The Music Fix's first records
We all had to start some where, be that with Nevermind or Mr Blobby: The Album. It's time to find out what tickled the aural canals of TMF's team and whether their first record shaped their tastes for years to come...
The evidence of the first record I ever bought is still with me: Adam & The Ants' era-defining 'Stand And Deliver' complete with the punched hole in the corner of the sleeve from which Woolworths would hang the chart singles on hooks behind the counter. (For the benefit of younger readers, Woolworths was a high street retailer where you could buy everything from cut-price homewares to pic 'n' mix sweets to the latest pop hits. It was a popular concept back in the day.)
But that wasn't my first record: that would be Kenny Rogers 'Coward Of The County', a birthday present a few years earlier. Rogers' trad country effort (the last such of its kind to reach #1 in the UK, according to Wikipedia) is an odd record to capture the mind - and ears - of a primary school age child, being a tale of rape, revenge and family honour, so I'm guessing that I was more captivated by the tune than the words, a preference that's stayed with me these past 30 years.
Yet without having resort to YouTube, I can't quite remember how the song actually goes; what I do remember is having to take the single back to the record section in the basement of John Menzies as my copy jumped quite badly. Of course it didn't jump on the shop player and the woman behind the counter explained it was probably a problem with our player. In reality, we didn't have a record player; we had an archaic radiogram, a large standalone object with a turntable and built-in radio, complete with space to store a modest album collection. It stood in the hallway outside the living room, and where I would sit and spin the few other records we had: 'Mull Of Kintyre', an ABBA hits collection, too many Jim Reeves albums. It was on that radiogram I first heard The Ants' Dirk Wears White Sox album, with its tales of alien invasion, Presidential assassination and "wide mouthed girls". After that, things would never be quite the same again.
It's probably not a great thing to admit on a music site, but I can't quite fully remember my first record (and I'm not that old yet...perhaps I am on the inside) or even hold much stead in it even if I did. Put simply, my younger days were never really about the music; if anything, my first love in life was film and music was just kind of there. Not saying I didn't listen to stuff: I have no shame in admitting, although perhaps I should, that I'd listened to both of S Club 7's albums but I was, after all, 12 when they came out so it's acceptable. Ish. Still a world away from Arcade Fire mind.
I suppose that really shows my taste when I was younger - and probably why I don't remember, or don't want to remember, my first record per se. A better way to look at this from a personal perspective, is the moment my views on music changed and it became something that I invested in, rather than just coming across it when and where I happened to.
That record, and I probably should keep quiet about this as well, was Evanescence's Fallen. Marking a change in not only my attention to music, but also my specific leaning within music, I immediately fell in love; perhaps in love with Amy Lee first but the record a close second and, to this day, I still give it a spin almost every month, whether on MP3 or its physical form.
I'll be the first to admit that it isn't a completely flawless record as it can quite get samey, but I'll happily put that bad boy on from the opening notes of the crunching 'Going Under' through the beautiful 'My Immortal' (album version, not band version thankyouverymuch) right up to the gothic ending of 'Whisper', and still not get bored. OK, the follow up wasn't any great shakes (although I still listen to that as well, Amy's got a hold over me) but that doesn't diminish the impact that the first had on me; and with their third album providing more of the same, it looks like Evanescence will remain part of my musical collection for some time yet.
I remember my first album very well. It was the beginning of my love affair with buying music - not just listening to it on the radio, but owning it. The music becoming yours. Up until then such a concept was alien to me.
I was about six. On KPTV channel 12 they used to show a lot of reruns and old films - kind of the American equivalent of ITV3. And one Saturday afternoon they showed this incredibly weird, and slightly disturbing (to my Hannah and Barbera mind) animated film called Yellow Submarine. The Beatles were in it (though I found out later that it really wasn’t them talking). I didn’t much understand the storyline - a nowhere man, Blue Meanies, people getting conked on the head with apples and turning to stone....but the music was amazing.
I think the genius of The Beatles was in writing songs that transcended....everything. Everyone liked them: my mom, my nerdy sister, my teacher, the cool long-haired guy who sold me the album. Perhaps the irony and sophistication of the music went over my head, but I could still grasp the perfectly crafted tunes with eager hands. “One, two, three four, can I have a little more? Five, six, seven, eight nine, ten I love you!” I soon became obsessed with them, and with birthday money burning a hole in my pocket, I went to Everybody’s Records (alas now sadly extinct), with its dark, woody interior that smelled like incense, and the salespeople who looked like rock stars, and bought my very first grown-up album.
I went home, peeled the plastic wrapping off, pulled the record out, put it on the turntable and carefully placed the needle onto the record. Scratch, hiss, and there it was. And I stared at the brightly-coloured album sleeve as the music came at me through the speakers. I was suddenly in control. I could play any song I wanted, as often as I wanted. The music was mine now. “A, B, C, D, can I bring my friend to tea? E, F, G, H, I, J I love you!”
Can we forget about Bon Jovi and, er, The London Boys? The first album that shaped my musical tastes as they are today was bought around the age of 16 and was Primal Scream’s Screamadelica. I was sucked in by the single 'Movin’ On Up' and the winning of the Mercury Prize award (it had to be interesting, didn’t it?; fortunately I didn’t apply the same logic to M People’s Elegant Slumming), and, hell, I had an Our Price voucher to spend.
