Stephen Holt (Inspiral Carpets) – top 10 albums

Inspiral Carpets singer Stephen Holt shares with us the music that has influenced him with his Top 10 Albums list.

The following is a list of the Top 10 albums that have influenced me most musically and not a definitive list of my Top 10 favourite albums.

Due to owning many hundreds (if not thousands) of albums, I would find it almost an impossible task to pick out just 10 favourites.

Blondie ”“ Parallel Lines (1978)

As my early years were spent listening to a mixture of show tunes and crooners via my mother and Glam Rock via my older brother, I set about trying to formulate my own musical taste by taping the Radio 1 Sunday chart show.

In 1978 Parallel Lines hit me like some musical asteroid from space! With its razor sharp cover, pop/punk tunes with hooks the size required for whale fishing but most of all Debbie Harry.

Debbie Harry was every pre-pubescent young teenagers ”Ëœdream angel’ with enough sexual chemistry to be able to blow the lid off all waiting to enter manhood!

Although compared to some of my later listening preferences the tunes may seem ”Ëœsaccharine’ sweet, I still feel they hold their own today and often listen to take me back to those days.

The Specials ”“ The Specials (1979)

Having flirted with a ”ËœNew Wave’ phase (I was never really a punk) I was looking for the next music/fashion genre to adopt. I always believed that in my earlier years fashion and music were synonymous.

Along came Two Tone to give me my identity and provide me with the musical energy I had so craved. I called at ”ËœThe Golden Disc’ record shop in Oldham before going to school to buy The Specials album as I had to have it there and then.

Unfortunately I left the album by a classroom radiator all day and when I got home discovered I owned a black banana rather than the beautiful black disc I expected.

After some repairs were carried out involving various degrees of pressure, the mishap had done nothing to spoil the energy of ”ËœNite Klub’, ”ËœMonkey Man’ and ”ËœToo Much Too Young’.

Joy Division ”“ Unknown Pleasures (1979)

I had started to hang around with a group of mainly slightly older friends due to their similar love of and taste in music.

One of these was long-time friend David Swift (Swifty), former bass player with Inspiral Carpets and guitarist with the Rainkings.

I remember clearly the day he pulled out this strange black cover with white squiggles on the front that looked like no other album sleeve I had ever seen. This day and moment was to be the start of the rest of my music listening life.

Bands like the Gang of Four, Echo and the Bunnymen, Magazine and Wire etc would come and stay for good.

As for Unknown Pleasures all I can say is that in its own way it was perfection.

Echo and the Bunnymen ”“ Crocodiles (1980)

At around the time of The Specials I had begun to understand that aside from just music and fashion, issues such as race, class and where you came from were part of what made you who you were and influenced who you associated with.

Obviously having lived in Manchester all of my life Joy Division, Magazine and A Certain Ratio et al were my new heroes.

So when a band from Liverpool came along looking and sounding like the coolest thing ever to hit me eyes and ears I naturally tried to treat them with a degree of suspicion.

But how could you resist those tunes driven by one of the best rhythm sections to exist, the genius of Will Sergeant on guitar and Ian McCulloch, the male equivalent of Debbie Harry and coolest singer on the planet.

Orange Juice ”“ You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever (1982)

OK, so I had managed to embrace Liverpool as a viable musical companion to my home roots of Manchester, and at times found this adopted relation to provide more entertainment than my own spiritual family.

But, then Scotland and the whole Postcard scene came along to widen my musical taste all the way up north. Along with Josef K, Orange Juice added a new angular dimension to my vinyl collection.

You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever pushed Orange Juice to the top of the Postcard pile though with its mix of soulful love tunes full of wit and wisdom.

Edwyn Collins has also now moved to the top of the ”Ëœcoolest singer on the planet’ pile!

REM ”“ Reckoning (1984)

My group of friends used to go to an indie disco at the Tommyfield pub in Oldham once a week. This was frequented also by the likes of Graham Lambert, Inspiral Carpets, and Chris Goodwin, The High.

One night the usual mix of Joy Division, Killing Joke and Bowie etc were blasting out from the DJ’s speakers and we were dancing away and chatting loudly as normal.

Suddenly this song came on that I had never heard before with a great guitar intro, chugging bass line and American drawl voice that suddenly burst into the most basic but glorious chorus line of ”ËœI’m sorry’.

After rushing over to the DJ and demanding to know what this gem of a song was (So Central Rain (I’m Sorry)) the album was promptly purchased the day after and still remains one of my favourite albums today.

The Bodines ”“ Played (1987)

The rest of the Inspirals will chuckle or give a wry little smile at this inclusion as I used to get teased constantly about my love of The Bodines. As you can probably tell by now I love pop music with great hooks but also an edge that gives it that something extra.

The Bodines had all of this in bucket loads along with that air of cool I found in the Bunnymen, Orange Juice and REM.

After leaving Inspiral Carpets back in 1988/9 I was lucky enough to work with John Rowland, Bodines drummer, in the Rainkings and there are few nicer men you are ever likely to meet as well as top notch drummers.

Wedding Present ”“ George Best (1987)

Along with the Bodines, with Inspiral Carpets I have had the pleasure of playing gigs with two of the bands included in this list.

We supported the Wedding Present on their George Best tour in Scotland and also at the Ritz in Manchester and I count this as one of my favourite experiences.

As well as being brilliant people to spend time with, they were also one of my favourite bands and to get to see them play live ”Ëœup close’ every night was a joy.

It will have be apparent from this list that ”Ëœguitar bands’ are my thing and what a guitar band the Wedding Present were. Full of energy, great tunes and lyrics that told real life stories that we all could relate to.

Pixies ”“ Doolittle (1989)

One of my favourite bands ever, I struggle to find the right words that describe my feelings for this band and their music.

They had everything for me that a band should have, they looked great but slightly weird, Kim Deal on bass, Joey Santiago was amazing on guitar and Frank Black’s voice could move from low and mellow to a full blown screech instantly.

I was lucky enough to see them play live at the Move festival at the Lancashire Cricket Ground just after they had reformed. The tears of complete joy streamed down my face at the opening lines of Debaser. Genius!

Pete and the Pirates ”“ 1,000 Pictures (2011)

This album brings me right up to date and introduces my current favourite band, who are scandalously underrated in my opinion.

Gone are the days of worrying about where a band comes from either territorially or social class. What still matters to me though is the energy I get from the songs and seeing them play live as well as those songs with killer hooks.

Welcome Pete and the Pirates, and long shall you live.

You can find latest Inspiral Carpets news, tour dates and music on their website, by following them on Twitter or on their Facebook page. You can also find Stephen on Twitter.

Image by Elspeth Moore. You can find more from Elspeth on LTW here.

As told to Sarah Lay. Find more from her on LTW here, her blog or follow her on Twitter.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here