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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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Buzzcocks – Spiral Scratch
It's an EP and not an album but I realised something listening to it again - this one record is the total springboard for my whole musical career in terms of it becoming real and in terms of it becoming life. There's nothing beyond this record that has inspired me so much to dedicate myself to art and music.

I put this on again the other day and I got goosebumps. Complete goosebumps. And I got complete goosebumps because of the artistry. John Mahar's drumming for starters is absolutely extraordinary. In terms of being a pop lyricist or punk lyricist or poet or whatever, Howard Devoto... oh! 'If I seem a little jittery I can't restrain myself/I'm falling to fancy fragments…' I mean, 'fancy fragments'! Fucking hell! That was a place I just had to go.

This was life-changing. I'd gone to technical college to do a graphics course and within the first two weeks there, this record came out. I went down to the record shop to buy it and the person working behind the counter was Paul Morley. I bought it off him and that was it. I went off and played it in the college common room and watched people being absolutely repulsed and walking away and I thought to myself, this is fantastic! Their disdain was enough for me to go, 'right, I'm off!'

Within a few months, a very bizarre set of circumstances occurred where Buzzcock disbanded and Howard put out an advert for musicians. I got a bass off a friend with only two strings on it and I went off to get the other two strings. I went to see Howard the next day and I could only play a little bit but I managed to get that one note down for 'The Light Pours Out Of Me' and he goes, 'you're in!' It was all very life-changing and very quick and it was all inspired by this record.

What really struck me about this is what it says on the bottom of this record: 'Four songs. Ten minutes.' And that just blew me away. Ten minutes! Ten minutes! That's 'Breakdown', 'Time's Up', 'Boredom' and 'Friends Of Mine'. Within those four pieces, I think, is just everything. It was a food for someone like me who was looking for something that would resonate, and it was all here in 10 minutes. That was it: I left college, joined a band and that was it.

I'd seen them play at Rafters [in Manchester] and that was pretty fantastic too. I was stood at the bar next to Pete Shelley and he walked away from the bar, picked up half a guitar and started playing it. I just thought, wow! It was only just a few weeks previously that I'd seen Led Zeppelin at Earls Court and this was a bit more accessible. And it was that accessibility that stopped that fandom, if you like.


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