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Baker's Dozen

Worker's Playtime: Billy Bragg's Favourite Albums
Colm McAuliffe , March 18th, 2013 07:47

To celebrate the release of his notably personal new album Tooth & Nail today, the outspoken, political singer-songwriter talks Colm McAuliffe through his top records


David Bowie - Aladdin Sane
I can remember seeing the sleeve, the gatefold sleeve where Bowie was ostensibly naked except he had no genitalia. And I can remember seeing the sleeve open in a record store in Barking and my mate saying “he's got no bollocks! He's got no bollocks!” and I thought “that's very strange, very strange!” Because obviously our musical tastes in pop were gathered around the more macho expressions of Slade, Rod Stewart, Nazareth, Alice Cooper, so this guy was clearly what we referred to in those days, unfortunately, as a "bender" - you have to remember we were fourteen, fifteen - but it then transpired that all the prettiest girls in school were going around their houses at lunchtime listening to David Bowie. So, all of a sudden, being into Bowie opened you into a different world of girls. Also, Aladdin Sane was a bit more ballsy - which is odd considering the photograph! - than Hunky Dory or the previous records. It had 'Jean Genie' which is a great track, it had 'Drive In Saturday' which is a monster record, just brilliant, and 'The Prettiest Star' and 'Time' - which was very popular in my class at the time because it had the word "wanking" in it - but that had the effect of breaking me out of that bullshit, boisterous, macho urban bollocks into a bit more open mindedness about music and the world. And at that first Rock Against Racism gig, when Tom Robinson sang 'Glad To Be Gay', all the men around us started kissing - unbeknownst to us, we were standing under this huge banner which said: 'Gays Against The Nazis' or something similar and all my mates were saying: "Fucking hell! What's all this?! Woah!". But by the time I had left the park, the penny had dropped that the National Front hated anybody who was in anyway different and that included me because I was a little punk rocker and so I decided then that my future lay with the different people.

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