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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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John Martyn - Grace & Danger
Let's have some sublime music. This is one of these things about music, right. When I was about 15 one of my really good friends at school was a huge John Martyn fan. I'd go round to his house and listen to it, and thought it was a bit folky and I didn't get it. I wasn't too far away from liking Alex Harvey. But I liked the cover of the album, and him being a good mate I bought the album and put it away. By the time I was in my 20s I just picked it up one day and just started to get it, I started to get that this was a really interesting musician with an interesting take on what popular music could be. There was a bit of jazz in there, folk, blues, this wonderful interplay with his bassist Danny Thompson. There was all kinds of good stuff in there that I hadn't properly seen. I hadn't taken to his vocals at first, I thought they were slurred and muddy and I wasn't sure what was going on, but later in life I got it. I was down in London years ago to do Desert Island Discs and 'Solid Air' was going to be the one track I couldn't live without. I was having lunch with my agent in West London, and we heard this garrulous conversation going on at one of the outside tables. As we left, there was John Martyn sitting with a few bottles of wine and a couple of mates. I thought I should go up to him and say the reason I'm in London is to go on Desert Island Discs and say your record is the one that I can't live without, but I bottled out of it. I've learned my lesson now, I don't bottle out of anything these days.


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