Desert Island Disks

Whenever I’m in town, I usually hook up with maman on Saturday afternoons for some mother-daughter jamming. We both play flute and piano, trading off so we both get practice on each instrument. We usually work on classical and jazz pieces, and sometimes we enlist my partner Alicia to provide cello support. When we delve into rock or folk music we’ll occasionally let my father join the party to accompany us on acoustic guitar. Over the past few months we’ve been working on piano-flute arrangements for Radiohead songs, as both maman and I find their music fascinating. My old fart father loathes Radiohead, so whenever we go there, he heads for one of the Irish pubs in Nice (yes, we have them) while maman and I get down to business.

A couple of weeks ago, maman and I were trying to work out an arrangement for “Daydreaming” from A Moon Shaped Pool. The piano part is pretty straightforward, so most of the work focused on the flute. Since maman is the more capable flutist, she experimented with various possibilities while I handled the ivories and gave feedback. We decided early on that once the melody was established, she would shift to a combination of double-tonguing and whisper tones for her improvisations to reflect the gentle flow of the song and the orchestral feel of the album. While whisper tones are an absolute bitch for me, maman has the discipline and patience to pull them off. After a couple of hours we recorded a credible rendition on Garage Band with some beautifully quirky partials produced by the whisper tones.

Please note that the recording is for personal use only and cannot be distributed because we don’t want Radiohead to sue us.

Maman wanted to hear the original again before we quit for the day, and the album continued to spin while we discussed other possibilities for the piece. About thirty seconds into “Desert Island Disk,” Dad popped in.

“Great guitar—who is that?”

“It’s Radiohead, dude! Gotcha!”

Dad frowned. “I never said they didn’t have talent. I just don’t like the results.” He then paused to listen. “Okay, this song’s pretty good. Nice Latin feel. What’s it called?”

“‘Desert Island Disk’.”

“So, what’s on Radiohead’s desert island disk?”

“They don’t say. The song’s about love, loss and change,” I explained, economically.

“Then why the title?”

“I don’t know. There’s a BBC programme where famous people pick eight songs, a book and a luxury they would take with them to a desert island. Maybe that got stuck in Thom Yorke’s head.”

“What does that have to do with love, loss and change?”

“I don’t know, Dad —maybe it’s a riff on the getting a new start in life theme.”

“Hey! We ought to do that!”

“What? Get a new life? We just changed continents a few years ago!”

“No—come up with our desert island disks.”

I immediately liked the idea but had to change the rules. “There’s no fucking way I can live on a desert island with only eight songs. I’d go batty the first day and feed myself to the sharks.” It wasn’t difficult to get a family of music lovers to agree to an extended format, so after a lot of back-and-forth, we agreed that we’d choose twenty albums. Then I pointed out a problem with the plan.

“There are some songs that are really important to me but I don’t want the whole album.”

“Okay—how many? Eight?”

“No, let’s go with classic British album format—fourteen.”

“No luxuries, no books?” asked maman.

“Okay—one book, one luxury. I’ll go with Ulysses and a vibrator.” As soon as I said that, I realized there was a fundamental flaw in the logic. “We can’t listen to music without electricity, and the batteries in my vibrator won’t last forever. Do we have to go to a desert island?”

Maman pointed out that since this was an exercise in fantasy, we could imagine an island with plenty of solar panels to keep the juice flowing. Sometimes the Spock side of me is really stupid.

Alicia came over later and agreed to participate. Maman put hers together in less than an hour. The rest of us struggled for days; I only finished mine this morning. Even with the expanded format, the process was agonizing. I don’t consider my list a “best of” list, but took into consideration the existential reality of being alone on a desert island, choosing music with long-lasting replay potential. Had I been allowed to bring my partner, the list would have been more fuck-friendly.

So here are my family’s desert island disks, supplemented with explanatory comments.



  1. London Calling, The Clash
  2. Monk’s Dream, Thelonious Monk
  3. Kid A, Radiohead
  4. In Rainbows, Radiohead
  5. And Out Come the Wolves, Rancid
  6. The Complete Recordings, Robert Johnson
  7. Odessey and Oracle, The Zombies
  8. The Best of Louis Armstrong: The Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings
  9. Love Deluxe, Sade
  10. Ultimate!, The Yardbirds
  11. Revolver, The Beatles
  12. Between the Buttons, The Rolling Stones
  13. Lola vs. The Powerman and the Money-Go-Round, The Kinks
  14. A Passion Play, Jethro Tull
  15. Clube da Esquina, Milton Nascimento and Lô Borges
  16. The Best of Muddy Waters
  17. Different Class, Pulp
  18. Always, June Tabor
  19. Lady Day: The Best of Billie Holiday
  20. Way to Blue, Nick Drake


  1. “Strawberry Fields Forever,” The Beatles
  2. “Don’t Mess with Me,” Brody Dalle
  3. “I Can’t Get Next to You,” The Temptations
  4. “Celluloid Heroes,” The Kinks
  5. “Only the Lonely,” Roy Orbison
  6. “Arms Aloft,” Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros
  7. “Let Down,” Radiohead
  8. “Codex,” Radiohead
  9. “Debaser,” Pixies
  10. “Beeswing,” Richard Thompson
  11. “The Party,” Phil Ochs
  12. “Hello, Susie,” The Move
  13. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” The Rolling Stones
  14. “Severed Crossed Fingers,” St. Vincent

Comments: My list shouldn’t be much of a surprise to my readers. The most difficult decision was leaving off “I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman” by Whistling Jack Smith, but I figured I could whistle all by my lonesome. A year ago the St. Vincent album would have made the list but her latest release, Masseduction, was a crushing disappointment.



