Sunday, October 12, 2014

Desert Island Discs

Going through a phase of listening to podcasts of Desert Island Discs while making the weekend breakfasts. Yesterday Zadie Smith and Hugh Laurie, today Biddy Baxter and Jack Dee. Such a simple, winning formula... 
It was first broadcast on BBC Home Service in the middle of the Second World War, took a break from 1946-51, but since then has run continuously, with only four consecutive presenters, to the present day. Surely the longest running radio programme ever?
I've often thought what my choice would be but to the best of my recollection have only once made an actual list, and that was at school in a class called Music Appreciation. It would have included some Krautrock, prog and I distinctly remember the then recently released Music for 18 Musicians featuring.
Funnily enough, probably half of them would still feature. Like most teenagers, the music I listened to then was incredibly defining of subsequent tastes. But how do you decide? Something that defines different parts of your life? A song or an album?  A Best Of? Could one even choose a box set? Different genres of music for variety's sake? Or just, simply, your faves - music you couldn't live without. OK, here goes...
  • The Beatles Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) - obvious, but it was my first real introduction to popular culture - the music, lyrics, production, sleeve...
  • David Bowie Ziggy Stardust (1972) - as an 11-year-old, made a big impression, though I'd probably rather a Best Of if that was permitted 
  • Ashra Blackouts (1978) - important in shaping my love of instrumental, electronic music and one that I still play to death (partly, it has to be said, because the rest of the family likes it) 
  • Brian Eno Music for Airports (1978) - difficult to choose one, but I could happily have this on a never-ending loop
  • Steve Reich Music for 18 Musicians (1978) - an epiphany, something that came out of classical music but was utterly new, accessible - it had a groove  
  • Popol Vuh Bruder des Schattens, Sohne des Lichts (1978) - utterly unlike any other group, a very different take on spiritual music compared with soul, gospel etc 
  • Wire A Bell is a Cup Until it is Struck (1988) - intelligent, tense, edgy pop which never, like most pop, becomes too commonplace
  • Global Communication 74-16 (1994) - from a period when the instrumental electronic music of above met 90s dance culture and continues today with Underworld, Jon Hopkins & others
Of course, it's almost impossible to arrive at just eight choices - it's too male, too 70s (four from '78 alone!), nothing from the last 20 years, too instrumental, no new wave?, too arty - but it's my choice and, for now at least, I'm sticking to it.
Book? I think the Encyclopedia Britannica. Luxury item? If the island was big enough, a bicycle. If not, then photo albums. Or come to think of it, maybe podcasts of all the Desert Island Discs.   

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