Lovely Recordings Hosted by Craig Errey

My music collection is probably best described as eclectic. It all started in my late teens and then particularly in my early twenties when I stopped smoking and picked up a CD habit instead. Perhaps worse on the pocket, but at least I had something to show for it afterwards. And better on the lungs.

Flicking through my CDs one day, I noticed that I tended to pick the ones with an interesting cover design. Pretty much like how I pick wine. Region? What region?

In this selection, there are some fairly mainstream albums, as well as some unusual ones. The ones I enjoy most vary from having a rich and complex tapestry of sounds to sublimely pure vocals. I initially didn’t think there was a theme to selection I made, but after getting halfway through the list, these are the albums that underpinned my varied taste. I don’t critique the details as I don’t really have the vocabulary or understanding to do so. It’s more about the whole composition and the effect it has when I listen to it. And it’s also about how it led to discovery. Each one of them inspired a path down a particular musical style and related branches. If there is a theme, it’s probably ‘something different’.

I’ve put these ones into a somewhat chronological story based on when I roughly bought them and given a bit of a teaser of future selections I could make. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do, and perhaps even find, or re-find, something new.

Jeff Wayne: The War of the Worlds (Sony Music UK, 1978)
I would imagine most here will be familiar with this one, but I thought I’d cover it anyway. It was one of the earliest CDs I bought, but the most important memory was when I played it for my son for the first time last year. He sat mouth agape and wide-eyed clutching the car’s dash. He turns to me in slow motion as he’s trying to duck the savage, unearthly heat ray and says ‘iiiiit’s soooooo reeeeeaaaaalll’. It was the first time he sat silently for anything longer than 17 seconds. "Forever Autumn" is the classic pick, but I prefer prefer Julie Covington in The Spirit of Man: ‘Oh, no, Nathaniel….’.

Available from Qobuz

Jon and Vangelis: The Friends of Mr Cairo (Universal International Music B.V., 1981)
It’s fair to say that my parents’ taste in music is pretty grim. Even to this day. I won’t shock you with the details, lest it causes you spontaneous hyper-intensive tinnitus.

Do you remember those long torturous road trips with your parents? In our case, it was in a beat up old pale green Toyota with no air conditioning. Having the windows open and traveling at 97kmh while Dad maintained a white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel meant nothing could be lifted above the window sill in case it entered the constant interior vortex. That time with the tissue box was certainly memorable.

Listening to their music in the car did not help mitigate the back-seat bickering with my brother. Except for one cassette. The Friends of Mr Cairo. All the tracks are awesome so it’s hard to pick one. Perhaps "State of Independence"? But this album led to music such as Vangelis’ solo works (such as Chariots) and Jean-Michel Jarre (next).

Actually, there was another cassette of which I shall never speak. Oh, OK, here’s a clue: it had a track on it about leaving some town.

Available from Qobuz

Jean-Michel Jarre: Oxygène (Sony, 1976)
I first heard Oxygène in Peter Weir’s Gallipoli. And it was one of the first cassettes I had bought, and I bought the CD as soon as they came out. "Oxygene Part II" is the stand out, but all of his albums are fantastic. Though I do remember buying Zoolook and not liking it one bit because it was a bit too weird. Of all his albums, I really like Concerts In China with its clear blend and respect of the Chinese style into Jarre’s music.

Available from Qobuz

Enya: Watermark (WM UK , 1991)
If Watermark doesn’t show off what you can do with a CD, then I don’t know what does. I bought this while in Japan, probably in Shinjuku, after having heard "To Go Beyond" (from The Celts) on NHK Radio. The The Celts wasn’t available, but this, her new album, was. The vocals were simply sublime and it was the first time I really appreciated the voice as an instrument. It ultimately led me to an unusually large collection of renaissance polyphony and a smaller one of modern a cappella. That’ll be the subject of another future selection.

"Orinoco Flow" is the classic pick, but I prefer "Cursum Perficio". That led to some pretty dodgy purchases of Gregorian chant until I found the right ones to buy!! I think this album also made my preference for studio records with their clean production, rather than live albums. And I thought she was very cute with her short hair. She also reminded me a bit of Rachael. If you have to ask…

Available from Qobuz

Tori Amos: Little Earthquakes (Atlantic, 1992)
While I have all her albums, this is the best. It set me down the path of alt/indie music. I was in the UK at the time and heard "Silent All These Years" on the radio. I immediately left the house and bought it from Tower in Kensington. Awesome lyrics, great piano. A thinking person’s Alanis. Ouch!!

Available from Qobuz

Peter Gabriel: Us (Universal Music GmbH, 1992)
I discovered Peter Gabriel through the quintessential album So near the end of high school. I bought Us unheard and it remains today as one of my top 10, along with Graceland, Brothers In Arms, and a few others. Those’ll be the subject of another selection.

The thing about Us is the incredibly rich sounds in most tracks. There’s so much going on, it’s complex without being complicated. In fact, I think it’s better than So. Again, there are brilliant tracks like "Come Talk To Me" and "Blood of Eden", but my fav is "Secret World" with its amazing bass by Tony Levin.

Available from Qobuz

Dead Can Dance: Aion (4AD, 1990)
Another random pick from the record store. I recognized Hieronymus Bosch on the cover and had to have a listen. Like most of my CDs picked like that, I bought it immediately. Although the group is regarded as having a Gothic style, the variety within any album reflects my own eclecticism.

