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Baker's Dozen

Gold Dust Of Our Musical Worth: Ian Anderson's Favourite Albums
Barnaby Smith , June 6th, 2013 06:47

Ahead of a one-off show at the Royal Albert Hall, the Jethro Tull man picks out his thirteen finest albums


Värttinä - Aitara
I think I heard Värttinä first on an album of so-called world music that EMI put out on a label it owned at the time of this record [1994]. They sent me some tracks and opened me up a little bit to Scandinavian folk music - some great stuff from Sweden and Finland that I was very enthused to hear. Although I speak not a word of Finnish and I have no idea what these Finnish fishwives, as I call them, are singing about, we want to immerse ourselves in some notion of what the words mean. It’s just in the same way I don’t speak Hindu or any other Indian language, but love Indian music.

Curiously, the marriage between Indian music and Finnish music occurred officially a few years ago when AR Rahman, the great Indian contemporary composer and arranger, discovered Värttinä too and did an album where he used Värttinä’s voices singing in Finnish in some of his sophisticated Bollywood music. He, like me, had fallen under the spell of these fishwives, although I’m sure he too speaks not a word of Finnish. So it’s something about the sound of the words, how the sounds are enunciated, that lets the imagination roam free, unconstricted by what might turn out to be the awful truth, that it’s yet another boring love song.