Chosen by: Ed MacFarlane, Friendly Fires
Michael Rother was half of the band Neu!. However, his solo stuff has really blown me away. His minimal use of melody in his songs is so emotive. The hooks are incredibly catchy, I can listen to his stuff over and over again. There’s something about his personality that I really like, too. He’s really quiet and reserved, almost the anti-rock star. He’s a guy that loves making beautiful, interesting music.
Chosen by: NME’s Martin Robinson
Scott Engel, a ’60s teen idol in The Walker Brothers, couldn’t cope with fame, suffered a breakdown, joined a monastery, tried to commit suicide, then reinvented himself in 1967 as a romantic balladeer. His subsequent solo output was reduced to one album a decade, each more void-staringly abstract than the last. Walker’s music is some of the most breathtaking ever written, his voice colossal, his songwriting...
Chosen by: Blaine Harrison, Mystery Jets
King Crimson’s ‘In The Court Of The Crimson King’ was the record that made me want to be in a band. It blew my tiny child mind. The man behind the music was Robert Fripp. Fripp felt that music offered “the capacity to re-experience one’s innocence” and listening back to ‘Zootime’, our first seven-inch, I couldn’t believe how indebted to King Crimson it sounded.
Chosen by: The Edge
I listened to Rory Gallagher’s records from the age of 12 or 13. It was the glorious guitar playing that first inspired me to really go after the instrument. Not that I had any ambition then, other than just learning how to play. I saw him in Macroom in 1976. I love his early stuff, the pure energy. That was the era of the trio: Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream… and Ireland had Taste.
Chosen by: NME’s Matt Wilkinson
Now that Syd’s gone there is nobody else in UK music surrounded by such enduring mystique as Lee Mavers of The La’s. The perennial lost boy of Merseybeat, but he endures because of the quality of those songs he left behind: ‘Tears In The Rain’… ‘Callin’ All’… these ‘lost’ tunes are as strong as the likes of ‘Feelin’’ and (almost) ‘There She Goes’.
Chosen by James Skelly from The Coral
He’s one of the most underrated writers ever. He was the best writer in The Byrds, but his album ‘No Other’ is one of the best albums ever made, it should be up there with ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’. He got all the best studios, all the best musicians for it. Listen to him singing, listen to his words. I think he’s a great songwriter who you can learn off.
Chosen by: Daniel Blumberg, Yuck
When David Berman decided to stop the band I was sad, but then he put out a book of annotated drawings. Everything he does is part of the same landscape that he’s been creating throughout his career. It’s totally original, and like all the best art I feel his work is a world in itself for me to return to whenever I choose.
Chosen by: Antony Hegarty
Nomi was so confusing that none of the record shops knew where to put him. In California, he was seen as a death rocker. I’d go in my local record store and see his albums sandwiched between Diamanda Galas, Lydia Lunch and pitbull punks like Christian Death. It didn’t matter what he was singing about, he sounded dramatic and fabulous.
Chosen by: Tom Fleming, Wild Beasts
“I drive I don’t know where I’m driving/I am I don’t know what it is to be/You can just find me floating, sometimes/down rivers of t-tears”. These were my first moments spent with Jandek, on ‘Remain The Same’ from ‘Graven Image’, and by God does it sound like you’re in there with him. He lays himself bare but reveals nothing; he is the antimatter of song.
Chosen by: Theresa Wayman, Warpaint
My first boyfriend had pulled out Captain Beefheart’s ‘Trout Mask Replica’ from his parent’s record collection and I knew that this was going to be a lifelong love affair. Then I heard it. It was too much for my 13-year-old mind to comprehend. I wouldn’t come across it again for another five years, when it swanned back into my life insisting on a second chance. It was the most exciting music I had ever...
Chosen by: NME’s Jamie Hodgson
He found himself aligned with Eminem in the late ’90s after rumours spread that the talented-yet-generic-sounding Detroiter had switched to emulating the semi-biographical narrative flows that defined his NYC contemporary. But if it was Em’s cartoony fun and technique that powered his meteoric rise, Cage’s reptilian rasp, gruesome imagination and extreme ‘realness’ proved at least some trump.
Chosen by: Michael McKnight, Frankie & The Heartstrings
I can’t think of a single person alive today who writes with such honesty. Sexual encounters with dogs, being abused as a child, kicked out of art college and feeling the wrath of Jack White are all events that have carved him into Britain’s greatest cultural icon. If you need any further convincing, look no further than Kurt Cobain’s record collection, which was littered with Billy’s music.
