Here is a list of songs that made go
“Oh! So music can sound like that? Great!”
My rule for this has been that I had to think this upon the very first listen. ‘Telstar’ and ‘In Dreams’ I can’t ever remember not knowing as I was in charge of mum’s 7inch vinyl collection, so they were always how I thought music should sound. I remember ‘I Ain’t Got No/I got Life’ fascinating me as a child; there was something I couldn’t quite fathom about it at the time.
These are all songs that I can remember the first time I heard these, so they are all of a certain vintage. Vangelis I heard first through watching ‘Blade Runner’, of course: that synthesiser diminuendo always gets me. Same for Ry Cooder and Julee Cruise. I remember Art of Noise on Top of the Pops and the audience not knowing quite what to do. Joe Meek’s production on ‘Johnny Remember me’ has always been a standard for me, but it’s ‘Telstar’ that has the edge.
For Tom Waits… well, I had heard many artists I liked referring to him, so I went into town and bought ‘Swordfishtrombone’ cassette on a blind buy, never having heard him before. I put it into my Walkman and played. I recall vividly walking down the high street and hearing the opening minute of ‘Underground’ and having my listening skills instantaneously realigned.
There are others, of course – Pink Floyd, early Human League, or György Ligeti’s ‘Requiem For Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, Two Mixed Choirs & Orchestra’, the gleeful ridiculousness of ELO, and later The Pop Group, for example – the list is too long for favourites.
But I have loved these tracks a long time and they still provoke that initial response. I would say that this selection runs into my twenties.
1. ART OF NOISE: Close to the Edit
2. LEONARD COHEN: Suzanne
3. LOWLIFE: Ramified
4. THE THE: Infected
5. DAVID SYLVIAN: Taking the Veil
6. TOM WAITS: Underground
7. JULEE CRUISE: The Mysteries of Love
8. VANGELIS: Blade Runner
9. RY COODER: Paris, Texas
10. The TORNADOS: Telstar
11. ROY ORBISON: In Dreams
12. NINA SIMONE: I Ain’t Got No, I Got Life