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Baker's Dozen

How Was It For You? Tim Booth Of James' Favourite Albums
John Freeman , March 31st, 2016 08:03

After the release of James' Girl At The End Of The World, lead singer Tim Booth tells John Freeman about clandestine childhood listening and the redemptive powers of Iggy Pop in choosing the LPs that "saved his life"


Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – The Boatman's Call
I would say that Nick Cave is the greatest artist of my generation. I saw The Birthday Party about ten times and they only lasted a few years. I was lucky. I went to see them opening for Bauhaus, by accident. They blew Bauhaus away. I was like, "What the fuck is this?" There was this man in a vicar's dog collar, slapping the front row with a bible and a bass player wearing an Australian corked hat. They were fucked – they were more fucked than Iggy and I had given up looking for people more fucked than Iggy.

I think The Birthday Party were the only band where Nick Cave was matched by other characters as big as he was. The Bad Seeds are a great band but Tracy Pew and Rowland Howard matched Nick Cave, which takes some doing. I was so lucky to have seen that band. I followed them around and saw them degenerate due to heroin abuse.

Then, I watched Cave's transition into The Bad Seeds and I still thought he was a fascinating human being. I could have put The Birthday Party's second album, Prayers On Fire, on this list, but it is pretty unlistenable for most people. I chose The Boatman's Call because it was the first time he allowed himself to get really vulnerable through his love songs. I think it is a masterpiece and shows the breadth of his talent. There are five or six love songs on that record that are as good as Leonard Cohen's. It is a remarkable record.

I have met him a number of times. Once, I pretended to be a journalist and interviewed him. He was probably still strung out on heroin and we nearly got into a fight. He threatened me and I didn't back down. A few weeks later, he found out who I was and then slagged off James in the NME. It didn't make me love him any less. It was just who he was at the time. I think he is still very damaged and hurt from his dealings with the press. He's been through the Amy Winehouse/Pete Doherty thing, where the press are sitting like vultures, waiting for him to die. I can imagine that he has coloured his view of journalism.

I had a dream about Nick Cave on the night I got married, in which he told me his secret, magical voodoo name. I have never had the opportunity to tell him what his secret, magical voodoo name is, but I hope to one day. I guess that Nick Cave may hate James, but I don't care. I recognise his genius and I love him and wish him well.