Chosen by: Tom Delonge, Blink-182
They have this very strict ethos about music – it has to be pure and absent of money-making schemes, they won’t charge more than a small amount for tickets to their shows, they don’t sell T-shirts… I mean, they have respect for bands who do go out and become successful and sell millions of records and make lots of money, it’s just that it’s not their kinda thing.
Chosen: by Bjork
‘The Inflatable Tear’ is about how he got an eye disease when he was two, and one day the nurse who was treating him put the wrong medicine in his eye and he went blind. He can remember the last minute he could see and the first minute he couldn’t. The music is very primitive and instinctive. Like, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make sense because your head doesn’t, does it?
Chosen by: Honor Titus, Cerebral Ballzy
Oh man, Stiv Bators is probably the biggest influence on Cerebral Ballzy. His Dead Boys stage antics totally ripped off Iggy, but who givesa fuck? Cutting himself and getting blowjobs onstage and the sheer, earnest straightforward rebellion. Watch the vid of ‘Ain’t It Fun’ and you’ll see what I mean. He’s just such a stylishly badass songwriter, and his style? Second only to Richard Hell.
Chosen by Guy Garvey
They were marketed as a Duran Duran copy band, and when they realised what was going on they withdrew into themselves. You can hear on certain tunes the sound of someone desperately looking for something. I don’t know what it was, but you’ve got to go somewhere to come back with that music. They gave me something to aim at… which I’ll probably never achieve.
Chosen by: Jeffrey Lewis
Tuli Kupferberg is a favourite ‘cult’ musician of mine, though as he liked to say, he wasn’t actually musically skilled enough to play “anything but the radio”. Even through The Fugs’ later incarnations up until Tuli’s death in 2010, he continued to plough his own wonderfully unique lyrical furrow of politics, humanism, satire and outrage, sung in a voice that was more ghetto griot than pop idol.
Chosen by: Anna Calvi
Gesualdo was an Italian composer who, because of mental illness, murdered his wife and her lover, and wrote music in the 16th century that was so progressive and extreme that no-one attempted to recreate his style until the 20th century. He wasn't revered in his lifetime, and after his death he was forgotten. It wasn’t until centuries later that he was rediscovered, and his work is a huge inspiration to me.
Chosen by: Lars Ulrich
Television’s first record still sounds as fresh today and as all-round awesome as it did in 1977. They played Copenhagen and I saw them in this tiny venue. I got the sense that here was a real band who were really connecting with each other. Some of the songs on that first album, like ‘Friction’, are just so intricate. ‘Marquee Moon’ is one of my secret tracks for Metallica to play. I’m gonna try and...
Chosen by: Thurston Moore
I’d have to choose something no-one knows about, which is STP – Julie Cafritz’s band after Pussy Galore. It was four girls from New York and it was just this great band. They were the progenitors to that whole riot grrrl sound.
Chosen by: Thurston Moore
They’re a noise band from Kentucky and they put out this record called ‘Constantly Terrified’. We played with them in Detroit… being onstage with Hair Police, it’s all about the drinking, being drunk, just thrashing out to that kind of music.
Chosen by: Thurston Moore
I always describe Wolf Eyes as being this conflagration of MC5, The Stooges and the history of noise music. They play as if they are the MC5 or The Stooges – the music’s inspired by noise music history. They’re like the first ‘noise’ band to come on like a rock’n’roll band.
Chosen by: James Murphey
Their self-titled album was one of the very first records I considered all mine, rather than any of my older siblings’. It came out in 1983 and still sounds great. The band were these nerds who were punk, or violent toughs who were femmes, or aggressive musicians playing acoustics – it sounded so complicated and it blew open my ideas about maleness in rock. It was wussy and tough at the same time!
Chosen by: Jim James, My Morning Jacket
He’s a quadriplegic political cartoonist from Portland, Oregon, but he put out this incredible LP in 2006. It feels strange and psychedelic. I was thinking about it a lot in terms of stuff I’ve done with Conor [Oberst] and M Ward. The lyrics are amazing. He just has a crazy way of looking at stuff.
Chosen by: NME’s Tom Pinnock
Leader of LA ’60s folk-rock troupe Love, Lee wrote almost all the songs, and even claimed he could play every instrument better than anyone else in the band. After two patchy albums, he conjured up 1967’s ‘Forever Changes’. His keening voice, sweeping strings, horns and acoustic guitar, should have made him a star, but instead Love simply fell apart. One of music’s ultimate cult heroes.