Johnny: Johnny Cash at San Quentin
Cave, Nick, and the Badseeds: Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus
Cave, Nick, and the Badseeds: The Boatman’s Call
Cave, Nick, and the Badseeds: Henry’s Dream
Cave, Nick, and the Badseeds: Murder Ballads
Chao, Manu: Clandestino
Chapman, Tracy: Tracy Chapman
Charlatans: Tellin’ Stories
Charles, Ray: The Genius of Ray Charles
Charles, Ray: Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
Chaurasia, Hariprasad: Call of the Valley
Cheap Trick: At Budokan
Chemical Brothers: Dig Your Own Hole
Chemical Brothers: Exit Planet Dust
Cherry, Neneh: Raw Like Sushi
Chic: C’est Chic
Chic: Risqué
Chicago: Chicago Transit Authority
Chvrches: The Bones of What You Believe
Circle Jerks: Group Sex
Clapton, Eric: 461 Ocean Boulevard
Clapton, Eric: John Mayall’s Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton
Clark, Gene: No Other
Clark, Gene: White Light
Clash: The Clash
Clash: London Calling
Cocteau Twins: Heaven or Las Vegas
Cocteau Twins: Treasure
Cohen, Leonard: I’m Your Man
Cohen, Leonard: Songs From a Room
Cohen, Leonard: Songs of Love and Hate
Cohen, Leonard: The Songs of Leonard Cohen
Coldcut: What’s That Noise?
Coldplay: Parachutes
Coldplay: A Rush of Blood to the Head
Cole, Lloyd and the Commotions: Rattlesnakes
Colón, Willie and Bládes, Rueben: Siembra
Coltrane, John: A Love Supreme
Common: Be
Common: Like Water for Chocolate
Cooder, Ry: Taking Timbuktu
Cooke, Sam: Live at the Harlem Square Club
Cope, Julian: Peggy Suicide
Cornershop: When I was Born for the 7th Time
Costello, Elvis: Brutal Youth
Costello, Elvis: My Aim is True
Costello, Elvis: This Year’s Model
Costello, Elvis, and the Attractions: Armed Forces
Costello, Elvis, and the Attractions: Blood and Chocolate
Costello, Elvis, and the Attractions: Imperial Bedroom
Country Joe and the Fish: Electric Music for the Mind and Body
Cowboy Junkies: The Trinity Session
Cramps: Songs the Lord Taught Us
Cream: Disraeli Gears
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Bayou Country
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Cosmos’s Factory
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Green River
Crickets: The ‘Chirping’ Crickets
Crosby, David: If I Could Only Remember My Name
Crosby, Stills and Nash: Crosby, Stills and Nash
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young: Déjà Vu
Crowded House: Woodface
Crow, Sheryl: Tuesday Night Music Club
Crusaders: Street Life
Cult: Electric
Culture Club: Colour By Numbers
Cure: Disintegration
Cure: Pornography
Cure: Seventeen Seconds
Cypress Hill: Cypress Hill
Czukay, Holger: Movies
Daft Punk: Homework
Damned: Machine Gun Etiquette
D’Angelo: Brown Sugar
D’Arby, Terence Trent: Introducing the Hardline According To…
Davis, Miles: Birth of the Cool
Davis, Miles: Bitches Brew
Davis, Miles: In a Silent Way
Davis, Miles: Kind of Blue
Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables
Death in Vegas: The Contino Sessions
Deee-Lite: World Clique
Deep Purple: In Rock
Deep Purple: Machine Head
Deep Purple: Made in Japan
Deerhnuter: Halycon Digest
Def Leppard: Hysteria
Def Leppard: Pyromania
De La Soul: 3 Feet High and Rising
Depeche Mode: Music for the Masses
Depeche Mode: Violator
Derek and the Dominos: Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs
Devo: Q: Are We Not Men? A: We are Devo!
Dexy’s Midnight Runners: Don’t Stand Me Down
Dexy’s Midnight Runners: Searching for the Young Soul Rebels
Dexy’s Midnight Runners: Too-Rye-Ay
Dictators: Go Girl Crazy!