  1. Revolver, The Beatles
  2. Sgt. Pepper, The Beatles
  3. Blonde on Blonde, Bob Dylan
  4. At Fillmore East, The Allman Brothers Band
  5. For Everyman, Jackson Browne
  6. Triangle, The Beau Brummels
  7. In My Life, Judy Collins
  8. Blue, Joni Mitchell
  9. Kind of Blue, Miles Davis
  10. Beggars Banquet, The Rolling Stones
  11. Muswell Hillbillies, The Kinks
  12. Trout Mask Replica, Captain Beefheart
  13. Aqualung, Jethro Tull
  14. Liege and Lief, Fairport Convention
  15. After the Gold Rush, Neil Young
  16. The 12 Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus, Spirit
  17. Are You Experienced?, Jimi Hendrix
  18. The Great Twenty-Eight, Chuck Berry
  19. Pleasures of the Harbor, Phil Ochs
  20. Surrealistic Pillow, Jefferson Airplane


  1. “Hey Jude,” The Beatles
  2. “Ticket to Ride,” The Beatles
  3. “All Day and All of the Night,” The Kinks
  4. “Come See About Me,” The Supremes
  5. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” The Tokens
  6. “She’s Not There,” The Zombies
  7. “Like a Rolling Stone,” Bob Dylan
  8. “As Tears Go By,” Marianne Faithfull
  9. “I Still Love You,” The Vejtables
  10. “19th Nervous Breakdown,” The Rolling Stones
  11. “Reach Out, I’ll Be There,” The Four Tops
  12. “End of the Line,” The Traveling Wilburys
  13. “O My Soul,” Big Star
  14. “Maybe I’m Amazed,” Paul McCartney

Comments: I could have identified 98% of the entries without breaking a sweat: Dad really doesn’t care all that much for music released after 1975. The only surprise was the lack of a Donovan track or album. “You’ve ruined him for me,” he explained, referring to my not-very-positive reviews. “And that is something for which you should be eternally grateful,” I replied.

Dad’s choice of book was Dostoyevsky’s The Devils, and his luxury a case of 2007 Heitz Cellars’ Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.


  1. Schubert, Symphony No. 9 (The Great), Wolfgang Sawallisch
  2. Masterpieces, The Duke Ellington Orchestra
  3. In the Court of the Crimson King, King Crimson
  4. Days of Future Passed, The Moody Blues
  5. Kid A, Radiohead
  6. A Love Supreme, John Coltrane
  7. Flute Concertos, Jean-Pierre Rampal
  8. Hejira, Joni Mitchell
  9. Rosa Mundi, June Tabor
  10. La Question, Françoise Hardy
  11. Dvorak, 8 Slavonic Dances, Rafael Kubelik
  12. Mahler, Symphony No. 9, Herbert von Karajan
  13. Boîte à Bonbons, Jacques Brel
  14. The Indispensable Django Reinhardt
  15. Platinum Collection, Edith Piaf
  16. Out to Lunch, Eric Dolphy
  17. The Golden Flute, Yusef Lateef
  18. Thick as a Brick, Jethro Tull
  19. Stand Up!, Jethro Tull
  20. The Art of Segovia, Andrés Segovia


  1. “Question,” The Moody Blues
  2. “Comme un Garçon,” Sylvie Vartan
  3. “Que C’est Triste Venise,” Charles Azvanour
  4. “Billie Jean,” Michael Jackson
  5. “Lucky Man,” Emerson, Lake & Palmer
  6. “Pigs (Three Different Ones),” Pink Floyd
  7. “Eleanor Rigby,” The Beatles
  8. “Never Comes the Day,” The Moody Blues
  9. “Blue in Green,” Miles Davis
  10. “Japanese Folk Song,” Thelonious Monk
  11. “Si C’est Ça,” Françoise Hardy”
  12. “White Rabbit,” Jefferson Airplane
  13. “Inner City Blues,” Marvin Gaye
  14. “Me Ama Mô,” Simone

Comments: Maman’s collection will last the longest, as she included a few box sets. Clever girl! The one that really blew me away was “Billie Jean,” as I had no idea maman took Michael Jackson seriously or even liked him a little. “Thriller has some very inventive arrangements,” she said, trying to bullshit me. “Come on, maman, truth!” She gave me a stern look, then a smile started to crack the mask. “The music seizes my body and forces it to dance!” I promised her a review in the near future.

Her book is a collection of Maupassant short stories and she decided to take her pet Papillon along as her luxury.



  1. Something Else, The Kinks
  2. Urban Hymns, The Verve
  3. To Bring You My Love, PJ Harvey
  4. Senderos de Traición, Héroes de Silencio
  5. OK Computer, Radiohead
  6. Rodrigo, Concierto Como un Divertimento, Julian Lloyd Webber
  7. Some Girls, The Rolling Stones
  8. Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, Arctic Monkeys
  9. A Night at the Opera, Queen
  10. Sam’s Town, The Killers
  11. You Could Have Said It So Much Better, Franz Ferdinand
  12. Love Deluxe, Sade
  13. Bach, Six Unaccompanied Cello Suites, Yo-Yo Ma
  14. Sea Change, Beck
  15. Rage Against the Machine, Rage Against the Machine
  16. Superunknown, Soundgarden
  17. The Argument, Fugazi
  18. And Justice for All, Metallica
  19. Get Your Wings, Aerosmith
  20. A Boy Named Goo, Goo Goo Dolls


