published: 17 /
In 'Vinyl Stories' Dave Goodwin talks to Anthony Strutt, one of Pennyblackmusic's oldest writers, about his favourite vinyl records, which include LPs by the Doors, the Pretenders, the Smiths, the Cure and the Beatles
Anthony Strutt was born in London in 1962. He discovered music in the early Seventies. He remembers first getting into Bowie, after a friend brought a tape into school. He started buying vinyl seriously, like most of us did it seems, after starting a full-time job to fund the habit. He started with all the 'K-Tel' Compilations and then punk reared its gorgeous head around the time he was leaving school and, although he admits it didn't blow him away, it affected his best mate who had all the records and tapes.
By this time, he had money coming in. They would spend hours listening to what they had bought and the rest, as they say, is history.
He went to his first gig in 1979 to see Paul McCartney and Wings for around £3.50 at the Lewisham Odeon and ended up meeting Paul and Linda afterwards, which was the first of fifty meetings he had with them. In those days getting a photograph and an interview was quite relaxed and around that time they weren't in vogue so it was easier.
He started listening to bands like the Kinks, the Stones, Wings and the Pretenders. Then he discovered the indie world and talent like the Smiths, Echo & The Bunnymen and REM. He liked Mod music and the rest of the Sixties with a passion, but didn't overly buy into the fashion, although he does actually buy a lot of Sixties-type clothing.
He wasn't into the Mod culture and he remembers looking at his girlfriend at the time who, he quips, looked a lot like her mother." To him, indie, though, was fresh and always challenging.
Anthony started his first fanzine in 1980, when Paul McCartney got busted, and guitarist Denny Laine left Wings went solo. He did a fanzine for him and continued for a few years but there wasn't so much interest in Denny.
He did a few more fanzines around the Britpop era, one in France and another back here called 'Independent Underground Sound'.
Anthony joined Pennyblackmusic after an interview he did with a band named Baptiste and he's been doing things with the magazine for around fifteen years. I'm sure he won't mind me saying that he's probably one of the oldest left! He has interviewed a lot of his heroes over the years and has a guitar at home that he strums now and again, although he admits he can't really play it.
Nowadays he is really into psychedelic music and the underground stuff that is currently flying under the radar.
Anthony has spent most of his life being a chef. He moved to Leicester a few years ago to be with his girlfriend and now wife. He has worked at the University in Leicester, amongst many places and he now DJ's for Radio Fox, a hospital radio channel, also in Leicester.
He always considers Nottingham though to be his home for music, as he compares the music scene in the city closely to that of London.
The first record he bought with his own money was a copy of 'Easter Island' by Kris Kristofferson, and a record deck to play it on. We have met at one of his favourite haunts, Rough Trade, in Nottingham. The records he has brought with him are chosen because of his love for the bands and their music and also they have a few stories to tell, so in his own words, this is Anthony Strutt's 'Vinyl Stories'....
1. The Doors - 'The Doors'
This is their first album. It's not an original-I've got two original albums at home. This one is just a cheap re-issue. I must have first heard the Doors around 1983. I lived in a shared house back then. My mate would listen to lots of bootlegs and things in this house in Hendon, London and I used to live upstairs. The ceiling/floor below must have been wafer thin because I used to get all the sounds from down there up in my room, crystal clear.
At that time, I was young and hungry for music. It just went into me and I soaked it up. I love the Doors to this day and I've met them all in my time, except for, of course, Jim Morrison.
It's very confrontational, hippy and quite acid. It's poetry. It's standing up against establishment. It's just great. I have to thank my mate, Phil, who lived downstairs because he corrupted me to so many bands over the years.
One of my career highlights was that I interviewed the guy that signed the Doors, Jac Holzman. I met him at a gig where he was introducing a new act he had discovered on a beach called Bruno Mars.
