Shelf’s Desert Island Discs (1987)

This year marks the 70th anniversary of long-running BBC 4 radio program, Desert Island Discs, first broadcast on 29 January 1942. For those unfamiliar with the show’s premise, each week a celebrity guest is asked to select eight pieces of music, a book, and a luxury item to accompany them during an imaginary stranding on a deserted island. As the interview unfolds, discussions of the guest’s choices provide fascinating insights into their life.

That very successful concept has been borrowed and adapted worldwide on radio, television, and in print. For those who remember Tower Records, the retail chain published a magazine called Pulse!, available for free at store locations. Among the periodical’s most popular features was reader submissions of their Desert Island Disc list (consisting of ten albums, as opposed to the BBC’s criteria). Recently rummaging through some old memorabilia, I came across the November 1987 issue of Pulse!, in which my DID selections were documented.

To preface the list, I was 18 at the time and a freshman in college (also, I wouldn’t earn the nickname ‘Shelf’ until three years later). Thanks to the influence of two uncles (mom’s brothers), my musical tastes were very varied and eclectic. Their vinyl collection is really old school: classical, big band, radio shows, soundtracks, comedy, instrumental, exotica—nothing more recent than the 1960s. Growing up, those records were my musical entertainment and education; while my friends jammed to Led Zeppelin and Van Halen, I was grooving to Martin Denny and Herb Alpert.

So here’s the Desert Island Disc list that I created 25 years ago (alphabetical by artist; please forgive the glib descriptions):

Tower Records Pulse!
November 1987

Sanity Maintenance

Dear Pulse!,
I offer you my Desert Island Disc list, carefully compiled while keeping in mind that variety is necessary to maintain sanity.

01. James Bond 10th Anniversary—John Barry
James Bond is God.

02. Endless Summer—The Beach Boys
What else would you listen to on the beach?

03. Standing On A Beach—The Cure
The evolution of a cult phenomenon.

04. The Luxury Gap—Heaven 17
Some frivolous pop-dance paraphernalia.

05. Exorcising Ghosts—Japan
Impeccable music without classification or compare.

06. Greatest Hits! Volume 1—Dean Martin
Soothing, sing-along swing from my goomba, Dino.

07. A Memorial 1944-1964—Glenn Miller
Packards, F.D.R., WWII, and the music of Glenn Miller.
My image of the early ’40s.

08. Gone To Earth—David Sylvian
Music for watching the stars and moon reflect off the ocean.

09. The Joshua Tree—U2
Compelling music with soul, meaning, and drive.

10. Die Walküre—Richard Wagner
Stirring, pulse-pounding opera.

Your publication is top-notch, quite often the only thing worth reading each month. Keep up the good work!

Sincerely yours,

Christopher Martin
Philadelphia, Penn.

I guess it’s time for an update, eh? Coming soon in a future post… in the meantime, start thinking of your own DID list.

Posted on September 6, 2012, in SHELF, TOP 10 LISTS. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Japan, Heaven 17 and David Sylvian were all on your list too…

    • I worshiped Sylvian for years, but his style has changed so dramatically. I’m all for experimenting, but he pushes the envelope a bit too far for my tastes. Even his voice isn’t what it used to be.

  2. I miss the experience of shopping at the Tower Records on South St.
    The vinyl and CD selection they had in the basement was always a great source of new and exciting music for me.
    Glad to see someone else was so enamored with the whole thing too …

    • Tower on South Street? You from Philly?! I spent many an hour (and dollar) in that joint, as well as the classical annex, and the stores in Northeast Philadelphia, King Of Prussia, and Cherry Hill. Shame they’re all gone – shopping online isn’t the same.

      • Yes, I’m originally from the Philadelphia area. Any time I made a proper trip into the city (shows at the Troc, TLA, Tower Theater, etc) I would make it a point to head to South Street to go music shopping. Tower was always a stop along the way.

        • That is crazy. We probably bumped into each other flipping through CD racks in the basement. Good times. Although South Street isn’t the same – very little of the original punk spirit remains. Sad.

  3. I also miss my local Tower Records- kids just don’t know what they’re missing. Anyway, I love your DID list and the show is one of my fav iTunes downloads with Morrissey & Michael Cain as the top shows.

    p.s. thanks for the ‘And Here Is The Young Man’

    • Thank you, sir. I hope folks will take the time to share their own lists.

      Wherever I traveled back in the 1990s, I made it a point to find the local Tower. Although a chain, it had more of an indie shop feel. Prices weren’t always the best, but the selection was usually great.

      Totally forgot to reply to your post regarding the Hannett comp – sorry about that, but glad you found it.

  4. I used to listen to Desert Island Discs back in the 80s! Such memories!
    Pet Shop Boys’ Behaviour will definitely be in my list.
    Liza’s Results as well.
    ABBA’s The Visitors, Madonna’s first album and Nik Kershaw’s Human Racing.
    These are what comes to mind immediately. I’ll have to think of the remaining five then…
    look forward to your update, Chris!

  1. Pingback: Shelf’s Desert Island Discs (2013) « Methods of Dance

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