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Baker's Dozen

Perfect 13: Paul Heaton's Favourite Albums
Adrian Lobb , August 16th, 2017 07:30

Paul Heaton ex of the Housemartins and Beautiful South guides Adrian Lobb through 13 favourite albums - there's a lot of soul in there, but which ones did he nick?


The Clash - Give 'Em Enough Rope
Me and my brother Adey shared a room and I think when the first Clash album came out, I was still at school. But this was the year I left school and I was allowed to go to a lot more gigs. My first gig was The Stylistics in 1975 when I was 13. My mum took me. That was at The Fairfield Halls. My second gig was 1977, Adey had a ticket to see The Jam at the Greyhound pub but wasn't allowed to go because of his O-Levels.

In 1978 we followed a lot of the gigs on this tour. They were a very exciting band and it was a very exciting album. It was one of the first albums that hit me lyrically, and I had no idea what they were talking about. Things like 'Safe European Home', 'English Civil War', 'Tommy Gun' – they were impossible for me to work out. This was a level above, his reference points – and when we went to see them live, I was quite wary of Joe Strummer's politics. I didn't understand all the stuff written on his guitars or his combat jackets and I think they had a Messerschmidt on the stage. I wasn't sure where it was all going. I didn't know what he wanted us to be – I realised it was left wing but I was still a schoolboy for half of that year and none of us were political at school.

The words came with the album, so we researched them. That was like the first job we had, working out what people like Joe Strummer, Pete Shelley and Elvis Costello were saying. I'm not saying Joe Strummer was the best lyricist, but he had the most references to things we didn't know. References to drug runs in Jamaica, it was quite glamorous to us. The Clash's music was cloaked in this mystique. It was a world away from where we were, drugs and guns and everything. There was a lot to take in. It was a very exciting time.

I picked this album because I was more involved in it. They played so often in London and we were just south of London at the time, so we could also go to Brighton or Bournemouth to watch them. We watched them in Torquay, Bristol, probably ten gigs on that tour. I didn't wear the gear, I was already looking a bit more like a mod. I had a scooter before the mod revival. I'd have spiky hair, wear a badge on a Harris tweed jacket with drainpipe trousers with white socks and Doc Martens. A bit of a hybrid of punk, mod and skinhead. I have evidence of a shirt that I thought looked a tiny bit Clash – with leopard skin on the shoulder. That is as far as I got.

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