Politicians Celebrate National Album Day

To celebrate National Album Day UK Music asked politicians to tell us their favourite albums

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11/10/2019: To celebrate National Album Day UK Music asked politicians to tell us their favourite albums

Don’t Skip is this year’s theme of National Album Day on Saturday October 12. The event highlights the benefits of taking time out of your busy day to listen to an album in full.

We asked leading politicians which album in their collections was the one that they turned to time and again. You can read their answers below.

And, you can find out more details about National Album Day here:


Nicky Morgan MP (Culture Secretary)

Robbie Williams – “I’ve Been Expecting You” (1998)

My favourite album is Robbie Williams’ “I’ve Been Expecting You”. My favourite song off that album is No Regrets. Because it reminds me of my youth!


Tom Watson MP (Labour Party Deputy Leader and Shadow Culture Secretary)

John Martyn – “Solid Air” (1973)

It was a frost-coated day in a late Autumn when my room mate at university inserted the cassette into the music system and changed my life.

Few albums lay down that kind of leitmotif in a life as John Martyn’s, “Solid Air” did for me. “Astral Weeks” did. So too did the Specials eponymous album.

Yet “Solid Air” was like a mystic experience. John Martyn’s voice is like a magical instrument. Its timbre is like listening to the wind in a forest. This album is timeless and I am blessed to have it within me.


Nigel Adams MP (DCMS Minister)

Queen – “Greatest Hits” (1981)

Whilst it’s not an actual studio album, it’s the only album I know that has 17 brilliant and incredibly catchy, sing-a-long pop rock songs. It was released when I was a teenager and I played the tape permanently until the cassette broke.


Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter (Lib Dem Spokesperson for DCMS in the House of Lords)

David Bowie – “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” (1972)

My album has to be “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”. This choice is not just about fabulous music and lyrics – Starman in particular – the Americans had Neil Armstrong we had David Bowie.

The effect of Ziggy Stardust was this incredible burst of creative energy, of originality, of sheer & literal colour at a time when Britain was in a dark, dour place. Ziggy we need you back.


Anna Turley MP

The Levellers – “Levelling the Land” (1991)

Prior to hearing this album for the first time, I had been living in the blissful ignorance of early ’90s saccharine pop – buying the latest chart singles on vinyl from Woolie’s for £1.99.

Then in 1993 aged 15, a friend thrust a dodgy ripped-off cassette copy of this album into my hand, and my life changed! Out of my hi-fi speakers blasted freedom, honesty, love, and a difference kind of politics than I was used to.

The first song on the album, One Way, talks of breaking free from the monotony of what was expected from you in working life with a power and poetry that can’t be matched:

‘My father when I was younger
Took me up on to the hill
That looked down on the city smog
Above the factory spill
He said this is where I come
When I want to be free
Well he never was in his lifetime
But these words stuck with me’

Other tracks like The Game, Liberty, Sell Out and Another Man’s War and their social justice messages spoke this teenager starting to look around her and get angry about the state of things.
The whole album had an irreverence, rebelliousness and passion that I loved then and still do. It woke this teenager up and still does every time I hear it.


Angela Smith MP

Thin Lizzy – “Jailbreak” (1976)

Choosing a favourite album is extremely difficult, there are so many competing candidates. Is it Queen’s “Night at the Opera”? Or “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”? “Thriller”?  U2’s “Joshua Tree” remains a favourite.

In the end, I went for one of those rites of passage moments and chose Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak”. It was released in 1976 and became a much loved vinyl treasure, played by me on one of those pieces of equipment which would leave most young people nowadays incredulous.

I was 15 when the album came out. Its title track, along with the wonderful The Boys are Back in Town, were released as singles and represented for me something fresh and exciting. I was never exactly a fan of the disco music that dominated the charts through much of the mid-seventies, so the emergence of this energetic, exciting band, with an amazingly charismatic lead singer, was exactly what I was looking for. In other words, I came of age just at the point when Thin Lizzy matured as a band.

It was the start of a beautiful relationship. Succeeding albums saw me through my late teenage years – “Bad Reputation”, “Johnny the Fox” and “Black Rose”.  To this day, I lament the premature passing of the wonderful Phil Lynott but thank the Gods for his precious musical legacy.


