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Me And My Record Collection

Source: Sunday Express S:2 Magazine

Writer: Peter Robertson

Date: 14 March 2004


Largely thanks to string of hits in the Seventies, including the No.1's "Clair" and "Get Down", Gilbert O'Sullivan has home In Jersey, Nashville and the UK.  He has been in his central London flat a lot lately to promote his hits LP "The Berry Vest Of Gilbert O'Sullivan" and brought some of his massive collection with him.  "I've never counted how many albums I own", he says. "That's a bit like wondering how many songs I've written.  In my business, you have to listen to everything, so you're constantly buying things."  Born in Ireland in 1946, Raymond O'Sullivan took the name Gilbert when his career started in the Sixties. Here's his all-time top 10.


1. EVERLY BROTHERS

Golden Hits (1990)

The first harmony group, the Everly Brothers had a big influence on Lennon and McCartney.  Little Richard said, "Why would the Beatles be successful in America?  We already have the Beatles in the Everly Brothers".  "When I was growing up we couldn't afford albums but I got singles like Cathy's Clown and All I Have To Is Dream, which I sang for a teacher I fancied when I was 11".


2. BOB DYLAN

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1964)

I really admire people like Dylan.  When he came along he was unique.  He influenced me because he didn't have a great voice, but was successful.  Songs like Blowin' In The Wind and Don't Think Twice, are very melodic.  They're easily comparable to the Beatles' stuff but lyrically far more interesting.


3. THE SEARCHERS

Meet The Searchers (1963)

They were very original because the guitar player had a very unusual style.  I'd never heard songs like Farmer John and Love Potion No.9 before.  They were strange lyrically.  When everyone was playing Beatle stuff, I got my first band, The Prefects to play Searchers songs because I loved the way they sounded.


4. ELLA FITZGERALD

Sings Cole Porter (1964)

If you're a student of songwriting the best education you can have is listening to great songs.  Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee are the greatest female interpreters of song.  This classic includes Miss Otis Regrets and Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye.


5. BEACH BOYS

Wild Honey (1968)

Most people who like the Beach Boys go for Pet Sounds but for me it's this one.  It's a great-sounding record which came out while I was living in London in the late Sixties.  I like Here Comes The Night, Aren't You Glad and the title track.


6. PEGGY LEE

Latin A La Lee (1960)

These are Peggy Lee's Latin versions of great songs and I love them.  I'm intending to record a Latin album myself - called Latin A La G - and to do the cover exactly as she did with Matadors and stuff.  We worked together on the 1992 single Can't Think Straight when she was in her early seventies, in a wheelchair and having to have oxygen.  But everyone in the studio was in awe of her and we treated her like a queen.  She had a wonderful time.  When she died 10 years later, I sent flowers.


7. NINA SIMONE

High Priestess Of Soul (1967)

When she died last year Nina Simone left a great legacy.  She recorded my song Alone Again (Naturally).  She was a wonderful performer but quite a difficult lady.  Like Van Morrison, if she went on stage and didn't feel right, she'd off.  You can go so far, but I think that's going too far.


8. RANDY NEWMAN

Randy Newman (1968)

This is his first album.  It sold about two copies, 0ne of which I bought.  It's his biggest grouse that he's never been able to sell many records - it really gets his back up, but he was never teen material.  He's unique because of his storytelling, gift for melody and way with lyrics.


9. VARIOUS ARTISTS

Songs Lennon & McCartney Gave Away (1979)

This is a good insight. I learned a lot from them. I like That Means A Lot by PJ Proby and Step Inside Love by Cilla Black.


10. STATE FAIR

Soundtrack (1945 reissued 1999)

Most Rodger & Hammerstein musicals were performed on stage, but State Fair was just a Film. I don't like Stage musicals but I love musical sound tracks for their melodic content.


The Berry Vest Of Gilbert O'Sullivan is out tomorrow on EMI. He is at the Bloomsbury Theatre on April 26