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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


Sigue Sigue Sputnik – ‘Love Missile F1-11’

In many ways I think they were the ultimate group. I’ve just been reading Nik Cohn’s book [on 1950s and 1960s rock & roll] Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom – I was led to it by Bowie’s list of his top 100 books to read – and if Sputnik had been around they would have been in Cohn’s book because they were the ultimate in rock and roll. They would have been like Little Richard if they’d been around in the 1950s. They were trying to be from outer space, weren’t they?

I think it’s important to have trash in your life. It’s important to have disposable pop in your world. We listen to it all day and all night. There’s no specific reason why I like this record – I like that it’s provocative, I love that it’s modern. And I can’t stop playing it. I’ve been playing it ever since it came out. And every time I hear it I find little corners in it that I didn’t notice were there. I mean the funny thing is it probably took half an hour to make.

And, they’re a photographers dream. The things I’d have loved to have photographed are the first New York Dolls album cover and Sigue Sigue Sputnik. In my book I talk about how bands should be like skylines – and when you’re approaching a band you should feel like you’re about to enter an exciting new city. The New York Dolls nailed it and I think Sigue Sigue Sputnik nailed it too. Very few people get it right first time.

My mate Ian from Sheffield saw them at the Leadmill and they had a female road crew with backcombed hair pushing cases in nine-inch heels. The whole thing was a massive statement, given Sheffield’s downtrodden, post-miners strike situation. Half the audience wanted to kill them – a bit like the Sex Pistols who I saw when I was young – but the other half adored them. Ian was up the back crying with laughter the whole gig and said it was one of the best things he’d ever seen. They couldn’t contain the hilarity of it all – it was just too much. Overkill. I deeply regret not seeing them.