Digital Underground: Sex Packets
Dionsaur Jr: Bug
Dinosaur Jr: You’re Living All Over Me
Dion: Born to be With You
Dire Straits: Brothers in Arms
Dire Straits: Dire Straits
Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy: Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury
Divine Comedy: Casanova
Divine Comedy: A Short Album about Love
Dizzee Rascal: Boy in Da Corner
Django Django: Django Django
DJ Shadow: Entroducing…
Domino, Fats: This is Fats
Donovan: Sunshine Superman
Doors: The Doors
Doors: LA Woman
Doors: Morrison Hotel
Doves: Last Broadcast
Doves: Lost Souls
Drake, Nick: Bryter Layter
Drake, Nick: Five Leaves Left
Drake, Nick: Pink Moon
Dr Dre: The Chronic
Drive-by Truckers: Southern Rock Opera
Drive Like Jehu: Yank Crime
Dr John, The Night Tripper: Gris-Gris
Dr Octagon: Dr Octagonecologyst
Duran Duran: Rio
Dury, Ian: New Boots and Panties!
Dylan, Bob: Blonde on Blonde
Dylan, Bob: Blood on the Tracks
Dylan, Bob: Bringing it all Back Home
Dylan, Bob: The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
Dylan, Bob: Highway 61 Revisited
Dylan, Bob: Live 1966
Dylan, Bob: Time Out of Mind
Eagles: Eagles
Eagles: Hotel California
Earle, Steve: Guitar Town
Earth, Wind, And Fire: That’s the Way of the World
Echo and the Bunnymen: Crocodiles
Echo and the Bunnymen: Ocean Rain
Echo and the Bunnymen: Porcupine
Eels: Beautiful Freak
808 State: 808:90
Einstürzende Neubauten: Kollaps
Elastica: Elastica
Elbow: The Seldom Seen Kid
Electric Light Orchestra: Out of the Blue
Electric Prunes: I had too much to Dream (Last Night)
Ellington, Duke: Ellington at Newport 1956
Elliott, Ramblin’ Jack: Jack Takes the Floor
Elliott, Missy: Supa Dupa Fly
Elliott, Missy: Under Construction
Ely, Joe: Honky Tonk Masquerade
Emerson, Lake, & Palmer: Pictures at an Exhibition
Emerson, Lake, & Palmer: Tarkus
Eminem: The Marshall Mathers LP
Eminem: The Slim Shady LP
Eno, Brian: Ambient 1: Music for Airports
Eno, Brian: Another Green World
Eno, Brian: Before and After Science
Eno, Brian: Here Come the Warm Jets
Eno, Brian, and Byrne, David: My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
Eurythmics: Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
Evans, Bill: Sunday at the Village Vanguard
Everly Brothers: A Date With the Everly Brothers
Everything But the Girl: Idlewild
Everything But the Girl: Walking Wounded
Faces: A Nod is as Good as a Wink.. To a Blind Horse
Fagen, Donald: The Nightfly
Fairport Convention: Liege and Lief
Fairport Convention: Unhalfbricking
Faithfull, Marianne: Broken English
Faith No More: The Real Thing
Fall: Live at the Witch Trials
Fall: The Infotainment Scan
Fall: This Nation’s Saving Grace
Fatboy Slim: Better Living Through Chemistry
Fatboy Slim: You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby
Faust: Faust IV
Fiasco, Lupe: Food and Liquor
Firehose: Fromohio
Fishbone: Truth and Soul
Fitzgerald, Ella: Sings the Gershwin Song Book
FKA Twigs: LP1
Flamin’ Groovies: Teenage Head
Flaming Lips: The Soft Bulletin
Flaming Lips: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes
Fleetwood Mac: Rumours
Fleetwood Mac: Tusk
Flying Burrito Brothers: The Gilded Palace of Sin
Foo Fighters: Foo Fighters
Frampton, Peter: Frampton Comes Alive!
Frankie Goes to Hollywood: Welcome to the Pleasuredome
Franklin, Aretha: Aretha: Lady of Soul
Franklin, Aretha: I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You
Franz Ferdinand: Franz Ferdinand
Fugazi: Repeater
Fugees: The Score
Funkadelic: Maggot Brain
Fun Lovin’ Criminals: Come Find Yourself
Gabriel, Peter: Peter Gabriel (I)
Gabriel, Peter: Peter Gabriel (III)
Gabriel, Peter: So
Gainsbourg, Serge: Histoire De Melody Nelson
Gang of Four: Entertainment!
