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Baker's Dozen

Oh L'Amour: Vince Clarke Of Erasure's Favourite Albums
Luke Turner , December 19th, 2013 07:43

In a festive special Baker's, Vince Clarke follows Erasure's Snow Globe album by picking out the 13 LPs that mean the most to him

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Erasure's Christmas album Snow Globe has been one of the surprise successes of late 2013, a thoughtful, at times melancholy exploration of seasonal songs far from the schmalzy norm, and a challenge to those who have Erasure mistakenly pegged as a high-camp synth-pop duo alone. Then again, Vince Clarke - he who makes those glorious synth melodies on which Andy Bell sings - is a man and musician who has always dealt in the unexpected. He left the fast-rising Depeche Mode to set up Yazoo, for starters, and then last year surprised us all with VCMG, a solid techno album made with his old mucker Martin Gore. Speaking down the phone from New York, where he now lives, Vince Clarke is a down-to-earth, funny, honest sort of bloke seemingly untarnished and unchanged by the millions of records he's sold over the years. It's perhaps reflected in his Baker's Dozen choices, the selection of which Clarke describes thus: "I went through my life really, and just chose the albums that meant something to me then, at the time that I bought them. I looked online thinking 'what are the 50 best albums in the world?' but I was looking at all these rock albums and thought 'nah'. I just chose the albums that most influenced me when I was growing up... well, I'm still growing up."

Present and praised on the list are the likes of The Eagles, Simon & Garfunkel, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, reflecting Clarke's early tastes: "When I first started, playing in guitar club, I was really into folk music, the Simon & Garfunkel thing," he says. "I remember myself and a couple of friends from school entered the local talent competition. We all played guitar and sang 'Leaving On A Jet Plane', we thought we were the bees knees... well, we didn't really! We came third or fourth I think, but it was very exciting at the time. We thought we'd be on Opportunity Knocks but we didn't make the grade, unfortunately."

At home, the musical enthusiasm was followed despite the Clarke household's modest means. "My mum was really into music, and she bought a radiogram for £5, and she inherited a stack of classical acetates, so we played those," he says. "She also had a box of singles, and one of those was 'Ruby Tuesday' by the Stones. I used to try and work out the chords for records like that. My mum was really into music, we just didn't have the equipment. My father had a Ferguson reel-to-reel, he had one tape which was Sinatra At The Sands, Sinatra telling jokes and singing. When they used to do the charts on a Sunday on Radio One we used to record the charts onto this tape, so his Sinatra At The Sands recording got shorter and shorter. We didn't get in trouble, I think my father was quite proud of our inventiveness, and many years later I bought him a ticket to see Frank Sinatra in London, so that made up for it."

Snow Globe is out now via Mute. Click on his image below to begin scrolling through Clarke's choices


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Dec 19, 2013 2:26pm

"I've never seen Bowie, though we did play a tour supporting him in South America."

Whit? Whit the fuck?

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Dec 19, 2013 3:27pm

Saturday afternoon, after the morning kids programs ended were all about popping up to town to buy a new record, and some sweets from Woolworth's. Vince, would love to see your collection of synths on view in a New York museum perhaps?

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Luke Turner
Dec 19, 2013 4:15pm

In reply to Teresa:

In a museum? Hopefully he'll keep playing them for a while yet!

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Nick Gallop
Dec 19, 2013 4:53pm

Note to Martin (G): hurry up and hang up your spangly tops and touring gear to allow some more VCMG moonlighting. Clearly if Fletch and Dave want to tag along, and drag Alan out to twiddle things and apply Dark Matter into the mix, some of us could then die in a sea of joyously irrelevant musical nostalgia

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Dec 19, 2013 6:19pm


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Dec 19, 2013 8:44pm

In reply to Nick Gallop:

Here here, Nick! My sentiments exactly...enjoyed the article and the stories behind his picks but at the moment am thinking "ROCK, he wants to do another record with Martin!".

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Dec 20, 2013 2:10am

In reply to Luke Turner:

Yes, he's a collector of Synths and it would be great if he put them on view, if only for a short time.

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Dec 20, 2013 2:12am

In reply to Nick Gallop:

VCMG is a brilliant record.

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Dec 20, 2013 1:42pm

here is the Google Music Playlist:

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Dec 20, 2013 1:55pm

Excellent Vince...Travelogue is one of my top 10 as well...very under appreciated

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Oscar Jansson
Dec 20, 2013 2:02pm

Wonderful article!

As a matter of fact, VC is one my favorite…not only artists or musicians…he's probably the one who brought me into electronic music from the beginning. I've been a hardcore 80s fan for 5-6 years (age 24). But it wasn't until I heard music related to Vince or Daniel Miller (of Mute records), I started to go outside e.g Billboard top 100 of xxxx and dig deeper into (in swedish) "synth".
Thanks Luke for the writing, many thanks to Vince for bringing:
"Leave Me to Bleed (Vince Clarke/Eric Radcliffe Mix)"

Greetings from Sweden,

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Dec 20, 2013 4:32pm

Awesome interview! Awesome album list! Yes, some surprises, but I actually have most of the albums already mentioned, which is kind of funny. Only one I don't have is Michael Jackson's Dangerous, but I loved Thriller. Would love to know the artists from the electronic scene in Brooklyn. I've been really into the retro synth wave music scene lately, and I'm wondering if Vince is listening to any of those guys. Seriously way cool interview!

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Dec 20, 2013 9:07pm

What, no Depeche Mode?! :)
Interesting choices. While not my favorites, I do like all of those named.
Love Erasure, love Yazoo, love VCMG.

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Nick Gallop
Dec 21, 2013 2:49pm

In reply to Apop:

Shame on me, nearly forgot - ask Mr Bell and Ms Moyet to pop over and join Dave on some close-harmony gospel numbers (think State Farm mixed with Personal Jesus). Daniel Miller and Flood to put their stamp of approval on it, then bake at gas mark 6 and and shove a big Mute Records logo on the top. Oh dear I seem to have spontaneously exploded

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stew jeens
Dec 21, 2013 8:44pm

Vince Clarke in I like Genesis shock! Great artist. Down to earth and modest. Compare and contrast with Beiber, Cyrus and Perry drc. Discuss.

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Dec 29, 2013 9:12pm

not surprised at what's on it...but surprised that blondie is missing.

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Jan 3, 2014 5:22am

I'm really surprised about some choices by Vince. I never knew he really tends to be a rocker! He has a refined musical taste anyway. Someone so brilliant and modest just can be a demigod.

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