I've started listening to my friends' music recommendations – shame no one's asked for mine

Adrian Chiles
·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Brian Cooke/Redferns</span>
Photograph: Brian Cooke/Redferns

In the really quiet phase of lockdown I wrote about my disciplined, some would say rather joyless, approach to music listening. In an effort to discover new stuff, I would find lists such as the Guardian’s top 50 albums of the year and listen to each one twice and then listen through the whole list again. I have since been working with a new idea: I am asking my friends for their five favourite albums, skewed towards stuff they think I’m unlikely to be familiar with.

As before, I listen to all five all the way through twice, and then the whole lot all the way through again. Over a pint in a park with Paul Cook, he of the Sex Pistols, he settled on albums by Television, David Bowie and Marvin Gaye, all of which I enjoyed. And I really loved Roxy Music’s Stranded and Neu!’s Neu! 75, which were exactly what I was after: a band I knew but had never listened to properly, and a band I had never come across.

Among other gems, Frank Skinner delivered me Liege & Lief by Fairport Convention; Michael Henderson, author of the brilliant That Would Be England Gone, offered Vaughan Williams’s Symphony No 5 in D Major; the football commentator Bryn Law gave me Don’t Stand Me Down by Dexys Midnight Runners; and an orthodontics professor called Martyn inflicted far too much Marillion on me, but redeemed himself with Disintegration by the Cure which, incredibly, I had never heard through.

I have listened diligently to all of all my friends’ offerings. To skip even one track even on the second or third play felt wrong, disrespectful. No, I have ploughed on through, struggling occasionally but making many great discoveries. But here is my beef: not one of these people and more has asked me for my five recommendations in return.

Disappointing; I have been dying to share. So, in bitter desperation, even though you’re doubtless no more interested in my selections than my nearest and dearest, I am reduced to inflicting them upon you: Every Bad by Porridge Radio; Guppy by Charly Bliss; The Köln Concert by Keith Jarrett; Hinterland by Aim; and Crossfire by the Reads.