Photo by Minori Yonetani

1. Ella Fitzgerald | Manhattan (Sterling Holloway & June Cochran Cover)
When I was very young my parents gave me and my sister their old record player and a stack of 78’s to play. Some were Classical Music, some were easy-listening and a few were Jazz, amongst them this, by Ella Fitzgerald. I played this and the B-side Every Time We Say
Goodbye over and over, but kids and 78’s is not a good combination and eventually one of us sat on it and broke it. Definitely my sister. I now have about 14 LP’s of Ella’s now. For me, Ella is truly the Queen of Jazz. Her voice is one that, for me, no-one comes close to.

2. Roger Nichols & The Small Circle Of Friends | Don't Take Your Time
Whenever I hear this song I get a massive rush. It is the most perfect Pop song. It has quite a strange structure that just keeps going forward, heaping on the rush. When I heard the album, it was inevitable that I’d be a bit disappointed, because this song is almost too good to be true. It’s the Carpenters vs. Acid House.

3. Leslie Winer | The Boy Who Used 2 Whistle
This is one of those LPs that I bought because the CD was 1 pound in a cheap CD shop, called Mr. CD, in London’s West End. It turned out to be a real winner, which I come back to again and again. The combination of Leslie Winer’s drawling, tired vocal and the super-smooth Trip-Hoppy beat backing is super-seductive. I REALLY need the vinyl of this… As people like to say… All killer, no filler. Has been recently re-issued by Superior Viaduct. Clever people.

4. Robert Haigh And Silent Storm | X-Generation 
A friend of mine in Osaka released this. I heard it when I went to a cafe in Osaka for a Dance/Music event and the dancer used this, quite likely at the behest of the label mam. I fell in love with it immediately. It reminded me in a strange way of Insides, a band Spoonfed Hybrid shared a label with once (Guernica). It seemed like they had grown an extra couple of legs. I love it. I love it. I love it. I still have about 20 copies after distributing a few to fellow Music lovers.

5. Blondie | Contact In Red Square
I graduated from ABBA to Toyah and Blondie when I was 14. When Blondie appeared on Top Of The Pops, an English Music TV show, I’m pretty sure my pants were soaked. She was a very good singer and writer, who also happened to be a beautiful woman, and, of course, a wank target for teenage boys, and a very good role model for strong women in a misanthropic industry. How could she possibly not succeed. Denis was the hit off this album, and it was also very good, but it wore thin after only 200 listens.

6. The Misunderstood | I Unseen
I first heard this on the legendary Cherry Red compilation Pillows And Prayers, an album that cost only 99p. It introduced me to other bands like Eyeless In Gaza, as well. Around this time I also copied a tape from a friend of Nuggets and discovered The Electric Prunes and The 13th Floor Elevators too. I knew I had to hear the whole LP. The Misunderstood had a guitar sound that shredded the clothes you were wearing, but came dangerously close to the Blues Music I hated. Time for a brain re-calibration. This song shared lyrics with I Come And Stand At Every Door by The Byrds, a song told from the viewpoint of a child incinerated at Hiroshima. Living in Japan, this is something I encounter every year, but, not having lived through it, can not really comprehend.

7. Eyeless In Gaza | Dreaming At Rain
Very, very hard to pick just one track by this band. They helped me understand that Pop couldn’t fulfil all my needs. When I was at Birmingham University, I used to go to gigs at the Fighting Cocks pub in Moseley. At the time, it was a rough pub, like most of the pubs in that area. The first time I walked in I saw 2 skinheads fighting on the billiards table. I probably scurried upstairs. I saw many bands there including The Smiths on their 1st tour. They were very good, but Eyeless In Gaza were much much better. They were only 2 people, and yet they had as much of a full band sound as they needed. Pete Becker played the bass and drums at the same time. I was gobsmacked. We should have got him to produce the 1st Pale Saints album. But maybe if we had, we might have never have got to go to Japan, which is one of the reasons I live here now.