Gang Starr: Step in the Arena
Garbage: Garbage
Gaye, Marvin: Here, My Dear
Gaye, Marvin: Let’s Get it On
Gaye, Marvin: What’s Going On?
Genesis: The Lamb Lies down on Broadway
Genesis: Selling England by the Pound
Genius/GZA: Liquid Swords
Germs: (G)
Getz, Stan: Getz/Gilberto
Getz, Stan: Jazz Samba
Ghostface Killah: Fishscale
Gilberto, Astrud: Beach Samba
Gilberto, Bebel: Tanto Tempo
Gilberto, João: Getz/Gilberto
Girls Against Boys: Venus Luxure No. 1 Baby
Go-Betweens: 16 Lovers Lane
Go-Gos: Beauty and the Beat
Goldfrapp: Felt Mountain
Goldie: Timeless
Gotan Project: La Revancha Del Tango
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five: The Message
Grant, John: Queen of Denmark
Grateful Dead: American Beauty
Grateful Dead: Live/Dead
Gray, David: White Ladder
Green, Al: Let’s Stay Together
Green, Cee-Lo: Cee-Lo Green…Is the Soul Machine
Green Day: American Idiot
Green Day: Dookie
Griffith, Nanci: The Last of the True Believers
Guided By Voices: Alien Lanes
Gun Club: Fire of Love
Guns’N’Roses: Appetite for Destruction
Haggard, Merle: I’m a Lonesome Fugitive
Haircut One Hundred: Pelican West
Hancock, Herbie: Headhunters
Hanoi Rocks: Back to Mystery City
Happy Mondays: Bummed
Happy Mondays: Pills’N’Thrills and Bellyaches
Harris, Emmylou: Pieces of the Sky
Harris, Emmylou: Red Dirt Girl
Harris, Emmylou: Trio
Harrison, George: All Things Must Pass
Harvey, P.J.: Dry
Harvey, P.J.: Let England Shake
Harvey, P.J.: Rid of Me
Harvey, P.J.: Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
Hawkwind: Space Ritual
Hawley, Richard: Coles Corner
Hayes, Isaac: Hot Buttered Soul
Hayes, Isaac: Shaft
Heaven 17: Penthouse and Pavement
Hendrix, Jimi, Experience: Are You Experienced
Hendrix, Jimi, Experience: Axis: Bold as Love
Hendrix, Jimi, Experience: Electric Ladyland
Hill, Lauryn: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Hole: Celebrity Skin
Hole: Live Through This
Holiday, Billie: Lady in Satin
Holmes, David: Let’s Get Killed
Hooker, John Lee: The Healer
Hot Chip: In Our Heads
Human League: Dare
Hüsker Dü: Warehouse: Songs and Stories
Ibrahim, Abdullah: Water From An Ancient Well
Ice Cube: AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted
Ice Cube: The Predator
Ice-T: OG Original Gangster
Incredible String Band: The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter
Incubus: Make Yourself
Iron Butterfly: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Iron Maiden: Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden: The Number of the Beast
Isley Brothers: 3+3
Jackson, Brian: Winter in America
Jackson, Janet: Rhythm Nation
Jackson, Michael: Bad
Jackson, Michael: Off the Wall
Jackson, Michael: Thriller
Jamiroquai: Emergency on Planet Earth
Jam: All Mod Cons
Jam: Sound Effects
Jane’s Addiction: Nothing’s Shocking
Jane’s Addiction: Ritual De Lo Habitual
Jansch, Bert: Bert Jansch
Japan: Quiet Life
Jarre, Jean Michel: Oxygene
Jarrett, Keith: The Köln Concert
Jay-Z: The Blueprint
Jefferson Airplane: Surrealistic Pillow
Jennings, Waylon: Honky Tonk Heroes
Jeru the Damaja: The Sun Rises in the East
Jesus and Mary Chain: Darklands
Jesus and Mary Chain: Psychocandy
Jethro Tull: Aqualung
Jobim, Antonio Carlos: Francis Albert Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim
Joel, Billy: The Stranger
John, Elton: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
John, Elton: Madman Across the Water
Jones, George: The Grand Tour
Jones, Norah: Come Away with Me
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: Now I Got Worry
Joplin, Janis: Pearl
Joy Division: Closer
Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures
Judas Priest: British Steel
Jungle Brothers: Done By the Forces of Nature
