I’m one of those people who needs music when I work. I choose familiar music that I don’t need to actively listen to. It cuts out extraneous and distracting sounds such as people outside chatting, cars driving by, planes passing overhead.
This following list is the music I’ve been listening to while working on my latest (2022) novel The Assumption. I’m happy to chat more about each and every piece.
The Assumption – the Music (Newest first)
Let the music play!
Léo Ferré – Je parle à n’importe qui (1973-79)
John Field (1782-1837) – 18 Nocturnes
I’ve applied for Irish naturalisation based on my grandma being born in Dublin (I never met her, she died in her twenties). So here’s a lot of absolutely beautiful nocturnes from Irishman John Field, who is noted at the composer how invented the nocturne. A lovely way to calm yourself during this time of wars and pandemics.
You should also treat yourself to finding out more about John Field – my goodness did he have a life!
Arnold Schönberg – A Survivor from Warsaw, Opus 46 (1947)
Schönberg’s short, beautiful and also unsettling cantata tells the story in music and verse of a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto under the Nazis. It ends with reference to the Jewish prayer of Shema Yisrael.
The Staple Singers – Anything but mostly the early stuff with the ghostly guitar by Pops
Even for grizzled, sad old atheists like me, with nothing to look forward to but death, The Staples Singers’ gospel is beautiful, funky, bluesy and nearly enough to make me think that religion is all entirely bunkum snail oil rot.
Pentangle – Let No Man Steal Your Thyme
(1968) from 2002’s best of LP Light Flight
Folk, especially English folks, is definitely not my preferred genre of music. But with a line-up of Jacqui McShee (vocals), John Renbourn (vocals and guitar), Bert Jansch (vocals and guitar), Danny Thompson (double bass), and Terry Cox (drums) you’ve got to be pretty musically closed minded not to give at least one track a listen.
2016 recording of the 1980 Carl Davis soundtrack to the 1927 Abel Gance film Napoléon
I think I heard and saw this for the first time in 1980 on a wet Sunday afternoon at the Rio cinema in Dalston, London. Bloody wonderful.
Leonard Bernstein – Symphony Number 2: ‘Jeremiah’ – The Age of Anxiety
Prince Far I – Throw Away Your Gun from the Dubwise LP (1991)
First time I heard this was on a derided 1991 compilation album that has since gone on to become a top three LP for me; a constant comfort and companion. I understand that it originally came out on 1980’s Showcase in a Suitcase and is co-credited with Ashanti Roy. Either way, it’s lyrics are on the money.
Love is good
Love is a generous thing
Cause each and every one desire love…
Dr. John – I Walk on Guilded Spinters from the Gris Gris LP (1968)
No idea why it’s “Guilded splinters”, which makes no sense, and not “Gilded splinters”, which makes a tiny bif of sense, but this is the definitive version of the song.
Julian Cope – Cheap New-Age Fix from the Interpreter LP (1996)
We played a Cope song at my daughter’s funeral. No matter how deliberately obscurantist he gets, I’ll always have a soft spot for Saint Julian.
Steel Pulse – Ku Klux Klan (1978)
A classic of English reggae from the LP Handsworth Revolution – an album that opened my ears to homegrown talent.
Blue Ôyster Cult – Heaven Forbid LP (1998)
Yup, BOC did more than 1976’s (Don’t Fear) The Reaper!
Blue Ôyster Cult – Secret Treaties LP (1974)
Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet (1986)
Fela Ransome Kuti & His Koola Lobitos – Highlife: Jazz and Afro-Soul (1963-1969)
Fela Kuti – Zombie LP (1975)
Fela Kuti – Unknown Soldier LP (1979)
The Dixie Cups and The Shangri-Las – The Dixie Cups Meet The Shangri-Las
The New York Dolls – The New York Dolls (LP 1973)
The Dictators – Bloodbrothers (LP 1978)
Tõnu Naissoo Trio – Tõnu Naissoo Trio LP Soviet Estonia (1970)
Jaan Kuman Instrumental Ensemble – Collection 1975-1977 (from Estonia)
Steve Earle – Jerusalem (2002)
Funked Up East Radio – Various funky stuff
The Members – At the Chelsea Nightclub (1979)
R.I.P. Nicky Tesco – 27/02/20222
Parliament – Mothership Connection (1975)
Sly & the Family Stone – Sly & The Family Stone Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) – Single (1970)
Sly and the Family Stone – There’s a Riot Goin’ On(LP 1971)
Although this list (there’s more above by the way) began as a diary of the music I have on in the background as I write the novel (The Assumption) it is also affected by major events in the world around me. Most notable among these being Putin’s War on Ukraine.
