Radio & Music

Songs that couldn't be played after 9/11…

Meg just threw me a list of songs with questionable lyrics that she found on the web. Songs – presumably – that people have decided not to play during the current events. Which possibly explains why everyone feels so suffocated. Part of me thinks that some of these songs should be being played. Why can’t John Lennon’s Imagine be heard? It’s message should be more true now than at any other time, surely? And “Walk Like An Egyptian”? What possible reason could there be for not playing that? [lyrics]. And while I understand why it’s not being played, I desperately need to hear REM’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” at the moment. There has to be some release for the anxiety that seems to be building again.

Radio & Music

What's the most important album of your life?

Paul Simon: Graceland It’s 1986. I’m fourteen years old. I’ve had a few albums bought for me before, but I’m basically illiterate when it comes to popular music. I’m living in a village of eighty people, ten miles away from my nearest friend. My brother is one year old. I spend most of my time in my room – reading and listening to the radio. The outside world seems a hundred thousand miles away.

One day I buy Graceland. Essentially it’s the first album I ever really bought myself. And I got it because I’d heard ‘You Can Call Me Al’ on the radio. And I’d liked it. In many ways it set the tone for the rest of my teenage years – thoughtful before my time, disconnected from deep disturbing bodily urges, unsettled and slightly jaded.

There are a hundred times I can remember involving the album. I played it until the tape died. Then I waited a couple of years and bought the CD. It was an album that my mother listened to with me in her Vauxhall Astra on the way into school on frosty winter mornings, my legs only recently out of grey short-trousers. It was the album that played when Glyn, Simon and I wandered around the south of England in my rusty yellow Polo, when I was eighteen. As I get older I get less up-tight, less nervous. And Graceland grows with me.

“Over the mountain, down in the valley, lives a former talk show host. Everybody knows his name. He says there’s no doubt about it, It was the myth of fingerprints. I’ve seen them all and man, they’re all the same.”

What’s the most important album of your life?

Radio & Music

Paul Burston on Eminem…

From London’s Time Out Magazine: Feb 14-21 2001 No.1591 (presented without comment).

“I’m writing this week’s column under my hip new pseudonym, Thin Cloudy. So when I say that I want to incite acts of violence against Eminem, I hope you’ll understand that I’m being ironic. And when I describe how I’d like to force him to suck my dick before slitting his throat open, watching him bleed to death and then dumping his body in a river, I hope you’ll appreciate how clever I’m being. And while I’m hiding behind this hip new persona of mine, I might as well tell you that it isn’t just blond white boy rappers I hate. I also hate the black ones. Niggers, I think they’re called.”

“Oops, sorry! Hope I haven’t offended anyone’s delicated liberal sensibilities. After all, it’s one thing to rap about sexual violence or joke about murdering homosexuals, quite another insult an already beleaguered minority. This, presumably, is why Eminem is so feted by the music establishment, and defended by clever music critics – at the end of the day, it’s only bitches and faggots he’s having a pop at.” [Paul Burston]

Radio & Music

On music and asymmetrical encryption keys…

I’ve been reading this really interesting article at Hack the Planet: “Route around the labels”, which describes a form of voluntary payment scheme for MP3s. To be honest, I’ve read it a couple of times and some of the technical aspects escape me (I’m tired, OK?).

Anyway, I was thinking about it, and it occurred to me that I couldn’t see why this system couldn’t be adapted to preserve copyright integrity and get people to pay for music. I know a lot of people don’t like this idea, but in the whole Napster vs Metallica debate, I have to confess I think I’m somewhere in the middle.

Let me go into a little detail about my idea (which isn’t that different from the one at Hack the Planet, I fear). Imagine a company that sells/distributes decent, trusted encryption software – say for example PGP. If they wanted to, they could produce a PGP enabled MP3 player, which decrypted on the fly. The individual puts their public “PGMP3” key into a PGMP3 server. Then when they select an MP3 they want to download, it is encrypted according to their public key, sent to them and can only be listened to on the PGMP3 player which contains their private key.


  • What if you want to listen to them on more than one computer?
    As long as you have your own private key, you can put it on whatever piece of software/players you like. However since the MP3 is encoded using your public key, ONLY software/players with your private key in them will be able to play it.
  • What’s to stop people disseminating private keys?
    You make the private key like the PIN number of a bank account – the private key is generated for you when you sign up to buy music from a record company. This is attached to your user name, which uses that 1-Click nonsense to allow you to buy the music you want. The crucial part is that you have to give a credit card number when you get the private key and you can only buy stuff using it as well. Thus if your private key is gone, anyone can buy music using your credit card. That’ll discourage people.

