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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 Velvet Underground - VU
When VU came out in 1985, everyone I knew had absorbed the official Velvets albums from the late 60s and early 70s, and had listened to all the bootlegs they could get their hands on. We had heard in the press mention of lost recordings and there were a couple of those songs on bootlegs that were hard to get.

So, when this album came out it was like finding The Commandments 11 to 20. I almost didn't want to get my hopes up too much as it promised amazing things. When I did get it, I couldn't believe how good it was. It has a particularly important part in my life, in that The Smiths were already going at that point and we were a successful band. To be hit by something as a fan of music when you are already number one in the album charts yourself - I think Meat Is Murder had just come out at that point - was an utterly brilliant thing. It dropped into my life like a ton of inspiration. I was obsessed with it and, in particular, the versions of 'I Can't Stand It' and 'Foggy Notion'. I couldn't understand why that version of 'Ocean' hadn't come out before as it was easily the best one.

I played 'I Can't Stand It' so many times that it stuck in my subconscious and that came out as the inspiration for the rhythm part on the song 'The Queen Is Dead'. So, the VU album was what I was listening to almost exclusively before I started writing the album The Queen Is Dead. The earlier Velvets albums are so revered that to better them is quite a feat. I have been in many an argument with people who think I am insane for preferring this record. When you take away the reverence for the early albums - which are undeniably incredibly important - VU is my favourite listen.