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Records that shaped me: by Ray D’Arcy, Chupi Sweetman, Joe Duffy, Pauline McLynn, Paul Howard and more

The way we listen to music may have changed but our relationship with recorded sound remains a vital part of who we are

Records that shaped me: by Ray D’Arcy, Chupi Sweetman, Joe Duffy,  Pauline McLynn, Paul Howard and more

It is the best of times and the worst of times to be a music fan or music-maker. Almost every song ever recorded now sits, virtually, on your phone and can be played at no cost, while the barriers between artists and fans in the shape of record companies and A&R personnel have largely been dismantled.

But the streaming free-for-all comes at a cost to creators as well as consumers. For most of us, that cost might be meaning. In times past, music cost more but it was perhaps worth more too. It meant a lot to seek out records you heard about from friends or on the radio or in magazines and to buy them, bring them home and pore over the sleeve notes. Finding a great record shop was always a joy.

To mark Record Store Day, we asked some folk for five records that have shaped and influenced them.

Pauline McLynn, actor

Records that shaped me: by Ray D’Arcy, Chupi Sweetman, Joe Duffy, Pauline McLynn, Paul Howard and more

Himself, Gilbert O’Sullivan: A truly great songwriter and performer, and every track is a gem. First record I ever bought.


Between the Lines, Janis Ian: This album will always be on any favourites list I make (my favourite track is From Me To You).

The Book of Invasions, Horslips: I still love Horslips with a passion.

Tubular Bells, Mike Oldfield: Another concept album and still, rightly, a game changer for many.

Saturday Night Fever, Bee Gees: Every note is a delight, still.

Henry McKean, broadcaster

Batdance, Prince: My first ever record was a single. I loved the film in 1989 and I loved Prince. I think it cost about £1.99. I bought it in HMV in Glasgow. Prince was so unique and special.

Organisation, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: I love the synth, OMD has an underrated original pop sound. Enola Gay still sounds stunning.

Now That’s What I Call Music, various artists: It’s a tacky compilation album that recently turned 40. But those records were a lifesaver when I worked for a pirate radio station called Hits106, based in Dún Laoghaire. “Now” was packed with hits and flops but great value.

Actually, Pet Shop Boys: I could take this to a desert island. What have I done to Deserve This with Dusty Springfield and hit after hit: Rent, It’s a Sin and Heart. Brings me back to the good times and bad.

Back In Black, AC/DC: I can’t wait to see them in August in Croke Park. I first saw AC/DC live in Sydney in 2000. Stop what you are doing and get a ticket. They were life-changing. This album, wow! My son Kit, who is six years old, says it’s his favourite record.

Tom Dunne, singer and broadcaster

The Clock Comes Down the Stairs, Microdisney: The Irish emigrant experience in the 1980s UK laid bare, assuming that emigrant was 50 per cent Henry Rollins and 50 per cent James Joyce. Seán O’Hagan and Cathal Coughlan were our Lennon and McCartney, briefly, and almost secretly. It still resonates.

The Record, Boygenius: Where all the confessional, self-aware music from 1971 onwards – Joni, Neil, solo Paul Simon – was always heading. This is that music in 2023. My 15-year-old daughter played it to me in the car. “You have to hear this,” she said. She’s right.

A Murder of Crows, Joe Chester: There is a type of band – Big Star, Teenage Fanclub, Alvvays, Jellyfish, The Bangles, The Silver Seas – that combine jingling guitars, blissful melodies, harmony, and wistfulness in a way that will always hold the keys to my heart. This is one such artist. Timeless.

Audio Vertigo, Elbow: I know it’s brand new, but this is a majestic album from Guy Garvey and the band. He has hit a vein of songwriting form that is among the best of his career.

Laugh Track, The National: A good reason to buy modern vinyl is how wonderful it sounds on a good system. That I know is old school, but it’s good old school. Matt Berninger’s voice is an instrument of the gods.

Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Public Expenditure

Records that shaped me: by Ray D’Arcy, Chupi Sweetman, Joe Duffy,  Pauline McLynn, Paul Howard and more

Fisherman’s Blues, The Waterboys: An album of joy, it makes good days better, dark days less so.

