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Thursday, 4 April 2019

The S4L Exit Interview with Doug Part1

It is customary, so I'm told, that when a person leaves a job etc that they undergo an "Exit Interview" and over the years I have been asked loads of questions regarding music: my likes, dislikes, favourites, best and worst gigs and so many more. So I thought as a spot of fun I would try and recall some of those questions (and I can't recall who asked them so I will just attribute them to S4L!) and do my very own "Exit Interview" as I finish up with Soundtrack4Life after twelve years.

There's lots of links down below and I hope you click on them to check out some of the music that has formed the Soundtrack to my Life.

S4L: When you began Soundtrack4Life back on MySpace did you ever imagine that more than a decade later you would have still been doing it?

Doug: MySpace, man, remember that? I don't recall how long I did it on there but think I moved over to Blogger when I forgot my MySpace password one day and never went back. I started it really just for me and not with anyone else in mind but somehow it seemed to get out there in the world wide web and folks begun checking in and reading it.  It's funny seeing that it's been read all around the world, I can't really explain why because it's not like it's something like NME!

S4L: How did you go about getting it known?  

Doug: I never really did anything apart from posting links on places like Facebook and various groups I am in on that platform. Also some people have kindly shared the links on their own pages and so that's really the way it has spread. For the record it's worth mentioning that in the 12 years I have been doing it on Blogger I have not advertised, had celebrity endorsements, accepted bribes from bands/artists to feature their music. Some have kindly sent me a copy of an album that I have spotlighted but more often than not the bands that I have focused upon have received  free adverstising for their wares via the various links and playlists that I included on posts!

S4L: Did you think you had something to say regarding music that wasn't being said elsewhere?

Doug: No not really. I just wanted to share some of the music that has meant something to me and also new music that had been impressing me. I didn't want to be all "music journalist-like" and be all flowery in language to the point where you wouldn't have a clue what on earth I was talking about. I just wanted it to be basic and more often than not just allow the music to stand out and speak for itself.

S4L: What's your favourite song of all time?

Doug: I don't even have to think too much about the answer because it has not changed for decades. I grew up listening to Buddy Holly and The Crickets and this track has been top of the list since I was a kid!

 Rave On - Buddy Holly
Coral 1958

S4L: With regard to the music you grew up with who were the bands/artists that made a deep and lasting impression on you that still stands today?

Doug: We always had music in our house and there was a real mix of styles, everything from Pop, Soul, Rock and Roll, Country, Reggae etc. As I've gotten older I have probably slipped back into that mould listening to many different genres rather than spotlighting one particular sound because there's so much good music out there from the past and the present.

As to what bands/artists I was listening to then that I am still listening to now there are so many so I'll briefly give you a few of them: The Mamas and The Papas, The Kinks, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Status Quo, Slade, Sweet, Suzi Quatro, Otis Redding, Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly and The Crickets (as mentioned above) and Bruce Springsteen.

S4L: When did you first seriously start to buy music rather than just hearing it on the radio or watching it on TV?

Doug: Well I had a few prior to that but it was being a teenager when it first got pretty serious. I had a paper round and a milk round so that meant I had some money I could put into the coffers of the local record shops.

S4L: Any particular albums/singles that really stood out back then?
Doug: The Teenage Depression Album and Single by Eddie and the Hot Rods in 1976 certainly made a huge impression upon me as did Dr Feelgood's Stupidity album. This was at a time when Punk was springing up and it was those two albums that led me to listening to Punk music. They of course weren't Punk bands but they did have a bit of that angry young men persona about them. There wasn't that many Punk records around back in 1976 until The Damned released New Rose and the Sex Pistols issued Anarchy in the UK
The only other one I really remember from back then was the debut album from the Ramones which I heard a lot of played on John Peel's Radio Show and it was a crazy record of buzzsaw guitars, very fast tunes, lyrics that weren't exactly too deep with meaning yet possessing some heavy attitude and certainly sounding out of step with a lot of what was going on musically at the time.

The following year (1977) was a big year for buying music as so many more of the Punk bands begun releasing music. The release of Damned Damned Damned in February 1977 was a turning point as it was the first of the UK Punk albums. I always loved the cover as it really did stand out when you saw it in a Record Shop! Hearing it for the first time was a bit like listening to the chaotic sound of Raw Power by Iggy and The Stooges that had come out in 1973 (which I only heard for the first time a short while before The Damned album was released)!
S4L: Were you only listening to Punk music then?

Doug: Mostly Punk but also Reggae and then some of the stuff like Status Quo was still something I enjoyed and also hearing Graham Parker and The Rumour for the first time as well was pretty cool. I was also a bit of a fan of Peter Gabriel who released his first solo album that year (it was considered very un-Punk to listen to such things but hey, I have always thought that if a song, single, album is good then it shouldn't matter what little box it fits into! Plus I hated that kind of snobbishness that crept into Punk when all of a sudden you went from no rules as to what you could wear or listen to and were then forced to fit into a media defined view of what Punk was and what you had to wear and what you were not allowed to listen to!).

S4L: Do you have any favourite Reggae albums from around this time?

Doug:  Between 1976-78 there were a few Reggae albums that for me were really standout records. Firstly my favourite Reggae album of all time, which was released in 1978 on Greensleeves, Dr Alimantado's Best Dressed Chicken in Town.
A close second would be Two Sevens Clash by Culture released on Joe Gibbs Record Globe in 1977 and then issued in the UK on Lightning Records in 1978.
And a third one would be M.P.L.A. by Tapper Zukie that was released on Klik in 1976 and if I remember correctly I bought it when it was reissued on Virgin's Front Line label in 1978 (though I did buy the single from a local Reggae Record Store in Sydenham, South East London not long after hearing it for the first time around 1977).
S4L: With so many Punk Singles coming out in 1977 are there any that really spoke into your own situation being a teenager at the time?

