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Baker's Dozen

Another Wardrobe In My Head: Karl Hyde’s Favourite Albums
Joe Clay , April 25th, 2013 09:07

Following the release of his first solo album, Edgeland, the Underworld singer picks out the jewels of his record collection

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Captain Beefheart And The Magic Band – Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)
I came to Beefheart late. As a youngster, a lot of the older lads were into Beefheart but I didn’t like the way they dressed or their attitude I didn’t think they were cool. They were borderline radical hippies and I wasn’t having any of that. It didn’t look like fun to me. So I steered cleared of Beefheart. And then years later, somebody sat me down and played me Trout Mask Replica and I went, "oh my GOD!" and went out and bought everything. It was his use of language – he was writing like an abstract impressionist painter, fusing together chunks of English language that made more sense to me than something written straight. He was writing emotions through raw chunks of images that were coming to him. He was the first lyricist that made complete sense to me. Then I read that this music that I’d thought was badly played was in fact played amazingly well. He would write these very emotional piano pieces and then hand them to the guitarist who was the MD (musical director) and say, score that for the whole band to play. Often they weren’t even played to a rhythm – they were kinda random – and the band had to play along with them. They’re astonishing renditions of something that is so abstract that it needs great musicians to play them. He was fusing the blues and finding new ways of playing it. Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) is one of his later albums where he returned to the style which people loved – trying to be less commercial than his Virgin Records years. There’s a track called ‘Tropical Hot Dog Night’, (quotes lyrics) “like two flamingos in a fruit fight… Everything’s wrong, at the same time it’s right… Like steppin’ out of a triangle into striped light” – and this reminded me of my drinking years. That’s exactly what it was like, where you’re in shadow and you’re in white light. This man knows exactly what’s going on in my head. He wrote such beautiful poetry. In later life, I made contact with him through Anton Corbijn and he’d send me music of his that wasn’t quite so well known. But I never got to meet him sadly. As a painter he was a massive influence on me because his titles were so fantastic. I take that same approach when I’m titling paintings for exhibition.


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