What is your favourite music of all time?

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A memento from my studio in Boars Hill (Oxford) where I wrote and recorded most of my music.

This is a hard question which is why I have decided to start a list, which I will update from time to time to see which of the songs and albums actually survive over time. I haven’t included any new music because during the first few years my opinion of it often changes. My self imposed rule is: to qualify as an all time favourite, I first have to like the music for a few years. So here are some of my current favourite albums and songs in no particular order. Where possible, I have included a Youtube link to the track which may or may not work in your country. Feel free to leave any and all of your favourite music in the comments.

Thelonious Monk – Alone in San Francisco

John Coltrane – The John Coltrane Quartet Plays Chim Chim Cheree

Charlie Parker – Ornithology

Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti

Charles Mingus – The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady

AC DC – Back in Black

Slayer – Divine Intervention

Ween – White Pepper

Ennio Morricone – Farewell to Chayenne

Tito Puente – Dance Mania Vol. 1

Louis Prima – The Wildest!

Eric Dolphy – Out to Lunch

Julie London – Julie Is Her Name

Su Ra – Enlightenment

Count Basie – Atomic Basie

Django Reinhardt – Out of Nowhere

Chet Baker – Summertime

Parliament – Mothership Connection

James Brown – Live At The Apollo

Sam Cooke – Chain Gang

Glenn Gould – Goldberg Variations (1955 and 1981)

Karl Richter – Bach Organ Works (here is a fine example of him playing the Toccata and Fugue in d-minor)

Johann Strauss – An der Schönen Blauen Donau

NWA – Straight Outta Compton

Matt Monro – From Russia With Love

Chet Baker – Let’s Get Lost (There is also a great documentary with the same name)

The Wu-Tang Clan – Enter the Wu-Tang 36 Chambers

Ol’ Dirty Bastard – Nigga Please

Photek – Modus Operandi

Skip James – Devil Took my Woman

Laurie Anderson – Oh Superman

Sqarepusher – Feed Me Weird Things

Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart

Cab Calloway – Minnie the Moocher

Lydia Mendoza – Mal Hombre

The Lord Invader – Rum And Coca Cola

Blondie – Hanging on the Telephone

Motorhead – Ace of Spades

Bad Brains – Pay to Cum

The Five Stairsteps – Ohh Child

David Bowie – Life on Mars

Radiohead – Paranoid Android

Elton John – Amoreena

Martin Denny – Caravan

 

About Music

I am staying at a friend’s place at the moment. She has a piano so I get to play it from time to time. I have forgotten a lot of the tunes I used to play but I remember a few. I started learning instruments when I was 4. My mum and I had moved into a commune in the country side. The people there had a band and played a lot of shows at music festivals and local venues. My very first public performance was at one of those shows. Someone gave me a drum and told me to play along with the band – from that moment on, I was hooked.

The keyboard player in the band offered to give me piano lessons, which I happily accepted. A couple of years later, I started playing guitar. Later, I picked up bass guitar and also the drums. I would often switch between different instruments and go through long cycles of favouring one instrument over the others.

Over the years, I have played in a lot of different bands. I also love improvising and I would often get together with other musicians to play whatever came into our heads. One of our practise rooms was inside an old box van which we used to take out into the country side to play in a field or forest. There was a generator inside the van that powered the amplifiers and even a little cooker to make cups of tea during the breaks.

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The legendary rehearsal van outside my (then) home on Devenant Road in North Oxford.

 

Sadly, no recordings survive from the “van sessions” – at least none that I know of.

My first enduring band project was called “Camp Blackfoot“, which was a punk / jazz / rock band that existed between 1996 and 2001. We did one tour of France and Italy and released on album called “Critical Seed vs. the Spartan Society”. I played bass on all but one song but I also play lead and rhythm guitar on some of the tracks under the pseudonym “Lex Fontaine”. You can listen to the epic opening track “Exorcismo Di Paulo” here:

Between working on Camp Blackfoot and studying, I made a scarce living playing in different Jazz bands among which was a saxophone and guitar duo with the fabulously talented Alex Ward. We played pubs, cafes, hotel bars, golf clubs, shopping streets – you name it. Here is a track from our original demo – the beautiful “Goodbye Porkpie Hat”:

After Camp Blackfoot came a new band called “Vin Mariani”. We never progressed past the song-writing stage but our demo recordings survive. Below, you can listen to one of our tracks called “Art Rat” which I co-wrote with Nich Eglin and Luigi Cibrario. On this track, I play bass, lead guitar and keyboard.

The demise of Vin Mariani was followed by two years of musical inactivity during which I worked for Harley-Davidson, who had just opened their European headquarters in Oxford. Working for Harley-Davidson was an interesting experience which I might describe in a different post. Suffice it to say, that I was not cut out for a corporate career so I decided to start writing music for film. It all started with this demo:

In my next post I might entertain you with more stories from my career as a film composer.