Marking the first fifty years of Heavy Metal. My first true rock moment
Vinyl Virgin Prelude
It was a moment as delicate and delicious as a first love.
As solemn and symbolic as a first Communion,
As epic and exciting as casting off into unknown waters on a voyage of discovery. –
It’s the first time.
The very first time, the vinyl, still virgin within its sleeve, unsullied by dust or human hand, removed and then carefully placed on the turntable.
There was always something tempting, tantilising and enticing about that dark slice of vinyl. First time out you’d hold it up to the light, looking for scratches or imperfection. The sheen of perfect newness, unique but fleeting wonderment as magic as …
the first kiss
the first naked moment,
the first contact of fresh flesh
the first time, as I go gently down on you
As gently, I flick the lever to raise the head and take my stylus out for this new groove, riding down those tracks …
Riding down that highway.
When something is this good, can it get any better ?
OH HELL YES !
That first riff, explodes into my brain, waking up every cell, triggering a dormant turbulence. It’s exciting, but it also feels so right. I’ve never been here before, but it feels like coming home. Then the drums and bass kick in. A slap round the face, a wake-up call. Where have you been all your life? This is life. But nothing, oh nothing can prepare me for THAT VOICE, rough and broken, like a long, dry dusty road. It’s got a mean-edged, vitriolic sneer with a whisky-throated blues twist – more Jack Daniels than single malt. That voice couldn’t give a fuck, that voice just wants to sing.
Oh Hell yes. I wanna go down this highway – I’m gonna be a rock and roll singer, I’m gonna be a rock and roll star, but it’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll.
I’m the fat ginger kid, with a sensible haircut and a wardrobe full of tracksuits. Jeans are banned in our house – mum calls them “workmens’ attire” – Tracksuits are hard-wearing and comfortable and mum calls them “leisure wear,” which makes them sound posh and mum wants to be posh even if she has no money, but class has nothing to do with cash, it is all about good speech and good manners.
I speak nicely and I say “please” and “thank you” and “Excuse me” and I don’t swear and I look and sound like a twat compared to the other boys at school; who tell me to “f*** off”, with a lip-curling, spiteful sneer and a disdainful “shit on my shoe” look in their eye – like Angus Young on the Album cover of Highway to Hell – and my early years at secondary school are hell and I want to be like the other boys
So I save up my meagre pocket money and head into town one Saturday afternoon and pluck up the courage to walk into a record shop and in my squeaky little “please and thank you” voice I ask politely for Highway to Hell.
Music at home. Piles of Scottish albums – ballads, country dances, reels folk songs – mostly bought by my grandparents. There are a few classical music albums and my brother’s Elvis Presley album (which is not a real album) – so far, no rock and roll and I roll home with an AC/DC album and I feverishly remove the disc from the sleeve and I struggle to get the record to play on our 1960’s Pye Stereogram , but I finally get some cracking mono noise and I am taking my first steps on the highway to hell