Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

13. Street Life: 20 Great Hits

If you want to think about Roxy Music as a real force, you have to really understand just how unusual it was for a band to be as self-referential in the early 70s. Pop music had never done that before. It wasn’t taking references from the 50s and the 60s and pulling them apart, or taking high fashion and lampooning it, and being – in quotes – ‘ironic’. We are so used to everybody grabbing their influences from 60 years of pop culture nowadays that it is no big deal. Back then, when Roxy Music first came out it was like trying to get your head around a human collage. I was a teenager and didn’t really understand that nuance, but I knew that something was happening and that it was very clever.

But, that all doesn’t really mean very much unless the songs sound great and Roxy’s records sounded really great. I am glad that bands had such a strong concept around the business of making singles and Roxy Music took it very seriously. It shows how great a single can be in that you can take all of that conceptual stuff and try and cram it into a three-and-a-half minute song. That is an amazing thing. That’s why I picked the collection of singles. The Roxy albums are great in their own right, but when you have everything that was going on with Roxy Music in a collection of sharp singles, all next to each other on an album, I will go with that album every time. I try to make all my solo albums sound like greatest hits albums. Roxy Music managed to be slightly weird and not obvious, but really entertaining and intriguing and catchy at the same time. That is a very, very powerful combination.


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