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Baker's Dozen

I Don't Belong Here: Cathi Unsworth's Weirdo In 13 Albums
The Quietus , July 25th, 2012 07:17

Author and journalist Cathi Unsworth talks us through the albums that inspired her new novel Weirdo. This feature will bring dark joy to the hearts of those whose clothes are black, whose lips are purple and whose witches are red

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Echo & The Bunnymen Ocean Rain

Just as I began work on Weirdo, a friend gave me the remastered CD of this for my birthday. It was like a time tunnel opening up straight back to 1984, when I listened to my long-since buggered vinyl version of the Bunnymen’s orchestral masterpiece incessantly. All sorts of long lost memories came back unbidden, as if I was walking down the streets of the town with the people I knew in those days, or should I say, moping down the seafront in the dark after my Friday night art college class, staring up at the stars with ‘The Killing Moon’ going round in my head. The stars and the other lights that lay out in the North Sea – the flames burning from the multitude of oil rigs that surrounded the Norfolk coast. While Thatcher was destroying the industrial north, Wales and Scotland with her civil war on the miners, these black candles were keeping her in money and in power. I refer to them often in Weirdo. While my teenage characters try to take control over their lives by amateur use of White Magic, the oil rigs represent to me the Black Mass of the real Witch Queen of 1984. The imagery in Ocean Rain is so perfect – it’s all about moonlight, magic, trickery, heartbreak and of course, bodies of water – that every single track on the album has its own chapter heading in my book. I didn’t have to force a theme, it was already all there. The friend who gave me the CD, Benedict Newbery, also wrote the poem 'Some Man’s Business' which I use in the frontispiece. It, too, conjures up the themes of the book in the line: "Death to come to those we husband…" and its whole feeling of sinister, rural unease.

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Jul 25, 2012 1:27pm

Great stuff! Maybe it's because I spent my youth in a seaside town during the 80's but most of these (very very unfashionable) albums are all very familiar. And I've come back to them and still find most of them to be a great listen, on whatever level. Not sure where Madonna and Jacko fit in tho... Gonna buy the book right now.

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Jul 25, 2012 2:01pm

yeah,great list.I like most of the stuff here,Bunnymen,Sisters,early Cult,Bauhaus of course... recently discovered Spear of Destiny through Paradise Lost cover of Never take me alive.awesome band,great find!!

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Jul 26, 2012 12:49am

Some fine choices here, the Echo, Bauhaus, and Smiths albums were worn out by this kid as well, right around the same time. Morrissey takes many cues from his favorite writers, so it's a cool kind of circle that this writer should take some cues from him.

Was sad to see the Cult move away from their post-punk beginnings but I've been a fan of all their material nonetheless. She mentions the Chameleons, was surprised to find none of their albums were on here. No worries tho, they're still overlooked by most.

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Jul 26, 2012 2:46pm

I am thrilled to find somenone whose love of 'Smalltown England' is equal to my own.

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art damij
Aug 14, 2012 2:09pm

cool list,great to see crass,bauhaus,killing joke,sisters in well as nods to theatre of hate..good call cathi!

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