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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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The Smiths Hatful Of Hollow

The Smiths were a massive turning point when they came along in the autumn of 1983. My brother immediately started pulling up large patches of herbaceous border to shove down the back pocket of his jeans, and about a billion quiffs sprung up overnight, some of them not connected to heads you might have expected to be turned by such sentiments as those professed by Morrissey. What I realize now is that he was sending out secret signals that were picked up by a lot of sensitive young male friends of mine who were struggling to find the courage to come out in a world that was still extremely hostile and hateful towards homosexuality. He, like Marc Almond before him, was an absolute Godsend, appearing like an older brother who could guide you through these tumultuous years and the mess of emotions and fear – even though these are the sentiments he expresses in his songs, he is vocalizing everything you feel inside and his voice and the musical setting acts as a comforting arm around the shoulder. He understands.

I listened to this album a lot in the summer of 1984, mainly to hear ‘How Soon Is Now’, which I am still in total awe of. Johnny Marr’s guitar on that says perhaps even more about the teenage state than Morrissey’s beautiful lyrics, the work is sublime. In Weirdo I used ‘What Difference Does It Make?’ as a chapter heading because of its opening line: "All men have secrets and here is mine, so let it be known…" But what a brilliant album title this is.

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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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