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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


The Beatles – The Beatles

My brothers and I grew up above a pub in East London at a very famous music house with a lot of live bands. When I was a little boy, I would hear the music coming up from the floorboards. Very rarely would we get to see the bands ourselves, but we did have an old Radiogram. And we didn't have many records, but the most relevant one - which my dad had bought on its release - was The Beatles’ White Album. And although I was only about six or seven when it came out, we played that album over and over and we absolutely fell madly in love with it, and knew every track on it, and it became one of the most played albums in my record collection. I've had cassettes, CDs and rebought vinyl versions. And I thought the interesting story behind the album was really the state that The Beatles were in. Although that was my favourite Beatles album, it was almost three or four solo albums going on simultaneously, because they did lots of the recordings by themselves. The band was falling apart. But I love the variety.

Each track sounds so different, the instrumentation changes, then there’s the humour, the melodies, the aggression... It really is an album that has everything. But the track that really fascinated my brother and I, and it would freak us out and fascinate us in equal measure, was ‘Revolution No. 9’. That track really inspired an interest in musique concrète and experimental music. I absolutely loved it. There was humour in it, and it was quite frightening as well. While we were listening to it, the voices would change and it would be quite threatening, and I think John Lennon said that he wanted to create an audio collage for the chaos of a revolution. Of course, when I was six or seven, that really wasn't on my mind. But that notion that an album doesn't necessarily have to have the same instrumentation on each track, it can veer off in wildly different directions... that stayed with me. I can't think of any other book, film or record from the age of six or seven that stayed with me all my life, and it's probably my favourite album of all time.