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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


The Strokes - Room On Fire

I genuinely believe the second Strokes album is as good as the first, and at points better. Had Room On Fire been the debut, people would have been as excited about it. I think it also suffered from the ordering of the singles. Had ‘Reptilia’ been first rather than ‘12:51’ it would have come out and smashed it. Apparently there was some disagreement with the label about that.

I remember seeing pictures of them before I’d heard of them. They had a fold out The Face magazine cover that my brother had on his wall. I was pretty sure just from seeing a photo of them that they were the best band in the world, despite not having a cultural context of liking any bands. The reason Room On Fire holds more of a place in my heart is because I missed them ever so slightly the first time around. By the time I got Is This It it was early 2002. I was 13 or 14, but there was no way to see them. When they came back to play Alexandra Palace in 2003 we’d become fully fledged, signed up fans. I remember my mum saying to me, ‘But you don’t like rock music’, and I said ‘I do now!’

Up until then people I knew were either what we called goths - even if they were into Green Day - or people listening to commercial American hip hop like Eminem and 50 Cent and the tail end of garage. Which is to say that The Strokes opened up a path. There were people who liked Oasis or whatever but nothing we had as a firsthand cultural experience. I get annoyed when people who are my age go around acting as if they were the most important band…

Seeing them live felt epochal, although it’s hard to know what one’s projecting back into the past. I’d never been to Alexandra Palace so the walk up the hill, being able to see London from that angle, was a moment. Then walking into a room that big, with 10,000 people, it just looked so amazing. After that I was quite disappointed by what most other venues looked like when they weren’t palatial theatres! It was one of those gigs where everyone was stood together at the start and by the end no one could find anyone. I don’t think we had mobile phones. I lost friends that night who I’ve probably never seen again.