Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

1. The Velvet UndergroundAndy Warhol And The Velvet Underground Featuring Nico

It’s a compilation. It’s the first Velvet Underground record I bought, in 1973. I just bought it because I liked the cover, that whole pop art style. It’s not an Andy Warhol design but it looks like his style. When I was in school I played it in class and read the sleeve notes out. A show-and-tell thing. All these skinheads were in the class and I played ‘em ‘Venus in Furs’ and they weren’t too happy! They just wanted Martha Reeves and the Vandellas.

It blew my mind when I first played it. I just couldn’t believe the music. I was 15 years old and a divvy paperboy. But I loved it. This is a compilation so it’s got the ones you expect on it: ‘Waiting for the Man’, ‘White Light, White Heat’. But it’s got the weird ones on it, like ‘Sister Ray’, ‘European Son’, ‘Venus in Furs’, ‘Heroin’. And for me that music was out of this world. This is where it started.

I’d never heard of them before. I didn’t even know that Bowie had mentioned them, and he did ‘White Light, White Heat’. I was aware of Lou Reed’s Transformer and ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ because he was kinda popular and in the charts. But I didn’t put the two together really until I bought this album and read the sleeve notes. Working all that stuff out back then was difficult. Like finding other Velvets albums. They weren’t in WH Smith, where I used to go for a lot of my records, or Probe and Virgin. Virgin probably had them. I think Virgin’s shop in Liverpool was their second or third shop. It was on Bold Street and it was just a hippy space cadet hang out. Full of bean bags and everything. Everyone would be lying around getting stoned, they all had these great big headphones on. I would slink in and look through the racks. It was a mad place. I think Branson must have thought, “we’re not selling any records up there, what’s going on?” All these stoners lying around, listening to Hergest Ridge!

Liverpool had a mystic quality to it in the 1970s, didn’t it?

My theory is that it came from the Liverpool poetry scene that was happening around then. Brian Patten, Adrian Henri, all that crew. There used to be a pub in Liverpool called O’Connors. It changed its name to Chaucers and now it’s something else like a fancy dress shop. It was where all the heads used to go to score weed. My brother used to go. That poetry scene was on the periphery of the hippy thing; and back then were all these wacky bands, like the Bonzos. And everyone looked dead old, they all looked older and wiser in the late sixties and early seventies, didn’t they? Even though they were all in their twenties.

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