Jurassic 5: Power in Numbers
Justice: Cross
Kabra, Brijbushan: Call of the Valley
Khaled: Kenza
Khna, Nusrat Fatah Ali, and Party: Devotional Songs
Kid Rock: Devil Without a Cause
Killing Joke: Killing Joke
King, B.B.: Live at the Regal
King, Carole: Tapestry
King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King
King Crimson: Larks’ Tongues in Aspic
Kinks: Arthur – Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire
Kinks: Face to Face
Kinks: The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society
Kinks: Something Else
Kiss: Destroyer
KLF: The White Room
Korn: Follow the Leader
Kraftwerk: Autobahn
Kraftwerk: The Man-Machine
Kraftwerk: Trans-European Express
Krause, Dagmar: Tank Battles
Kravitz, Lenny: Let Love Rule
Kuti, Fela, and the Afrika ’70: Zombie
Kuti, Femi: Femi Kuti
Ladd, Mike: Welcome to the Afterfuture
Ladysmith Black Mambazo: Shaka Zulu
Lahiri, Bappi: Shalimar/College Girl
Laibach: Opus Dei
Lamar, Kendrick: good kid, m.A.A.d. city
Lambchop: Nixon
Lang, K.D.: Ingénue
Lang, K.D.: Shadowland
La’s: The La’s
Lauper, Cyndi: She’s So Unusual
LCD Soundsystem: Sound of Silver
Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin II
Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin III
Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin IV
Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti
Leftfield: Leftism
Maal, Baaba: Djam Leelii
Maal, Baaba: Lam Toro
McCartney, Paul: McCartney
McCartney, Paul and Wings: Band on the Run
Machito: Kenya
McLaren, Malcolm: Duck Rock
McLean, Don: American Pie
Madness: The Rise and Fall
Madonna: Like a Prayer
Madonna: Ray of Light
Magazine: Real Life
Magnetic Fields: 69 Love Songs
Makeba, Miriam: Miriam Makeba
Mamas and Papas: If you can Believe your Eyes and Ears
Manic Street Preachers: Everything Must Go
Manic Street Preachers: The Holy Bible
Mann, Aimee: “Whatever”
Marilyn Manson: Antichrist Superstar
Marley, Bob, And the Wailers: Catch A Fire
Marley, Bob, And the Wailers: Exodus
Marley, Bob, And the Wailers: Natty Dread
Mars Volta: De-loused in the Comatorium
Martyn, John: One World
Martyn, John: Solid Air
Masekela, Hugh: Home is Where the Music is
Massive Attack: Blue Lines
Massive Attack: Protection
Maxwell: Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite
Mayall, John: Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton
Mayfield, Curtis: Superfly
Mayfield, Curtis: There’s No Place Like America Today
MC5: Kick Out the Jams
Mc Solaar: Qui Sème Le Vent Récolte Le Tempo
Meat Loaf: Bat out of Hell
Meat Puppets: Meat Puppets II
Megadeath: Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?
Megadeath: Rust in Peace
Mekons: Fear and Whiskey
Mercury Rev: Deserter’s Songs
Metallica: …And Justice for All
Metallica: Master of Puppets
Metallica: Metallica
Metallica: S&M
Method Man: Tical
M.I.A.: Kala
Michael, George: Faith
Michael, George: Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1
Michael Viner’s Incredible Bongo Band: Bongo Rock
Mingus, Charles: The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady
Ministry: Psalm 69
Minor Threat: Out of Step
Minutemen: Double Nickels on the Dime
Mitchell, Joni: Blue
Mitchell, Joni: Court and Spark
Mitchell, Joni: Hejira
Mitchell, Joni: The Hissing of Summer Lawns
Moby: Play
Moby Grape: Moby Grape
Modern Lovers: Modern Lovers
Monáe, Janelle: The ArchAndroid
Monkees: Headquarters
Monks: Black Monk Time
Monk, Thelonious: Brilliant Corners
Morrissette, Alanis: Jagged Little Pill
Morrison, Van: Astral Weeks
Morrsion, Van: It’s Too Late to Stop Now
Morrison, Van: Moondance
Morrissey: Vauxhall and I
Morrissey: “Viva Hate”
Morrissey: “Your Arsenal”
Mothers of Invention: Freak Out!
