Logan : “Mum, I’ve broke dad!”
Logan: “I’ve broke dad. He’s listening to Hip Hop.”
Way back when.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been listening to music. This isn’t anything unusual as most people reading this will see some of this in themselves. My generation were born into an era when music had become accessible and plentiful.
In the 70’s at 90 Lower Bathville, Armadale, the home of my childhood, Sunday morning’s were invariably ushered in with the sound of Jim Reeves or Johnny Cash played on the wood effect turntable, with built in 8 track tape deck. This advanced technology sat on a stone brick fireplace, extended for the purpose of housing the record player. In the afternoon’s Neil Sedaka or Marmalade would get a spin and Elvis or Tamla Motown would soundtrack our evenings. During the rest of the week it was most likely that a radio tuned to BBC Radio 1 would be spouting out top 20 tracks as we ate breakfast before heading off to school. Bands like Wings, Boney M or solo acts such as Rod Stewart would complete the spectrum of styles we experienced in that house.
Holidays and journeys in the car, a gold coloured Austin Princess, passed reasonably comfortably with the musical accompaniment provided on the state of the art 8-Track cassette player housed in the glove compartment. Regulars on these journeys were often Queen, Bay City Rollers or Lindisfarne. The common theme that runs through all of the music mentioned so far is that it was chosen by mum and dad. There were favourites but there was also a wide and varied selection of styles.
Teenage Tunage Transformation
As the 70’s were coming to an end and the eighties began to appear over the horizon, the opportunities to listen to different music presented itself. As the youth of the UK found a voice and a platform for political and social comment, I was becoming aware of the different styles of music and I was introduced to punk rock in the shape of the Sex Pistols, Crass and The Clash whilst spending time with my older cousins on my mother’s side. This was over a few summers as I approached the end of the 70’s and over into the 80’s. During this period the punk scene gave way to the New Romantic bands like Visage, A Flock Of Seagulls and Blancmange and I still have some C90 cassette mix tapes from those days which were played one side after the other, on my alarm clock radio/cassette player in the privacy of my bedroom where I would memorise the words of the songs.
In parallel I was getting exposure to the New-wave sounds of Blondie, Gary Numan and XTC when spending time with my uncle who was my dad’s brother. He had a mobile disco which he and a few friends hawked around the local church halls playing to groups of young punks looking to hear something anarchic whilst having to make do with the sound of the more socially acceptable New-wave bands. The music for this “disco” was wholly played from a collection of vinyl LP’s, 7″ and 12″ singles, heavily influenced by the need to stay within the boundaries of what was acceptable to play in a church hall whilst attempting to pacify the kids that attended these events. He also had a collection of personal music which included Rush, David Bowie and Elton John in his Captain Fantastic days. It was here that I would first get “interested” in vinyl. The album artworks, the look of the coloured vinyl and developed a fascination with the magic that trapped the sounds in that ever decreasing groove.
As the 80’s took a hold and I moved into my teenage years I would make sure I caught Top of The Pops on a Thursday night where you could see regular appearances of bands like Madness, Adam & The Antst, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Duran Duran. I’d also listen intently to the Sunday chart countdown with my finger poised over the record button on the Clock/Radio/Cassette player mentioned before. Ready to record the latest number 1. At this time in Scotland, two bands came to prominence in corridors of my secondary school. These were U2 and Simple minds. In 1983, Simple Minds released their big breakthrough single and the track that got me hooked on them. Don’t You Forget About Me featured on the soundtrack to The Breakfast Club, a cult classic, coming of age film starring Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson and Molly Grimwold. I bought the 12″ single and can remember the Saturday I got it, I played it over and over and for the next 3 years I bought up the back-catalog of Simple Minds from the post-punk of Life In A Day through the futuristic dance influenced/influencing tunes of Empires & Dance, onto the New Romantic tinged rock of New Gold Dream. This one band provided me with most of my listening throughout my studying for exams, but it was a feast of musical styles as they were forever changing. All triggered by a film soundtrack. Regular outings to see them play live also introduced me to other bands like, Goodbye Mr Mackenzie, The Alarm, Big Country and Hipsway. There was a veritable feast of sounds out there and I was happy to gorge myself on them.
Reality Kicks In – Aye Right.
The back end of the 80’s saw me leaving school and starting an apprenticeship with Ferranti’s in Edinburgh. As a necessity, I passed my driving test, bought a car and got a Radio/Cassette player fitted.
Out in the big bad world, the music teenagers were listening to was entering a new phase as Manchester was producing bands like The Smiths and New Order who could be heard on Radio 1 regularly. I traveled to and from work with various fellow apprentices over the next 4 years. At times car shares could be an interesting sonic experience. I remember one car in which the tape of choice provided me with an introduction to the Goth sound in the form of a Bauhaus and Mission mash up. The driver was not a Goth himself, but we traveled with a secretary from our office who dressed in black, with died black hair, pale face make-up and red lipstick. A sexy female Robert Smith to the young lads in the workplace. The tape was undoubtedly a “mating call” but I don’t think it worked.
I continued to explore new music and bought vinyl in the form of singles, both 7″ and 12″. The music scene was again changing as the Manchester/Baggy scene exploded in an MDMA soaked, second summer of love that gave the world Indie bands like The Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses and a band that took over from my Simple Minds obsession, The Charlatans. As well as these bands who introduced the youth of the UK to the wonders of shoe-gazing, underground raves gave us Acid House dance tracks that flooded into our synapses and had us dancing through the night until the dawning sun signaled the need to return to the reality of the world outside.
