FRAFINPO (15 Random Album Favourites In No Particular Order)

A Twitter conversation with the inestimable @BearNecessitude underlined to me that even fans of an artist may not always see eye-to-eye over the virtues of a particular album. We both agreed Steve Hackett’s “Please Don’t Touch” was splendid, and then totally failed to agree that its successor “Spectral Mornings” was possibly even better (my view).

Since there’s nothing so gratifying – nor, indeed, so wasting of time – as a jolly good debate over music, I have chosen 15 albums that have seen heavy rotation on my playlists past and present, with a brief attempt to explain why.  It’s not my Top 15 – dear me, no! THAT would be a time-consuming debate – but I’ll be interested to see what you all think of my choices. (Bear, that probably means just you, mate.)

1. The Snow Goose


You can almost smell the marshland as this classic 1970s instrumental album unfolds in a grand, but not pompous, prog-fest. I first heard this played in our sixth-form common room and was transfixed. It’s quintessentially English, and I recommend it to anyone unfazed by the concept of electric guitars living happily alongside oboes and bassoons…


2. The Earth Is Not a Cold Dark Place

Explosions in the Sky

Music that swoops and swoons, chiming guitars, moody percussion; no lyrics — the music speaks for itself. If you haven’t heard this band yet, this is a good introductory album. Tell them Limey sent you.



3. Aja

Steely Dan

I guess I could have picked pretty much any Dan album – ever-brilliant lyrics, oblique cynical humour, musicianship of the highest order guaranteed – but Aja contains the wondrous Deacon Blues and Josie. ‘Nuff said.



4. With The Beatles

The Beatles

This takes me straight back to childhood. I had the original Parlophone album in Mono and would play it incessantly. Roughly split between covers and originals it’s just classic early Moptop…as witnessed by the album cover. I’m not saying it was better than their later stuff, but it totally blew me away at the age of five and can still make me smile like a loon forty-five years later.

5. Wasp Star


It’s been said many, many times, but if any group should have inherited the Beatles’ mantle it is XTC. They are still woefully under-rated, but to see what all the fuss is about get this, and its companion piece Apple Venus, and marvel at songs like Stupidly Happy and The Man Who Murdered Love. Rich, layered, packed with fun and whimsy – Andy Partridge gets my vote for Godlike Rock Genius, even if he does hail from Swindon.

6. Sounds of the New West

Various Artists: Uncut Magazine

A strange thing happened to me on the way to fifty: suddenly began to challenge my oft-repeated assertion that I would rather bury my head in a wheelbarrow full of horseshit than voluntarily listen to a Country record. These days I have to admit that the twangs of a steel guitar aren’t necessarily going to consign me to the Seventh Circle of Hell. This album, free with Uncut magazine about ten years ago, is mostly responsible for my change of heart. It single-handedly introduced me to artists such as Josh Rouse, Neil Casal, Lambchop, Willard Grant Conspiracy and The Handsome Family, who now make up a goodish proportion of my record collection. There’s not a duff track on the album; if you can beg, steal or borrow a copy, I heartily recommend it.

7. The Seldom Seen Kid 


For me, getting into Elbow was something of a slow burn; I could appreciate their potential in early work like Asleep At The Back, but it didn’t quite gel.  And then along came this album and suddenly everything fell into place. Delicate, mesmerising, majestic, capable of moments of sheer perfection, I can now see why Elbow should not be hurried. They are a band to lay back and wallow in.

8. Moroccan Roll

Brand X

Yes, it’s Prog Jazz. And Phil Collins is on drums and vocals. I suspect many of you are even now heading for the toilet, but give this a chance and I truly hope you’ll change your minds. Come on…what can you lose? Your eternal soul is already damned for liking Face Value when it first came out.


9. Listen Now

Phil Manzanera & 801

What do you mean you never heard of it? Okay, so it’s obscure and it’s from 1977, but if you wanted to hear what the bastard lovechild of Roxy Music, 10cc and Crowded House might sound like then: hey presto! Manzanera, Eno, Godley, Creme and Tim Finn are all here. Great songs with an undercurrent of paranoia running right through the album. Not exactly party music, I grant you, but parties are over-rated anyway.

