Mary Anne Hobbs: 50 Songs I Love

Disc spinning legend Mary Anne Hobbs waxes lyrical on everything from Hendrix to Skream via Motorhead, Roni Size and the Pistols...
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Burial – ‘Distant Lights’ (Hyperdub)

He changed my life... Mercurial, reclusive South London based producer who builds his music entirely from mosaics of samples. I was the first person ever to play his music on the radio, and I adore him.

Jeff Buckley – ‘Grace’ (Columbia)

During the last conversation I ever had with John Peel, he told me that he truly believed that he could have saved Elvis. In an ideal world, I would’ve saved Jeff Buckley…

Jimi Hendrix – ‘All Along The Watchtower’ (Reprise)

…and Hendrix. Lemmy (who used to be his roadie) tells me he was a true gentleman.

Beastie Boys – ‘Jimmy James’ (Grand Royal)

A dazzling homage to Hendrix, featuring samples from 4 of his songs. RIP MCA… we really miss you.

Happa – ‘Boss’ (Wigflex)

Mind-blowing 15 year old producer, re-inventing bass music for the next generation. This clip from Loefah’s Rinse FM show is where I first heard him:

Nirvana – ‘Territorial Pissings’ (Geffen)

“Just because you’re paranoid, don’t mean they’re not after you…”

James Blake – ‘A Case Of You’ (Universal)

I was the first person to play his music on the radio, and it makes my heart burst to see his star burning so brightly. This Joni Mitchell cover is exquisite.

Savages – ‘Husbands’ (Pop Noire)

One of the most important new (girl) bands in Britain. No contest.

Radiohead – ‘Pyramid Song’ (Parlophone)

I love everything about Radiohead. Everything.

George Ezra – ‘It’s Just My Skin’ (Demo)

Just 19 years old, from Bristol, he’s a supernaturally gifted next generation singer songwriter. Seek him out at

Deftones – ‘Be Quiet & Drive (Far Away)’ (Maverick)

We can’t be friends if you don’t love Deftones…

Blawan – ‘Breathe Them Knees In’ (Black Sun)

I call him The King of Barnsley… His most recent radio Guest Mix for me had 18,000 hits in a week. Big-hitters like Warren Ellis took to Twitter to talk about how much they loved it. Here it is.

His beats sound like they were built in the bows of a pirate ship lurching on high seas in the 17th Century. I took him to Sonar Festival to DJ with me for an audience of 15,000 people in June, and we built a sonic descent into darkness together. It was one of my favourite moments on a stage in this life.

Happy Mondays – ‘Wrote For Luck’ (Factory)

In my head Shaun’s lyric is: “I drawn the line. You formed a queue.” Factually that’s inaccurate, but I don’t care, it’s how I’ve always heard it and I love it.

Some my greatest nights on earth were at the Hacienda in Manchester in the late 1980s with Happy Monday’s manager Nathan McGough. I first discovered dance music there.

Kode 9 & Spaceape – ‘Sine Of The Dub’ (Hyperdub)

The most humid & intense (Prince) cover version of all time. An astounding debut statement of intent from one of the most important artists and independent labels of our time.

Primal Scream – ‘If They Move Kill ‘Em’ (MBV Arkestra mix) (Creation)

Originally only released for one day (tho’ now you can get it at iTunes,) this qualifies as one of the greatest howling remixes of all time, by the mighty Kevin Shields.

Motorhead – ‘Ace Of Spades’ (Bronze)

I bunked off school at the age of 15 and traveled 300 miles to a gig organized by Hell's Angels at Hackney Dog Track to see them play. That day was thrilling and terrifying in equal parts, and in truth, I was never quite the same again.

Skream – ‘Rutten’ (Tempa)

This is Dubstep.

Lianne La Havas – ‘Lost & Found’ (Warners)


Her voice is heart-stopping. I’ll be listening to her sing when I’m 90 years old.

Flying Lotus feat. Gonja Sufi – ‘Testament’ (Warp)

West Coast hymn. Be still.

Alice Coltrane – ‘Journey In Satchidananda’ (Impulse!)

Alice was the wife of John Coltrane, and a dazzlingly brilliant musician. This track is lifted from her fourth solo album, and Alice plays the harp like a wild angel. It’s a homage to her Swami Satchidananda. I think I need a Swami.

Thin Lizzy – ‘Emerald’ from ‘Live & Dangerous’ (Vertigo)

My first live gig at age 15 was Thin Lizzy at Preston Guildhall. I was a tiny skinny little girl. I literally scrambled on my hands and knees between the legs of all the greasers in the room to get right down the front to the feet of Phil Lynott. I was dazed by the flashing mirrored scratch plate on his bass guitar, and the fury of the sound. I’d heard Lynott had pirate’s blood, and I was absolutely enchanted by him as a child. I remember vividly being so excited to hear him actually speak between the songs. I wondered how he’d choose his words and how his spoken voice would sound. (I was also really confused by the support band. I didn’t know what a support band was, and I was extremely worried that I might have turned up on the wrong night!)

Loefah – ‘Mud’ (DMZ)

This is Half Step. And it’s all about the second drop.

“Loefah… set it.”