8. Meiko Kaji | Hitori Kaze 
Even though I live in Japan, I’m not a huge fan of Japanese Music. I’m very, very sorry. But obviously there are exceptions. On a visit to a flea market near where I live, I found this song on an EP. It was placed last, suggesting that it might be a minor B-side. Nothing of the kind. It’s one of the pinnacles of Meiko Kaji’s output, with an epic arrangement by Hiroshi Takada, an absolute masterpiece mashup between Enka and Spaghetti Western. AND Wah Wah Psychedelic guitars…

9. The Birthday Party | Hamlet (Pow, Pow, Pow)
And Big-Jesus-Trash-Can... One of my friends at School was always telling me how great The Birthday Party was… I never believed him… Then I heard this album and I suppose I finally started to believe him Wherefore art thou, baby face? … I finally got my shit together to see them at their last gig at the Electric Ballroom in London. It was fairly scary. People in the audience were punching each other quite hard, left, right and anywhere else they could. My Dad, who was also there, punched me in the face. Scoundrels, the lot of ‘em.

10. The Electric Prunes | Get Me To The World On Time
They had amazing guitar sounds and great tunes. Just listen to any song from their first two albums. The 13th Floor Elevators were great as well, at least for the first two albums. At some point The Electric Prunes record label assigned producer David Axelrod to them to make an album with part religious chanting and part electric guitar solos. It should have turned out shit, but it’s excellent too, as are the first few LPs by Axelrod under his own name (If you ever see Heavy Axe and are tempted, don’t be. Leave it in the racks). I always hated guitar solos, but I guess this is the exception. Another brain re-calibration required.

+11. The Red Crayola | Hurricane Fighter Plane (ZigZag Magazine Flexi Disc Version)
The version I'm choosing is the re-recorded version from a flexi disc, given away with English Music magazine ZigZag, which was a major information source when I was a teenager. This version of the song is so completely creepy and scary it confused me for quite a while. The other track on the flex was Reverberation by the 13th Floor Elevators, which I initially preferred. Now, no contest. Track it down if you can. It’ll be worth it.

+12. Louis And Bebe Barron | Robby Arranges Flowers, Zaps Monkey (Forbidden Planet Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
This LP milestone in Electronic Music for movies debuted in 1956 as the soundtrack to this, the movie Forbidden Planet, but didn’t get released on a Music format until 1976. It’s complete genius from beginning to end. It was made with very old synthesizers, but not synthesizers, probably just very, very old town making machines. It's an absolutely perfect soundtrack for the film and gives it a very strange timeless feel. The film was denied an Oscar for Music as the Academy members of The Academy and the Musicians Union Of America decided that Music made by machines was not eligible to receive a prize. It's probably my favourite album of Electronic Music ever and I never get tired of listening to it. It’s ageless and sounds better than 95% of all the albums which were made after it. Shortly after making this album, the composers were abducted by an alien race and never seen again. The whole album is incredible and essential.

+13. Eden Ahbez | The Wanderer
This album is a very strange album, but very beautiful album from the early sixties that sounds like nothing else. It was made by a self-styled proto-hippie living in Hollywood who wrote Nature Boy, which was subsequently made famous by Nat King Cole and many other singers. The cover photograph makes him look like a kind of Jesus figure, but the Music itself is beautiful Exotica with completely out of Time monologues over the top of it. So beautifully recorded that it sounds incredible even on YouTube. Again, you need the whole album. Try to buy one with the right cover and not the shitty re-issue cover I have.

+14. Baden E Vinícius | Canto De Ossanha
This is my favorite Brazilian album of all time, although many others come quite close. Introduced to me by my friend Mark Tranmer (of Gnac, The Montgolfier Brothers and Wingdisk), at first I was put off by the fact that the guitarist has the same name as an English Scout leader, but after I heard the LP for the first time I knew I would be listening to it for a very long time. It was made in the in the late sixties by guitarist Baden Powell and poet Vinicius De Moraes, and among the other musicians on the album are the female vocal group Quarteto Em Cy. It's an incredibly beautiful and spiritual album, which over time I became completely obsessed with. I can hardly write this stupid text as my body is wracked with waves of pleasure while listening to it again. Yes, of course, you need the whole fucking album! If you dare to buy just this one track, put on the conical hat and enjoy the corner of the room. Also, there are two versions of this album. One recorded in 1960, the original, which is the one you must hear. The other recorded in 1990 by Baden Powell without Moraes, but with Quarteto Em Cy and many great percussionists, is also very much worth checking out.