Danny George Wilson needs absolutely no introduction. Whether you’ve been on the journey with him since the late 90s when Grand Drive were formed, are familiar with the wonderful ‘The Famous Mad Mile’ solo album release from 2005, discovered his amazing songwriting and performing skills with Danny And The Champions Of The World, or have come to him late with Bennett Wilson Poole or even his 2021 ‘Another Place‘ Americana UK album of the year, you will be well aware of his formidable credentials and incredible output over the last twenty-five years. When I asked a friend and fellow fan what his top ten essential DGW songs were, he initially replied with a list of his favourite sixty compositions. Oh, and those were just Grand Drive. Which just goes to show how prolific he is! It’s been far from easy, but here goes; Essentials: The Top 10 Danny George Wilson songs;
Number 10: Danny and the Champions of the World ‘Every Beat Of My Heart’ from ‘Hearts And Arrows’ (2011)
The start of my journey, via an introduction by Badlands Record Store in Cheltenham, whose comparisons with Springsteen, both for the ‘Hearts And Arrows’ album and for the fabulous Danny And The Champions Of The World live show, including rocking guitars, crazy saxophone solos and joyful anecdotes, were totally justified!
Number 9: Grand Drive ‘A Ladder To The Stars’ from ‘True Love And High Adventure’ (1999)
Then the enjoyment of tracing the back catalogue and discovering Grand Drive, and this epic track from their second album. Thoughtful, often poignant lyrics, set to a melody that really gets into your head- a trademark of this great songwriter.
Number 8: Danny George Wilson ‘Lost Future’ from ‘Another Place’ (2021)
From his most recent solo album, and a set of songs created in collaboration with studio wizard Hamish Benjamin. More experimental than before, in some cases not quite as immediate, but well worth repeated listens to uncover the layers and extensive musical palette.
Number 7: Bennett Wilson Poole ‘Tie-Dye T-Shirt’ from ‘I Saw A Star Behind Your Eyes, Don’t Let It Die Away’ (2023)
The long awaited second album from Bennett Wilson Poole earlier this year did not disappoint- what an amazing collection of songs! And this co-write with Robin Bennett showcases a number of Wilson’s musical influences and idols, whilst, as ever, sounding fresh and original.
Number 6: Danny George Wilson ‘Old Soul’ from ‘The Famous Mad Mile’ (2005)
It was a very close-run thing between this and ‘Don’t Walk Away‘ from ‘Brilliant Light‘, choosing a vocal performance alongside a female singer, in this case Jess Klein. This song will always remind me of a very special moment at Ramblin’ Roots 2018 during a tremendous headline set by The Champs.
Number 5: Danny and the Champions of the World ‘Red Tree Song’ from ‘Danny and the Champions of the World’ (2008)
Acoustic guitar, lone voice, beautiful lyrical imagery, additional instruments and harmony voices building as the song unfolds- the reason so many of us return to The Champs debut album time and time again.
Number 4: Bennett Wilson Poole ‘Hide Behind A Smile’ from ‘Bennett Wilson Poole’ (2018)
Another co-write with Robin Bennett, and a real highlight of the Bennett Wilson Poole debut. As with many of the tracks on this wonderful album, a superb tune carrying highly thought-provoking lyrics.
Number 3: Grand Drive ‘Track 40’ from ‘See the Morning In’ (2003)
A story, a great tune, a sing-along chorus, a brilliantly vocal performance and playing; in other words, it contains every ingredient you could possibly wish for from a Danny George Wilson song. Give this whole Grand Drive album a listen if you haven’t already!
Number 2: Danny and the Champions of the World ‘These Days’ from ‘Danny and the Champions of the World’ (2008)
Let’s return to The Champs debut album. A simply joyous track. And for maximum enjoyment, watch the video and join in the dancing!
Number 1: Danny and the Champions of the World ‘(Never Stop Building) That Old Space Rocket’ from ‘Stay True’ (2013)
Can’t quite believe I’ve reached this point and included nothing from ‘Streets Of Our Time‘ (‘Henry The Van‘ and ‘Restless Feet‘ for goodness sake!) or ‘What Kind Of Love‘ (‘Clear Water‘ and ‘This Is Not A Love Song‘). Or ‘Brilliant Light‘, a double album where every single song hits the spot. Actually, choosing sixty essential Danny George Wilson songs would be a near enough impossible job, let alone ten. But having said that, the opening track from ‘Stay True‘, ‘(Never Stop Building) That Old Space Rocket‘ was never in doubt as the number one, however long the list. An uplifting, inspirational song about aiming for the stars and never ever giving up on your dreams.