Monday, October 31, 2016

Set a spell. Take your shoes off. Y'all come back now, y'hear? (Flatt and Scruggs)

Fascinations (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 8 - part 2 - moving pictures)

If I wasn't in my bedroom reading, and you were looking for Warren in the early years at 18 Korma Ave., Royal Oak, Auckland, the best bet was to go to the lounge where the television lived.

Our family was among New Zealand's pioneer TV addicts.

As I entered deeper into teenager-hood, NZ television in the seventies expanded into two channels, and colour. Eventually, video recorders were introduced. Then a third channel! 

Oh WOW - I could now record my favourite shows and films over three channels! Technology! Bliss!

But I'm getting slightly ahead of myself.

As a young padowan, I quickly established some favourites. Mum and I loved Coronation St. We watched it off and on and the show just kept getting better so we kept watching. 

Somehow, I could identify with these characters from the north west of England. Albert Tatlock seemed like he was a grumpy caricature of my grandad, Deedoo; Ena Sharples of my grandma. The stories kept going and so we felt like we lived with and knew these people. 

My love of the Street has only waned in the last decade - since we started travelling and the continuity of the show got all screwed up (NZ was behind the UK by years at some points).

I've always loved westerns: The Big Valley; Gunsmoke; Bonanza; The High Chaparral; Alias Smith and Jones. Westerns were everywhere on television when I was growing up. 

It had all started with The Lone Ranger, on the radio, on the TV and as a comic. The Sunday morning requests often played the legend of The Lone Ranger so it wasn't just me hunkered down in the bed at 18 Korma Avenue who was a fan! Then it was a TV show and I was there too with a hearty Hi Ho Silver!

Then SitComs came along like: M*A*S*H*; WKRP in Cincinatti; Taxi; Get Smart; The Beverly Hillbillies; Hogan's Heroes; Andy Griffith Show; Green Acres; Petticoat Junction; Dad's Army.

SciFi like: Lost in Space; Time Tunnel;  The Prisoner captured my imagination in the evening.

like: Yogi Bear; Huckleberry Hound; Tom and Jerry; The Jetsons, and animations like: Thunderbirds; Joe 90 were on in the afternoon. I couldn't resist.

In the later evening slots could be found dramatic action cop and detective shows like: Columbo; Ironside; Starsky and Hutch; McLeod; Hawaii Five-O.

But wait, there were also spy dramas like: Mission: Impossible; The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and comedy skit shows like: The Carol Burnette Show; Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Films were also a huge part of the content available to me on early New Zealand television.

Black and white and old films! But did I care? No I did not care. I did not have the consciousness to care. I had nothing to compare things to.

So when the Gangbusters movie or any Marx Brothers movies came on TV we watched them (every time). My dad loved them, so when one came on, we all watched. It was just a thing. 

The thing is - anyone of my vintage will have had the same viewing experiences and instantly recognise those shows and films. There wasn't much choice!

Things weren't much better at the movies.

With no multi-plex cinemas out in the malls, we had to go into town (Queen Street) to see new release films or maybe Greenlane (the Victory) or Mt Eden (the Lido or the Crystal Palace) to catch an older movie.

I have a strong memory of going to the Victory cinema in Greenlane with mum and Ross. Dad met us after work and we all went in to watch a colour print (Oh.My.Gosh. Colour!) of Marx Brothers A Day at the Races.

Apart from the colour aspect, going to the cinema to see a new movie was a real treat. When our birthdays rolled around in October, Ross and I could pick a film and mum would take us into Queen Street to see it.

I mostly picked pulp westerns like The Scalphunters, Villa Rides, Bandolero, or John Wayne's El Dorado.  

It was a great feeling - walking into the Civic or the St James to see a film. First I'd linger by the posters and the showcards advertising the film. Then, a snack and a drink. Buying the ticket. Walking past the ticket collector. Walking into the palace. Taking our seat. Exciteable boy, waiting. God Save The Queen as we all stood up. A cartoon. The main feature.

It was all exquisite.

Going to a movie now is no big deal. The cinemas are more comfortable but lack any kind of atmosphere. Such a shame. 

Unless it's the Screen On The Green, in Upper Street (North London) that is!!

Love and peace - Wozza

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Hear that? It's the cosmic rays. I -- I warned you about 'em.

