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Baker's Dozen

Vanity Subjects: Baxter Dury Picks His 13 Favourite Albums
Patrick Clarke , March 18th, 2020 11:10

Patrick Clarke meets Baxter Dury in his West London flat, to talk about his favourite albums from Frank Ocean to his father, and an excruciating encounter with Lou Reed and Lana Del Rey

tQ finds Baxter Dury in his flat, the windows of its broad, expansive living room offering a calming view of the Thames and Hammersmith Bridge. He’s a warm and mellow host, impeccable at small talk and blessed with a sharp, deadpan, often self-deprecating wit. This understated sort of magnetism is all over his new album The Night Chancers, which picks up where 2017’s Prince Of Tears sweeping pop left off and dials up the melodrama. “There’s more of the theatrical on this album,” he says, reclining on the sofa with a mug of Earl Grey. “Although I’ve started to find the format of ‘narrative man’ a bit boring now. I think that’s the last time I’ll do that bloke talking over music with some strings thing. That was a great formula, but I’ve over-indulged. I thought I’d do one last blast of that.”

The flat used to belong to his father, Ian, and was where much of his musical upbringing took place. “There was always this estuary of weird and exciting people coming through this house playing different kinds of music. A lot of gentle, spliffy afternoons with the kids roaming around. People like my parents were post-war, they let go of the rules because they wanted to relax a bit, and by the time we were all born it was ‘roam children, roam’, and so we roamed, that’s what we did.”

Madness, desperate to impress Baxter’s father, were often in the picture. “Dad was a bit of a grumpier, sinister, unnerving character to them, so they did anything to make me happy as a young brattish kid,” he remembers with a smile. “I’d go onstage with them and stuff and they’d sing happy birthday. It was an old loyalty to someone like dad, he could be quite intimidating. He was a bit Fagin-esque.”

It was his father’s love of funk, jazz and soul that took root the most, and is reflected in Baxter’s Baker’s Dozen, as is a teenage infatuation with early hip-hop that saw him eagerly tuning into pirate radio after school, and watching the likes of the Beastie Boys and Run DMC at the Hammersmith Odeon, a stone’s throw from the flat. “Dad’s household was quite black music-oriented, all the stuff he was playing was Funkadelic and John Coltrane, and we extended that by listening to the Electro compilations and all that other stuff.”

His love of hip-hop and soul has endured. The Night Chancers was in part inspired by “the attitude and expression” of Biggie Smalls, for example. He’s also started to find an affinity with Frank Ocean and his “introspective vanity subjects.” “I don’t have selective favourites,” Dury says of his Baker’s Dozen. “But I think soul and funk music is my favourite thing in the world.”

Baxter Dury's new album The Night Chancers is released on March 20 via Heavenly. To begin reading his Baker's Dozen, click the image of him below