Igor Stravinsky – Histoire du Soldat Suite
Igor’s take on the Russian folktale, The Soldier and Death aka The Runaway Soldier and the Devil, which I won’t spoil for you. It’s a goody though.
Renata Bogdańska (Irena Anders) – Luna Rossa
The Polish/Ukrainian singer Irene Anders was frankly pretty bloody amazing. Among many honour, she received the Monte Cassino Commemorative Cross (“awarded to all soldiers of the Polish II Corps who fought in the battle of Monte Cassino and the battles for Piedimonte and Passo Corno”).
Crow, Wheels a poem by Lyuba Yakimchuk in response to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict of the mid-2010s translated from Ukrainian by Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky.
With huge thanks to Words without Borders.
When the city was destroyed,
they started fighting over the cemetery.
It was right before Easter
and wooden crosses over the freshly dug graves
put out their paper blossoms—
red, blue, yellow,
neon green, orange, raspberry pink.
Joyful relatives poured vodka for themselves
and for the dead—straight into their graves.
And the dead asked for more, and more, and more
and the relatives just kept pouring.
The celebration went on.
But at some point
a young man tripped over the stretchers
at the grave of his mother-in-law,
an old man stared into the sky
and found himself missing an eye,
a fat man smashed his shot glass
and damaged the edging around his wife’s grave.
Glass fell at his feet
Now a live crow sits on top of a grave
of Anna Andriivna Voronova
instead of a gravestone.
rest at the cemetery nest of the Kolesnykiv family,
where lie buried
Maria Viktorivna, Pylyp Vasylyovych, and Mykola Pylypovych.
What are they to me, those wheels and that crow?
I can no longer remember.
Nestor Nyzhankivsky – Dark Dreams (pre-1940)
Nyzhankivsky was a Ukrainian composer who worked on Ukrainian Art Songs. He died in Poland in exile from the Soviet take-over of Galicia (Poland/Ukraine) in 1940.
According to the Ukrainian Art Song Project
Ukrainian Art Songs became ‘…the synthesis of National and European musical traditions to further develop Ukrainian musical culture…’
Alexander Galich – Song About the General’s Daughter, or Karaganda
Galich was an anti-Soviet balladeer who was thought to have been executed by the KGB in Paris in 1974.
The song tells the story of a woman “who spent most of her childhood in the Karaganda prison camp and remained in the remote, barren town after her release. ref: Words without Borders
Starting with Hugo-Yugo and This is the End this bunch of Russian/Ukrainian post-punk is listenable as all get-out. Of course, many old school punks and post-punks will out that the bands and songs are highly derivative of Western artists: Peter Hook’s bass is influential for example; The Cure get a lot of look-ins too. I’m sure you can name many more – please do.
That’s true. That said, since when did derivation stop music making and enjoyment? Most music is theft one way or another. Anyway, I’m working my way through this lot of tunes trying to pin down details. As ever, any help with that is gratefully received. Use the contact form or find me on Twitter
Zhadan and the Dogs – Mallow (2019) – with thanks to Martin Black over on Twitter
Grazhdanskaya Oborona AKA GrOb – Все идет по плану (Everything is going to plan) (1987)
Yegor Letov and his band Grazhdanskaya Oborona (Civil Defence) were at the forefront of the Soviet and then post-Soviet music protest movement. Folk, punk, whatever musical weapon came to hand. This tune, “Everything is going to plan” mocks the concept of the Five Year plans beloved of the Soviet leadership to rage agains Russia’s war ambitions. Letov and his band made some incendiary and beautiful music that you can still get hold of today.
I’d recommend reading this piece, Raging in the cold: the Siberian punk who changed the face of Russian music for more on Letov et al.
Greenjolly – – Razom Nas Bahato (Together We Are Many) (2005)
Remember the the Eurovision song contest in 2005? This was its entry. Before that, however, it had been a key tune in Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution.
Sviatoslav Richter – Chopin’s Etude in c minor Op. 10 No. 12 ‘Revolutionary’ (1830)
Ukrainian-born pianist Sviatoslav Richter plays what Chopin composed c.1831 as the Russian army bombarded Warsaw.
