Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Desert Island Playlist

The radio programme Desert Island Discs goes from strength to strength, but if I'm honest, it's a bit dated. If you don't know it, guests on this Radio 4 show list the 10 records they would take with them on a desert island (plus various biographical bits).

It's all very well, but we really wouldn't like to be so limited, would we? So I've devised a new version - Desert Island Playlist. The rules are simple. Construct a playlist of your favourite music. You can have as many tracks as you like, but you are only allowed one track per band/artist or one piece per classical composers. What would yours be like?

I've listed mine below, and for those who like techno things, I've embedded a Spotify version of most of the playlist here so you can listen to them:



So here we go. I warn you, it's quite long. The order is simply the order I came across the tracks on iTunes, so it's in 'no particular order', as they say:
  • Al Stewart - Josephine Baker - a hard choice to get just one from my favourite singer/song writer, but this is one of my least-known favourites
  • Barber - Agnus Dei - I first came across this as background music in an animated section of a video game and fell in love with it
  • Allegri - Miserere - simply stunning
  • Beatles - Because - Abbey Road was an amazing album for me. It was the first pop record I really got into and coincided with one of those formative holidays where you meet girls and things
  • Blondie - Heart of Glass - had to be something from Parallel Lines
  • Orff - Carmina Burana - Dulcissime/Ave formosissima/O Fortuna - the final three tracks of this remarkable piece where the heroine gives her all, we celebrate love... and the wheel of fortune turns and nothing has changed. Forget the X-Factor associations, this is powerful stuff
  • Carpenters - We've Only Just Begun - sob
  • Vaughan Williams -  Bushes and Briars - I could have had one his lush orchestral pieces, but this male voice harmony setting of a folk song that I used to sing with my old chapel choir is electric
  • Wills - By the Waters of Babylon - I don't know if this has ever been recorded apart from the hissy recording I have of Selwyn chapel choir, but I think it's gorgeous
  • Leighton - Drop, Drop Slow Tears - another obscure 20th century composer, but more scrumptious dark choral work
  • Tavener - The Lamb - sweet
  • S. S. Wesley - Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in B flat - the definitive Edwardian version of these miniature choral masterpieces
  • Curved Air - Puppets - one of many greats on the Second Album of this remarkable band
  • Beethoven - Moonlight Sonata - so I'm an old romantic
  • David Bowie - Life on Mars - wow
  • Dire Straits - Money for Nothing - the background music to a trip to New Orleans
  • Don McLean - Vincent - in memory of a student concert, where someone sang this and blew everyone away
  • The Eagles - Journey of the Sorcerer - could have done Hotel California, but let's celebrate HHGTTG
  • Ed Sheeran - The A Team - a kids' influence, but I like it
  • Fleetwood Mac - Oh Daddy - could really have been anything from this album
  • Genesis - I Know What I Like - just love the 'lawnmower' bit
  • Mahler - Symphony 5 - one of the jollier works from my favourite symphonic composer
  • Howells - Like as the Hart - possibly the best British 20th century church music composer. Haunting
  • Jethro Tull - Ring Out, Solstice Bells - unique sound and fun
  • Judie Tzuke - For you - could just listen to this over and over. Beautifully crafted
  • Karl Jenkins - Benedictus - played too much by Classic FM, but still good
  • Kate Bush - Lionheart - I know she says her first 3 albums were too studio dominated, but I prefer them to her later work
  • King Crimson - The Court of the Crimson King - nothing to add
  • Tallis - If Ye Love Me - a perfect short anthem from this early English master
  • Kirsty MacColl - What Do Pretty Girls Do - again, difficult to pin down a definitive song, so a pretty random choice
  • Lindsey Stirling - Shatter Me - my latest discovery. Love it
  • Lily Allen - The Fear - perfect song for her generation
  • Manhattan Transfer - A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square - shiver-sendingly good
  • Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells - despite meaning we see Richard Branson on those excruciating ads, wonderfully original
  • Pearsall - Lay a Garland - it's a fake tudorbethan piece from the master of Victorian revival, but no less beautiful for that
  • Pink Floyd - Welcome to the Machine - who made that stupid 'one track' rule? But from probably their most perfect album
  • The Police - Don't Stand So Close to Me - I hated the Police initially as someone on the floor above played 'Message in a Bottle' repeatedly, but got to like them - and the menace in this one is impressive
  • Purcell - Dido and Aeneas, When I am Laid in Earth - the most moving aria from the only opera worth listening to end to end
  • Bach - Well Tempered Clavier Prelude and Fugue in C major - perfection from the master
  • Sheppard - Dum transisset Sabbatum - to modern ears, the tudorbethan Sheppard breaks all the musical rules, but does so remarkably
  • Simon and Garfunkel - Homeward Bound - I could have chosen 20 at least. The soundtrack of my university years
  • Sting - Moon over Bourbon Street - I've seen it (the moon over Bourbon Street, I mean), and despite everything wrong with Sting, this song is so evocative
  • Stravinsky - The Firebird - the complete ballet, not the suite. Orchestral perfection throughout.
  • Supertramp - Crime of the Century - in my youth I did a lot of travelling by train for the fun of it, and the Paddington station announcements on this track take me right back
  • Swingle - The Oxen - gorgeous setting of this Thomas Hardy poem
  • Tom Lehrer - I Hold Your Hand in Mine - my party piece if I'm asked to sing
  • Toyah - I Want to be Free - one of her two hits, not really my favourites, but the rest (and yes, I have a lot of Toyah albums, someone has to) are an acquired taste
  • Van der Graaf Generator - Mask - gut-wrenching stuff
  • Oldham - Remember O Thou Man - cracking choral music from this one-hit wonder
  • Byrd - Mass for Four Voices - musical perfection from the greatest ever English composer
  • Yes - See All Good People - not subtle, but still brilliant
  • 10cc - Brand New Day - I could have chosen practically any track of their two key albums
  • Derek and the Dominos - Layla - what's not to love?
  • Monteverdi - Magnificat - the musical equivalent of a high gothic building like King's chapel in Cambridge
  • The Who - I'm Free - I'd be hated by Who purists, but I prefer the movie version to the original album of Tommy
Phew!

UPDATED - In case you don't bother to read comments, M. G. Harris bullied me below into whittling it down to the 10 I would have under traditional Desert Island Discs rules. It's a struggle, but these would be my 10:

1. Al Stewart - Josephine Baker
2. Barber - Agnus Dei
3. Vaughan Williams -  Bushes and Briars 
4. Pearsall - Lay a Garland 
5. Pink Floyd - Welcome to the Machine
6. Simon and Garfunkel - Homeward Bound 
7. Sting - Moon over Bourbon Street 
8. Stravinsky - The Firebird - the complete ballet, not the suite. 
9. Supertramp - Crime of the Century 
10. Byrd - Mass for Four Voices


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