Doug: Man, there were so many. It's hard to choose as some were more important than others and of course there were one-off singles from bands who basically spilit up not long after they released them.

S4L: Give us a few examples.

Doug: At the start of the year there was the excellent Spiral Scratch EP by Buzzcocks on New Hormones. A band didn't even need a major label to release a record, they could do it themselves. This one is thought of as one of the first "Independent" Singles (at least of the Punk scene).
It was funny that vocalist Howard Devoto left the band shortly after it was released. Thank goodness that the rest of the band carried on because they would go on to make some excellent singles and a few great albums!
Freeze/Man of the Year by the Models on Step Forward Records was another cracker. The band split not long after with Marco Pirroni later resurfacing and getting some success with Adam and The Ants.
White Riot/1977 by The Clash was also one that eagerly awaited seeing that they were named among the top three of the UK Punk bands (with The Damned and Sex Pistols). 
I have no idea why Island released Do Anything You Wanna Do under the name The Rods instead of Eddie and The Hot Rods but it's a real gem and another (although not technically a Punk record) that spoke into my teenage years (along with their song Quit This Town) about breaking out and being someone who I wanted to be and not confined to the expectations that others had for me.

God Save The Queen by the Pistols was probably an other that made a huge impact on me (and many others). This was as highly anticipated as The Clash debut single because the band had been trying to find a new label after becoming almost persona non grata in the UK due to their firing from EMI and then A&M (who were originally scheduled to release the single). Thankfully Virgin stepped up and took a chance with them and this single created such a stir. 

I remember we got a DJ to actually play White Riot, In The City (The Jam) and God Save the Queen at a Jubilee Party and there the people were happily dancing away until it clicked with someone what was thundering out of the speakers! We were sent packing and reminded afresh that being a punk was a bit like being a leper, you were deemed so unclean that it was impossible for you to remain in the company of "normal people"!
I could probably fill a whole blog on the singles that made a mark on me. Here's a last one for the moment. It was released in 1978 by Subway Sect (they had played at the Punk Festival at the 100 Club in 1976 and toured with The Clash on The White Riot Tour). Nobody's Scared/Don't Split It was a magnificent single I reckon.

I think the thing that stood out with these releases and others that came out was that the B-Side begun to matter and wasn't just a throwaway track.

S4L: The full title of the blog is Soundtrack4Life: The B-Sides, why did you add that little phrase to the title?

Doug: I sometimes forget that I had done that. I guess the reasoning behind it was that the B-Side is not always seen as important than the A-Side of a 7" Single. In a way I was probably selling myself a bit short as well by offering the possibility that this blog had nothing really to say and would be deemed by some as an irrelevance. 

But as I said the B-Sides started to become just as important with the whole Punk scene. Take as an example the B-Side of Gary Gilmore's Eyes by The Adverts.
Flip that single over and you have a stone cold Punk classic with Bored Teenagers:

"We're just bored teenagers
Looking for love
Or should I say emotional rages
Bored teenagers
Seeing ourselves as strangers"

It just expressed exactly what we were feeling at the time. I could probably mention a whole load more as well and there's not really time to go into the whole issue of songs that started out life as a B-Side that became the big hit or even those classic songs that record labels stuck on B-Sides almost as if they were subpar songs when actually they were better than A-Side! I could make a whole compilation of those types of tunes!

S4L: We have spent time talking about Punk singles and you have already mentioned a couple of Punk albums that made an impact on you. I wonder, as we finish up this first part, if you could give us five other albums from around the time of the Punk scene between 1977-79 that are still regarded by you as special?

Doug: Only five? Man, that is some task! It goes without saying that one of the first that should be on that small list is the debut album by The Clash.
Forty two years ago on the 8th April CBS released this "manifesto" from Strummer and Co. that was raw, a bit shouty vocally, musically not anything like Yes or Pink Floyd but had a whole bucket load of attitude and streetwise sensibility. It also contained an epic cover of Junior Murvin's Police and Thieves which was a real eye opener and showed a little of the that Punk/Reggae crossover.

X-Ray Spex debut album Germ Free Adolescents is another absolute classic in my book. It wasn't mad crazy rebellion that was on offer here but a glimpse of a possible future world. 

(I'm) Stranded by The Saints (released in 1977 on Harvest EMI) was a cracker as well and proved that Punk was not just a UK thing (as they hailed from Australia). Their single (not featured on the album) This Perfect Day absolutely floored me when I first heard and saw it on Top of the Pops and still sounds great. Bruce Springsteen thinks that people should listen to this album as well and I think his endorsement is probably better than mine!

When I first heard the debut single from New York's Televison, Little Johnny Jewel (purchased from HMV, Oxford Street, London, on import), I was a bit underwhelmed as I had read a lot of good things about them and the single kinda sucked! Then I heard See No Evil on the radio and thought surely it couldn't be the same band! Much to my surprise it was, and Marquee Moon remains one of my favourite albums of all time.

For the last one it would almost be too easy to go with the Pistols, Blondie or another Ramones album so instead I'm going to go with this one.

Another Kind of Blues was the debut album from U.K. Subs, released on Gem Records in September 1979. I throw it into the ring for two reasons. Firstly, because I can, and secondly, because it's a mighty fine record. I have lost count of how many times I saw them live and I have so many fond memories of their shows (like I have with other bands but just in a different way). Also I love the fact that Charlie Harper is still fronting the band (despite being old enough to be my Grandad!) all these years on and they are still tearing up stages around the world with this uncompromising sound that they have rarely strayed from since they began in 1976!

1 comment:

Vương Trùng Dương said...

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