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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


Wire - 154
I think there is an argument to be made for Wire being one of the greatest ever bands to come out of the UK. They have become a band to namedrop over the last 20 years and rightly so. In 1977 or 1978, me and my mates were wagging school and listening to whatever new records were out at the time, and that would be invariably punk records. A couple of my friends were into The Stranglers, which never really did it for me. I was listening to The Only Ones and Generation X and things like that.

When [punk compilation] The Roxy London WC2 came out you had to have it and spend your hard-earned pocket money on it, but it was a disappointing, shouty affair. It was badly recorded with a number of bands who didn't do much for me. However, it had 'Lowdown' by Wire on it and the song stood out by a million miles. There was brains and originality behind the song.

When 154 came out it was so startling as it was so ahead of its time. Well, it was of the time but broke away from the norm, which was very much still rooted in an aggressive rock & roll heartland. Wire really stretched sounds and included keyboards on their records, which at the time was a very brave move. I am trying my hardest not to use the word 'arty' but in this case, they owned that word.

I had left school at that time and moved away from my parents and was living on my own. That period was key for me as a person and Wire's approach to guitar was just something I couldn't ignore. It was a real pointer away from the blues-based guitar playing which dominated pop music - including punk - since rock music had started. As a young guitar player, discovering 154 showed me a world that was an alternative way of looking at the instrument. It has stuck with me all the way through my career.