  1. “I’ll Never Find Another You,” The Seekers
  2. “Come As You Are,” Nirvana
  3. “Everlong,” Foo Fighters
  4. “Dream On,” Aerosmith
  5. “Hush,” Deep Purple
  6. “Angeline,” PJ Harvey
  7. “You Really Got Me,” The Kinks
  8. “Brand New Cadillac,” The Clash
  9. “White Wedding Pt. 1,” Billy Idol
  10. “Heroes,” David Bowie
  11. “Girl U Want,” Devo
  12. “The Best of Jill Hives,” Guided by Voices
  13. “Hide and Seek,” Imogen Heap
  14. “Bodysnatchers,” Radiohead

Comments: Although she plays classical cello beautifully and reveals to the world a consistently sunny disposition sweetened even further by excellent manners, her musical tastes triangulate around hard rock, progressive, metal and just fucking angry. I really didn’t take her seriously as a potential partner until she told me she likes her music rough and raucous. Alicia is much more into the early sounds of the 21st century than I am, but she has persuaded me to include a few of her favorite tracks on our fuck playlists. The attachment to early Kinks dates back to childhood; the Seekers’ tune and “Everlong” are “our songs.”

Alicia chose Story of O for her book and her favorite dildo (actually, it’s mine, since I’m the one who straps it on) as her luxury. She’s hoping to figure out a way to attach it to a palm tree and back in for some doggy-style memories.

Join the fun! Let’s hear about your Desert Island Disks!

48 responses

  1. iicdiaoa,iddiaoy | Reply

    Thank you very much! None of the albums or songs mentioned serve as requests for reviews——I must confess that I’ve been really, really happy seeing an ARC review of Dolly Mixture, and asking another great review is so jealous that I’ll certainly be guilty for that. Knowing from previous reviews that you had some rough weeks after O’Connor’s too early death, I just hope that some of the music above can make you feel better and fresher, and having emotion impact from these songs doesn’t require the listener of knowing its lyrics or the cultural background. Sometimes it’s the music that leads one to know the culture behind it——Shostakovich is my favorite composer, and starting from his music, I begin to do more research on the history of the Soviet Union.

    I admire that you consistently do research and take so much effort into writing music reviews, and I also hope that you can always enjoy the process of doing it. For example, I get my strange WordPress ID from the title of Caravan’s second album, one of the guiltiest guilty-pleasures in the world; but however I like it (and its melody-gifted flutist and vocalists), I know that the lyric of this album is intelligible at best and often slides to meaningless, so why ask a review of it when I know that you have albums you enjoy more with more social-consciousness and greater meaning? One of the reasons I love reading your reviews is that you have the patience to explain why you like or dislike it, so both your positive reviews and negative ones of some of my favs can help to promote my thinking and give me a smile. I hope that it’s also your feeling when writing these great reviews, too!

    I’d like to end this comment with some lyrics from Pye Hastings, who is often on the naive and childish side, but kind and lovable as well. Here’s one of his best lines:

    Love is the thing you crave,
    But it lies asleep inside of all your heads;
    Please, why don’t you live a bit today?
    For tomorrow you may find that you are dead.

    I’ve got this place of my own,
    Where I can go, when I feel I’m coming down;
    We’ll do our best to ensure,
    You’ll feel secure if you come.

    I think it partly explains my love for music, and it can also explain why I love this site and your reviews so much.

    1. iicdiaoaiddiaoy | Reply

      Just knew that the melodic flutist in Caravan’s early albums, Jimmy Hastings, is also the clarinetist who shone out in Radiohead’s Amnesiac……What a persistently stunning player.

  2. iicdiaoa,iddiaoy | Reply

    Okay, take a deep breath, here it comes:

    1, The Beatles, 1
    2, The Kinks, Anthology: 1964-1971
    3, Caravan, The World Is Yours – The Anthology 1968-1976
    4, Dolly Mixture, Everything And More
    5, Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense
    6, The Clash, Sound System
    7, Nat King Cole, The Unforgettable Nat King Cole
    8, Larry Groce, Children’s Favorite 1-4
    9, Les Infants, Les Inédits: Chant Des Enfants du Monde: Chine, Vol.1
    10, 李宗盛(Jonathan Lee), 理性与感性(Live) (Sense And Sensibility, Live)
    11, 手嶌葵(Aoi Teshima)/谷川浩子, ゲド战记歌集
    (Tales from Earthsea Image Album)
    12, 植松伸夫(Nobuo Uematsu), Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack
    13, Choro Club, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou: Quiet Country Cafe
    14, Oasis, (What’s The Story?) Morning Glory (Deluxe Edition)
    15, Pink Floyd, Meddle
    16, Paul Simon, Paul Simon
    17, The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses
    18, Paul McCartney, RAM
    19, R.E.M., Murmur
    20, Aido Ciccolini, Satie: Piano Works

    1, Leoš Janáček: Sinfonietta
    2, Jean Sibelius: Symphony No. 7 in C Major
    3, Antonín Dvořák: Symphony No.9 in E Minor, Mov.4
    4, Yes: And You And I
    5, Led Zeppelin: The Rain Song
    6, Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.11, ‘The Year 1905’, Mov.2
    7, Alexander Borodin: Prince Igor Act II, Polovtsian Dances
    8, 冼星海(Xian Xinghai or Sinn Sing Hoi): 黄河大合唱, Mov.3 ‘黄河之水天上来’
    9, Pink Floyd: Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast
    10, 侃侃: 滴答(吉它版)
    11, 久石让(Joe Hisaishi): あの夏へ(One Summer’s Day)
    12, Johannes Brahms: Symphony No.4 in E Minor, Mov.2
    13, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D Major, Mov. 1
    14, Hüsker Dü: Celebrated Summer

    Yes, there are a whole lot of rock and classical old farts above, but I think you would be interested in hearing some multilingual/ non-english stuff above. Some songs like “松花江上”and“春の夜に”itself is worth a decent song series review, and songs like “生命中的精灵”(Precious One in my Life) from the Sense and Sensibility live would be very fit for you and Alicia.

