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Baker's Dozen

Peculiar Relationships: Neil Gaiman’s Favourite Albums
Emily Mackay , November 21st, 2013 08:30

Following this week's release of his live collaborative album with Amanda Palmer, the fantasy and science fiction author picks out the records that have most inspired and informed his writing


Lou Reed - Lou Reed
I put this on because it wasn't the obvious choice, in many ways. But I don't know that there is an obvious choice apart from Transformer. And Transformer isn't my favourite Lou Reed album. It doesn't quite work... I mean, it does work perfectly, it's a perfect commercial album. But what I love about Lou is that he wasn't perfect. I'd listened to Berlin at this point, I had Rock N Roll Animal, I had Lou Reed Live. I'd been looking for the first album for ages and finally I found it. I bought it, and it had possibly the worst cover in human history. A Fabergé egg. A bad painting, sort of like a science fiction cover, of a Fabergé egg. I mean, what the fuck is that about? And then, listening to the songs. When I interviewed Lou for Time Out he went on a long digression that never made it into the actual interview because it was deemed too dull, but I thought it was quite interesting, about how... they'd turned on the Dolby compressors, but hadn't set it for Dolby, or something? It was one of these technical things about the guy who was engineering or producing it genuinely not knowing what he was doing. Which is why the sound is so shit. But with all that... it has 'Ocean' on it. And as that song begins, I am lost. As that song begins, everything is green and dark blue and grey and the sea is crashing and smashing and there are screams of the dying up there and the witches on the waves. Skeletal hands pushing up through the water and crashing on to the beach and being dragged back. I don't know what it's about. And I don't even really want to ever even read the lyrics to 'Ocean' because it's a song that in my head, it doesn't even have lyrics, properly, it just has the tiny mind-film that starts playing. And 40 years after I first heard it the mind-film starts playing when I hear that song. And also I just like the idea of sticking it on this list because it might tempt somebody who's never heard that album to go and hear it.