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Baker's Dozen

The Golden Section: John Foxx's Favourite Albums
John Foxx , October 3rd, 2013 04:16

The electronics pioneer pens his own Baker's Dozen and gives us a slightly different twist on the 13 favourites formula

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Donna Summer - I Remember Yesterday
‘I Feel Love’ is directly related to ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ in several unexpected ways - the songs are both chants - they operate over a drone, and the vocal has a melodic form straight out of Catholic mass - that descending melody form has also appeared in some other songs down recent years, perhaps most notably in Graham Goldman’s ‘For Your Love’ by The Yardbirds.

The other ingredient was Kraftwerk. When Donna Summer came out with ‘I Feel Love’, I thought Kraftwerk had made an inspired move into pop by getting a wonderful black woman singer. As it was, Moroder had lucked into finding a good programmer and a good modular Moog. Add Donna Summers’ immaculate vocals – a chant with only three words in the entire lyric – and the music world changed overnight.

Another era was off the blocks and away. Punk fell off the perch. As Jim Kerr said, the moment he heard that Donna Summer record, punk dissolved and something much more agile hit the platform.

But all that anger and revolutionary spirit didn’t go away - it simply became repurposed - transmuted into a defiant icy cool, much more energy-efficient than all that shouting - and this was the voltage that charged all the ensuing eras of electronic music, from Cabaret Voltaire to The Human League and Numan, Chris and Cosey to Joy Division, Leftfield to Portishead and Massive Attack, then Radiohead and now The Horrors to Xeno and Oaklander and Matthew Dear and The Soft Moon. It made a kind of cool way of being spiky. You could be spiky and intelligent.


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caonai
Oct 3, 2013 9:13am

Hm, the first two-thirds of the list is a bit too MOJO-reader classic albums predictable, but it picks up after NEU! - and the Shadows selection is a genuine curve ball, with an interesting view on their music. But credit where it's due, well written and intelligent thoughts on each selection.

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Daveid P
Oct 3, 2013 1:52pm

the first version of Ultravox... and for some of us the only version..

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Sue in Lincoln
Oct 3, 2013 8:34pm

Saw John Foxx and Ultravox in 1977 - when I listen and read his choices I can see where some of his influences come from - especially the Beatles Tomorrow never comes - which I've just listened to for the first time on his recommendation.

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Sue in Lincoln
Oct 3, 2013 8:37pm

In reply to Sue in Lincoln:

Tomorrow never Knows - now I know!

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Lee
Oct 3, 2013 9:51pm

FFS, it wasn't George Martin who was "engaged by new ideas from Stockhausen, Schaeffer and others making the new musique concrète." It was Paul McCartney. Jesus and people wonder why he's so defensive. The tape loops were McCartney's. The drum pattern on Tomorrow Never Knows? McCartney's.

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Reimer
Oct 4, 2013 1:12am

In reply to caonai:

Yep, the Shadows disc makes a nice break from an all-too-familiar sort of musical biography. I like the connection he makes with Kraftwerk (Michael Rother's 'Katzenmusic' and 'Fernwaerme' make it explicit).

Love those classic-era Shadows sides, and that cover is fab.

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Steven Davey
Oct 4, 2013 5:28pm

And Lou's Walk on the Wild Side was lifted from the Nelson Algren lesbo exploitation novel/1962 Lawrence Harvey/Jane Fonda/Capucine flick.

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julio
Oct 4, 2013 8:39pm

nice list, a lil' obvious outside of the shadows BUT...would this be the 'oh, so ordinary' in 1977, when ultravox released his first? i don't think so...anyway, it's great to discover that mr. foxx talent in prose match his one on lyrics. a fun ride.

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Paul K in Brooklyn
Oct 5, 2013 12:45am

great selection and personalized connections - I'd write more and possibly gushingly so but I Can't Stay Long (says it all really)

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Jim Marshall
Oct 12, 2013 6:55pm

A well written and thoughtful journey - Although I have seen both the Shadows and Kraftwerk live the connections between them completely passed me by. John Foxx makes a convincing and fascinating case.

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ChrisF
Oct 12, 2013 7:37pm

"Kept it in a drawer. Still got it. Evidence." Tremendous.... I love these Bakers Dozen selections and really enjoyed John Foxxes's making of connections. How about getting him to complete his initial list of 40 or so?

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Acre's Bludgeon
Oct 15, 2013 4:04pm

I have never got very excited by John Foxx's music and now I know why. Because he missed his vocation; this is some of the best music journalism I've ever read. I love it when cool people like uncool music and The Shadows is as uncool as it gets. His other choices are faultless and I don't think there's anything wrong with being Mojo-predictable. There's a reason that people rate those Dylan, Beatles & Velvets albums. And that's because they are awesome cultural pinnacles. I'm betting that Mr Foxx was into that stuff when Mojo's journalists were bopping to the Bay City Rollers. Write a book, John. I'd read it.

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Nov 2, 2013 5:44pm

Hope John writes more about music. Puts most music "writers" to shame.

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Sep 27, 2014 1:18pm

What a great top ten! All of them are good, and at least half of them would be in my top ten too.

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Tony Barnes
Feb 6, 2015 12:06am

:)

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Rudolfo
Jul 30, 2015 5:28pm

Right after reading some of your articles, I plan to put it both on my Google Reader & jasaseo.one page.

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Paul
Jun 2, 2016 1:50am

Just discovered this today. I care less about his choices and more about how eloquently and succinctly he expresses his adoration for these records (his piece on Highway 61 Revisited is especially good). Love to hear how someone who has devoted himself to music sees others. Well done.

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