Monday, October 10, 2011

1980: There's promise in the air

My dad has never been into music. While he can do a good Adam Faith impression, has a soft spot for Midnight In Moscow and skiffle, and the Fifties certainly didn't pass him by, musically the Sixties were a total blank.

When I think of the waste! I could have been the son of Roger Daltrey or Keith Richards, but he wasn't interested. He was working in Fleet Street at that time, and while the Sixties were busy swinging all around him, Dad wasn't swayed by hippie chicks into growing his hair and wearing powder blue hipsters. No Peter Sellers in I Love You Alice B Toklas here. He kept his Don Draper look well into the Seventies. How often do I wake up and hope against hope that when I pull back the curtain it's 1966 or 1969? Just about every day. He was there. And he missed it.

Mum was the big music fan, but there were no singles in our house, just albums, and the ones we did have from the Sixties included Manotvani, The Sound Of Music and Motown Chartbusters.

Okay, the latter is great, but it wasn't until the Seventies that album-buying really took off in our house. As the decade progressed we were drowning in a sea of Carpenters albums, bits of Elton, Creedence, Dionne Warwick, Seventies Sinatra, Catherine Howe, Demis Roussos, Neil Diamond, Carole King, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye (Grapevine is mum's favourite song of all time), the odd compilation like K-Tel's Feelings (first sighting of Kiki Dee's Amoureuse) Don't Walk! Boogie! and Midnight Hustle, and of course no home was complete without a Top Of The Pops comp or the Hot Hits series, the ones with women in bit of sporting gear and little else.

I became made on music at the tail end of '76 and drank it all in. Dad was indulgent and in '77 my pocket money rose from 50p to 60p as that was the price of a single, so I could buy one a week. The first one I bought: We're All Alone by Rita Coolidge. Dad would patiently wait outside the record shop while I bought Baker Street or Belfast or Hotel California, but he never really commented. He wasn't a fan.

One day he casually remarked that he'd heard Magic by Olivia Newton-John on the radio and thought it was, and I quote, 'fabulous'. But that's kind of where it ended. In Bahrain in the Eighties, were the only radion station was a music station and you couldn't help but get songs stuck in your brain, pluse the hundreds of dirt cheap pirate cassette shops that were everywhere meant we soon had a house full of Barry Manilow, Lionel Richie, Eighties Dionne, the Bee Gees and other parent-friendly combos of the era. If you were lucky, you could squeeze the Marine Girls on during a dinner party and no one would notice.

But was it the song or ONJ dad found fabulous? Hmmm.... Hands off dad, she was my pin-up first.


  1. She really was gorgeous, wasn't she? I wonder who was the lucky chap (or lady, by some accounts) she kept batting her eyes at, in the front row. Bet your Dad wished it was him.

  2. Yes, Totally Hot. As I recall it, the cover of one of her records (and I really don't wanna be looking it up right now) featured ONJ in jodphurs, looking very stern, holding a whip.

    Oh my word. I wor only a lad.

  3. My dad was strictly trad with music - mostly Sinatra. Almost exclusively Sinatra in fact, but Grapevine' caught his ear too. That and bizarrely after a trip to his brother's (Uncle Les) in Sale summer of 1980 Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds had it's hooks in him..

    Mum had most of the albums you've mentioned but also Bread, Leo Sayer and K-tel country compilations..

    ONJ was lovely and that shift from wide-eyed delight into spandex-vamp around the time of Grease put me in a right ol' hormonal muddle

    Combining both of your fantasy worlds Jon- you can grab a sixties era ONJ on this corking Decca comp. Just grab the entire run of the Scene series. I haven't found a bad one yet. And my uncle pops up on the Mod Scene one (The Habits - Elbow Baby)

  4. Oh yes, Bread. Mustn't forget them. Every house had The Sound Of Bread in it.

    I've looked at those 'Scene' comps over the years but never bought, though I do have the Vashti track. It's one of my Top 10 most played on my ipod.

    I should check them out. And your uncle too. Groovy!