Joy Division – ‘Transmission’ (Factory)

Dance dance dance dance dance to the radio…”

Ben Howard – ‘Promise’ from the LP ‘Every Kingdom’ (Island)


Grace Jones – ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’ (Island)

Grace is so beautiful she’s almost alien. I’ll never forget her demanding a white stallion to ride on stage at Sonar Festival in front of 30,000 people a couple of years ago. Where do you find a horse that’s brave enough?

DJ Shadow – ‘Midnight In A Perfect World’ (Mo’ Wax)

It’s all about the opening sample. This was the unofficial theme to my BBC Radio1 show the Breezeblock, which originally began at midnight, back in the day.

Digital Mystikz – ‘Anti-War Dub’ (DMZ)

My favourite underground anthem of all time.

The Specials – ‘Ghost Town’ (2 Tone)

There isn’t a man on earth who looks better in eyeliner than Terry Hall.


Bob Marley – ‘Exodus’ (Tuff Gong)

I would love to have met him...

Pangaea – ‘Router’ (Hessle Audio)

This was the first of many beautiful new electronic textures emerging in 2008, inspired by DMZ generation Dubstep. This is actually a B-side, as are so many of my favourite tunes.

Nina Simone – ‘Feeling Good’ (Mercury)

A civil rights activist, with a warrior soul. I respect her so much for her bravery, and her voice will haunt me forever.

Squarepusher – ‘Dark Steering’ (Warp)

One of the most fascinating musicians on earth. He brought in everything from Black Sabbath to Bach for the most recent Takeover he did on the radio with me. Topics of conversation included, (me) worrying/(him) not worrying that the human soul and was not represented in our DNA patterns.

The Undertones – ‘Teenage Kicks’ (Good Vibrations)

John Peel awarded this song 28 stars (out of 5). He was right.

Ben Frost – ‘Theory Of Machines’ (Bedroom Community)

Extraordinary Australian who lives in Reykjavik, Iceland. Seek him out. He will transport you.

Roni Size & Reprazent – ‘New Forms’ (Talkin’ Loud)

Roni cut a dubplate of this especially for me and I treasure it to this day. Bahamadia’s vocal is astounding.

Marvin Gaye – ‘What’s Going On’ (Tamala)

Crushes my heart… every time.

Mastodon – ‘Curl Of The Burl’ (Roadrunner)

Let’s lift a goblet of blood and toast the greatest living hard rock band on earth.

Machinedrum – ‘Rise N’ Fall’ (Dubplate)

Prolific New York City boy now based in Berlin. He also operates as half of Sepalcure who worked with me on the soundtrack for Darren Aronofsky’s Oscar winning film Black Swan.

Killing Joke – ‘Love Like Blood’ (EG Records)

I always wanted an older brother, and Raven from Killing Joke fulfilled that role for me during the many years I knew him. This song features one of his finest basslines. He died in 2007 and I miss him very much.

The Beta Band – ‘Inner Meet Me’ (Regal)

They should never have split up.

Vex’d – ‘Lion VIP’ (Planet Mu)

Pitch dark sonic firestorms from one of the most fascinating creative partnerships of the last decade, Jamie Teasdale & Roly Porter.


Matt Corby – ‘Kings & Queens, Beggars & Thieves’ (Communion)

Supernaturally gifted Australian. He will headlining Glastonbury shortly, mark my words.

Thefft – ‘TenTen’ (Fulcrum)

One of a new breed of electronic producers that I really rate, most of whom are barely out of their Teens.. including South London Ordnance, Paleman, Metrist, Karma Kid, Viers, Artifact, Bondax and many more.

Little Comets – ‘The Western Boy’ (Dirty Hit)

My favourite track from the Jarrow boys’ glorious second album ‘Life Is Elsewhere’. I must have played it a thousand times.

Pinch – ‘Qawwali’ (Tectonic) 

I call this man The King Of Bristol… This was the track that ended my notorious Dubstep Warz special on BBC Radio1, the show that became known for creating a global Tipping Point for the genre, peaking creatively in 2006.

Sex Pistols – ‘Pretty Vacant’ (Virgin)

My dad smashed up all my Pistols singles when I was a kid, but I got to interview the original line-up for a BBC Radio1 documentary at Chateau Marmont in Hollwood when they first reformed. It was a pretty confrontational affair. Lydon famously screamed something like, “Don’t you dare quote my book back at me little girl…” We used it for the Trailer.

Wu Lyf – ‘We Bros’ (Lyf Recordings)

Rushholme, Manchester based and notorious for their mistrust of the media. This tune is like a shot of pure serotonin.

Jane’s Addiction – ‘Three Days’ (Warner Brothers)

I lived in a garden shed in Hollywood when I first saw them play at a warehouse rave in downtown LA. I’ll always remember Perry Farrell came strutting out in a red rubber corset with dreads all the way down to his backside. Dave Navarro’s guitar solo in this song is just elemental.

Prince – ‘I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man’ (Paisley Park)

The greatest pop star on earth. Bar none.

Jake Bugg – ‘Trouble Town’ (Mercury)

Just 18 years old… and extraordinarily gifted.

Aphex Twin – I love everything he’s ever done.

From the beginning of the New Year, Mary Anne will be the voice of BBC Radio 6 on the Weekend Breakfast Show every Saturday and Sunday 7:00-10:00am.

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