A Condensed History Pt. 2
As discussed in The Start of a Music Blog, this is Pt. 2 of a condensed history of my love of music as a fan. It covers where my love of music really started.
You might want to start at A Condensed History Pt. 1
1970 – 1980
Where Did it all Really Start?
So, where did music really start for me? Well, we head back to the Radiogram. Was it David Bowie and “The Gene Genie” and my recording onto a portable tape cassette recorder, along with the weekly Charts Countdown? I distinctly remember that track but not others. Maybe it was because my Mother was called Jean? But as I recall now, there was something before this. There were, in the 1970’s compilation vinyl albums – ‘Top of the Pops’. I must have been bought a copy and distinctly remember
- “Isaac Hayes – The Theme From Shaft”
- “Chicory Tip – Son of My Father”
I can clearly see a Californian Woman, possibly on roller skates in red and white clothing on the cover. It was all a long way from South Yorkshire. Now this may have been a combination of albums and a combination of images but it’s the music that stands out. If it was an album and it was mine, it was most definitely my first album. I no longer have it though.
A First Album, Proper
My first album proper was
- Showaddywaddy – “Showaddywaddy”
They were a band who played Rock and Roll covers from the 1950’s and 1960’s, along with their own material. They dressed as Teddy Boys and were very colourful. I saw it as a precursor to Glam Rock. Each of the cover songs were classics and this band begged you to go back to the original sources.
A Boxed Set
This brings me onto a box set of vinyl I still own to this day – Rock Revival. It is a collection of six albums of original Rock and Roll recordings brought together by Reader’s Digest. My Mum bought me this and I remember being mesmerised by the album covers; each the same design, of a biker on a large motorbike but with differing solarized colour schemes. An excellent font adorned the front of the box and each album. The Reader’s Digest brought an air of respectability to any proceedings, whether compiling stories, articles or, as in this case music. This is probably why my Mum purchased it. This was the way things were bought at the time. It was hardly rock and Roll but I liked it!
So, there was this Rock and Roll thing going on but these were all songs from my parents’ era. Not that they were Rockers or anything like. They had grown up with it. My Mum was an Elvis fan, not in the dressing up sense but she loved his voice and style.
From these beginnings came a life long love of music, as a fan rather than as a musician.
The Beatles Next Door
My next door neighbours, a young, married couple had a vinyl collection and I remember going around ‘next door’ to play The Beatles
- “Rubber Soul” and “Revolver”.
I remember admiring the covers to these two albums, both very different but iconic. Revolver’s black and white graphic style by Klaus Voorman made a big impression upon me. Again, it was another generation’s music so it was borrowed. However, I now own Revolver on vinyl (a re-print) along with other Beatles albums but only from the last few years, I never bought them at that time. It seems to me that listening to music at a location other than your own and it not being ‘your’ music changes how you perceive it. It did for me.
A Glamorous Time
The time now, was the time of Glam Rock: David Bowie, T Rex, The Sweet, Mud, Slade and the infamous Garry Glitter, also The Glitter Band. These were the bands that I first engaged in music with. The first Band I really liked were Slade. Formerly Ambrose Slade but I came in where they had dropped the Ambrose from their name and “Cum On Feel the Noize” was released and made Number 1 in the Charts.
Magazines and Newspapers
Magazines such as Music Star, Look-in and Smash Hits provided a window onto the ‘Pop’ world and it was here that the visual rather than the cerebral of modern popular culture music was presented but more importantly, was available. I remember hearing about T Rex at Secondary School. I remember pulling out mini-posters of Slade and The Sweet and saving them in a folder. This was before I discovered New Musical Express, Record Mirror and Sounds – the more ‘serious’ side of the music press. They were in black and white and like a newspaper, therefore they must have been serious! That discovery was to come a little later…
The androgynous nature of Bowie, Bolan and Brian Connolly worried an older generation like my parents but image, colour, swagger and glorious music brought meaning to an otherwise staid world.
Noddy Holder and Dave Hill from Slade playing a new single, watching Alvin Stardust on Top of the Pops, The Sweet performing “Blockbuster” and Alice Cooper singing “School’s Out”. Maybe it was Alice Cooper with his focus upon horror and his banned status (Cooper was called to be banned from the UK by the politician Leo Abse and moral campaigner Mary Whitehouse) that signposted the way to further music, a maturing if you will.
However, I think Bowie; the height of Glam, surely it’s High Priest moving on to other themes helped me, move on. I have never lost my love of Glam Rock – The Sweet created “Blockbuster” as mentioned before, T Rex – The Slider holds position of one of my favourite all time record covers and that album is a masterpiece. David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane & Diamond Dogs provide a holy triumvirate. So, my earlier choice of words ‘helped me, move on’ were incorrect, they should read ‘helped me develop’, with Glam Rock being added to the canon of musicfan6160.
Searching for the Lost Chords
In the days before the internet, finding out about music was different. Today, I went onto Google, pulled up a series of videos recommended to me, based upon my preferences of watching over the past days/weeks/months and I find Samsara Blues Experiment and their excellent “End of Forever” album, newly released in 2020 (Wow! That’s a long sentence…). Back then, there were three main methods of discovery: the music press, as previously discussed, buying an album based solely upon its cover and word of mouth.
Buying a single or album based upon its cover worked for me some times. Although not a 100% surefire method, it was pretty close. With that said, it’s an entertaining method and it’s one that I can sometimes use today. It works but it can backfire. It can also work against and you may not discover something because the aesthetic of the cover doesn’t appeal and it gets written off. However, for me, this rarely happens as I find the aesthetic is heavily wrapped up into the music.
Word of mouth was usually via friends or more generally via a friend’s Brothers or Sisters. A friend’s older Brother say, would have a record collection of vinyl (this was pre-CD) and flicking through album after album (I doubt we would have been allowed to play them) or being told by a friend that ‘this was the one’, was an introduction to a new band.
“681 Ocean Boulevard”
One such example that stands out for me was seeing Eric Clapton’s 681 Ocean Boulevard. I first saw the album as vinyl, owned by the brother of a friend. That album cover stood out for me over the years, I still admire it. I did buy the album on CD, many many years after being shown it. It wasn’t ‘the one’ and I no longer own it but I remember that cover. Another couple of more successful examples of word of mouth were via school friends
A school friend named Baz was heavily into music and had a large record collection. He lived just beyond the school fence so a trip to his house one lunchtime resulted in my first encounter with Pink Floyd’s “Meddle”. The iconic, dreamlike blue cover and the submarine ‘ping’ was an introduction to the world of Progressive Rock. This stayed with me and I eventually bought “Meddle” on CD and then on vinyl (re-print) and it remains to this day, one of my many favourite albums.
Another school friend named Bill (his Father was my Chemistry Teacher) had the ultimate Stones collection in vinyl. I remember going to his house and him auditioning snippets from all the albums, up to that point in time including bootlegs. I need to listen to whole songs (I’ve started, so I’ll finish…) so the rant through The Rolling Stones’ back catalogue was a bit of a struggle for me. It did give me an appreciation for the Stones though. Again, this wasn’t something I ran out to purchase (I couldn’t have afforded to if I had wanted to) but it added to my musical appreciation. I’ve since become a great fan of Kieth Richards; his approach to his music, his knowledge and his guitar playing. I own “Let It Bleed” on vinyl and I have a mental list of at least the next three Stones albums I’d like to purchase 😉
There are other examples but these three particularly stand out.
I suppose there was one other recourse to discovering new music and that was buying a ticket to a concert and turning up, without a clue as to who the band were or what they would be playing. That is still an option today. It is however, an expensive one, particularly if it turns out to be music you don’t appreciate. I take on this approach in a future genre.
School’s Out But Music’s In
It was school, particularly 6th Form that provided a kick start to the next stage of my musical development.
Entering the 6th Form brought freedoms. The freedom not to wear a uniform. Freedom to relax in a informal environment; a Common Room and most importantly in my case, it brought the freedom to listen to music.
