Desk music

I am a man of habit; in the short term at least. I tend to do and redo things. Some of them last a long time - I'm still a fan of the Who four decades after first listening to their music and of Asimov's fiction the same length of time after first reading one of his short story collections (Through a Glass Clearly). But others are habits that come, stick around for a while and then disappear.

Well the one I am about to blog about is both. I keep a stack of CDs on my desk that are the core of my listening at any one time. They are not the only things I listen to - far from it. I will stand up and walk across to the shelves on the wall to my right and pick CDs off quite often as the mood strikes. But the ones on my desk are the ones that when I play them I don't want to put back - at least not for a while.

Well having just added one to the pile (and taken one off it which I will not name as its removal is my fault not its - I have heard it a few times recently so it can rest and re-acquaint itself with its friends on the shelves) I thought it might be time to talk about the current list.

The newly added CD (the one playing as I type) seemed a good place to start. It's arbitrary beyond that. I'll just list them from the top down. Oh - one rule; no artist can be in the pile twice

CD - 1.
Jethro Tull - Crest of a Knave.
This is probably not the first Jethro Tull album people might think of. It's not from their prime period (the 70s). But I like it. I'd not long discover the band when this came out so its timing for me was perfect. And also it came at the time when, because I was a student, I didn't have the kind of money I have now to buy music and there was no internet to casually listen when you had time. As a result the albums I bought back then had plenty of time to imprint themselves on my psyche. You'll probably notice another CD like this as I move down the pile.

CD - 2
Nick Drake - Bryter Layter
I first bought Nick Drake on vinyl back in my school days (LPs which are unfortunately long gone). I like his simple style, at odds in many ways with some of his complex melodies and scanning - listen to Hazey Jane II. (Apologies to anyone who knows the right words for musical stuff. I'm a musical ignoramus so I make do with the words my brain supplies me with).
Nick Drake died too young. He was only 26. He only released three albums. This was the second and it's a beautifully lyrical album.

CD - 3
Lou Reed - New York
This has been on this pile longer than any of the others currently in it. A friend of mine at University (a Swiss guy called Markus) bought this in Leicester on one of the mornings we headed for all the records shops (Leicester had quite a number in those days). We got back, put this album on, listened to it and then I had to go back into Leicester to get my own copy.
This is quite simply one of my favourite albums of all time. I love everything about it.

CD - 4
Rush - Clockwork Angels
Some bands get pretty bad late on in their careers. Rush however are not one of them. This is their final studio album (unless some miracle happens) and it is quite simply brilliant. A band that could go on forever as far as I'm concerned.

CD - 5
Tanita Tikaram - Closer to the People
The CD this replaced was her previous album - Can't Go Back. For quite a while I did regret my rule of only one CD per artist. Then I thought seriously about it. I do only have to go about six feet to go fetch from the shelf to play it. No great hardships.
TT is an artist I have followed since her first records came out back in 1988. I've listened to her as I turned from being a teenager into a grown up into my current middle age. And at every step of the way she has released an album I have loved.
This one is no exception

CD - 6
Ultravox - The Colllection
Normally I don't add compilations to this pile. I like to hear an album as it's supposed to be - the songs together as they were when they were first released and in the order they were original put in.
Compilations, for all that they contain the singles or most popular songs, often seem a mismatch. These Best Ofs usually live their lives in my car when all I want is the hits This one however works wonderfully well as a record. And it has one of my favourite songs on it - Hymn.

CD - 7
Kate Bush - The Sensual World
I like female singer/songwriters (this is not the last that will feature here). And Kate Bush is one of the best of them. This album would probably not be the pick of many KB fans. They'd probably go for one of the earlier ones but this reminds me of the summer when I bought it. I'd finished University and was about to start my teaching career and full of hope for the future. I shared a wonderful summer staying on in the Uni digs with friends I'd made in student days and we spent one last summer ignoring the fact we were all about to go our separate ways.
In the middle of that I bought this. It beings back those memories.

CD - 8
Bruce Springsteen - the Rising
Again possibly not the first choice of other fans and I will agree with to a large degree. My favourite Springsteen album is probably Nebraska and that was on this pile for a long time but I just wanted a change and so it was replaced wit this one. I find the Rising a wonderfully balanced album. There are moments of sorrow and moments of loss and they come together superbly time and time again. It's a great heartfelt album. A true single piece of work - no grouping of unrelated tracks joined only by proximity timewise

CD - 9
Marillion - Season's End
See the previous comment about timing. This came out the same summer as the Kate Bush.
It might be the first after he left the band but in many ways this is a Fish album. The vocalist is different but the style is unmistakably 80s Marillion. and in my opinion up their with Misplaced Childhood.

CD - 10
Roy Harper - Stormcock
I bought this when I was about 12. I can remember every part of doing so. There was a second hand record dealer not too far from my parents house - just a short bus ride away. My mother was going to the same place (for a different shop just down from the record dealer) and I tagged along. I took some of the money I'd been saving up for summer holidays having decided I was going to buy a record and I chose this.
My mother thought I was mad. What 12 year old buys a record where there are just four tracks, each more than ten minutes where the music is little more than one man playing an acoustic guitar and not-quite-singing some pretty harsh lyrics. Well, I did. And in truth she should have known better than to think this a weird pick. by that time I already had King Crimson, Brian Eno and John Lee Hooker in my record collection so this wasn't all that far out there. Oh, and the other recor dI bought that day was Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-da-Vida. Maybe I wasn't a normal 12 year old

CD - 11
Suzanne Vega - First Album
I did say there was another female singer songwriter on my desk pile. SV always features in the pile. I love all of her albums and it's only a question of which one. Well it changed recently back to the first one. You just can't beat songs like Small Blue Thing

Anyway, that's the end of the pile and very near the end of this blog entry. I don't know if it's told you anything about my psyche. Other than what you might already know from reading my blog, my fiction (I do keep my fingers crossed some of you have read some) and my tweets. If I wake up tomorrow to someone banging on the door with restraints and sedatives then I'll know this had some effect.


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