Sunday, 13 July 2014

'Pretty Vacant'

I've been listening to 'The Best Punk Album In The World Ever', a CD full of the records of my youth and one I haven't listened to in a while. It has all those great punk songs from 1976 - 1978, songs I grew up with and bought the 7" vinyl singles back in the day. Or maybe I taped some off the John Peel show on Radio 1. I like the CD because it's just like an old tape with loads of different sounds one after the other from the Sex Pistols, Undertones, Stranglers, Buzzcocks, Skids, Ruts, XTC, Jam, Damned, Rezillos and so many others.

Whenever I hear 'Pretty Vacant' part of me whizzes back to the summer of 1977 and hearing it for the first time. It's a very distinct memory for me, sitting in the kitchen eating cornflakes and hearing it on Kid Jensen's Saturday morning show, my mother washing up the breakfast dishes and me insisting on having the radio on. It was a road to Damascus type of thing. I'd bought punk singles before and loved The Adverts but hearing 'Pretty Vacant' touched me in a place that hadn't been touched before and awoke something in me that needed to be woken.

I'd not heard the Pistols before. I'd read about them in the NME and Sounds, obviously, but I'd never heard them. No-one I knew had 'Anarchy in the UK' or 'God Save The Queen' so hearing 'Pretty Vacant' on the Kid Jensen show was an ear opener for me and something I'll always be grateful for. I heard 'Pretty Vacant', finished my bowl of cornflakes, grabbed my pocket money and got the bus into Newcastle and headed for the small Virgin record shop behind the City Hall since I knew the Pistols were signed to Virgin and assumed they'd have the record. My memory tells me the shop was small, a bit gloomy and smelling of patchouli but that might be an over-active memory. Whatever. It reinvented me that day.

Has a record ever changed your life?

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