Dom’s Domain – legendary rock writer Dom Lawson and his music collection


Dom Lawson is a passionate and
much-respected music writer who works for Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Classic
Rock Prog and Bravewords. Although he's best-known for his hard rock and metal
reviews and features, his tastes are wide and varied, reflecting his genuine
love for music.  Here he takes time out from preparing to go on the road
in the US with Iron Maiden (one of his favourite bands) to talk to
about his collection …

What was the first single you bought?

It was Einstein A Go-Go
by Landscape and it cost me £1.15 from Boots in Hemel
, early in 1981. I would have been eight years old and
pocket money had just entered the equation, so I was simply exercising my
rights as a consumer! That, and they didn’t have any Adam & The Ants
records in the shop at the time.

And the first album?

Kings Of The Wild
Frontier by Adam & The Ants. £4.29 from WH Smiths in Hemel
…again, early in 1981. My mind had been completely blown
when I saw Adam Ant singing Dog Eat Dog on Top Of The Pops in the autumn of
1980. My entire life as a musician and music journalist stems from that one
moment. That album still sounds brilliant, too. What a strange record it is.
Totally ahead of its time and completely removed from everything else that was

How many
singles/albums are in your collection?

I have no idea. If
you include CDs, vinyl and cassettes, then I estimate that I have in the region
of 20,000 items in total. I could be a couple of thousand out either way, but
that’s my best guess at this point. Aside from a few that I flogged to pay for
my weed habit during the late ‘90s, I’ve got more or less everything I’ve ever
bought. Most of it’s in decent condition too, although moving house tends to result
in a lot of bent album covers.

What's your favourite
genre, and why?

My taste has always been pretty varied, even
though I write about heavy metal for a living and look like an archetypal
ageing metalhead! I’ve got tons of metal stuff, for obvious reasons, but lots
of prog, jazz, hip hop, country, indie rock, pop, reggae … you name it,
basically. I’ve even got a few opera CDs tucked away somewhere. As far as my
love of metal goes, it’s simply the most honest genre there is, not to mention
the most creatively diverse and vibrant.


stereotypical image of metal is that it’s stupid and one-dimensional, but
that’s only a view held by those who have no idea what they’re talking about.
There’s so much fascinating, original and challenging stuff coming out of the
metal scene all the time. I find it thrilling.


Dom with the late, great Ronnie James Dio

Favourite album in your vinyl collection?

That would be
my copy of Big Ship by Cardiacs – the greatest band that ever walked the Earth.
I saw Cardiacs on The Tube on Channel 4 in the mid ‘80s and I’ve never been the
same since. Big Ship was the first record of theirs that I actually owned, so
it was my proper introduction to their wonderful music. I remember exactly when
I got it … I was running in the 100 metres sprint at some ghastly district
sports competition for my school (so it must have been the summer of ’87) and I
sent my friend Martyn into Hemel Hempstead to buy me Big Ship and Sign O’ The
Times by Prince. Happy days!

What is the most beautifully-packaged
album in your collection?

I’m very partial
to Spacemate by Sudden Sway. A deservedly legendary box set thing that broke
the bank for some poor record label back in the day. I couldn’t even begin to
explain the concept behind it, but it’s two records and a load of posters, bits
of card and other weird paraphernalia, all pertaining to “The 3 Step
Dimensional Program That Really Works!” The music was great too – very quirky
indie rock stuff with shades of Bill Nelson … but the packaging is brilliant.
It died on its arse and killed the band stone dead, I believe. You have to
salute that level of ambition. I also love the first Sigue Sigue Sputnik album,
Flaunt It, which came in fake Japanese toy box packaging.  Again, the music is great (no, seriously!) but
the packaging made the whole thing feel like an experience. Mind you, I was 15
and undeniably daft.

The most valuable?

I’ve got an
original copy of The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu’s 1987 – What The Fuck Is
Going On?, i.e. the version with the illegal Abba samples on it. I always kid
myself that it’s worth a huge amount of money. In reality, it was probably
worth loads for about a fortnight when The KLF were massive, but these days I’d
probably get more for some of my Iron Maiden seven-inches. Whatever. It’s not
for sale anyway!

When not writing, Dom is the singer and bass player with the punk band Oaf, whose debut album Botheration is out now-ish (it features a guest appearance from ex-Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins).  You can hear bits of it here and follow them on Twitter.  You can also follow Dom on Twitter.

Dom shed

Some of the CDs in Dom's collection, in "UltimateShed"!!

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