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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


Four Tops – ‘Baby I Need Your Loving’

Myself, Gordon, and Tony, had a club night in Sheffield during the miners’ strike. It was a quid to get in – we made the Human League pay to get in, they thought they’d be on the guest list – and we’d play Northern Soul. ‘Bowie/Roxy/Northern Soul’ is what it said on the poster. That’s where a lot of the World Of Twist stuff was bred really; it was incubated around that time. But Motown’s always been around – I have a lot of older cousins, mainly girls, and with me and Martin Motown was everywhere, at every wedding, every party. The girls aspired to be like The Supremes. I could have easily picked anything from the Motown world.

When I come back from the dead I want to have the voice of Levi Stubbs – it’s just the best fucking voice. The tone of it. But I’ll probably come back as a fly or a wasp! You can tell Springsteen wants to be him. And he’s getting close. But Stubbs is the best voice in pop music.

We had all the compilations. It was how pop music was digested. There’s loads of great Four Tops like ‘Bernadette’, but there is a line in this song about needing someone as a sign of weakness. A man begging and there’s a drop in the chords that’s the greatest cornerstone in a pop record. Just kills me every time I hear it. And that’s songwriting for you – it’s more like a hymn or a prayer. I heard Jimmy Webb pulls over onto the hard shoulder every time it comes on the radio and bursts into tears. I’ve not done that but it kills me every time.