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Baker's Dozen

Experimentalism Wrapped Around Pop: Barry Adamson's Favourite LPs
Julian Marszalek , April 19th, 2017 10:12

Post punk polymath Barry Adamson guides Julian Marszalek around his favourite albums, from Baker's Staples like Iggy Pop and can to the Wu-Tang Clan, Ornette Coleman and Micachu. Photo by Jone Reed

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Ornette Coleman – Change Of The Century
I figured on this Ornette Coleman album in the end because there's a real surety about the direction. As with Can, I like the way he matches up free jazz and improvisation with something that's really catchy.

There's a great mix of people as well, with Don Cherry and Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins and they all really know their chops, but they've also got this playfulness. What I find extraordinary about this record is that you can hear Ornette Coleman's Texan roots. It sounds Texan but I don't know why - it's like there's a southern drawl to his playing. It's a mind blower!

We used to hang out in this house in south Manchester and there were these stray cats that used to hang out the back. We gave them these names like Mingus and Bird and we'd smoke hideous amounts of dope and listen to as much jazz as possible. It's like a part of your education and when this album came along it was so different with the studiousness of the whole thing and the excellence of the playing. In the same way those cats out the back had a swagger about them, so did these guys. You had Don Cherry following Ornette Coleman and then going off on his own direction and I think that there's something quite amazing about that idea of mixing freeness with catchiness and then heading off somewhere else. That's really daring.

I really appreciate these things because I can't do them myself. I'm in awe of players; I can play a bit but not this kind of level. But, you see, I like to be in awe of what other people can do.

I saw Ornette Coleman play at the Royal Festival Hall and it's one of the best things I've ever seen in my life. And it was one of the fucking loudest! He had a drummer and two bass players and the freeness and loudness, along with the density of it, and it was just remarkable. I'll tell you what was weird though - I was chewing gum throughout their performance and they were blasting away really loud and when they finished this one piece, this guy sat behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'Can you stop chewing so loud?' Fucking hell! And I thought I had ears! How could he hear that? I actually took the gum out of my mouth.


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