Fascinations (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 8 part 1 - print media)

Fascination moves
Sweeping near me
Still I take you
Sho nuff
Takes a part of me

David Bowie - Fascination

Are other people's lives built on their fascinations to the extent that mine has been? Mmm, I think so.

Some would say 'obsessions' rather than fascinations. You've made your way past the music chapter so you have a glimpse into this aspect of my character.

As a baby boomer, I am a child of the media, of the analogue variety, but still media! I don't remember a pre television era. Radio was still important (Goon Show, Sunday morning requests) but TV, even though it was black and white, with one channel and only on for a limited number of hours, was the medium.

I love low art, pop culture, with some appreciation of high art thrown in for good measure. However, it is pop culture mores than I am most comfortable with. I would much rather visit something like McDonalds or IHOP than eat at a pretentious, trendy, over priced restaurant.

One of my earliest fascinations was for comics. My collection of comics grew to such an extent that my bed almost levitated off the sixties multi-coloured swirling carpet in my Korma Road bedroom thanks to all of the comics stashed underneath it.

Look and Learn had two sections that I collected with obsessive zeal. One was a western featuring yer typical Clint Eastwood style inscrutable cowboy; the second was a bizarre futuristic story about a group of Roman soldier types. In many ways it was the precursor to Star Wars and its 'long ago and far away' setting. Called The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire, it was the product of inspired work by Mike Butterworth and Don Lawrence.

From there it was an easy progression to Marvel and DC comics. Three Royal Oak news agents stocked these and I became a slavish follower of Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, Sgt Rock, Thor and Tarzan of the Apes in particular.

Something about Spiderman's nerdish Peter Parker, and the weird combination of powers in The Fantastic Four made them my clear favourites.

Obviously, all this was in the days way before any specialist comic shops (I love the one in the Cuba Mall in Wellington). If you missed a weekly delivery of comics you were sunk. So regular trips to those shops on my bike, was needed. 

My completist compulsion stems from this, I think. It would drive me crazy if my sequence of comics was interrupted. Still does if I miss a Mojo magazine for any reason.

Our next door neighbour who lived at 20 Korma Ave had a grandson who visited her on the weekend (same ritual we had with our grandparents obviously) and we'd play catch and swap comics, as you did in those innocent days.

Eventually the collection became too much and mum made me sell them all. That hurt man!

Last year I shelled out $1,000 for the complete set of Trigan Empire comics. I had to, I just did. I loved reconnecting with my past, and while the thrill I had reading these as a pre-teen was impossible to recapture, I loved having the COMPLETE set!

Alongside the comics, sat books!

If I didn't have my nose in a comic, it was in a book. 

Basically, the same regime I outlined for collecting music held true for books (once I found an author I liked, I'd backtrack and read all I could by them).

It started with things from local libraries like Swallows and Amazons, or books from my parents' collection (Desmond Bagley, Alistair MacLean), or else I'd buy them (Sven Hassel war books, Tolkien, Conan the Barbarian series by Robert E. Howard). I always had a book going.

Nothing much has changed, either. 

Sitting on my coffee table right now, in A.R.T., are a pile of books to read - a The Fantastic Four compendium from Marvel, a Hunter Davies book on Beatle lyrics, three other Beatle or Lennon related books and Paul Bowles' The Sheltering Sky.

And, I'm still a completist with authors I love - Haruki Murakami, William Goldman, Robert Fulghum, Nick Hornby, Robert M. Pirsig (best book I've ever read - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance).

The final piece of the written media fascination is poetry. I have always loved writing my own poetry and reading the words of Patti Smith, Robert Bly, Allen Ginsberg, Walt Whitman, Hone Tuwhare, A.R.D. Fairburn, and especially William Wordsworth. They have always connected with my own sensibilities.

I'm very aware that this part of my autobiography has been almost exclusively male-centric. Although I've read and studied a lot of novels and poetry written by women, and enjoyed female writers like Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and Katherine Mansfield, they don't speak to me like the writers I'm mentioned during this chapter, who, it just so happens, are male. 

Sorry, but there it is.