10. Rockin’ The Suburbs

Ben Folds

Were it not already occupied by Andy Partridge, Ben Folds would be a shoe-in for the role of Godlike Rock Genius. I’m in thrall to all the Ben Folds Five albums, and his solo stuff is equally good. Zak and Sara, Fred Jones Part Two, Carrying Kathy and Not the Same are highlights, but that’s a bit like saying The Himalayas are a tad taller than the Rockies. It’s all good…better still, there’s a rumour on the street that the Five may be together again.

11. Sir Henry at Rawlinson End

Vivian Stanshall

So it’s mostly spoken and only occasionally punctuated by admittedly eccentric music, but this is one that would make it into any putative top fifteen of my favourite records ever. Stanshall takes the English language and effortlessly makes it do his bidding. If you are not reduced to quivering piles of helpless, mirth-ridden jelly by this then I will eat my extensive collection of deerstalkers.

12. Sheet Music


In my humble opinion this album was the best thing they ever produced. Firing on all cylinders, ideas sprouting like Medusan heads from every conceivable angle, the ability to weave together musical genres and make them seem as if they had always belonged together – they have all of that, plus an uncanny prescience: Old Wild Men in which they wonder what will happen to old rock stars when a pensionable age is reached, and Oh Effendi, a gleeful nod to Middle Eastern/American relations, containing the priceless line: “Your guerillas are urban and there’s bourbon on your turban and the sun shines out of your ass”.

13. Joe’s Garage Acts I, II and III

Frank Zappa

Wickedly subversive; way, way ahead of his time; completely bonkers. I know Frank’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and this may not be every Zappa fan’s favourite album, but it is an unholy mish-mash that still somehow holds together and rewards every listen in new ways. Hear where Flight of the Conchords and Godley and Creme (consciously or otherwise) got inspiration for some of their stuff.

14. Great Day For Gravity

King L

This was criminally overlooked when it came out. Tom Driver and The Dumbest Story Ever Told would grace any gritty guitar rock album, and the fact is they’re not the only tracks that would; it’s a fine album. When you discover that the driving force behind it is Gary Clark (of Danny Wilson fame) everything suddenly becomes clear. Go find it and enjoy yourselves!

15. Selling England By The Pound


It was only a question of which album. I thought long and hard and in the end I stuck a pin in my iPod. Classic Peter Gabriel-era Genesis and if you don’t like it already nothing I can say here will probably change your mind. Stand out tracks: Dancing With The Moonlit Knight, Cinema Show and The Battle of Epping Forest. Glorious!

About captainlimey

Captain Limey is the alter ego of a mild mannered idiot. He can also be found on Twitter, either as @CaptainLimey or in his new guise as a purveyor of Gangland Mummy Porn in @50ShadesOfKray. Despite a magnificent costume, specially created for him by his mother, he has no super powers, unless you count the ability of his skin to eat through metal, given enough time. This has led to the buggeration of several watches of his acquaintance but has not thus far proved harmful to other lifeforms. The Captain hopes you will enjoy his blogged musings and forgive the occasional rant against the world at large, and idiot dictators in particular. They really get his gander up.
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7 Responses to FRAFINPO (15 Random Album Favourites In No Particular Order)

  1. I can’t say I’m familiar with many of these, most being English and all that, and me not being a young English boy from the 1970s, BUT, I have to admit, Elbow I love, and Genesis, too. Wait, maybe I AM a young boy from the 1970s! Your American choices are choice. Do quite like the Steely Dan. Their sound never gets old, I think. And what’s funny is that I’m into alt country of late, too, though I have trouble explaining the difference to my “new” country friends. Why am I friends with them again? I think it all comes down to brains and heartbreak.
    Thanks for sharing with us, Limey.

  2. captainlimey says:

    Dawkins bless you for thinking I was a YOUNG boy in the 1970s 😉

    Brains and heartbreak…that’s a helluva* good observation. Pretty much epitomises “Listen Now” and “Great Day For Gravity”.

    * I know. Only a child of the ’70s would say THAT…

  3. Necessitude says:

    Oh my goodness! I was like a kid in a sweetshop when I caught sight of this, the Captain’s latest blog. And just like a kid might scan the colourful jars and labels on display, straining to determine the exotic and exciting contents, so I couldn’t resist quickly scanning the album covers from top to bottom to see what we had to savour.

    The Captain has impeccable taste. Assembled here are the audible equivalents of the finest wines. No alco-pops or fizzy mass-produced lager here. These are items that can taste different each time according to your age, your mood and your experience. Not everyone will be able to enjoy them, but those that do will have amazing insights into nothing less than the human condition itself.