Not wearing a uniform meant having to think about what to wear and in this case, what to wear was driven by music. The ‘tribe’ you belonged to defined you and your dress sense.
A Common Room
The Common Room was given over to the Lower 6th and Upper 6th forms at my school. It was allowed to be decorated: painted and with posters. The defining moment of this was when the rainbow & heartbeat from Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” was painted in a running frieze along the top of the room walls.
Playing music at school other than in a ‘Music Lesson’ opened up access to friends’ and other 6th formers musical tastes. Pink Floyd, Camel, The Who. There must have been a load of other bands I don’t remember. Camel particularly stands out. I remember a friend who had a leather belt with pouch that held Camel cigarettes and Camel’s (the band) album “Mirage” echoing a packet of cigarettes. Reading the CD release cover notes tells how this marketing ploy was set in motion, without the band’s knowledge to start with. Mini-packets of Camel cigarettes were also given away at concerts. That wouldn’t happen today.
There’s a great article about this by Rascal Records
I remember listening to The Who – Quadrophenia on a coach trip out into the Peak District with school (it must have been for Geography, we ended up at Mam Tor). Someone must have brought this on tape and the driver was amenable enough the play it for us. I distinctly remember owning The Who -” Live at Leeds” and The Who – “The Who By Numbers” but it was a lot later until I bought Quadrophenia on vinyl and then on CD.
I amassed a small vinyl collection from this period, I know it included Rainbow – “Rainbow Rising” which is still one of my all time favourite albums. What a cover! I also owned Pink Floyd – “Animals”. Queen – “Sheer Heart Attack” was another. Also Led Zeppelin – “Physical Graffiti”. There were others but as to what happened to that collection is for another day.
This period of time between 1975 to 1978 was a period of progression, staring with Heavy Rock, moving through Progressive Rock and ultimately ending in Punk. However, before Punk grabs centre stage, there is a wealth of music to be added to the canon of musicfan6160.
Led Zeppelin – I first heard Led Zeppelin when the friend of a person ‘up the road’ came over to our house, in an evening, when my parents were out and brought a Zeppelin album with them. I can’t remember which one, it didn’t matter. It was heavy, that’s all that mattered.
Queen – “A Night at the Opera” or was it “A Day at the Races”? I remember one Christmas, going to a friends house and listening to the newly released album in its entirety. I guess it was “A Day at the Races” As it was released on 10 December 1976 by EMI Records in the United Kingdom whereas “A Night at the Opera” Was released on 21 November 1975 by EMI Records in the United Kingdom.
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Brain Salad Surgery. The band – a supergroup, the music – epic Prog, the artwork – H R Giger – it all comes together in this album. This is an album I bought at the time and still possess and play today.
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band – I saw SAHB live at the Sheffield City Hall on 26 May 1976. I remember the day as it was my Birthday and I had bought a pair of Blue Suede Creepers. My Mum had given me the money and I went out into Sheffield and bought them. This was a big deal!
In the evening, at that concert, it was the first time I had seen a two-tier stage. There was a wall built out of breeze blocks that Alex burst through during the set. This presaged Pink Floyd by several years. They played “Delilah”, “Give My Compliments to the Chef”, “Vambo”, “Framed” among others. I bought the albums “Live” and “Tomorrow Belongs To Me”. I still own and play “Live”. “Tomorrow Belongs To Me” is a great album (again, a fantastic cover) and I bought it again on CD many years later. The vinyl went the way of others but that’s for later. SAHB were always rich in storytelling and theatre which I really liked. “Tomahawk Kid” is a great song. Probably my favourite, in my Top 3.
In Concert – Part I
This time was also a time of my first visit to concerts and live music.
