music – john miles

My musical history began in the early-to-mid sixties. Family legend had it I could recognise a specific 7″ single by the distinctive red-and-white label and would take it from the box and bring it to a nearby parent for them to play. And, as small children do, I would drag this record out repeatedly, insisting my ancestors played it. Over and over.
And just to vomit any credibility I may have, it was ‘donald, where’s your troosers’ by godfather of punk, Andy Stewart.
My earliest Top of the Pops memories are Bowie (‘starman’, ‘john, I’m only dancing’) and Gary Glitter (‘rock ‘n’ roll part two’). And then the avalanche started. Pop, the glam rock and novelty records of the day begat ‘heavy metal’, as it was called in those days. The first time I heard ‘machine head’ by Deep Purple (or, more specifically, the first track on side one, ‘speed king’,) I checked the speed, assuming I’d put this album on at 45 instead of 33 1/3.
The first single I ever bought was Bowie’s ‘jean genie’. The first album, Mott the Hoople’s ‘mott’. A few months later, I found Alice Cooper’s ‘pretties for you’ and ‘love it to death’ in a junk shop (seventy-five new pence each).
My mate Freddie and I were essentially Beavis and Butthead from when we were about thirteen. We weren’t that hard, we listened to various metal bands and we thought either of us farting was hysterical. These were, after all, the *seventies*.
A year or two later, punk happened and after that, I began the long slow descent through punk, post-punk, industrial, post-industrial, eventually discovering orchestral music (when I thought it was all called ‘classical’ music!) And finally, a bit like admitting I prefer intercourse with children and animals, jazz.
When I turned forty, I discovered that Miles Davis and Led zeppelin had been waiting all these years to ambush me.
I’d always liked ‘the immigrant song’ and ‘kashmir’, but Led Zep were always music for big brothers and I didn’t have one. To me, furiously engaged in mood swings and growing big-boy hair, Zeppelin’s musical proficiency didn’t matter. Purple were faster, Cooper was sicker, the Sensational Alex Harvey band were earthier and, a year or two later, the Pistols were everything-er.
Similarly, the 1980s, to me were an utterly abysmal decade. Jangly guitar pop, twee hairless synthi-pop piffle and progressively more insipid dance music. Highlights of that miserable decade were, well, Foetus, really. Swans were pretty good (up til they released ‘the burning world’) but Jim ‘foetus’ Thirwell is still the only artist whom, in fifty-odd years, I’ve had my body decorated with one of his record covers.

Why not read the novel that started it all? 1919 (inside)

A love story – on home-made acid – narrated by someone first used romatically, then set on fire, by the blue peter team, capering around the pyre like wrinkled vikings.


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