Rattle and Hum, U2: I thought I couldn’t love rock ‘n’ roll any more. Then I heard this album.

Time (The Revelator), Gillian Welch: If this isn’t genius, I don’t know what is.

When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, Billie Eilish: While I mightn’t be part of the generation that she sings for, Billie Eilish is a star for our time.

Funeral, Arcade Fire: Given its title, a church could be the ideal venue for this album. To borrow a phrase from The Waterboys, this is Big Music.

Have your say: Let us know what albums shaped you?

Dave Fanning, broadcaster

Records that shaped me: by Ray D’Arcy, Chupi Sweetman, Joe Duffy,  Pauline McLynn, Paul Howard and more

Leave Home, Ramones: The purest rock ‘n’ roll. Fast, loud, simple guitar riffs wrapped around the dumbest teen lyrics imaginable. In the jubilee year of punk, the Ramones were king.

Roxy Music, Roxy Music: Strangely, they broke up after their ninth album, Avalon, and if wine bar music is your thing, then Avalon is as good as it gets. But in every single way imaginable, it’s 10,000 light years from the debut they released ten years earlier. This self-titled first album cost five grand to make. Merging the Velvet Underground with glam, the production is perfectly sloppy and murky.

Loveless, My Bloody Valentine: There must be at least 19 studios in outer space, ‘cos Dubliner Kevin Shields utilised 19 and then beamed the result back to us from a different galaxy. It’s all about moods, emotions, feelings and disconcerting, disorienting dissonance at every turn – and who could resist a spot of pitch-bending?

Rock ‘n’ Roll with the Modern Lovers, Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers: Wide-eyed, unaffected, childlike, proto-punk garage rock from the man who takes inspiration from everywhere and always roots it in rock ‘n’ roll. Unique.

Morning Phase, Beck: For sure, it’s an early morning album. If you’re looking for a bit of Beck oomph – something strident – look elsewhere among his albums. This is not the disembodied soundbite song writing of his hip-hop, delta-blues-loving mid-90s stuff – this is simple, direct and worthy.

Joe Duffy, broadcaster and author

Records that shaped me: by Ray D’Arcy, Chupi Sweetman, Joe Duffy,  Pauline McLynn, Paul Howard and more

Penny Lane, The Beatles: Given my obsession with fire engines, it’s no surprise that this should be one of my favourites. Penny Lane, a real street in Liverpool with a real fire station – is where the fireman “likes to keep his fire engine clean. It’s a clean machine”. With Strawberry Fields Forever on the other side of the single, by jove it was great value in 1967.

American Pie, Don McLean: It was the first single I bought when our new stereogram arrived in Ballyfermot. It had the same dimensions and lid-opening mechanism as a coffin – but it was a Pandora’s box. Apart from being a classic the 45rpm double-sided single came to nearly nine minutes.

Greatest Hits, Simon and Garfunkel: I recently had the inestimable pleasure of interviewing Paul Simon – yes he did ring Liveline – when he heard through the programme that Shane MacGowan died. I have loved his work since I was a teenager crippled by shyness. The first “long playing” album I ever bought was in the summer of 1972 – when Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits was released.

11 O’Clock Tick Tock, U2 (and anything by U2): U2 are the soundtrack of my life, I first saw them on a Sunday afternoon in the summer of 1977 in the parish hall up the road from Larry Mullen’s house in Artane – it’s been downhill ever since!

The Wind in my Hands, Sonny Knowles: Dickie Rock, Red Hurley‚ Sonny Knowles and Sil Fox were regular performers in the Dublin cabaret scene of the late 20th century. I still have a great affection for them, but it was the late Sonny Knowles’ album, which featured the Liberties-born singer manoeuvring a dodgy-looking dingy in Howth Harbour on the cover, that was my favourite. The album is still one of my top five

Conor Pope, Irish Times journalist

Non-stop Erotic Cabaret, Soft Cell: Probably the first album I “discovered” on my own and definitely the dodgiest, it was wildly inappropriate for a 14-year-old boy from Galway, with a title to make a nun blush and a cover shot of the seediest Soho strip joints. Is it any wonder I kept it hidden from my parents behind the Papal Visit to Ireland albums (true story).

