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Baker's Dozen

Just Some Modern Rock Songs: Stuart Murdoch's Favourite Albums
Adrian Lobb , September 4th, 2013 07:02

The Glaswegian indie pop pioneers' frontman picks out his top 13 records

Belle And Sebastian have just released The Third Eye Centre, a collection of rarities, non-album tracks and remixes which is, typically of the band, lovingly crafted and beautifully packaged.

So, when singer and bandleader Stuart Murdoch agreed to talk to us about his 13 favourite LPs, it was always going to be much more than a mere list. On the phone from Paris, where the band are playing the Rock en Seine Festival the following night, alongside Franz Ferdinand and The Pastels, he tells me: "I spent the whole day yesterday thinking about it, and being transported back for good or for bad."

Having consulted the hive mind of his Twitter followers over whether to pick his current favourites, records that would make him "look cool" or the long-players that shaped his youth, he decided on the latter option. "I put them in the order of when I first came across them," he says. "I don’t listen to a couple of these LPs very often now, but they are valid because the passion I felt for them was so strong.

"I did my record buying, listening and hoarding all in the 80s, to the point where I was doing a lot of DJing. But I got completely burned out by music in about 1989 or 1990 – I kept a core, but happily sold nearly all of my records and never got back into it in the same way.

"I am very casual now. Spotify is a magnificent tool – although it is slightly divisive for the artists. So I still make playlists and disappear into headphone land."

Our interview takes place an hour after he was expecting it to begin, due to time zone confusion. His bandmates are ready to go out for dinner. And yet, despite an exciting soiree waiting at the end of our phone conversation, Murdoch talks at length. For 85 minutes, he places each LP in its autobiographical context, and what emerges is not just the soundtrack to his pre-band life, but a portrait of the artist as a young man.

Tough choices were made. Four days after the initial interview, we talk briefly at the launch of the new Belle And Sebastian LP at Stephen Pastel’s record emporium, Monorail, in Glasgow. Something about the selection has been troubling him, and Murdoch offers an apology to Joni Mitchell, whose The Hissing Of Summer Lawns just missed the cut.

So here is the music that guided Stuart Murdoch through early years in a small seaside town, college (and the dropping out thereof) in Glasgow, the high life as a DJ and a long and scarring struggle with illness that rendered him unable to listen to music, right up to and including the songs around which Belle & Sebastian formed…

The Third Eye Centre is out now on Rough Trade. Click Stuart's image below to begin scrolling through his choices


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