Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

Batting Order: Neil Hannon’s Favourite Albums

The Divine Comedy man picks out the gems in his record collection following the release of his second album with The Duckworth Lewis Method this week

Fittingly enough for an album about cricket, the decision to make The Duckworth Lewis Method’s new record Sticky Wickets, the follow-up to their self-titled debut from 2009, came about when the band’s Neil Hannon and Thomas Walsh were on a tea break.

"Well, it’s funny because when we made the first one, we didn’t really have any plans to make another. In fact, it sounded a bit like a silly idea," says Hannon. "About a year ago, Thomas and I were just sort of having tea, as you do, and we both said the same thing more or less: ‘Shall we make another one?’ ‘Yes, okay.’"

No doubt a good call, too: Sticky Wickets chooses to soundtrack the game with an impressive span of genres, shifting from the sun-dappled guitar-pop of the title track and ‘Third Man’ to the synth-funk of ‘Line And Length’ to the lushly-orchestrated torch song ‘The Umpire’, underlining the inherent pathos of the much-maligned figure. "Yeah, well we get bored easy!" says Hannon, explaining the variety. "Also, on Duckworth Lewis Method albums, we both get to make music that perhaps we wouldn’t allow ourselves to have on our own albums. Just because if you’re writing about cricket, then there’s no rules. We’re in a genre of one!"

It also fields a strong team of cricket fan guests, including Stephen Fry, Daniel Radcliffe and Matt Berry, as well as the veteran commentator Henry ‘Blowers’ Blofeld, delivering a few choice lines ("now, my dear opening man, you must pull yourself together", "calypso collapso!") on ‘It’s Just Not Cricket’. "He was such a rock & roll star, in his comfortable shoes and cardie. Once he had worked out that we weren’t complete homicidal lunatics, he was very into it and did a stream of consciousness of just Bloers-isms!", recalls Hannon.

His Baker’s Dozen choices represent a collection of fondly-held records from childhood, some later discoveries and albums whose influence is writ on his own work, from the Scott Walker and Michael Nyman records that leave their imprint on The Divine Comedy to some landmark synth-pop LPs that echoes in Hannon’s theme music for The IT Crowd.

As closely as he has listened, though, he’s keen not to let of the records lose their mystique: "I don’t really like listening to any record often, not since I was a kid do I thought of play things on repeat. I have to admit, I don’t listen to an awful lot of records," he explains. "Once I’ve heard them a few times, I kind of know them so intimately that I can replay them in my head. With a piece like Rite Of Spring, you don’t want to downplay its power by over-hearing it."

Sticky Wickets is out now via Divine Comedy Records. The Duckworth Lewis Method play Lord’s Cricket Ground, London on Monday 8 July, Nottingham Playhouse on Tuesday 9 July and a longer UK tour in September; for full details and tickets, head to their website. Click on Neil’s image below to begin scrolling through his choices

First Record

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