TIM BOOTH, 56, is the lead singer of the band James whose biggest hit was Sit Down in 1991.
PATTI SMITH: Horses (Sony)
I heard this at boarding school after I was told that my dad had gone into hospital. I was devastated and couldn’t sleep. I hadn’t played it before and the song Birdland is about a boy losing his father. At that moment I connected to music in a way that I’d never done before.
WIRE: Pink Flag (EMI)
An overlooked punk classic. I interviewed them when I was 17 by pretending to be a journalist from the school magazine and watched them perform these songs. It’s one of the most inventive, crazy records ever.
PIXIES: Doolittle (4AD)
The Pixies were way ahead of their time and influenced the grunge movement. The arrangements are well crafted and singer Black Francis is the king of scream. They invited us to their Brixton show and it was one of the greatest gigs I’ve seen.
SUFJAN STEVENS: Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty)
Magnificent. It’s very folky and partly about the death of his alcoholic, schizophrenic mother. It’s a great record to chill out and it’s so vulnerable. I saw him live last year and it’s so hard to hold an audience with stillness but he did it.
REGINA SPEKTOR: Soviet Kitsch (Sire)
She’s a classically trained pianist and can do musical things that I can’t dream of. The song Us is written from the point of view of statues of Soviet dictators and sounds like it has come from a musical. Her voice can make you weep but there’s lots of humour.
BRIAN ENO: Discreet Music (EMI)
I’ve lived with this record for 35 years. It never ceases to hold me. It’s one of Eno’s early ambient records and got torn apart by the press because everyone was into vocals at the time. I use it to relax.