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Baker's Dozen

Perfect 13: Paul Heaton's Favourite Albums
Adrian Lobb , August 16th, 2017 07:30

Paul Heaton ex of the Housemartins and Beautiful South guides Adrian Lobb through 13 favourite albums - there's a lot of soul in there, but which ones did he nick?


Blind Boy Fuller - Country Blues
Norman [Cook] says the reason he calls himself Fatboy Slim is because of the music I was listening to when we met. I was about 17 and he was 15, and it was all Memphis Slim and Blind Boy Fuller and stuff. Norman used to invite people back to his house and I'd invite people back to mine. At mine I would play Blind Boy Fuller and Memphis Slim and his would be party music – I could never work out at the time why everyone wanted to go to his! It sort of shows why he became a DJ and I became a singer songwriter. That is the music I was listening to at 16 or 17, which was highly eccentric. I would spend a lot of time in charity shops buying clothes and records.

The charity shops of South London were full of black music. Black people were getting rid of their collections from ten years before – so in 1977, the black populations of North Surrey, Croydon, Brixton, all round there, were getting rid of stuff from 1967. And I'd just started collecting that stuff, I bought anything that was black, basically. I bought this album for 50p. I must have bought hundreds of albums for between 50p and a quid.

I developed a massive collection of blues, soul and gospel. I managed to get myself into Blind Boy Fuller, it was not only unusual listening to blues, but it was unusual to listen to blues with just guitar and a washboard – I think it has Washboard Sam on this record. A handful of my friends would be into it, my girlfriend Sue was into it, and some of these people were still alive. I saw Memphis Sli two or three times, I met Champion Jack Dupree and got his autograph. They would come over to London occasionally. I saw Otis Rush, Jimmy Witherspoon. It was great. But it didn't get me many friends. My charts weren't just blues, but there was a lot of stuff like this: Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee – I taught myself blues harmonica fairly well listening to them. It's pretty useless in the genre I play, but I can do it.