TOP TEN: Fair Mothers’ Kevin Allan picks the albums that made the difference

Picture: Kevin Allan, aka Fair Mothers

FAIR MOTHERS is the nom-de-musique of Stonehaven’s Kevin Allen, who releases his second full-lengther of the year, In Monochrome, today, August 7th.

It took your humble Backseat Mafia reviewer by the scruff and lofted him into a fully-realised, raw, exploratory folk vision and documentation of the life as lived. Read our review here: we found it “unflinchingly visionary alt/wyrd/raw folk … essential.”

We also found Kevin beguiling in his candour and his vision, and thought to ourselves: there’s someone who has lived inside music, like all us true music junkies do. So we asked him: would he be so gracious as to compile his top ten favourite albums? He concurred forthwith and has furnished for you herein complete with Spotify playlists.

Dear reader: immerse.

KEVIN: There’s a lot of room to hang myself here, so I’ll keep it short and sweet. I’m going to stick to music that I really love.

1, THE MUPPETS – The Muppet Movie: Original Soundtrack Recording

I reckon it primed me to love Neil Young. I played it all the time throughout one Christmas holiday. [It’s a] very sad record: grown-up sadness. Much more than it needed to be. Why did I, as a young kid, play a sad record through a whole Christmas? The same lost something is in the illustrations Tolkien drew in The Father Christmas Letters he wrote to his kids each year.

2, THE CURE – Seventeen Seconds

Seventeen Seconds exercised a spell on me that is still running. My first introduction to them, in my girlfriend’s bedroom, was their early compilation LP, Boys Don’t Cry. If only tonight I could articulate why I love Seventeen Seconds so much. I cottoned onto some culture via Robert Smith, that I liked much more than Fife at the time. It took me very far away from my kid-self, and I got really lost.

3, NEIL YOUNG – After the Gold Rush

Wandering around being lost, I got found by Neil Young. If I hadn’t found Neil Young at that particular point I might have stopped wandering around and I might have turned back; but I believe in you, he said.

4, PIXIES – Bossanova

I guess I could have picked any Pixies album. However, this one has “All Over the World” on it. The 2nd change it goes through two-thirds of the way in is mystical to me, a great shrine of a song. On the new Fair Mothers LP, In Monochrome, there’s a song, “16:39” that uses a guitar line from “All Over the World”, overlaid with one from “Ivo” by the Cocteau Twins. Both songs share part of the same chord structure.


While looking for somewhere spooky to read my occult Dennis Wheatley novels I found a Reader’s Digest vinyl boxset introduction to classical music. Pretty much at random I picked this LP because on the cover was a boat – Sinbad’s ship – in a storm. It’s the first music I can remember wilfully listening to, really listening, trying to drink it up. My record player had a repeat button, so I would put it on in the evening, and wake up to it in the morning; for quite a while I did this.

6, CAN – Landed

Later, I did the same thing with Landed, by Can, which ends with a song called “Unfinished”, which is the most beautiful piece of music I’ve ever heard. Lasts for just 13 minutes though.

7, STEPHEN MALKMUS – Stephen Malkmus

My wife and I had a holiday in New Zealand, before the kids, soundtracked on the car stereo over thousands of miles by this LP; windows down, warm breeze. New Zealand really stinks in places: I had no stomach for it but my wife, owing to her experience as a tour guide in whiskey distilleries, managed fine. It also has volcanoes, and Mordor, huge cave systems, black sand beaches; the further north you go the hotter it gets; an entire town with local businesses that try to out-pun each other, gigantic deciduous trees that produce huge red flowers, vicious fish that can take your hand off with one bite but no dangerous land-based animals or insects; strange star constellations I’d never seen, North Island landscapes like a Mediterranean Fife with a similar but much more oppressed indigenous culture fighting colonisation, and rip-tides that strip the shorts from your arse. All this familiarity and strangeness side by side was perfectly soundtracked by Malkmus’ first solo LP.

8, WILCO – Schmilco

Just recently I’ve gotten more and more into Wilco and I think they are going to end up being an all-time favourite. I heard them years ago but didn’t think very much of them. Then I saw Johnny Lynch mentioning Jeff Tweedy’s book, Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back), and I was intrigued so I read it and pretty much immediately it became a bromance. I guess I’m tired of being held at arm’s length by Stephen Malkmus and his aloof wisecracking genius and I’m ready for some prolonged closer human contact with Jeff. On this LP there’s a song, “We Aren’t the World (Safety Girl)”, that I’d sell my family to have written.

9, BUDD FRASER GUTHRIE RAYMONDE – The Moon and the Melodies

[So titled, but a collaborative 1986 album by Harold Budd and the Cocteau Twins]. All that remains of western culture in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower is “Hey Jude” and various broken technologies. But no Cocteau Twins? Aye right.


Sacred music for those with a strong stomach. Buyer beware.

Fair Mothers’ In Monochrome is released by Song, By Toad Records today, August 7th. To order, click through here.

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