Terry Callier

A few weeks ago Emma arrived back from work late on a Friday and had been listening to Iggy Pop’s show on Radio 2 on her way home. She came in and said straight away, ‘Terry Callier – Paris Blues’. We listened to it on You Tube and I immediately ordered the CD (Lookin’ Out).

Since then I haven’t been able to stop playing it. It is just a gorgeous track at any time of day, but if you listen to it late at night, with dimmed lights and a glass of your favourite tipple…  well … just do it and see for your self.

We saw him with Massive Attack a few years ago but, apart from that, he is someone who somehow passed me by and I don’t know how.

Subsequent to this, as Emma is a big Beth Orton fan, we also bought her ‘Best Bit’ Ep in which she duets with Terry Callier. ‘Lean on Me’ from this ep is also fantastic.




Chatham County Line


Emma and I first saw Chatham County Line on Jools Holland probably about 10 years ago, checked the papers and found they were playing at Night and Day in Manchester. Prior to the gig I bought IV which has the track ‘The Carolinian’ on it which was one of the tracks they played on Jools. On the day we were supposed to go Emma was recovering from being ill and we nearly bailed out. What a good decision we made by going. Great venue and amazing gig, which finished with the band in the middle of the audience doing an acoustic rendition of The Monroe Brothers ‘What would you give in exchange for your soul’. Jawdropping. Anyway at the gig we bought the ‘live in caroline’ cd, which incidentally has that same track on it.

These two cds became regular listens over the next couple of years with ‘Chip of a Star’ moving up the favourite list.

Probably a couple of years later we saw them again at The Brudenell Social Club in Leeds and at that gig bought an entirely unnecessary vinyl copy of IV which we also managed to get signed. Over the period to date they have continued to be one of my regular listens come rain or shine.

In January 2017 we saw them again at The Deaf Institute in Manchester. To say it was amazing  probably under sells it a little. We met the band again after the gig and I bough more vinyl (which makes a change).

So, what do they sound like? Bluegrass is how they are classified but, to me, that seems to be used to cover a multitude of styles. I would say old time folk/country/ American roots with great songs, fantastic harmonies and virtuoso playing.

Anyway, I am pretty much listening to them most days at the moment. If you fancy a sample, here are a few titles.

The Carolinian

Chip of a Star

Crop Comes in

Speed of the Whippoorwill


Out of the Running

Down by the Riverside

But there are too many to list… absolutely amazing band.


What, why and when!

So, the reality of the initial task I set myself was that it very quickly became a chore. I have to say with the greatest respect to the artists : ), that Kiss Destroyer very nearly put me off music entirely and the thought of Cindi Lauper up next (with the exception of Time after Time) just made me realise that there were other things I needed to do, rather than be prescriptive about the order of, or indeed what I listened to.

What has happened in the interim is that I have probably listened to as much music and attended as many gigs than at any time  in my recent life. I have just not blogged about any of it.

In that period, several (of the admittedly limited) albums I listened to from the top 500 are regular listening partners. Wilco, ZZ Top, MGMT all of which I didn’t regularly listen to before and The Stone Roses, which I did.

So what I thought I would do now (not that anyone but me is interested), is to turn this into an occasional random dip into the top 500 (more for records I don’t know), and then primarily to describe stuff I (and t’wife)  have been listening to (if that’s all right with the myriad of users who have been waiting for this blog to start up again to fill the cultural void its absence has created!). So….

488 – Hüsker Dü – New Day Rising



First listen completed, initial thoughts are that I am not sure it is an album to sit and listen to from start to finish in a smoking jacket with a glass of tawny port.

‘Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill’ and ‘I Apologize’ are the two I remember most and am also enjoying most on first listen. I am sure this will change.

So, this is definitely a ‘weather-specific’ album. Travelling in to work this am. with the sun shining all I wanted to do was turn it up and put my foot down!

I think that it is more an album of its time than a top 500, but hey you can say this about many others on the list.

Tracks I am not so fond of.

‘New Day Rising’ itself

‘Powerline’ – it starts and immediately feels like I should like it then it just doesn’t quite work for me.

‘How to Skin a Cat’, ‘Whatcha Drinkin” and ‘Plans I Make’ – they ran out of ideas a bit at the end methinks.

