On my birthday this year, I turned 18, so was able to try alcohol for the first time... On the actual day I was in Lloret de Mar in Spain celebrating the end of school days. Yes, the 'A' levels were completed, we had left school and none of us had any idea what we were going to do next, so we all went on holiday. Not quite the grown ups we wanted to believe as I had to get a letter from my mum before the travel agent would take the booking as I was still only 17 then!
Very few of my peers were off to University, even from a Grammar School it was the exception rather than the norm to go, and my decision had been made easier, possibly as I had a feeling I would not be on the front page of the Telegraph with record results.. So it was into the world of work, the wonders of the temping agency and weekly pay meaning that in this year alone I worked in a variety of jobs, from washing up to sorting toothbrushes for export to insurance. None of these really grabbed my attention, so I took the easy option of working in an insurance company as they offered me the job.
The year became very memorable for many people because of this image. The Space Shuttle Challenger exploded just after take off in January, and was watched live by a higher than usual audience due to one of the travellers being a teacher, Christa McAuliffe, who was scheduled to carry out lessons to her classes while in space. I have found while looking back over the years that while the musical memories are the key factor for me, there are one or two pictures each year that are so iconic that almost everyone, even if they weren't alive at the time, knows what they are of, and this I think is one.
There is another iconic picture from this year, from the football World Cup held in Mexico in the summer. And it is one that will always be a bad memory for England fans. After stuttering through the group stage England had a quarter final against Argentina, only a few years after the Falklands War, but I doubt that was on Maradonnas mind for his first goal. In what will go down as one of the most blatant miscarriages in a football match, he later scored what was voted the goal of the century, and helped Argentina to lift the World Cup. England were left with scant consolation that Gary Lineker won the golden boot, and a career flogging crisps awaited him.
Musically it seems to have been a bit of a dull year looking throught the releases. A decade since Punk had changed the face of music everything seemed a bit bland, needing a bit of a kick again to get it moving. Dance / House music was just bubbling around on the radio, championed as new by John Peel, ignored by the majority of others. It really was a year of rock ballads and stadium bands being born, with not much else, apart from a cassette tape from the NME. C86, described as the beginning of Indie music, was a compilation album of some of the rising musical stars of Indie music, although the Indie Chart was already full of The Smiths and New Order. If you want to get a digital copy of C86 just click here for the details.
The above, and the usual suspects of Billy Bragg and The Style Council filled my ears, along with the Beastie Boys first album and their impending tour booked for 1987, but there was only one person topping the charts the world over this year, and she is still doing much the same now.
Single: Papa Don't Preach - Madonna
A single taken from the True Blue album, this was Madonna really taking over pop music in the 80s. Constant re-imaging of herself, different looks in different videos, and cornering the market in what is pretty close to marketing perfection. Her music was everywhere at this time, films, radio, TV - it was impossible not to know who she was, in an age before the internet she was truly a global celeb.
This single, with clear references to teenage pregnancy and abortion was only one of her ways of annoying the religious right in the US, and ensuring that the free publicity of news and talk show topics kept her in the spotlight at all times. Not one of her best singles in my opinion, but like almost all of her output, I bet you all know most of the words.
Album: True Blue - Madonna
And here she is again, so far the first artist to have album and single at the top of the pile on my birthday. Much as above, she was everywhere, so being top of the album chart should have been no surprise. It really is an album of time, and it does sound dated to me on listening to it, maybe because it is, and the re-invention was so much that you can almost date things by which look she had at the time.
Album kicks off with Papa Don't Preach, and that is probably the strongest track on this. Second is Open Your Heart, which again is memorable, but not in a great way. At least two other singles, the title track and La Isla Bonita, this album is Madonna at her pop music mass market peak. It is hard to really make any comments on it, as although it sold in the millions, when was the last time anyone played it? It is not a classic, it is not going to change your view of music or challenge you in any way really, it is just pop. This is not a negative, just a fact, I was bored listening to it, singing along to the ones I knew and not really enticed to listen to the ones I didn't again.
I didn't have a single track by Madonna in my collection until now, and doubt I will add more unless the fate of dates compels me to, nothing really against her, but it was all so overplayed that I can't really justify listening to it again.
Come back next time, when I am in full time employment, I try alcohol again and for some reason I don't have my hair cut for ages.