Love and peace - Wozza

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A child is coming (Paul Kantner/ Grace Slick)

Music is love (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 7: The Eighties)

The expanding Jefferson Hot Airplane Tuna family in the eighties

AJ is the third part of my musical journey/ memory/ celebration (for now). The AJ (After Jacky) period takes in 1983-1990 and takes in the New Plymouth, Auckland and Nelson locations.

When I met and married Jacky, and we started a family, many things changed, including the big three mentioned in my earlier post. 

The big three? To summarise: I now lived in New Plymouth, so no Marbecks; discretionary money had disappeared, I had others to think of and provide for; the self indulgent years were history!

Yes, sobering up via a mortgage and fatherhood will do that to you! 

I still bought records whenever the budget allowed but nothing like I had before. So, my big record cupboard that I'd brought down to New Plymouth stayed pretty much as it was for a while. I even sorted out some non essentials to sell off from time to time. I know, I know.

Jacky and I did manage to go to a few concerts during these years and in the nineties - big deal things like Dire Straits at Western Springs, Michael Jackson at Mt Smart and...erm, The Little River Band (with Johnny Farnham) at the Bowl of Brooklyn - mostly concerts I would not have bothered with previously. Apart from Pink Floyd that is. The Momentary Lapse Of Reason tour was a must see, as was The Rolling Stones during the Voodoo Lounge tour - I went with Roger and Deirdre.

At the time, Jacky's tastes were of the Human League/Duran Duran/Yazoo/New Order sort - again - things I would not have listened to previously. True love is never a snap.

She is not a great lover of music and so our collections stayed separate. Mine became known as 'hillbilly music' - hers as 'fashion parade music'. Eventually they kind of combined as we learnt to live together.

I love my Jacky hates all of them.

Returning to Auckland to teach at Macleans College from 1986 to 1990 meant a reconnection with Marbecks records - I again worked some of the holidays, and this again meant beefing up my collection.

During this time while living in Windmill Road, Keegan decided, one day, to use a few of my records as skateboards. Jacky broke it to me gently when I got home from work. Aside from that and drawing large black crayon circles on his Dornwell Road bedroom wall, he was a perfect child!

In 1990 we were a family of five and on the move down to Nelson and a new life.

And, so - to the eighties Top 20

1 The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses (1989)
I first heard this at Roger and Deirdre's place in Birkenhead. They had a great old funky place - worst house in a great street idea and I loved it! Before dinner one night Roger had this playing - I Am The Resurrection actually, and I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

2 Reckoning – R.E.M. (1984)
The Pink House in New Plymouth  heard this album throughout 1984/85 as we settled down with a baby Keegan (after cleaning the cat pee and dealing to the roaches). 

3 Tunnel of Love – Bruce Springsteen (1987)

Bruce's disintegrating marriage was a sobering experience. I was three years into a happy marriage with two young children and this record gave me some mature thoughts about what marriage is all about and what being a man is all about. Yes, with a beat!

4 The Lonesome Jubilee – John Cougar Mellancamp (1987)

Spoiled girl – Carly Simon (1985)

A tape that Roger gave me introduced me to this amazing album. I didn't know who it was at the time. I normally wouldn't have bought Carly Simon's stuff. This was a good lesson - don't be a musical snob Wozza!

6 Purple Rain – Prince and the Revolution (1984) 
I bought this after working again at Marbecks. It was huge at the time and I had passed first time around. Then I heard it a lot in the store. Then I got it!

7 East – Cold Chisel (1980)

8 Swingshift – Cold Chisel (1981)
Roger and I played this a lot as we dug out his basement! Loud. And I mean LOUD!

9 Surfing with the alien – Joe Satriani (1987)

10 Eliminator – ZZ Top (1983)

Lorna Street in New Plymouth bopped to this!

11 Fables of the Reconstruction – R.E.M. (1985)

12 Remain in Light – Talking Heads (1980)

13 The Joshua Tree – U2 (1987)

14 Life’s Rich Pageant – R.E.M. (1986)

15 War – U2 (1983)

For a while in 1983 it looked like Jacky was going to end our relationship and go overseas and I was gloomy thinking of that possibility. I had a Sony Walkman and listened to this a lot on morose walks down to the seafront in wet and windy New Plymouth. It was a good soundtrack to my mood. Luckily for me, she decided to stay!

