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The first thing I ought
to say is, she was like a mother to me. A mother who took away my milk, battered
the kids who dared to enter my bedroom, beat me with her handbag, made me call
her ma’am, and kicked the dirt back down any holes I industriously dug in the
garden… but yes, she was like a mother, loved but feared. That’s because she was
my mother. Who did you think I was talking about?
I won’t tell you my
opinion about Baroness Thatcher, because it’s already bad enough that you have
to read my twisted views about music, never mind politics. But when anyone
important passes away, it’s easy to find yourself wondering about what you were
like back then and the choices you made. At the time that Mrs Thatcher was
elected in 1979, I was finding it increasingly hard to find current pop music to
match the power of the black music I was consuming, and which was consuming me.
I remember one Saturday in particular in 1981 when I went to Small Wonder
records, Walthamstow. It was the kind of shop which stocked everything
worthwhile on a weekly basis, but I struggled to find anything on that visit.
Simply wanting to buy a new record, I picked this single by The Passions, took
it home, played it, and felt I’d wasted my cash. (These days it sounds cute and
retro to me, but it would.) From that point on I bought nothing but black music
until the rise of Madchester (amused
by that video: the models look like they’d never choose to dance to it).
Clearly there was great pop made in
that in-between period, but I had no time or money for it.
On a personal level,
the 80s were mixed; I had nowhere to live for
a while (I’d like to think that some RC readers own some of the albums I
lost at the time, because I hope they’ve gone to a good home). Gimme Shelter.
On the plus side,
I met my wife and became a music writer. Taking James Brown’s How Long Darling EP
into a unisex hairdresser and asking to have my hair permed into the same shape
as the photo on the back at the start of the 80s was not something I’d do today,
although I was delighted with the result, and before the decade was out, Mr
Brown had signed the EP for me when I interviewed him at the Hammersmith Odeon.
I always dropped money into the miners’ collection buckets at Kings Cross when I
was on my way home from the steel stockholders
where I worked, and I played at a couple of miners’ benefit gigs, including one
with this bloke on the
bill. I think I had a good 80s… in spite of Mrs Thatcher, not because of her.
We’re in the wrestling
contest which is the last couple of weeks of production for the new issue of the
magazine, although it’ll be worthwhile, with a fantastic piece about The
Hollies’ rarities; a terrific Digging For Gold story about Vanda &
Young, the precursors of AC/DC; plus ZZ Top and Sandie
Shaw. Tell you more next week.
While I think of it,
Last Shop Standing, the excellent film about record retailers, has
a special edition coming out on DVD for Record Store Day that boasts 74 minutes
of new material, plus there’s a special screening at
the Curzon cinema in Soho, London, on 18 April, an event which will include a
Q&A with a panel that features Jason Draper, Record
Collector’s rhythmically admired reviews editor. Should be a great do.
Another event that has
tickled my fancy big time is a David Bowie listening evening, with his
records played on the kind of hi-fi system most of us can only dream about. It’s
on 25 April at Llwyn Helyg Country House, Carmarthenshire, SA32 8JH – booking is
essential, go to http://www.llwynhelygcountryhouse.co.uk/music/ for
Is that enough for now?
Waay too much, I hear you yell. Have a good week,
Ian McCann, Editor Record Collector
THE CURRENT ISSUE
Plus Billy Bragg,