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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"


Brian Eno – Discreet Music
I could have chosen a number of his ambient records, from Apollo – Atmosphere & Soundtracks or Ambient 1 (Music For Airports) to Discreet Music. He, along with maybe one or two others, invented ambient music, which is now the background to a lot of different music, but back then was a revolution. Eno was slagged by the press at every turn. I remember a quote in the NME saying his music was like "watching paint dry". If something got that bad a review, I had to check it out and Brian got the worst reviews for a number of years.

Discreet Music was the record that I listened to when it came out and I am still listening to it now. Strangely enough, I find it the most incredible music to make love to, because its stillness strips you down to a nakedness that, for me, lovemaking always demands. That's opposed to drunken lovemaking, which is a completely different thing and only part of what is on offer. Discreet Music puts me in the mood to really find out who I am and to be vulnerable with another person. Therefore, it has become one of my favourite lovemaking albums, and I don't think many people could say that.

Aside from that, has Eno's ambient music inspired the way James make music?

It probably influenced us a couple of years ago when the 'James song' became more still and all about taking our time. That's a rare event for James as we write through improvisation and I don't have control of how the songs turn out. However, my love of Discreet Music probably influenced James to have several albums produced by Brian Eno and he became one of my mentors and friends. It seemed that any bloody album Brian produced, with whatever artist, was their best album.

I find Brian to be the most incredible leader in the most subtle of ways. His intelligence is like a virus – it is infectious. His capacity for work and his ability to take what most people would consider a problem and turn it into a delightful puzzle is unsurpassed.

I remember ringing Brian a couple of years ago to invite him out for a meal that Friday. This was typical Brian. He said, "I can't come on Friday, because on Saturday at the Science Museum they are showing the handheld footage from the very first Apollo astronauts, who were using their own portable cameras – which in those days were probably quite heavy – and they filmed the first landing on the moon. They have made a film of it and they had a competition for the soundtrack and I have chosen a young Balinese composer to do the score for the silent footage of the first ever moon landing. As part of it, I am giving a lecture to 200 scientists – would you like to come with me?" That's Brian. You ring him up to ask him to dinner and he pulls the rug from under your feet.