1)JUDY, DON'T YOU WORRY (Sarah Cracknell): Sarah Cracknell is the vocalist for the very wonderful Saint Etienne. She wasn't originally involved in writing their songs, but came into her own as a songwriter and released some solo work. This is the highlight of her solo material, and expresses the Bridget Jones generation much better than just about anything else out there. The bass piano is a killer.
2)THE TAXIMAN'S DAUGHTER (High Llamas): From the first proper High Llamas album, Santa Barbara, this is a very obscure track that I really like. I think the line "a country can change so much in a year" rings very true after my experience in Zimbabwe.
3)LIBBYLAND (Wondermints): The Wondermints are probably best known as being an integral part of the band that brought Brian Wilson back on the road, but they have done some great music on their own part, which you should get simply for the support they have given to Brian, but you'll love anyway. This is probably my favorite of theirs, some say it is a "life of Brian"- I wouldn't know but it is great up-tempo number.
4)I COME TO YOU (Burt Bacharach): This was originally from the Lost Horizon soundtrack (although I am using the version from Burt's own Living Together album. It was an apparently turbulent period for Bacharach and Hal David, but some beautiful music came out of it, including this love song, which to me is simply beautiful and emotionally overwhelming.
5)LET'S MAKE IT PRECIOUS (Dexy's Midnight Runners): Soulful is the first word that cames to mind when listening to this group -they could make putting the kettle on sound like a spiritual experience. This one of my favorites of this group..
6)WALK ON BY (Dionne Warwick): At last a real hit, you say. You should know this- just a simply great pop song from the master, Burt Bacharach.
7)IF YOU MUST LEAVE MY LIFE (Richard Harris): Yes, the late Dumbledore could sing. Richard Harris sung on two albums of Jimmy Webb songs, which verged on being overwrought (Macarthur Park comes from these albums) but are actually rather brilliant. This is one sample, and especially interesting as it is probably the closest Webb verges in on Bacharach territory.
8)IN THE FINAL HOURS (Richard Harris):From the same session, in fact the same album (A Tramp Shining), this is actually an incredibly depressing lyric with an incredibly uplifting arrangement -it may be a deathbed song, but the pumping bass and angelic girlie backing vocals make the tag sound like you are entering the afterlife.
9)THE LONELINESS OF A MIDDLE DISTANCE RUNNER (Belle and Sebastian): Scotland's greatest left a lot of their best work as B-sides on single-only releases and this is one of them - a paean to those of us in the middle. Great tune and arrangement.
10)I LOVE MY CAR (Belle and Sebastian): Makes the list simply for the line "I love my Carl, I love my Dennis, Brian and my Al, I can even find it in my heart to love Mike Love" but the song itself is brilliant, a tale of revenge set to the greatest honkey-tonk arrangememt ever. Also a B-side!
11)OUT OF TIME (Blur): Blur are sometimes brilliant, sometimes less than brilliant, but this is a winner...a beautiful tune, with a lovely arrangement including Moroccan instrumentation.
12)YOU'RE GONNA MAKE ME LONESOME WHEN YOU GO (Bob Dylan): From Dylan's greatest album, Blood On The Tracks, (don't argue!), this is one of Dylan's greatest tunes with a resigned lyric.
13)THE SOUNDTRACK OF YOUR LIFE (A Girl Called Eddy): A Girl Called Eddy announced her presence on the musical world with her Tears All Over Town EP, and this was the standout track, a romantic, reflective song showing all of this great artist's talents.
14)THE SURFER MOON (Beach Boys): Well, I named mydomain after it, so I should like it, right. This is a lovely example of Brian's early vocals work, a nice romantic arrangement, and a lyric that hints of something a lot deeper than surf music.
15)RHYMES OF GOODBYE (Scott Walker): Scott IV is the classic example of the unknown classic album -it bombed on release but has gradually been acquiring a cult status. This is the closer, combining country, big band and rock in one brilliant, emotional mixture.
16)AMERICA (Simon and Garfunkel): Probably my favorite of this duo, especially with its dramatic original arrangement. Something tells me this lyric is still pretty relevant almost 40 years on.
17)DOWN IN A TUBE STATION AT MIDNIGHT (Jam): Possibly my favorite up-tempo rock song ever -this is everything good rock should be, melodic, powerful and with a message. Outstanding!
18)DARK SHADOWS AND EMPTY HALLWAYS (Tammy St John): Once again, thanks to Saint Etienne who tracked down this song and put it on their Songs For Marios Cafe compilation. An obscure 60s song, it builds up from a slow beginning into an emotional crescendo.
19)I'M 49 (Paddy McAloon): I Trawl The Megahertz was Paddy's first solo album after releasing all his other work under the Prefab Sprout banner. It was different, but it was completely brilliant, and this is the highlight..constructed from snippets of radio broadcast, if this doesn't impact on you emotionally you may be (spare the cliche)...
20)WHEN YOU GET TO KNOW ME BETTER (Prefab Sprout): Paddy McAloon again, this time on the last (to date) Prefab album The Gunman (And Other Stories). Slightly countrified, this is a gorgeous ballad that demonstrates that no-one writes about love like this man.
21)A PRISONER OF THE PAST (Prefab Sprout): And Paddy again, this time on the second last Prefab album, Andromeda Heights. Revenge never sounded so sweet as on here.
22)ADIOS (Linda Ronstadt): Take Linda Ronstadt's vocals, Jimmy Webb's writing and Brian Wilson's backing vocal arrangement, and what do you have....brilliance, of course!
23)ALL I KNOW (Art Garfunkel): Jimmy Webb is another who writes about love like no other. One of his best. Many different versions but this emotionally produced Art Garfunkel original is my favorite.