Pete Astor: My Top Ten Records
It’s always difficult ”â but fun ”â to try and make these kinds of lists. I’m very aware of what records might make the cut for the ten greatest/ most important, but the key bit I’m going to focus on the idea of the ten best for me. And that means I’ll be choosing my ten favourites, and I probably won’t even bother to try and pretend they are ”Ëthe best’; they’re my best and that’s why they’re here”Â¦.
The Velvet Underground ”â Live ’69.
It’s great hearing a rock ”Ën’ roll band with the sound so stripped down and actually odd. And there were hardly any people at the shows, which was also kind of good.
Syd Barrett ”â The Madcap Laughs
The English accent, the words, the songs with their chords and traction that seem to come from nowhere. Syd said he liked Love and Between the Buttons by the Stones, but this takes these sources to somewhere far more magical and strange.
Bob Dylan ”â Love and Theft
Not the best Dylan album, but my favourite. Maybe with an artist with such a massive and Bible-sized body of work, as a fan, you have to love an album most that you feel is yours, in some small way.
Richard Hell and the Voidoids ”â Blank Generation
This was my punk record; the adolescent solipsism and general nay-saying and not joining in was the perfect mirror for my own disconnection from Nowheresville. I’m also getting to write about it for Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 series, which should be fun.
Can ”â Soon Over Babaluma
Again, a bit like Dylan; they’re so good, it’s hard to choose, so I’ve chosen this because I saw them play just after this record came out and the hippie who lived next door to my friend Vincent did the light show and I got to see some proper freaks, and Holgar Czukay was playing the bass wearing thin, white gloves.
The Fall ”â Grotesque
In 1982, this was ”â apart from deciding that I really did like the Beatles ”â the record. It managed to achieve so many of the things that punk promised.
Neutral Milk Hotel ”â In the Airplane Over the Sea
This is just so fucking good. Since 1996, and it’s never been less than essential in my music.
Sparkehorse ”â Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot
The most perfect sad record ever, long before his unfortunate end.
John Phillips ”â John, The Wolfman of LA
There is the biggest ache at the centre of this seemingly well-behaved and well-varnished record and I think that’s why I like it so much. It’s also really short, which is often a sign of a very good album.
The Grateful Dead ”â American Beauty
That big, fat, stupid American myth, served up by the ultimate American band.
Jackson Browne ”â Late for the Sky
Took me years not to hate him, and when I stopped hating him, I realised it was love”Â¦.
Yeah, and now I start to think of more and more records that need to be in the list and it’s time to stop. And, yes, I know it’s male and it’s all mostly old, but, what can I say ”â it’s me. And, as always happens when you really like stuff, you have to have a go yourself, for some reason.
Recently, I released a new record, the first for seven years, on the lovely Second Language label. They are committed to making objects, to try and reclaim some of the beauty of the thing that is an album. So, Songbox really is a box, it has illustrations and artworks in postcard form for the lyric of each of the songs; there’s also versions of all tunes on the record by different artists, including Comet Gain, The Raincoats, Darren Hayman, Dollboy, Proper Ornaments. Patrick Fitzgerald and lots more.
I was going to call it Gold Watch, because I really thing it’s about time I gave up, but I was talked out of it, and, sure enough, I’m writing a whole bunch of new songs, which will probably emerge at some point. You can buy it direct from the label here. Also, if you want to know any more about Songbox, there is a very informative and thorough article here.
Finally, if there is any chance that you don’t have any of the albums on my list, you must buy/ steal them immediately. You won’t regret it.