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Baker's Dozen

Beloved Transmissions: Mary Anne Hobbs' Favourite Albums
Daniel Dylan Wray , May 22nd, 2017 08:14

Ahead of her curation at the Manchester International Festival, Mary Anne Hobbs guides Daniel Dylan Wray on an inspiring trip through 13 records that shaped her life

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Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures
Where do you even start with a record like this? It was Peter Saville's sleeve that really allured me towards it, it was in the racks and I bought it because I was completely captivated by the waveform and I wanted to understand what that image meant. This contributed in a huge, and very profound, way to my lifelong proclivity for buying records based on my love of sleeve art. I have many of Peter Saville's pieces of sleeve art in my home that I perceive as some of the most beautiful fine art ever created. At the age I was when I heard this, with only the bare bones of a very rudimentary comprehensive school education, you're trying to decode the world and make sense of it and in a village like Garstang with the type of interests I had, it was quite easy to feel like an outsider. The experiences that I was having with music, many of them I had alone and in isolation because my other friends weren't really interested and involved in music to the degree that I was, which was obsessively. Peter Saville said to me recently actually, Manchester stands on the shoulders of Factory Records and Factory Records stands on the shoulders of Ian Curtis, I thought that was a nice quote.

For me, I hadn't even seen what he looked like but his vocals seemed to suggest to me that he too was an outsider because they were unlike anything I'd ever heard before. Ian Curtis materialized in my life without any frame of reference beyond the voice in the first instance. Immediately that just connected with me on a very visceral level. It was an example to me that you didn't have to move in a conventional way, that was the subtext for me. I was speaking to Stephen Morris recently and he talked about how bitterly cold their rehearsal space was and what a deeply comfortable environment it was. Which makes you think if some of the anxiety and urgency of the songs was born from such a physical environment and he thought that might be true. The brevity of the music is like 'let's get out of this freezing cold rehearsal space and get to the pub'. When you're young you are looking to identify with something, even if you don't realise that's what you are doing at that point, Ian made me feel like a different sort of life was possible and he made me feel that I could identify with someone who was doing something profoundly creative. That was so important to me because those examples were so sparse in my youth; it's almost impossible to describe what it was like to live in this tiny isolated village in the late 1970s. People like Ian were beacons in your life and you needed that.


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