Igor Khoma – Ukrainian Jazz(Unknown)
If anybody knowns anything more about Igor Kohma or his band ‘Medicus’, I would absolutely love to know.
Alyona Alyona – Рими на бітах “Rhymes on Bits*” (2021)
*Google translated. I welcome any better translation.
Anastasia Prikhodko – Homesick Moon (2016)
I really need a better translation!
Composer: Artem Vedel (1767-1808) – Choral Concerto No. 1 “The Birthgiver of God”
Kyiv Chamber Choir & Mykola Hobdytch – Sacred Treasures: Masterpieces of Ukrainian Choral Music of the XV – IXX Centuries (2008)
Oreya, Ukraina; Dir.: Alexander Vatsek – Musica Sacra International 2010 Marktoberdorf, Concert St. Martin, May 22 (the text translates as: The fate of all Ukrainian geniuses – Vedel, Gogol- madness or a bullet)
Woody Guthrie – Jarama Valley (1938)
Not Ukrainian but for me Putin’s War of 2022 and offers of international help not governments but from individuals reads to me like the Spanish Civil War and the support of wider community to fight fascist forces. The International Brigades came in from all over the world to fight Franco and to an extent Hitler. Sadly Stalin, the Russian dictator feared his lack of control of the International Brigades, and help destroy them
Dmitri Shostakovich – I feel eternal pain for those who were killed by Hitler, but I feel no less pain for those killed on Stalin’s orders. I suffer for everyone who was tortured, shot, or starved to death. There were millions of them in our country before the war with Hitler began. The war brought much new sorrow and much new destruction, but I haven’t forgotten the terrible pre-war years. That is what my symphonies are about, including Number Eight.’
Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Yevgeni Mravinsky – Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 8 In C Minor, Op. 65 (composed 1943)
Now we return to normal service
Ensemble musical de Palestine – Gaza – Tradition Musicale Palestinienne (2006)
Scientist featuring Culture – Scientist Dubs Culture into a Parallel Universe</em< (2000)
Gang of Four – To Hell with Poverty (1981)
Alex Chilton – Like Flies to Sherbert (1980)
The Replacements – Let It Be (1984)
The Replacements – Don’t Tell a Soul (Expanded Edition) (1989)
Screaming Trees – Sweet Oblivion (1992)
Mark Lanegan – Bubblegum (2004)
Mark Lanegan – I’ll Take Care of You (1999)
Mark Lanegan – Scraps for Midnight (1998)
Mark Lanegan – The Winding Sheet (1998)
Mark Lanegan – Whiskey for the Holy Ghost (1994)
Yabby You – Dread Prophecy (The Strange and Wonderful Story of Yabby You) (1990)
Yabby You Meets Mad Professor & Black Steel – Yabby You Meets Mad Professor & Black Steel In Ariwa Studio (1993)
Scientist – Yabby You Prophet Meet The Scientist at The Dub Station (1981/91)
John the Postman et al – Louie Louie (From the film 24 Hour Party People)
The Fall – Louie Louie
The Swamp Rats – Louie Louie
Richard Berry & The Pharaohs – Louie Louie
Toots and the Maytals – Louie Louie
Otis Redding – Louie Louie
Motörhead – Louie Louie
The Kingsmen – Louie Louie
Here Lies Man – Here Lies Man (2017)
The Whispers – And The Beat Goes On (1979)
Evelyn “Champagne” King – Love Come Down (1982)
Jungle Brothers – Straight Out the Jungle (1988)
Pascal Comelade & The Limiñanas – Traité De Guitarres Triolectiques (2015)
Bertrand Belin – Hypernuit (Deluxe Edition) (2011)
Magazine – Real Life (1978)
The Slits – Cut (1979)
Paul Simon – One-Trick Pony – (Original Motion Picture Companion Album) (1980)
Eugene McDaniels – Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse (1971)
Marcia Griffiths – Naturally / Step-in’ – 2 LP set (1978 / 1979)
Susan Cadogan – The Girl Who Cried Bonus Edition with Chemistry of Love (2021 LP)
Susan Cadogan – Hurts So Good (1975 LP)
Kofi – Black… with Sugar (1989)
Sevana – Sevana EP (2016)
Carroll Thompson – Hopelessly in Love (1981)
Various Artists – Trojan Reggae Sisters Collection
Queen Ifrica – Fyah Muma (2007)
The Replacements – Hootenanny Expanded Version (1983)
The Replacements – Stink Expanded Version (1982)