I am annoyed that I never kept a diary of all the concerts I went to. I have to rely on memory although I never attended a bad one and they all should have stood out, they fade with time. So, here is a list of remembered concerts in the time of Rock & Prog. They are not the large, London-based concerts and there are many bands I never got to see but these I did
- Suzi Quatro, Cozy Powell, Arrows
- This was the first concert I ever went to. It was at the Sheffield City Hall and I remember sitting down! But I was very near the front. Cozy Powell (cruelly taken from us in a crash) was phenomenal and Suzi Quatro was cool: leather jumpsuit, big Bass and that voice – “Devil Gate Drive”, “Can The Can”, “48 Crash”…
- I still have the Concert program
- Lynyrd Skynyrd
- 1975 or 1977
- Sheffield City Hall
- Before members of the band, including Ronnie Van Zant were killed in a plane crash
- Thin Lizzy
- 4 November 1976 or 18 April 1979
- Sheffield City Hall. I remember Phil Lynott’s black bass with its mirror pick guard sending a beam of light up to the Gods. This was one of the concerts where I wasn’t downstairs, at the front. I was upstairs, in the Gods. Still an amazing atmosphere…
- “Whiskey in the Jar”
- The Sensational Alex Harvey Band
- As discussed above – 26 May 1976
- Truly sensational
- Boxer, Crawler, Moon
- This was an ‘on spec’ concert. I had no idea who the three bands were. They were three bands on the same label, touring together. Crawler were formed from Back Street Crawler, after Paul Kossoff’s death. I remember the concert but it wasn’t one of my favourites…
- Barclay James Harvest
- 7 October 1976
- Such a great band, creating great songs and albums of beauty
- This was at the time of “Octoberon”. I remember the album cover being displayed in large cardboard cutouts at the venue. A favourite cover.
- I still have the ticket from this concert
- “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” a true classic among songs
- Nils Lofgren and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
- I hadn’t heard of Nils Lofgren but Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – wow!.
- I remember Nils Lofgren somersaulting, via a small trampoline on stage
- Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers at the time of the album “Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers” with that tattoo of a heart and flying V guitar album cover
- Graham Parker & The Rumour
- Graham Parker was cool in black, with dark shades. The music had a more soulful vibe than I’d been used to but great concert
- I think they were supported by Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes
- “Hey Lord, Don’t Ask Me Questions”
- Either Sheffield City Hall 15.09.1976 Wed, Sheffield City Hall 23.09.1977 Fri or Sheffield City Hall 24.10.1978 Tue
- An absolute standout moment!
- Hawkwind have always been there and are still there today. Space Rock through to Punk and beyond…
- I bought “Space Ritual” and still own and play today.
- Be Bop Deluxe
- 5 February 197676 or 13 February 1978
- I remember the band members being in clear tubes, filled with coloured smoke and the smoke spreading as they stepped out. It was straight out of Spinal Tap, lol
- Great album cover to “Axe Victim” but never owned this or other Be Bop Deluxe albums
- “Maid in Heaven”, “Ships In The Night”
The one regret I have is not being able to queue up overnight, outside the City hall for tickets to see Bowie.
There Were Probably Others…
There are probably other concerts I went to but can’t remember. I’m pretty sure I saw Dr Feelgood but I can’t be sure. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking. I owned the album “Malpractice” and still do. There’s a newspaper cutting in the sleeve with the album and I must have put it there. My doing this makes it ‘feel’ like I saw them. Another great band (watch Dr Feelgood – Live at Southend Kursaal). There’s quite a bit of diversity in all this and this is a good thing, I feel. All the above was a foundation upon which to build.
I was listening to Roxy Music, Mott the Hoople and Bowie but never got to see these bands live. However, where I didn’t get to see a band live, the albums released at this time more than made up for it. It was a great time to be alive in music, as musicfan6160.
Where Do We Go From Here?
A transition was occurring. I was wearing a Levi denim Jacket with patches, Falmer Jeans and Doc Marten boots. Other clothes I owned and wore were: a “One Eyed Jacks” brown & cream jumper, printed short-sleeved shirts (I remember small black lion rampants on white) and a black & pale blue Star jumper (my pride and joy). I also had a pair of Oxford Bags possibly from Sexy Rexy’s! My hair was shoulder length. I remember wanting to buy A-Line flare jeans and an Afghan Coat. However, this was also tempered with wearing a button down shirt with a tie, tucked in to it, below the second button. I was emulating Ferry from Roxy Music. I can clearly remember walking through Sheffield Pond Street Bus Station like this. It was 1976.
