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Baker's Dozen

Crime Plays: Writer Ian Rankin On His 13 Favourite Albums
Luke Turner , November 21st, 2012 07:37

Ian Rankin talks to Luke Turner about his life in music, and how he'd like to write novels based on Joy Division and David Bowie albums

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I met Ian Rankin in early 2011 while covering a Mogwai tour of Scotland for NME. He'd taken a break from writing to take a train up to Perth for the gig, where he did this great In Conversation interview with Stuart Braithwaite, and returned home laden with vinyl from the merch stall. A music obsessive, Rankin has peppered his bestselling Rebus novels with musical references. These kinds of insertions into plot can be as cringeworthy as politicians revealing the contents of their iPods, but Rankin's genuine enthusiasm for music makes the device work. It seemed, therefore, that Rankin would make for a good Baker's Dozen subject - not least because his debut single, a story called 'A Little Bit Of Powder', is imminent on O Genesis (the launch, in which it'll be read by actor Craig Parkinson, is at our Minny Pops gig at the London Lexington on November 26th, info here).

According to Rankin, "I am up to my bollocks in crocodiles" with promo duties for new Rebus novel Standing In Another Man's Grave, complete with the obligatory book tour: "It's a big long fucking tour. It's like being a rock star without the drugs and the groupies. Have you ever tried to get a pint of ale at four in the morning when you're wandering around a strange city because you can't sleep? Not always easy, my good man."

As a man with a prodigious record collection, Rankin said he found the Baker's selection process "really really difficult. Who are you going to leave off that list? As somebody who has been listening to music for over 40 years, and collecting albums, there are thousands and thousands of things I would have included given the chance. I thought which albums would be like a diary of my life. Albums that I can listen to over and over again, but that also resonate with me, for the stories behind them. That's why I kicked off with the Alex Harvey Band, because they were the first I really got into."

Rankin adds that one list he's worked out already are the two tunes he'll be having paid at his funeral: "'Silver Machine' by Hawkwind and 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' by the Stones. I want people coming into the church to one and leaving to the other, I just can't work out which way round." Click the image below to begin the countdown:


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Nov 21, 2012 3:32pm

Big fan of Bowie's Outside - thought I do listen to a copy without the narrated interludes.
Some real quality songs on there.
It sits with Diamond Dogs, Low and Station to Station as my Bowie favourites.

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Nov 21, 2012 4:48pm

one of the best Bowie albums for Lodger, Low, Scary Monsters, Station to station...

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Orishe Olugbo
Nov 21, 2012 5:00pm

Ian Rankin please leave my idea alone! I have been working on my 'Joy Division' novel for a long time and I did exactly as you did. Beginning with 'New Dawn Fades' and ending in 'Interzone' I feel that I have a great tale. Don't rain on my parade.

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bob the slob
Nov 21, 2012 8:44pm

its dansette not dancette mp3 heads tsk tsk tsk

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Nov 21, 2012 10:44pm

Another engaging selection in this always interesting feature. Some of the choices won't come as a massive surprise to readers of Rankin's fiction but his love of early industrial music is not so well documented as his other enthusiasms.

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Nov 22, 2012 1:08pm

Started listening to Jackie Leven right after reading this. Absolutely magnificent.

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Nov 22, 2012 2:24pm

Served him a few times many moons back when I worked in a record shop in Edinburgh! A gentleman who loves his music! Can't remember what he bought though! Sad to read this on the same day I find out that Avalanche are shutting down in said city...

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Nov 22, 2012 3:49pm

wonderful piece! Great to see someone with a real heart for music and a way of telling so too. Really enjoyed it. Guess I have to start reading the books now ...

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Nov 26, 2012 4:32pm

I was at that Buzzcocks gig at the Edinburgh Odeon, when the support act was Joy Division. And I had a ticket for the next Joy Division gig that got cancelled after Curtis' suicide. And, yes, I went and got my refund on the ticket...unlike Ian Rankin!

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Alan Ferguson
Nov 30, 2012 10:21am

Jackie Leven is the Robert Burns of our times - such poetic and thoughtful music in a generous serving - true genius ! Just ordered the whole catalogue... Get it while you can !
Thanks to Ian Rankin I learned about Jackie's existence , alpha to omega. the Jackie Leven RIP dedication in Standing in Another Man's Rain filled me with such grief I couldn't read it for 12 hours. It took the release of Ian's in NZ , nearly a year after Jackie's death to reach me, and on the anniversary I was pleased to have a conversation with Ian in a Scottish Bar in Dunedin - not the Bonny Earl of Moray though :-)

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branwell Johnson
Dec 20, 2012 3:40pm

Interesting - I actually want Hawkwind's Lord of Light or Ejection played at my cremation (latter for amusement's sake if you know the lyrics...).

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Denise Jordan
May 13, 2017 10:50am

Just been listening to a Cafe Jacques CD....can not remember if there is any reference to them in any of the books especially the earlier ones that I have read many years ago.

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