Peter Hooton: 50 Songs I Love

Peter Hooton, vocalist of Liverpool-based group The Farm, shares his 50 most treasured records, from Leonard Cohen to The Who.
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Peter Hooton, vocalist of Liverpool-based group The Farm, shares his 50 most treasured records, from Leonard Cohen to The Who.

1. The Chants – I Don’t Care 

This black harmony group were favourites of the Beatles and often acted as their backing band. They were even managed by Brian Epstein – this track should’ve been massive – a hidden gem.

2. Sam Cooke –  A Change Is Gonna Come

Sam Cooke wrote this after hearing Bob Dylan’s Blowin in the Wind – he wanted a protest song that would be timeless – he succeeded

3. David Bowie – Starman

One of my earliest memories of Bowie on the TV was him singing this. Years later he admitted he was ‘influenced’ by the melody of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ from the Wizard of Oz. Try singing it – "Staaaaar Man" ; ‘Sooooommmmwhere’ . He only admitted this after Somewhere was out of copyright.

4. Bob Marley – Redemption Song

Of all Marley’s song this is my favourite – what a lyric "emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds."

5. This Mortal Coil  –Song To The Siren

I first heard this on the John Peel show – stunning and it was toss-up between this version and the original by Tim Buckley which is also brilliant.

6. The Normal – Warm Leatherette

Electronic post-punk brilliance. When I first heard this song it blew me away. It still does – what a sound! The proceeds from this enabled Daniel Miller to set up Mute Records.

7. Somewhere – West Side Story

It was a tradition in our family to sing songs at family parties. When I was a kid this was my choice. My relative’s would sing some brilliant songs so I chose this as a 10 year old to tug at the heartstrings.

8. Love – Alone Again Or

Listen to this and it will immediately put a smile on your face.  Many Liverpool groups are obsessed with Arthur Lee & Love.

9. Bob Dylan – Positively 4th St

Dylan at the height of his powers.

10. The Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop

Hey ho! Let’s go!

11. Sex Pistols – God Save The Queen

The band's second single released during the Queens Silver Jubilee  was the sound of the summer 1977 and probably got No. 1 but was officially listed as No. 2. I never tire of listening to this.

12. Dillinger Cokane – in My Brain

When I first heard this I thought this had something to do with going the dentist. The club I used to frequent in Liverpool ‘Checkmate’ always had it on – we thought it was the coolest record we had heard in years. Still has a unique sound!

13. Sparks – The Number One Song In Heaven 

They were so ahead of their time. One of the most underrated bands ever.

14. Ultravox – Slow Motion

Just imagine being in one of the coolest bands ever then being written out of history because Midge Ure replaced you. John Fox rules OK!

15. Ray Charles – What’d I Say

This track changed everything. Lennon and McCartney were obsessed with it but it was never a hit in the UK – if you are looking for the sound that shaped the 60s look no further!

16. Bobby Parker – Watch Your Step

Another track which influenced The Beatles – if you listen to the guitar riff it might have influenced ‘I Feel Fine’.

17. Roger McGuinn/The Byrds – Ballad of Easy Rider

West Coast perfection.

18. Johnny Kongos –Tokoloshe Man

I always remember this song as it was always on the radio after an older lad in our school was killed in a car accident. Morbid but this was a song with a real edge – 'Step On' covered by the Happy Mondays was the B-side.

19. The Clash – White Man in Hammersmith Palais

It’s very hard to choose your favourite Clash song but this would probably be mine. A great lyric and a brilliant sound. I had the honour of singing the vocal for this during the Justice Tonight tour.

20. The Electric Flag – Sunny

This isn’t heard often enough – a song with R & B pop and also country influences.

21. The Pale Fountains – Beyond Friday’s Field

This is a thing of beauty. The Farm and friends started playing football and still do on a Friday afternoon in the 90s – this reminds me of those heady afternoons hail, rain and shine!

22. Dave & Ansell Collins – Double Barrel

If you were a smoothie as a kid you loved this classic.

23. The Damned – New Rose 

The first punk single released in the UK it still sounds great today.

24. Mott The Hoople – All The Way To Memphis

I could’ve chosen any one of a number of Mott the Hoople songs I love but chose this because it mentions the Liverpool docks. Mick Jones used to follow them around in his youth the original ‘people’s band’

25. Public Image – Public Image

"Hello, Hello, Hello" –  I always play this when DJing.

