1978… I am 6 years old and am already obsessed with my Dad’s stereo. At the age of 3, I had decided to get in his good books by cleaning all of his records for him – unfortunately my choice of washing up water and a pan scourer to complete this task proved foolhardy… his Carpenters album never sounded the same…!
The fifty pence pocket money I was given every week was just about enough to buy a 45 in those days, but long playing records were out of reach – well, unless it was Christmas. But then my wonderful mum put my Fisher Price toy garage in the small ads of the local paper, and got five pounds for it. On the regular Saturday shopping trip to Uxbridge she handed it to me, saying “It was your toy Matt – buy yourself something”. It was more money than I had ever seen, but I was going to spend it. So I went into WH Smith, handed over the fiver (and the 50p Dad had given me that morning). The assistant gave me a penny change and a copy of the double album that was at the top parade.
I drove my mum nuts playing “Saturday Night Fever” in 1978. I don’t remember dancing to it but I must have done – how could you not move to “Night Fever” or “Jive Talkin’”? The Bee Gees ruled the roost in 78, and I was determined to get my five pounds and forty-nine pence worth.
The following week I invested a further 50p in a Pickwick compilation concentrating on their earlier material. I could scarcely believe that it was the same group. But even then I knew that “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You” and “Words” would be songs that would be part of my life forever.
They have never been cool, but that’s fine because I’m not a cool person (despite what my 15-year-old nephew may tell you). Their songs are superbly crafted, and even in the lean 1980s it’s astonishing to think of the body of work they had: “Woman in Love”, “Heartbreaker”, “Islands in the Stream” and so on.
I would be lying if I implied that they have always been a favourite. By 1979 I had “Parallel Lines” and “Message in a Bottle” – why would I need “Spirits Having Flown”?
Plus, Kenny Everett poked fun at them, so they must be a joke or a novelty. As a teenager I was trying to impress girls with my Aerosmith and Def Leppard albums (unsuccessfully), but even then I think I knew that “You Win Again” was a far better record than “Dude Looks Like a Lady”.
I suspect they will never be regarded with the same level of admiration as Lennon and McCartney, or Bacharach and David. But they should be. They have made some truly sensational records. Go and play “To Love Somebody”. You know I’m right.