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Baker's Dozen

Nothing But Heart: Alan Sparhawk of Low's Favourite Albums
Dale Berning , March 29th, 2012 07:13

Low and Retribution Gospel Choir play in the UK next week. In advance of a full interview on the Quietus next week, frontman Alan Sparhawk spoke to Dale Berning about his thirteen favourite albums

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"Every time we sit down and try to write a song, we still feel like complete beginners," says Low's Alan Sparhawk when asked how, after nearly 20 years, his band's music still manages to retain the same urgency and intensity as it did when they first formed. "It’s a combination of not being real trained musicians and doing something that’s more off than normal. There’s still stuff we don’t know, and I think that’s the key. You see a lot of ageing bands, people who used to be famous and now are just going along, some start embarrassing themselves and there’s this big fear, “When am I going to cross that line?” You can’t completely go back to the naivete of when you first started, obviously, but for some reason we’ve been lucky enough to keep a certain sense of it."

Sparhawk is sitting down with the Quietus for a full interview, which will be published next week, and also to talk us through thirteen of his favourite, or particularly influential, albums. Last year Low - made up of husband-and-wife duo Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, and bassist Steve Garrington - released their ninth studio album C'Mon, a record that we said, just like all their music, "doesn't so much demand your attention as your patience ... Listen to it, leave it, come back to it again; it rewards multiple listens."

So something in what Sparhawk says about Low's keeping a certain sense of naivete resonates through the thirteen albums he's chosen for this list. They range from some of his earliest and most formative listening experiences through a scattering of classics and more contemporary recordings, but there's a certain directness and rawness to each that reflects back on Sparhawk's lyrical and guitar work with Low and Retribution Gospel Choir.

Low play at Birmingham's Glee Club next Monday, 2nd April, and London's Royal Festival Hall next Tuesday, 3rd April.
Retribution Gospel Choir play at the Harley, Sheffield, on 4th April, and London's Old Blue Last on 5th April.

Click the image below to begin browsing Sparhawk's favourite albums.


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Mar 29, 2012 11:47am

Thunder Bay is not in Winnipeg. Winnipeg is in Manitoba. TB is in Ontario. Neil Young never lived in TB.

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Mar 29, 2012 1:37pm

Uninspired choices from a member of a pretty uninspired band.

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Mar 29, 2012 2:10pm

In reply to luke:

uninspired comment from an uninspired commeneter. Low are an amazing band, and these are all excellent choices, especially Faith. one correction: it's Seventeen Seconds, not Seventy Seconds.

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Mar 29, 2012 2:46pm

glad that Faith finally gets some recognition,as I think it stands out as a very coherent,bleak and influential album.

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Dan B
Mar 29, 2012 4:34pm

I love that this could also be the top 13 of the dude from Wolfmother, but what Sparhawk and that dude have taken from them sent them in completely different directions. Music is awesome, guys.

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Mar 29, 2012 4:45pm

Superb and brilliant list, and one of the better ones I've seen on TQ. Enormously fond of the Bunny Wailer inclusion, especially- well played, indeed. Great list, great band, great new record.

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Mar 30, 2012 9:52am

In reply to luke:

If it's "uninspired" it's because he's being honest about his choices, rather than calculating (i.e. "I first heard Tago Mago when I was 8 years old & hanging out at Sex with Jordan ", etc).

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Mar 30, 2012 4:32pm

Yeah, we forgive Jamaicans for the god crap because they were slaves and we destroyed their culture, if you are white and mention god YOU are a destroyer of culture.

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Paul S
Apr 22, 2012 6:42am

In reply to Dan B:

No offence, but I'd be amazed if such records were picked by Wolfmother, considering they're derivative crap (ie, a top ten full of Sabbath and Led Zep).

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Mark Crane
Mar 31, 2013 4:39pm

In reply to luke:

See them in concert. Amazing.

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James Hutcheson
Jun 29, 2013 2:00pm

Yep . . .

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