26. Python Lee Jackson – Broken Dream

One of the very first singles I wanted to get my hands on and I’m pretty sure my dad bought it for me. Rod Stewart never sounded as good ever again – a raw vocal!

27. The Stone Roses –  Waterfall

Effortlessly brilliant. As soon as you hear John Squire’s guitar you are hooked.

28. The Beatles – In My Life

The song with no chorus – its simplicity is its genius. It’s hard to choose but this would be in my top ten of all time. I tend to sing this after a few now, rather than 'Somewhere'.

29. Billie Holiday Strange Fruit

The haunting brilliance of this protest song still moves me – many clubs objected to Billie Holliday performing it so she made promoters sign contracts guaranteeing she could.

30.Freda Payne – Band Of Gold

Written by Motown writers Holland-Dozier-Holland under a pseudonym because they were in dispute with Motown. They released this on their Invictus label with the Motown house band The Funk Brothers playing on it. If you haven’t seen the documentary about the Funk Brothers ‘Standing in the Shadows Of Motown’ it’s a must see!

31. The Kinks – Lola

Conjures up mental images of sleazy Soho. Ray Davies said he wrote it after watching the Kinks manager dance with a transvestite at a Soho club. The original lyric contained Coca Cola but radio stations wouldn’t play it because of product placement, so Ray Davies had to interrupt a tour of the States and fly back to change the lyric to Cherry Cola.

32. Talking Heads –  Once In A Lifetime

Brian Eno at his best – an unusual rhythm which hypnotises the listener.

33. Billy Fury – Wondrous Place

A gem from the Scouse Elvis.

34. Shuggie Otis – Strawberry 23

Fusing soul, funk and jazz this was a hit in the States for the Brothers Johnson but this version is the best.

35. Grandmaster Flash – The Message

I bought the 12 inch of this.  It changed many people’s lives – music was never the same again.

36. Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit

I first heard this when we were touring the USA. All the group looked at each other and said we all agreed: "what a sound." We didn’t really know what they looked like or that they were – the reluctant spearheads of a music movement – we just loved the sound.

37. The Yardbirds – For Your Love

Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page – the Holy Trinity.

38. Aretha Franklin – Say A Little Prayer

If there is a better vocal performance I am yet to hear it.

39. God Only Knows – The Beach Boys

When the Beatles heard Pet Sounds and particularly this track, they knew they had to come out with something special – they knew the goalposts had been moved.

40. Leonard Cohen – The Partizan

I just want to force people to listen to this – and I mean force. When the choir come in singing in French I become an emotional wreck.

41. The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary

A classic from the State nightclub in Liverpool – play as loud as you can. This track reminds me of one of the greatest clubs I’ve ever been to.

42. Lou Reed –  Waiting For The Man

This song means a lot to me as it was the first song I sang in a rehearsal – my mate lived in a pub and a group rehearsed there on a Sunday afternoon. One week they were short of a singer so I volunteered my services.

43. Cocteau Twins Pearly Dewdrops Drops

The sheer beauty of this song haunts me.

44. Ewan MacColl – Dirty Old Town

It was a toss-up between this and the 'First Time Ever I Saw Your Face' by MacColl. I sing this when I’m enjoying myself, so it’s in even though United fans adopted it.

45. Mink De Ville – Spanish Stroll

When I first heard this, I loved its dirty street sound with a Latin feel. They were one of the original house bands at CBGB’s in the mid-70s and this was there only UK hit.

46. The Blue Nile – Tinseltown in the Rain

Everyone should own a copy of this.

47. The Who – Baba O’Reilly

What an intro, what a song, what a group!

48. The Flaming Groovies – Shake Some Action

We covered this on Hullabaloo and it also influenced the guitar sound on Groovy Train.

49. The Jam – Butterfly Collector

I was obsessed with this song – I judged a pub on whether or not they had this on their juke box. It was on the B-side of the single Strange Town. Weller, known for his cutting lyrics, revealed his sensitive side.

50.  Nina Natasia – Bird of Cuzco

I first heard this song on the John Peel Tribute album. It’s a beautiful, poignant song as this was the place where John passed away in 2004. It always reminds me of him. He shaped my musical tastes for which I am eternally grateful.