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Baker's Dozen

Composites For A Generation: James Fry's Baker's Dozen
John Quin , September 14th, 2022 08:10

From the hits of Hot Chocolate and the trashy joys of Sigue Sigue Sputnik to the 'death jazz' of Miles Davis and the angst of Portishead, James Fry takes us through his life in thirteen albums


David Bowie – Lodger

‘I could have put any Bowie from Diamond Dogs on, which was my in to him. I was too young for Ziggy. But I love the Berlin period. I passed my driving test when ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ came out. So it was 1978, I was seventeen. But I played it last week on the train to Rome when I was travelling and it’s got this Neu! thing going again with ‘Move On’ and ‘Red Sails’. Bowie always stole from the greats, the right people.

By this point I was turning into the person I wanted to be, I’d left school and got a job in a printers so I could buy this album with my wages. So this record represents an important part of my life. And you look back and notice how many singles it had , ‘DJ’ and ‘Boys’ and ‘Look Back in Anger’. I loved the Talking Heads influence too… that track ‘Repetition’ that begins ‘Johnnie is a man…and he could have had a Cadillac’. If that wasn’t enough there’s the reworking of ‘Sister Midnight’ he called ‘Red Money’.

I love the cover too. Wasn’t it Brian Duffy who photographed it? The brief I heard was: ‘make me look like I smell like Che Guevara’s body lying in state’. You realize the depth of reading and research Bowie did. I went to the V&A David Bowie exhibition and dragged my son along and he said ‘I had no idea people have put this level of research into the simplest thing’.

He’s part of the DNA of Earl Brutus. Gordon and Nick were proggy, they liked the Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. Nick liked Boz Scaggs. Rob had been in the JoBoxers – he could play anything. But the one place where we all agreed was Bowie.

I’ll say this about a lot of these artists I’ve picked, my definition if you like of what a great artist is: they always open the door to another great series of things and no one did that better than Bowie. He’s like the ultimate art teacher. It was Bowie who led you into the world of Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground.