Monday, 14 December 2015

Seven songs 1...

So I’ve been asked to choose seven pieces of music (records as we used to call then) over the next seven days that, for one reason or another, have impacted me in some way. Seven isn’t very many and it will be hard, but my first choice is an easy one to make.

In 1962 I was eight and like most small boys back then I was deeply fascinated by outer space. Doctor Who was still a year away, but there were plenty of ‘B’ movie science fiction films at the picture house at the Saturday matinees, Dan Dare was available in The Eagle and of course Fireball XL5 was on our black and white, valve driven television. Add to this The Sky at Night, the space race between the US and USSR and as many Science Fiction novels as I could borrow from the local library each week and it was inevitable that the launching of the Telstar communications satellite would grab my attention.

I must have heard Telstar by the Tornados on the radio. I don’t know on what station or exactly when but it wasn’t long before a copy of the record appeared in the anodised metal record rack alongside the Dansette record player in our living room. Records were a bit of an investment back then and very precious, so there it sat alongside Helen Shapiro’s Walking Back to Happiness, Little Red Rooster by The Rolling Stones, John Leyton’s Six White Horses and a Golden Chariot and Acker Bilk’s Stranger on the bloody Shore,

It was the second instrumental single to hit No. 1 in 1962 on both the US and UK weekly charts and was written, produced and recorded by Joe Meek in his studio in a small flat above a shop in Holloway Road, North London. The other single was Acker Bilk’s Stranger on the Shore, which I hated with a vengeance for various reasons, but I loved Telstar as soon as I heard it.

There was something other worldly about that buzzing, whirling sound as it rose higher and higher. I could almost imagine myself flying around the universe with Steve Zodiac and Venus in Fireball XL5 as I listened. It was the first piece of ‘electronic’ music that I’d heard and it had me hooked along with the five million others who bought copies of the record across planet Earth.

It’s because of Telstar that I got into Kraftwork, Tangerine Dream, Roxy Music and all those lush electro-pop groups of the eighties. I still love electronically created music, but Telstar will always bring back memories of playing spacemen and robots in the playground and of course Fireball XL5.


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