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Baker's Dozen

Mouth Of The Mersey: Ian McCulloch’s Favourite Albums
Rod Kitson , March 21st, 2013 08:03

Gregarious Scouser Mac tells Rod Kitson what’s what about his favourite albums in one of the most entertaining Baker’s Dozens we’ve run so far

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Almost 30 years since the release of Echo and the Bunnymen’s apex album, Ocean Rain, Ian McCulloch remains characteristically modest in his appraisal of the record: “I go by my original story – it’s the greatest album ever made. It pisses over What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye, and it’s better than Sgt. Pepper’s. It’s up there with Hunky Dory.” It’s not surprising then, that the 1984 record makes it into the Liverpudlian’s Baker’s Dozen and we’re guessing - had he ranked them – it would have featured somewhere in the top two, alongside the aforementioned Bowie album.

Ziggy Stardust also makes the cut, though there’s no room for anything from David Jones post-1972. “I was really looking forward to hearing Bowie’s new album, but it’s bollocks, most of it. It’s Tin Machine shit. That’s disappointing because when I saw the new single I thought he’d found it again. That dignified, beautiful thing. But it’s just him farting around again with all those musos – some weird horrible jazzy thing. So that’s him back in his box.”

Given McCulloch’s “greatest album ever made” line, it’s telling that a relatively quiet period for the original Mouth of the North was punctured last year by a spat with the man who would usurp him as the most ardent fan of his own work. Indeed, it was a catchphrase commandeered by Liam Gallagher in the ensuing decades but this didn’t stop McCulloch weighing in on the subject of Beady Eye’s output.

Gallagher’s typically measured response was to threaten to tattoo his lyrics onto McCulloch’s forehead. “I don’t know how he’d do that when he’s incapacitated,” the Bunnyman quips. “Because I do not allow people to tattoo me anywhere. You see clips, and there’s a lot of braggadocio [from Liam] but nothing ever happens. Whereas my track record is a little bit different. Luckily it’s been kept out of the public domain, most of it.”

The 53-year-old Merseysider shares a somewhat more affable relationship with Gallagher senior, and, with guitarist Will Sergeant, the latest Bunnymen line-up play the Teenage Cancer Trust gig tonight. “I heard that Noel was curating it, and I’ve always got on with him - it’s nice that he’s learned how great we are,” McCulloch says. “If Liam’s there - and if he brings the tattoo kit, I’ll tell him what order the letters go in.”

Bowie aside, the other glaring addition to McCulloch’s list is Lou Reed, who appears four times, twice as solo artist, and twice on Velvet Underground records. “I had a beer with him once in New York, and ended up paying nine hundred dollars for it. I had to borrow some money, cos I’d come out with $500 thinking that would be okay for a piss-up, and then the bill came. I’d only had a house salad and three glasses of wine – which he’d made me have. I said I wanted red, and he said: [adopts New York drawl] ‘well, we’re having white.’

“We just sat there with his mates and he switched like a bastard. I just looked at my mate, and thought, I hope it’s not one of them seven-course jobs. He’s a cantankerous bastard. And he looks like Rhea Perlman from Cheers. He makes me laugh just talking about him.”

“Did I put Arcade Fire in there? The Suburbs I thought was fantastic – ‘Modern Man’ I played that about a thousand times back-to-back, but I suppose if I had to pick one album, Automatic For The People, I thought people might be surprised about. It was a masterpiece. Nevermind I like, and I love Incesticide and Bleach, so I was tempted to put one of them or a Fall album in, but I couldn’t remember them all – and which one do you pick out of three hundred Fall albums?”

Ian's forthcoming record Holy Ghost, comprising his new album Pro Patria Mori alongside a second disc of orchestrated versions of solo and Echo & The Bunnymen tracks recorded in London's Union Chapel last year, is out on April 15 via Edsel. To begin scrolling through his choices, click on the picture below

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Leonardo
Mar 21, 2013 12:15pm

I really don't like when they list their own album(s) among supposed influences...

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DameHedwig
Mar 21, 2013 12:33pm

In reply to Leonardo:

Yeah. I love Ocean Rain, but feel dirty when I'm reminded what a twat he is.

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Davey B
Mar 21, 2013 12:53pm

Brilliant - Can't wait for his new album Holy Ghosts!

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Cao Xueqin
Mar 21, 2013 2:05pm

In reply to Leonardo:

If my auntie had baws, she'd still be embarrassed by this list... Ian loves Bowie ** and ** Echo? No way!!! Only a dork like Bowie could neuter Adrian Belew at the peak of his power, 'nuff said.

Love the feature, scorn the man (Ian, Butch Vig, a few others).

I'm not a huge fan of her songs but it'd be great if TQ asked Marnie Stern for one of these.

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Mar 21, 2013 2:07pm

How can a Bowie/Reed worshipping fool like Ian have made ANY good records is the wonder? Oh wait, I know-- must have been the guitarist. Vomitous list that makes even Echo's good moments taste like bad bean curd in retrospect.

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Melvillain
Mar 21, 2013 2:11pm

Finally, someone else who appreciates the weird menace of Lou Reed's 'Berlin.' Although, I'm not sure he's not "taking the piss."

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Leroy Hugenkiss
Mar 21, 2013 2:29pm

Oh man, including his own album aside, I think that was the Baker's Dozen that was most in-line with my own musical taste. Even ABBA... I was so happy when I saw that.
That said, I do prefer Low to either of those Bowie albums and WL/WH is my favourite VU album.

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Dave
Mar 21, 2013 2:47pm

Wow last time I seen Ian McCullouch was at the Royal Concert Hall when he was off his tits and shouting weird abuse at the audience such as 'I'll kneecap your fucking head off'. Also murdering 'the greatest album ever' before storming off after the Killing Moon. Odd evening, dull list.

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rigsby
Mar 21, 2013 4:14pm

No-one beats up on Ian like Ian. He's not done anything that more than 15 people listened to in over 20 years.

And including your own album in a list of favourite albums is an act of narcissism I think even Robbie Williams would think a bit OTT.

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Apop
Mar 21, 2013 8:11pm

Brilliant interview! Mac's such an ass in such an entertaining way, hilarious comments throughout.

Love that he included Ocean Rain, he said it at the time it was released and I think he believed it. Quite sure he believes it still, good on ya Mac. Killing Moon IS one of the best songs ever written, but it's not better than No Dark Things. Eh, apples to oranges.

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Phengren Oswald
Mar 21, 2013 8:43pm

Berlin is a shitty record. It really, really is...

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Cynthia Mask
Mar 21, 2013 11:16pm

Whoop, looks like The Guardian trolls have slipped in via The Quietus' back door again...

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Apop
Mar 21, 2013 11:42pm

Had no idea the Bunnymen were marginal - i'm thrilled to discover that means i'm cool tho!

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james
Mar 22, 2013 12:57am

You should get some younger people to do a Baker's Dozen. Or at least someone with wide-ranging tastes. All these old english guys just list the same boring artists every time. Dinos Chapman was the rare exception- he was the only one with interesting taste so far in my opinion.

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james
Mar 22, 2013 1:06am

ocean rain . best ever? grow up u jim morrisson wanabee

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Jeffrey
Mar 22, 2013 9:20am

No Teardrop Explodes then?

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Rooksby
Mar 22, 2013 10:32am

Long live Mac, still effortlessly pissing off humourless dullards (particularly American ones, it seems) 30+ years later. ;)

I saw him live (solo) last year, & he was terrific - humble, hilarious, & a great set list.

Crocodiles + Ocean Rain are 2 of the finest "rock" LPs of the 1980s - no contest.

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Mar 22, 2013 12:23pm

In reply to Rooksby:

he's not pissing off humourless dullards, his music is just shit and always has been. He's like Richard Ashcroft with less talent and more psychosis.

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Apop
Mar 22, 2013 4:06pm

In reply to Rooksby:

Don't forget 'Heaven Up Here', a gem of a post-punk album.

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Robin Prine
Mar 22, 2013 9:28pm

I wet myself reading this. Hilarious. And ive got a thing about Michael Ball too..
God i even used to try and walk like Mac when i was 17.
Admit it, we all did.

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Michael K.
Mar 22, 2013 11:20pm

In reply to :

n.b. Make that CLUELESS, humourless, ANONYMOUS dullards. ;)

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the olde contrarian
Mar 23, 2013 6:07am

In reply to Robin Prine:

Thanks for this blog. Very helpful.
this band was too daft to release their best song "Simple Stuff" on LP. The selection, although containing some great stuff, is dreadfully unimaginative. And altogether almost as unpleasant as Ginger Baker (what a terribly self-centered selection that was, after asking the Quietus, would they have him name a Baker's Dozen and slagging off Mitch Mitchell, because I mean, yeah Hendrix or Clapton? that is humiliation for you.), but far worse than Mark Lanegan ("those Little Feat guys" belies little knowledge of a band who had the good sense not to ridicule themselves when covering Hank Williams) or Jon Spencer (ripping off Hound Dog Taylor, but not citing him as a source).
Very revealing! An excellent feature not only for inspiration, but also for spotting personal traits that appear very amicable indeed: Marianne Faithfull, Adrian Sherwood.
Keep up the enlightening work.

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Agostino
Mar 23, 2013 7:14pm

In reply to :

The more time passes, the more I think that Echo and the Bunnymen are one of the greatest bands of all time. Sorry, that you don't think it my way....

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Nikki
Mar 24, 2013 10:25pm

In reply to Leonardo:

It's Ian McCulloch, what did you expect?

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SB
Mar 25, 2013 9:26am

Automatic for the People..jesus it's shite

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Kahimi Karie
Mar 25, 2013 9:44am

In reply to the olde contrarian:

Totally agree, "Simple Stuff" is far too good to be (still) hidden away on a b-side. :)

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Billy
Mar 25, 2013 8:47pm

Boss article. Without Mac, there would be no Bunnymen. The rest can jog on at this point.

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King of Kings
Mar 25, 2013 8:58pm

ABBA! Well rounded selections of albums spanning a few generations of music and isn't just one style specific. Aside from the rock antics, he seems like a genuine guy. His solo shows were brilliant.

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Crack
Mar 26, 2013 6:42am

Is the nature of making us click page through page designed to up the Qut's daily site hit count or merely to piss off readers?

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John Doran
Mar 26, 2013 10:20am

In reply to Crack:

Is deploying 128 keyboard strokes to complain about having to click a button 13 times the act of a whining, spoon fed entitled child or that of a giant helmet with zero self-awareness, you tell me.

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Cecil
Mar 26, 2013 10:29am

I like Bazer's Dozen. It's clear that there is a correlation between musically dull artists and the dull music they select.

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Juju
Mar 28, 2013 10:42pm

I love listening to Echo and the Bunnymen, but every time I read something about Mac the Mouth I am thankful that I don't have to work with him as a band member or go to his concerts to hear his music. Great songs and one of the best bands of the 80s, but his band mates must have infinite patience to deal with a head case like McCulloch.

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