Books and Music at the Heart of Independent Publishing

James Fearnley’s Top 5

March 9, 2013 | by Faber Social

Tags: James Fearnley, Playlist, The Pogues, Vinyl

James Fearnley, founding member and accordion player in The Pogues, dives into his vast record collection and whittles them down to select his top 5 records for us.

Astral Weeks – Van Morrison

A collection of the most romantic and spiritual songs I have ever heard, recorded in New York, Morrison showed the material to the session musicians – most of them jazz players – on a guitar, giving out no sheet music, then isolated himself in a booth and let them get on with it.

Eat a Peach – Allman Brothers

The newly finished, empty, flats on the building site in Bolton where I had a job sweeping sawdust in 1978 had acoustics perfect for the whistling of Duane Allman’s slide guitar solos on ‘One Way Out’, ‘Trouble No More’ and ‘Mountain Jam’, which, with an overlap, took up sides two and four – three of Duane Allman’s last recordings before he died when his motorcycle ran into, apocryphally, a truck full of peaches, from which event everyone I knew at the time were convinced the album title had come.

Sound Affects – The Jam

When I was in the Nipple Erectors with Shane MacGowan, we went on what were called Nips Outings to see the Jam, who were on tour promoting Sound Affects, at the Rainbow in Finsbury Park (where, high on amphetamines, I clambered round the ‘Andalucian village’ above the proscenium arch), and further afield to the Conference Centre in Brighton (where I got physically ejected by the Jam’s tour manager for being in the wrong place with the wrong pass too many times) and to Aylesbury Friars where I tried to sleep in a graveyard but settled for one of the seats in a railway carriage – empty when I stretched out, but full of the destitute when I woke up the following morning.

Rain Dogs – Tom Waits

Never off the Pogues’ tour bus’s sound system on a tour of Germany in 1985, the otherworldly grating, creaking and thumping sounded as if we were truly on board a ship with straining timbers, and the lyrics a zoetropic parade of slaughterhouses, roadhouses, shovels, whiskey, pistols, umbrellas, tumours big as eggs, Cincinnati jackets and paladin’s hats.

La Pistola y El Corazón – Los Lobos

When Elvis Costello pushed Los Lobos on the Pogues in 1985, I couldn’t understand how he wouldn’t think that they were anything but a second-rate bar band, until this ‘mini-album’ of Tejano/Mariachi-inspired music played mostly on traditional instruments came out and more or less piped me on board to embark on my new life in Los Angeles.