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Baker's Dozen

Constant Companions: Matt Johnson's Favourite Albums
Jeremy Allen , October 27th, 2021 07:31

From a teenage encounter with Pere Ubu in a Wardour Street club, to the comforting effect of classic reggae and his love of Marc Bolan, The The’s Matt Johnson takes Jeremy Allen through his thirteen favourite records


Manitas De Plata – La España De Manitas

His name means little hands of silver. He was like the Jimi Hendrix of flamenco guitar. I have a little cottage in Majorca, which I've had for many years, which I sometimes go to to escape. I don't get there as much as I'd like, unfortunately, but I've got an old Clark and Smith record player there - the ones they used to wheel into school classrooms, very chunky and utilitarian. I bought one and I took it over there, but I didn't have much vinyl. Then a painter, David Templeton, a good friend of mine in a neighbouring village, gave me a pile of old Spanish vinyl LPs.

And amongst them was La España De Manitas by Manitas De Plata. I didn't know what to expect when I put it on, as I'd never heard of him before, and I was absolutely mesmerised. It inspired me to investigate a bit more, and he was incredible and considered possibly the greatest flamenco guitarist of all time. Picasso used to go and see him play quite a lot apparently, and he said: "That man is a greater work than I am". And he drew all over Manitas De Plata's guitars for him. He was very prolific, brilliant, and very unusual. And I think early in his career, he was criticised because he used unorthodox techniques for his rhythms.

Again, it became a soundtrack. There was a period of time where I was in this little cottage in Spain for a month, and it was a very reflective period of my life. And it became my constant companion, looking out over the mountain, with a glass of wine as the sun's going down, just listening to it on repeat. It's absolutely beautiful. And again, it's one of those albums that stayed with me.