Diary Of A Music Fan

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I am first and foremost a music fan. Since the age of 13 I have been unable to pass a record shop without going in to browse. Sometimes I flick through the LPs and pause when I recognise something I already own, take it out of the rack, turn it over and look at the back cover. Don't ask me why. I'll check the work of a favourite artist knowing I already own everything they've recorded, hoping that by some miracle I've overlooked a key work from my favourite period.

Whenever I find an LP I consider a masterpiece languishing in the bargain basement bin at £1.99 (that's right, I'm English, how we suffer!) I want to show it to a fellow shopper and say "look! let me buy this for you, you really need to hear it!". I know all of these activities are compelling arguments for therapy or at the very least the relaxation of the gun laws but I just can't help it ... I'm a music fan!

ESP CD coverMiles Davis / ESP

Frank Zappa once remarked "Jazz isn't dead, it just smells funny". He may have been referring to another Davis classic Bitches Brew. ESP remains my favourite.

And besides, I'm glad I have a passion to keep me preoccupied, however inane it may seem to others. It's stops me from spending my days worrying about death and the possible return to our TV screens of Don Johnson. What pleasures can compare to that to be had from the purchase of a new LP? Carrying it home from Tower Records in that silly little plastic handbag, £15.99p poorer. £15.99p!!! Outrageous! Now don't get me started missus! It's a piece of plastic is all!

Jobim CD coverAntonio Carlos Jobim / Passarim

Simply sublime.

 

I remember when £1.99 was considered top whack. Gong's Camembert Electrique was 99p and The Faust Tapes at 49p had to be withdrawn by Virgin for fear that's its runaway success would financially damage the company, (apparently they were losing money on every copy sold!). Now there's a loss leader for you.

Ravel CD coverMaurice Ravel / Sheherazade

Do you want to learn how to write songs? Listen to these three.

Back home the agony continues (you know it's uncool to take out your purchase on the bus and look at it, right!) as you try without any hope of success to prise the inlay booklet out of its jewel case with a fingernail. I swear some bastard at the printing plant zaps them with static. And when at last the moment comes to actually listen to it ... well, that's too much like hard work ... what's on TV?

Best of Dionne Warwick CD coverDionne Warwick Sings The Bacharach & David Songbook

I went to see Bacharach in concert last year. Whilst applauding The Look Of Love, Alfie, Do You Know The Way To San Jose and countless other classics it occurred to me that applauding Burt Bacharach was like applauding my childhood. Those songs seemed to be hanging in the air when I was growing up in the 60s. Too bad multitrack killed Burt's talent off.

 

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Wha Cha Gonna DO For Me CD coverChaka Khan / What Cha Gonna Do For Me

Has there ever been a more consistent, wonderfully joyous soul/funk LP than this? (not counting Songs In The Key Of Life). Take a bow Arif Mardin.

Here's a thing. You discover a new record by a previously unknown and obscure artist. You love this record, you evangelise it to anyone who will listen. This record moves you in a deep and meaningful way. Three weeks later it breaks through, number one, all over the radio, your Mum's humming it as she drives you to school. You never want to hear that damn thing EVER AGAIN. It's the worst piece of shit ever committed to plastic. What's that all about, eh?

Amorosa CD coverJoao Gilberto / Amorosa-Brasil

They say that together with Jobim he invented Bossa Nova. I'm not arguing. Stunning.

Ask a friend to name the first record they ever bought and they'll lie to you. Backstabbers by the O'Jays they'll say, when you both know it was Remember You're A Womble. Well, I feel man enough to be honest with you here. My first record? A single of course. Purple Haze by Hendrix. No? Alright then ... try Me And You And A Dog Named Boo by Hobo. Believe me they were big in 1971, but the pop world is a fickle place ... This choice of purchase is particularly painful to me because as long ago as 1966 I had already been introduced to the great GREAT GREAT music of Burt Bacharach, John Barry and Tommy James & The Shondells down at the local swimming pool.

Broken Beats CD coverCycle One (Ed Cooper) / Broken Beats

The best drum 'n' bass LP ever.

But music is a stern mistress, she'll lead you down many dark peer-pressure alleys in pursuit of camaraderie, sex and the occasional Toffee Crisp, and thus my tastes over the years have encompassed all genres of music from Prog Rock to Drum 'n' Bass. The LPs presented here are however the ones I always return to. Theses LPs solicit an emotional response in me. I don't care what anybody else thinks about them, they make ME feel good. As my old music teacher used to say to me "feel it in your heart or not at all". OK, what she actually used to say was ... "For God sake STOP! you tone deaf idiott" ... but you get the idea.

Topographic Oceans CD coverYes / Tales From Topographic Oceans

Rick Wakeman once said of Jon Anderson "He's the only person I know who's trying to save this planet whilst living on another one". Tales From Topographic Oceans was the first "serious" rock record I owned at the tender age of 13. It's generally regarded as being pretentious, pompous, and self indulgent, as all great music should be. Possibly my favourite record of all time.

See you at the vinyl fair!

© Matt Ottewill 2001