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Baker's Dozen

Playing For Keeps: Cate Le Bon's Favourite Albums
John Freeman , September 4th, 2014 11:33

With her UK tour just started, singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon tells John Freeman about how an attitude of playfulness runs through her 13 top LPs


Syd Barrett - Barrett
I was probably 21 and I was doing a lot of driving between North and South Wales. Two of my friends that I was making music with lived in a beautiful cottage in the mountains. There isn't a very good radio reception on the A470, and I was driving a classic car – a Proton! – which had a tape player. I would go to Cob Records in Porthmadog and buy a handful of tapes – classics like Michael Jackson and Madonna that would always get preference in the tape player. They were real sing-along records that were great for driving.

Eventually, I remember being absolutely sick to the back teeth of them and decided to give the album Barrett a go. I knew who Syd Barrett was but never really had collected his music. I put this tape in and could not make head nor tail of what I was listening to. I couldn't unravel the songs from the music that was going on. But, weirdly, on these drives I had the compulsion to keep putting it in the tape player and because it was a tape I couldn't be bothered to do any fast-forwarding or rewinding to try and find the next song or flick through impatiently to the final song that I liked. I kind of just had to stick it out with this record.

Amazingly, eventually all these songs began to show themselves and what had started off as a really arduous task became hugely, hugely rewarding. For that reason – it being a record I genuinely fell in love with and now absolutely love – I feel wholly thankful that I got it on a tape as opposed to any other format, as I think I could have completely missed it or not stuck with it. It is one of those albums that maybe I don't listen to very often anymore, but I have wonderful memories of and love deeply.