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Baker's Dozen

How Was It For You? Tim Booth Of James' Favourite Albums
John Freeman , March 31st, 2016 08:03

After the release of James' Girl At The End Of The World, lead singer Tim Booth tells John Freeman about clandestine childhood listening and the redemptive powers of Iggy Pop in choosing the LPs that "saved his life"


The Beatles – Love
I find that many albums by The Beatles don't completely hold together for me. While Sgt. Pepper's… holds together stylistically, it isn't one of my favourite albums. However, I have to include The Beatles, because they are clearly the greatest band that ever stalked the earth.

I got into the Love album to introduce my son to The Beatles. George Martin lovingly remastered it and I think he has made some improvements. Sonically it is fantastic. It flows. I love being able to go across their entire span of history. I went to the Love Cirque De Soleil show in Las Vegas, which was a bad idea, but this record is a fantastic introduction and became my son's understanding of The Beatles. The other records are well worth investigating, of course, and they made truly great records, but there aren't any that could go in my Baker's Dozen.

The album contains 'A Day In The Life', which is in my top five greatest songs. I love the fact it was created through such a mad, collaborative technique. One part is John, one part is Paul and they left a minute-and-a-half to fill with something. What fucking amazing, arrogant craziness could do that? And, to then produce one of the greatest songs.

That song is akin to how James write to a degree. We write through improvisation. No one takes anything into a room. We start improvising and the improvisation may take ten minutes or it may take 90 minutes. We record it all and then whoever wants to can take a track, chop it up in whatever way they want to, and then present it back to the band. Someone else can then input and add a keyboard line or whatever.

Therefore, we have this collaborative process that you can hear on the new album that is a little insane, as we might have had a part, which worked in the first ten minutes, and then we might try and weld it to something that worked hours later. They don't necessarily join and we have to find a way of joining them. That acceptance of chance can lead to the best moments. Most bands have one or two songwriters (we now have four) and they are at the mercy of their conscious ability. With us, a chaotic reaction to each other is creating the song, which is probably why we have been around for 33 years and we never get bored. We never know what the fuck we are going to do next.

The Beatles had that on their greatest collaborative songs, where they couldn't be sure quite where a song was going. They allowed themselves the possibility of fucking songs up in a great way. The Beatles are the Shakespeare of our time. They will still be played in 100 years' time and people will still wonder how the fuck they made such amazing music.