James Frith MP

Radiohead – “The Bends” (1995)

My favourite album is “The Bends” by Radiohead. It was the first album I fully appreciated as a whole piece of work, the body of songs, the bands style, the range of music, production value and Thom’s voice and Johnny’s guitar! It came at a time when pop and chart music just wasn’t enough for me.

I’d been to Reading in 1994 and saw them play but only knew Creep and their patchy debut. I go back to “The Bends” so often and though it’s definitely between “Ok Computer” and “Kid A” as my other favourites this was a first glimpse in to the beautiful power and possibilities of music and my first love of a band who remain my favourite of all time writing music as a companion, energy, anger or in sympathy as you find it.

My favourite ever flag I’ve seen many times at a festival reads ‘Just play The Bends’, advice which I almost always take. Fake Plastic Trees is my favourite ever song.


Kevin Brennan MP (Shadow Culture Minister)

David Bowie – “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” (1972)

The moment the needle dropped onto the vinyl and Woody Woodmansey’s drum opening introduced Five Years, the first track on David Bowie‘s “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” my life and my haircut were changed forever.

For a 12-year-old working class boy this record opened up new possibilities far beyond the boundaries of a small town in South Wales.

Even the cover itself – with Bowie jumpsuited and alien-like in the ethereal light of an alleyway – as if he just emerged out of a space ship from the Planet Cool – captured the adolescent yearning for something different and strange. I stared at and studied every detail of that 12-inch square of cardboard for hours on end.

The music itself, telling the story of an androgynous alien rock star with a message that the planet had only five years to live, was exciting and dramatic. But it wasn’t just space imagery and glam sci-fi camp – the brilliant outro by Mick Ronson on Moonage Daydream is still one of my all-time guitar solos.

This is the record that finally revealed David Bowie to himself as an artist and to the public as a superstar. Ziggy opened up new worlds for millions of young kids and changed their lives and haircuts too.


Julian Knight MP (member of DCMS Select Committee)

Beach Boys – “Pet Sounds” (1966)

I would nominate “Pet Sounds” by the Beach Boys. I really like an album with a story behind it, and I think that the album was a ground-breaking one in terms of having a cohesive artistic goal.

The album came at the zenith of Brian Wilson’s creative talents and was inspired by that Great British icon, The Beatles. Wilson managed to produce a masterpiece of work, which at the same time battling with serious mental health issues.


Ian Blackford MP (SNP Parliamentary Leader at Westminster)

Big Country – “Eclectic” (1996)

It is always difficult to choose one album. That being said the following would be my choice: Big Country’s “Eclectic”. This is a remarkable album for a band that continued to innovate right up to the sad death of Stuart Adamson in December 2001.

The album is a mixture of Big Country songs and cover versions recorded live at Dingwalls in London. Stuart was joined by a number of special guests; Carol Laura, Steve Harley, Bobby Valentino, Kym Mazelle, Aaron Emerson, Hossam Ramzy and Mohammed Toufoq, who all add to an album, which is indeed eclectic but also incomparable to everything else I have listened to. Big Country were much under rated particularly in their later years when they produced much that was outstanding.


Arlene Foster MLA (DUP leader)

Go West – “Go West” (1985)

The first album I bought in 1985, when I was 15-years-old, was the iconic first album from Go West, also titled “Go West”.

Our family record player was in our sitting room and many an evening and Saturday morning was spent listening to the treasured Go West album. I can still probably sing most of the songs on the album by heart, especially We Close Our Eyes, Don’t Look Down and Goodbye Girl.

Peter Cox and Richard Drummie have given me many happy memories of singing at the top of my voice as their forgotten backing singer!

My first album will always be a very special one and reminds me so much of my teenage years.


Luke Pollard MP

Red Hot Chilli Peppers – “Californication” (1999)

“Californication” was the soundtrack of the summer of my first year at university in Exeter. In those balmy evenings my Red Hot Chilli Peppers CD was played time and time again from my little boombox. As a young 18-year-old the exploration of adulthood, the exciting nights out, the freedom of being away from home for the first time all chimed with the Chilli’s album.

