A is for… Amoeba Records up at Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco; the greatest place on Earth. ‘All Mod Cons’, Amy Winehouse, Almost Famous, and Alex Turner, the last of the great lyricists. And ‘A New England’ by Billy Bragg.
B is for… Bowie, Bolan, Broadcast, Bill Callahan, Burt Bacharach, The Barrowlands, Bobby Bluebell, and three quarters of the Beatles. Also Boy George who hopefully won’t mind my kidnapping him for other people’s entertainment. And ‘Black Boys on Mopeds’ by Sinead O’Connor.
C is for…’Curtis’ by Curtis Mayfield (one of my all time top 3 LPs), Costello, Creation Records, Chic, The Chi-Lites. And ‘Cath’ by The Bluebells.
D is for…’Definitely Maybe’, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, ‘Detroit 67’ by Stuart Cosgrove, ‘Days of Speed and Slow-time Mondays’ – a story about the inspiration behind The Miraculous Vespas . And ‘Don’t Look Back’ by Bettye Swann.
E is for…”Electric Warrior’, Eels, ‘Exile On Main Street’, Everything But The Girl’s ‘Eden’, Eton Rifles, ‘England’s Dreaming’ by Jon Savage, David Essex in ‘Stardust’, Echo & The Bunnymen, And ‘Eventually’ by Tame Impala
F is for…The Fall, ‘Forever Changes’, ‘Fools Gold’ And ‘Fake Tales of San Francisco’ by Arctic Monkeys.
G is for…’Going Underground’, The Go-Betweens, ‘Ghost Town’, Gil Scott-Heron, And ‘Give Me Your Love’ by Curtis Mayfield.
H is for…’Hatful of Hollow’, ‘Heart of Glass’, Heatwave Disco, Hendrix. And ‘How Soon Is Now’ by The Smiths.
I is for…Iggy, ‘In Rainbows’, ‘It’s A Miracle (Thank You)’, ‘I Am The Fly’, ‘Is This It’. And ‘Ice Hockey Hair’ by Super Furry Animals.
J is for…John Peel, The Jam, Joe Strummer (who’s signed LP remains one of my most prized possessions), James Brown, Johnny Cash. And ‘Jeepster’ by Marc Bolan & T.Rex.
K is for…The Kinks, Kate Bush, Kurt Vile. King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut. And ‘The KKK Took My Baby Away’ by The Ramones.
L is for…’Like A Rolling Stone’, The La’s, Lambchop, ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, Lee Dorsey. And arguably the greatest love song ever written, ‘Love Letter’ by Nick Cave.
M is for…Morrissey & Marr, and of course…The Miraculous Vespas. And ‘Magnificent Seven’ by The Clash.
N is for…NME, Nick Drake, New Order, ‘Native New Yorker’. And ‘New Amsterdam’ by Elvis Costello.
O is for…Orange Juice, ‘Odessey & Oracle’, Oasis in Lucca 2002, ‘Ong Ong’, ‘Oedipus Schmoedipus’, ‘Ocean Rain’, Old Blue Eyes. And ‘On Battleship Hill’ by PJ Harvey.
P is for…Postcard Records, Primal Scream, PJ Harvey (after whom we named the dog), The Pale Fountains, Pet Sounds, Parallel Lines. And ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ by The Velvet Underground.
Q is for…Quadrophenia, ‘Queen Bitch’. And ‘Quiet Houses’ by Fleet Foxes.
R is for…Radiohead, Radio 6 Music, Ray Charles (whom I met once in Montreal) ‘Revolver’, Rickenbacker Guitars, Rock Against Racism, The Ronettes, REM. And ‘Roadrunner’ by Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers.
S is for…The Smiths, Sex Pistols, ‘Screamadelica’, Sly & The Family Stone, Springsteen, Sparklehorse, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and Michael Head’s masterpiece, ‘The Magical World of The Strands’. More than any other, The Strands LP was the record that prompted me to write. The night after I listened to it for the first time, I had a dream so vivid I wrote it down thinking it would make an interesting novel: The central protagonist – a recovering addict – searches for something very personal and important to him (we will never exactly find out what it is) which he has lost, or has had taken from him. His uncoordinated search forces him to confront the challenges and temptations he faces, the decisions he has made, the broken relationships, the turbulent Liverpool streets he somehow can’t leave … but also the joy and hope in things previously taken too much for granted; a necessary catharsis. The time sequence is uncertain and the story could be taking place over a year, rather than a day. There are four phases – morning, afternoon, evening and night – each with a different weather, reflecting the protagonist’s changing emotions. The story is about transformation and seeing things – his relationships, his city, his life – with a new clarity, but not always with the positivity he had assumed that would bring. He ultimately comes to the conclusion that, although he knows it will soon kill him, he preferred the anaesthetised life of an addict where he doesn’t have to deal with, or confront the pain he has caused others. One of these days, I’ll get it started. And naturally, ‘Something Like You’, by Michael Head & The Strands.
T is for…Tindersticks, T.Rex, T in the Park, Top Of The Pops, The Triffids, Tame Impala, Terry Hall, Tracey Thorn. And ‘That’s Entertainment’ by The Jam.
U is for…U2’s ‘Boy’ LP (but absolutely nothing that followed it). The Upsetters. And ‘Unsolved Child Murder’ by The Auteurs.
V is for… ‘Velvets in the Dark’ (the song AND the group it refers to), ‘The Village Preservation Society’. And ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks’ by The National.
W is for…Weller (obviously), Wire, ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’. The Wedding Present, Wah!, Wilco, ‘Wichita Lineman’, Waterloo Sunset’, The Walkmen. Wigan Casino. And ‘What A Waster’ by The Libertines.
X is for…X-Ray Spex, The X-X, And ‘X-Offender’ by Blondie.
Y is for…’Young Americans’ , ‘Youth & Young Manhood’, Neil Young, ‘Young At Heart’ And ‘Young, Gifted and Black’ by Bob and Marcia.
Z is for…Zappa, the Zombies, And, of course, ‘Ziggy Stardust’ by the most influential artist in music history, David Bowie.