What are your earliest musical memories?
I overheard someone talking enthusiastically on their mobile the other day about how seeing Steps would bring back early childhood memories. Steps.
I’ll leave aside for the moment how that would bring back little more than a cold sweat as I awake from a nightmare of the full horror of early line-dancing novelty hit 5,6,7,8. The enthusiasm! The smiles! The fake tan! The stupid rhinestone-clad boots! And that’s just H. Ghastly.
Someone told me recently that H from Steps had died. Then they showed me this picture as evidence…
What really struck me about the phone conversation was just how ancient and crumbling that makes me. Damn you, Steps. Next thing I know, S Club 7 will all be forty years old, and I’ll be in an old people’s home.
(I expect most of my overseas readership are finding their eyes glazing over and are probably asking S Club Who? Let’s move on).
As the more astute of you will have realised, much of this blog looks back at early musical memories. What formative sounds shaped my current musical tastes? Why did I like this record and not that one? And can I make a joke about it? Don’t knock it. It’s a simple formula.
Having spent the best part of the year trawling though the deepest recesses of my otherwise fairly empty mind, I thought I would shake out the cobwebs and share my very earliest memories. I did this, and then last night’s BBC4 Top of the Pops Documentary pretty much broadcast the whole lot. Damn.
Thankfully there’s a decent chance that a) not everyone will have seen the documentary and b) not all my early memories were on the show, so without further ado, here are these formative memories:
Remember any of these? Are yours very different?
1. Gary Numan on Jim’ll Fix It:
I realise of course that Mr Savile is now rightly persona non grata on account of his beastly behaviour. Nevertheless, no amount of airbrushing of history will (unfortunately) remove the now tainted memories of Jim’ll Fixit – a show where children would write in to ask for their dreams to come true. Whilst for many I could see the appeal, the one that sticks in my mind was the kid who wanted to be in the car whilst Numan sang his hit single Cars. What I remember is just how dull the realisation of that dream was. Numan gamefully sang away – probably worried about whether Savile would try to goose him later – whilst the child sat in a slightly less cool Sinclair C5. Note to kid: Next time, set your dreams a little higher. It looked rubbish. (PS. I haven’t seen this clip in 30 years – it’s not on You Tube – but I’m hoping my memory isn’t playing tricks on me).
2. Grease singles played on my sister’s record player. And the Skurfs.
My sister had a Dansette record player and, being a couple of years older than me, was into pop music sooner. John Revolting and Olivia Neutron Bomb (as my mum and dad called them – how we laughed) stayed at number one for what seemed to be an eternity, only interrupted by The Smurfs. My sister saved her pocket money and bought Summer Nights and Hopelessly Devoted To You. I preferred novelty hit Stamp on a Skurf, which lampooned the Smurf Song by Father Abraham – the chorus of which went as follows: Stamp stamp stamp on a Skurf / Stamp stamp stamp for all your worth / Stamp upon a Skurf today / Then maybe they’ll go away – Stamp stamp stamp on a skurf. And no, I haven’t heard that song in thirty five years. These early memory scars are etched indelibly on the mind. Here’s a clip I have found on You Tube of this classic song:
3. Tommy Steele‘s “Crash Bang Wallop”.
My parents owned this single. The only other records they owned were by Cliff Richard, James Last or Tijuana Brass. As a result this got played a lot. They also had lots of church organ music. I still get a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach when I hear a hymn. Church music has done more to promote atheism than Richard Dawkins ever will. Cliff Richard once sang a song called “Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music”. It’s a terrible song. Oh, the irony.
4. Blondie on Top of The Pops.
Sunday Girl was the song – I think. I don’t remember which song so much. I do remember the singer though, wearing a stripy dress. Can’t think why.
Apparently I used to rock in the cradle to The Lion Sleeps Tonight. When I was very small, this was the song that my parents would play to keep me happy / send me to sleep. They played Cliff Richard’s records as punishment if I had been naughty. However, this is hardly a “memory”. More vivid in the memory is watching Matt Bianco on Saturday Superstore (a three hour Saturday morning live TV show) take a live phone-in where they were roundly abused. Bad language on Kids TV is the sort of thing that lives long in the memory – and thanks to You Tube, the moment has been preserved for posterity (contains swearing):
Next up: Part 2 of My Earliest Musical Memories
Record #137: Blondie – Sunday Girl