There was a Maelstrom of music: Thames delta Blues from Dr Feelgood, Fashion & style-inspired Roxy, Zeppelin’s Heavy Rock, no nonsense AC/DC, fantasy-inspired Rainbow, High Prog from ELP – enter The Ramones.
Front Page News
I first heard of Punk in a Sunday newspaper, via its front page – I was delivering the paper on a paper round at the time. There was a punk with a chain from ear to nose and some offensive headline written by nobody of consequence. The body of the article was typical ‘downfall of society’, ‘the death of morals’ etc. And as I had never heard of Punk: the movement or the music I thought like many people, it must be true. It had been published, in black and white! I finished the paper round and went back home, no doubt to AC/DC, ELP and Hawkwind.
I first heard Punk at school in a Music lesson where a friend Phil had brought in “Ramones” by The Ramones. The Music lessons (this must have been Music Appreciation) normally took the form of listening to some form of Classical music. In comes Ramones, onto the turntable, mind blown! Each song, short blasts of Guitar, Bass and Drums. From here on in, Punk took the standard and ran with it. Myself and two friends at the time Paul and Phil followed at breakneck speed.
Flick the Switch
This all sounds like a switch was flipped, out with the old and in with the new, Punk replaced Prog. This is how it is portrayed now and how it was portrayed then but not so. Prog and other forms of music existed along side. The music industry jumped ship, along with the music press and you would be forgiven for thinking it was all over, bar the shouting. For me, I fully felt at home with Punk but I didn’t destroy my other albums. I did however sell a significant portion of them, much to my regret, but I’ll get to that. I still loved all the songs, albums and bands I had listened to, collected and seen. They had been added to the canon of musicfan6160 and filed under, see later.
I saw Punk as an explosion of music, fashion and politics – a whole something new to immerse myself in.
You have to remember that at this time, its shock value was total. Every right thinking person in the land was barring their doors and calling the police if somebody walked past with short hair, never mind a Mohican. A safety pin in the side of the mouth (whether it pierced the cheek or not, like mine) was a potent symbol. I had been moaned at for having long hair (it wasn’t long) by my Father. I went out and had it all cut off to a Number 4. Still got moaned at. When I Henna’d it, you’d have thought the world was caving in.
Wide jeans were swapped for narrow black trousers with zips I inserted in the legs, T-shirts were ripped and safety-pinned and the Denim jacket was replaced with a black leather Biker’s jacket (this was before I became a Vegetarian, along with mu). Oh, and mohair jumpers. I also must admit, some new records were also purchased.
Now, I come to a difficult part of the history, for me. In order to purchase the aforementioned leather jacket, I sold some of my vinyl! I had left school and was working at A H Allen & Partners – Public Analysts but even though I was earning money, I needed a chunk of money (the jacket wasn’t cheap). I sold some of the old guard to become the new guard. The jacket was pivotal to me at that time. I loved it and still have it today but as I look back…
The one thing I learnt from this experience was and is NEVER SELL YOUR VINYL!
Pink Floyd – “Animals”, Queen – “Sheer Heart Attack”, SAHB – “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” and other countless classics. To this day, I can’t bear to think about it. I have near blocked it out of my memory and can’t remember all of what I sold – I think AC/DC – “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” aaarrgghhhh!
Who You Calling Punk?
The major proponents of Punk for me were: The Ramones, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Damned, The Buzzcocks, The Drones, The Adverts, The Undertones, Generation X, *Crass, The Dead Kennedys, The Jam, The Saints, **The Cramps, Adam and the Ants.
All these bands added to the new discovery in one way or another. What was and what wasn’t punk is debatable but I came at it from the free and easy camp. If it had the right ethos – it was punk.
*Post Punk, didn’t consider themselves punk **Psychobilly
I suppose the first inkling about a coming change was felt listening to the New York Dolls. I don’t know how I got into the Dolls, all I remember is the “New York Dolls” double vinyl – “Personality Crisis”, “Pills”, “Looking for a Kiss”…
The year is 1976, The Ramones release “The Ramones”. A Black & White album cover, basic fashion, every song you could memorise the words to instantly and shout along to as mentioned above. This was the start.
