Archives for posts with tag: AC/DC

This has taken a while to produce – you try writing about simultaneously seeming to like AC/DC and Bronski Beat…hmmm, yeah, I can hear how that sounds now. Or take Judas Priest and the Pet Shop Boys…ah!  Prince and Motley Crue? Frankie goes to Hollywood and Queen???

Christmas 1983 saw the arrival of my Sinclair Spectrum – a whole 48K of memory. It heralded a hazy patch in my musical tastes as I became more interested in playing games on the computer as well as a lot of sport in my spare time. It is clear from a list of artists that I purchased around this time that I had lost all sense of image and was clearly – I mean, Bryan Adams’ ‘Reckless’??? Really James! I can understand how my interests changed in this period as a result of being more attracted to what would today be gaming. Therefore I can see why music these days is a less intense experience for the youth. Can I get away with ‘the youth’? I and I hope so.

In 1984, Queen were my favourite band*. I thought ‘Radio GaGa’ was ace and was deeply confused by the ‘I Want to Break Free’ video. They were ‘rock’ and therefore the excesses of Mercury were acceptable. I wanted to grow my hair like Brian May. Roger Taylor seemed like a cool guy somehow and John Deacon was…well, just kind of ‘there’ really. I seemed to like them a lot then and cringe about it now. There are many more cringeworthy bands in my past but, as a personal favourite, Queen really have so very little to do with my psyche. So what if I bought The Darkness album? They were funny for a bit. At 11 or 12 years old I wasn’t exactly picking up on Queen’s ironic humour was I? To me it was real and even fashionable. Oh Lord!

My favourite band in 1985 became The Damned. That sentence sounds inverted; it isn’t. Think about that. Anyway, I thought…I don’t really know what I thought, they were no longer punk and seemed more like a gothic pop group. I have few memories of why I liked them but do remember a summer job sorting intact bricks from broken ones for 50p an hour where I would sing ‘The Shadow of Love’ and ‘Grimly Fiendish’ all morning long as I gained experience in child labour in a place called Rhydycroesau which I have just learned how to spell now. A 7” of ‘Wait for the Blackout’ – the reissue, was the first record I ordered by post – not exactly a statistic that’s up there with the first manned space mission, but then none of this twaddle is. This would develop a lot over the next few years mostly through Rhythm Records of Cambridge. I also liked ‘Eloise’ – now I prefer the original. I bought their next album in 1986 and thought ‘Anything’ was punk. Anything but ‘Anything’ might have been. They really were not a very good band in that era and hard to take seriously in any genre which is a bit like a needy village kid perhaps.

It’s probably a good thing that my interest in metal was fading though late interest in Motley Crue suggests otherwise. Really, it was their debut album which I liked as it was good acoustic metal for the most part, like ‘Women and Children First’-era Van Halen. I think I was actually getting towards liking blue-collar rock and linked the sound of early Crue more with Springsteen and Bryan Adams than anything metalesque. However, by the time of the ‘Theatre of Pain’ album I bought, they were clearly a different, unlistenable beast. In mid-86 AC/DC made appearances in my purchases alongside The Smiths which is really quite something of a double bill. I’m still sure that Johnny Marr would have wiped the floor with Angus and his three chords but I may be in the minority there.

Queen, Foreigner, Marillion, Mike and the Mechanics, Genesis, Bronski Beat AFTER Sommerville!, Simply Red’s first single?, the 2 Phils’ number one – so very, very bland! Peter Gabriel again! Paul Hardcastle and Harold Faltermayer! Dr and the Medics!!! Truly, this was a disastrous time for my taste even if I was developing impressive abilities in Manic Miner as well as a bit of pace for my seamy bowling of the time. 1986 really was a weird year: Xmas 85 I made sure I received 6 heavy metal albums – bought in heavy metal country: Wolverhampton, no less…and ‘West End Girls’. In January 86 I bought a Bronski Beat single and the Big Audio Dynamite album and by June I was a confirmed Smiths fan; in the Autumn my Fall obsession had started. Somehow Mike and the Mechanics and got a look in in-between. In May and June I bought the Doctor and the Medics novelty number one, my first Smiths single, not to mention AC/DC and Peter Gabriel – who does that? I don’t understand me back then although it’s nice to see a bit of eclecticism rather than being different by liking music that all sounds the same – that stage was yet to come!

