The first album I ever bought, starting me off on my journey through buying music!
Not long before this came out, we’d been having lunch at Tankersley Golf Club (dad was treating us) and the single “Metal Guru” came on the juke box. My brother and I had an argument about the lyrics,
“Metal Guru has it been,
Just like a silver-studded sabre-toothed dream”
I knew that’s what it said, my brother, Neil wasn’t sure, he said it couldn’t be because it didn’t make sense. I think that’s the point – I didn’t care whether it made sense or not, I just loved the sound of the words. Like many of Marc Bolan’s lyrics, it’s the sound that matters. Highlights of the album include the massive reverb on “Ballrooms of Mars”, the sensual chug of “The Slider” and the overall sheen provided by the lush strings and high backing vocals.
I liked to look at the cool cover as it sat in the front section of the small, wooden record box I shared with my brother.
A couple of months later, I went into the Wilson Peck music shop on the corner of Leopold Street and Barkers Pool in town. On the ground floor they had loads of pianos and serious looking keyboards for sale, but downstairs was the record department. Down there, they had booths with windowed doors on and you could ask to listen to a record you were thinking of buying. The sound came out of the speakers in the walls. I listened to “Solid Gold Easy Action” at least five times, but never actually bought it.
In April Neil and I had been to France on an exchange visit organised by school to stay with the Amizet family for three or four weeks. He’d been the year before to stay with Loic, the older boy, but now myself and Pierric (the younger boy) were also considered old enough to take part in the visits. They had two houses, one an apartment in La Roche Sur Yon – where they went to school, the other a massive holiday house on the coast in Croix de Vie. That one was right across the road from the beach and had apparently housed around forty German soldiers during the war. The first two weeks we were at La Roche, going to school with them and playing out. Neil and Loic often went to play tennis but Pierric and I just bombed around on our bikes, jumping off the kerb edges and practising skidding on our back wheels. In Croix de Vie, we cycled to the patisserie along the road to buy custard tarts, which we ate whilst sitting on the beach wall. At first, I really struggled having to wait until about seven o’clock to have our evening meal, I was starving by four! But, Mrs. Amizet gave us a chunk of bread with a slab of dark chocolate rammed in the middle at around half past four which helped and I soon got used to it. Evening meals were always at least four or five courses and always wonderful – different from what I was used to, but wonderful. The very first meal we had at the apartment started with a huge bowl of peas that had bits of bacon mixed in with it…it was lovely.
Loic had a very futuristic-looking orange, plastic record player in his room and, when we were all awkwardly trying to get to know each other, the first record he put on was “Telstar” by The Tornados. Woah! A record player in your own room!