Mothers of Invention: We’re Only in it for the Money
Motörhead: Ace of Spades
Motörhead: No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith
Mott the Hoople: Mott
Mudhoney: Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge
Mudhoney: Superfuzz Bigmuff
My Bloody Valentine: Isn’t Anything
My Bloody Valentine: Loveless
My Bloody Valentine: m b v
Mylo: Destroy Rock & Roll
Napalm Death: Scum
Nas: Illmatic
Nascimento, Milton, and Lo Borges: Club Da Esquina
N’Dour, Youssou: Immigrés
Neil, Fred: Fred Neil
Nelson, Willie: Red Headed Stranger
Nelson, Willie: Stardust
Neu!: Neu!
Newman, Randy: Good Old Boys
Newman, Randy: Sail Away
New Order: Low-Life
New Order: Technique
Newsom, Joanna: Ys
New York Dolls: New York Dolls
Nico: Chelsea Girl
Nico: The Velvet Underground and Nico
Nightmares on Wax: Smokers Delight
Nilsson, Harry: Nilsson Schmilsson
Nine Inch Nails: The Downward Spiral
Nirvana: In Utero
Nirvana: MTV Unplugged in New York
Nirvana: Nevermind
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: Will the Circle be Unbroken?
Notorious B.I.G.: Ready to Die
Numan, Gary: The Pleasure Principle
N.W.A.: Straight Outta Compton
Nyro, Laura: Eli and the Thirteenth Confession
Oasis: Definitely Maybe
Oasis: (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?
Ocean, Frank: Channel Orange
O’Connor, Sinéad: I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got
Offspring: Smash
Oldfield, Mike: Tubular Bells
Olomidé, Koffi: Haut De Gamme – Kaweit, Rive Gauche
Only Ones: The Only Ones
Orange Juice: Rip It Up
Orbital: Orbital II
Orbital: Snivilisation
Orbit, William: Strange Cargo II
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Architecture and Morality
Orton, Beth: Central Reservation
Os Mutantes: Os Mutantes
Otis, Shuggie: Inspiration Information
Outkast: Speakerboxx/The Love Below
Outkast: Stankonia
Owens, Buck, and His Buckeroos: I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail
Pantera: Vulgar Display of Power
Parliament: Mothership Connection
Parsons, Gram: Grievous Angel
Parton, Dolly: Coat of Many Colors
Parton, Dolly: Trio
Pavement: Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
Pavement: Slanted and Enchanted
Pearl Jam: Ten
Penguin Café Orchestra: Music from the Penguin Café
Pentangle: Basket of Light
Pere Ubu: Dub Housing
Pere Ubu: The Modern Dance
Pet Shop Boys: Actually
Pet Shop Boys: Behaviour
Pet Shop Boys: Very
Petty, Tom, and the Heartbreakers: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Phair, Liz: Exile in Guyville
Pharcyde: Bizarre Ride II the Pharside
Piazzolla, Astor: The New Tango
Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the Moon
Pink Floyd: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Pink Floyd: The Wall
Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here
Pixies: Bossanova
Pixies: Doolittle
Pixies: Surfer Rosa
Pogues: If I Should Fall From Grace With God
Pogues: Rum, Sodomy, And The Lash
Police: Reggatta De Blanc
Police: Synchronicity
Pop, Iggy: The Idiot
Pop, Iggy: Lust for Life
Portishead: Dummy
Portishead: Third
Prefab Sprout: Steve McQueen
Presley, Elvis: Elvis is Back!
Presley, Elvis: Elvis Presley
Presley, Elvis: From Elvis in Memphis
Pretenders: Pretenders
Pretty Things: S.F. Sorrow
Price, Ray: Night Life
Prima, Louis: The Wildest!
