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Texas Radio and the big beat

November 17, 2017

The second ‘first’ album I ever bought was L.A.Woman by The Doors. It was on 31st August 1971. I know this because it was the same day my niece Claire was born. So Claire, if you are reading this, now the whole internet knows how old you are.


I went to Greyfriars covered market in Ipswich, it’s no longer there.now of course. Greyfriars itself was a hideous concrete monstrosity containing a car park, some high rise flats that people jumped off when they’d had enough of this life, the tax office, possibly the last place the aforementioned ‘jumpers’ may have visited and this covered market. I can’t remember anything else being there. Brutalist Architecture they called it.


It was a typical covered market, the usual stuff for sale, cheap clothes, fruit and veg, and the pungent combination smell of hot dogs and cigarettes. Plus of course, the only place I was going; the record stall. Long haired hippies ran the stall, and my memory tells me it was only long haired hippies and me that were browsing for records.


I wasn’t allowed to be a hippy. I wanted to be, but my Dad wouldn’t let me have long hair. I grew it as long as I could but it wasn’t long enough as far I was concerned. So there I was flicking through the albums, me and all the other hippies, the smell of hot dogs and cigarettes and the cool music thumping out from the stereo behind the counter.


What was this music I could hear?, a dark sonorous voice appeared to be reading poetry over a churning rock beat it was awesome and scary, I loved it.


But my job was to pick an album, all the scary covers i had seen in Sandy’s record box were there; Jethro Tull, Blodwyn Pig, that Black Sabbath album and many many more.


This was 1971, again I have missed out a significant chunk of very significant musical history, the sixties, which I will go back to as I ramble backwards and forwards down Memory Lane.


So as I flicked through the albums, this experience was to become the template for all my record buying adventures, aimlessly going through rack after rack, some in alphabetical order, some in genre (yuk!) order, some in price order, the good stuff was one end and the cheap stuff was at the other. I can’t remember how Greyfriars covered market did it.


The poetry with the rock beat was pumping away when I picked out LA Woman by the Doors. I knew two of the tracks, and I liked the cover. What I didn’t know was that the singer Jim Morrison had died a few weeks earlier, another one of the ‘27 club’ he was a proper rock star. Look him up.


I nonchalantly waved the cover of the album at one of the assistants, and for some inexplicable reason I asked him in my coolest, laid back, spotty fourteen year old way, “What is this like?”

He looked down at me from his elevated plinth behind the counter and with audible disgust in his voice he replied “You’re listening to it”,


I would have said OMG, if that had been a thing in 1971, but it wasn’t, I just squirmed with embarrassment on the one hand but felt delighted on the other that I was about to purchase a record with this awesome, scary poem with a rock beat as well. I handed over my £1.99, although I probably gave him two grubby pound notes in return for my album in a brown paper bag and a penny change.

At some point that day I was told that I had become an Uncle, and that my sister Janet had had a baby called Claire. Obviously being a selfish, spotty fouteen year old boy, it was only of mild interest. (Sorry Claire) but I had bought L.A Woman by The Doors. That's all that mattered really.

Oh and that poem was ‘The W.A.S.P. (Texas radio and the big beat) - I still have no idea what it’s about.


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