    1. Eclectic list! I’m not sure that your Sibelius, Dvořák, Brahms (etc.) would be viewed by the music industry as singles, but I like it when people stretch the rules. I’m somewhat familiar with Choro Club but haven’t really explored Japanese, Korean or Chinese music all that much but would very much like to do that. I’d need more cultural absorption (yes, I’ve been listening to “Respectable Street”) before going there. I’ve yet to set foot on any part of the Asian continent and I need to experience cultures instead of just reading about them to feel comfortable writing about the music.

  3. […] don’t have much in the way of awards to give, but I have added Clube da Esquina to my Desert Island Disks list, replacing David Bowie’s Hunky Dory. My usual M. O. after finishing a review is to pack […]

  4. `X-Dreams was moving up my to-do list` I would be very interested in what you think of that album (and her personality).
    Don´t hold her for ransom for sth. she is the least likely to be resposnible for. Annette has been living in England for quite a long time – and for a reason – anyway, doesn´t she?
    (That is when living in England was still a way to get out of … )

  5. Albums:

    Beach Boys – Party!
    John Cale – Music For For A New Society
    Art Pepper – Meets The Rhythm Section
    Bob Dylan – The Basement Tapes (Complete)
    V.A. -100 Girl Group Hits Of The 50s And 60s
    Ras Michael – Dadawah / Peace & Love
    V.A. – Agrim Agadez, Musique Guitare de la Republique du Niger
    Thomas Brinkmann – Studio 1 Variatonen
    Mingus – Mingus Mingus Mingus
    Victoria De Los Angeles – Bachianas Brasileiras
    Robert Wyatt – Different Every Time
    Angélique Ionatos – I Palami Sou
    The Impressions – People Get Ready
    Miles Davis – The Complete In A Silent Way Sessions
    Scott Walker – Tilt
    Luke Haines – Baader Meinhof
    Mädchenchor Hannover – Ceremony of Carols, et. al.
    Natalia Lafourcade – Mujer Divina
    Derek Bailey – Ballads
    Rhythm & Sound – The Versions


    Marc Almond – Two Sailors On The Beach
    Annette Peacock – Real And Defined Androgens
    Scott Walker – Jackie
    Dusty Springfield – Breakfast In Bed
    The Beatles – Rain
    Link Wray – Fire And Brimstone
    The Sex Pistols – Holidays In The Sun
    Esther Phillips – Use Me
    Leonard Cohen – The Partisan
    Daniel Johnston – Walking The Cow
    Yeasayer – 2080 (the ´Take Away Show´ version)
    Abba – Gimme Gimme Gimme
    Otis Redding – Dock Of The Bay
    Bob Dylan – Wigwam

    If you want to listen to the stuff you don´t know, you can find most of it on youtube, folks.

    Book: Friedrich Sieburg – Robespierre, A Biography

    Luxury Item: Sunglasses

    1. Great list! I wavered on Mingus, so thanks for including him. And Annette Peacock—I LOVE Annette Peacock and consider her obscurity one of the crimes of the century. X-Dreams was moving up my to-do list right before my American boycott, but shit, since Americans completely ignored her, I may need to break the boycott again. Love her voice, lyrics, selection of musicians . . .

  6. Dear (Altrockchick),
    I want to express my gratitude to you for your fine work. I came in contact with it through searching for a review of The Best of Muddy Waters. I loved the review (and the album), which lead me to search for more of your work. Finding your review site was a revelation, containing so much good work. You have made me discover and rediscover great music. I particularly appreciate your clarification of the intricacies of the French language in your review of Christine and the Queens’ Chaleur humaine. Your review really opened up this beautiful record for me in ways I would not have been able to appreciate on my own (with very limited grasp of the French language). What makes your work stand out and makes it so important and enriching is that it is characterised by intelligence, perceptiveness, musical knowledge, social consciousness, passion and love for the rich variety of human expression known as music. While I realise that you do not need a man to tell you what you already know – it should come as no surprise to you that you are brilliant -, perhaps my comments are more important for me to express – to attempt to give something, however insignificant, in return – than for you to hear. Still, I would just like to express my heartfelt gratitude to you for all you give. Thank you!

    1. Thank you very much! I had a great time writing the Muddy Waters review, and it’s still one of my favorites. Happy to be helpful with French nuances, too—though my mother should get credit for sensitizing me to linguistic nuance because of her career as a translator. Really, your comments were anything but insignificant—it’s always nice to hear that one’s efforts are appreciated. Thank you again!

