Thursday, 1 June 2017

The First Record

There is nothing I can say about this picture
that would make it less ridiculous

Certain things in life are difficult. Explaining the rules of Cricket to a Frenchman, for example, or trying to look suave and impressive whilst eating Spaghetti. But these things pale into insignificance against The Most Difficult Thing in The World — trying to explain to your parents the function of the Bass Guitar.

For years I’d secretly yearned to be a Rockstar Guitarist like most of my generation, but it all seemed so difficult. Those tricky chords, those superfast lead guitar  licks (not to mention the pouting and the high maintenance trousers) all seemed far too much like hard work All the Keyboard players of the era (with the possible exception of Rick Wakeman) looked like Geography teachers and maintaining a sexy hairdo whilst flailing away at a Drumkit seemed impossible. Singing seemed promising - until I realised l had neither the voice nor the torso to really carry off a line like, "I‘m gonna roll ya all night long baybee baybee yeah". This left but one option - the humble Bass Guitar. Perfect! No chords, no solos (until delusions of grandeur set in), four big, fat, friendly strings and most importantly, Lemmy played one.

"Brilliant! I love Napalm Death!"
After many months of hard bargaining and undignified pleading, my parents bought me a second hand Rickenbacker copy Bass for Christmas. I tried to play it. I couldn’t. The Bass was fabulous, it was me who was crappy, I'd pose with it in front of the mirror in the bathroom but it was seldom played, so it came as quite a shock when l found myself in a local indie band. It came as a bigger shock when a record company signed us up. A record deal! We quickly shifted from local obscurity to national obscurity. We made a record! It was quite good! It sold about nine copies! At last l had something to show my parents - a real record as opposed to the home made cassettes I made and circulated, hoping in vain that one would land in Richard Bransons lap - possibly at a Polo game. I dreamed of the day I would play it to them -all those years of putting up with tuneless thumps and aimless plods would fade away and I would be showered in glowing praise. And one day that dream became real and turned into a nightmare...

I could barely speak as I lowered the crackly test pressing of our album onto the record deck of my parents music centre, having first removed the copy of ‘James Lasts 40 Hammond Greats’ which seemed to live there. The needle hit the groove. My parents assumed serious listening positions on the edges of their chairs, and I sat back to await the plaudits. What I wanted was a comment like "Good Lord! The groove riding genius of Bootsy Collins combined with the power and precision of Chris Squire, the rhythmic audacity and master musicianship of Jaco Pastorius and the melodic invention and pure daring of mid-to-late-sixties McCartney!" What l got was, "Is that you'?" after each instrument began playing in the first song. Wearily, I had to explain to my parents that I was not the drummer, guitarist or singer in the band in a tone normally used by Primary School teachers to backward five year olds; I was in fact, making that low sort of ploddy, thumpy sort of noise that you could barely hear. 

My father looked puzzled as he struggled with the concept of playing an instrument no-one notices until it stops or goes wrong. My mother however was able to summon up a comment that almost killed all my musical aspirations stone dead. With a withering, pitying smile she fixed me with a kind of "I’m sorry; your pet puppy has just been run over” look and said, "I bet that’s much harder to play than it actually sounds?

No comments:

Post a comment