Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

Stolen Pleasures: Simon Fisher Turner’s Baker’s Dozen

Simon Fisher Turner speaks to Luke Turner (no relation) about 13 records that accompanied his life and career of sonic explorations, from making soundtracks with Derek Jarman to jamming with Bowie and Iggy Pop

An hour before this interview took place, Simon Fisher Turner was naked in his fridge. Sitting outside the Books For Cooks shop and café in Notting Hill (a three course meal for under a tenner), Turner warmed up to his Baker’s Dozen by talking about his life outside of music, as the main domestic worker in his household – nude cleaning is, he advises, the most efficient way to do it without mucking up your clothes. Outside his of his home chores, Simon Fisher Turner has had one of the strangest and most diverse creative careers you’ve never heard of. A child actor in the 1960s and 70s who starred in TV series including Tom Brown’s Schooldays and Black Beauty, he was signed up to be a pretty boy pop star by Jonathan King’s UK Records, releasing his debut album Turner in 1973. This punt at stardom failed, but introduced him to the world around David and Angie Bowie, the London music scene and New York art world. Yet it wasn’t as if Turner had ever wanted or intended to be a musician. There was little contemporary or popular music at home. His mother was a fan of Sinatra and Nina & Frederik, while his naval officer father loved military brass bands, some of which wore off on his son – early enthusiasms were the soundtracks to war films such as Reach For The Sky and The Dam Busters and musicals The Sound of Music and Oliver!.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that Turner began to find his voice – or rather, voices. He recorded sprightly odd-pop as The King of Luxemborg and posed as a female duo to get a record deal as fictitious yet charming faux-French group Deux Filles. In an elusive career categorised by a constant reinvention and shooting off down new avenues, Turner is probably best known for his work recording the soundtracks for Derek Jarman’s Caravaggio, The Last Of England, Edward II, The Garden and Blue. In more recent years, he put together musical accompaniments to silent films of doomed early twentieth century derring-do The Great White Silence and Epic Of Everest, as well as releasing albums on Editions Mego – 2018’s Care was a fine collaboration with Klara Lewis. Sound seems to be important to Turner not just in his collaging, but in his immersion into the world around him – even in how he speaks. His conversation about these 13 records leaps around energetically, full of non-sequiturs and "bombombom" and "rrrwwwwyggrrr" to recreate the noises (Tina Weymouth’s basslines, Holger Czukay’s flugelhorn, Bob Dylan’s whine) he’s loved over his long and spectacularly varied career. If you’ve not yet heard of Turner, it’s only because he seems to operate at such a high-speed level of naïve enthusiasm that categories seem to disappear around him. As he describes it, "I’m a non-musician musician non-musician musician, constantly going around chasing my own tail".

Click the image below to read Simon Fisher Turner’s 13 choices. He plays this weekend’s Sea Change Festival in Totnes, Devon

First Record

The Quietus Digest

Sign up for our free Friday email newsletter.

Support The Quietus

Our journalism is funded by our readers. Become a subscriber today to help champion our writing, plus enjoy bonus essays, podcasts, playlists and music downloads.

Support & Subscribe Today