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Guest column - Ten records that explain why I love vinyl by Ethan Johns

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Having produced albums for the likes of Kings Of Leon, Laura Marling, Ryan Adams, The Vaccines and many more, producer Ethan Johns has made his own album. If Not Now Then, which boasts a little help from many of his notable clients, will not be released until February 2013, however Johns is touring the record throughout November by visiting his favourite record shops – starting at Cardiff‘s Spillers today (5 November) – where along with a performance and an Q&A, the album will be sold on vinyl only. In a Playlist-meets-guest column, Johns picks ten albums (we’ve streamed them where possible, but vinyl playback is recommended) that explains why he loves the format so much.

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So, the reason I like to listen to records is this: I’ll start with the first record on the list – Ryan AdamsAshes And Fire. I just put the needle down on side one, with the intention of picking a song to cite and instantly wanted to listen to the whole thing. I won’t get up now till it’s time to flip the side. This is a truly great record… It’s something I’ve wanted to hear for years. Glyn [Johns, producer and Ethan’s father] and Ry with those musicians… come on! It’s the best thing Ry has ever done.

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Record two. Gillian Welch‘s The Harrow And The Harvest. Gil and Dave [Rawlings, producer] displaying absolute mastery of their craft.

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Record three. PJ Harvey‘s Let England Shake the best record by an English artist in the last 15 years. She wrote a true modern folk classic. And Flood’s sonic rendering? Stunning.

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Record four. Dr John‘s Locked Down. What do I need to say about the Doctor, I think this record is magic. Cool sound. And he’s got something to say.

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Record five. I wanted to pick something by Ry Cooder. But to pick one is hard, I’ve been into Election Special and Pull Up Some Dust And Sit Down, but Boomer’s Story is still the one I listen to the most.

LP is not currently online, so you’ll have to get the vinyl…

Record six. Money Jungle. Duke Ellington, Max Roach and Charles Mingus. I’ve been listening to this a lot recently. I love how you can hear Roach and Mingus scrapping a while till they figure each other out. It makes for an interesting tension. It goes without saying Ellington was a genius, but I love to hear him in this setting. Playing piano with the be-boppers. They were supposed to have killed the big band, and here he is making vital music with a couple of the architects of the new wave. Still had a few things to teach them I guess.

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Record seven. Albert King‘s Years Gone By. Listened to this three times over a few days ago. This is a great sounding record. The Stax studio was in its prime, I think. They had really figured out the room. The balances are perfect. The MG’s are playing at their best. Booker’s piano playing is stunning. The production from Al Jackson is bang on, confident but still sympathetic to Albert, who delivers truly inspired performances.

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Record eight. Paul Simon‘s Paul Simon. A benchmark singer-songwriters record. Wonderful songs with takes that feel like they were caught off the cuff, yet arrangements that are so unusual and creative. Amazing.

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Record nine. Warpaint‘s The Fool. A new sound doesn’t come around too often and this has it for me. Honest and creative. Cool drummer too.

Again LP is not currently online, so you’ll have to get the vinyl…

Record ten. Green On Red‘s Gas Food Lodging. I put this on a few mornings ago. Vital music. The combination of Dan’s [Stuart] lyrics and Chuck’s [Prophet] guitar was a winning formula. This was the coolest Americana band around before the term Americana was even coined. I’m looking forward to hearing Dan’s new record. I hope it’s getting a vinyl issue. I’ll have to check in with the guys at the record store.

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So, Back to Ryan’s record. Side two just ended with I Love You But I

Don’t Know What To Say. I’m dusted…

Ethan Johns

For more details of the tour and to pre-order the vinyl version of Johns album, head to Ethanjohns.com.


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