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Baker's Dozen

Chance-Taking: Stephen McRobbie Of The Pastels' Favourite Albums
John Freeman , June 3rd, 2013 08:53

With The Pastels releasing their first album in 16 years last week, original member Stephen McRobbie reveals the 13 albums that “defined his taste” and inspired his band


Arthur Russell - First Thought, Best Thought
The only Arthur Russell music that was really available for a long time was his 70s disco stuff which is great and so inspiring. So, I didn’t know that Arthur Russell had all this other kind of music – these weird, personal songs to his boyfriend – and I didn’t realise he had loved The Modern Lovers and wanted to put on one of their shows in New York, or that Russell had met their bass player Ernie Brooks and then Ernie had helped him with his music.

Then, about eight or nine years ago a label started releasing all these tapes of Arthur Russell music that hadn’t been available. Some of it is so unbelievable and there is so much depth to what he has done. I particular like First Thought, Best Thought because it has the group playing things that I like. The first couple of sides are just a group of musicians playing in a room and it doesn’t sound over-rehearsed but has such a lovely feel with Arthur loosely leading them. It’s just so graceful and perfect and it was something that has been really inspiring for The Pastels over the past few years. It’s probably one of the biggest influences on the music we have tried to make more recently – that sense of musicians accommodating each other and playing without ego but really trying to make something unique and beautiful.

Arthur is such a talent and able to do so much great music in different fields for different purposes. I’m really glad that music got reissued - this unknown side to Arthur Russell has been such a discovery for me.

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