However, in between these bookends are some good tracks, I am particularly liking ‘Books About UFOs’ at the moment. Will do the last and final listen later.

OK – finally finished this post only 2 years after promising to have finished the top 500. Last and final listen completed my opinion, books about UFOs is my favourite but I haven’t really gone back to this album during my hiatus so I think that says it all

489 – Kiss – Destroyer


Not really one I was looking forward to – I never really got Kiss and can’t really separate them from the affront to music (albeit a quite catchy affront) that was ‘Crazy Nights’  but – here goes.

I somehow own this on vinyl – I have no recollection of buying it but I quite like the look of the cover in front of the record player, sorry for the indulgence (if the blog isn’t  indulgent enough in itself : ))


For those of you who haven’t read ‘Hell Bent for Leather: Confessions of a Heavy Metal Addict’ by Seb Hunter, you should read it whilst listening to Kiss. He talks about heavy metal with the fondness and humour of a music lover whilst acknowledging and poking fun at the excesses and ultimately why it was blown away by the arrival of Nirvana.

I think Kiss are one of these excesses – it just doesn’t do it for me at all (and I also have a fondness for rock) – the first listen through has me really not looking forward to the next two.

Having finished the first listen what can I say. The production is ok, if a little OTT on the vocal processing sometimes  and with a fondness for chimes, and it seems like they can probably play but I just can’t get into it.

For me, if you drew a line between Meat Loaf/Jim Steinman at one end and someone like AC/DC at the other end and took the least successful bits of both (and I have to front up here – I don’t like Bat Out of Hell) this seems to me to be what the result would be.

Ready for the final detailed listen and unless I have a eureka moment this one wont be on my future playlist.

‘Detroit Rock City’ is one of the the least bad ones, apart from the overblown guitar solo.

‘King of the Night Time World’ sounds like something by The Who from Tommy (but on a really bad day).

‘God of Thunder’ is is every heavy rock cliché in one song. maybe they are really doing it for fun! This one also makes me feel a bit nauseous towards the end with the swirling sounds. Apart from the ‘God of Thunder’ first bit of the chorus which is actually quite catchy for the 5 seconds it lasts.

The chorus of ‘Great Expectations’ is like an awful version of  ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’…….. played backwards.

I am now really happy that I have it on vinyl as at least I can pause in the middle….

Currently contemplating a random visit to the dentist for unnecessary root canal work, or perhaps I should just shut up and listen!

Side 2 – here goes.

Every time I think I like a little bit of it, something else manages to get pulled out of the ‘hat of unnecessaryness..’  . ‘Flaming Youth’ is a case to point here, the main bit of the song not too bad then bang!

‘Sweet Pain’, is just awful.

‘Shout out Loud’, might actually be the best one on the album, I can almost bear it.

‘Beth’ is forgettable for me sounds like they are trying to do an ‘Angie’ or something similar.

‘Do you love me’ –  no!

Rolling Stone said this was ‘a ridiculously over the top party anthem that just improves with age’ – we must not have been at the same parties and I don’t feel I missed out! I also can’t imagine what it must have been like ‘pre-improvement’.

I am sure that I am somehow missing the point but …

For me the album is 4/10.





490 – ZZ Top – Tres Hombres

ZZ top

Off we go again.

Don’t know this one, I only know ZZ Top from their 80’s days and they weren’t really my favourite.

Wasn’t really looking forward to this, but then went into the Vinyl Tap record shop in Huddersfield this lunchtime (fab place  btw for those that don’t know it). The reason for my visit was to purchase some albums which are coming up in the list, I try not to go in ‘too’ often as it is dangerous : ),  anyway – one of the ‘Vinyl Tap Guys’, must ask his name next time I am in, said that it was one of his favourite albums so my interest was well and truly piqued.

Great sound, real blues rock with (according to ‘Blog Connoisseur’ shades of Thin Lizzy). I even hear slight country influences but ‘Blog Connoisseur’ stops short of that one, so its me alone with that view!

I definitely reckon that the Kings of Leon listened to this a little bit though.

Just onto the third listen as yesterday ended up being a bit of a write off (in listening terms).

The approach I tend to take for albums I don’t know, is to not listen ‘too’ closely for the first couple of listens (to try and get an overall feel for the album and its sound) so it is already familiar when I have a ‘proper’ listen. That will be this evening for ‘The Top’. Will need to get my skates on…

After a 1 month hiatus caused by a long running ear infection rendering me deaf and an enforced repair to an amplifier here we go.