At the time I was rather 'against' dance music and indeed would laugh at some of the ravey 12”s a friend would assault us with round at his house. Yet strangely, I didn’t eject Screamadelica after the opening track to cut the tape. The various weird sounds (which I can now categorise into house, dub, ambient, etc) started to make sense, or perhaps just intrigued me, even though most of the druggy references would have been lost. The most I ever did to it for at least a decade was get drunk. It’s one of only two albums (the other being Radiohead’s OK Computer) that I could honestly claim to have listened to daily for several years.
Despite it sowing a seed in my brain, I would still be lost in mainly indie guitar land for nearly a decade, the occasional important record (think Portishead, DJ Shadow, Leftfield) becoming the next rung out and showing the way to my current preference for electronica and dance music. Screamadelica remains my favourite album, despite rarely listening to it these days; yes, it is possible to get too much of a good thing.
Ahh, the legendary, 'what was your first record?' question. Celebrity respondees normally come up with something hideously cool such as the latest Scrotum Clamp limited edition 10 incher whereas, in truth, they probably picked up the latest opus by renowned 70s hipsters, Peters & Lee. I was never that fashionable so the first record ever to hit my rather quaint old turntable was ‘My Coo Ca Choo’ by former Ted turned black leather clad rock god Alvin Stardust. I even did a mean impersonation right down to the sinister finger pointing, but my early desire for rock’n’roll glory were cruelly dashed as a request to repeat said impersonation at a party of my seven year-old peers led to an early bout of stage fright. Oh, fickle finger of fate how you mocked me.
Given my tender age it is a certainty that Mr Stardust’s first hit was bought for me by my parents. Fast forward a few years to try and discover the first record I paid for from my own pocket (money) and, despite long, tortuous bouts of sleeplessness I honestly cannot remember the offending item. However, the most likely culprits are either the 7” single of ‘London Calling’ by The Clash or 'Foxtrot' by Genesis - in its full glorious gatefold sleeve. I didn’t realise at the time that it was a cardinal sin to admit to liking both Punk and Prog but there you, are a three minute piece of punk perfection sitting firmly, yet awkwardly, alongside an album containing one of the most legendary of prog rock epics, ‘Suppers Ready’.
Am I embarrassed at such a strange start to my musical journey? Not in the least. I think it showed an early propensity to listen to music without any ulterior motives or a desire to be fashionable or trendy. Of course, there are plenty of records I wouldn’t freely admit to having owned but I would never deny them if asked.
Maybe it is my age, but I find it sad that there is a generation growing up who will never experience the thrill of saving up your hard earned (or scrounged) pennies, entering the dark - and oft times scary - world of the local record emporium and purchasing a round piece of black plastic that could influence your life for years to come. It is also unlikely that kids of today will, in 30 years time, dig out a dusty old mp3 from a long forgotten hard drive, blow off the cobwebs and give it a spin to transport them back to a more innocent and less fraught time of life - which is exactly what The Clash and Genesis just did for me. Happy days indeed.
As a boy of eight, I remember so vividly first laying eyes on Roger Dean's sea serpent which adorns the cover of Asia's eponymous debut, with the shining full moon rising above the stormy seas from which the magnificent beast is emerging. I still have that original cassette at home (remember them, kids? Didn’t think so...), and to this day, no matter how bad a mood I am in, a quick spin of this gem will raise the spirits and leave me grinning like a maniac.
With hindsight, it pretty accurately predicted my taste in music nearly two decades later; from the first moment I heard it, 'Time Again' became my immediate favourite with its blistering riff proving to be far heavier than anything else on the album, indeed more so than anything else I listened to until discovering Black Sabbath at 17. The soppy love song 'One Step Closer' was often fast forwarded through, so much so I could accurately pick the moment to hit play again; to this day nothing will have me reaching for the sick bag quicker than a few crooning platitudes of burgeoning love. But, and keep this just between us, I do enjoy a good catchy pop song to bop along to, and you can do a lot worse than 'Heat Of The Moment'. It isn't quite in the class of ABBA's finest, yet this is my guilty pleasure as I scream out the chorus to my audience of birds, cats and foxes.
Looking at Asia objectively, it is cheesy 80s AOR performed by four jaded prog rock superstars fallen on hard times, but this is the soundtrack of my life, and no amount of rational argument is going to dissuade me from thinking this is one of the finest albums even committed to tape; here comes the feeling, here comes the same old feeling...
I’d like to point out that this question isn’t fair- I was a 90’s baby, meaning my first album I ever bought is incredibly likely to be the most embarrassing on the list. I thought about lying and maybe choosing an album from when I first got into the rockier side of things, but as the more credible of these albums were Good Charlotte and My Chemical Romance, I figure I may as well just go with the truth. My first record was actually the second Spice Girls album, Spice World.
Whilst I like to think it was a purchase made because of the big pop hooks and catchy choruses, in reality I just wanted to be Baby Spice. Plus all my friends were buying it too. I am going to stand by it though, there’s some amazing songs on there. From the pure pop of ‘Stop’ through to heartbreaking ballad ‘Viva Forever’, and even a bit of swing on ‘The Lady Is A Vamp’, I have discovered from writing this that I actually still rather like this album.
I always thought I was a rock girl, but it seems I have come full circle. From the Spice Girls, I somehow progressed onto bands with delightful names such as Bleeding Through and Zombie Apocalypse in my teenage years. Then I remembered how happy pop makes me, and as a result, my music collection is a bit of a state. It seems as though the Spice Girls left a lasting mark on my music taste. So there's my confession, it may not be cool, but at least it's not Coldplay.
So they're ours, what were yours? Let us know below.