As mentioned, it was in 1976 that I obtained The Damned’s “New Rose” single – I believe this was the first single of my Punk collection. The beauty of this is that my Mum bought this for me, for my birthday. She went to a small, independent record shop, in Castle Market, Sheffield and asked for New Rose by the Damned. Now that’s a Mum!
The Sex Pistols launched “Anarchy in the UK” in ‘76 – ‘nuff said”. They wandered into 1977 with “God Save the Queen” in the year of the Queen’s jubilee and released “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols” into a censored Britain where it was banned. Jamie Ried’s artwork came to exemplify Punk for me.
In 1977, a further two standout moments were trying to obtain the Buzzcocks’ “Spiral Scratch” (I didn’t get the original, it was a re-press) and obtaining The Drones’ “Temptations of a White Collar Worker” (I did).
The Clash’s self-titled album “The Clash” didn’t enter the collection but ‘Give ’em Enough Rope’ did and made an impact. The Clash were instrumental in adding Reggae to the canon of musicfan6160. ‘White Man in Hammersmith Palais’ is a masterpiece.
The Saints were an Australian Punk band and their debut album “(I’m) Stranded” was played frequently. I remember loving the guitar sound in this one. I also bought ‘Prehistoric Sounds’ (1978) but somehow missed out on ‘Eternally Yours’ – hard to get hold of now.
The Adverts played a big part in my world of punk. I remember “One Chord Wonders” and “Garry Gilmore’s Eyes” as singles, their album “Crossing the Red Sea came later”. The single “Garry Gilmore’s Eyes” was important as it charted and so would have been accessible.
Generation X brought Billy Idol’s swagger and I suppose glamour to Punk. They appeared on Top of the Pops in September 1977 and I most probably saw this. “Generation X”, the band’s first album didn’t come out until early 1978 but a couple of singles did emerge in ‘77.
These were a just a few of the hi-lights of Punk. To be fair, it was near over before it began, following its nihilistic approach to its conclusion. It absorbed influences and morphed into other things. By the time the music industry and the press had hold of it, it wasn’t what it was.
However, there is more…
In Concert – Part II
Punk was alive and had to be seen Live! Once again it was a time of concerts.
Again, a large downfall was not keeping a record of the concerts I went to so I’m afraid were saddled with my memory of events. It’s all very sketchy…
- The Doctors of Madness at Top Rank, Sheffield in1976. Twice!
- I saw The Ramones, twice. Once in Doncaster, supported by Talking Heads, at the time of “Psycho Killer” and then again at Manchester City Hall.
- The Jam at the Top Rank in Sheffield in 1977.
- I saw them twice, I think in this same year.
- DEVO at the Sheffield City Hall in 1978.
- It was 1978 that I saw the Clash at the Anti Nazi League – Rock against Racism concert in Victoria Park, London.
- Aswad, X-Ray-Spex, Tom Robinson Band and Steel Pulse also played.
- Got to see Tom Robinson much much later in life once again
- Sham 69 at Top Rank in 1978
- Stunt Kites in 1979
- I saw Elvis Costello at the Sheffield City Hall.
- It was an acoustic set. He played “Watching the Detectives” and “Oliver’s Army” obviously. I believe it was in 1979.
- I saw Crass!
- I must have, I have the ticket to prove it – legendary
- That was in 1981 though, a lot later…
- The lead Singer of Crass at the time of writing, lives in Norfolk at Sea Pauling. This is not too far from where my daughter now lives. He is a lifeboat man there. I learnt this fact a couple of years ago when bumping into a fellow Crass fan, at an art gallery, in Norwich. It’s just great when something like that happens
Nothing to Wear
Clothing wise over this period of time, as well as the leather jacket that went everywhere with me, I remember red, crepe-soled creepers. My God, they were so heavy! Solid crepe soles, not the light, imitation of the blue ones I owned earlier. Pointed black shoes. Black Doc Marten shoes. Clear plastic sandals with pink socks. I also remember an electric blue/green string mohair jumper and as importantly, a deep blue mohair with red, vertical arrows.
