Due to my own stupidity and lack of foresight, many years ago I sold a fine hi-fi system in favour of not having anything at all to play music on so convinced was I that in the brave new world of MP3 we would not require a stack of amplifiers and media playing technology we would only need a computer and maybe a small device that held your complete record collection and would slip into a shirt pocket, and in doing so I instantly made my impressive collection of LP’s completely redundant.
So they remain to this day safely packed away in plastic storage boxes and stuffed into the corner of the loft in this here house surviving three house moves at which point the wife always asks, “Do you really need those…” and I always remind her that the terms of the exclusion order specifically state that she is not to be let within ten yards of my album collection after what she did to my singles collection in 1983.
So in October 1971 our Grandmother died, I know, I know, its not a good way to start the story of an album but its integral to the story and she’d been comatose in hospital for a year after a stroke that had left her nothing but a shell and a beating heart so unplugging the machine was a kindness and one of those moments when you think “Well that could have been all sorted out twelve months ago”, but still, there we are, the family all gathered around the graveside at Lawnswood Cemetry in late October 1971, she was lowered into the same grave as her husband had been sunk in 1961 having had the foresight to purchase a joint grave or maybe he just got one anyway being as he was a council housing official when he died and someone in the office booked him into a nice final council resting place with room for his wife later – anyway I’m stood there wondering if I leaned over far enough and peeked down the grave would I be able to see my Grandads coffin in the bottom when the priest stops his wittering on (my grandmother was a Catholic and they do go on a bit) and our Auntie Irene says “I’ve done some ham sandwiches back at ours”, and so we adjourn to theirs.
And while the adults sat downstairs and quietly chat over a cup of tea and a ham sandwich and some free fruit from the Fensome Fruit & Veg Emporium of Hyde Park then we four cousins slip upstairs to listen to some music on a record player in their bedroom and the one cousin who is now very famous as a vaudeville artist and touring troubadour removes from a sleeve an album that will become the bedrock of my musical appreciation gene for ever more, he introduces it as his new album although we now know of course that it was actually his elder brothers album, the cousin who is not so famous unless you spend many of your days traveling the railroads of this here county or the public houses gathered around Central Station, in which case the elder cousin will be better known to you than the troubadour.
Of course I am already aware of Mr Stewarts vinyl recordings for I have recently purchased the single “Maggie May” and enjoyed it and I am already planning another Dr Rodney exchange where he buys the single off me for the same price that I paid for it and I use that money towards the cost of buying the album, its an exchange that we transact many times during our youth-hood as it saves him from having to make the bus trip into town to buy the album (the idle little sod lived right next to the bus terminus too) and I get my money back on the initial taster of the single, he never questions why the singles are usually well worn, indeed sometimes scratched and shouldn’t he be paying the second hand value by now, such is the extravagance of the good doctor even to this day.
Its a damn fine album and it leads to the purchase of the two other Mr Stewart solo albums prior to that time, and they and damn fine too as are the next two solo albums after those, over five solo albums Mr Stewart cannot put a musical foot wrong for me and then he sets sail for America, Los Angeles and all the disco shit that came with it and he and I part company, he with his millions in royalties and me with my musical taste intact.
One other thing about those albums though, and of The Faces albums that interspersed each solo album, they all contained at least one Bob Dylan song and so I researched Bob Dylan too by the judicious purchase of his Greatest Hits Vol 2 double LP from our mothers Brian Mills catalogue, I pay two shillings a week for a few weeks and then my mother forgets to ask for the money, as is the natural course of events whenever I order anything from her catalogue, and the Bob Dylan album is a fine album too and he is added to my teenage musical influences as well, our mother even brings an old acoustic guitar home from work one day, on the bus without a case on it the other passengers must have thought she was The Singing Cleaner or something, and I briefly toy with the idea of learning a few Dylan songs and taking to the road as a roving troubadour but these plans are thwarted by the fact that I cannot play two successive notes in tune on the bloody thing at all and my more famous cousin gets the gig instead, such is life.