Green, R.E.M: This was the everything, quite literally. It was the only record I owned when on a J1 in Boston. Despite that piece of vinyl being played to physical death over one sweaty summer, it lives on in my mind and still has the capacity to stop me in my tracks.

Trains, Boats and Planes, The Frank and Walters: These Cork lads didn’t know me from Adam but I was in their tribe and they were in mine. This is one of the most joyous, jangly pop albums you could hope to hear and after all these years, I still love it so dearly.

Surfer Rosa, Pixies: The godfathers (and mother) of quiet-loud indie rock. Without this outstanding record that makes the ears bleed, music in the 1990s would have been a lot duller.

Midnights, Taylor Swift: I always imagined I would shape my children’s musical journey but it turns out they have shaped mine, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

Zeinab Elguzouli, singer, songwriter and broadcaster

Records that shaped me: by Ray D’Arcy, Chupi Sweetman, Joe Duffy,  Pauline McLynn, Paul Howard and more

Channel Orange, Frank Ocean: This album has inspired me as an artist. It was through this album that I fell in love with Frank Ocean. The chords, the melodies and the variety of tracks! Sweet Life was the first cover I uploaded online.

Justified, Justin Timberlake: I remember playing this album on repeat: the rain would fall as I mouthed the lyrics to Cry Me A River. It’s an album that’s currently in my car, I still love it as much as I did back then.

Spiceworld, Spice Girls: The first album I owned. I loved everything about them, especially Scary Spice. Seeing someone that looked like me living out my dream as a singer inspired little Zeinab. Also, let’s be honest, each song is still a bop!

I Am ... Sasha Fierce, Beyoncé: The best Beyoncé album in my opinion. I’ve covered many of these songs. If I Were A Boy was my winning song for a Captain Americas’ restaurant competition years ago. I made an effort to learn the entire choreography to Single Ladies.

The Heist, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: This album has comforted me in so many ways. I was late to this album by a few years but came across it during a tough time in my life and it truly helped me

Edel Coffey, author and columnist
Records that shaped me: by Ray D’Arcy, Chupi Sweetman, Joe Duffy,  Pauline McLynn, Paul Howard and more

Chet Baker Sings, Chet Baker: I am never not in the mood for Chet Baker. His perfect vocal pitch and tone, his trumpet, his easy-going vibe – he’s perfect for any occasion and any mood. This might be my favourite album ever.

Dig Me Out, Sleater-Kinney: I first came across this all-female trio when I was studying in Chicago and a friend passed me the album. I loved the energy of Corin Tucker’s wailing vocal and the duelling guitars. This album was instrumental in me joining an all-female guitar band the following year.

Blue, Joni Mitchell: Yes, I am that cliche. Blue is a perfect album but also perfectly female, which is one of the many reasons I love it. Mitchell is angry but soft, joyful but wounded, free-spirited but confined by everyday constraints. If you can quote Joni Mitchell lyrics you’re in my gang.

Titanic Rising, Weyes Blood: Natalie Mering’s fourth album is a perfect 21st century blend of Joni Mitchell and Karen Carpenter. Musically and emotionally complex, this is a near-perfect record. Released in 2019, it became my pandemic album.

If My Wife New I’d Be Dead, CMAT: I love CMAT. The first time I heard her song I Don’t Really Care For You, I was instantly obsessed and played it over and over. Her melancholic country vocal crossed with dark Irish humour is a unique and appealing mix. I can’t wait to hear what she does next.

Chupi Sweetman, jeweller

Great Balls of Fire, Jerry Lee Lewis: The first record I remember connecting with. I was maybe seven or eight and I remember jumping around with my parents to this.

OK Computer, Radiohead: This is an album that still takes me back to the longing and hope of being 17.

Nevermind, Nirvana/Blur: For third place, it’s a fight between Nirvana and Blur, if we could just get Song 2, and Smells Like Teen Spirit on the same album, I’d be happy.