So, as we round out 1979, music is changing, developing, evolving. The simple, raw nature of punk is developing into more complex songs with more proficient musicianship. An electronic influence starts to develop in 1980 with Cabaret Voltaire and The Human League spearheading this for me. I believe I saw both and singles from both bands may attest to this (I often bought a single after I’d seen a band live).
A change is coming for me also. I leave Sheffield to go to Huddersfield Polytechnic.
A Northern Industrial Town
As previously mentioned, I had been working as a Public Analyst in Sheffield but decided to go to Huddersfield Polytechnic and after interviewing, I ended up studying Chemistry (Biochemistry).
The thoughts of moving somewhere else and living on my own and the freedom that would provide were a monumental change. I had one thing I had to set up before I went and that was stereo system. To my eternal shame, I have no photographs of my ‘system’, so I’m piecing it together from memory.
I remember going into the centre of Sheffield, with my friend Steve to purchase a stereo system. He was also to go to Huddersfield, but to study music. We went to a shop, now no longer there, on Leopold Street, I think and I remember discussing what to get, based upon my musical preferences. I remember being adamant that I needed to play Reggae and being advised away from one set of speakers, as they would probably ‘blow’, towards a pair of Kef speakers: Kef Celeste II, A Rotel amplifier and a Trio turntable. The record player had an Ortofon OM10 cartridge. This system gave me many years of faithful service – I loved those speakers.
A Northern Town
Suitably set up, I went to Huddersfield – a Northern industrial town. It rained a lot.
I started Polytechnic in September 1979 and lived in a room in a shared house, just out of the centre of Huddersfield and the Poly. It was a grim place but my Father, a Painter & Decorator by trade, painted out the whole flat, making it much more habitable. It was my place. I remember a bed, I remember a table and I remember a big window but I can’t think where I had the stereo.
Being Northern was important and Northern Soul first imprinted itself on my brain in the ’70’s. It was cool, errant, independent and is still with me today. I remember 48″ bags, leather-soled shoes and button down shirts. All for the love of the music. Just because of punk, didn’t mean I lost the faith – I keep the faith!
A Wealth of Music
This first year provided a wealth of music. Huddersfield was well supported with bands. There was a Club: Cleopatra’s and I remember seeing bands there. I remember coming away from one concert with my ears ringing and I thought I was going to be deaf! It was a small place with big speakers.
1979 was also the year that Two Tone burst onto the music scene in all its black & white glory. Building upon ‘rude boy’ culture of the 1940’s, brought to Britain by Jamaicans in the late 1940’s and the political climate of the 1980’s, the infectious rhythm and melding of black and white brought a positivity. The Specials, The Selector and The Beat stand out.
Two bands I was listening to at that time were; The Cure and Adam & the Ants. I remember playing The Cure’s “Three Imaginary Boys”, “Subway Song, “Meathook” and “Fire in Cairo” – a fantastic album with an album cover of pink and household items. Adam & the Ants’ Dirk Wears White Sox, “Cartrouble (Parts 1 & 2)” – a black and white arty and moody cover. This was also the time I was drifting into a Mod Revival with The Chords, I think.
Oh, I mustn’t forget Crass!
Back To The Steel City
I hadn’t completely cut ties with Sheffield and it was The leadmill that provided some Live music (in addition to Huddersfield’s Cleopatra Club). I vaguely remember seeing Cabaret Voltaire and Clock DVA. Maybe an early Human League (”Being Boiled” era?). I also have the band They Must Be Russians in mind. This was punk evolving into electronic music at its very inception. I did see other bands here that have now faded into the past.
There were many other Punk singles and albums I purchased and was playing but as stated at the beginning, the UK Subs deserve a mention as do 999. However, this is a ‘condensed’ history. Its aim is to provide a framework from which to delve deeper in later blogs.
Here ends A Condensed History Pt. 2.
The next post – A Condensed History Pt. 3