Musical navel-gazing

Nostalgia really ain’t what it used to be. Nowadays all those childhood passions can’t just stay as fond recollections: it’s hard to resist revisiting them online. And then when you do, you’ll no doubt find they’re terrible.

So it was with trepidation that I fired up YouTube to see what I now thought of my musical firsts.

First single I owned

Roland Rat’s electro chart smash, a-hand-me-down from my older sister when she’d progressed onto Wham!, was the first record I owned. As quick cash-ins of TV fads go, this stands the test of time far better than I expected. The ‘rapping’ is undeniably ropey, but the lyrics are cheeky enough to look beyond that. Kudos for the pastiche of graffiti and body bopping – an under-rated early UK hip hop gem.

First single I bought

The first seven-inch single I actually shelled out for, it seems, was this joyless cover, where Kirsty Macoll hovers slightly closer to the right notes than Billy Bragg had managed. I was clearly a rather earnest seven-year-old when I plucked this from the display of chart hits on the wall of WH Smith in Skipton. followed closely in later months by other purchases of fun-free records from bands like Tears For Fears, Danny Wilson and Deacon Blue. Like the stereotypical middle-aged salesman trapped in a wimpy kid’s body.

First album I bought

I progressed to the technological wonder of cassettes aged 10 and loved Neneh Cherry’s album Raw Like Sushi so much I was still wearing it out during my first years at secondary school. Buffalo Stance still sounds undeniably ace, though the rest of the album seems very dated. At this time I shared my bedroom with a troubled older foster kid called Chris who was into David Bowie, Dead Kennedys and various 70s punk hangovers. I hated the aggressive noise coming from his record player; in turn he despised the hooks and the synths bleeding out of my Walkman’s foam headphones on the bottom bunk. If only someone could have been made to swap albums until we understood each other’s tastes.

First gig I went to

Despite the threat of detention for sneaking out of school at lunch time, I saved my dinner money as often as I could for more pressing concerns – buying CDs from Mix Music. But my maiden gig was not until I was 14, when I hopped on a coach to see L7 and Faith No More in Sheffield Arena. Once my gig-going cherry had been taken, and my ears stopped ringing a few weeks on, I was heading off to see ropey indie, hip hop, punk and metal bands in Leeds and Bradford most weeks. I don’t recall rating L7 particularly highly at the time but their big single at the time is still a riot of snottiness.

First gig I reviewed

The highlight of my school week as a geeky, music-obsessed teenager was undoubtedly Thursday, when the weekly music newspapers came out and I read them from cover to cover until most of the ink had rubbed off onto my hands and face. So it seems fitting that the first proper article I ever had published was in Melody Maker: a very short, fawning review of the then much-hyped Lo Fidelity Allstars. 15 years on, I like the crescendo of this single but the voice of the singer really grates.



  1. auntysocial said

    Excellent post Paul. 🙂

    First single I bought (much to my shame) was “Trapped” by Colonel Abrams. At the time, I had no idea just how bad the Colonel’s dancing is. Living proof that not all black guys gots the moves.

    First album I bought was “True Blue” by Madonna – back when she really was good.

    First gig was at King George’s Hall to see the Black Crowes in 1991 – when I was just a week short of being fourteen years old. It only lasted a short while though because of my eldest brother’s best friend. He decided it would be a good idea to wander round the bar area and collect dregs from the plastic pints, tip them into two whole plastic glasses and then casually wander back through the crowd towards the stage. We did – and on the count on three, we threw both and landed a hit on Chris Robinson that was little short of perfect. The gig was stopped, the band refused to come back on until we were thrown out…. which we were. Spent the rest of the gig getting a tad squiffy in the Courts Hotel. At 14 YEARS OLD?! That’s what happens when you have older brothers.

  2. Carrie Allen said

    Lol, I was at tha same gig! L7and Faith No More, those were the days, loved FNM! My first gig too – how strange!

  3. Auntysocial said

    @Carrie – which do you mean? The LZ7 or the Black Crowes gig?

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