I ended up replacing all my CDs with the remastered SACD versions from Acoustic Sounds, though, honestly, I think it’s hard to hear the difference between SACD and Redbook when there’s great mastering. But that could be my advancing age. And perhaps not having a $392,438 DAC. Lisa Gerrard’s solo and duo albums are also fantastic. Try Duality, Immortal Memory, Silver Tree. You should recognize the distinctive music in quite a few films.

Available from Qobuz

Henryk Gorecki: Symphony n°3 (Nonesuch , 1976/1992)
I feel a bit like an imposter including this one, since it’s quite mainstream due to its debut at the top of the pop chart at the time. It’s a bit like being at a party and trying to impress the room with your high-brow musical taste with: ‘I’ve got the Four Seasons AND The Three Tenors’.

Be that as it may, the opening track, "Lento", is the standout. I just love how it takes its time to build through a crescendo of nearly half an hour. And Dawn Upshaw. Wow. If it doesn’t send shivers down your spine, and an up-welling of emotion at the climax, you’re not built right.

Available from Qobuz

Peter Gabriel: Passion: Music For The Last Temptation Of Christ (Universal Music GmbH , 1993)
Peter Gabriel features twice in this list, even though I wanted to pick a bit of everything. While Graceland introduced me to ‘world’ music, through Ladysmith Black Mambazo, it was Passion that cemented my love of non-western music. I’ll cover those in another selection. Back to Passion, I found it randomly while looking for the next PG album after Us. I recommend track 2, "Baaba Mal’s A Call to Prayer" with its raw emotional vocals and drone.

Available from Qobuz

Jonathan Elias: The Prayer Cycle (Sony Classical, 1999)
There was a particular section of HMV in Sydney that I always went to for something unusual. It was kind of classical, kind of contemporary. One particular person there regularly picked out something unusual to feature at the counter. I asked him to put this on and 8 seconds into Mercy I said: ‘Stop, I’ll take it’.

This album should be listened to in its entirety, not as individual tracks, to get the full experience. It’s rich and diverse, and the number of artists contributing is impressive, but one, Nasrat Fateh Ali Khan, set me down the path of Qawali and related chant.

Available from Qobuz

Nicholas Lens: Flamma Flamma (Sony Classical, 1999)
I am not an opera fan, but have to confess I do enjoy some of the more famous excerpts (remember The Three Tenors, earlier??). I won’t mention any more in case it damages my credibility beyond repair!

This album was again bought due to its cover design, as I quite like mazes, especially the old style circular ones. The music. I don’t know what to say about this one. It’s a more modern style of opera, but has a brilliant mix of voice and music. I think you should have a listen and make your own mind up. The title track "Hic Iacet" I got me hooked. Something very different.

Available from Amazon (CD)

The Tallis Scholars: Allegri: Miserere (Gimell Records, 2001)
This is the CD that started my excessive collection of Renaissance Polyphony, including the obvious albums like Spem In Alium also by The Tallis Scholars. It also led me to modern choral composers such as Arvo Part. I saw the Tallis Scholars perform Miserere live in the Sydney Opera House with my friend Paul who introduced me to this CD. An awesome night. The highlight is, of course, "Miserere", with its soaring vocals and that beautiful succession of notes.

Available from Gimmell

AC/DC: The Razor’s Edge (XXX, 2003)
Despite being Australian, I only got into AC/DC relatively recently. I blame my parents. I was barely allowed to listen to Queen when growing up. And I remember when I got a cassette copy of the Wired World of Sports from a friend and my Dad demonstrated how the record function worked on the crap 3-in-1 record player in our dining / lounge room. You know, the one with yellow shag pile carpet. Where no-one was ever allowed to go in. And the carpet rake hidden in the corner. Well, he showed me how to use a very special feature where you didn’t need to use any input while recording.

So that brings me to when my son and I were driving along and he looks at the track list on the screen and notices that "Thunderstruck" is next. ‘Dad!! Dad!! Let’s be PUNKS!!!!’ He winds down the window, opens the sun roof and cranks the volume to 5 and starts headbanging. I sigh, pause to weep for the future, and gently show him the error of his ways by pointing out where to find 9 (gotta leave something in the tank!). I open my window, position my elbow and subtly do the same. I am such a great Dad. It’s less about the music and more about the moment.

Available from Qobuz

Until next time, happy listening.

About Craig
I love music, but can’t hold a tune to save my life. The first real instrument I mastered was the CD player. I sort of learned the guitar, but my ability to form a basic chord is now non-existent.

I live in Australia, married with two kids. I’m an industrial psychologist by trade, and have some crazy ideas about reinventing work for this digital age we’re in. I think we need more time for the things that really matter.

I always have music playing in the background, usually on random, but every now and then stop to play a full album. Like these ones.

Share your Lovely Recordings with us!

Frank Hardly's picture

Thanks for the thougthful and entertaining narrative. I enjoyed reading about your selections and why you like.

mahameister's picture

turns out to be the right ones to buy? Great lineup and explanations by the way.

Craig Errey's picture

Hi mahameister

this is the one I had in mind

The next set of Lovely Recordings will probably focus on vocals and chant. Keep an eye out...

And thank you for your kind words (and to Frank Hardly, too). Much appreciated.

mahameister's picture

I will definitely check it out. And I will keep an eye out for your next set of recommendations. BTW I've been listening to the DCD album in my car today, thanks to you. : )