16 Nebraska – Bruce Springsteen (1982)

17 Closer – Joy Division (1980)
New Order isn't really my cup of tea. Give me Joy Division any day!

18 Making Movies – Dire Straits (1981)
Greg loved this record and I really didn't for a long time. I eventually saw the error of my ways.

19 Born in the USA – Bruce Springsteen (1984)

20 What up, dog? – Was (Not Was) (1988)

Love and peace - Wozza

Monday, October 17, 2016

Oh, look around you, all around you, riding on a copper wave (Patti Smith)

Music is love (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 7: The Seventies Part 2)

Roger in his new pop/rock Marbecks Records
Welcome to the second part of my seventies celebration - the AM (After Marbecks) period - 1976-1982.

Three important life changing events happened in this period. One and two, as I indicated in the previous post, involved meeting Greg Knowles and starting to write to Noel Forth in Adelaide. And the third? I met Roger Marbeck and started working for and with him.

During AM, Greg and I established a weekly pattern of record buying that fed both our habits. 

It went a little something like this: after school on a Friday we would catch a bus into K Rd.

We'd start with George Courts and Rendells in K Rd, then cross the road to The Record Exchange in St Kevin's Arcade, take a wander through Myers Park to Queen Street and work our way down to the end of the road, taking in some of the record shops we came across until we got to Marbecks Records in the Queen's Arcade and the EMI shop in the new Downtown Mall. 

Along that route during these years were a exceptionally large number of record stores: 246's record bar on the second floor, Direction Records, the Record Warehouse, Lewis Eady, Arthur Eady, Taste Records in Lorne Street, down the stairs to Music City in Vulcan Lane, Peaches, Rock'n'Roll Records, and a few more on the side streets whose names I've forgotten.

Watching Split Enz with the Knowleses
This would take hours! We'd walk, chat, spitball, browse, buy - but mainly browse, laugh, joke, people watch, grab a coke (me) or a milkshake (Greg), walk, laugh...

Then we'd get the bus home. I had my drivers' licence by this time so I'd sometimes drive to Greg's and I'd often bus from there. 

Enz at the old His Majesty's 
Greg and I have different tastes so we were never really competing for the same records. It was always supportive. We'd even try to find things we knew the other would like. We'd often trade/swap records - notably I got a lot of Apple singles from Greg. It has been a great relationship and a lasting friendship that I REALLY value.

According to Neil Young, there ain't nothing like a friend who can tell you you're just pissing in the wind.

Often with his big brother, Mike, we also went to gigs together. We saw loads of NZ bands in these years - Split Enz, Golden Harvest, Waves, Streettalk, Hello Sailor, Citizen Band and so on.

During AM, in 1977, we both started student life at Auckland University. While our old school day era routine obviously changed, our frequent trips to Real Groovy (now on Queen's Street after a short stint at the top of Mt Eden Road) and Marbecks, didn't. We also inducted other like minded music lovers, like Kevin Simms, into our arcane routines.

Haydn and Murray as I knew them. Great guys!
Marbecks Records was a special place. It was thanks to Noel that I discovered Marbecks. He alerted me to the delights on offer in that funny little shop in the Queen's Arcade. 

They had a box of Apple singles that I would often ask to see and buy from for Noel and for me. In the shop were two old guys in their white business shirts and ties: Avuncular Murray Marbeck was clearly the boss; Haydn Marbeck was the mischievious, sarcastic, younger brother. A very cheeky female shop assistant was also there to serve us. They were never condescending, always very knowledgeable and obliging. I must have asked for that box of Apple singles dozens of times!

Then one day there was a young guy behind the counter as well (it was getting pretty cramped back there) -  a guy about our age. Another Marbeck had joined the family firm. We would chat with Roger who immediately impressed us with his musical knowledge and his easy going manner. We were speaking the same language! 

Apart from Apple singles, Marbecks also had a range of Apple albums and weird stuff that was unmatched by the other stores. AM was timed around the punk outbreak remember and a lot of those other stores were practising a sad devotion to that ancient religion. Marbecks Records suited me. Clearly, with shirts and ties, it wasn't a slave to punk fashion.

Around this time, end of school, start of University, I had a summer job working as a chain man/gofer for a surveying company. The engineers and surveyors were cool to work for during my holiday breaks. I had a lot of fun there, but I'd had had enough of painting boundary pegs.