Out of this, from somewhere or nowhere, it’s hard to tell, grew some kind of an interest in alternative music. Apart from ‘Spirit in the Sky’, Dr. And the Medics were very much an unsuccessful little indie band, albeit a shockingly dreadful one. The Damned were a gothpop group and may later explain a move towards The Mission and The Sisters of Mercy – Floodland was my first CD – and even some Nephilim on tape. Sigue Sigue Sputnik were not supposed to be as bad as they turned out to be and might have been cool had they delivered on their original hype. You can tell this by considering their still impressive sounding debut single title, ‘Love Missile F1-11’, and comparing it with the title of their last single ‘Grooving with Mr Pervert’. I liked a tape I had of various Beatles songs, I got this from a mod in 1985. I think I liked The Alarm a bit. It seems cool to like the Pet Shop Days these days, but it wasn’t particularly cool in 85/86. I seem to recall buying The Pet Shop Boys ‘Please’ and Prince’s ‘Parade’ on different Saturdays that were fairly close together in 1986. On both occasions, I managed to buy them when with my dad as part of a day out to The Gay Meadow to see Shrewsbury Town after giving up on the misery of Oswestry Town. Yes, I bought a Pet Shop Boys album on my way to the Gay Meadow. Do keep up.

However, some music from this period seems more comfortable among what I listen to now. Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA’ was a favourite at the time if not now though I seem to be developing more of a taste for Springsteen these days. Talk Talk – The Colour of Spring is still something I listen to. I bought The Smiths complete box set which isn’t complete and so I even downloaded the missing bits. Prince became one of my favourite artists mostly thanks to ‘Parade’.  Then I heard ‘Living too Late’ by The Fall through a crappy little medium wave radio with terrible reception because were on early summer holiday or perhaps even a summer half term in Torcross, Devon. This is where I decided I was a fan of Mark E.Smith and haven’t really changed that opinion since. Somehow I was into The Fall and The Smiths now, as well as Paul Hardcastle.

I also liked U2 at this point in my life, so lets not get too carried away. They seemed important. I still think ‘The Unforgettable Fire’ is one of the best attempt at atmospherics by many a rock band, but that was all Eno’s doing in my opinion. It seemed a very impressionistic album even at the time – though I might not have understood what that meant exactly. However, it still seemed to appeal to me a lot – especially in cold weather and no central heating. Also, Larry Mullen’s cheekbones were definitely something to aspire to. He seemed to be popular with girls at the time. He didn’t have brown curly hair.

I’d already started to pay attention to Echo and the Bunnymen, The Cure and Siouxsie seeming to act as a bridge towards my goth flirtations into a less undead world were people didn’t cover themselves in flour. Big Audio Dynamite were an early purchase in 1986 and possibly the first influenced by a best albums of the year list – 1985, from The Record Mirror. So everything’s moving neatly towards the present is it? No, for around the same time I also purchased ‘Hit That Perfect Beat’ and Bronski Beat seemed to oddly overlap with heavy metal as 1986 was the year when I demanded 6 LPs for Christmas and began getting into Metallica and a bit of Rush. A check of the charts of the time reveals that this was the era of A-Ha which therefore takes me into a music-class-muck-about hero moment of which I was quite proud – sorry Miss Lloyd.

