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Hollering out the album highlight, Jimmy Wages’ Miss Pearl, with an unhinged, raw-voiced passion, Isaak is unrecognisable from his usual hushed croon. My bandmate said he had never heard me sing like that.
I can sing loud if I want to, I just don’t usually step on the gas. Everyone was just bouncing along on the same rhythm.” While he never replicated his Eighties success in Europe, in America he has remained more of a star, and after the film roles – in Bertolucci’s Little Buddha and The Silence of the Lambs among others – had dried up, diversified into becoming a TV show presenter.
He was amazed to find that the small room Phillips had roughly thrown together, with a sloping roof and home-made acoustic amplifications, was virtually unchanged. I’m not the kind of guy to talk about angels: I’m a very pragmatic kind of guy.
Like Bruce Springsteen, Isaak is a proudly blue-collar rock and roller, touring constantly, eschewing drugs, still living close to his parents, and saving his money.
When I ask him why a new generation of musicians, from Lana del Rey to British Mercury winners the xx are tapping back into his haunting Wicked Games sound, he is reluctant to get into self-examination.
They were about my life, not about nostalgia.” Isaak admits, though, that he has always been a man out of time.
Growing up near San Francisco in a family that had little money, Isaak bought his records and clothes from charity shops.