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Baker's Dozen

Thirsty For Song: James Johnston Of Gallon Drunk's Favourite LPs
Julian Marszalek , November 16th, 2016 09:31

As well as being the lynchpin of suited rock howlers Gallon Drunk, James Johnston has played with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and PJ Harvey - but we're not going to hold the fact that he's picked both of them for his Baker's Dozen against him. Portrait by Steve Gullick.

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John Lee Hooker - Black Snake
Our local library used to have incredible records. I remember borrowing the first two Doors albums, a Leadbelly compilation, all sorts, and then this. It was the first John Lee Hooker I'd ever heard, a double album released by Fantasy in 1977, and it must have got to me about four years later.

It's basically The Folk Blues Of and That's My Story as one record. Stark grey cover, cool photo on the back, and superb sleeve notes in the gatefold that even told you guitar tunings like DGDGBD, so I started trying out tuning my guitar in different ways, and that was a real eye-opener.

The first two sides were solo, and I'd never heard something so spare, haunting and beautiful in my life. Just astonishing. The title track and 'I Rowed A Little Boat' on the first album totally blew me away, and the five-minute 'I'm Wandering' on side three just mesmerised me every time I put it on. His voice transmits so much soul that it's almost hard to believe when you first hear it.

Then, to my joy, the library sold off some of their records, and this was one of them. I must have been 14 when I heard it, and I still have the same copy. I used to love to play along to this when I was learning the guitar; he's definitely one of my favourite guitar players, if not my very favourite. I love this record so much. In fact, I recently found some old photos and gig tickets tucked into the sleeve!


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