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Baker's Dozen

Strange Refuge: Holly Johnson Discusses His Favourite Albums
Ian Wade , December 23rd, 2014 14:26

In our final Baker's Dozen of 2014, Ian Wade talks to the former Frankie Goes To Hollywood frontman following the release of Europa, his first solo album in 15 years, about his all-time top 13 LPs


The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
I lived a stone's throw from Penny Lane, and my sister had Beatles wallpaper, my brother had a plastic Beatles wig and Beatles cap, and they were older than me, and my auntie Kathleen - who was a bit of a ... swinging sixties... a Liver bird, put it that way - came to live with us and she brought with her Sgt. Pepper's. She would go and see concerts like Gene Pitney at the Liverpool Empire and things like that. She was quite an interesting woman - to me anyway - and was great fun. I had one of those portable record players like you did in the 1960s, and I would play this over and over again while staring at the Peter Blake/Jann Howarth record sleeve, which made a 3D collage, and asking people "who's this?" and "who is this?". I've said it before, it was a bit like Dorothy opening the door of the house once it's arrived in Munchkinland, and everything goes technicolour from the black and white-ness of 1960s Liverpool. It was like a portal into things like the Hollywood musicals that I'd been seeing on the Saturday morning at the pictures. My auntie Kath would say, "Ooh I saw The Beatles in the Liverpool passport office getting a passport while I was getting mine" and my mum would go, "I knew Julia when she used to look like Lucille Ball and she used to strut down the street", and so it was Beatles saturation, living in that particular part of town.

'She's Leaving Home' on that album was the first song that made me cry, which I think is quite an important moment in your life, when a piece of music makes you cry. It was just the sadness of the story of a girl leaving home. Then of course there was 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds', 'A Day In The Life' and all those odd string arrangements. There was also the Magical Mystery Tour double EP in gatefold technicolour glory and things like that. It was like an entry into a world that was distant yet very close as well. It made me want to learn the lyrics to sing along and I guess it was just very important to me in my journey of music appreciation.

And if you had the measles or chicken pox, you were quarantined to my sister's bedroom, and it was like a TARDIS of 'John Paul George Ringo' and it would drive you absolutely insane, as it was all you could read: 'John Paul George Ringo John Paul George Ringo John Paul George Ringo' and their smiling happy faces. It was kind of great and yet torturous at the same time. Pop torture.