Keep the headphones on. It was about this time last year that I made a surprise appearance on Mark Radcliffe’s Music Club with my first, my last and everything – a section in the show where you tell the story of the first record you bought, the last record and the record that means everything to you. Simple really and at least fifteen minutes quality airtime on national radio. I say surprise because to be honest I’d completely forgotten I’d written the piece and did slightly cringe at the few Black Sheep enhanced descriptives but, nevertheless, it was great fun arriving home to a barrage of text messages and emails (3) saying how much people had enjoyed my selections. Unfortunately due to cutbacks the show is no longer available and as I can never change my first record I’ll give you that one – Le Chic with Le Freak. And, I suppose, a complete fluke that 2013 turned out to be one of Nile Rodgers biggest years. The other two you’ll just have to guess but to be fair they have now changed.
Although proudly sporting a little yellow Music Club badge is great fun, the selection criteria was a little restrictive. What music fans really want to tell the world about are the lost and unknown gems or the turning points in artists’ careers. In other words; have you ever heard this? Or, they were doing this, and then did this and that’s what led to this. See what I mean.
The idea of this little feature came to me after reading Mark Kelly’s excellent new Marsden Poetry Trail in which, I’m delighted to say, he has chosen a poem of mine together with other more famous Marsden poets to create a stunning nine mile walk. If you’re thinking of visiting the area in the future then I would heartily recommend the walk, not only for the poetry but the truly wonderful landscapes that we are lucky to be able to call home. I smiled at Mark’s summary when he talks of leaving the poets behind on the hills with David (me) and Simon (Armitage) discussing obscure bands from the eighties. I smiled because, although I can’t speak for Simon, certainly this Marsden lad has had many of those discussions amongst the heather and cotton grass.
By Mark’s own admission the trail is a work in progress with notable absentees including the wonderful, Jo Haslam. There’s very little of Jo’s poetry on line which is a shame because she deserves a much wider readership. No doubt it’s because of the digital absence that Mark found it difficult to align a place to the poetry. If available, I would recommend Jo’s heartbreaking first collection, The Sign for Water from which I’m certain The September Swimmer would find home on the trail somewhere. In the meantime, from the equally wonderful collection, On the Kiso Road, here’s the poem Woodbine courtesy of Josephine Corcoran’s great blog, andotherpoems.
In other poetry news I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be joining those fantastic folks at Words on Tap to take part in an open mic showcase as part of the Headingley LitFest on Friday 14 March. I’ve been working on a collection of new poems and this will be a great opportunity to release a few back to the wild.
So this episode’s choice track is The Tenant which comes from Japan’s second album, Obscure Alternatives (good title, I thought). The album was released in 1978 six months after their debut release, Adolescent Sex. The track, The Tenant marked a turning point as the band began to move away from the New York Punk inspired industrial soundscape and Sylvian began to take more control over production values. The sound indicates the direction Sylvian would later pick up on his solo albums and also showcases Mick Karn on fretless bass and saxophone. One year later, Quiet Life was released and the rest, as they say, is history.