ANGUS CARGILL (ED.) Hang The DJ: An Alternative Book Of Music Lists (Faber And Faber)
In which editor Cargill (who, his brief bio helpfully notes, “lives in south-east London and works in publishing”) rattles his Rolodex and invites a few dozen contributors to provide music-related lists on a topic of their choosing, in a kind of “My iPod’s hipper than your iPod” duel to the death...or at least until the batteries run out. Those I’d heard of include rock photographer Kevin Cummins, rock writers Nick Kent, Simon Reynolds and Jon Savage, authors Jonathan Lethem, Rick Moody and DBC Pierre, musicians Tom McRae and Kathryn Williams. The star power highlight for me is the presence of novelist, singer, songwriter and vocalist Willy Vlautin, of the fabulous Richmond Fontaine, and, predictably, his list of “ten songs/albums to listen to when you’ve just split up with your violent girlfriend and you’re too broke to live anywhere but a camping trailer in the backyard of your friend’s house” is perhaps the book’s best. Neatly straddling his love of and experience in both music and literature, he weaves, among others, Little Feat, Rose Royce and Ennio Morricone into a list that’s part short story, part self help guide. Michael Faber’s “Ten Reputedly Worthless Albums that Will One Day Be Recognised as Rather Nifty” includes works that I had no idea were in need of rehabilitation (Aphex Twin’s quadruple vinyl “Drukqs”) alongside some that probably need all the friends they can get (“Tales From Topographic Oceans”, Duran Duran’s covers album “Thank You”) and sneaks in a Blue Nile mention by way of Peter Gabriel’s Millennium Dome soundtrack “Ovo”, which features Paul Buchanan. Hari Kunzru’s “Ten Musical Moments in Revolution” is laugh-out-loud funny, especially #2, “Cornelius Cardew loses his sense of fun “. And if you ever felt your life to be lacking for want of a list of “Ten Songs Under Two Minutes (And Ten More Up to Ten Times as Long)” or “Ten Smutty Moments from Bob Dylan”, well, they’re here too.
Fact: three songs make multiple appearances here, those being The Beatles’ “Run For Your Life”, Tom Waits’ “Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis” and Robert Wyatt’s “Shipbuilding”. If they’re your sort of songs, this book might fill your kind of stocking.