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Baker's Dozen

Rubber Rings: Johnny Marr's Favourite Albums
John Freeman , June 16th, 2015 10:33

As he embarks on a world tour, Johnny Marr talks to John Freeman about how his 13 favourite albums have provided career-spanning inspiration for everything from The Smiths to his latest solo record, Playland


The Stooges - Raw Power
When you inevitably are asked about your favourite record, you can scratch your head and go through a list, because your taste changes from year-to-year or through different periods of your life. However, I have always been able to say that Raw Power is my favourite from the moment I first heard it, and I don't think it has been equalled since.

A couple of friends recommended it to me. At the age of 14, I was starting to play guitar in a certain way and the name [of Stooges' guitarist] James Williamson kept cropping up. A couple of guys I knew assumed I had been listening to Raw Power because of the way I was playing riffs. So I thought I had better investigate. I knew all about Iggy and The Stooges but I wasn't aware of Raw Power.

I got the album in about 1976. I had heard so much about it that eventually I want into town to buy it and I picked up a copy for about three quid, which was all I had. The cover alone made me want to buy the record, and, when I heard it, I realised why my mates had been saying what they had. In particular, the song 'Gimme Danger' started off with a riff that was very much like one I was playing with the band I was in at the time.

As a guitarist, James Williamson's playing struck me as having the technique of Jimmy Page but with the irreverence and attitude of Keith Richards. I have since become friends with James and have talked to him about what he was doing back then. He knew exactly what he was doing and it was very deliberate, which is always quite impressive.

There is a lot more I could say about Raw Power. It gave me a path to follow as a guitar player. It was an opening into a world of rock & roll, sleaze, sexuality, drugs, violence and danger. That's a hard combination to beat.