what were you listening to at 15?

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The Fall, the Slits, the Clash, Wire, the Banshees and the Buzzcocks were biggies, as was anything on Rough Trade. Two-Tone. Burgeoning taste in reggae, which was quite tough to find in suburban America, but Linton Kwesi Johnson was a big fave. At 15 or 16, I remember my mother asking what I wanted for Christmas, and I gave her a list of records - from which she bought Wire's "Pink Flag," the Fall's "Early Fall" and the Pop Group's "How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?" albums. I still smile thinking about it, and the pain of waiting to play these on the stereo, which couldn't be done until my grandparents had left! Thanks, mom. Beyond that, nothing too embarrassing, remarkably, though I quite liked a lot of things that are forgotten / dismissed today - the Yachts' "Box 202," Chelsea's "Urban Kids," Henry Badowski's "Baby Sign Here With Me" and many others . . . as well as stuff like the debut Lene Lovich album, which is still pretty fine, but probably too silly to be revived in any way nowadays.

Ages 13 through 16 or so were lonely and odd . . . you can't imagine how much crap you'd get just walking down the street being into "punk rock" at this time, and I didn't even look or dress in punk-style! (I still love that the dismissive remark I'd always get from jocks riding by in a care was always "Devo sucks!" - apparently the sole weirdo-music frame of reference amongst Neanderthals.) In fact, pre-internet suburbia at that time offered few ways to learn much about punk at all - there weren't really any books about it when I got into music, and imported copies of the NME or whatever cost as much as a 7", so guess what I'd buy! Consequently, the idea I had of punk - shared by one other guy, and later two "much older" guys (one year older) - was largely self-invented, and involved things like making attaching resistors and funny looking but tiny electrical parts from Radio Shack to odd parts of our clothes, doing any drug we could find at any time and quite a lot of what today would be considered much more dada or situationist than recognizably punk. By the time I was a senior in high school, "new wave" had become just mainstream enough so that it appealed to the officially "cool" kids, and quite suddenly I was very popular and even looked up to by those who avoided me like the plague just two years earlier.

The early days of punk were great - so many concepts that are common today just didn't exist then - the idea of anything "retro," for instance. Records that weren't big sellers stayed in print for about 18 months and then you never saw them again. A lot of crucial stuff, like the Velvet Underground, was unknown to young music fans with good taste, because their best records had been out of print forever. Being into punk was a heavy choice; more or less one's musical choice was either REO Speedwagon, Styx, Kansas and Foreigner and the dregs of disco or stuff that was *genuinely* upsetting to people. I remember, around 1982, that there were suddenly records that offered kind of a middle path - you didn't have to make that crucial decision to avoid Eddie Money in favor of things that would get you beat up . . . you could listen to Soft Cell or the English Beat or something like that instead.

crustaceanrebel, Wednesday, 2 May 2012 20:09 (2 years ago) Permalink

later two "much older" guys (one year older)

That should read ". . . later two "much older" girls (both one year older) . . . "

crustaceanrebel, Wednesday, 2 May 2012 20:10 (2 years ago) Permalink

Reggae was extremely tough to find a long time ago, a crime considering how some American kids followed the British press! I used to like to read articles about reggae.

New wave and r & b.

โตเกียวเหมียวเหมียว aka Bulgarian Tourist Chamber (Mount Cleaners), Thursday, 3 May 2012 12:11 (2 years ago) Permalink

Don't remember xpost "retro" til maybe late-ish 70s, a fashion thing, re bomber jackets etc--xgau defined it as "nostalgia with a will to power." When was it first applied to music? Anyway, although that was when I finally bought The Velvet Underground & Nico and The Who Sings My Generation--a punk deed, in my mind--after recently buying Nuggets, and in the wake of Patti Smith x Lenny Kaye distilling 60s into their own minimalist art-punk; ditto New York Dolls, folding "Pills," "Stranded In The Jungle" and "Don't You Start Me Talkin'" with their glam-punk originals. I bought new copies of those VU and Who LPs, but yeah, lots of other stuff now taken for granted was hard as hell to find until CDs took off. Sorry bout the boomer bait, but can't resist one more (it wasn't all Anglophilia)

dow, Thursday, 3 May 2012 16:55 (2 years ago) Permalink


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