I recall that we had a music lesson in December where we were all allowed to bring our own music into class and Miss Lloyd would play them and the class had to noted down how many time changes there were in the song. Clearly, Miss Lloyd came out of the prog-music teacher era and I imagine some Van Der Graf Generator might have really blown her mind but I would also probably have been punched quite hard too. The immediate reaction was not one of relief at finally being allowed to bring in our own music and embrace our own counter-culture, instead everyone wanted to work a plan to get records with swear words in them played. Many people simply forgot or didn’t bother. Miss Lloyd sniffed out a copy of ‘Frigging on the Rigging’ rather quickly and banned it. A second copy cunningly hidden inside an A-Ha sleeve was also thrown out. I think literally this time. I managed to go for the obscurity angle and so brought in a home taping (from where or whom, I cannot recall) of a song I declared to be called “Err…Animal?” when asked by Miss Lloyd just as she was about to hit play. It was in fact “Animal (I F**k Like a Beast)” by W.A.S.P. which stood for ‘We Are Sexual Perverts’ rather than the more disturbing white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. The song lasted for a line which I think Miss Lloyd heard: ‘I’ve got pictures of naked ladies tied to my bed’, before the tape was removed and thrown at me. I think we managed one time change in the brief time it was allowed on for. I also feel that we could have possibly had a class discussion about lyrical ambiguity as I’m always unclear as to whether Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P. either had a) pictures of actual women tied to his own bed in hopefully a rather disturbing bondage ritual or b) he had actually abducted them and tied them up or c) pathetically attached actual pornographic pictures from magazines to his bed so that he could pretend to be with them…well, you know. So, turning to ethics now, which option would be more acceptable in modern society and why?

Music lessons at school were a mostly wasted opportunity. There was a memorable occasion when Hitler walked into class and started dancing jauntily to ‘Relax’ by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Sadly, ‘Hitler’ was the disciplinarian German teacher, hence her name – she also had a little moustache as well. In another music lesson we were told that The Beatles released their last 3 albums on the same day, something which I knew even then to be utterly false. I kept quiet as the teacher was not only scary but a scary neighbour in my village, however I think Adam Roberts may have been sent out for his protests – big Beatles fan and mod, I think he may have provided me with my random Beatles tape mentioned earlier though I’m not entirely sure on that memory.

Oh crap, I’ve forgotten The Eurythmics, oh no wait – that’s a good thing, Simple Minds too. Never did get around to buying any China Crisis and never bought Level 42 because the bass player is ‘really good’. Big Country – argh, yes, yes guitars like bagpipes – check! Yes, this was not a particularly promising time, a time in fact which would suggest I would soon tire of music and give up listening altogether by about 1992. Except Big Audio Dynamite and sometimes Prince sounded like they came from way beyond that year to my ears.

The chronology is almost impossible to work with on this period. There are chart websites which help, but they only help you remember things that were bought when they were actually in the charts. Back then, records would slowly rise and fall in the charts. Music was less immediate. It had time to develop in the head and the consciousness. That could make the irritating stuff very irritating but it also meant that the good stuff could be better appreciated within the collective consciousness than it can now. A Smiths or U2 album would see an initial rush of attention but it would also last for a long time afterwards and more lyrics would be remembered or chords learnt.

Music faded into the background and then faded back in again. At roughly the same time, my interest in sport intensified but started to die out for a few years at the end of the 80s because Morrissey didn’t like sport and also partly down to Ipswich Town being dreadful for the second half of the 80s.

Who is this person? I must confess that looking back to these early teenage years of mine that surprises emerge all the time. I just take a random date in 1985, look at the charts and remember…(hang on I’m doing it now)…Good Lord! Frankie by Sister Sledge was a number one single! I forget that happening, presumably part of the trauma of owning the record below it – ‘Axel F’. Even the most desperate to be liked elements in my psyche are not going to try to draw a line from ‘Axel F’ and ‘19’ to my love of The Aphex Twin, drum and bass et al. Here are the other top 40 tunes that were lingering around that I bought, taped or listened to that week: Bruce Springsteen, Eurythmics, Marillion, Commentators, Simply Red, The Damned, The Cult and that’s about it…oh, alright, Paul Hardcastle. More on him is to come from when I worked in a record shop. The Cult’s ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ was possibly my favourite dance tune of the time as it involved trying to chicken dance everyone else into submission as also happened in the ‘verses’ of Wipeout – a pre-Pulp Fiction moment of cool? Or just desperate teenagers trying to be hard…in Morton and Llanymynech as I recall. The influence of The Smiths was some way off and Keats was just a kid whose parents didn’t seem to care if other kids got drunk at his parties.

