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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

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Miles Davis - Kind Of Blue
I had a period, just as almost everyone in the group had, where I was listening to more jazz records. Bill Wells put me onto Chris McGregor and I listened to jazz for a while and then started going to concerts and enjoying some free-jazz stuff. I was also really enjoying Charles Mingus and Bill Evans. But, after a while I wanted more controlled European jazz that was being made up until the late 60s – the Polish and German stuff. I then almost completely stopped listening to jazz music and felt tired of it. Lately, I’ve been letting some of it back into my world and I’ve come back to Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue, which I hesitated to include in this list because it is such a cliché about what a great record it is.

I love that Miles Davis, who is without doubt one of the great and unique artists of the 20th century, had this crazed hunger for new things and new sounds to keep things moving. He heard Bill Evans’ piano playing and that became the key aspect of this record. It’s the kind of album that stops everything and pulls you into the zone of that record. The moment you hear the ‘So What’ signature you are aware of what a great record it is.

Miles Davis, when you read about him, seemed so angry most of the time, but I love that he had several moments in which he made this beautiful, quiet, sensual record that you can always come back to and find something new. It has John Coltrane as a side man and Julian Adderley and it is such a great bunch of musicians playing together. It is really rich and complete.

Everyone who got to play on Miles Davis’ records was really, really good and chosen for a reason. There is a feeling of music taking place in a room that I really like and I can only imagine it would be intimidating for someone like Bill Evans who was quite a young guy at the time. However, the record wouldn’t have happened without Bill’s ideas. There is a lack of ego in that Miles allowed himself to be led to a certain extent by a young musician who was doing something completely different. Sometimes great artists can become too wrapped up in their own identity and it can become really fucked up. You have to have an openness.

I was talking about this ‘doughnut’ phenomenon where people are into the really interesting peripheral stuff but have never really invested in the core of things and I really think Kind Of Blue is the core of the core. Sometimes the things you take for granted as being really great need a little love too.


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