As he releases new Magnetic Fields album 50 Song Memoir, Stephin Merritt doesn't delve into the past for his Baker's Dozen list but instead gives tQ an A-Z of some contemporary favourites, from Japan to Marc Almond, bawdy cockney songs and the BBC Radiophonic Workship. Pic by Marcelo Krasilcic
B: BBC Radiophonic Workshop - 21
Previously known as the 21st Birthday Album, this is a gorgeous and goofy compilation of 45 fun and experimental electronic tone poems made for radio and TV from 1958 to 1979, some from the days when the music department only allowed the Workshop to exist by pretending electronic music wasn't music (just as Forbidden Planet was scored with "electronic tonalities"). So since no one was being taken seriously, the composers could even be women, of whom Delia Derbyshire has recently gained acclaim (in electronic-music geek circles; if you're not in one, it's not too late to join!). The longest track, 'A Whisper from Space', is 2:11; so if something doesn't grab you, wait a minute. If only all records could be this varied and entertaining. Derbyshire's immortal Dr. Who theme isn't even necessarily the best track.