Primal Scream: Screamadelica
Primal Scream: Vanishing Point
Prince: 1999
Prince: Sign O’The Times
Prince and the Revolution: Purple Rain
Prine, John: John Prine
Prodigy: The Fat of the Land
Prodigy: Music for the Jilted Generation
Psychedelic Furs: Talk, Talk, Talk
Public Enemy: Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Back
Public Enemy: Fear of a Black Planet
Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
Public Image Ltd: Metal Box
Public Image Ltd: Public Image
Puente, Tito, and His Orchestra: Dance Mania, Vol 1
Pulp: Different Class
Pulp: This is Hardcore
Q-Tip: The Renaissance
Quaye, Finlay: Maverick a Strike
Queen: A Night at the Opera
Queen: Queen II
Queen: Sheer Heart Attack
Queen Latifah: All Hail the Queen
Queens of the Stone Age: Queens of the Stone Age
Quicksilver Messenger Service: Happy Trails
Radiohead: The Bends
Radiohead: In Rainbows
Radiohead: Kid A
Radiohead: OK Computer
Raekwon: Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
Rage Against the Machine: Rage Against the Machine
Raitt, Bonnie: Nick of Time
Ramones: Ramones
Ransome-Kuti, Fela And The Africa ’70 With Ginger Baker: Live!
Redding, Otis: Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Californication
Reed, Lou: Berlin
Reed, Lou: Transformer
Elis, Regina: Vento De Maio
R.E.M.: Automatic For The People
R.E.M.: Document
R.E.M.: Green
R.E.M.: Murmur
Replacements: Let It Be
Reprazent: New Forms
Residents: Duck Stab/Buster and Glen
Revere, Paul, And The Raiders: Midnight Ride
Ride: Nowhere
Robbins, Marty: Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
Rocket From the Crypt: Scream, Dracuala, Scream!
Rolling Stones: Aftermath
Rolling Stones: Beggars Banquet
Rolling Stones: Exile On Main St
Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed
Rolling Stones: The Rolling Stones
Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers
Ronstadt, Linda: Trio
Roots: Phrenelogy
Rowland, Kevin, And Dexy’s Midnight Runners: Too-Rye-Ay
Roxy Music: Country Life
Roxy Music: For Your Pleasure
Roxy Music: Roxy Music
Röyskopp: Melody A.M.
Rundgren, Todd: Something/Anything?
Rundgren, Todd: A Wizard, A True Star
Run-DMC: Raising Hell
Run-DMC: Run-DMC
Rush: Moving Pictures
Rush: 2112
Rythmes Digitales, Les: Darkdancer
Sabres of Paradise: Haunted Dancehall
Sabu: Palo Congo
Sade: Diamond Life
Saint Etienne: Foxbase Alpha
Saints: Eternally Yours
Santana: Abraxas
Sawhney, Nitin: Beyond Skin
Scott-Heron, Gil: Winter in America
Screaming Trees: Dust
Scritti Politti: Cupid and Psyche 85
Sebadoh: Bubble and Scrape
Seck, Mansour: Djam Leelii
Sensational Alex Harvey Band: Next…
Sepultura: Arise
Sepultura: Roots
Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols
Shack: H.M.S Fable
Shamen: En-Tact
Shankar, Ananda: Ananda Shankar
Shankar, Ravi: The Sounds Of India
Sharma, Shivkumar: Call Of The Valley
Sigur Rós: Ágætis Byrjun
Silver Jews: Bright Flight
Simon And Garfunkel: Bookends
Simon And Garfunkel: Bridge Over Troubled Water
Simon And Garfunkel: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme
Simone, Nina: Wild Is The Wind
Simon, Paul: Graceland
Simon, Paul: Hearts And Bones
Simon, Paul: Paul Simon
Simple Minds: New Gold Dream (81/82/83/84)
Simply Red: Picture Book
Sinatra, Frank: Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim
Sinatra, Frank: In The Wee Small Hours
Sinatra, Frank: Songs for Swingin’ Lovers!
Singh, Talvin: OK
Siouxsie And The Banshees: Juju
Siouxsie And The Banshees: The Scream
Sister Sledge: We Are Family
Sisters Of Mercy: Floodland
Size, Roni: New Forms
Slade: Slayed?
Slayer: Reign In Blood
Sleater-Kinney: Dig Me Out
Sleater-Kinney: No Cities To Love
Slint: Spiderland
Slipknot: Slipknot
Slits: Cut
Sly And The Family Stone: Strand!