  7. I know this is kind of late considering you posted this at the beginning of the year, but it seemed fun!


    1.) The mollusk – Ween
    2.) 12 Golden Country Greats – Ween
    3.) Lola vs the Powerman and the Moneygoround pt.1 – The kinks
    4.) Preservation act 2 – The kinks
    5.)The Beatles – The Beatles
    6.) Gorillaz – Gorillaz
    7.) Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
    8.) Prolonging the Magic – CAKE
    9.) Sheer Heart Attack – Queen
    10.) Boarding House Reach – Jack White
    11.) Nothing to fear – Oingo Boingo
    12.) Wake up… Its tomorrow – Strawberry Alarm Clock
    13.) Ogdens Nutgone Flake – The Small Faces
    14.) Junta – Phish
    15.) Animals – Pink Floyd
    16.) El Pro – Soul Coughing
    17.) Little Dark Age – MGMT
    18.) Midnite Vultures – Beck
    19.) Parklife – Blur
    20.) Q: Are we not men? A: We are Devo! – Deco

    1.) Time song – The Kinks
    2.) Million pound semi detached – The kinks
    3.) Itchycoo Park – the small faces
    4.) The Grobe – Ween
    5.) It was a very good year – Frank Sinatra
    6) Pepper – The buthole Surfers
    7.) Touch – Daft Punk
    8.) Nuclear Fusion – King Gizzard and the Lizzard Wizzard
    9.) Do ya thing – Gorillaz
    10.) The man who sold the world – David Bowie
    11.) Paranoid Android – Radiohead
    12.) Daydream Believer – The monkees
    13.) In the aeroplane over the sea – Neutral Milk Hotel
    14.) Have a cigar – Pink Floyd

    This was much harder than I was expecting.

    1. El oso, not el pro. I guess its my fault for typing this out on my phone.

    2. It was agonizing! Congratulations for combining some of Damon Albarn’s non-Blur work AND Frank Sinatra AND The Monkees! I think you’ll be successful in staving off boredom.

      I’m going to be doing a Britpop mini-series next year that includes Parklife and The Great Escape (among others) and I’d love to hear your feedback.

      1. Id try my best to throw in diversity to make sure I didnt want to die after a week of being alone. Its why I chose the white album over the far superior Revolver.

        Ive always loved Britpop, its weird seeing a country that actually seems to care about their home (I’m from the U.S sadly) and I’d be happy to read your thoughts on pulp, supergrass, blur and maybe some of damons solo stuff if you feel up to it. Also, I dont know if youve already crossed ween off your bands that youd never check out or something, but id highly recommend checking them out (specifically quebec or the mollusk). One of the greats if you ask me.

  8. I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while. Unlike perhaps others here, I can live fairly happily without music, so in my case it was harder to think of what I *would* want to have with me on the desert island rather than agonisingly trying to decide what would have to be left behind. My final list surprised me somewhat, as I mainly like blues, but there’s lots of other stuff represented here.


    The Complete Flanders & Swann – Flanders and Swann
    The Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd
    Different Class – Pulp
    Franks Wild Years – Tom Waits
    The Great Escape – Blur
    Greatest Hits – Queen
    Heathen – David Bowie
    Led Zeppelin II – Led Zeppelin
    Love Comin’ Down – Sue Foley
    The Ol’ Blues Singer – Lowell Fulson
    Oxygène Trilogy – Jean-Michel Jarre
    Portrait of a Man – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
    Push The Sky Away – Nick Cave
    Rubber Soul – The Beatles
    Self-Portrait… plus I Am What I Am – Ruth Copeland
    Special Edition – J.J. Cale
    Statesboro Blues – Blind Willie McTell (the Blues Collection one)
    Stormy Monday Blues: The Essential Collection – T-Bone Walker (the Spectrum Audio 1999 one)
    The V Discs – Louis Jordan
    Vents Du Sud – Jean-Pierre Jolicard


    Blackstar – David Bowie
    Calling Card – Rory Gallagher
    East St Louis Blues – Blind Willie McTell (the 1933 version with Curley Weaver)
    I Am The Black Gold of the Sun – Minnie Riperton
    I Am The Walrus – The Beatles
    Leavin’ Trunk – Taj Mahal
    Mississippi – Bob Dylan (the Bootleg Series 8 version)
    No Rollin’ Blues – Jimmy Witherspoon (the 1959 Monterey version)
    O Children – Nick Cave
    Riders on the Storm – The Doors
    Riviera Paradise – Stevie Ray Vaughan
    Sad Hours – Little Walter
    Smokestack Lightnin’ – Howlin’ Wolf
    The Thrill Is Gone – B.B. King

    My comments, as briefly as I can manage, in case anyone’s interested:

    On the albums: I cheated a bit by choosing a complete box set of Flanders and Swann, but it ought to keep me going. I don’t know if Dark Side of the Moon is exactly my favourite Pink Floyd album (I have a nasty feeling I may actually prefer The Endless River!), but still. I know Heathen is not Bowie’s best album, but it’s easily the one I most enjoy listening to. It was very hard to choose between Led Zeppelin I and II – I firmly believe that they peaked with their first two albums and everything afterwards was downhill. I’m not entirely sure about the Sue Foley one – I don’t really like her way of singing, too much like Dylan – but there are some really good songs on this one, so hey ho. I cheated again by counting all three Oxygène albums as a single one, as well as the double-issue of Ruth Copeland’s two first albums. (The first is the one I really want, but why not take the second for free too? I only discovered her recently. She is awesome. But I don’t think you would like her.) The McTell collection is the closest thing to album-length perfection I know of. As for T-Bone Walker, I am perverse in preferring his late 60s/70s output to his seminal 40s and 50s recordings, but I love the atmosphere they purvey. Virtually any Louis Jordan collection would be great but “The V Discs” was one of my first and has some great songs I’ve not heard anywhere else. Jolicard is the most obscure person here, probably, but this album is one I bought in tape form from the artist himself on the street somewhere in Normandy (I think) when I was about 12 (probably) and it is stunningly beautiful.

