(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson, of Glasgow – February 2021)
Part #1: APPLE TREE AWAKENING
Do you recall the precise moment you became aware of music? Not the nursery rhyme, lullaby type stuff your exasperated parents would feel compelled to sing as you exercised your lungs at some god-awful hour of the night.
No – real music. The tunes that set you off on your personal musical odyssey. (See how I cleverly avoided using that dreadful ‘J’ word, just there?)
I grew up in a household filled with the sound of marching military bands and film soundtracks. The Royal Marines Bands Service and South Pacific still come back to haunt me. In fact, having asked my Dad what was the music of choice to get me settled when I was a nipper, I was horrified to hear it was ‘I’m Getting Married in The Morning,’ from the musical, ‘My Fair Lady.’
Sheesh! 1958 – even Pat Boone or Dean Martin would have almost passed as ‘cool’ then. But no – I must have been the most uncool six year old in Glasgow when I first became aware of some combo called The Beatles.
1964 – The Swinging Sixties and all that were just around the corner and the only reason I became aware of the biggest music phenonemon until Wet Wet Wet came along (‘J’ for joke) some twenty-odd years later, was because my father had written a banner with the words ‘She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah Yeah’ to stick on my Uncle Robert’s Triumph Herald on the day of his wedding. And even that was a year after the release date.
Unbelievably, it would be another five years before I eventually ‘got with it,’ as we would say. And I remember the precise moment.
I was climbing the apple tree in our back garden with my pals, when one mentioned the cartoon he had seen on TV (yeah, I know – apple tree / garden / TV – we were terribly middle class, not that I’m at all ashamed of that)
Cartoon? He said ‘cartoon?’ That was me – I was in. What was this ‘cartoon’ of which he spoke?
Part #2: SWEET SWEET MUSIC
In truth, it was the cartoon more than the music that commanded my attention of The Beatles and ‘Yellow Submarine.’
I was to remain blissfully unaffected by the hype surrounding the Fab Four for many more years. Indeed, even now, I don’t quite ‘get’ them. I know that amounts to something like heresy, but while I can appreciate their later work, I still have more time for each of John, Paul, George and Ringo’s solo efforts than that they produced together. In fact, ‘Back Off Boogaloo‘ would end up one of my favourite singles from 1972, the words being scrawled in an old-school Kolossal graffiti style across the cover of my English jotter.
Even at the age of ten, I railed against convention. Not for me, this accepting what was uniformly and blindly followed. Unimpressed with the biggest band on the planet, I was already showing a stubborn and ‘punk’ attitude.
I nailed my colours to the Ohio Express and The Scaffold masts in 1968.
1969 was another year more focused on football, Batman and Thunderbirds. I do, however, have vivid memories of returning from the annual Carnival with my Cub Scout Pack, on the top deck of a Glasgow Corporation bus, singing the latest big hit by The Archies.
I’m not so sure that was evidence of a musical maturing, though.
Being only eleven / twelve years old in 1970, my scant pocket money stretched only to a copy of Shoot! magazine, a pack of football related bubblegum cards and a handful of gobstoppers. Any money I saved would go towards buying a trick / joke item from Tam Shepherd’s magic shop in Glasgow city centre.
Music and records would not become a priority until the following year when at the age of thirteen I developed the ‘cool’ gene.
OK – maybe ‘cool’ is stretching it. But I was the only kid in school who owned a copy of ‘Kongos’ the debut album John Kongos in his own name. This was the first album I bought and paid for on my own, and came a few months after my first single, ‘Co-Co,’ by The Sweet.
It’s fair to say I got a bit of stick at school for my choices. But hey – nineteen years later, The Happy Mondays covered John Kongos’s ‘He’s Gonna Step On You Again.’ It was ‘cool’ then, wasn’t it?
One thing about the early Sweet singles was that while the ‘A’ side was of a pretty commercial, twee style, the ‘B” sides were infinitely more rocking. They had a harder edge, and I played them as much as the principal song.
My musical development was to take on a heavier bias.
TO BE CONTINUED …