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Baker's Dozen

Just Some Modern Rock Songs: Stuart Murdoch's Favourite Albums
Adrian Lobb , September 4th, 2013 07:02

The Glaswegian indie pop pioneers' frontman picks out his top 13 records


The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
I played piano when I was younger, I did a bit of classical, did all my grades, and at secondary school when I was 11, we did form a class band for the school concert. We only played Beatles songs, such was their power. They were just shitting out standards. They were inventing the wheel with every record they did, but also writing unbelievably catchy tunes as if it were the easiest thing in the world. They became their own language of popular music. So our band did them – it was just instrumental versions, I would hammer out the tune on the right hand of the piano. And it is funny, we were called the Kintyre Keynotes – our class was Kintyre A – and if you look at a picture of the band it looks like a shrunken down version of Belle And Sebastian, with pretty much the same instrumentation!

I didn’t set out to put a Beatles LP on here. I had the great good fortune to be given all the Beatles albums, up to but not including Sgt. Pepper, by my uncle on reel-to-reel, along with a reel-to-reel player. So at a pretty early age we would play all the early Beatles LPs and you would have to scroll every side and it was a magnificent sound that came out of the mono speakers.

We knew them inside out and until very recently Rubber Soul was my favourite. I loved them all. I didn’t get Sgt. Pepper until later, but if we are talking about LPs here, there is something about the journey that this record takes you on that just puts it above the other records. It was the first album, in a sense. According to me! They took you by the hand, from the start to the end. In any truly great LP there is a moment that is unplanned, where it becomes greater than the sum of its parts. You are transported like watching a great film or reading a great book. There has maybe been a bit of madness gone into the making of the record, they have been pursuing beauty, but when they put the sequence of songs together, something magical happens.

We talk about it as a band, and perhaps we shouldn’t. It can only happen unplanned – the magic of the LP is a specific thing. I definitely reach for it every single time. Every LP we do. I try to say I’m not bothered but you are always looking to make something greater than the sum of its parts. We borrowed one trick for The Life Pursuit, where we did a kind of reprise of the first song, ‘Act Of The Apostle I’, for the penultimate song. Then after that, we have a kind of coda. So we did try that, but I don’t think you can plan it.

I’d probably rather not say which of our records I’d put on my list, because we strive. We do strive. Every day I wake up and one of these records is staring me in the metaphysical face, and it makes me angry, it makes me strive.