Perhaps I can now move into properly writing about the music I actually like. My first Echo and the Bunnymen purchase in November 1985 seems like a good starting point and so probably won’t be the starting point that I get around to.

*Interestingly the word ‘tit’ emerged as a typo right when I was trying to communicate that Queen were my favourite band. I find this significant.

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Metal and I seemed to begin as a way to fit in with friends in the village. Not those my own age, the older harder ones…and Cabbage. Obviously, liking heavy metal in one’s past should be embarrassing but as the other kids in my village would literally hunt the only mod in the village (I’m not making this up) down from time to time, it was the only option. However, I am still not entirely sure if that was the original impetus or what was. I was certainly still in primary school when I developed an interest in metal as I clearly remember wearing my light blue body warmer to school emblazoned with a Deep Purple and Gillan patch – possibly Saxon too. However, I did not own music by those bands.

It comes as no surprise that my inspiration has dried up when trying to write this section. Heavy metal seems to suggest just that. My bands are heavy and the lyrics are all balls – leave me alone! What was this all about then? Pre-pubescent rage over something I had no control over? Perhaps, or maybe it just sounds good to a 10 year old. It’s loud, seems dangerous and it naturally leads towards Dungeons and Dragons…which sadly it did. I think that I may have taken the idea that one had to choose to be either a mod or a rocker in order to enter secondary school. There were no primary ‘faces’ in Pant (my village with the ludicrous name – you didn’t need me pointing out that last bit, did you?) and the rockers seemed a bit scary so I probably thought it best to be on their side rather than attempting to confront them on a moped. Also, my primary friends were all off to a rival school while I and the children of my village joined together in going to Croeswylan. Perhaps if my mum had sent me to the village school in the first place, I may have ‘liked’ metal earlier or possibly come up with some better ideas about fitting in rather than basing it on Iron Maiden and AC/DC.

My first metal purchase would have been the ‘Heavy!’ compilation on KTel for my new Toshiba tape player. It came out in 1983 and the tape player was definitely from the first half of that year so – primary but only just. This was a time when I was slowly getting to know actual friends in my village for the first time having previously been an internal exile on the lawn of Rose Cottage in an effort to stop me socialising with children who –gasp- lived in council houses, which was seemingly a crime in my mother’s eyes. Well, they were okay if they were polite to her, did her cleaning or went to church and some of the women could have been nice but their husbands were lazy and so that dragged them down. Many were just considered thick. Many didn’t listen to heavy metal either, so why go on? Well, heavy metal seems to have uncomfortably been shoved into my tastes for about two years and this may have happened due to the slightly unnatural development that my internal exile had produced. Through being cloistered, I became someone who lacked early socialisation and so much of what has come since has been marked by distancing from those around me, inappropriate choices or behaviour and, for a while at least, heavy metal seemed to be an outburst of freedom from within my bedroom where I could listen to it. Heavy metal seems to be getting a bad press here and yet it is merely the first of many forms of music which really took hold with my personality. It gave me a sense of belonging to some extent, but it was more the poring over Kerrang and wondering what Accept sounded like that took hold. Had iTunes existed back then, I would have got in way deeper. I’m not entirely sure that is a good thing. I’d need to ask a cloistered 11 year old who likes metal and I don’t currently have access to one. Lets’ be honest, I wouldn’t want to meet one either.