    On the single tracks: Blackstar is such a great track, though much of the rest of the album didn’t quite do it for me. This track does what I want music to do, which is take me somewhere else. Also it’s long and bears constant repetition, which would be ideal for that island. The McTell track is possibly the greatest thing ever recorded, but if it isn’t, the Cave track is. The Witherspoon track is the sexiest thing ever recorded (by a man anyway).

    My book is The Short Stories of H.G. Wells, and my luxury is a computer that runs nothing but the App Game Kit, which I like to waste my time programming in. So for what it’s worth, that’s me!

    1. This is a fabulous and unique list! You and my mother must be kindred spirits, as she cheated with box sets too and is an admirer of Jarre (makes sense when you realize she’s the one who turned me onto Radiohead’s Kid A. I never thought of comedy records—a brilliant choice there. I had to laugh when I saw Pulp, as Different Class is going to be my first review of 2019. For your daily surprise, I’ll tell you that I think Ruth Copeland is frigging awesome! I’m still processing the Blackstar experience but the title track is fabulous, and though I didn’t have a warm reaction to Heathen, I’ll give it another go—I’ve been looking for another Bowie album to review and haven’t found the one I want. While my American boycott is on I won’t do any American blues albums, so that part of the list made me a little sad. Thank you!

      1. Thank you, I’m glad you liked it! Your mother’s obviously awesome so I’m glad to have something in common with her.

        I am surprised you like Ruth Copeland but glad too! The reason I thought you wouldn’t is that she seems to me to adopt quite a passive or submissive persona in most of her songs. I rather like that – not because I like submissive women (I don’t) but because I’m pretty submissive myself so I find it easy to identify with her. She can’t have been much like that in real life though. That first album is so interesting as it’s so clearly the work of a young artist keen to experiment – not all the experiments quite work, in my opinion, but it’s got so much personality.

        I put Flanders & Swann in not simply because I like comedy (and I do think they are consistently brilliantly funny) but because they have such legitimately good songs, quite apart from the humour. I think this is a wonderfully powerful song, for example:

        Definitely looking forward to that Different Class review!

      2. A very poignant song indeed! I’ve always preferred British humour to American because it so vividly captures human absurdity.

        I can understand the assumption about submissive women, but since I’ve been in a loving relationship with one for several years, I’m not anti-submissive. I think of dominance and submission as two forms of equal power. I respect women who consciously choose submission as a way of expressing devotion to a person or a cause; I do not respect submissive women who just go along with tradition without giving it any thought. I’m sure Ruth had to make some compromises given the times, but when she’s soaring, I hear amazing, raw power. It’s tragic that she never connected with a producer who saw her potential, because I think she could have become a top-tier vocalist.

      3. That makes sense. Thanks for the explanation and apologies for making the assumption!

  9. So, have done my homework. The Pixies are undeniably overflowing with raw energy, good visuals and a nice dose of black humour. Not really the kind of music I feed off, but as they apparently inspired Radiohead, and David Bowie thinks they were “the psychotic Beatles”, that’s good enough for me . . . St Vincent certainly has talent, especially lyrically, but would want to hear some other stuff, whereas Brodie Dalie escapes me entirely (I think I was born too early to appreciate her kind of contemporary music, as simple as that) . . . but the rest of your tracks list is top drawer, look forward to have a listen to some of your albums when I have more time . . . By the way, added a few words to your reviews of Angélique Kidjo and Louis Armstrong, if that’s of any interest. Bye for now . . .

    1. Thanks for taking the time to follow up! “Debaser” made the list because it makes me laugh while infusing me with energy. St. Vincent’s self-titled album is a masterpiece (it was the last contemporary album I reviewed); the rest of her stuff is uneven. That particular Brody Dalle song was chosen because only she and PJ Harvey on 4-Track Demos have been able to capture the feral, mysterious aspect of woman. I’d give anything to pull off an extended growl like Brody and Kurt Cobain.

      I’ve been busy, busy, busy so I’m just catching up with a lot of comments now. Stand by!

  10. Yes, I heard, but no reason to knock the Beatles, that’s really not necessary — nor fair. George Harrison has only been voted the best rock guitarist of all time, above more obvious choices. All you have to do is listen! . . . Not surprised that ABBA raised an eyebrow, I do think it’s a sublime bit of pop but included it more to balance the weight of my list away from the 60’s. . . So happy you picked up on the Liszt, it’s off most people’s musical radar and gives the lie to Liszt as an over-the-top, bombastic composer. . . apart from which he was only the world’s first rock star! . . . Sorry about the mangled second post, occasionally forget the elementary rules . . . and thanks for the feedback.

  11. Gosh, was hoping for the odd bit of feedback to my post — if only to have a go at my pretense of offering a consensual list demanding agreement. Just a bit of playful provocation, of course, no such thing is possible (though I sometimes wonder if a kernel of musical excellence — at least in the genre of rock music — can’t be identified. I suppose that’s what (in part) you’re trying to do with this site.
    (the current fashion for relativism is all well and good, but “nous laisse souvent sur notre faim”, as the French expression goes.)

