Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

Oh L’Amour: Vince Clarke Of Erasure’s Favourite Albums

In a festive special Baker's, Vince Clarke follows Erasure's Snow Globe album by picking out the 13 LPs that mean the most to him

Erasure’s Christmas album Snow Globe has been one of the surprise successes of late 2013, a thoughtful, at times melancholy exploration of seasonal songs far from the schmalzy norm, and a challenge to those who have Erasure mistakenly pegged as a high-camp synth-pop duo alone. Then again, Vince Clarke – he who makes those glorious synth melodies on which Andy Bell sings – is a man and musician who has always dealt in the unexpected. He left the fast-rising Depeche Mode to set up Yazoo, for starters, and then last year surprised us all with VCMG, a solid techno album made with his old mucker Martin Gore. Speaking down the phone from New York, where he now lives, Vince Clarke is a down-to-earth, funny, honest sort of bloke seemingly untarnished and unchanged by the millions of records he’s sold over the years. It’s perhaps reflected in his Baker’s Dozen choices, the selection of which Clarke describes thus: "I went through my life really, and just chose the albums that meant something to me then, at the time that I bought them. I looked online thinking ‘what are the 50 best albums in the world?’ but I was looking at all these rock albums and thought ‘nah’. I just chose the albums that most influenced me when I was growing up… well, I’m still growing up."

Present and praised on the list are the likes of The Eagles, Simon & Garfunkel, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, reflecting Clarke’s early tastes: "When I first started, playing in guitar club, I was really into folk music, the Simon & Garfunkel thing," he says. "I remember myself and a couple of friends from school entered the local talent competition. We all played guitar and sang ‘Leaving On A Jet Plane’, we thought we were the bees knees… well, we didn’t really! We came third or fourth I think, but it was very exciting at the time. We thought we’d be on Opportunity Knocks but we didn’t make the grade, unfortunately."

At home, the musical enthusiasm was followed despite the Clarke household’s modest means. "My mum was really into music, and she bought a radiogram for £5, and she inherited a stack of classical acetates, so we played those," he says. "She also had a box of singles, and one of those was ‘Ruby Tuesday’ by the Stones. I used to try and work out the chords for records like that. My mum was really into music, we just didn’t have the equipment. My father had a Ferguson reel-to-reel, he had one tape which was Sinatra At The Sands, Sinatra telling jokes and singing. When they used to do the charts on a Sunday on Radio One we used to record the charts onto this tape, so his Sinatra At The Sands recording got shorter and shorter. We didn’t get in trouble, I think my father was quite proud of our inventiveness, and many years later I bought him a ticket to see Frank Sinatra in London, so that made up for it."

Snow Globe is out now via Mute. Click on his image below to begin scrolling through Clarke’s choices

First Record

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