    Earlier on I mentioned album covers. These aren’t CD inserts or .jpg images. I’m talking about tangible pieces of colourful card that can be felt, smelt, bent and drunk in with your eyes. For, by and large, the music collections in this blog belong to that by-gone era of 12-inch “long-playing” albums and finely matured wine – er, I mean music.

    I must confess that I don’t know all the albums on display here; however I feel that I’m suitably in tune with those that I do know to feel impelled to search out the rest. I know I shan’t be disappointed.

    I can’t resist passing comment on some of the albums and the artists. Hopefully you’ll see that the Captain and I have a remarkable resonance.

    Camel – The Snow Goose. I remember seeing an advertisement for this album when it was released (1975-ish) in the New Musical Express (NME). In those days the NME was a thick newspaper-like publication. The artwork caught my eye; the music caught my ear. It was an instant classic.

    Steely Dan – Aja. I was introduced to Steely Dan in the late 1970s. They’ve been my grown-up friends ever since. Like the Captain said, you can just about pick any album.

    The Beatles. I came VERY late to the Beatles party – early 1980s. A friend introduced them to me during dark, drink-fuelled philosophical nights. Perhaps it’s not the only way to appreciate them, but it worked for me. Lennon and McCartney: proof that synergy is real. music. The Captain’s narrative could have been written by me. It must be an age thing.

    Elbow. A slow burn for me too! I’m getting there…

    Brand X – Moroccan Roll. I LOVE Brand X and have done since 1979. Moroccan Roll is my third favourite album, behind Masques (top) and Unorthodox Behaviour (second).

    Frank Zappa – Joe’s Garage Acts I, II and III. Zappa was another artist I discovered in the early 1980s (funnily enough during a drink-fuelled party – is there a pattern here?). Prolific. Talented. Nice guy. Mentioned in a Deep Purple classic. What more is there to say? Oh yes, I like “Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch”.

    Genesis – Selling England by the Pound. I thought long and hard about this – for I am a huge Genesis fan (have been since 1974) – and I have to agree that Selling England is probably their best album. Cinema Show? Defintely! Dancing with the Moonlit Night? Absolutely! Battle of Epping Forest? Firth of Fifth would have been my third choice. I much prefer the early Genesis albums, and even when Peter Gabriel left I loved Trick of the Tale & Wind and Wuthering. Things started to go off the boil for me when Hackett left.

    So thank you and bless your lime-green tights, Captain. In this ultimately lonely journey we call life, it’s the occasional encounter with a kindred spirit that makes it all seem worthwhile. 🙂

    • captainlimey says:

      I was lucky enough as a teen to have a good friend with an extensive record collection, who introduced me to Genesis, Frank Zappa and Steely Dan. Once the fuse was lit it was impossible to extinguish.

      I agree with you about post-Gabriel Genesis; everything after Wind and Wuthering was somehow safer; nothing wrong with it, as such, but just not the same feel to it.

      “Moroccan Roll” was my first taste of Brand X, and that may be why it’s my favourite, That and the punning title. “Masques” is right up there, though.

      Strangely enough, the record I mostly associate with a drunken party is “Sir Henry at Rawlinson End”. I took it with me on a weekend trip to visit a friend at Durham University, played it to a batch of his mates about midnight one evening, and can remember everyone just rolling around the floor absolutely hysterical with laughter. Afterwards we were so wired we decided it was a bloody good idea to play football in the dark on the grass outside the girls’ college. The next morning I woke with a fabulously thick head, to discover my glasses had somehow broken apart at the bridge. I had no idea how this state of affairs had come about, but was grateful that superglue had just been invented.

      I was lucky enough to go and see Camel when they played live in Guildford. Found myself standing at the bar next to someone who looked very familiar…turned out to be their original drummer, Andy Ward, who, it transpired, loved beer even more than I did. Nice guy…unreliable drummer 😉

  4. It’s not often you get your tights blessed. Loved your insights, Nessie. If you get insights like The Beatles when you’re drinking, then let’s hear it for alcohol! I miss album covers.

    • captainlimey says:

      I miss album covers too…but I have to say I also love the fact I can carry my entire record collection in a gadget no bigger than a fag packet. Who’da thunk it, all those years ago?

  5. haha, you said fag packet. I gotta get me an iPod one of these days. You SHOULDA thunk it, then you’d be rich.

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