The second half of the near impossible task of pulling 50 songs from 50 years. A mad idea, filled with frustrations at all the ones I couldn’t pick. But, yeah, fun nonetheless.
1990: Sonic Youth – Kool Thing
The year I finally got Sonic Youth, or they crossed over to my side. Droll, sexy and sung by one of my favourite bassplayers (along with Tina Weymouth, Bruce Thomas, Paul McCartney & Andy Rourke). Found out recently she’s a pretty cool interview too.
1991: Joni Mitchell – Come In From The Cold
Joni leaves me stunned emotionally and intellectually so often but I didn’t expect to find my favourite moment this late in her career. A grumpy, smoke-stained goddess. I’m ready for my interview Joni ….
1992: P J Harvey – Sheela Na Gig
The beginning of another love affair that would teach me more about pairing brain and gut, sex and spirit than just about anyone else. One super smart ABC type and I shared a glorious moment with PJ at the Enmore, not that PJ knew. Probably.
1993: Posies – Solar Sister
The pop band of the 1990s for me with power and melodies that I sang and sang and sang. First interview was on my first trip to Austin. Double bonus score for excitement, and my first (of a lifetime total of three) beer.
1994: Jeff Buckley – Grace
His show the next year remains one of the most perfect moments ever for both my wife and me, this album already enthralling. Almost cliched now through repetition but it still socks it to me when rediscovered.
1995: Emmylou Harris – Where Will I Be
Everything she touches is golden, and she was my key to discovering writers like Patty Griffin, Gillian Welch and Ryan Adams, but always … her voice. One of many greats introduced to me by Bruce Elder.
1996: Belle and Sebastian – Like Dylan In The Movies
The other pop keystones of my 90s: witty, gentle, smart and unafraid to be non-masculine. We sang this song with our daughter later and made her a fan – love that.
1997: Radiohead – Paranoid Android
Not just my next “greatest band ever” discovery two years earlier confirmed as genius but one of only two acts to bring me as near to tears as dammit in concert two years later. Many obsessive boy talks about them with an even more committed colleague who had the best store of bootlegs.
1998: Gillian Welch – I’m Not Afraid To Die
Helped take me dig deeper into roots music by making me the happiest with the saddest music. With David Rawlings, the perfect duo-in-one-person and the pair who overcame a disco opening up below mid-set when they played a stunning show at the Roxy in Parramatta. Strange night. Great night.
1999: Underworld – Push Upstairs
Turned me on to the dancefloor again, gave me one of my wildest nights ever at the BDO, still played religiously to same effect. Rather chuffed to have converted more people to them right up to 2014.
2000: Ryan Adams – Oh My Sweet Carolina
A kind of country sadness is a weakness (see 1998) and Ryan Adams hits the spot more regularly than anyone else. With Emmylou harmonising and Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings in there that’s heaven, right?
2001: Lucinda Williams – Blue
What a songwriter (thanks again Bruce). From my favourite album of hers where she just lays everything bare like someone ready to break – the way I like it. You’ve probably guessed by now that I’m a big sook.
2002: Cousteau – Please Don’t Cry
Big adult pop with big gestures and big emotions. Reminded me why I loved Scott Walker, chanson and the overwrought. I pushed this album at so many people soon they’d run away as I approached. The singer now lives in Canberra, making some good music. The songwriter was in the Crystal Set, the first band I interviewed, for RAM 16 year earlier.
2003: Beyonce – Crazy In Love
Best pop song of the year. Of course I danced – just privately and with less hip action. A decade later she finally made an album that was deserving of as much praise as the best of her singles. This should make my niece happy – and get up the noses of idiots who think artistry requires a guitar or a penis.
2004: Souad Massi – Yawlidi
My mother would say “it has that lagam [Mauritian word meaning a certain African-flavoured rhythm] we like”. Led me to the great Oumou Sangare, Rokia Traore and realising that North Africa is my favourite non-western musical corner.
2005: LCD Soundsystem – Daft Punk Is Playing At My House
Bowie/Eno/Talking Heads influences, Bernard-on-the-dancefloor (see Underworld), sharp lyrics. I was sold big time. Played their next album to the bone.
2006: Arctic Monkeys –Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured
Exciting to feel what it’s like to be young, frisky and smart with the same accent as John Cooper Clarke. Haven’t lost a whit of interest in them since and keep finding fresh excitement at their gigs.
2007: Patty Griffin – You’ll Remember
Spent many hours with just Patty Griffin in my ears. That her voice is as good as her writing is probably not fair to just about everybody competing with her. On her tour Gaynor Crawford got me up close – thanks Lady B!
2008: The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound
Discovering them was like finding someone had organised for the Clash and Bruce Springsteen to play together and make records just for me. How did they know? Chased them around Chicago once.
2009: Horrorshow – The Show
My favourite local hip hop group. Like my other favourite, Urthboy, they don’t make me feel like I’m an intruder.
2010: The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio
Another excuse to let emotions get worked up, building up inside you til you have to let it burst out. Some great gigs already, big waves of feeling at the Enmore only just tipping out Opera House steps.
2011: James Blake – Limit To Your Love
He’s a Joni fan (we bonded over her one afternoon). He’s a soul fan. He’s an electronics and piano man. He’s a man crackling with held in passion. My kind of thing. Of course I played this album incessantly.
2012: Frank Ocean – Thinkin Bout You
Made me feel like what it might have been like if Prince had been around with Sarah Vaughan (I think about stupid stuff like that too often). I think he won over the hard nut – when it comes to R&B – in a friend of mine here. Which is something big.
2013: Laura Marling – Where Can I Go?
Interviewed her when she was 17, debut album to come, and knew here was something special. She keeps astonishing me and I hope to live long enough to see me proved right that she could be this generation’s Joni. (That Mitchell woman comes up a bit doesn’t she?)
2014: Hot Since 82 ft Alex Mills – Restless
Drove everyone in the house and the neighbourhood spare as I played this three or four times in a row, several times a day, every day for about a month. I missed my calling as a House habitué.
BONUS TRACK: Kate Bush – Cloudbusting
#SonicYouth #JoniMitchell #PJHarvey #Posies #JeffBuckley #EmmylouHarris #BelleandSebastian #Radiohead #GillianWelch #Underworld #RyanAdams #LucindaWilliams #Cousteau #Beyonce #SouadMassi #LCDSoundsystem #ArcticMonkeys #PattyGriffin #Horrowshow #TheGaslightAnthem #TheNational #JamesBlake #FrankOcean #LauraMarling #HotSince82ftAlexMills #KateBush