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The First Rule of Wine Drinking by Fraser Neilson

 

Your First Favourite Band
by Fraser Neilson

Do you remember your first favourite band or artist?  The first time you fell in love with a musical act? And probably the first time you ever fell in love with music too? Do you remember how it felt? 

My story may be familiar to yours as I’m sure there are millions of people who were having the very same experience as me.  I was a typical teenager who wasn’t very sure of himself, but I was sure that I loved music and this was largely due to my mum who always had music playing around us as I was growing up.  In the house and in the car, it was always on but was mostly chart music from the radio or the 50s and 60s ballads that my mother liked.

I started to hear about some new bands from other kids at school and I also began to find some interesting sounds on a station called Radio Luxembourg, which was a pirate station broadcasting from Europe, and it played a lot of the post punk new wave music that I was destined to fall in love with. 

I remember it well now – lying in bed with the radio on at midnight, the volume turned down low so my parents couldn’t hear it while the Alternative Top 30 chart was broadcast late into the night.  It was around this time that it happened – I discovered my first favourite band.

My first love was a band called Japan, and it was in 1984, two years after they had split up that I fell in love with their music.  It was through a friend at school that I discovered them, he was one of the cooler kids who was at the forefront of the alternative music scene that was leading that way then. 

We were all Baby Goths at the time – too young to be ‘proper’ Goths but wearing as many of the clothes as possible  - dressed in regulation tight black trousers, pointy toed boots, flowery psychedelic shirts and black bikers jackets or long black coats, all topped off with lots of silver jewelry and chains.

We were in the park one day listening to that great staple of the 70s and 80s teenager’s musical diet – the compilation tape. John had a typical ‘alternative’ compilation with A Forest by The Cure, Spiritwalker by The Cult and several Bauhaus tracks, but he also had some tracks by another band I had heard of but never heard any music by, and that was Japan.  He recommended that I get the Assemblage album, which was basically a compilation of their early singles.

So off I went to Virgin records and sought out a black vinyl copy of the album and took it home in a big plastic album bag to my trusty turntable.  I pulled it out of the sleeve, excited about what listening pleasures lay before me and pulled the lever that sent the needle over to the record’s edge. And the effect of that first track quite literally changed my musical life. 

As the opening bass, synth and guitar lines of Adolescent Sex came through the speakers, for the first time in my life I felt a shiver down my spine and the hairs on the back of my neck literally stood up.  It’s an old cliché but it was absolutely true and I was filled with the emotion of what this music did for me.  I loved the feeling and I wanted more and I was sure Japan could supply it.

And that was the start of my quest to buy as much as possible of Japan’s music.  Over the next few months I bought everything I could find and afford.  I just about memorised their discography as I read everything I could about the band and even sought out fanzines, bootleg tapes and books of photographs.

I remember sitting at home at night writing out various different lists of my favourite Japan tracks – favourite guitar tracks, favourite synth tracks, instrumentals, various different versions of my top ten which invariably changed every night. It was great, it was new, it was all consuming, it was a passion….and I loved it.

Over the next few years I had several similar experiences with other bands I discovered and got quite obsessed about.  And with one band I went even further than I did with Japan in terms of my desire to collect every note ever recorded on record, studio demo tape or live. 

But none of them ever really recaptured the newness and marvellousness of the experience with Japan, my first favourite band.

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Fraser Neilson is webmaster at www.QSPmusic.com and a true music lover.  You can find some great music resources, special offers and ideas to help increase your enjoyment over at www.QSPmusic.com/resources.html.
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