Sunday, 18 September 2016

Tape 1

I spent the morning playing the piano, worrying continually about my neighbours who must think I'm the worst neighbour in the world. I keep wanting to open the windows and shout to anyone who was listening that I'd stop irritating them all after the gig on Monday!

We went to Thaxted in the afternoon to celebrate my brother's birthday, and I was able to present him with a little project I've been beavering away at for the past few weeks. There's a back story here, so few free to skip a couple of paragraphs if you don't like lengthy stories!

In 1978, my Dad had got himself a teaching job at a school in Biggleswade which didn't start lessons until the unusually late time of 9.30 in the morning. This gave him a bit of unexpected free time before going to work, and he had a period where he'd listen to Terry Wogan's breakfast show on Radio 2, using his posh new stereo to tape some of the songs he heard. Obviously it was pot luck. He might get half way through a song and decide he didn't much like it so rewind the tape back and record over it with the next song.

Anyone who knows my Dad will know this was somewhat atypical behaviour. For as long as I can remember, his morning regime has involved reading the Guardian with classical music playing on full blast. Every breakfast from my childhood was accompanied by the sound of Radio 3 drifting into the kitchen from the sitting room. Terry Wogan's voice was never heard (although I did used to think my Dad WAS Terry Wogan...)

Anyway, the result of my father's brief foray into recording pop music was a bright orange TDK cassette which was known within the family as Tape 1. Edward and I listened to it on an almost constant loop. It had loads of songs on it which we absolutely adored. Radio 2 in that day played a mixture of easy listening, novelty songs and tracks which had been in the charts a few months previously. As a result, I can categorically date the period of taping to the latter part of 1978, which I consider to have been the finest ever year for pop music. Or perhaps the joys of Tape 1 are largely responsible for my feeling that 1978 was a vintage year? Who knows? Whatever the case, Disco music has certainly always been in my bloo
So, to cut a long story short, our beloved Tape 1 got recorded over, when my brother was living in Poland in the 1990s. My Mum used to record Saturday mornings on Radio 4 to send to Edward as a weekly taste of home. She regularly recycled tapes and, on one occasion, the unthinkable happened, and she recycled Tape 1!

A recent surge of general nostalgia has meant we've been mercilessly ragging my Mum about her decision to record over Tape 1, so, for a birthday present for my brother, I decided to recreate the tape, and spent ages trying to piece together the track listing. It was slightly easier than I'd thought. I remembered many of the songs instantly, but then, upon reading lists of the big hits of 1977 and 1978, I found myself becoming misty-eyed at the thought of several of them, which instantly brought back memories of white poo covered causeways, Co-op stamps, CND communes and pac-a-macs!

For the record, and for the sake of nostalgia, some of the tracks I included are as follows:

Portsmouth (Mike Oldfield), The Floral Dance (Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band), Don't Give Up On Us (David Soul), Let's All Chant (Michael Zager Band), Talking In Your Sleep (Chrystal Gale), Sandy (John Travolta), Forever Autumn (Justin Heyward), Never Let Her Slip Away (Andrew Gold), Lucky Stars (Dean Friedman), The Hustle (Van McCoy), You Don't Bring Me Flowers (Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand), I Lost My Heart to a Star Ship Trooper (Sarah Brightman and Hot Gossip) and Halfway Down the Stairs (Robin the Frog.)

In the process of finding tracks, I also came across an old album from the TV show, Rainbow, which we'd had at the same time, so I also included songs from that as well. Rod, Jane and Freddy, who used to sing all the songs, were called Rod, Jane and Matt at the time. Matt was Matthew Corbett, who went on to find fame as the Sooty puppeteer! Fact.

It was rather lovely to sit and listen to the album with everyone there, and it became something of a nostalgia-fest, sitting around the open fire. And yes, we had an open fire on the go. The temperatures have plummeted within a few days from 30 degrees to about 15.

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