You might have heard of Stevyn. He is a really interesting guy and somebody I would love to spend an evening with over a pint if his Wikipedia page is anything to go by. Stevyn’s an artist and we are now the proud owners of his original artwork entitled “Eggy Soldiers”, along with some of his prints. Please take a look at his website. The doodles are amazing. I have followed Stevyn on Twitter for a long time and have to say I am a huge fan of both his writing and his art so I was chuffed when he said he would do a Top Ten for me and then emailed it to me almost instantly.
This is Stevyn’s Top Ten of Tunes:
It’s really hard to isolate the 10 songs that mean the most to me as so many do. And having notched up my half-century this year I have several decades of fantastic music to draw my selection from. However, this is as close as I’ll ever get
I write songs as well as books and have done so for 30-odd years. ‘God only knows’ is just the perfect song. Beautifully structured, amazing chord sequences and great lyrics. Plus, of course, those amazing harmonies. I will never tire of hearing it.
I was doing pottery in school as a teenager with the radio on when ‘Kid’ Jenson played ‘Wuthering Heights’ for the very first time on UK radio. I was utterly spellbound by it and my pot went wonky. I’ve been a fan ever since. Hounds of Love is her stand-out album in my humble opinion and the title track is amazing. On this list Kate represents groundbreaking female artists and, if the list were longer, I’d also be including P J Harvey, St Vincent, Ellie Goulding, Kirsty Macoll, Feist, Emmy the Great and so many others
Growing up in Cornwall in the 60s and 70s, we were a bit isolated from what was trending in music. Hippy culture hung around for a long time and punk kind of passed us by. In my quest to find better music than the Donny Osmond, Bay City Rollers type puppy pop in the charts, I latched onto Prog Rock. I loved the imagery, the musicianship and the album covers. Among my favourites were Greensade, Emerson Lake and Palmer and Focus, but Yes was always my favourite. This track – all 20 glorious minutes of it – is the best thing they ever did
I loved early Genesis (not so much late Genesis) and Peter Gabriel’s amazing voice in particular. His solo work has been extraordinary and I love the passion and energy in this track. Gabriel represents the male singer/songwriters on this list. I would also have loved to include Morrisey and The Smiths, The Proclaimers, Billy Bragg, Neil Young, Paddy McAloon and Prefab Sprout, Robert Palmer, Neil Hannon and The Dine Comedy …
Criminally underrated, XTC are my favourite band of all time. Andy partridge and Colin Moulding write sublime songs and it’s such a shame that people only really know them for ‘Making plans for Nigel’ and ‘Senses working overtime’. The ‘Skylarking’ album is a work of pure genius from beginning to end
10CC were an endlessly inventive, often tongue-in-cheek band that grew out of art school. If you listen to any of their albums, every song is different, every member of the band writes (and often swap lead vocals) and there’s hit after hit after hit. ‘One night in Paris’ was a 10 minute long rock operetta bursting with great tunes and boundless humour
I grew up with folk music. The only venues for live music in rural Cornwall were folk clubs. I’m a big fan of traditional folk but I also love the new wave of young British folk stars that includes Eliza Carthy, Seth Lakeman, Karine Polwart, Bellowhead, Kate Rusby and many more. Jim Moray is my top of the crop because he dares to upset the old guard by taking traditional songs and giving them a modern twist. He takes a 17th century drinking song and makes it sound like Coldplay. He takes an equally old ballad of incest and murder and turns it into drum and bass. He’s a very talented producer and every album is surprising
You can virtually cut and paste everything I said about 10CC here. Queen came from the same decade and same artisan rock background. As you may have spotted, there is a theme that runs through my 10 choices – artistry. It’s not enough for me that a band/artist produces a nice sound. I love lyrics that tell a story. I love clever musicianship. I love light and shade in music and cannot bear bands where every track sounds the same. And how can Freddie have been gone 20 years?
A painfully beautiful song from her album ‘Vespertine’. She may be as bonkers as a bucket of ferrets on LSD but Bjork never fails to break new ground and shake up musical conventions with every new release. Madness and genius are very closely intertwined. Bjork represents the avant-garde in my musical selection. Ranking equally alongside her I’d place Cocteau Twins and, in particular, their singer Elizabeth Fraser whose voice makes me melt.
A new band on the block but so very energetic and exciting. They’re in this list to represent the new wave of artisan rockers; bands that take just a little more time to construct their songs. In this list I’d include Biffy Clyro, The North Sea Radio Orchestra, Battles, Gotye and high-octane super-instrumentalists like Liquid Tension Experiment and Planet X. So there you go. I could list 100 bands and artists that inspire me and whose music I love. This small selection hardly does it justice. And I haven’t even mentioned classical music …
Top 10 image courtesy of Shutterstock