Friday, 5 February 2016

A Guilty Pleasure

Being a teenager at any time is hard. Along with the struggles with hormones and the associated problems of personal hygiene and sexual fumblings, there is a strong desire to belong, to be part of a group, a tribe, whatever. Certainly when I was going through the throes of puberty there were distinct groupings, usually based around ones musical preferences, and in this I was a Rocker. The uniform was distinctive: Denim (double for preference), jeans flared (naturally), patched, and ingrained with bike oil, cigarette ash & patchouli oil; jacket emblazoned with numerous band patches and/or hand-drawn band logos; t-shirt or cheese-cloth khurta; Indian silk scarves hanging from belt-loops; and (at least) shoulder-length and often unkempt hair.

This distinguished us from the other tribes: soul boys and skinheads mostly. As did our taste in music: loud, sometimes raucous, often complex ('it takes a while to get into, but once you do, it's amazing'), and seldom seen on Top of the Pops - our show was The Old Grey Whistle Test, or late nights on Radio 1 with John Peel, Friday evenings with Tommy Vance, Saturday afternoon with Alan 'Fluff' Freeman ('not arf'), and Sunday afternoon with Annie Nightingale. We even had 'our' night (Tuesday) at the local disco (Annabella's, next to the railway station in Harrogate), where we could go and 'freak out' to our favourite tunes and not have to listen to that disco rubbish.

It was a wonderful time!

But recent events have reminded me that, behind the bravura and tribal posturing, I quite liked some of 'their' music. And one of my particular favourites outside the denim-clad was 'Fantasy' by Earth Wind & Fire. As time progressed, and that particular band's influence came to bear on Phil Collins' solo work, and to some extent on that of Genesis, it became a little easier to admit to myself that their particular brand of soulful, psychedelic funk was OK to listen to.

So I'm a little sad that Maurice White is the latest in a growing line of musical influences in my life who have moved into the eternal sphere, but I rejoice at his legacy and the joy he gave to many (whether they felt able at the time to admit it or not!).