Lindisfarne - Fog on the Tyne
I’ve loved music since I was a kid which was a very long time ago and this is almost where it first started. The first album I ever bought with my own money was Cat Stevens’ Teaser and the Firecat, closely followed by A Nod’s As Good As A Wink by The Faces. But the next, Fog on the Tyne, bought mainly because I loved the classic single Meet Me on the Corner, is the album that has stayed with me the longest. There’s a simple reason for that. In the early 90s I married a Geordie, moved to Newcastle (a city I’d never even visited before) and fell in love with the North East of England. Since then I’ve met and worked with Ray Laidlaw, the original drummer with the band. If you’d told the 12-year-old kid who bought this album that would happen he would have thought you were delusional.
The Clash - The Clash
I joined the Royal Navy in 1977. I was posted to a Naval air base in Yeovilton for my first job and lived for six months in a four-bed room in old Nissan hut. One of my hut-mates was a young chef who played his music very loudly and introduced me to The Clash. I’d spent the previous few years getting increasingly bored with prog rock (Tales of Topographic Oceans by Yes was a particular low point) and the urgency and simplicity of punk rock blew me away. My favourite track was Career Opportunities which contained the line ‘I hate the army and I hate the RAF.’ I was inordinately pleased that the Navy escaped overt criticism from Joe Strummer.
Billy Bragg - Life’s a Riot with Spy vs Spy
Music has been a huge influence on my politics and my leftwards journey, started by bands like The Clash and The Redskins, was definitely pushed along by the brilliant Billy Bragg. I first saw him live at Glasgow Apollo supporting The Style Council. He wandered on stage with just a guitar and an amp and blew the place away. I’ve seen him countless times since and his humour, passion and humanity shines through every time. A few years ago I got to meet him when my then writing partner and I wanted to use one of his songs in a play and, typically, he invited us to the soundcheck of a gig he was playing in Newcastle. Sitting in the stalls watching him and the late, great Ian McLagan, who had played keyboard on that early Faces album of mine, get into their stride was a real pinch-me moment. As you might expect he was as warm and friendly in real life as he is on stage. We never did use the song.
The Streets - Original Pirate Material
I’ve always liked to listen to new music. To my way of thinking, first albums are often a band’s best work as they’ve probably spent years perfecting the songs, playing them live to test them out first whereas later stuff can be a bit rushed. (Maybe the same applies to writers and books but I hope not.) I’ve also always loved the idea of people making stuff in their own bedrooms before launching their tunes on an unsuspecting world which is exactly what Mike Skinner did with this stunning and totally original album. I’d never heard anything like it when it first came out and it still sounds fresh as a daisy now. Several years later, when I was pitching my first novel I used quotes from the epic (and very suitably named) Turn the Page and another track, Weak Become Heroes to illustrate the themes of the book, which eventually became my debut novel The Man on the Street. So thanks for that, Mike!
The National - Trouble Will Find Me
There are bands that somehow pass you by, mysteriously avoiding catching your attention no matter how many gigs you go to or radio stations you listen to. The National were such a band for me. So thank God for festivals! It wasn’t until I saw them on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2017 that I was even aware that The National existed. Since then I’ve devoured both their back catalogue and everything they’ve done since. I’ve travelled all over to watch them too as lead singer Matt Berninger is probably the most charismatic front man currently around. In one instance me, my wife and daughter, heading home from a family holiday in Italy, diverted to Budapest to catch their headline set at the Sziget Festival and it was worth every penny. It was very hard to choose a favourite album (Sleep Well Beast was very close) but this one just nicks it with some absolute bangers like Don’t Swallow The Cap, I Need My Girl and This is the Last time stealing the show.
Everything Everything - Get to Heaven
Sometimes just one moment can make you love a band forever and this is what happened to me with Everything Everthing. It’s another Glastonbury 2017 awakening but rather than being on the main stage this was in the small Williams Green tent where the band were playing a secret set. I was already a fan and having heard rumours they were playing there had gone along early to make sure I got a spot. By the time they came on the place was rammed full of fans and it was one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen. The connection between the band and the crowd was incredible - best epitomised by this video of the set closer, No Reptiles, which not only had lead singer Jonathan Higgs in tears but most of the crowd too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe6JtoDURcQ Since then the album has remained a favourite, it’s deeply political yet full of cracking songs, though none of them will ever eclipse No Reptiles in my heart.
Solomun - Selected Remixes 2009-2015
This is another favourite that inadvertently came about by going to live gigs. I came to dance music pretty late in life, influenced by wonderful festival appearances from the likes of the Chemical Brothers, Justice, Faithless et al but this album came to my notice when I was at an Editors gig at Northumbria University. Before the band came on I was really enjoying the pre-set music which was mostly stuff I knew well with one exception. My wife Shazammed it and it turned out to be an Editors song, Our Love but remixed by Solomun, a Bosnian DJ. I got home that night and checked out his other work and discovered this amazing album which will have you dancing from start to finish. There are remixes of Broken Bells, Lana Del Rey and most impressively The Foals’ Late Night. There’s not a duff track on the album and I return to it endlessly, especially if I need livening up before heading out for the night. Not on the album but also superb is a wonderful dance version of Leonard Cohen’s You Want it Darker which I urge you to check out.
She Drew The Gun - Memories of Another Future
My favourite new band of recent years, political, hearfelt, melodic, what more could you ask for. And like me, bandleader Louisa Roach is a late developer who never gave up her dream. They’re another great live band that I’ve seen many times and their epic ballad Poem, a song about the homeless which develops into a rant about everything that’s wrong with the country is a standout. Louisa very kindly gave me permission to use some lyrics from the song as an epigraph at the start of Dead End Street. After it was published I went to a gig hoping to get the chance to give her a signed copy and typically found her watching the support band. When she later came on stage and thanked me I had a real fanboy moment, which was pretty embarrassing for a 60-something old man!
Trevor Wood has lived in Newcastle for 30 years and considers himself an adopted Geordie, though he still can’t speak the language.
His first novel The Man on the Street, which is set in his home city and features a homeless protagonist won the Crime Writers’ Association’s John Creasey New Blood Dagger for best debut and the Crimefest Specsavers Debut Novel of the Year. It was also shortlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and has been optioned for television by World Productions, the makers of Line of Duty and Bodyguard. It was followed by the highly-acclaimed sequel, One Way Street and the final book in the trilogy, Dead End Street was released in 2022. His fourth book, You Can Run, a standalone thriller set in a remote Northumberland village is released in March 2023.
Trevor is one of the founder members of the Northern Crime Syndicate and is a volunteer chef at the People’s Kitchen in Newcastle, a charity that provides hot meals for around 200 hundred people every day. You can find out more here www.trevorwoodauthor.co.uk or on twitter @trevorwoodwrite