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Baker's Dozen

I Don't Belong Here: Cathi Unsworth's Weirdo In 13 Albums
The Quietus , July 25th, 2012 07:17

Author and journalist Cathi Unsworth talks us through the albums that inspired her new novel Weirdo. This feature will bring dark joy to the hearts of those whose clothes are black, whose lips are purple and whose witches are red


Killing Joke Revelations

It certainly was a moment of revelation for me, the Top Of The Pops on which I first saw Killing Joke performing ‘Empire Song’ – one of those moments that make me continue to watch the TOTP repeats on BBC4 searching for that hit common to everyone whoever tuned in on a Thursday night at 7 o’clock. That amongst the grinningly evil Radio 1 DJs and the payola dross they inflicted on our young minds, something toweringly magnificent and 'other' would appear. Jaz Coleman and his merry pranksters certainly didn’t disappoint – like the first time I saw the Sex Pistols on said programme, it seemed like they were beaming in from another universe – and they have continued to maintain their high standards ever since. The last time I saw them play, a couple of years back at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, they were every bit as scary as they were back then, and ‘The Ghosts Of Ladbroke Grove’ is one of my favourite records of the past few years, nailing everything there needs to be said about the current state of W11. I have used several of their tracks in Weirdo – ‘Fire Dances’ and ‘War Dance’ – for a feeling of ominous portentousness they simply cannot be beaten. Probably ‘Eighties’ is the record that best surmises the feeling of that time, but you can’t really use that one as a chapter heading. However, the Masonic imagery on the front of this album is also recycled within its pages and one of my characters has the sleeve of their eponymous debut album painted on the back of his leather jacket. Long may the laugh continue to resound.