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Baker's Dozen

After The Flood: The 13 Favourite Albums Of Howe Gelb, Aged 12-16
Stewart Smith , June 11th, 2012 08:21

In a neat twist on our 13 favourite albums feature, Giant Sand's Howe Gelb talks Stewart Smith through his formative records from his teenage years in Pennsylvania

Howe Gelb is not too keen on lists. "I'll just try and throw all my favourites in there", he reassures me. Considering Gelb's adventures in dusty desert rock, ramshackle country, wonky jazz and chaotic noise, his favourites should be interesting. I recall an old interview where he talked about spending a summer listening to nothing but Tom Waits' Swordfish Trombones and Miles Davis' Lift To The Scaffold. Good bets surely? Perhaps he'll pick albums from his multitude of collaborators, a PJ Harvey perhaps, or a recording of Spanish gypsy music. But Gelb is not one to take the obvious path. He begins by recalling his early record buying exploits as a teenager in 1970s Pennsylvania, before a flood destroyed his family home. Warming to this theme, he decides that he'll draw his baker's dozen from this era, rather than attempt to cover his entire 'sonic life'.

So behold, the 13 favourite albums of Howe Gelb, aged 12-16, as he stumbled down a crooked road (for those, William Blake reminds us, are the roads of genius) without a map. "When you first start buying records, they become the most important records, for better or for worse, even the mistakes." His journey begins, amusingly, with a wrong turn into easy listening, before swerving into the mainstream heavy rock of the day via a detour into the blues. Then there are the revelatory albums by his lifelong inspirations, Bob Dylan and Neil Young, and the Stones record which accompanied his first joint. And in Ziggy Stardust we see a possible inspiration for Gelb's latest album Tuscon, a country-rock opera from an expanded Giant Sand. Click the image below to start browsing the list.