2. The Pretenders - 'The Pretenders'
I used to meet James Honeyman Scott and Martin Chambers all the time around town in London, so I used to get autographs and things. I used to go to Leicester Square and Soho a lot because there were so many great record shops there and I used to frequent them when I would get depressed. There were record shops and sex shops everywhere back then; American imports were like £2.
They toured in 1981. I went to see them and they totally blew my socks off. The original Pretenders, for me, were the band. I say original because two of them, including died really early of drug overdoses.
I went on the whole UK tour afterwards and they didn't blow me away as much as they had before. They were sort of rehearsed and predictable, instead of raw. Chrissie Hynde, to me, is just sex on legs even now. I have met her loads of times.
3. The Smiths - 'The Smiths'
Like most people withn their collections, I've got this, but this one is signed. This is another band that came up through the floor, courtesy of Uncle Phil, downstairs.
I really cocked up with the Smiths. My mate was going to see them at Dingwalls and Covent Garden and I didn't go and see them until the third single which was still pretty early, but not as early as when they were playing some of the pubs and clubs. They were nothing like they were on record, live. They were very polished in the studio, but on stage they were really raw and they were life-changing.
I wouldn't say I'm 100% into Morrissey these days because he's a twat, but I like Johnny Marr. He's still a hero. I got the album signed at various different places. I think I got some of them signed at Meltdown, too.
Johnny Marr was at the Royal Festival Hall, but I met them all loads of different times and it's hard to tell when I got the others done. I got the recording from Virgin the week it was released and it was £4.29.
In those days in Camden, everyone recorded gigs, and if you didn't go to the gig, you could just go down Camden Market and buy it from one of the stalls.
4. The Cure - 'Seventeen Seconds'
This is a band I absolutely worship. I got this in a charity shop I was working in,
in Lewisham. I worked there for a few years and they didn't give a toss about vinyl. They would put something like this out for a quid, but if you worked there you just had to make a donation.
I've met all the Cure, as well, including Robert a few times. According to my mate, I'm a part-time Cure fan because if they do a three-day gig somewhere I will go to, say, the Friday night session, whereas my mate will go to all three of them. It's an endurance thing.
The Cure now average, perhaps, three-and-a half hours per set, so it's pure endurance, especially when everyone gets drunk. Having said all that, the last thing they did in 2008 was terrible. All the work they have done this century has been piss poor.
'Three Imaginary Boys', their first album, was a joke. It was when they wanted to fit in and be New Wavey and punks, whereas this is leaning towards the Gothic sound, if that makes sense.
5. The Beatles - 'The White Album'
This is my most recent buy from a car boot sale in Melton Mowbray where they make the pies. It cost me four quid, two Sundays ago, and the thing is, this is always collectable.
If ever I'm obsessed with something, it's this. This is their best thing ever because at this time they were falling apart and had become better songwriters. They went through the 'She Loves You' stage and all the twee stuff and they'd been taking drugs since 1962 and this was 1968.
They were sort of falling out with each other, but it meant that they were better songwriters. George was starting to be a good songwriter and Ringo had left again. This is four sides of classic Beatles. The Beatles were my first true love, I reckon.
Having said that, I had outgrown them by 1987. I got rid of all my stuff, and I mean everything. I had around fifty McCartney autographs and I got rid of them all. I sold them when I got married to pay a solicitor. I regret that! Ha ha ha!
We chat for a while longer, take some photos of Anthony with his possessions, browse through the records in the shop below and afterwards I suggest I take him back to Leicester.
The half-hour journey gave us time to chat some more about selling records, eBay and Pennyblackmusic.
We stopped outside his house, shook hands and said goodbye. On the way back to my house, I ran through my head how much Anthony had seen and heard in his life, how much music he has witnessed and the vast catalogue of artists he has met.
I don't think I have ever met anyone with as much knowledge and experience as Anthony. I decided that Anthony Strutt from Leicester, was just as he had described himself earlier; a vinyl junkie. He is also a very fine chap. Marvellous!
Photographs by Dave Goodwin
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