Music didn’t exactly play a big part in my growing up. In fact I can’t think of an occasion where mum or dad put on an LP or a tape just to listen to it. Or, actually, at all. Music was there, of course, in the background over breakfast with Radio 2, in the cars on journeys with (again) Radio 2. I know there was a Queen’s Greatest Hits cassette in the car, I just don’t remember Dad ever putting it on unless we asked. I had a record player – so did the family. Quite a nice system, truth be told, just massively underused. I did cherry-pick Dad’s LPs before they were disposed of, came away with a Goon Show album (Tales of Old Dartmoor/Dishonoured Again) and a Hanckock’s Half-Hour. That was the best that was there.
The earliest record I remember having was “Captain Beaky”, a cracking song that I’ve found and played to my own kids on many occasions. If pressed (and drunk) I can probably remember all the words to this day. After that, it’s quite a gap to other things I actually remember having. Fast-forward many years and you’d find Chris Rea’s “Road to Hell” 12″ single, Jean-Michel Jarre’s “Oxygene”, a bit of Yes, a bit of the Art of Noise. Hard to pick out individual songs to say “that one” when you’ve got Prog Rock classics lasting upwards of 20 minutes!
So… Captain Beaky. What else. What else would I pick out. Moments from school holidays spring to mind. Queen had released their album, The Miracle, I’d bought the tape and my girlfriend took it with her on holiday to South Africa where it was much played. That same summer (at least I think it was, time gets a little hazy now), I got my first CD player! Saved up working all summer, splashed out on the catchily-titled “Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe” on the strength of (a) the cover art (Roger Dean, gorgeous) and one track released to the world at large – “Order of the Universe”. I definitely remember sitting up late into the night listening to TFM waiting for that one to come on. They even devoted a whole night to ABWH!
I remember wrecking my big thumbnail with a staple hammer while hammering underfelt to the beat of the Blues Brothers “Everybody needs somebody”. That bloody hurt but I still love the song. And then there’s the Art of Noise. The CD of their greatest hits collected the 12″ remixes – and they were big in the art of the 12″. Paranoimia remains a favourite to this day.
Finally, there’s the last summer I ever listened to Radio 1 voluntarily. Spinal Tap had released their album “Break like the wind” with the single “The Majesty of Rock”. Loved it then, love it now.
I don’t really know where my parents’ music went. They grew up through the birth of the Rolling Stones, Status Quo, Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis and many other amazing bands and yet it seems to have passed them all by. If my calculations are correct they were (a) together and (b) in their prime through the 60s and yet there’s no trace of it.
My kids are growing up with a combination of mine and my wife’s tastes in music. I know I’m doing a better job as the CDs on the shelves here actually get played, the compilations we make for birthdays and long car journeys are much loved. There’s at least 5 tracks that get picked over and over for those:
* Mike Oldfield, Heaven’s Open
* The Hermes House Band, Country Roads
* Aqua, Cartoon Heroes
* The Stranglers (and now, maybe, The Wurzels), Golden Brown
* Twisted Sister, We’re Not Going to Take It (thank you, SingStar!)
I defy anyone to play a CD with those on at anything less than 11.