Skip to content
5 Albums I Can't Live Without

5 Albums I Can’t Live Without: Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub

(Credit: Donald Milne)

Name  Norman Blake

Best known for  Being the Norman Blake that didn’t play on Nashville Skyline.

Current city  Glasgow.

Really want to be in  Tokyo. Eating and exploring the little side streets that run through Shibuya. Specifically, trying to find the little temple with the underground maze that a friend took me to about ten years ago. The maze was dug by hand, by a monk, way back in the distant past. Making my way through there in complete darkness was both spiritual and surreal.

Excited about  We have a new album coming out [on September 22] called Nothing Lasts Forever. We’ll be heading out on tour around the date of release and I am as excited as I always am when we get to head out on the road. Travelling the world and getting to meet interesting and engaging people never gets old. If you don’t enjoy that, you’re in the wrong line of work.

My current music collection has a lot of  Hawaiian albums. Inspired by my friend Jad Fair, who is a fan of the genre, I bought a job lot of 150 of them for 30 quid about 20 years ago. Mostly mediocre (at best), but there are some gems in there, too.

And a little bit of  Industrial. Specifically, Throbbing Gristle. Both me and Raymond [McGinley] from Teenage Fanclub were fans of that band when we were teenagers. Still enjoy listening to them and Chris & Cosey and Psychic TV.

Preferred format  I listen to all three [vinyl/CDs/streaming]. I also listen to radio a lot. Mostly classical music on BBC Radio 3. They cast the net far and wide and play everything from Opera to Baroque to Musique Concrete. Used CD’s are good value for money. The quality is really great and you can find them in every charity shop (thrift store) for pennies.

I could have picked any number of albums for this, but today it’s going to be…

5 Albums I Can’t Live Without:


Quebec, Ween

It’s an eclectic, no-fucks-given album, full of really well-crafted songs. Ween could turn their hand to any genre of music. And they did. The first song sounds like Motörhead. The eighth is a vaudevillian number called “Hey There Fancypants” which is somewhat reminiscent of the Beatles’ “Honey Pie.” Or something by Noel Coward. There’s a song called “I Don’t Want It” that is a soft-rock smash hit for someone if they discover and cover it. 


Like Flies on Sherbet, Alex Chilton

People often compare us to Alex’s band Big Star. And rightly so. We loved those records and were heavily influenced by them. But I heard this album before I heard those and it really made an impression on me. It’s pretty much 50/50 Alex originals and covers (Alex was the master of choosing cover songs.) It’s proto punk, it’s irreverent. It’s fucked up. It’s Alex Chilton at his rawest. There’s a beautiful William Eggleston image on the cover too, so it also functions as a nice piece of art to lean against the wall in your flat/apartment.


Safe as Milk, Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band

I love everything by Captain Beefheart, but this is my favorite. It’s the most garage-rock version of the band (that’s a genre that appeals to me very much) but it still has all of that Delta blues-influenced thing going on, too. Zig Zag Wanderer has the dirtiest bass sound that I have ever heard on a record. There’s a little breakdown section where the bass is on its own and it’s really, really trashy and funky. So cool.


You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever, Orange Juice

Orange Juice were from my home city of Glasgow and they were the band that made me want to start my own band. Edwyn Collins, James Kirk, (SPIN magazine’s very own) Steven Daly and David McClymont made an incredible noise together. They were post-punk punk rockers. They moved me on from the year zero attitude that I had acquired through my observance of the punk rock aesthetic dogma. Which was that pretty much anything produced before 1977 was shit. Complete nonsense, of course. Orange Juice came along and said we love the Subway Sect, but we also love Chic and Al Green. That was revelatory for me. And they could write songs, too. There isn’t a bad tune on this record. It was perfection for the 16-year-old me. 


King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown, Augustus Pablo and King Tubby

One genre of music that the punk rockers gave a free pass to was reggae, dub specifically. Me and my mate Gerry Brown would listen to King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown alongside other favorites like The Clash’s Give ‘Em Enough Rope and Love Bites by The Buzzcocks. Métal Urbain, PragVEC, Killing Joke, etc. I still have the Island Records 7” of the album’s title track that Gerry gave me back in the day. I still listen to it. I still love it. That melodica still sounds amazing! I am really fond of dub/reggae in general.