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Bill Bailey: 10 albums that changed my life

Bill Bailey Mastodon
(Image credit: Art: Matt Dixon)

Bill Bailey loves a wide range of music from prog to electronica, but he really love metal. The oddball British comedian has been known to namecheck Slayer in his live shows, and has been vocal about his love of Mastodon. We cornered him in his wizard’s lair and asked him to talk us through the 10 albums that changed his life.

Metal Hammer line break

The first album I bought was…

The Stranglers – Rattus Norvegicus (1977)

“I remember that had a brilliant picture on it; the cover was terrifying. I remember I had a Talking Heads album, Remain In Light, and that was another cover I remember vividly.”


The best album artwork is…

The Clash – London Calling (1979)

“When I was a kid, I remember looking at the Yes albums and thinking, ‘What the hell is this? This is mental!’ Then there were the Maiden covers, and I think the Motörhead insignia is an all-time classic. Oh, and The Clash! London Calling has an amazing shot of Joe Strummer smashing a guitar. That seemed to sum up what punk was all about – ‘Fuck everything!’”


The album I break the speed limit to is…

Queens Of The Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf (2003)

“Do you know what, I probably did break the speed limit to the Queens Of The Stone Age album Songs For The Deaf. It builds and builds and builds! You find that you’re driving along, and your knuckles are getting whiter and whiter holding the wheel, ha ha ha!”


The album I wish I’d made is…

David Bowie – Hunky Dory (1971)

“There’s a couple, but the Bowie albums were what I thought were masterpieces when I was growing up. Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust, I knew every track, all the way through. When I was in a covers band we’d play Suffragette City and segue into You Really Got Me by The Kinks.”


The album that should not be is…

Metallica – St Anger (2003)

“I’m a fan of Metallica, but I did think the film [Some Kind Of Monster] and the subsequent album was a bit of a disappointment. It was all a bit Spinal Tap. The film was very brave of them to do, but, I mean… There are those times where they don’t show themselves in the best light. Did they watch it in the edit and go, ‘Yeah, let’s keep that bit’? I always feel sorry for Kirk. It’s like he’s the kid in the marriage.”


A kid asks me what metal is, I hand them a copy of…

Iron Maiden – The Number Of The Beast (1982)

“It’d have to be something with a skull on the cover or something. It’d be Iron Maiden, The Number Of The Beast. It’s Satan, zombies and power chords. There you go!’”


The album no one will believe I own is…

Boards Of Canads – Geogaddi (2002)

“I suppose electronic stuff. I like a lot of electronic stuff as well. A lot of people would probably say, ‘I wouldn’t expect you to be a Boards Of Canada fan!’ That’s on rotation on tour. Boards Of Canada into Opeth. Keeping them on their toes!”


The album that reminds me of school is…

David Bowie – Heroes (1977)

“It would probably be around ’77, so Heroes. I remember listening to a lot of that. That late-’70s era, there was a lot of punk, but Bowie just transcended all of that. He didn’t really fit into any genre.”


The first album I had sex to was…

David Bowie – The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (1972)

“Oh, hello! I think it would probably have been a Bowie album. I think it was either Aladdin Sane or Ziggy Stardust. I think it was Ziggy Stardust. I still get a big, silly grin on my face when it gets to Moonage Daydream, so yes, it must have been that!”


The album I want played at my funeral is…

Mastodon – Crack The Skye (2009)

“I’d say The Clash, Combat Rock, because then they can play Should I Stay Or Should I Go, or Mastodon, Crack The Skye! I’d like that to be filmed, but then I couldn’t see it…”