THIS IS MY HISTORY, ANDREW GOODWIN, THE AUTHOR OF NEW MUSIC EAR. THESE ARE MY MEMORIES OF MY MUSIC UPBRINGING AND HOW MY TASTES HAVE EVOLVED AND HOW MY LOVE FOR MUSIC EMERGED. I HOPE YOU CAN FIND SOME MEMORIES FROM READING THESE ARTICLES TOO :)
After 1986 most of the 80s music I loved had disappeared with only a few sparing bands still continuing but hardly played on the radio, either outgrowing their falsely named "boyband" tags or had just moved on from commercial music. My old American favourites ironically had a really successful time during this bland period. Madonna was at the peak of her powers releasing the classic "Like A Prayer" album and a massive "Who's That Girl" tour. Prince hit us with the iconic double set "Sign "O" The Times", followed it up with "Lovesexy" and in 1989 claimed cult status with the soundtrack to Michael Keaton's Batman film. Bon Jovi had mega success with "New Jersey" but I craved something new and different unique artists to follow. I found this closer to home in Scotland! Really class music was coming from the Scots at this time and was a saviour to me!
My friend Stu brought my attention to this great band Deacon Blue, fronted by Ricky Ross with the lush harmonies from Lorraine McIntosh, these guys were a breath of fresh air. Their sound was like a Folk Blues and was irresistible. Their album "Raintown" was such a pure sound and had that fantastic "live" feel which the Scottish bands of this time perfected brilliantly. Stu also introduced me to Matt Johnson's band The The, who were an extraordinary sounding band, so original and hard hitting at the same time (not from Scotland but thought I'd mention it!). Texas were fantastic with their pretty and talented singer Sharleen Spiteri were, and still are one of my favourite bands. Sharleen's vocals were so effortless, and with the band's almost Cowboy Country twangy Rock it was a refreshing boost to my ears after hearing the Stock, Aitken and Waterman onslaught and influx of wannabe rappers and later, Acid House! "Southside", their debut is still one of my all time classics. Del Amitri were a more Indie Rock band but with fantastic tunes and great lyrics and vocals from Justin Currie. The album "Waking Hours" set them on the road to stardom into the 90s. On another scale, The Proclaimers, the bespectacled Charlie and Craig Reid, were absolutely brilliant. Superb Acoustic songs and I loved the way they sung in their Scottish accents giving the songs an authentic Folk sailor shanty feel, "Letter From America" was a gem!
During this time I had a little Casio keyboard and my songwriting went a little further. Although very basic songs I started making my own little albums of tracks, pretending like I was a real star! I later made far better recordings than this in later years, but this got me hooked that maybe I could do more than just listening to music. My albums I put on cassette called New Dawn and included some classics! (well in my mind anyway!, this is a warts and all history!)
The "most dangerous band in the world" also captivated me, yes it was Guns N' Roses. "Appetite For Destruction" in 1987 was an assault on the senses. The heaviest band I heard was probaby Iron Maiden, and the likes of Metallica did not interest me. There was something about Axl Rose's voice and the awesome sound Slash and the boys made that was incredible. "Sweet Child "O" Mine" will alwasy be one of my favourite songs of all time, it is such a great song. The music of Guns N' Roses needs to be played loud, unfortunately when still in your parents' house that is limited! Loved this band and they were a unique band.
Maybe suppressing anger (probaby at the rubbish in the charts!) I also got into some Gothic music, indirectly from hearing Sisters Of Mercy's "Dominion" and "This Corrosion" I had heard The Mission led by former member Wayne Hussey. I know I loved The Cult from a few years previously but The Mission were amazing. I once thought Goth fans were all dark, no humour and lacked any imagination but as with the Punks in the late 70s I was put right. It was an expression that's all. The Mission released "Children" the album in 1988. Although I had heard the likes of "Severina" and "Stay With Me" from the debut in 1986, "God's Own Medicine" this second album was huge. Big anthemic, medieval Rock that just hit the senses like a ton of bricks. Emotive lyrics, powerful melodies and Wayne's gruff low toned vocal telling the stories. One of my favourite bands! I remember seeing them live at The Royal Court in aid of the Zeebrugge Disaster victims, along with Pete Wylie and The La's. The "Mish" smashed it and the sound was unbelievable.
Aiming towards the 1990's hope transpired for a better music scenario as Madchester arrived. Although I wasn't a big fan of the main culprits Happy Mondays, I loved The Stone Roses, The Inspiral Carpets and The Charlatans. Classic songs like "Fool's Gold", "This Is How It Feels" and "The Only One I Know" were all played frequently in our house. I went to the iconic Spike Island gig in 1990, which I have talked about in a special blog feature on New Music Ear. The sound was awful, everyone was stoned and the band played for 40 minutes or so, while we previously suffered 8 hours of dance music and DJ's. Oh well, we were there, yes indeed!
There were still great songs around but gone were the Sunday nights of recording the whole Top 40 off the radio. There just wasn't that kind of good stuff filling the charts. Boybands had arrived, all pretty much the same, as previously stated SAW dominated the charts, although I did like Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan because they were in Neighbours and made some decent records. The rest of them was an insult, it was called The Hit Factory but it was all the same, monotonous drivel. There were great songs such as "With Or Without You" by U2, T'Pau had a couple of hits with "Heart And Soul" and "China In Your Hand". The B-52s hit back with "Love Shack" and there was the lovely "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips. I also, for my sins, got to like Bros, Matt and Luke Goss and Craig Logan. My girlfriend at the time, Paula used to love them and "we" played them all the time. So I kind of got indirectly brainwashed! That's my story and I am sticking to it!
A much brighter end to the 80s and beginning of the 90s was the live experience. I went to my first gig at the G-Mex in Manchester to see Frankie Goes To Hollywood supported by Berlin. It was on the Rage Hard Tour and it was a fantastic gig. We all heard the stories about the boys not being able to play but we found what a load of nonsense that was as Holly Johnson, Paul and The Lads put on a great show. Terri Nunn, the lead singer of Berlin (big hit "Take My Breath Away") came down and walked right past us which was awesome. I got the live bug after this and went on a succession of gigs throughout this period. Deacon Blue were seen a couple of time at the Royal Court in Liverpool, the previously mentioned The Mission and The Stone Roses and seeing the very cool and sexy Wendy James and Transvision Vamp at the NEC in Birmingham was so cool. I will always remember some bright spark in the audience shouting at Wendy to take her top off and she gave him a right volley of posh talked abuse (which I can't repeat here) which was hilarious. The lad went bright red, stooped into a corner and Wendy said, "right now the idiot is taken care of...let's rock!". Always respect her for that! I saw Sam Brown in 1990, who sang the class song "Stop" at the Citadel in St Helens with a workmate Phil, which proved to be the first of a few great gigs I went with this guy. Sam was hilarious, we met her in the bar where Phil got his CD signed, the electrics went down so instead of waiting for them to be fixed, Sam said "ok well let's go Acoustic" then and carried on!! Proper star!
Seeing my idol Prince 3 times culminating in the most amazing gig ever at Manchester City's old ground, Maine Road in 1990. A hot afternoon, me and my mate Dave (who I converted to a Prince fan and left murmuring in awe "he's the man!") were supposed to be seated in the stand, before the gig we wandered down to the front of the stage. Nobody checked on us so we stayed and for the whole gig, with Diamond and Pearl and Prince right in front of us for 3 hours. A memory I will cherish forever. We got lucky and its one of those moments you think, "hey that was the best ever". The gigs flowed even more for the first half of the 90s.
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