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Baker's Dozen

There's A Song Playing: Brett Anderson's Favourite 13 Albums
Luke Turner , October 5th, 2011 11:03

From The Fall to Kate Bush, Bjork to Eno and Bowie to Midlake, Brett Anderson guides Luke Turner through his favourite 13 albums


The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
It's like with David Bowie - there was a bit of me that didn't want to include The Smiths because of comparisons, but I couldn't not. The Smiths were a very important band to me when I was 15, 16. It was perfect timing. In the 80s, when The Smiths were still around, I was the right age for what he was singing about to be relevant to me. I was going through adolescence so the resonance was even stronger. So yes, The Queen Is Dead. Did I choose it because it's my favourite Smiths album or because it's recognised as being the best? There's probably a bit of both in there. It's funny actually, looking back on it there are so many great Smiths songs, but there's so much on singles and B-sides that weren't on the albums, which was definitely an influence on how we did things with Suede. I remember when this first came out it was such an exciting thing. I remember hearing 'Bigmouth Strikes Again' on the radio and thinking, 'Wow'. It was a real fan moment. I remember queuing up at Rounder Records in Burgess Hill, and then playing it, and going through the lyrics. 'Cemetry Gates' was the song that I loved the most at the time, back in 1986. I thought the wordplay was amazing.

Obviously Morrissey is known as a great lyricist but I think he's probably the greatest lyricist. I don't think Dylan is in the same league, with his songs about the 'Jack of Hearts' and things like that. Some of his lyrics are great, but they're not as powerful as Morrissey's. He had a brilliantly balanced dance between the wit and darkness. It was never too comical; well, apart from 'Frankly, Mr Shankly'. You know what I mean - it was this amazing tightrope walk of being slightly ridiculous but incredibly engaging and incredibly serious. And Johnny Marr's guitar playing is amazing. He's one of the greatest ever. Incredible melodies and the craftsmanship of his guitar playing without it ever sounding boring. It never got into Steve Vai territory. It was always tasteful without ever being dull. In the context of the time when musically everything was so cheap-sounding, The Smiths were making - for want of a better word - really organic-sounding music, but it was still very exciting and strangely quite ground-breaking. They were a really inspiring band for so many people, and for a couple of years they were the greatest, they really were.