    What can I add? I gave myself more than my allotted numbers, but could have added the Byrds’
    Eight Miles High, for example, or any number of songs from the likes of Gershwin, Berlin, Weil and
    Fats Waller, amongst others. And more especially Bernstein’s score for West Side Story, a milestone in the annals of popular music.

    Finally, thanks for letting me play your game. For years I listened to the original series of Desert Island Discs on the BBC and always fancied the chance to do likewise.

    1. You should never expect feedback from me on a Saturday. The morning is sleep-in time, the afternoon is music time and the night is fuck-my-heart-out time!

      Cheating in this exercise is expressly allowed. It’s hard, even with the expanded format. So much of what I want to listen to depends on my mood at the moment, so I tried to get as much diversity in the mix as possible but I think I could have done a better job—especially on the orchestral side.

      I have a review of Michael Jackson’s Thriller coming up, and found an interview with Quincy Jones where (among other things) he comments on the lousy musicianship you find in most rock music: All I can say is “sigh.”

  12. Do you know Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time? I just got turned on to it. Amazing piece of music, with an amazing story (it was written and first performed at a Nazi POW camp). I’d definitely place it on my desert island LP list. There’s a great version on YouTube that shows the score as it goes along. I found it mesmerizing.

    1. Only superficially. I haven’t listened to much “classical” music since starting the blog but maman keeps me posted on what’s going on and played the piece during dinner one evening about a year ago. I’ve bookmarked the video on YouTube, did a quick take on each movement and it’s the perfect argument for going YouTube Red—there are ads between each movement! WTF! I should have some quiet Sundays in March so I’ll carve out some time to listen to it properly then. Thanks!

  13. What an article! This is essentially how I came up with the idea of my blog: albums and songs I’d bring me to a desert island. Since I’ve got some time off from my studies, I’d gladly write a new post! Thanks for the inspiration! Hope all is well.

    1. Thank you! That’s a great angle for a blog—it gives you a clear focus so you’re not rummaging around for ideas. I’ve got you on my Reader, so I look forward to hearing your list, post-by-post!

      1. Thank you! I’ll keep you informed. Later tonight, I plan to write a couple of reviews. Take care!

  14. After hesitating for awhile and not happy at the thought of breaking your rules (not the first), have decided I can’t resist the temptation of weighing the relative merits of the music I love. Which is, as you’ll see, wide-ranging, can’t possibly restrict to rock & pop. Hence the decision to opt for 2 x 20. Please excuse my indulgence. I fully expect complete agreement on about one half of my choices and a lot of head-scratching for the rest!


    THE BEATLES: Rubber Soul
    BOB DYLAN: Blonde on Blonde
    THE KINKS: Something Else
    THE DOORS: Strange Days
    JEFFERSON AIRPLANE: Surrealistic Pillow
    NEIL YOUNG: Rust Never Sleeps
    PROCOL HARUM: A Salty Dog
    ROLLING STONES: Between the Buttons
    STEVIE WONDER: Songs in the Key of Life
    TRAVELING WILBURYS: The Traveling Wilburys Vol 1
    RADIOHEAD: OK Computer
    PAUL SIEBEL: Woodsmoke & Oranges
    HENRY PURCELL: Dido & Aeneas
    GEORG FRIEDRICH HANDEL: Suites for Keyboards (K. Jarrett)
    FRANZ LISZT: Annèes de Pélerinage/Suisse
    GUSTAV MAHLER: Symphony No 9 (or 10)
    MUDDY WATERS: Live at Newport 1960


    MARTHA & THE VANDELLAS: Dancing in the Street
    CHUCK BERRY: Roll Over Beethoven
    FOUR TOPS: Reach Out
    BOB DYLAN: Like a Rolling Stone
    ROLLING STONES: Jumpin’ Jack Flash
    SIMON & GARFUNKEL: Sounds of Silence
    JEFFERSON AIRPLANE: She Has Funny Cars
    THE YARDBIRDS: Happening 10 Years Time Ago
    NEIL YOUNG: Like a Hurricane
    PROCOL HARUM: A Whiter Shade of Pale
    THE PRETENDERS: Message of Love
    MICHEL POLNAREFF: Lettre à France
    RADIOHEAD: Paranoid Android
    THE DOORS: When the Music’s Over
    THE KINKS: Sunny Afternoon
    ABBA: Dancing Queen
    DAVID BOWIE: Where Are We Now?
    KING CRIMSON: Starless & Bible Black

    Oh, damn. That’s one too many. Never could count! (but which one would YOU leave out?!)
    Thanks for listening.

    1. Great list! The only song to cause an eyebrow to raise was Abba’s. I love the Annèes de Pélerinage, especially the Pastorale and Au bord d’une source passages in the first suite. People tend to be mesmerized by Liszt’s intensity but they fail to appreciate how difficult it is to manage the left-hand parts while you’re right hand is a blur AND cope with his endlessly shifting dynamics. I can’t believe I didn’t include my album of Bulgarian folk music—what was I thinking? Maman is the Mahler fan in the family, but I trust her judgment—I’ll probably get there someday, but since I started the blog I haven’t done any further studies of “classical” music, sticking to things I learned in my teens when I play with maman. Last year I’d resolved to do a review of Schubert’s Great C-Major but couldn’t find the formula for translating it for a audience with no background in music theory and who get irritated when I use an adjective like “ostinato” to try to describe what’s going on in a pop song.

      The only artist I’m not familiar with is Paul Siebel, whom I gather is a songwriter other people made famous. I’ll have to check him out! Evora would make for a very interesting review, and even if no one was interested in my review of Angélique Kidjo, to hell with it.

