Monday, 1 December 2008

Heavy Vinyl

Now thats what I call album art!

At the same time as the rise of the New Wave of Heavy Metal I was entering into the chemical imbalance of mid-teens hell, I was, you could say, ripe for the plucking. Even though many would disagree with my early musical leanings, or even pity me, I can safely say that it hasn't harmed me in any way. I now have a wide range of musical tastes and will just about listen to anything. However, round about 1982/83 I was tuning in every week to the Friday Night Rock Show on Radio 1, presided over by Tommy Vance, the flying 'V' of the airwaves.

There's something very wrong with this picture, Rush, circa 2112.

With my index finger poised over the record button on a briefcase sized ghetto blaster I would tape the shows, and when caught short without a piece of paper to hand I scribbled the names of bands down onto a dwindling stock of old beer mats. Uriah Heap, Nazareth, Saxon, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Scorpions, Motorhead, Iron Maiden and many other band names have all drifted down with me through the years. It was also around about this time that I got my first Hi-Fi, a record deck with two small chip board speakers and no amp. I couldn't have been more happy, that is until I got a replacement with a very good amp that I still use to this day. Up until about 1986 the cream on top of this tall beverage of Heavy Metal noise was occupied by just a handful of groups, AC/DC, Scorpions, Deep Purple, Rainbow, Led Zeppelin and Rush were the ones that held my attentions, and Led Zeppelin and Rush sat at the top of this list.

The awesome 'Kashmir' from the monumental 'Physical Graffiti' probably launched a thousand trips to India and beyond.

My friend and I took to wearing denim jackets and tight jeans(ouch!), and sitting in my back yard in the summer months we would painstakingly embroider the names of our favourite bands onto the back of our jackets. How I wish I had that jacket now, lesson number one never get rid of anything that you will regret in hindsight. I can remember having perforated fingertips from pushing the needle through the tough denim fabric, my mum gave me a thimble, threads and plied us both with tea and cake, no doubt making appreciative noises over our handiwork. Fitted in around the edges of our masterpieces were an assortment of patches and pin badges which we bought from a cramped shop in the city, a dubious emporium of leather accoutrements, bullet belts, chains and t-shirts that gave off a keen fragrance of patuli oil and sweat.

Smashed guitars, dodgy set designs, blazing concert halls. Spinal Tap eat your heart out!

I also remember buying records from a shop called Callers Pegasus. This was either an early precursor to Tesco or it was deeply confused about its own identity, as starting on the ground floor you could book a holiday, on the first floor you could buy a sofa and a nice set of table and chairs before ending up on the second floor where a thin crowd of shoppers, mostly men, could be found flicking through racks of vinyl. Etched forever into my memory is the day I first laid eyes on the white outlines of the twentieth century man holding the Red Star of the Solar Federation at bay, a brilliant logo that for some reason was on the back cover of what is arguably the best Rush album, 2112. The lettering and album art was just as important at that time, and recreating those jagged Gothic letters or the swishy looping Whitesnake logo was quite a challenge to a young man when doodling on the inside of a school ring binder. The pimples, the greasy hair, listening to music and staring at record sleeves, in the words of AC/DC, 'Rock n' Roll Ain't Noise Pollution!'.

Lipstick and leather. Discovering new ways to play guitar and break an ankle at the same time.

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