Scar Tissue and Around the World are stand out tracks on this album but Porcelain and Road Tripping were my tracks for late night drinking in my room in halls, cheeky nights in and moments to relax.

In the age before shuffle and iTunes, “Californication” and “Gran Turismo” by the Cardigans were my go-to CDs for studying to, drinking to, relaxing to and having fun too. Each song reminds me of the hopes and dreams I had as a young man. Powerful stuff and the opening riff of Around the World, the first track on the CD, still gives me goosebumps. A timeless classic and in my view the best album the Red Hot Chilli Peppers have ever made.


Kerry McCarthy MP

Joy Division- “Unknown Pleasures”  (1979)

It’s 40 years since Joy Division released their debut album, “Unknown Pleasures”, and it remains as powerful, musically and lyrically, as ever. It was the soundtrack to industrial decline, perfectly reflecting the black-and-white world of the late 1970s in the north of England and in Luton, where I grew up. But it also spoke to angst-ridden teens like me on a very personal level. I still can’t listen to a track like New Dawn Fades without feeling totally overwhelmed by the sheer force of the emotion it conveys.

I ended up studying Russian at university in the 1980s just because a Joy Division review mentioned Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”, and I read it and was blown away. Fast forward to 2019 and seeing New Order live, playing Disorder, She’s Lost Control, Shadowplay. The songs still sound as powerful, as relevant and as moving as ever. It’s a work of genius – and an iconic front cover too!


Alex Sobel MP

Pulp – “His ‘N’ Hers” (1994)

This more than anything finalised my transition from commercial pop music to alternative and indie music although I retained my love of hip hop and dance.

The album is a book of stories of the lives of young people. The stories all had little mysteries or unresolved situations with Babies in particular a fascinating situation between the protagonist his friend, her sister and David from the garage down the road.

The songs all have a literary quality like a Tom Stoppard play or an Alan Sillitoe story but very much of the late ’80’s or early ’90’s. I can go back to it time and again as every song has a timeless quality.


Ian Lucas MP

Beatles – “Abbey Road” (1969) (DCMS Select Committee member)

After much thought, “Abbey Road” by the Beatles. Mainly for Side 2 which, after the superb Here Comes the Sun, includes my favourite section of 15 minutes rock music ever, combining beauty, humour, driving rhythms and superb collective playing of stunning music.

Many have aspired to achieve the same quality but the combinations of melody, with, and musical performance are, for me, timeless and unsurpassed.


Sir Greg Knight MP (APPG on Music Member/ Drums with Parliamentary Band “MP4”)   

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons – “Chameleon” (1972)

The 1972 album by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons was the only LP they recorded for Motown. “Chameleon” had poor sales in the USA: no single was issued from the album there and it bombed in the UK but here two singles were released, namely You’re a Song (That I Can’t Sing) which flopped as a result of no airplay and The Night, which met with chart success and peaked at No. 7 in 1975, becoming a Northern Soul classic.

Critical reception to the album at the time of release was non-existent but listening now you realise what a gem this LP is blending the Motown sound with the sublime vocals of the Four Seasons led by Valli’s unique falsetto. The harmonies are heavenly and keyboard player/composer Bob Gaudio’s polished production makes for an exceptional album which should have been a best-seller.

All tracks are good but You’re a Song (That I Can’t Sing), The Night and A New Beginning are especially worthy.


Jonathan Bartley (Green Party Co-Leader)

The Mustangs – “Watertown” (2019)

Ok, so this is a bit of a liberty but I have been playing in a band since 2001, and we have just produced our tenth album of original material – and it’s an eco concept album. So I’m shamelessly promoting it! It’s called Watertown by The Mustangs. Our frontman Adam (we were at school together and have been playing in bands for over 30 years) got the idea for it when we were playing at Glastonbury in 2017.

It tells the story of industrialisation, the wrecking of the planet for the sake of profit, but it’s also a story of hope. It was a bit of a gamble, because we are a blues band and this was a bit of a step out of our comfort zone for our usual audience.  But it’s been getting some rave reviews, and it’s an album very much of it’s time. In the words of the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, “if ever I would stop thinking about music and politics…”

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