An odd year for many reasons, not a lot really happened to me, or I had discovered strong lager and this is where memories fade. A little of both I think..
This was one of the years called the Summer of Love depending on when you found out about dance music and raves and such, this year was almost all free, or at most a couple of quid on the "door" to get in, and for a lot of it the police and authorities didn't seem over inclined to break the events up. I didn't drive at this time, so others always had the job of getting to service stations or trying to park somewhere in London with a vague idea that we could find something, we often did, but also just as often didn't. In the days before twitter and facebook, let alone SMS, organising and finding people was just not as easy as it is now, and that was always part of the fun. Finding a rave and being there all night had that thrill behind it you can't get from planning a night out three months in advance and sending invites and "whose going" pages.
One of the bigger music events of the year was the concert at Wembley for the 70th birthday of Nelson Mandela, who was still in prison at this time. This is one of those things in life that you had to be alive at the time to comprehend this. Boycots of fruit, bands and sports stars vilified for visiting and playing in South Africa, Barclays Banks being pushed out of University Campuses as the world slowly started to really take notice of what was still a completely segregated country. Without banging on too much about the politics of the whole event (24 MPs in the UK wanted to cancel the concert as it was in support of a terrorists, the ANC, now the government there!) this was one of the tipping points in getting the wider issues discussed openly. It seems amazing even now that this was just allowed to happen, and yet look at the news and see what we are allowing to happen over the world today and it isn't that amazing, just more depressing.
We didn't go to this gig, we went to one in Milton Keynes Bowl which was more of a "leftfield" line up, the more overtly political bands that were never going to be able to play on BBC at the time - that was a good day, a long walk, and the longest ever diversion by a taxi driver on the way home, he took us to the wrong town as we all fell asleep as soon as we got in!
Some of the other events of the year that still impact on life and news today include the Lockerbie bombing, still headline news for much of this year, the truth behind it still unknown, and now unlikely to ever be uncovered. The SAS shot 3 IRA suspects in Gibraltar, and also members of the IRA were banned from speaking on UK news, a tactic instantly made pointless by employing Irish actors to do the voice overs on the news. Some of the most shocking events in "The Troubles" this year included a UDA man shooting and throwing grenades at a funeral, and two soldiers being beaten to death after driving into a funeral procession. The fact that these events were filmed and shown on TV and not just spoken about or written up in the papers again forced people to acknowledge that this was real, not just "news" that could be forgotten about.
Musically, House Music was coming from most car stereos and pirate radio stations, the late John Peel being one of the few mainstream DJs to play it at all on the radio. It was also my first taste of "Gangster Rap" with NWA releasing Straight Outta Compton and Ice T with Power. The controversy caused in the US and the media made the genre and the bands involved more famous than any marketing campaign could have. The NME at the time really didn't know what to do with the reviews of albums like this, I wish I had kept some of them as the "indie rock guitar based journalists" just had no idea what words they could actually type.
Looking back over the releases of the year it is a mix of bands who have reformed in the last couple of years and those you struggle to remember anything at all about. This was probably about the time that I stopped knowing all the facts about the charts and trivia about record sales, as I moved away from the mainstream and started relying on recommendations rather than just what was on the radio, but it is the charts that we look at here.
Single: Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You - Glenn Medeiros
See the cover, bloody hell.
This is what I feared when I kicked off with this idea was that I would stumble across the worst of the one hit wonders.
What can I say, total dross.
Do you see how I keep starting new lines with double spaces?
Three minutes and 49 seconds on youtube watching this.
I will not get this out of my head for days, even though there appears to be no tune and no words apart from the title.
Album: Tracy Chapman - Tracy Chapman
While I would like to think I owned this before the Nelson Mandela concert I doubt I did, but it is still here in the house on vinyl. The concert as referenced above "broke" her to worldwide fame and sold in the millions.
With a sort of folk vibe her voice is so strong and memorable that everyone knows at least one track from this album, and that would be Fast Car, the second track here. The first is my favourite, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution but this is one of those albums without a duff track on it. A socially and political album that people bought mainly because they liked Fast Car would be my bet, but hopefully they listened to it all, and some of her words sunk in.
Songs like Across The Lines referencing struggles and riots, details about the police not coming to black neighbourhoods, this is a hard hitting album that I am glad I have come back to. Love songs mingle in the mix her as well, this really is a great listen. Don't even waste a second of your time on Glenn Medeiros and get this album today, if you have it, put it on.
This is music.
Another mixed year, but I have not only listened to Tracy Chapman a lot, but also some other older albums I have from the year. Next time I turn 21 and there are some more classic music memories.