While I’m thinking about it (and many many weeks after Angus posted his), here are the first ten records I ever possessed, from the age of about 7 to 17.
10. A whole bunch of obscure singles that my grandad bought off a bloke, as far as I can tell – the only one of which I remember is called “Budgerigar Man”. Its first lines were “Budgerigars are my friends/You may laugh but they understand me”. I think that says everything. I also used to like the cover of my dad’s copy of Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull and used to muse over it for hours, wondering what it was all about. When Dad actually put the album on, I covered my ears and ran out of the room.
9. The Osmonds: The Plan. No I can’t remember why I got this, other than that I loved the Osmonds and the Bay City Rollers, much to my groovy parents’ shame. But it was the Osmonds’ concept album, and it did have a certain messianic zeal to its cover art (sensitive pencil sketches of the brothers in 3/4 profile, with a pair of hands descending, Mothership-style, from a cloud and a load of religious hokey on the back.
8. Lots of “story albums”. Including a surreal Snow White and the Seven Dwarves where the Seven Dwarves were so obviously one bloke who was overdubbed seven times, Queen stylee; and a full 10 LP set of The Hobbit, narrated by Nicol Williamson who assigned different regional accents for each character. Gollum was Welsh – I’m surprised the Welsh didn’t set fire to him for that one. And the dwarves were all from Yorkshire.
7. The Wombles. Minuetto Allegretto, Womblin’ Free…all the hits. Sung by Mike Batt and a bunch of blokes in furry costumes. One of my mum’s NGO colleagues was Wellington, allegedly. Then he turned his back on the crazy world of showbiz to do his Phd in computing. My favourite was Orinoco, whose work ethic I admired beyond all reason.
6. Queen: Live Killers. This is my dad’s fault. He had Killer Queen and A Night at the Opera and I loved them. Maybe it was the hair, maybe it was the diva stuff. But then he left, taking his record collection with him, and I had to find a cheap-ish replacement. So Live Killers it was. I adored nearly everything on this double album with the band silhouetted on the front, and I still hum Fat Bottomed Girls when cooking. Not very PC, but there you go.
5. Gary Numan: The Pleasure Principle. Now, what happened to this one? Oh yes, I discovered that Numan was a bit of a Tory creep and decided that he no longer belonged in my record collection. Added to that, he wasn’t cool any more. Then he became cool, and it was OK to bop around to Cars again. But I was over 30 and the youth of today weren’t impressed when I boasted that I once had the original with Gazza on the front in a brown double-breasted suit, staring at a pink pyramid. And his weird permy sidekicks on the back, wearing black shirts and flourescent ties like trendy sociology teachers. I loved early 80s electronica album covers – they looked so…cheap.
4. Don’t Point Your Finger: Nine Below Zero. I decided to see what this “blues” music was all about and besides, it was autographed, it was £2.99, it was snot-green vinyl, and it still makes me dance like a fool. In the early 90s, my toxic ex and a few friends decided to check out a new-ish jazz venue in Rotherhithe. We went along, expecting polite post-bop musings, and discovered that NBZ were doing a benefit gig for “Big Bob”, who had lost his eye doing god knows what. Just about every mod, ex-mod, rude boy and girl was crowding in through the doors and my friends looked dubious. Toxic ex looked around and saw that I had dived into the crowd, paid up and was standing by the stage, waiting for the band to start. They eventually did, breaking into raw, sleazy, loud and gutsy blues as only a bunch of blokes from a council estate in south east London can play it. I went completely nuts, danced my arse off, much to my friends’ amusement, and caused one friend’s bloke to storm out because the music was too loud. She dumped him about a week later, if my memory serves me correctly.
3. Devo: Are We Not Men? Somebody gave me this petrol-blue inch-thick vinyl masterpiece. I can only listen to two tracks, but those two tracks (Mongoloid and Are We Not Men?We are Devo! )are sublime. My mum was working in Special Needs education at the time, and she used to wander around the office, humming Mongoloid quietly to herself, which the teachers didn’t like much. But “Downs Syndrome” doesn’t scan as well and it’s not a noun.
2.5. UB40: Signing On. Still a great album this one. Nice simple, accessible dub and a real feeling of commitment. It’s at 2.5 because UB40 went all weird in the late 80s and started doing some real crap bubblegum stuff. Pity, because they were a good dub band (when I was into reggae – which I’ve always been kindof/sortof into – thanks to my dad’s Bob Marley and Peter Tosh collection)
2. The Police: Outlandos D’Amour. Look, I was 14 and I fancied Sting, like any other red-blooded girl in the early 80s. I still like a couple of tracks on here. But then I discovered the Clash (thank you David Esterson) and moved on, OK?
1. The complete works of Kraftwerk from Tanzmuzik to Computer World. In one of those peculiar flashes of near-telepathic inspiration, my dad took me to a Kraftwerk gig without telling me anything about them. I fell in love completely, immediately and irrevocably. Now, just as I can’t listen to any nu-metal or new punk band without hearing my beloved Pixies and hating the band for not being the Pixies; I can’t listen to most dance music without hearing Kraftwerk and hating the DJ/band for not being Kraftwerk. Exceptions are early 808 State, Air and early Ultravox…