Roger Marbeck loves music.
The Rock and Roll lure was strong! When I asked Roger if he needed a hand during the peak holiday periods to help him and shop assistant Vanessa in the new pop/rock shop opposite the classical one in the arcade, he said, "Yeah! Okay."

Brilliant! Not only could I sift through the bins for free, I could take my pay in records (some weeks I actually paid Roger to work in the store).

And that's what happened in my long summer holidays from 1978 until 1982 (and again later - whenever we found ourselves living in Auckland). It was glorious fun! Ness, Roger and I got on really well. The arrangement suited us all. I would have a weekly pile of records put aside and collect them on pay day! Ness had a co-worker and Roger had someone else to share the load and order about! It was perfect.

Murray and Haydn were also great guys. Haydn gave me heaps! Murray was always a real gentleman. Mum remembered having dealings with young Murray when she worked at Lewis Eady and she always regarded him highly. She always referred to him as Mr Marbeck.

Friday nights were my favourite time in the store. Not only were there slower hours and that meant I got to choose what we listened to, but it also meant food. Haydn would order Chinese takeaways and we'd take it in turns to eat across the arcade, upstairs in the classical shop.

Somehow, I would often (I hesitate to say, always, but it felt like that) get to share my meal time with Haydn and he was hilarious! And rude! His jokes were always accompanied by twinkly eyes and a dirty laugh. Great times!

I especially loved working with Roger. He's like Greg - a funny, fun, genuine guy who is into music. Our friendship developed naturally. I met his girlfriend, Deirdre Dunn, and we'd all spend time together. I would even stay over at their place in Canongate Street from time to time. I helped out with digging out their basement and Roger gave me a boxed set of Cream albums as a bonus. I enjoyed his company and we listened to a lot of great music.  

I went to his wedding to Deirdre with my date, Lynley Wood, and, in 1984, the Marbecks came to mine, all the way down in New Plymouth. Then we started having our children around the same time: Jessica was matched by Keegan and Adam; Logan/Samantha; Briar/Jade - we were ahead 4 to 3 when we each decided that was enough. Through those young years we shared holidays and family time (more to come in the Family Man chapter). 

Over the years, Roger became a big brother figure and like a big brother whose record collection is really cool, he hugely influenced my listening!

The collection in the AM era
One upshot of this friendship was that my collection expanded and expanded. Both in quality and quantity. For three reasons: one, working at Marbecks meant access not only to its resources but also to Roger's musical brain and superb taste; two, my teaching studentship - I now had discretionary income; and three, I had no dependents - there was just me. 

My university years were great self indulgent times. No one to think about, other than me, and what records I was going to buy. Oh and my studies. I did study hard, too.

Nice one Rory!
Two concerts from the AM era need a mention: Rory Gallagher's 1980 visit to Auckland's Town Hall and George Thorogood at the same venue. For both, somehow, I went on my own. Along with the Nambassa festival, they were amazing experiences and the Rory one tops my gig going list!

The AM era contained the golden years! From 1983 onwards record buying would take a back seat and dry up, as you'll read about in part 3 - AJ (After Jacky).

But before then, let's luxuriate in my second seventies list - my top 20 picks of AM!

20 Easter - Patti Smith (1978)

In a lecture room in the Old Arts Building at Auckland University, Roger and Wystan played BabelogueRock and Roll Nigger to us during their 20th century American poetry paper. I was transformed by the experience!

19 The Clash - London Calling (1979)
Cousin Christine sent me a punk special cassette with White Riot on it among other delights. Life in cosy sleepy NZ was light years away from what The Clash and others were railing against. It would take me some time to get into bands like The Clash. London Calling was much more accessible.

18 Jackson Browne – Jackson Browne (1978)
This is a prime example of someone I wouldn't have discovered without Roger and Marbeck's influence.

17 Rastaman Vibration – Bob Marley and the Wailers (1976)

16 Exodus – Bob Marley and the Wailers (1977)

15 American Stars and Bars - Neil Young (1977)
Watching him do Like A Hurricane on TV (Barry Jenkin's Grunt Machine I think or early Radio With Pictures) with the wind machines howling along with the guitar was similar to my Ed Sullivan/ Beatles moment.