By the mid Nineties I was ready to move onto the next level of maturity and along with Lorna, set up a home in a flat on West Main Street. This was just as Britpop broke over the foundered wreckage of the aforementioned Second Summer Of Love. The pub rock offered up by the Gallagher brothers struck a chord with everyone sitting drowning our sorrows and comedowns in the public houses of the UK. OASIS songs were sung at full volume when played on the juke boxes up and down the country. Where empty spaces had been left by the false hope of the endless nights of dancing, simple guitar riffs and catchy lyrics took root.
At 42 West Main Street, a flat we named “the party flat”, Ocean Colour Scene provided the soundtrack to many a late night sing along with The Day We Caught The Train and just in case there was still a hankering for some dancing, Heather Small and Hacienda DJ, Mike Pickering provided the music with M-People’s Northern Soul and Strange Fruit albums. The Doors also made many an appearance in the wee small hrs whilst Sunday mornings were often sound tracked by Pink Floyd. I cannot put my hand on any single influence on our musical tastes at this juncture in our odyssey. The many and varied friends and late night revelers who accompanied us as we immersed ourselves in the freedom of our 1st world life are undoubtedly the major contributors. Thanks folks. You know who you are.
Reality Kicks Right In – Aye .
In 1999 I got married to Lorna. Our first dance was Paul Weller’s You Do Something To Me. The Mod-Father provided one last nod to the heady days of our late youth and a bridge into the future. As we passed over into adulthood, a move across the street to 45 West Main Street, a flat with a garden and a double garage followed soon after. Music was still a big part of our life, but it was in the background as we prepared to start a family.
There were a few constants. The Charlatans and Stone Roses could still be heard playing on the CD player. The vinyl had been stored away as we renovated our new home, and new music was more likely to be found on the MTV channel on satellite TV. Queens Of The Stone Age and The Foo Fighters sneaked into our daily listening.
Then the kids came along.
Now, anyone who tells you that your life won’t change with the introduction of kids is either deluded or downright lying. Gigging became all but a distant memory and there was little time for late night revelry for the next decade. Any new music was either accidentally stumbled upon or was played at an inopportune moment mid nappy change. During this time the Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian burst onto the scene. Half a generation behind us, my brother and his mates were getting into them in a big way, but other than a few CDs, which were bought to capture the moment, my connection to these bands is tenuous. I did however discover a buried admiration for Damon Albarn and Blur as I carried a restless toddler child around singing, Out Of Time, successfully sending him to sleep. Good tune, good times.
The Second Coming.
The end of the first decade of the 21st Century sneaked up on us and with child number 2 on the scene, a bigger house was required. We moved into a bungalow at 129A South Street in 2010. Again this required some extensive renovation work and the following 5 years really did see a drop in the interest we could show in new music. Our house was not a sonic desert, but music was still very much in the background. With a little help from friends and family, a loft conversion provided the needed extra rooms to house the kids. The conditions were building site like and the workers chose the station to which the radio was tuned. This brought me into contact with Adele. A guilty pleasure to this day.
Over the next few years I re-established my turntable and returned to my vinyl listening, but I also started to listen to music on digital streaming as a way to discover new music. One of my best finds came from Bandcamp where I heard Slowly Rolling Cameras for the first time and ended up buying 2 of their albums. I have always railed against the streaming medium when defending the glories of vinyl, but I had dipped my toe into Napster back in the 90’s, where anything from Ian Brown to Tori Amos were free to stream over the dial up Internet connections of the time, before Metallica shut them down. So this move was almost certainly predictable as Social Media took off but I can probably trace it back to a single event.
In 2010, for my 40th birthday, Lorna bought a pair of tickets for a meet and greet with The Charlatans. As a result I joined the Charlatans fan forum, an internet hosted forum for those who shared a joint interest in the band. This closed a few years later and transferred over to Facebook and as a result I started my dalliance with social media and around this time I revived my vinyl buying interests with a visit to Edinburgh early one Saturday morning to head to Avalanche Records in The Grassmarket for RSD 2014. This followed a shared post about the RSD plans through the Charlatans Fans Page. To this day I have continued with this pilgrimage and I have discovered a number of bands as a direct result. These include The Twilight Sad, Vladimir, Man Of Moon and Miracle Glass Company. Despite a drift away from physical ownership of musical media, vinyl has bucked that trend and is at it’s highest sales levels since the late 80’s.
Social media has also re-started my concert going as I have a number of friends who continue to look for new music. Instead of searching the pages of the music papers for adverts declaring a band’s planned tours, we share info on our posts. Arranging gig attendance at short notice. This takes me back to the title of this blog.
It’s late on the Sunday evening. Logan comes jumping down the stairs from his hideout in the roof space shouting the words, “Can we go and see Kendrick?”. Now I have to say that until this moment I would never have considered going to a Hip Hop gig in Glasgow. Even more damning is the fact that I could not have picked out a Kendrick Lamar track from any other R&B artist, but when your son develops his own taste in music whilst listening to Spotify , sometimes it’s best to just roll with it. So it was that the following Sunday, on what was the coldest night of the year so far, the pair of us were standing outside the SSE Hydro in Glasgow. Queuing with our tickets in hand to see one of the biggest R&B artists around today. To my happy surprise, I was blown away by the atmosphere, the singalong and by Kungfu Kenny’s stage show. I shouldn’t really have been surprised though. I’ve always been open to listening to anything that is around me.
So Logan, no, you haven’t broke me. Maybe you fixed me, or I was just waiting for the right time to listen to Hip Hop.
“I got, I got, I got, I got” Music in my DNA.