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Baker's Dozen

The Ideal Copies: Graham Lewis Of Wire's Favourite Albums
Luke Turner , April 15th, 2015 13:44

As Wire continue their five-night London residency as part of the tQ co-curated DRILL:LEXINGTON festival, their bassist and lyricist gives Luke Turner a tour of his top 13 records


Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - En Concert À Paris
I think it was Mike [Harding] from Touch who first introduced this to me. He said, 'You'll love it, and it's an unbelievable price' which is quite a killer combination if you like collecting things. I bought it and he's absolutely right. It's a master: there's no ways about it, you're hearing virtuosity, ensemble playing to the highest degree. It knows itself inside-out, which means you get this feeling of how it stretches and breathes. Basically if I'm wanting to listen to something from it I close my eyes, fumble around and take one of the six discs out so it's a surprise. Otherwise you can find something for the morning, a raga, blah blah blah. But these are just the most extraordinary devotional love songs. It's from a tradition which has been going on for a very very long time. It's not a part-time job at all; these are people who are dedicated. It's fantastic.

I think it's truly inspiring in the sense that it's through listening to that that I've come upon solutions to things that I've been working on myself. It's the peculiar thing: you wake up in the morning having gone to bed with a problem or you're working on something that you don't quite know what the solution to is, and when that marvellous thing happens that all the work gets done in your sleep, it's just the very best. I had an example of that happening with this record. When Dietmar Post and Lucia Palacios were making the Transatlantic Feedback film about The Monks, in order to get the editing done they asked people if they would contribute a cover version of a Monks track. From the proceeds of that they were able to finish the editing. I was working with a Swedish friend of mine who'd introduced me to The Monks so much later than everybody else. I said he had to choose the song, and he picked 'Oh, How To Do Now'. I listened to it over and over so it got into my head and my conclusion was that we certainly can't do it like that, because the narrator of the song is obviously a young man who has extremely sexual feelings for a young lady and I thought it'd be highly inappropriate for us to pursue that angle. How do you get an in? I woke up the next morning and thought, 'I know what to do'. I rewrote their text and took the emotion down, made it more devotional and I thought, 'Ah, that's it, it's like Ali Khan'; you change it into that, so in fact it has one phrase that's basically stretched over half the song, and the other part fell into place. It's either the love or the devotion but also the sense of melody, really stretching out lines. That's an example of it being inspiring and useful.