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The legendary producer and erstwhile Buggle casts a chronological eye back over the albums that made an indelible mark on his glittering career. Michael Hann listens in


If anyone could be said to define the sound of British pop in the 80s, it would be Trevor Horn. If the idea that someone who had previously earned a living playing in the band on Come Dancing would be the architect of the most forwardthinking pop of the decade seems unlikely, it’s nevertheless true. After hits with The Buggles, and an even more unlikely stint with progrockers Yes, he became a full-time producer, working with Dollar in 1982, which led to one of pop’s great imperial periods.

The Horn sound, where dazzling sonic modernity was lavished on great songwriting, became emblematic of one of pop’s golden eras, applied to old rockers reinventing themselves (Yes’s Owner Of A Lonely Heart), young guns in search of their first hit (ABC, Frankie Goes To Hollywood), sophisticated art pop (Propaganda, The Art Of Noise) and cross-cultural collisions (Malcolm McLaren’s Duck Rock). It’s one of British pop’s great CVs.

Sitting in the conservatory of his London home, looking in over his basement studio, Horn reflects on his life and career to select 10 albums that shaped his view of what music could be and how he put that view into practice.





“This album made me want to be in a band more than anything. The early Beatles records were chock full of filler, but there was so much energy in With The Beatles. Most of the music I was playing at that point was either classical music in the orchestra, or the double bass with my dad’s band – I was 14 – and The Beatles were like a breath of fresh air. The harmonies were something else. When I listen back to it now, I realise a lot of it was live recording and that it had that BBC sound to it: whereas in the 60s the Stones went to America and recorded at Chess on an MCI board – MCI boards sounded gritty, and the Stones’ records had a gritty kind of texture to them – The Beatles sounded like the BBC. But compared to everything else that was happening at the time it had so much freshness to it. It just banged at you from the get-go, and the sound of the three voices together was amazing. The harmonies was the best sound, and that had a huge impact on me at the time. It made me want to be in a band. It made me want to be a musician.”

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