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Baker's Dozen

Gold Gold Gold Gold Fire Fire Fire Fire: Douglas McCarthy's Favourite LPs
Luke Turner , July 24th, 2019 08:55

As Nitzer Ebb gear up to play Helsinki's Flow Festival, Douglas McCarthy talks Luke Turner through his favourite music, from listening to classical while eating offal on Canvey Island through David Bowie, Killing Joke, Brian Eno, JJ Cale, Thelonious Monk and more


Thelonious Monk – Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington
I used to listen to a lot of jazz with dad, but this wasn't one of them until I introduced him to it. I came to this quite late, when I'd first split with the wife and gone over to the States. The person who would become the second wife was introduced to this by one of her first boyfriends. She comes from a salubrious, corporate defence lawyer family and grew up in Grosse Pointe, which is this very white area. Her boyfriend was African American, from downtown Detroit and had introduced her to that and a few other things, and this record struck a balance to being there in Grosse Pointe. When Duke Ellington was writing all that stuff it was as a patsy for making black music acceptable for white people to listen to. The fact that Thelonious Monk took it and bastardised it in a really beautiful way, one of the legendary militant and fucked up smackheads out there at the time, it's an incongruous combination but it works so well. Songs that you know, almost like showtunes, are stripped of all that and become these emotive and interesting pieces of music, which they always were but they were sugar-coated for white America of that time. I suppose there was that mirror thing going on around me by being in such a posh suburb of Detroit - there were very few people who'd go from that area into Downtown. But the two worlds would combine when they would go out in St Andrews Hall, which is actually where we're playing this year. It was an amazing place, the basement was alternative, the middle was hip-hop, the top was proper techno with no lights on. Once you were in you'd just wander up and down seeing what's happening, it was a really typically Detroit thing to do - these seemingly opposing things coming together. Derrick May did a remix for us, we rejected it, he tracked me down to a hotel and berated me. We released it years later... 'why didn't we like this? Oh yeah, we were twats'.