Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Vinyls records mentioned in two successive posts.

Somewhere in this tangled web, someone asked which music albums had, to quote, 'stayed with you'.

Now, I think the expression 'stayed with you' was intended to mean 'stayed in your consciousness'; in other words, your all-time favourites. But the figurative interpretation meant you could bend the list to please your peers. They can't physically look into your record cabinet.

So I decided to take the expression literally. I once owned hundreds of LP records, but over the years they dwindled in number. Of the remaining, some I will never throw out; others are rubbish and I should have binned them years ago.

Here are ten albums that have stayed with me: literally.

1. Running Down the Road by Arlo Guthrie. Famous for being the son of Woodie and his cult 23-minute hit 'Alice's Restaurant', Arlo Guthrie's 1969 release ticked all the boxes for post-flower-power motorcycle-riding hippies. The record belonged to my sister, and I kept it for safe-keeping after her death in 1981.
2016 rating: like riding a Triumph Trophy motorcycle without a helmet.

2. The Seekers by the Seekers. The first album by Australia's pet pop group, now in their dotage but still performing, zombie-like, at farewell performances. My father bought this album of folk standards in 1965 and I rescued (as in, stole) it from a pile of 1980s pop rubbish that my mother kept buying from op shops and adding to her overcrowded record drawer. (Smokey, anyone? Yep, my mother dragged home a 1979 Smokey album in 2001.) Pre-fame, the Seekers produced uncannily beautiful music. One listen to Judith Durham’s voice on 'All My Trials' and you'll never be a Seekers cynic again. 'Georgy Girl' might be the signature hit, but the Seekers' mainstream hits pale in comparison to this pre-flower power treasure.
2016 rating: the Sidney Myer Music Bowl lives.

3. Harvest by Neil Young. Every time I bought a record, I wrote the date inside the cover. This one reads 1 December 1973. 'A Man Needs a Maid' and 'There's a World' were recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra under David Meecham at Barking Town Hall, London. Rock combined with swirling orchestral arrangements had lasted decades and this was almost the end of the era, probably due to cost. Disco and its bastard child, bad electronic music, was a grim, cheap shadow just over the horizon.
2016 rating: old man take a look at your life.

4. Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield. Purchased 14 January 1974. Serial no. V20001, monochrome twins on label. The Piltdown man is Mike screaming onto sped-up tape which was then mixed at normal speed.
2016 rating: out-progged the prog rockers.

5. Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. Purchased 12 December 1974 from Brashs, Elizabeth Street. Back cover: "This Quadraphonic record is produced by the SQ system which permits the reproduction of sound from four separate channels when a special SQ decoder is used in association with suitable amplifiers and four loudspeakers."
2016 rating: matter of fact, it's all dark.

6. For Little Ones by Donovan. Produced by Mickie Most. A 1967 album virtually lost to the world, possibly because its title makes it sound like a children's record. Inside the psychedelic artwork are twelve all-acoustic tracks by Donovan based on folk, myth and fairy tale. An extraordinarily good album, regarded by some as his best work.
2016 rating: summer of love.

7. Peer Gynt Suite/From Holberg’s Days/Wedding Day at Troldhaugen by Greig. Bamberg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Wilhelm Schuchter. Purchased 1974. First of many World Record Club purchases and the only one I kept. Price, $2.97 postage included. Getting these, and others, in the mail was a joy. I'd arrive home from school, rip open the flat cardboard parcel and discover classical music on my white Kenwood stereogram in my own room.
2016 rating: pining for the fjords.

8. 1984 Grand Final by the Captain and the Major. Yes, in the days before vision, radio stations sold their call of the game on LP vinyl. This was the pre-McAvaney era when commentators were 'callers' and never over-dramatised the action. There is barely a raised voice in the most dramatic of last quarters when Jack Dyer and Ian Major describe the action as Essendon, under a glowering sky, destroy 19 years of heartbreaking loss - and the Hawks - in thirty minutes of possibly the best football ever heard.
2016 rating: 3KZ is football.

9. Romper Room by unattributed. No idea how this soundtrack of a children's television program came into my possession. There is no mention of author, presenter, singer or musicians on the cover, but the character Mr Do Bee has a registered trademark next to his name. A worldwide franchise, television stations bought the rights and produced it with their own talent. It pre-dated Sesame Street in its sanctimonious altruism. The cover notes: Romper Room provides education in the home ... The idea was to make learning seem like play and make playing a way to learn. Tracks include 'Bend and Stretch', 'The Punching Clown Song', 'Punchinello', 'Punch Ball' and 'Galloping to Romper Room'. My little sister used to watch the program and had a Mr Do Bee hand puppet.
2016 rating: punch drunk.

10. Nashville Skyline by Bob Dylan. From the days when Bob sounded less like a frog and more like ... Arlo Guthrie. 'I Threw It All Away' is a lost masterpiece now known only to Dylan fans. Johnny Cash sings on 'Girl From the North Country'.
2016 rating: lay lady lay.


Melbourne Girl said...

Some great albums here KH...and Dark Side of the Moon brings back some particular memories for me. One of my all time favourites. The captain and the Major also takes me back. Ian Major a real gentleman and a lovely bloke!

paul kennedy said...

Melbourne Girl, my first DSOTM experience was on television - ABC's music show GTK played the 'Brain Damage' clip. Haven't been able to find it since. My Pink Floyd brother might know if still it exists. Over to you, Martin.

Yes, the Major was a great caller and foil for Jack Dyer.