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Baker's Dozen

Ultimate Sad Boys: Fred Macpherson's Baker's Dozen
Patrick Clarke , January 19th, 2022 09:42

Spector's Fred Macpherson takes Patrick Clarke on a rollercoaster Baker's Dozen, taking in the similarities between Frank Sinatra and Drake, a love-hate relationship with Nick Cave, his friendship with David Tibet and more

Photo by Ciarán Wood

“I’ve always been quite sure that you shouldn’t try and make music that sounds like the music you love the most,” says Fred Macpherson over pints in a Soho pub. “Because it will send you mad and usually be crap.” Though his band Spector and its predecessor Les Incompetents play glossy and immediate mainstream indie rock, there’s only a couple of records on his Baker’s Dozen that intersect with that world. The majority come out of left-field, albeit from different directions – Liza Minelli and Pet Shop Boys at their brashest and most camp to David Tibet at his most sophisticated.

Though a prolific listener now, Macpherson’s obsession with music came relatively late. His parents’ collection “pretty much stops at Lou Reed’s Transformer,” and he was “a bit too young” for the vast cultural influence that Oasis had over kids a few years older. “I was aware of the stuff that would be on Live And Kicking, Steps and lots of white Swedish people with dreadlocks, that era of pop, but I didn’t like it.” The music that engaged him most in adolescence were TV musicals like Oliver! or Bedknobs And Broomsticks. It was only when The Strokes arrived on a sea of New Rock Revolution hype that, as he puts it, “the path opened up.”

He took time over his 13 picks and relistened to many – in one instance repurchasing a relatively obscure grime mixtape from eBay just to do so – and compiled preparatory notes ahead of our interview. "I was aware one shouldn’t just pick one’s current 13 favourite albums, because A, that changes all the time, and B, it’s only a snapshot. I tried to choose the albums I’ve listened to the most, or that at certain points got me from A to B to C to D. I tried to look back on eras and often it became clear that those aren’t necessarily those artists’ best albums or best work.” For the most part, they reflect the strong influence of CD culture, whether young musicians distributing their demo tapes by hand outside London’s indie record stores, or the HMV glory days when a high street shop would have an extensive industrial music selection. “It made me realise that maybe I find it harder to build relationships without CDs nowadays, because of the nature of streaming and how much music is available.”

Although the list might not bear much similarity to Macpherson’s own music, there is nevertheless a parallel to be drawn between the immediacy of Spector’s songs and the way in which he first engaged with these thirteen records over the years: quickly, full-heartedly and without overthought. “I think I prefer the idea of music as entertainment than as art, and I hate that it’s only certain institutions that often get to decide what the music and culture that’s worth saving is,” he says. “In medieval times the musicians would have been pelted with vegetables. We should be entertainers at the bottom of society, not held in any esteem.”

Spector's new album Now Or Whatever is out now via Moth Noise. To begin reading Fred Macpherson's Baker's Dozen, click the image of him below.