14 Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols – Sex Pistols (1977)

13 Live – Status Quo (1977)

I taped this off the radio - I did that a lot back then because I didn't have unlimited financial resources. Then at Marbecks I'd play this in the shop during quiet moments (in between the best sellers that Roger needed to promote with high rotation).

12 Parallel Lines - Blondie (1978)

11 Terrapin Station – the Grateful Dead (1977)
Roger was a fan of the band - Mars Hotel era especially. I hadn't seen the appeal until then, but I somehow got hooked and this album in particular went on high rotate.

10 Bat Out of Hell – Meatloaf (1977)

I'm instantly transported to the games room at Ramelton Road when I hear this album. I was normally suspicious of mega sellers and avoided them but this was too much fun!

9 Moonflower – Santana (1977)

8 Aja – Steely Dan (1977)

7 Marquee Moon – Television (1977)
Dad, now Managing Director of Wellcome NZ, went on business trips to Sydney from time to time during the AM period. I would put in orders of records and he was a trooper - always came back with a few from my list.

6 Horses – Patti Smith (1976)
Lynley Wood was a fan. She told me about this record as we were standing around outside the University library in 1977. She was so enthusiastic, she talked me into it and she was right!

5 Hard Rain – Bob Dylan (1976)

4 Tejas – ZZ Top (1976)

3 If You Want Blood You’ve Got It – AC/DC (1978)

2 Showtime – Ry Cooder (1977)  
I read an amazing review of this record in Sounds by Barbara Charone (she always wrote well and I kept a clipping of the review). Coincidentally, I heard Jesus On The Mainline on the radio around the same time. Combined, these events convinced me to take a punt.

1 Hejira – Joni Mitchell (1976)  

Of all these albums and of all of Joni's albums - this is the one I play most often. Every time, I convince myself that I'll get it this time (what she's talking/singing about) and every time she leaves me daydreaming about an image and my thoughts wander. I love that.

Love and peace - Wozza

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Into this house we're born, into this world we're thrown (The Doors)

Music is love (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 7: The Seventies, Part 1)

Vinyl junkie-dom kicked off big time in the seventies - the decade when I was a teenager.

This first part covers the first flush, the fertile BF (Before Forth)/BK* (Before Knowles) period and takes in 1971-1975. [The second part, due in four days' time, is the AM (After Marbecks) period - 1976-1982].

Records! Bands! What was an interest previously, became much more as posters of bands festooned my teenage bedroom; as the Garrard Sp25 Mark 3 timetable was kept constantly spinning; as Shoot! and Look and Learn gave way to NZ's Groove, Rip It Up, Australia's Go SetHot Licks, England's Sounds, NME, Melody Maker and Crawdaddy, CirCreem, Rolling Stone, Circus from America.

Thanks to the growing piles of music magazines under my bed, I began listening to the radio and collecting records with increasing knowledge.

I joined record clubs - RCA first, then World Record Club. I saved up money from odd jobs and my vegetable garden returns from mum and bought records. 

Due diligence became a thing. It became of vital importance to visit record shops a number of times and weigh up the merits of various albums. I didn't have lavish sums remember.

Starting off it was often cut out bins. Often this resulted in some great buys (the aforementioned Small Faces, Hollies, Beach Boys albums came from the Foodmarket, or Woolworths at Three Kings). 

All this gave me habits that last to this day: I love a bargain, and I consider purchases carefully. I value the actual physical object. Number one then, now and forever was/is/will be Long Playing vinyl albums.

During the BF/BK period, a variety of record shops became familiar haunts: Onehunga's Queen Street (Led Zeppelin III); New Lynn's mall (Creedence Clearwater Revival EP); Taste in Lorne Street (Deep Purple's Machine Head); Newmarket's Sounds Unlimited (Frank Zappa's Bongo Fury); 246 (The Hollies and T Rex singles); Otahuhu's DJ Records (The Beatles' Hey Jude and Let It Be package) and on and on it went - building a collection.

As witnessed by the Top 30 list at the end of this post, mainly my tastes ran to hard rock, heavy metal with many tangential weird fringe side streets along the way, but Beatle style music was always a constant.

