Sunday, 15 March 2009

Keith West to The Wedding Present

Recently Kev did his musical history, my own is rather warty when it comes to warts and all, I like to think that the route taken was one that made me the person I am today, one that appreciates the niceties of most genres.
I was born in 1970, my first musical memory was a song that was being played but had been released in 1967, so I assume that Jimmy Saville or Ed Stewart was playing it for some reason, it was Excerpt from a Teenage Opera by Keith West, potentially the single saddest song ever recorded, or possibly not, but rather sad in its tone. I remember hearing it in the kitchen of our Donnington home.

The first song that I really recall and played time after time after time was one of my parents 7 inches, and it was the Johnny Cash schmaltz fest that is A thing called love, I absolutely loved this song and played it over and over and over, not from his glory days and bereft of god or murder, and the production on the original has thse dreadful female backing singers that seemed to be on a lot of his Colombia released albums, that single and the repeated plays of it was the start of a love affair with Johnny Cash that goes on today.

1976 and punk rock was just starting and the musical world was changing, for me though it wasn’t, Brotherhood of man had won Eurovision and I liked that, Jimmy Saville liked it too and unless Jimmy played it, it didn’t mean shit. I worked at Butlins up until the mid nineties and managed to watch Brotherhood of man quite a number of times, it was rather sad as in 30 years they hadn’t appeared to age, they seemed quite old on the Eurovision footage.

1980 was the year music changed for me, I was ten and had pocket money burning a hole in my pocket, older brother and sister influencing me more and more, and it was the year I bought my first single, or singles to be precise, bought from a Wallpaper shop in Donnington Telford, that had a sideline in selling records, in the back of course, behind the anaglypta. I bought 2 singles that day and the pop foundations were well and truly enforced, but pop of the most magnificent type. Blondie’s The tide is high and Abba’s Super Trooper, the former was just a record that I liked but the latter was the first tentative steps with the first band that I ever got into. For the next two years Abba would be a flirtation.

This may have of course sent out signals to my parents, after all it wasn’t Deep Purple or ACDC or some other manly band, it was Abba, I was going to allay any fears they may have had and asked my dad for a music album which I played a lot over 1981 and 1982 and that was You Can’t Stop the Music by The Village People. Ahem

1984 and 13 years old was the year that I started to love music and it started to mean more to me than just background fluff, In 1983 there was talk about a band that had made this record, but radio wasn’t playing it, but it was on 160 at the moment. I duly called dial a disc and pre digital telecommunications were not kind to it, but I liked what I heard. Frankie Goes to Hollywood were without doubt the first band that I truly truly loved to the point of buying every release on every format, and postering my room to an inch of its life with pictures of the band. I absolutely adored the band and for me realistically, 1984 was year one for music.

Frankie and me probably lasted 2 years, then one night I decided to listen to radio late at night, I hadn’t before, well I had but it tended to be Lee Vynon on Signal FM, now it may have been Peel, it may have been Gambacini, but someone was playing Bonzo Goes to Bitburg, the current single by The Ramones, and oh my, I had never heard anything like that at all ever, The Ramones were a life changing thing, and this is absolutely true, I ripped down all of my FGTH posters and gave away all their records the next day, I needed to get that Ramones single and investigate just how stunning they sounded. Over the next 3 years intensely and again recently, The Ramones just became my gods, they were the first band I ever saw, I wore their t-shirts, I made pilgrimages to Lndon to track down the gaps in my record collection. I loved that band.

I knew what I wanted from music from that moment, and it would not really change for quite a number of years, I liked guitars and that was the case when Alex Poulson introduced me in 1987 to The Wedding Present, Alex introduced me to a lot of music, notably Husker Du and The Clash, but his main contribution to my life was playing me George Best by The Wedding Present, a band that kickstarted my gigging years and probably had a retirement home built due to the ridiculous amount of money spent by me on them. I travelled the length and breadth of Britain watching them, payed stupid sums for a mispressed singles and the like and really should have known better.

So this brings us neatly up to 1987, 84-87 were the 80’s for me, and after 87 it gets a little crowded so my musical history can take a break until soon when I regale you with Peter: The Dance Years.

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