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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


Jane Siberry - Bound By The Beauty
By the time I heard this record I had auditioned for a band that would become Thieves. Saul Freeman, the other half of Thieves, introduced me to the Cocteau Twins, Scritti Politti, The Blue Nile and Jane Siberry. He played me tracks from her album The Walking, which I quite liked. I remember going to Saul's home in Pinner one afternoon to write and he was enthusing about Bound By The Beauty, which had just been favourably reviewed in Melody Maker. I went directly to Virgin Megastore the following day.

I was temping in those days. The Walking struck me as quite produced, quite electronic. Bound By The Beauty was a more acoustic sounding affair. I didn't find myself wondering what the sounds were, but the songwriting blew my head off.

Those were still the cassette Walkman days. I purchased the album on cassette. Jane took the edge off my temping drudgery. She came into my life at a transformational time. I was being bored to distraction in a Woolworths office, entering baby snow boot figures into a VDU. I would shortly attend Middlesex Polytechnic and become a BAPA student (BA in Performance Art). Bound By The Beauty was the soundtrack to the segue. It prepped me for Joni Mitchell, whose music Saul would also introduce me too. Jane's melodies were eccentric and flighty. I learned a lot from her and she enabled me to appreciate Liz Fraser more. She inspired many of the Thieves melodies that I wrote.

Jane would use recognizable genre templates and then subvert them wilfully. She moved me ('The Valley', 'The Life Is The Red Wagon'); blissed me out ('Bound By The Beauty', 'Something About Trains'), she made me howl with laughter - 'Miss Punta Blanca'. Singing 'The Valley' for her on her salon tour a few years ago was an all-time career high.