The 80s were a funny time for me musically. I was six years old at the start and seventeen at the end. This meant a VERY dodgy start but slightly cooler finish to my 80s musical journey. No apologies for this.
Mum still lived at home when I was six, so I spent a couple of years listening to Rod Stewart, Kate Bush and a million sad love songs – all of these still get played occasionally. My first music of my own choice was probably Paul Young, I had a huge crush on him – I know, shut up – and there is a photograph of me on holiday somewhere wearing a white flat cap with a screen-print of Paul Young on it – don’t even ask, not a chance. I quickly progressed to The Thompson Twins, my first gig was Bucks Fizz at the Coventry Apollo (Papa wanted to go) and I remember wearing my Thompson Twins sweatshirt, purchased from an ad at the back of Smash Hits in order to look cooler than the other kids. That said the gig was quite good, and I was enthralled when an announcement came over the tannoy asking for photographs not to be taken and the band then playing The Camera never Lies. I thought that was so clever. I was less enthralled when Papa gave my big brother a fiver because he didn’t want to go. I wasn’t told there was a choice.
Smash Hits was a massive part of my musical upbringing. Papa used to buy it for me and it took me ages to realise why he laughed when I left him a note the night before it came out saying ‘please leave me the money for SHits in the morning’. In 1983 I was given a record player and one of those red ghetto blaster tape to tape things from Argos. I bought my first single (now sadly lost) – Adam and the Ants, Puss in Boots. Could have been a lot worse I reckon.
Mum moved out when I was nine, so for a while I was influenced by Papa’s music. The Kinks, Small Faces et al, which I still love now. Papa and I used to watch Top of the Pops together and I would dance along in my dungarees. Around 1986 I discovered more music of my own. My best friend and I shared music taste and before were 15 had seen Deacon Blue, the Pet Shop Boys and Prince live, we were even allowed to go alone. I adore gap toothed Ricky Ross from Deacon Blue and Prince did funny things to me even at that age.
In 1987 Coventry City won the FA Cup and Papa remarried – their song is Starship, Nothings Gonna Stop us Now. Along with my wicked step mother (family joke, she’s fab) came a sister. Shiam is exactly nine months older than me and we shared a bedroom. Luckily we instantly got on really well and still do. We mostly had similar music taste and every Thursday evening we had Prince concerts in our room, I was Cat, she was Sheila E and Beany the panda was Prince (cos he was the shortest), these mainly involved dressing up and screeching along to cassettes. They were accompanied by a packet of Jesters biscuits each, which were our request on the weekly shopping list. We eventually progressed to 70s night in a shared house which consisted of us, four boys, two dogs, two cats, two snakes and six rats. It’s probably best I don’t tell you anymore about those though.
By the late 80s I was discovering proper music. Me and my sister loved the Wedding Present, the lyrics of the handsome David Gedge matching our teenage angst about boys. We were often found watching a Wedding Present VHS called Sp*unk, drooling like two lovesick puppies. I still love the Weddoes, and David. Around the same time we listened to The The, Infected was a massive album, Matt Johnson’s angry sweary vocals again matching teenage moods. We also played the Cure, Joy Division and The Smiths A LOT in our room, and by this time we were writing lyrics on the wall with a black marker pen.
By the end of the decade, the Manchester Baggy era was just starting, and I bloody loved it. I have recently rescued my vinyl collection from the spare room, and there are lots of Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, Charlatans and Inspiral Carpets 12”s amongst it. In 1989 Papa and WSM took me and my best mate to Scratby on holiday. We hooked up with two guys from Aylesbury and got in big trouble for having love bites. We bought tickets to the Happy Mondays so they could meet up with us after the holiday. However, we sold theirs to my brothers mates who were much hotter. From what I can remember it was a very good gig.
So, there my 80s musical journey ends. It seems silly not to go without sharing my favourite song of the 80s though. Enjoy.