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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


Various Artists – Stardust - 44 Original Hits From The Soundtrack Of The Film

At that time, I would have been in my first little band called Roadstar. And we played small gigs and practised in garages, and we played halls and people's birthday parties. And I think I went with my drummer and guitarist to see that film at the local cinema. We loved glam rock, and we probably loved David Essex too at the time. What is more relevant is that that following Christmas, I received my first cassette player, which was very exciting. Now my uncle Kenny [Johnson], who was one of London's top music promoters for bands like The Animals, The Kinks and The Who, bought me a double cassette of the Stardust album.

I played side three all the time, because this was the first time I’d ever heard Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, The Righteous Brothers and Procol Harum. Songs like ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’, ‘White Rabbit’, and ‘The Eve of Destruction’ seemed more grown up than the music I was listening to, which was The Sweet, Slade and Gary Glitter. I was into glam rock, and to me, this 60s music seemed so old, as if it was from a previous generation, when really a lot of it had only been recorded five years prior. I was about 13 years old, and above everything else, the guitar solo of ‘All Along the Watchtower’ by Jimi Hendrix completely blew my mind. I'd be in bed late at night, rewinding that cassette when I was supposed to be asleep, running back ‘All Along the Watchtower’ under the covers just to listen to Hendrix’s guitar solo. And to this day, I listen to it and I think it’s the greatest guitar solo in rock history. Just the way it changes tones. You've got the percussive element, the rhythmic elements and the use of the wah wah. It's phenomenal! Even today, so many decades later, it still blows me away.