  15. The one that made me smile was “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” by Pink Floyd on your mom’s list. That’s a pretty difficult Floyd track–angry and heavy and long. I don’t see anything remotely similar to that one on her list. I like your choice of “Beeswing” by Richard Thompson–a nice obscure track. I seem to have the most in common with your dad. If I was born the same year he was (instead of in 1966) my lists would probably be very similar to his.

    Here are my 20 albums:

    The Beatles–Rubber Soul
    Pink Floyd–Meddle
    Steely Dan–Aja
    Led Zeppelin–Physical Graffiti
    Neil Young–After The Gold Rush
    Felt–Poem Of The River
    The Kinks–The Village Green Preservation Society
    Dire Straits–Dire Straits
    Radiohead–OK Computer
    Yes–Close To The Edge
    Galaxie 500–On Fire
    Belle and Sebastian–The Boy With The Arab Strap
    Roxy Music–Avalon
    Nick Drake–Bryter Later
    Bruce Cockburn–Dancing In The Dragon’s Jaws
    The Who–Who’s Next
    The Band–Music From Big Pink
    The Rolling Stones–Sticky Fingers

    And my 14 songs:

    The Cure–In Between Days
    Mojave 3–Some Kinda Angel
    The Cars–Touch and Go
    Bob Dylan–Visions Of Johanna
    The Velvet Underground–Rock And Roll
    Elf Power–Jane
    The Go-Betweens–Spring Rain
    Al Stewart–The Year Of The Cat
    Big Star–O My Soul
    Brian Eno–The True Wheel
    The Replacements–I Will Dare
    Van Morrison–Saint Dominic’s Preview

    1. Ooh—great lists! Aja, Village Green, Who’s Next, Sticky Fingers . . . man, I should have made it 50 albums. Very eclectic songs list, too!

    2. p. s. “Pigs” is a big, dramatic song, almost symphonic—hence my mother’s attraction.

  16. More love than I wold have expected for Tull. Somehow Benefit got left out.

    1. Two flutists in the family! Nearly all Tull albums from Stand Up! to Songs from the Wood were considered, but I had to make some hard choices.

      1. I loved Tull growing up and got to see them on the Warchild tour – the one with the jockstrap 🙁

        I think I would take Living in the Past. Double album!

  17. You asked for it, but hope you can forgive me reversing the rules in that I’ve opted for 14 albums and 20 singles as I’ve always been more of a 45’s man. No doubt this would look a bit different if I compiled it tomorrow, but… all these are listed in original order of release, not preferential as that would be impossible to do.

    Pink Floyd – Piper At The Gates of Dawn
    Simon and Garfunkel – Bookends
    The Beatles – White Album
    Frank Zappa and The Mothers – Uncle Meat
    Scott Walker – Scott 3
    Phil Ochs – Rehearsals For Retirement
    King Crimson – In The Court of The Crimson King
    Syd Barrett – The Madcap Laughs
    The Move – Shazam
    Love Sculpture – Forms and Feelings
    The Pretty Things – Parachute
    Miles Davis – Get Up With It
    Kevin Ayers – Rainbow Takeaway
    Portishead – Dummy

    The Shadows – Apache
    Jill and The Boulevards – And Now I Cry
    Geoff Goddard – Sky Men
    Del Shannon – Keep Searchin’ (Follow The Sun)
    The Beatles – We Can Work It Out
    The Zombies – Just Out Of Reach
    Yardbirds – Happenings Ten Years Time Ago
    The Misunderstood – I Can Take You To The Sun
    The Who – Pictures of Lily
    The Pink Floyd – See Emily Play
    The Rolling Stones – We Love You
    The Kinks – Autumn Almanac
    The Pretty Things – Defecting Grey
    Earth and Fire – Maybe Tomorrow, Maybe Tonight
    Wizzard – See My Baby Jive
    Babe Ruth – Doctor Love (a B side, but…)
    Kirsty MacColl – They Don’t Know
    Soft Cell – Torch
    Propaganda – Duel
    The Bristols – Turn It On

    1. Rules are meant to be broken. Interesting list! Surprised to see Syd Barrett represented so well, and the absence of post-Syd Pink Floyd speaks volumes. Dad’s always on my ass about Zappa so I’ll probably have to get there someday. I’ve never heard The Misunderstood, so hurray, I have something to explore! I wasn’t expecting to see Radiohead, but very surprised to see no PJ.

      1. Well, Syd is my number one hero and inspiration! I don’t dislike some of what the Floyd did after he was booted but once they get to “Atom Heart Mother”, I’m bored to tears and can live without everything after that!

        The Misunderstood… that single was a bit ahead of it’s time, a great moody dynamic slice of psychedelia and the band had a very curious history. PJ? No space in the limits of the lists and albums wise, would be a toss up between “4 Track Demos” and “Songs From The City”

  18. This post has what is possibly the greatest closing lines to any post I’ve ever read….I love your partner and your family!! You are missing absolutely nothing here in the U.S. of A…..

    1. Aww, thank you. If I didn’t have to write introductions and endings I could write three times as many reviews—those are the parts that are real struggles for me. And yeah, the news from the USA is consistently alarming, so when I say I thank my mother every day for French citizenship, I’m not exaggerating. She’s getting sick of me telling her that, but I mean it with every fiber of my being.

    2. Your Dad on Donovan:

      “You’ve ruined him for me.”

      1. Ah, yes! Non, je ne regrette rien!

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