1. Duane Eddy | Peter Gunn (Henry Mancini Cover)
I remember being four years old and the sound coming off just the record was amazing even without the speakers. The big bendy echoey guitar was exciting and when the growling saxophone came in it was terrifying but addictive.
2. Sonny Boy Williamson | Checkin' Up On My Baby
I love his harmonica playing and there's a real intense honesty in his voice. When I first heard this song I thought he was so choked up with jealous rage that he was croaking and wheezing. But apparently he recorded it with a cold. That's still pretty real though.
3. Beth Orton | Concrete Sky
Sad, but hopeful. It sounds like summer. I've never been a particularly big Beth Orton fan, but I think when you hear a performer completely in their stride and spitting their soul out, it can get you at a level beyond what you're normally looking for. This is one of those. Couldn't will him to survive is a line with about 8 different layers of sadness.
4. Hound Dog Taylor And The HouseRockers | Give Me Back My Wig
As a kid always used to see this Hound Dog Taylor album in a record shop, always there on the same shelf and nobody ever bought it. I liked his name and the wild eyed look of him on the cover, but there always seemed to be more important music to buy. When I finally heard it, I wondered why I hadn't gone for it sooner. He sounds like he's playing the guitar with his fists, and he laughs, screams, jibbers and plays a one note guitar solo that still manages to be out of tune. The second verse of this song is entirely taken up with him complaining that a 4.99 wig turned out to cost 9.99. And meanwhile it's like the only other guitarist is playing bass, rhythm guitar and piano all at the same time. And all live, with an audience. It's astounding.
5. Veal | Mexico Texaco
Luke Doucet is one of the best guitarists I've ever heard and writes songs that should be world famous. I love the way this song manages to be clever and slightly comical, yet poetic and massively soulful.
6. Blanche | Do You Trust Me?
A brilliant him and her duet, like a Folk cynic's version of Sonny and Cher. He has an excellent worried undertaker persona, while she has this childlike purity in her voice and the way she sings without trying. Blanche always sound like real people fucking around on real instruments together, and I think that's what it's all about.
7. Lyle Lovett | If I Had A Boat
He's remembered most for looking unusual and going out with Julia Roberts, but he has this lovely understated way of singing and is a great Acoustic guitarist. It's like he's winking at you when he combines his boat dream with his pony dream and ends up riding the pony while on the boat. If I combine any of my dreams they end up sounding just as weird.
8. Aretha Franklin | The House That Jack Built
Pure grimy Funk and her voice is amazing. Reminds me of driving 'round with my friends on summer evenings when I used to live in Suffolk. When she sings remember this 'OUSE it almost sounds like a Suffolk accent. There’s also nothing like the sound of a real horn section hanging around at the back of the room.
9. Elliott Smith | Waltz #2 (XO)
A beautiful song about a messed up childhood. There's something kind of magically twisted about the chirpy melodies and bouncy beat while he tells this sad dark story. When he quotes the old song You're no good, you're no good I really feel how he felt.
10. Die Kassierer | Get Your Tits Out So I Can Have A Wank
Comedy gold. The singer of this German Punk band seems to be putting on the worst German accent he can and sounding as sleazy and disgusting as possible. Caricature German-ness mixed with satirical misogyny. What more can we ask for?
+11. Tom Petty And The Heatbreakers | No Second Thoughts
I’ve been a huge Tom Petty fan ever since I first heard him aged about 10. I can’t ever really explain it – I just really dig how he feels his way through a song and I can get where he’s coming from, without him being the best guitarist, or the most elaborate songwriter. This is such a simple song, but, while it jangles away, he creates this image of mysterious figures on a long complicated journey and makes the chorus line ooh, yeah, yeah somehow sound like it means something really deep. I once played it to someone in France, and they immediately started crying. Is that the sign of a good song or a bad song?