My modus operandi was to latch onto a group or artist after buying their current album or single. From there I would start hoovering up the back catalogue.

Following my purchase of a Solid Gold Hits Vol 2 album, John Lennon is a case in point - the current album and hit was Imagine in 1971 (from George Courts in K Rd). From there it was a backwards search for John Lennon/ Plastic Ono Band and Live Peace in Toronto. Then it was a slavish devotion to everything he's done, said, written, sung.

I wrote a letter to Sounds magazine in 1975 that to my shock was published. I was seeking information on how to get some mythic Lennon albums - Two Virgins, Life With The Lions, Wedding Album, and Live Peace in Toronto. None of which I could find in any of my usual haunts.

Some of these albums are pictured above. How come? Noel Forth is how come. He saw my Sounds letter and (along with a few others like Lothar Drockner in Germany) started writing to me with suggestions and swaps. He was after certain NZ pressings of Fabs stuff which I could get, parcel up and send to him in Adelaide. In return I got Apple singles and albums, including some of those mythic albums. Heaven.

Noel is also a drummer! Tortis first, then Vertical Hold in the eighties. I became a keen fan of both bands. Nothing like that personal connection, is there?

Even before this watershed moment in 1975 though, the collecting picked up pace!

Mum vetoed Joe Cocker's Cocker Happy for some reason - perhaps the drug busts, perhaps the vague obscenity of the title, and Black Sabbath and Frank Zappa brought howls of protest from the folks but generally I was given free reign with my purchases. I loved them all with a passion.  

Sample of stuff from Noel.
During 1972 things really kicked off: in the football teams and my 4B class I had friends like the aforementioned Clive Webber who lent me records like The Rolling Stones' Exile On Main Street, Jimi Hendrix's Isle Of Wight; I bought Machine Head, Dark Side Of The Moon, and Led Zeppelin 4; heard The Doors' Riders On The Storm on a car radio; from the RCA record club came Uriah Heep and Frank Zappa's Fillmore East album. All of these went onto high rotate on the Garrard SP25 Mk3.

And in this way ran the AF-BK years - reading, collecting when I could, listening, day dreaming and wishing. Oh and failing everything I touched at school. Was there a correlation? Hmmm - now that I think about it...maybe, just maybe, there was!

* BTW - it's called the Before Forth/ Before Knowles period because up to 1975 I was collecting on my own. Then, in addition to Noel Forth's long distance help, I met Greg and during the sixth and seventh form at Mt Albert Grammar we became a team - collecting records, buying records together and even recording stuff together (as Buster Bludvessel and Gregarious G-String). Noel's help was invaluable from 1975 onwards, and without him I would have been truly lost. Much more on this in the second part.

Here is my Top 30 of the BK period (there is nothing that compares to the music of your formative years - ages 13 to 15 - life was never going to be the same after this lot!):

30 Blows Against the Empire – Paul Kantner (1970)
Using the same musicians as David Crosby's magnificent first solo (number 2 ), Kantner et al plot my path to the cosmos!

29 Dark Side Of The Moon – Pink Floyd (1973)
My memory surrounding this has me in mum's mini at the Royal Oak shops, on our way home to Asquith Avenue. I'd just bought it, was busting to hear it, and was looking at the two posters and devouring the rest of the packaging. including the Harvest label. So so cool!

28 On the Beach – Neil Young (1974)

27 St Dominic’s Preview – Van Morrison (1972)

26 The Yes Album – Yes (1971)

25 Bongo Fury – Frank Zappa/Captain Beefheart (1975)

I used to get my Sounds magazines from a corner bookshop in Newmarket. Mum would often visit the shops here, so I guess it made sense to 'have it put away' for me here. Funny - I now have my monthly Mojo magazine put away (PaperPlus in Waipukurau). Nothing much has changed huh?Anyway - while in Newmarket I'd cruise up to the record shop, Sounds Unlimited - which had an amazing range. This is one album that came from there.

24 Captured Angel – Dan Fogelberg (1975)
Copious family holidays were soundtracked by the cassette of this. My favourite Fogelberg album by some distance because of that.

23 Close to the Edge – Yes (1972)
I first taped And You And I from a friend's copy, the rest of the album felt way out of my league - what the hell were they on about? Then I got it! Then I was hooked on Yes and had to have everything!!

