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Baker's Dozen

Survival Songs: John Grant's Baker's Dozen
Barnaby Smith , September 8th, 2021 09:05

John Grant takes tQ through the 13 albums that have defined his life and guided him through tough times, from the beauty of Fad Gadget to the joy of Bernard Fevre, via Ennio Morricone, Kate Bush and more


Devo – Oh No! It’s Devo

The first five Devo albums are all masterpieces, in my humble opinion. Can you pull up the song ‘Explosions’ right now? That song is so amazing. It’s almost like a 1960s blues romp, but all electro-ed up. The first thing I heard was ‘That’s Good’ on the radio, so I knew Devo had a new album out. I remember sitting in the parking lot of some hardware store, waiting for my mum and hearing that on the radio, and creaming my jeans and taking a shit at the same time. And that was a good thing. And then I got the album on cassette at Sound Warehouse, which was a chain in Colorado.

Have you seen the documentary Devolution: A Devo Theory, about how they were pioneers of environmentalism?

I know all that stuff about what they were doing, but I don’t think I understood it at the time. I didn’t know shit. I was just worried about getting the right cereal, about getting a twelfth bowl of Waffelos in the morning so I could be high on sugar when the bus came.

New Traditionalists is also an absolute monster of an album for me. In fact I usually choose that one because it has ‘Jerking Back and Forth’ on it, as well as ‘Through Being Cool’ and ‘Love Without Anger’, which was one of the first videos I ever saw. I’m afraid I must insist that when you’re done with this interview you put on the video for ‘Love Without Anger’, just so you can have a nice little giggle and be absolutely delighted. It’s so fucking good.

But I listened to Oh No! It’s Devo 24/7 for months on end. Nearly everything on the first side is a hit: ‘Time Out for Fun’, ‘Peek-a-Boo’, ‘Explosions’, ‘That’s Good’. The second side was a little more esoteric, perhaps, but really cool shit. ‘I Desire’ took its lyrics from a poem by John Hinckley Jr., the dude that tried to shoot Reagan. ‘Patterns’ is incredible, one of the most amazing songs ever. ‘Big Mess’ and ‘Speed Racer’ are so fucking weird, and have some of my favourite ever sounds. I knew that ‘Peek-a-Boo’ was about masturbation, and I was really into that at the time as well, being 12 as I was.