The Replacements – Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash (1981)
Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel 3: Melt (1980) (2 tracks)
Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel 3: Melt (1980)
Genesis – Trespass (1970) (I managed 1 track)
Genesis – Foxtrot (1972) (2 tracks again)
Genesis – A Trick of the Tail (1976)
Andrew Manze & Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra – Vaughan Williams: Sinfonia Antartica, Symphony No. 9
The Dubliners – Originals: Three Original Albums from the Transatlantic Label
The Dubliners – Hometown! (Live)
The Dubliners – At Their Best
The Dubliners – The Transatlantic Anthology (Live)
Lady Leshurr – Mona Leshurr (2013)
Monie Love – Down to Earth (1990)
Queen Latifah – Ladies First (feat. Monie Love) (1989)
Heatwave – Central Heating (1978)
Beggar & Co – Mule (Chant No.2) (12″ Extended Version) (1981)
Inner City – Good Life (1988)
Freeez – Southern Freeez (1981)
The Impressions – Finally Got Myself Together
Eugene Ormandy & The Philadelphia Orchestra – Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27
Vladimir Ashkenazy, Concertgebouworkest & Bernard Haitink – Rachmaninov: Complete Works For Piano
Prince & The Revolution – Parade (1986)
Prince & The Revolution – Around the World in a Day <1985)
MC Shan – Down By Law (1987)
Scott La Rock and KRS-One – Memory of a Man and His Music (1985)
The Goats – Typical American (1992)
London Symphony Orchestra & André Previn – Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2 (1973)
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme (1965)
The Revolutionaries – Drum Sound: More Gems from the Channel One Dub Room, 1974 – 1980
Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – Moanin’ (1959)
NEU! – Neu! ’75 (1978)
NEU! – Neu! 2 (1973)
NEU! – Neu! (1972)
The Jam – Fire and Skill
The Jam – Live Jam
The Jam – In the City Remastered
The Jam – Sound Affects
The Jam – Setting Suns
The Jam – The Gift Super Deluxe Edition
Cabaret Voltaire – 1974-1976
Talking Heads – Remain in Light (I got as far as Track 2)
Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings and Food (I got as far as Track 1)
Talking Heads- 77 (I got as far as track 3)
Augustus Pablo – King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown
Henryk Górecki – Symphony No. 4, Op. 85 (Tansman Episodes) – Andrey Boreyko & London Philharmonic Orchestra
Henryk Górecki – Pieśni kościelne (Church Songs) (The Cracow Singers & Wlodzimierz Siedlik)
Cabaret Voltaire – #7885 (Electropunk to Technopop 1978-1985)
Cabaret Voltaire – Nag Nag Nag
The Fall – Totally Wired (the Rough Trade anthology discs 1 & 2)
The Fall – Hex Induction Hour
The Jesus Lizard – GOAT (Remaster/Reissue)
The Birthday Party – Hee Haw
The Birthday Party – Junkyard
The Birthday Party – Prayers on Fire
Sword Coast Soundscapes – Ghosts of Saltmarsh, Vol.1
Suicide – Suicide (2019 remaster)
The Gun Club – Death Party
Michèle Arnaud – Disque Pathé
Dinosaur Jr – Green Mind
Television – Marquee Moon
Elvis Costello et al – La Face de Pendule à Coucou (EP)
The Modern Lovers – The Modern Lovers (Re-issue)
Otyken – Kykakacha
Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Beyond Belief
Elvis Costello and The Roots – Wise Up Ghost and Other Songs
The Faces – First Steps
The Small Faces – There Are But Four Small Faces (Expanded)
The Stranglers – Rattus Norvegicus
Professor Longhair – Junko Partner
Igor Stravinski – Petrushka
Prince Far-I – Dubwise
J.S. Bach – St Matthew Passion
Henryk Górecki – Symphony No.3 (Dawn Upshaw – Soprano; London Sinfonietta – David Zinman conducting – 1973)
Téléphone – Téléphone
Os Mutantes – Os Mutante
Vodou – Ritual Possession of the Dead
Various Artists – Haiti Vodu
Graham Bond – Holy Magick
Dr John – Gris Gris
François Hardy – loads and loads
Jacques Dutronc – loads and loads
I add to this list almost daily, so do please check back.
And don’t forget to read the free chapters from my debut novel, The Water Meadow Man – a novel about hope.