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Island Records

I was invited onto the Testers' Island Discs podcast recently. Testers' Island Discs is
... a podcast focused around software testing and storytelling hosted by Mark Winteringham.

The concept is straightforward: each episode, Mark interviews a different member of the global software testing community to talk about their career, interspersed with clips and discussions of the music that they love. Every guest gets to select five songs and one book to take with them to the island.
Music was my life for a long, long time. I was in bands, I did my own solo music, I wrote a fanzine and occasionally for "proper" publications too, I attended gigs several nights a week, and I DJed on student and community radio stations. I built up a big record collection stacked around the house and in the loft but when my daughters got old enough to need their own bedrooms I had to sell it to make space.

Although I never counted, I estimated that there were around 12-15000 albums, singles, flexidiscs, and CDs driven away in the bloke from Cambridge market's long wheelbase Ford Transit that sad, sad day.

Getting down to five tunes was tough. I originally thought I might choose from records whose sleeves I've used at the top of posts here on Hiccupps but, in the end, I settled for a handful that gave and continue to give me an emotional reaction. I hope you enjoy them.

Run DMC, Sucker M.C.'s (Profile) from Run DMC LP


Run DMC were the first band I got deeply into. It's a long time ago now, 1986 when their Raising Hell album came out, when I heard them on, I think, Janice Long's evening show on Radio 1. Hard, basic beats, chunky scratching, and rock guitar topped off with tag-team rapping.

I went up to Birmingham the next weekend and bought it then went back in later weeks to get the first album, Run DMC, and the second, King of Rock. All three are classics. Playing anything from these takes me back to that time when music had just got electrifying for me.

Cable, Oubliette (Infectious) from Down-lift the Up-trodden 10"


By the mid 1990s I'd become a bit bored by indie guitar bands but Cable (and also Compulsion with tracks like Why Do We Care?) reignited the excitement for me when they pinned me to the back wall of a tiny venue in Reading. I hoovered up their back catalogue on Krunch! and everything they put out afterwards.

I interviewed them at Nottingham Rock City and heard som outrageous stories about being kicked out of Oasis's studio at gunpoint! An oubliette is a kind of dungeon that you can only access through a trapdoor in its ceiling, by the way.

Jerry Reed, Thank You Girl (RCA) from When You're Hot You're Hot LP


For my sins, I have a soft spot for that extremely 1970s film, Smokey and the Bandit.  Burt Reynolds stars as The Bandit while his truck-driving sidekick, The Snowman, is played by the musician Jerry Reed. Reed also sings on the theme song for the film, East Bound and Down. It's great song and I used to sing it to my daughters to help get them off to sleep when they were babies.

I bought the soundtrack album on vinyl but when it arrived the sleeve was in awful condition. The place I ordered it from offered to let me choose something else as compensation and I picked a Jerry Reed album, When You're Hot You're Hot. Thank You Girl spoke to me immediately: "I wanna thank you girl/For loving me/I wanna thank you girl/For all the happiness you brought to me".

If it sounds cheesy to say it out loud, in the song it's simply magical. When me and my wife got married we chose this, Slade's Coz I Luv You, and I Walk The Line by Johnny Cash to play while we signed the register.

Pram, Cumulus (Too Pure) from Iron Lung EP 12"


The last term of my Master's degree was for project work, to write a dissertation. Naturally I spent a large part of it on a future-retro, techno-fear, short black and white film recorded on a silent Super-8 camera with a couple of my mates from the course. The film was called Wireless and it's about how phono terrorists are trying to break the state's stranglehold on the population which they control with mind-numbing music broadcast everywhere all of the time. We got all this old computer equipment out of skips at the Engineering department and borrowed a hall to set them up in from the college I was living in. Editing it was amazing, all these little strips of film hanging up on washing lines around my flat for weeks until we got it spliced together and transferred to video.

That was a major milestone, but we still needed to put a soundtrack on it and because I was a DJ and had a little DJ mixer and VCR that you could use to dub sound onto video tape it fell to me to do it, but the equipment was so primitive I mixed it live with three or four tape decks and a turntable. The sounds effects were all on audio tape, wound back to just the right place that I could put them into a tape deck and play them without needing to cue them up. A large part  of the soundtrack was an amazingly atmospheric track, Cumulus, by Pram which I had on a red vinyl 12" single called Iron Lung.

Years later, for reasons I don't recall, me and my daughters used to play a weird version of follow-the-leader to the same track, leaping around the living room and trying to pull the strangest poses we could. So when I hear this track I have two wonderful memories.

The Guy Who Invented Fire, Glow (Intellectos) from I Didn't Get Where I Am Today EP

No YouTube for this one, but I've made an MP3 available.

I used to make music in bands, in an Anglo-French duo, and alone as The Guy Who Invented Fire. I used an Amiga computer and tracker freeware based on Ultimate Soundtracker which was a four-channel software sequencer that played 8-bit samples.

This track is one of mine, probably the one I'm most proud of, in part because it was the point at which I realised I didn't need to be able to play anything more than once to be able to use it. I could simply record myself tinkering and then curate the best bits from it. I didn't consider it this way at the time, but it's really a step back from work to meta-work.

It was released on an EP called I Didn't Get Where I Am Today by a U.S. label, Intellectos. The title is from The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, fact fans.

I've published a list of links to stuff I talked about on the podcast at Testers' Island Links.

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