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Baker's Dozen

Reel To Reel Cacophony: Jim Kerr Of Simple Minds' Favourite Albums
Mark Eglinton , November 4th, 2014 13:44

With their sixteenth LP Big Music just out, the Glaswegian new wave veterans' frontman gives Mark Eglinton a Baker's Dozen of his top 13 formative influences


The Pretenders - Learning To Crawl
Obviously, Chrissie Hynde is very special to me but long before I met her, and long after I've been divorced from her, I was and am a huge fan. Chrissie is the real deal and you'd see that whenever you went to her gigs in America. Dylan would come, Springsteen would come, Tom Petty would come and she'd be so nonchalant about it all. She wouldn't give them any more attention than if Joe the mechanic was coming.

I had a crush on Chrissie from when she used to write for the NME, before we even knew that she could make music. She was the first punk writer that I personally remember. In those days she'd go and see Thin Lizzy, who were number one in the charts at the time and say stuff like: "Who are these turkeys?" while at the same time telling you how great Al Green was or how great Iggy Pop was. She was just such a no-bullshit type person. We'd hear about her being drunk somewhere or other and making an arse of herself then it was a case of, "Oh ha ha, Chrissie Hynde's putting a band together. This'll be a laugh."

But Jesus Christ, when I heard 'Stop Your Sobbing' - a cover version obviously - I just wasn't prepared for that voice. Then when her debut album came I thought: "How can they arrive like that, fully-formed?" The Pretenders is an amazing story in itself because as we know, after two albums, she lost half the band - two guys who were every bit as much of the sound of The Pretenders as Chrissie was - and the whole thing was very much on the rocks. Then she came fighting back with Learning To Crawl.

I was looking at the track listing today and it reminded me of a conversation I had with her about my least favorite track, one called 'Watching The Clothes' which, in her words, is a complete turkey. I remember saying to her: "What is this?" and she just said to me: "You have to write about what you know. Whether people were interested or not, that was my life. I'd lost my confidence; I'd had a kid. Playing in a rock & roll band seemed like a million miles away and I'd sit looking at this stuff, wondering if I'd ever get the opportunity back. Get my mojo back." Now, the concept of getting your mojo back is a pretty important theme for me at the moment so even more reason to love the album. Not just that, it was the one that she was working on when I met her.