Journalist, writer and producer Chris Long shares his Spotify Playlist with Brighter Sound.
Chris Long has been involved with Manchester arts and music for the past decade and a half, as both a writer for the BBC and as the producer of BBC Manchester Introducing. Now working as the North of England Arts and Entertainment correspondent for BBC News Online, he continues to delve into the region’s culture and tell the stories of those involved in making the North tick.
We’re delighted Chris is joining our panel of esteemed journalists and musicians at Written in the Margins, our Wonder Women event on Thursday evening at Manchester Jewish Museum. The panel will discuss how gender has become a genre and the impact of written media on female representation and stereotyping. Find out more and book tickets here.
Chris Long’s Spotify Playlist
Black Lake – Björk
I once spent an entire week listening to nothing but Björk’s Homogenic. Safe to say, I’m a bit of a fan, but then who wouldn’t be? She’s an artist who constantly pushes herself and consistently hits the mark. ‘Black Lake’ is the huge centrepiece of the wonderful Vulnicura, a sprawling work that writes large the bold ideas and clashing styles that make Björk so special.
Up Above My Head I Hear Music In The Air – Sister Rosetta Tharpe
I came to love Sister Rosetta Tharpe a few years ago while writing a piece about a blues show that took place on a station platform in South Manchester in the 1960s. The blistering version of ‘Didn’t It Rain’ she banged out that night is worth seeking out on YouTube, but it’s ‘Up Above My Head I Hear Music In The Air’ that’s my favourite – I’ve got an original 78 of it, which I listen to on my great-grandparents’ 1920s wind-up gramophone. I’m not a music purist – mp3s are as welcome in my life as vinyl – but hearing Tharpe’s gospel scratchily blasting out gives a real taste of the early days of recorded music and is something I treasure hugely.
Svefn-g-englar – Sigur Rós
Few things sound as good as Sigur Rós feels. And few things feel as good as the Icelandic band’s 1999 classic Ágætis byrjun. It was my introduction to the band and it still packs the same emotional hit as it did that first time. It is also the album that taught me that you don’t have to be able to sing along with something to take it to your heart. Svefn-g-englar is a startling, shimmering and cavernous piece of wonder that seems to improve with every listen.
Long Division – Death Cab For Cutie
I heart Death Cab For Cutie. I’ve always been an indie fanboy and Death Cab For Cutie are everything I look for in a band – introspective without being over-emotional, acute without being pompous, vibrant without being overblown. Picking a favourite from their back catalogue is difficult (ask me on another day and I’d go with ‘What Sarah Said or You Are A Tourist’ or ‘No Room In Frame’ or ‘The Sound Of Settling’) but if I’m pushed, the energy and clever lyrics of ‘Long Division’ keeps me coming back again and again.
Leave Them All Behind – Ride
I’m not a great one for nostalgia gigs, but the return of Ride was the exception to my rule. Going Blank Again was one of the first albums I bought – on cassette, if those days can still be remembered – and it has remained an all-time favourite. First time around, I never got to see them live, so it was a genuine treat to catch them reformed and reinvigorated in Manchester last year. The thrilling, expansive, cacophonic ‘Leave Them All Behind’ opened the show. I’m not going to lie – I completely lost it for the full eight glorious minutes.
Elevator Operator – Courtney Barnett
We’re living in a golden age of TV apparently. I’m not sure if I’d go that far, but in terms of the soundtracks, there’s certainly a truth to the statement. In recent years, I’ve found several new loves through their inclusion, one way or another, in my favourite shows – BoJack Horseman gave me Kevin Morby, Parks and Recreation supplied Neutral Milk Hotel and Portlandia delivered Washed Out. Courtney Barnett also arrived via BoJack Horseman (if you’ve not seen it, check it out – it’s superb). Within hours of hearing the brilliant Avant Gardener across the closing titles, I’d bought two of her albums. ‘Elevator Operator’ is a current favourite, though it could soon be replaced by the equally excellent ‘Pedestrian At Best’ or ‘History Eraser’.
Wishbone (Wish Wish Wish) – Hey Sholay
Hey Sholay are Sheffield’s best kept secret. They get passed from fan to newcomer like a precious gift, delivered to delight and entertain. I have my brother to thank for introducing me to their charms and I’m eternally grateful. Great on record, they really come into their own live – barnstorming and brilliant in equal amounts.
Eternal Flame – Joan As Police Woman
Joan Wasser is one of my holy trinity of off-kilter chanteuses, alongside Cat Power and Laura Veirs. Drama, fire and emotion flow out of her and her songs come pricked with sparkling ideas and catchy melodies. ‘Eternal Flame’ is an all-time favourite, a delicious pop song underpinned by Barry White-esque backing vocals and choral flourishes that manages to be both heartbreakingly weary and passionately uplifting at the same time.
All Coming Back – The Steals
In my life, every time of day has a soundtrack. There’s tunes to get me out of bed, rock outs to push me through the day, melodies to drift into the evening. And for the wee small hours, there’s The Steals’ Static Kingdom album and, in particular, its closing epic ‘All Coming Back’. It’s a woozy wonder of a tune, which shudders to a halt after four minutes only to burst into a feedback guitar solo that feels like the burst and fade of a chrysanthemum firework.
No One Is Lost – Stars
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve listened to Stars’ No One Is Lost album. With its dancefloor beats, rock sensibilities and 80s nods, it’s a thrilling fun ride from start to finish. The title track sums up that mix – a floor-filling tune of ‘seize the moment’ positivity and hands in the air euphoria. It gets a repeat play every time it comes on.