Wednesday 2 April 2008

rise up, gather round, rock this place to the ground....

I'm not quite done with the alphabeticon just yet, but I think I'll take a break from pointless cataloguing this week and focus instead on a couple of other musical delights that I've rediscovered this week.

During my second year at University, I shared a house with three friends down in the unfashionable end of Royal Leamington Spa. It was a bit of a dump, and the gas fires were condemned in our first week there, but it was home. As I'm sure is often the case, we were quite an odd bunch: a gay Welsh playwright, a Madonna-obsessed Asian film student from South London (he was in the queue with all the other perverts to buy "Sex" on the morning of its release), a red-headed brummie U2 obsessive and me.... a tall, big-mouthed, insecure Morrissey fan. We'd been thrown together in our hall of residence in our first year, and had become firm friends. That Christmas - 1993 - we exchanged gifts. As I remember it, we all pooled together to buy each other one quality gift. I don't really remember what everyone else got, but I remember very clearly that they gave me a limited edition 10" vinyl copy of the Smiths album "Hatful of Hollow"

It's not really an album proper, I suppose: it's a collection of various singles, b-sides and radio sessions.... but it was (and remains) comfortably my favourite album by my favourite band. I already owned the album on CD, and I didn't own a record player, but I was unbelievably touched by the gesture and treasured it.

I still don't own a record player, but I thought about this gift last night, and I decided that it would perhaps be nice to get it framed as a memento of that little group in that chilly front room in Warwickshire some fifteen years ago. Well, better that than slowly gathering dust in a box somewhere, anyway.

It was whilst I was turning the house upside down looking for the record that I stumbled across my second musical memory of the evening: under the bed in the spare room, behind the guitar cases and hidden in a box behind the old bits of carpet.... I found a cache of my ropey heavy metal era CDs and cassettes. Oh yes!

Warrior Soul, Wolfsbane, Queensryche, The Almighty, ZZ Top, Gary Moore, all my old Iron Maiden tapes.... it was all there. I'm off to see Def Leppard, Whitesnake and Thunder (together at last!) playing at the Nottingham Arena sometime in July, so the real prize amongst that little lot were the copies of "Hysteria", "Adrenalize", "1987" and "Slip of the Tongue". If I look a little harder and dig a little deeper, I wouldn't be at all surprised if I also found my cassette copies of "Pyromania", "High'n'Dry" and "Lovehunter". All I need now is my copy of "Backstreet Symphony" (a five star album on Amazon, no less) and I'll be well away.

I'm sure there aren't many posts on t'internet that lurch enthusiastically from an appreciation of The Smiths to a confession of an enduring fondness for Whitesnake, eh?

As Krusher from Kerrang would certainly have said back in the day....Rock hard. Rock heavy. Rock animal.

It's probably best if I don't do earworms any time soon though, yeah?


  1. I found a cache of my ropey heavy metal era CDs and cassettes.

    ... where you'd hidden them to avoid including them in the alphabeticon, no doubt.

    I got bought a record player for my birthday last year. A Project Debut, if you're interested. It's red.

  2. you cheeky swine!

    do I sound embarrassed of them to you?

    and did you want the alphabeticon to be even longer or something? You asking for an encore?

  3. "ropey heavy metal" -- what?? Yank translation of ropey, please?

  4. Awh, I'm not sure what I feel for most: the gift of the 10" vinyl Smiths (wow!) or the finding of your long-lost musical heritage.

    Go and enjoy your rock gods. its what they're there for.

  5. That's serious eclecticism.

    When I was 16, I'd far rather have listened to Whitesnake than The Smiths.

    I've since learned my lesson.

  6. Yes. More alphabeticons! How about your DVD collection?