Have now listened to this about 20 times it is a great album. From the first track it is the kind of album that has you nodding like the Bohemian Rhapsody scene in Wayne’s World. It is such a good listen. Any album with a track called ‘Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers’ has go to be good!

The first five tracks are absolutely outstanding and La Grange is a classic. Even the one track which isn’t in the in the same league (Sheik – bit formulaic ) would probably stand up on  a lesser album. I would definitely choose to listen to this album for fun.

Eliminator was of its time whereas this is a timeless classic.

PS – They formed in 1969 – can you believe it? I couldn’t!

La Grange and really most of the other tracks 14/15.

Album 15

Very unexpected (for me at least ) – apologies to all you ZZ Top aficionados out there!



491 – Albert King – Born Under a Bad Sign

Albert King

Another one I have heard of but know nothing about..

So, have listened to this three times and cannot help but be impressed by the amazing playing. However have been struggling to get into it at all really.

Given that I made the rules I thought I would break them and give myself another couple of listens before making any further comments as the third listen was the best so far.

On the sixth listen, still not ‘quite’ my thing but I am getting there.

I have to say that I am still absolutely blown away by the horn section, guitar playing, beautifully sympathetic and delicate piano and I like his voice as well. It is also great driving music!

Not bad for something that isn’t my thing!

Despite a few tracks which are fairly standard….

‘Kansas City’ is a really great tune and starts my favourite run of tracks on the album.

‘On Pretty Woman’ has got that heavy ‘walking’ beat backing it with the sharp horn stabs and short sharp guitar riffs. You don’t want to be contemplating whether or not to overtake anyone in your car when this comes on!

Then we are into ‘Down Don’t bother Me’ and ‘The Hunter’ which are great tracks as well.

The arrangement on ‘I Almost Lost my Mind’ is amazing with a great vocal sound and the little flute ornaments just making for a really great feel.

Finishing up with ‘The Very Thought of You’ which is just gorgeous – invoking shades of Nat King Cole.

My only comment generally (apologies to you blues afficianados) – I would have placed the guitar ever so slightly lower in the mix, as I think occasionally it overpowers the horns when it should be working with them – anyway this view may change!

I can honestly say that if I didn’t have another 490 to go – a few more listens and I might be a convert.

So for me I can definitely see why it is in the 500 and another example of why this project is enjoyable and is also ‘broadening my horizons’.


492 – Eurythmics – Touch


So, having seen the Eurythmics live, I have always been very much of the opinion that Annie Lennox’ voice is much better than has ever been captured on a recording.

This will be an interesting revisit as I haven’t played this one for many years!

Time to break out the vinyl again as this one is LP only here!


Quite a transition to listen to this after Wilco, needs a slight recalibration!

‘Here Comes the Rain Again’ wasn’t really one of my Eurythmics favourites despite its success, but it is good to hear it again and just to pick up on the Eurythmics sound and recalibrate back to ’83 – yes it is 32 years old this year. I actually prefer it now and I really like the opening with the strings and the vocals sound great as well, not too overdone.

I think ‘Regrets’ is a great song with really good, soulful beat and fat synth bass line. I used to think I actually preferred it to ‘Here comes the Rain’ as I really liked the sound of Annie Lennox’ voice in it, but now I’m not so sure – great track though.

‘Right By Your Side’ from the ‘Steel Drums’ sound to the 80’s sax sound is a pretty good pop song as well, but there are others on this side (and the rest of the album t.b.h.) that are a bit ‘fillerish’.

‘Cool Blue’ starts really well again with that heavy synth bass line to die for,  but doesn’t really develop into the  tune which appears to be trying to get out, and ends up a bit throw away, not sure why.

Then there is ‘Who’s that Girl’…

From the opening with the reverb on the voice, it was memorable at the time and still stands up. ‘But there’s just one thing..,  just one thing…’, followed by that ominous bass and background wailing (for want of a more appropriate word – sorry Annie).

It is haunting and slightly menacing at the same time. This is the song of the album for me and a great slice of 80’s music. Each time I have listened to it I have enjoyed it more, and have been reacquainted with an old friend who I had forgotten about over the last few years.

