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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


Tony Bennett - The Very Best Of Tony Bennett: 20 Greatest Hits
Another treat my mother procured for herself. The cover was interesting. Mr Bennett looked shiny. His nose was huge. He was wearing a suit. No reason why I should have known who he was. I was too young to realise that the red light on his quiff was not hair dye. It was the glam period, the Afro do era. It wasn't the strangest hair I'd ever seen.

Mr Bennett was a storyteller too, like The Drifters, but he wasn't in a gang like them. He was alone. He often sounded alone. He sang to San Francisco, as if it was a person. He wanted to get his own back on someone. Somebody called Joanna had loved him once. He was a stranger in paradise. He was haunted by a certain smile. He fantasised about ruling the world.

It was 'A Taste Of Honey' that enthralled and perplexed my developing imagination: winds, icy sea, Sunday school language, "the warmth of thee", honey and wine. At other times, he seemed to enjoy himself. I liked it when he sounded happy too. He compared kisses to sweets. He compared women to fireflies. The violins would disappear and brass would replace them. Sometimes there was even an audience clapping.

I didn't know that my affection for jazz standards was beginning there. I just liked the idea of being Mr Bennett's friend. He seemed nice. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.