So, ‘Heavy’, it featured some metal and some rather softer rock before finishing with southern rock. Like moist K-Tel compilations, it didn’t stick to the plot and there is no way that ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ by Journey was ever heavy regardless of its later re-emergence via The Sopranos and then Glee. ‘Wheel in the Sky’ would have fitted this tape so much better. However, it did have Maiden on it and Motorhead and well, not a lot of ‘real’ metal. Some choices were just bizarre as it seems that not even the Internet knows who the Ian Campbell Band who performed ‘Only One’ were and I have absolutely no memory of the song either except for discovering it on the tracklisting of this compilation. Who the hell were they? Is this actually giving me a buzz in much the same way that random tracks from endless tapes of John Peel still do? Probably. It is a worry that my interest in music seems to be sacrificing quality for obscurity at a very early stage. The compilation ended with Lynyrd Skynyrd and I like southern rock these days but thought it uncool for a very long time. Foolish boy/man, the Skynyrd should have been the track that I followed up on through the likes of Molly Hatchet who did make it into Kerrang along with AC/DC who also transcend the narrow trappings of metal to become classic rock – though the latter turned into a cartoon once they hired that Geordie with the funny hat.

Iron Maiden’s revolutionary ‘Piece of Mind’ tape came next. It was revolutionary because no mere mortal could get the tape out of the box because the artwork was printed back to front and the box opened backwards. This is probably not coming across to clearly…it opened from left to right instead of the other way and this somehow suggested that Iron Maiden were mad or radical or something. Either way, I liked ‘The Trooper’ because it was about war and stuff. I listened to this album endlessly but could not hum a single ‘tune’ from it now, even ‘The Trooper’. The only bit I can remember is the weird backwards voice at the start of one track. Apparently it was a studio joke aimed at the people who thought heavy metal contained subversive messages from the devil. What I really find hard to believe about this album is that it was recorded in the Bahamas. How on earth can a band be or feel metal if they are in the Bahamas? Either way, it has apparently been voted one of the best metal albums of all time and I have little or no memory of the music contained within its idiotic backwards tape box. Says a lot really. Another first from this era was Judas Priest’s ‘Screaming for Vengeance’ – my first vinyl album and possibly bought from Preedys though I can’t accurately recall. I think I quite liked it, nowadays I can’t remember why.

Am I really going to go through all the music I owned when I liked metal? Good lord, no! I should really have been listening to The Jam like other sensible young people of that age and era. Heavy metal had no real effect on my music collection other than a reticence to buy or even listen to anything that seems to link back to that era of my life, even Motorhead. There are various reasons to attend therapy sessions, but re-establishing my childhood link with heavy metal probably isn’t one of them.

I can only try to sum up the positives as I’m a bit confused by this era myself. Metal got me into obsessing over music and I still do that. Metal actually made me aware of what I was wearing for the first time in my life. Metal reappeared as an influence if nothing more in my love of alternative hardcore, grunge and some post-rock music too.

Metal also made me yearn for long hair and realise yet more frustrations with being curly haired – maybe this is why I gave up on it, still curly mods don’t really work either. I don’t know if this is a positive or a negative. My dad always claimed that my hair was curly because I never combed it properly as a child. It’s a good job he never became a hairdresser in Brixton.

Maybe I just liked it because my mother hated it and it was generally anti-church. It was a desperate attempt to become an outsider. I also became an Ipswich Town fan for life just before this time. I chose to support a team further away than London and where no relatives had ever lived…hmm…

Metal stopped me getting into The Smiths, New Order and Echo and the Bunnymen earlier and I do still kind of resent that even if Rush may have led me to Trans Am on some level. As for southern rock, choogling was to come much later. What teenage girl is going to be impressed by some spotty kid who reckons he’d like to eat grits and wears a confederate flag? Far better to listen to music about orcs and wear denim. Err…

I think that’s run its course really. Still too anecdotal by far, but how can I write seriously about myself at this time. You know, it would be much better if I’d just stayed away from music for a few more years and concentrated on being a football fan.