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Baker's Dozen

Nothing But Heart: Alan Sparhawk of Low's Favourite Albums
Dale Berning Sawa , March 29th, 2012 07:13

Low and Retribution Gospel Choir play in the UK next week. In advance of a full interview on the Quietus next week, frontman Alan Sparhawk spoke to Dale Berning about his thirteen favourite albums

"Every time we sit down and try to write a song, we still feel like complete beginners," says Low's Alan Sparhawk when asked how, after nearly 20 years, his band's music still manages to retain the same urgency and intensity as it did when they first formed. "It’s a combination of not being real trained musicians and doing something that’s more off than normal. There’s still stuff we don’t know, and I think that’s the key. You see a lot of ageing bands, people who used to be famous and now are just going along, some start embarrassing themselves and there’s this big fear, “When am I going to cross that line?” You can’t completely go back to the naivete of when you first started, obviously, but for some reason we’ve been lucky enough to keep a certain sense of it."

Sparhawk is sitting down with the Quietus for a full interview, which will be published next week, and also to talk us through thirteen of his favourite, or particularly influential, albums. Last year Low - made up of husband-and-wife duo Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, and bassist Steve Garrington - released their ninth studio album C'Mon, a record that we said, just like all their music, "doesn't so much demand your attention as your patience ... Listen to it, leave it, come back to it again; it rewards multiple listens."

So something in what Sparhawk says about Low's keeping a certain sense of naivete resonates through the thirteen albums he's chosen for this list. They range from some of his earliest and most formative listening experiences through a scattering of classics and more contemporary recordings, but there's a certain directness and rawness to each that reflects back on Sparhawk's lyrical and guitar work with Low and Retribution Gospel Choir.

Low play at Birmingham's Glee Club next Monday, 2nd April, and London's Royal Festival Hall next Tuesday, 3rd April.
Retribution Gospel Choir play at the Harley, Sheffield, on 4th April, and London's Old Blue Last on 5th April.

Click the image below to begin browsing Sparhawk's favourite albums.