Music matters: Ian Rankin is not guilty of crime against music

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PERHAPS your first thought on hearing that crime writer Ian Rankin has teamed up with Charlatans man Tim Burgess to record his debut single was, ‘how bizarre’.

It’s not really that surprising. Not when you think about it.

The Rebus creator is well known for his love of music, and was a member of a punk band called The Flying Pigs before becoming a successful writer.

Disciples of the local music scene may also remember that Rankin penned lyrics and lent vocals to the Saint Jude’s Infirmary song The Foot Of The Walk, from the sadly now-defunct band’s second album.

The novelist now plans to release A Little Bit of Powder, a track which combines a short story written by Rankin and music from Burgess.

It’s hardly the first time that an author and a musician have teamed up. Admittedly, it doesn’t happen often, but there have been some really memorable team-ups over the years.

Among the most notable are those of cult author William S Burroughs, who has recorded with everyone from Laurie Anderson to Tom Waits.

His best contribution to music, however, was The ‘Priest’ They Called Him, a 1992 album on which Kurt Cobain gives dissonant guitar backing as Burroughs reads in his dry midwestern drawl.

And Burroughs’ poet pal Allen Ginsberg teamed up with Joe Strummer to co-write the song Ghetto Defendant. Again, a good one.

It doesn’t always turn out so well, though, and recent history is blighted by ill-advised partnerships between writers and musicians (Beck and Dave Eggers, anyone?).

Here’s hoping that Rankin and Burgess’ pairing isn’t the latest - though, at least on paper, theirs doesn’t sound as arty-farty and pretentious as some past collaborations.