Sunday, March 19, 2017

I'm Not one Of Those DJs Who . . . Part The First

Other blog posts have dealt with similar themes, but maybe not in the detail I’m going to go into now. I first began playing records at an early age, as my Dad had a motley collection, the most defining characteristic being a predilection for some of the most famous musicals of the day.  Soundtracks I remember are: ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, ‘Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’, ‘Hair’, ‘Camelot’ and ‘Cabaret’ (they were all, with the exception of ‘Joseph . . .’ films). Other records which played a part in my pre record buying youth were ‘Mickey And The Beanstalk’, (Disney’s take on Jack And The Beanstalk), a moth-eaten covered copy of Holst’s ‘The Planets’ (‘Mars’ of course, being the pick), and a Tchaikovsky box set. I listened to all of them without reservation. I couldn’t afford to buy records myself, nor did I want to at that time. The first records I bought were generic Top Of The Pops stalwarts. Talking of which, I remember a collection of albums which were called ‘Top Of The Pops’ and were compilation forerunners of the likes of ‘Now That’s What I Call Music’, the difference being that all of the tracks on these albums were covers, and you could buy them at the newsagent. I remember my mum buying me one once, me getting it home, and struggling to understand why the voices, and instrumentation sounded so strange. The early seventies were a blur of relative cak, but I knew no better. The indoctrination of the charts had done its job, with Bowie and Roxy Music being two indications of a stranger and more interesting world beyond. With no older brother or sister to turn to, I had to seek out things myself. It was the onset of punk which changed everything; the catalyst for everything since. It started my love affair with music and no matter how corny it sounds, shaped me for ever. A lot of it was shite, but the initial two years, 1976-78, were seminal. I bought my first record in summer 1977, and it was ‘Baby Baby’ by the Vibrators. I won’t lie and say it was ‘God Save The Queen’ on A & M, but I know those who did, Spunkhead. The next one I picked up was ‘The Modern World’ by The Jam. Something that took me completely by surprise were picture sleeves, I was very impressed, as the only 7” I’d bought up until that time were second hand ex juke box stuff, the ones that needed a plastic adaptor to play them. The look, as well as the music; punk was a lifestyle choice in vague, as well as obvious, ways. I started buying recirds relentlessly. Mostly in my home town of Wallasey at first: this has been covered before, but Phoenix Records in the shopping hall run by Jean, a hippy relic and friend of my mum’s. She was great and used to keep stuff for me all the time. I bought most of my first punk purhases from there. Bargain Box Records was a proper record shop, with a huge stock of posters as well. We’d go in there and nick album covers. Rox Records was OK, but a little expensive . . . but these places were all second rate cpmpared to what was over the water in Liverpool, particularly Probe, a shop which so typified the punk ethos and was so exotic compared to anything else which had gone before that I have trouble comparing it to anything which has come since. Not just a shop, but a commune of sort, nothing will ever come close to matching it. And of course they didn’t stock only punk stuff, the owners being far too into music to be that one-dimensional. I bought loads of reggae from there as well. I’d give vital parts of my anatomy to recover some of it now. The albums on Front Line por favor, as well as the vibe, and the feeling that whatever was bought was on the cusp of something revolutionary and interesting.

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