The year was 1984. I was in my last year at Red Hill Primary School. Carlton would go on to lose to Collingwood in a prelim final (I would have to wait another 3 years for the next premiership.) Kim Hughes would lose the Australian Test Captaincy later this year (to my 80s hero AB), and the Windies would smash us with a fearsome bowling line-up! I still remember this ad and music playing back then.
Back then I had only had a few records and cassettes, mostly coming as presents for Birthday, Christmas and good school reports. A few years earlier I had chosen my first ever two LP’s; being Kiss Unmasked & The Best of Abba (I know right – my tastes have always been pop eclectic!). However mostly in these early years prior to 1984 I listened to my Dad’s collection. I would carefully put the records on the Sanyo silver turntable and hifi, watching the needle-thin level meter backlit in soft yellow lighting moving to the sounds of Chicago, The Eagles, Doobie Brothers and Blood Sweat & Tears to name but a few as I lay in the soft lounge carpet leftover from the 70s.
As well as these influences, I would receive a fantastic introduction to The Beatles, Wings, Lennon & McCartney solo work and bands like Fleetwood Mac through days spent at my best mates house after cricket and summer evenings when we had got back from summer days at Balnarring Beach.
In the Xmas of 83 I received my first Walkman – an AIWA model. and later that year I got my first “ghetto blaster” – a dual cassette PYE portable player. Armed with these, along with my Dad’s stereo, I began in earnest my next 20+ years of recording music. Whether it was listening to Kasey Kasem on American Top40 Aussie syndicated shows on Sunday nights if I remember correctly – to Countdown episodes or special events in the 80’s like Live Aid and Australian Made. If it played back and had an audio out, I would find a way to record it to cassette. TDK mix tapes and scrawled playlists were everywhere in my room in the years both before, and after Sports Illustrated models sprang up on the walls.
Thankfully, whilst 1984 was officially the launch of “macrovision” on VHS cassettes, causing trouble until wave modulation electronic devices could be bought or built to defeat it, taping to audio cassette was still only fraught with the inevitable intro lead in or pre-mature ending “talk-over” of the song you were recording by that pain-in-the-ass radio dj.
So, here, in 1984 I was still revelling in a pre-digital world of music, and music portability. My first AKAI stereo (all in one) with a CD Player and my first ever CD; Dire Straits Brothers in Arms (I have both original vinyl pressings AND 180gm RE now of course) was still over a year away in blissful ignorance of the musical revolution still to come…let alone my MiniDisc journey of the 90’s pre-mp3’s!
And with this burgeoning obsession with and for the pure pleasure of listening to music, I of course somehow ended up in the perfect place as a kid in the 80s in their last year of primary school: The school music monitor! Yep, nerd or not (well yes – as my C64 and then first 386-sx a couple of years later along with my love of D&D would forever label me), the role of music monitor let me bring in those mix tapes with all my favourite songs to play to the whole school for somewhere between half, to 1 full song if I could fit it in at the end of every recess or lunch-time break.
The school heard my new-wave Brit pop love from the early to mid-80’s. My Aus rock pop hits, be it surf or pub (not that I knew it was this back then), and US power ballads sung by vocal giants like Lou Gramm of Foreigner. Hall and Oates were a favourite – because whether it was R&B influences or from pretty much any genre – Pop was King. And Countdown was the Top of The Pops for any Australian kid from the 80s…even now I think I have nearly all retro-month ABC Rage eps on my PVR!
I didn’t grow up to be a musician, or a DJ or anyone in the music industry. But I grew up with music. From the kilometres on the road, the quiet moments at home, from my first son’s cry to years later their teenage parties. On the night I first recall seeing my future wife, to our first date, wedding and across 20+ years together. From concerts in pubs and stadiums, to recitals in Venice or school concerts with my sons. Music has been an integral part of my life, It’s been the soundtrack to my memory – and it’s these times, places, events and feelings that so often flood back every time I pull out an LP from my shelf, spin it up and sit back to enjoy the artist and song and what comes with it.
I hear the music. And always will.