Sound of Silver, LCD Soundsystem: LCD Soundsystem would become the soundtrack of my 30s. We danced our last wedding dance to All My Friends and it has became the closing song of every party since.

The Best of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: I walked down the aisle to Nick Cave’s Into My Arms.

Paul Howard, author and Irish Times columnist

Records that shaped me: by Ray D’Arcy, Chupi Sweetman, Joe Duffy,  Pauline McLynn, Paul Howard and more

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles: I can’t remember a time when this record wasn’t part of my life. The first time I heard A Day in the Life was the day I discovered music. I still feel like that when I listen to it today.

London 0 Hull 4, The Housemartins: I listened to this album almost daily between 1986-1988, when I was an angry young man with a chip on his shoulder about class, reading Das Kapital in the school library. “Too many Florence Nightingales, not enough Robin Hoods,” Paul Heaton sings in Flag Day. I was up for the revolution.

(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, Oasis: I grew up in an economically depressed Ireland where we all thought we were going to have to emigrate to avoid a life on the dole. I found myself in my mid-20s with a job and money in my pocket and this was the soundtrack of those years for me. An album full of joyful, anthemic humdingers that you seemed to hear everywhere you went in 1995 and 1996.

Greatest Hits, Roy Orbison: There are many different versions, but I’d recommend one that features Crawling Back, for me the greatest vocal performance ever captured on vinyl. I love Roy Orbison the way some people love Elvis.

Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen: For me this is the greatest album of all time. Highlights are Thunder Road, whose opening lyrics are like stage directions from a Tennessee Williams play; the film noir-ish Meeting Across the River; and Jungleland with its piano intro and sax solo.

Ray D’Arcy, broadcaster

Records that shaped me: by Ray D’Arcy, Chupi Sweetman, Joe Duffy,  Pauline McLynn, Paul Howard and more

Rumours, Fleetwood Mac: I played this album on a loop while studying for my Inter Cert exams, only stopping to change sides. I loved the impeccable combination of Mick Fleetwood on drums and John McVie on bass.

Hunky Dory, David Bowie: If you could transplant Sorrow from Pin Ups this would be the perfect Bowie for me. As a young teenager I couldn’t fathom how a human brain could create something so wonderfully genius.

Steve McQueen, Prefab Sprout: This album was the perfect antidote to the 1980s dance floor tunes I was obliged/paid to play in nightclubs around Kildare. I did squeeze When Love Breaks Down into the odd slow set. “Odd” being the important word there.

The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses: I love this album. From the opening I Wanna Be Adored right through to the brilliant eight minutes and 12 seconds of the closing track I am the Resurrection, there’s no need for shuffle here.

The Best of Bill Withers, Bill Withers: Bill Withers is one of the most underrated and underappreciated soul singer-songwriters in my humble opinion. Use Me and Who is He (And What is He to You) will banish the sweet taste of Lovely Day for you.

Nadine O’Regan, acting editor, Irish Times Magazine, and broadcaster

Violator, Depeche Mode: Their 1990 album contains two bone fide pop-electro classics, Enjoy the Silence and Personal Jesus. Slinky, sensual and full of insistent rhythms and hooks, Depeche Mode never sounded better.

Dry, PJ Harvey: Are women allowed to behave like this? As a kid, that was my first thought on seeing a PJ Harvey video. All red lips and unpredictability, Harvey seemed aggressive and otherworldly, and her songs, when I got hold of them – so scratchy, thin and strange – had a compelling urgency to them. An innovator.

Madra, NewDad: This year, the album that has been my favourite comes from Galway’s NewDad – it’s dark and enveloping, and brings to mind 1990s shoegaze bands, but also has a slice of sweetness in there.

The Record, Boygenius: So you like Bruce Springsteen? Do yourself a favour and listen to Boygenius who are writing lyrics that achieve a similar poetry. Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker have made an album for the ages.

The Hare’s Corner, Colm Mac Con Iomaire: I grew up listening to The Frames, going to see them play in Connolly’s of Leap, and thrilling to singles like Revelate. But these days, the sounds that bring me most joy belong to The Frames’ cofounder and solo artist Colm Mac Con Iomaire, whose hopeful way with a violin is an instant comfort.