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Baker's Dozen

The Right Things: David McAlmont's Favourite Albums
The Quietus , October 1st, 2015 13:22

As McAlmont And Butler mark the 20th anniversary of The Sound Of... with a deluxe reissue and a run of tour dates, David McAlmont pens us his own Baker's Dozen, moving through his 13 most formative albums


Stevie Wonder - For Once In My Life
Sharing a room with my younger cousin meant that I was rooming with a Stevie Wonder obsessive. At that point I really only knew of Songs In The Key Of Life and Hotter Than July, but my cousin was a true completist. One day he came home with an album that silenced Prince for a while. I had never heard Stevie sound like that. The Stevie I was accustomed to was a pastor, a firebrand, an authority, a poet. This was the sound of a cocky yet sincere lad with a titanic talent.

His concerns weren't for the world's citizens on that record; they were romantic and puckish. The song 'Ain't No Lovin'' stood out. It was riddled with nursery-rhyme imagery: "find the girl beneath the willow tree" and "bring my sugar cookie home to stay". The title track was one that I had first heard Tony Bennett sing on his 20 Greatest Hits album.

The arrangements on For Once In My Life were frenetic, epic and sublime. A simple Rhodes introduction would blossom into jubilant strings and choirs, which enabled the teenaged master to soar. These days I see it as the great pre-classic Stevie period record. I love this record as much as anything between Music Of My Mind and Hotter Than July.