22 Aqualung – Jethro Tull (1971)
I bought the single version of Locomotive Breath ('balls' was censored) and molested the house with it - loudly! The folks were a bit disapproving (naive me couldn't understand the fuss - I was listening to the riff!!). A bit later I was watching a surfing film at MAGS during a lunchtime screening, when Slip Stream started up behind the surfing footage. Then Locomotive Breath started. Then I HAD to get the album.

21 Made in Japan – Deep Purple (1972)

20 Wishbone Ash – Wishbone Ash (1970)

19 Machine Head – Deep Purple (1972)
I can still feel what it was like, buying this from the ultra cool Taste Records in Lorne Street and walking out of the shop feeling ten feet tall!

18 Live at the Paramount – The Guess Who (1972) 

In 1972 the family had another Sydney holiday. This time I was old enough to INSIST on visits to record shops. I returned home to NZ with a clutch of albums including this one, and Deep Purple's Made in Japan. At the time, I would have put the Purps ahead but not now (obviously). A rare example of a CD improving on the original vinyl by including all the additional tracks.

17 Alive! – Slade (1972)
One of my first buys was the Tak Me Bak 'Ome single, then this album. Slade in their finest hour - burps, rough starts, stutters and asides just add to the appeal.

16 Moondance – Van Morrison (1970)

15 Ram – Paul McCartney (1971)

14 Isle of Wight – Jimi Hendrix (1971) 

My first Hendrix experience after the Hey Joe single, this is not an album you'd direct newbies to - the track listing is all over the place, but somehow it's the Hendrix album I play the most often! I taped it from a school friend's copy, then had to own it.

13 The Koln Concert – Keith Jarrett (1975) 

This is an example of an album I NEVER would have found on my own. A double album of solo improv jazz piano? Are you kidding?? Please!! But thank God I met and worked for Roger Marbeck. He gave me a home taped cassette of this and told me to listen. I did. OMG. It brings me to tears, this music. How is that possible?

12 Four Symbols – Led Zeppelin (1971) 
I asked dad to get this for me from DJ Records (I paid) and I will always remember arriving home from school and finding this on my bed. I cherish those memories! Many, many headphone sessions in the dark would wear the stuffing out of this album!

11 Exile on Main Street – The Rolling Stones (1972)

10 The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle – Bruce Springsteen (1974)

Like the previous Stones record, bought from the Record Warehouse at the same time as Darkness On The Edge Of Town. What I loved about the Record Warehouse was the way they displayed albums facing front so that you could be completely seduced by the cover! Worked on me every time.

Irish Tour ’74 – Rory Gallagher (1974)
I came to Rory via a TV special that hooked me well and truly and for ever!

Stormcock - Roy Harper (1971)
A friend from where I played social badminton (St Margaret's church hall) wanted me to tape a load of Genesis and Harper albums for him. While the Genesis ones did nothing for me, I instantly fell in love with this one.

Waka Jawaka/ Hot rats – Frank Zappa (1972)
From the World Record Club. I didn't 'get' this record for a long time. A teenagers' attention span finds it hard to appreciate a 17 minute Big Swifty, with no vocal. Yikes. Then it just clicked. I used it often to soundtrack my walks through Hadleigh Castle in Leigh-on-sea. It was a perfect fit for my thoughts!

Tonight’s the Night – Neil Young (1975)

Thick as a Brick – Jethro Tull (1972)

Headband – Headband (1971)

Blood on the Tracks – Bob Dylan (1974) 

While at University I would often walk past the central library to get my bus. The library was a great place to borrow records I was unwilling to buy for whatever reason. I borrowed this and a few older Dylan albums and took them back to Ramelton Rd. I taped it, then had to own a copy, then another...

If I Could Only Remember My Name – David Crosby (1971)

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – John Lennon (1970)

Less is more was embraced by everyone it seems on this most harrowing of listening experiences. Maybe that's why I love that philosophy so much.

Apart from this being my favourite album of this era (and actually, any era) the album has special memories for me. 

My mum was interested in a number of creative hobbies - flower arranging, pottery, knitting and for a while - painting. I asked her to paint the iconic cover for me and she did. And I have it hanging, proudly, in Abbey Road Three.  

Love and peace - Wozza