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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


Barbra Streisand - Guilty
Our house in South Ruimveldt, a suburb of Georgetown, Guyana's capital, backed onto the lot of a woman that I never saw, but always heard. Her back door was always open. She was always singing along to records that she played very loudly.

For a period that seemed to go on and on, she played a record by a female singer. Occasionally a male singer with a peculiar style would join in. The female singer had a voice that soared and held elastic notes that stretched and stretched. The music was magical, unusual and elegant. Everyday I would hear the songs. The ones that stood out were the first two: one about having "nothing to be guilty of", that said something about "a highway to the sky", and another about a woman defending her right to be in love. I loved the long notes in the latter. My long note 'thing' began in those weeks.

I went to a high school class party. A schoolmate produced a white coloured album called Guilty. On the cover was a curly haired woman embracing a long haired, bearded man. He was one of those Saturday Night Fever brothers. She was Barbra Streisand. I remembered her from the telly in England.

Something in those connections got the better of me: I borrowed the record without asking. I remember my sister and I having a magical weekend discovering the record, going on a fantastical journey with curly Barbra and hairy Barry, learning all the words and screaming those endless notes.

I didn't become a huge Barbra Streisand fan after that. Nothing else that I heard by her seemed to rise to the majesty of Guilty. It is still an album that I adore more than most.