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Baker's Dozen

Too Good To Be True: Tom Robinson's Favourite Albums
Lisa Jenkins , August 7th, 2013 07:52

The erstwhile punk frontman and now radio presenter and all-round man of music distils his sprawling record collection down to his 13 finest albums


Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
They wrote the rulebook. It’s a combination. It’s not just about Chuck and Flav, or even the Terminator. It’s actually about The Bomb Squad, the Shocklee brothers, and what they did with sound. The sonic adventurism of that. It was music without any instruments and an extraordinary rhythmic kind of adventurousness. I’d never heard any music like that in my life ever. Same as with Eno. Both of those were major milestones.

Up until that point, I hadn’t got rap. I’m really ashamed to say that it took me until ’88 to get it. I’d heard Grandmaster Flash’s ‘The Message’ - the basic beat of it was so sparse and empty and dull and repetitive. Even ‘Walk This Way’ didn’t really quite do it for me. It was fun to watch on MTV, but once you’d heard ‘Bring The Noise’ and ‘Don’t Believe The Hype’ and ‘Cold Lampin’’ and ‘Louder Than A Bomb’, it was like: “Oh my fucking god!” I used to listen to it non-stop on my Walkman on cassette.

The first time I met Chuck, he came briefly into 6 Music while I was doing a show and he was really prickly and hostile. But I persisted and we chatted for a bit. About ten or 12 minutes into the interview, he simply said: “Can I get a copy of this afterwards?” And he just thawed instantly. He realised that my questions were coming out of respect and a love of the music, and I wasn’t trying to get him to say something anti-Semitic [laughs]. He appreciates and never takes for granted the fact that people still view what he does as a kind of landmark, and that he is a legend. He still really recognises that people still like his music, and that some other music hasn’t been as lucky.