Terry Jacks - Seasons in the Sun
Barry Biggs - Sideshow

I'm not really sure which of these was my first-ever purchase with my own hard-earned money, 'Seasons in the Sun' or 'Sideshow', but I've included them in this article as a starting point.

I didn't have much money as a kid so my record-buying was limited and finely picked. My intention with this was to try and document how our musical tastes change, the older and more worldly wise we get. For instance when I was a teenager I would never have thought in a million years that I would go on to collect and then DJ Northern Soul records - even though I was growing up right in the middle of its heyday I didn't even know what it was. Although I do remember my step-sister and her boyfriend going out on a Saturday afternoon to some place like Wigan or Stoke and not returning until the following day.

My first discovery of music was through Gilbert O'Sullivan and the great Shane Fenton (and the Fentones) who would later go on to become Alvin Stardust. I had already acquired albums by these two artists but I had to do it via my mum's purse. Then came the introduction to POCKET MONEY. I think I got somewhere in the region of 75p a week back then which wasn't actually that much considering an album would set you back £2.99. Singles were around the 75p mark but you could pick up ex-jukebox records at Woolworth's for about 40p . Other places I used to frequent were shops like Way Ahead and Selectadisc as well as Arcade Records.

The reason for picking these two singles is that this is the type of thing my ears first started to make sense of. Both tracks are melodic, simple catchy sing--long tunes that made it into the charts, which is where I heard them first - either on the radio or more likely on 'Top of the Pops'. Between the ages of eight and ten I wouldn't have listened to the heavy stuff of that time, instead opting for the more tuneful stuff my dad was playing from the 1960s, like the Four Tops, which had a melody and a silkiness to it.

Secret Affair - Behind Closed Doors
Tears for Fears - The Hurting
New Order - Everything's Gone Green

By the time I exploded into the 1980s my taste had changed. I had got past primary and made it to secondary school where there were new influences and new sounds.

Through all the different 'fads' (as my dad used to call them) I was buying records that I liked. I didn't succumb very much to peer pressure. I think the only trouble I got into at school was because of my bright ginger hair. I had come through the ska/two tone 'fad' and gone a bit deeper than most of my age.

We had this competition at school, especially in the Futurist/New Romantic fad, where we had to outdo each other in finding rarer and more obscure music. I won quite often with obscurities such as 'Contradictions' by Thomas Leer and 'Les Visituers Du Soir' by Mathematiques Modernes (both of which I have in my vinyl collection to this day).

But my mod fascination took me to Secret Affair who had brief encounters with the charts and who had released an album called 'Behind Closed Doors'. It was rare for me to like every track on an album but this was the exception. It still remains one of my favourite albums of all time. My taste had changed into more guitar-driven music but it still had to have a good beat and melody.

Around this time in my search for the obscure I discovered Joy Division who at that time were quite unknown and who of course went on to reincarnate as New Order. 'Everything's Gone Green' was likewise quite obscure at the time and I just loved everything about it. It was moody and dark and above all the single had a strange but fascinating design on it. I went on to buy everything New Order. Every record cover from that band in the future was a work of art. All of them had some kind of motto or motif on them that I thought for some reason was a kind of subliminal messaging stunt.

Again my taste had gone on to more guitar-driven stuff but I was learning the sounds of synth and keyboards now. I think I bought the Secret Affair and New Order records from Arcade Records in Nottingham where I bought the single that started my love for another band. 'The Hurting' by Tears for Fears is another of those albums that didn't have a bad track on it. For some strange reason I went on to buy every single they ever did, but not the albums. I don't know what this said about my vinyl collecting other than perhaps I was a little tight for money so bought the singles? Who knows.

My music had still stayed on the path of melody and it was being honed and crafted into a certain sound that was abundant in the eighties. But Tears For Fears were slightly different even then because they didn't fit into any particular bracket for me and that was great. From what I remember there wasn't much information on the band at that time because they purposely kept out of the limelight. I couldn't get anything about them in the papers I was reading - 'NME', 'Sounds' and 'Melody Maker'. But again I went on to buy the lot. I had to buy 'The Seeds of Love' on CD, though. It's probably the most battered CD case I have.

That and another that would later become a passion too: James's 'Gold Mother' was another one of those that had not a bad track on it. My music had progressed but I was still in love with the melody and the type of track that got you singing along to it and James's albums were full of them. My CD collection grew to gargantuan levels and is still growing but I'm now buying vinyl again, usually because it has a digital download bundled with it these days.

When I was younger money was hard to come by so I had to pick and choose what music to listen to. I could only afford a certain amount of albums a month and the only other way to access music at the time was through radio. Vinyl was so important back then and when the CD came it was billed as the best sound ever.

I remember people saying things like: "You can even hear them breathing". And so came "the death of vinyl". I was just as much as a culprit as any but I can't remember having any other choice. I'm sure someone will help me out here but I can't remember having the option to buy the vinyl version rather than the CD.

Of course now vinyl is back because it seems it has a certain quality that CDs don't. I'm now finding, as I did when I started buying music many years ago, that I am more choosy buying vinyl than I was buying CDs. Now both options are available I haven't bought a CD for years: I have gone virtually full circle from very selective vinyl buying at the start, via blanket CD buying of anything that sounded half decent at the time, back to very selective handpicked vinyl buying again. And I know which I prefer!

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