[from: 'Eroica: Piano Improvisions', Virgin, 1990]
Music When I was a student (mid-nineties) I knew two things. The first was that by the year 2000 my life would be complete. The second was that club music in all it's forms was the work of the devil to draw the populace away from real music. And I pretty much kept that opinion for the rest of the decade. Then last year something strange happened. I was standing in record shop and the DJ began to play 'GrooveJet' by Spiller featuring Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Here was a record almost designed to talk me around to the Ibiza way of thinking. A dance record with a good lyric and melody of sorts which also had the kind of structure I'd never heard before. I walked to the counter and bought the thing straight away - and listened to it five times as soon as I was home.
My distrust of dance music still exists, much of it seeming too easy for words. There are the exceptions - the crossover music which I now feel myself not only appreciating but going positively radio gaga over. I'm becoming particular impressed by R&B. During my long and delayed train journey home tonight, I was welcome of the company of Mary J Blige and her 1997 album, 'share my world'. I should not like this album. I mean it features R Kelly for god's sake. But here I am, listening to it again whilst I write this. I want to gas on about her vocal range (extraordinary) or the production (as you'd expect, with glimpses of genius) And as I 'groove' along to the track 'round and round' I've come to a startling conclusion, and believe me, this is something of a revelation...there isn't one type of music I don't like....
Actually that may not be true. I'd run a mile from Kenny Rogers, James Galway and in fact most people with beards. And I'll draw the line at boy bands. And Atomic Kitten (mention number three on this weblog - six to go possibly). But when it comes to everything else, I think I can - if not rave - at least understand. There isn't probably anything better at one o'clock in the morning having had many beers than throwing your weight around S Club 7's 'Reach for the Stars'. The rush of a Slipnot concert will be extreme. And quiet stylings of Vangelis lead you into believing that a calmer world is possible. The only boundary in music should be quality... [1st September 2001]
[Commentary: At the point when this was written, the blog was only two months old and many, many years before the invention of Spotify when and the exponential increase in the availability of music increased exponentially. As I've glanced through these old selections and choices, it's been interesting to me just how much my tastes haven't changed. In the main I still do only listen to female voices and soundtrack albums, with classical music and world music falling between the cracks and odd bits of pop music depending on who it is. Even with all of music available that's still where I head off to. Perhaps some folk and jazz here and there, but generally yes, nothing much has changed. I'm listening to the Mary J Blige album as I type, probably for the first time since I wrote the above and well, yes, it's fine and I can necessarily disagree with most of what's above but I'll still end up listening to Adele when I'm writing Doctor Who reviews.
What's missing from the above is that about this time I was commuting to Manchester to the RBS call centre and had decided to expand my cultural outlook by reading Rolling Stone. This was before it still had large pages but way, way past its heyday, featuring the "girls" from American Pie on the cover. I remember finding the newsier items far more interesting than the music in the end, so it was probably ultimately my entry drug into US politics and rabidly following the presidential campaigns. Mainly it was a way of discovering what was happening in US culture when most of it was still inaccessible and not just a click away. Now it's entirely possible to follow the Chris Christie scandal on a minute-by-minute basis or listen to whatever's at no 100 in the Billboard Hot 100 without having to stay up until two in the morning for Casey Kasem and America's Top 10.]