Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

Mouth Of The Mersey: Ian McCulloch’s Favourite Albums

Gregarious Scouser Mac tells Rod Kitson what’s what about his favourite albums in one of the most entertaining Baker’s Dozens we’ve run so far

Almost 30 years since the release of Echo and the Bunnymen’s apex album, Ocean Rain, Ian McCulloch remains characteristically modest in his appraisal of the record: “I go by my original story – it’s the greatest album ever made. It pisses over What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye, and it’s better than Sgt. Pepper’s. It’s up there with Hunky Dory.” It’s not surprising then, that the 1984 record makes it into the Liverpudlian’s Baker’s Dozen and we’re guessing – had he ranked them – it would have featured somewhere in the top two, alongside the aforementioned Bowie album.

Ziggy Stardust also makes the cut, though there’s no room for anything from David Jones post-1972. “I was really looking forward to hearing Bowie’s new album, but it’s bollocks, most of it. It’s Tin Machine shit. That’s disappointing because when I saw the new single I thought he’d found it again. That dignified, beautiful thing. But it’s just him farting around again with all those musos – some weird horrible jazzy thing. So that’s him back in his box.”

Given McCulloch’s “greatest album ever made” line, it’s telling that a relatively quiet period for the original Mouth of the North was punctured last year by a spat with the man who would usurp him as the most ardent fan of his own work. Indeed, it was a catchphrase commandeered by Liam Gallagher in the ensuing decades but this didn’t stop McCulloch weighing in on the subject of Beady Eye’s output.

Gallagher’s typically measured response was to threaten to tattoo his lyrics onto McCulloch’s forehead. “I don’t know how he’d do that when he’s incapacitated,” the Bunnyman quips. “Because I do not allow people to tattoo me anywhere. You see clips, and there’s a lot of braggadocio [from Liam] but nothing ever happens. Whereas my track record is a little bit different. Luckily it’s been kept out of the public domain, most of it.”

The 53-year-old Merseysider shares a somewhat more affable relationship with Gallagher senior, and, with guitarist Will Sergeant, the latest Bunnymen line-up play the Teenage Cancer Trust gig tonight. “I heard that Noel was curating it, and I’ve always got on with him – it’s nice that he’s learned how great we are,” McCulloch says. “If Liam’s there – and if he brings the tattoo kit, I’ll tell him what order the letters go in.”

Bowie aside, the other glaring addition to McCulloch’s list is Lou Reed, who appears four times, twice as solo artist, and twice on Velvet Underground records. “I had a beer with him once in New York, and ended up paying nine hundred dollars for it. I had to borrow some money, cos I’d come out with $500 thinking that would be okay for a piss-up, and then the bill came. I’d only had a house salad and three glasses of wine – which he’d made me have. I said I wanted red, and he said: [adopts New York drawl] ‘well, we’re having white.’

“We just sat there with his mates and he switched like a bastard. I just looked at my mate, and thought, I hope it’s not one of them seven-course jobs. He’s a cantankerous bastard. And he looks like Rhea Perlman from Cheers. He makes me laugh just talking about him.”

“Did I put Arcade Fire in there? The Suburbs I thought was fantastic – ‘Modern Man’ I played that about a thousand times back-to-back, but I suppose if I had to pick one album, Automatic For The People, I thought people might be surprised about. It was a masterpiece. Nevermind I like, and I love Incesticide and Bleach, so I was tempted to put one of them or a Fall album in, but I couldn’t remember them all – and which one do you pick out of three hundred Fall albums?”

Ian’s forthcoming record Holy Ghost, comprising his new album Pro Patria Mori alongside a second disc of orchestrated versions of solo and Echo & The Bunnymen tracks recorded in London’s Union Chapel last year, is out on April 15 via Edsel. To begin scrolling through his choices, click on the picture below

First Record

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