Sly And The Family Stone: There’s A Riot Going On
Small Faces: Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake
Smashing Pumpkins: Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness
Smashing Pumpkins: Siamese Dream
Smith, Eliott: Either/Or
Smith, Eliott: Figure 8
Smith, Jimmy: Back At The Chicken Shack
Smith, Patti: Horses
Smiths: Meat Is Murder
Smiths: The Queen Is Dead
Smiths: Strangeways, Here We Come
Snoop Doggy Dogg: Doggystyle
Soft Boys: Underwater Moonlight
Soft Cell: Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret
Soft Machine: Third
Songhoy Blues: Music In Exile
Sonics: Here Are The Sonics
Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation
Sonic Youth: Dirty
Sonic Youth: Evol
Sonic Youth: Goo
Sonic Youth: Sister
Soul II Soul: Club Classics Vol. One
Soundgarden: Superunknown
Spacemen 3: Playing With Fire
Sparks: Kimono My House
Specials: More Specials
Specials: Specials
Spector, Phil: A Christmas Gift For You
Spence, Alexander: Oar
Spirit: Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus
Spiritualized: Ladies And Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space
Spiritualized: Lazer Guided Melodies
Springfield, Dusty: Dusty In Memphis
Springfield, Dusty: A Girl Called Dusty
Springsteen, Bruce: Born In The USA
Springsteen, Bruce: Born To Run
Springsteen, Bruce: Darkness On The Edge Of Town
Springsteen, Bruce: Nebraska
Springsteen, Bruce: The Rising
Steely Dan: Aja
Steely Dan: Can’t Buy A Thrill
Steely Dan: Countdown To Ecstasy
Steely Dan: Pretzel Logic
Stereolab: Emperor Tomato Ketchup
Stereo MCs: Connected
Stevens, Cat: Tea For The Tillerman
Stevens, Sufjan: Illinois
Stewart, Rod: Every Picture Tells A Story
Stewart, Rod: Gasoline Alley
Stills, Stephen: Manassas
Stills, Stephen: Stephen Stills
Stone Roses: The Stone Roses
Stooges: Fun House
Stooges: Raw Power
Stooges: The Stooges
Stanglers: Rattus Norvegicus
Streets: A Grand Don’t Come For Free
Strokes: Is This It?
Style Council: Café Bleu
Suba: Säo Paulo Confessions
Suede: Dog Man Star
Suede: Suede
Sugar: Copper Blue
Sugarcubes: Life’s Too Short
Suicide: Suicide
Super Furry Animals: Rings Around The World
Super Furry Animals: Fuzzy Logic
Supergrass: In It For The Money
Supergrass: I Should Coco
Supertramp: Crime Of The Century
Swift, Taylor: 1989
System Of A Down: System Of A Down
Talking Heads: Fear Of Music
Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings And Food
Talking Heads: Remain In Light
Talking Heads: Talking Heads: 77
Talk Talk: The Colour Of Spring
Tangerine Dream: Phaedra
Taylor, James: Sweet Baby James
Teardrop Explodes: Kilimanjaro
Tears For Fears: Songs From The Big Chair
Teenage Fan Club: Bandwagonesque
Television: Marquee Moon
Temptations: All Directions
Temptations: Cloud Nine
10cc: Street Music
The The: Infected
The The: Soul Mining
Thin Lizzy: Live And Dangerous
13th Floor Elevators: The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators
Thompson, Richard And Linda: I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
Throbbing Gristle: D.O.A. Third And Final Report
Throwing Muses: Throwing Muses
Le Tigre: Le Tigre
TLC: CrazySexyCool
Tom Tom Club: Tom Tom Club
Tortoise: Millions Now Living Will Never Die
Tosh, Peter: Legalize It
Touré, Ali Farka: Taking Timbuktu
Touré, Ali Farka: Savane
Traffic: John Barleycorn Must Die
Traffic: Traffic
Travis: The Man Who
T. Rex: Electric Warrior
T. Rex: The Slider
Tribe Called Quest: The Low End Theory
Tribe Called Quest: People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm
Tricky: Maxinquaye
Triffids: Calenture
Turbonegro: Apocalypse Dudes
Turner, Tina: Private Dancer
TV On The Radio: Dear Science