I mean – there are probably considerable technical issues I’ve neglected here, but it seems like a pretty reasonable and basic idea to me. Opinions?

Radio & Music

My 100 Favourite Albums Ever…

Having thought about it carefully, I have decided that lists like “the best albums of the 90s” are mildly pointless (if endlessly diverting). But that doesn’t matter surely? They are interesting exercises, and so without apology or explanation here is an extremely long list of names – which frankly is easier than a proper post about “World Hunger” or “Macs Versus PCs (Which One Will I Buy?)”. I call this phallogocentric/anal classification: “My 100 Favourite Albums Ever”:

  1. Belle and Sebastian – Tigermilk
  2. Tricky – Maxinquaye
  3. David Bowie – Hunky Dory
  4. Moby – Play
  5. The Smiths – Strangeways Here We Come
  6. PJ Harvey – To Bring You My Love
  7. Morrissey – Bona Drag
  8. Pixies – Surfer Rosa
  9. Belly – Star
  10. Pixies – Doolittle
  11. Pixies – Bossanova
  12. Portishead – Dummy
  13. The Bangles – Different Light
  14. Jeff Buckley – Grace
  15. Kristin Hersh – Hips and Makers
  16. Elastica – Elastica
  17. The Beatles – Abbey Road
  18. Pixies – Trompe Le Monde
  19. Beck – Mutations
  20. David Bowie – Heroes
  21. Morcheeba – Big Calm
  22. Madonna – Ray of Light
  23. Julian Cope – Floored Genius (The Best Of)
  24. Leonard Cohen – The Future
  25. The Breeders – Pod
  26. Hole – Live Through This
  27. Nirvana – Unplugged in New York
  28. Eg and Alice – 24 Years of Hunger
  29. Air – Moon Safari
  30. Eurythmics – Savage
  31. Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man
  32. Tracy Chapman – Tracy Chapman
  33. Suzanne Vega – 99.9F
  34. Throwing Muses – The Real Ramona
  35. The Smiths – Meat is Murder
  36. Depeche Mode – Violator
  37. Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes
  38. Sean Lennon – Into the Sun
  39. Beck – Midnite Vultures
  40. The Cardigans – Gran Turismo
  41. Jeff Buckley – Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk
  42. Fight Club – Sound Track
  43. Frank Black – Frank Black
  44. Morrissey – Viva Hate
  45. Morrissey – Vauxhall and I
  46. Radiohead – The Bends
  47. The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
  48. Paul Simon – Graceland
  49. Rolling Stones – Hot Rocks
  50. Nirvana – In Utero
  51. Drugstore – White Magic For Lovers
  52. Mazzy Star – She Hangs Brightly
  53. Pixies – at the BBC
  54. The Bangles – Everything
  55. Curve – Doppelganger
  56. Nirvana – Nevermind
  57. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong – Ella and Louis Again
  58. Sneaker Pimps – Becoming X
  59. The Breeders – Last Splash
  60. David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust
  61. Leftfield – Leftism
  62. Radiohead – OK Computer
  63. David Bowie – Diamond Dogs
  64. Juliana Hatfield – Hey Babe
  65. Sly and the Family Stone – Best Of
  66. Out of Sight – Soundtrack
  67. The Smiths – The Queen is Dead
  68. The Rebirth of Cool – Phive
  69. The Smiths – Hatful of Hollow
  70. David Arnold – The James Bond Project
  71. The Smiths – The Smiths
  72. Fat Boy Slim – You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby
  73. South Park – Bigger Longer Uncut – Soundtrack
  74. Leonard Cohen – Various Positions
  75. Reservoir Dogs – Soundtrack
  76. The Smiths – The World Won’t Listen
  77. Jeff Buckley – Mystery White Boy
  78. Throwing Muses – University
  79. Blur – Modern Life is Rubbish
  80. Cocteau Twins – Heaven or Las Vegas
  81. Afghan Whigs – Black Love
  82. David Bowie – Station to Station
  83. Blur – Parklife
  84. Morcheeba – Who Can You Trust?
  85. Suede – Coming Up
  86. Eels – Beautiful Freak
  87. Julian Cope – Peggy Suicide
  88. Morrissey – Kill Uncle
  89. Super Furry Animals – Guerrilla
  90. Filth and the Fury – Soundtrack
  91. Cowboy Junkies – The Caution Horses
  92. Suede – Suede
  93. Primal Scream – Exterminator
  94. Placebo – Placebo
  95. Blondie – The Best of Blondie
  96. David Bowie – The Man Who Sold The World
  97. Belle and Sebastian – Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant
  98. Bjork – Homogenic
  99. Belle and Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister
  100. Beck – Odelay