I just don’t think the second side is anywhere near as good and to reverse Jerry Lee (and more recently Sum 41) –  ‘mostly filler not too much killer’.

‘The First Cut’ sounds a bit like a not as good version of ‘Situation’ by Yazoo  (having said that there is a fair bit of 80s stuff that this could also be said about).

‘Aqua’ once again starts well but doesn’t really go anywhere from promising beginnings, its not bad just doesn’t do anything.

‘No Fear, No Hate, No Pain (No Broken Hearts)’ has elements of a nowhere near as good tribute to ‘Who’s that Girl’ and I don’t really like the way the vocals fit with the melody either. The vocals have also been arranged so that that ‘hard’ backing vocal sound  is overdone at times which I also struggle with. This is my least favourite on the album.

‘Paint a Rumour’ is also pretty forgettable. So, as mentioned before, not a particularly memorable second side.

I like the Eurythmics, but am not sure why this is in the top 500 and (for example), Yazoo – ‘Upstairs at Eric’s’ isn’t.

I don’t think the album is really more than an 10/20 as I only really rate the first side (and then not all of that), but ‘Who’s that Girl’ is definitely more like a 13 or 14.



493 – Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot


This is a new one on me!

First thoughts on first track – if you’d told me this was Beck around the time of ‘Odelay’ I would have believed you. This may not be the case on subsequent listens but there you go. Not necessarily a bad thing either btw.

Great first two tracks, ‘Kamera’ is an instant hook!

I have to say this top 500 lark has already introduced me to some great stuff in the bottom 10! Having thought about it, I had also already heard of Wilco in their collaborations with Billy Bragg, just not listened to any of their own stuff. I also wonder if I somehow must have confused them in my head with Wilko Johnson who is my first thought when anyone says ‘Wilc/ko’ and I don’t see it written down. Obviously it is not possible to confuse the two when you actually hear them!

Ok, so after listening again I really like this album. ‘I am trying to break your heart’ still reminds me if Beck, I also think that Kamera will be another one I return to regularly. It all makes me want to explore some of their other albums as well.

I know I hear odd things sometimes but there are  some slightly ‘Cure’ like melodies in ‘War on War’ and ‘Pot Kettle Black’ and folk/country influences with a tiny touch of ‘Crowded House’  in ‘Jesus etc.’ and a few others.

In my head ‘Ashes of American Flags’ has a dash of Gomez as well – also not a problem for me. I am sure that none of the similarities I have mentioned are real influences (apart from the folk/country ones). I just seem to get reminded of other things quite easily when listening to music.

The instrumentation and arrangements make it all sound fresh but somehow familiar and the album doesn’t really do much wrong.

Heavy Metal Drummer’ is also a really catchy track and is another one which had my feet tapping straight away.

15/20 but as for individual tracks, I reckon it is the type of album where favourites will change with repeated listens.

They are pretty much all good though.





494 – MGMT – Oracular Spectacular


I was a late-comer to this band, having only discovered them last year.

There I was thinking I had found someone new to share with my mates on one of our music nights, only to find out that this album was from 2008 and already in the Rolling Stone top 500 – doh!

Anyway, ‘Time to Pretend’ is an absolutely fantastic track but that’s as far as my knowledge of the album goes….

‘Time to pretend’ again – wow what a song… every time I play it it just makes me shut up and listen (some would say a miracle in itself). I simply can’t have it on in the background.

First listen for some reason couldn’t get into it at all was quite disappointed.

Second listen something clicked and I started to really enjoy and appreciate it. The album has a real ‘feel’ to it which starts to grab you the more you listen (well it did for me anyway).

So,  you know what’s coming ..

‘Time to Pretend’ 18/20.

Moving on.

The album has a really strong set of tracks from the start. ‘Weekend Wars’ has a little  bit of a Bowie feel for me, although ‘Blog Connoisseur’ doesn’t agree. The run of tracks through to and including ‘Kids’ is a really great sequence.

Overall I think it’s a great example of an album which probably should be in the top 500 as it is everything that the Bonnie Raitt album isn’t. Different, interesting and memorable (probably even if you don’t like it!).

Tails off a little bit at the end with ‘Future Reflections’ my least favourite, but even the tracks I don’t like as much are interesting with good ideas in them.

Overall 14/20.