2Pac: Me Against The World
U2: Achtung Baby
U2: All That You Can’t Leave
U2: The Joshua Tree
U2: War
UB40: Signing Off
Undertones: Hypnotised
Undertones: The Undertones
Underworld: Second Toughest In The Infants
United States of America: The United States of America
Van Halen: 1984
Van Halen: Van Halen
Vaughan, Sarah: Sarah Vaughan At Mister Kelly’s
Vega, Suzanne: Suzanne Vega
Veloso, Caetano: Caetano Veloso
Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground
Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground And Nico
Velvet Underground: White Light/White Heat
Venom: Black Metal
Verve: Northern Soul
Verve: Urban Hymns
Violent Femmes: Violent Femmes
Wainwright, Rufus: Want Two
Waits, Tom: Bone Machine
Waits, Tom: Heartattack And Vine
Waits, Tom: Nighthawks At The Diner
Waits, Tom: Rain Dogs
Waits, Tom: Swordfishtrombones
Walker, Scott: Scott 2
Walker, Scott: Scott 4
War: The World Is A Ghetto
War On Drugs: Last In The Dream
Waterboys: Fisherman’s Blues
Waters, Muddy: Hard Again
Waters, Muddy: Muddy Waters At Newport
Weather Report: Heavy Weather
Welch, Gillian: Time (The Revelator)
Weller, Paul: Wild Wood
West, Kanye: The College Dropout
West, Kanye: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
West, Kanye: Yeezus
White, Jack: Blunderbuss
White Denim: D
White Stripes: Elephant
White Stripes: White Blood Cells
Who: Live At Leeds
Who: My Generation
Who: Tommy
Who: Who’s Next
Who: The Who Sell Out
Wilco: Being There
Wilco: Mermaid Avenue
Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Wild Beasts: Two Dancers
Williams, Lucinda: Car Wheels On A Gravel Road
Williams, Robbie: Life Thru A Lens
Wilson, Dennis: Pacific Ocean Blue
Winehouse, Amy: Back To Black
Winwood, Steve: Arc Of A Diver
Wire: Pink Flag
Wobble, Jah, And The Invaders Of The Heart: Rising Above Bedlam
Womack, Bobby: The Poet
Wonder, Stevie: Fulfillingness’ First Finale
Wonder, Stevie: Innervisions
Wonder, Stevie: Song In The Key Of Life
Wonder, Stevie: Talking Book
Wu-Tang Clan: Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
Wyatt, Robert: Rock Bottom
Wyatt, Robert: Shleep
X: Wild Gift
X-Ray Spex: Germ Free Adolescents
XTC: Apple Venus Volume 1
XTC: Skylarking
xx: xx
Yardbirds: The Yardbirds
Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Fever To Tell
Yeah Yeah Yeahs: It’s Blitz
Yes: Close To The Edge
Yes: Fragile
Yes: The Yes Album
Yoakam, Dwight: Buenas Noches From A Lonely Room
Youngbloods: Elephant Mountain
Young Gods: L’Eau Rouge
Young, Neil: After The Gold Rush
Young, Neil: Harvest
Young, Neil: On The Beach
Young, Neil: Tonight’s The Night
Young, Neil, With Crazy Horse: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Young, Neil, With Crazy Horse: Ragged Glory
Young, Neil, With Crazy Horse: Rust Never Sleeps
Young Rascals: Groovin’
Zappa, Frank: Hot Rats
Zombies: Odessey And Oracle
Zorn, John: Spy Vs Spy – The Music Of Ornette Coleman
ZZ Top: Eliminator
ZZ Top: Tres Hombres

I’m sure I shall write more about this list!

October Poem

Schwitters Das Arbeiterbild

The Worker Picture

Moon meshes merz  mapping,
taking twisted trash and swiftly squeezed sentences
to cull a word unseasoned and pin it,
bauble-like upon a broken junction of jalopy boards.
To curve and circle the snapped stake,
or box a brittle batten into lunatic shape,
solemn and shifting,
this is a pendulum nailed down,
un-striking time between the wars.

Colour clips the warping wood with
night shades, while phrases tear and float
– insert your advert here –
across a splintering surface stuck
with pins and holes, relics of useful forms
and markers of new making.

Das Arbeiterbild/The Worker Picture
Kurt Schwitters, 1919