I bet this doesn't happen to today's music-loving eight-year-olds

Published March 21, 2019

In music magazines like Mojo, musicians are regularly asked which was the first record they bought and where they bought it. It always amazes me that so many seem to remember this, because I'm not sure I do, at least not with such certainty. I was a music fan from about age two (no, really!), and so records were always a part of my life. My parents and my sisters bought records for me and everyone knew I couldn't get enough of them, almost no matter the genre. Records were just...there.

The first record I do remember going to our local record store to buy myself was a single by Wings, around February or March 1974. Their Band On The Run album was on the charts in Sweden, and a track from it was played on the chart show on Swedish radio. Being a huge Beatles/McCartney fan, but only eight years old and so with limited financial resources, I was naturally interested in owning this great track they played. I couldn't afford the album, but I had recently read a review of Wings' latest single, Jet, and so I concluded that the track they played on the radio must have been their latest single.

I went and bought it, got home and played it - and was first taken aback that what I heard wasn't the cheerful hey-ho-ing of Mrs Vandebilt, which was the song they'd played on the radio. But it was Jet, which was even greater, so I soon learned to love it. Then, in April 1974, I got the Band On The Run album for my birthday, so after that I could play Mrs Vandebilt however much I wanted.

About a year later, sometime in the first few months of of 1975, I had a similar experience. Sparks were on Swedish TV and performed a song that I thought was really lovely, but, again, I didn't quite catch the title. My conclusion was that - you guessed it - "it must be their latest single", and so I happily trotted off to the record store and asked for Sparks' latest 7-inch release. I'm sure you will agree that Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth (the song I heard on TV) is quite a different proposition from Something For The Girl With Everything (the single I brought home with me). This time it took a little longer for me to learn to like the single I'd mistakenly purchased, and I'm not sure I ever fully did.

Today's music-loving eight-year-olds won't have to worry about going through such traumatic experiences as they click their way through Spotify or Youtube, but I do hope they get musical surprises in some form or fashion anyway.

Seeing Beatles movies for the first time was a scrapbook-worthy event

Published January 31, 2019

The Beatles have just announced that the 55 hours of footage from their infamous Get Back/Let It Be sessions will be turned into a brand new feature, directed by Peter Jackson. In conjunction with the release of the new feature film, the original Let It Be movie will also be released. It's about time, as it's never been available in an authorised, Beatles-approved home video format.

Earlier today I was chatting with friend and fellow Beatles fan Ian Cole about the new movie, and we tried to remember when we saw Let It Be for the first time; I think I saw it first on a third-generation bootleg video I acquired back in the 1980s. This led us to a further discussions about when we first saw the other Beatles films - we were both born in the mid-1960s, so none of us were old enough to see the films on their original release.

For a number of years in the 1970s, they used to show A Hard Day's Night, Help! and Let It Be at Stockholm cinemas, and I remember my mother taking me to see the first two of these on different occasions. I believe this was in 1974, when I was nine years old. So monumental an experience was this, apparently, that I cut the cinema ad out of the paper and put it in my scrapbook (pictured here).

I'm certainly not the first one to make this point, but how different things were back then: through sheer luck, those films were shown in a Stockholm cinema and I had a parent who was willing to accompany me to watch them. Small wonder I saved the ad: it must have constituted some kind of small connection to the experience of seeing the movies, which I couldn't have known if I would ever have the opportunity to do again.

Today, Ian informs me, he has all the Beatles films (except Let It Be, of course) on his phone.

Eight Arms To Hold You

Published August 01, 2018

As most readers of my posts will be aware, the revised and expanded edition of my book ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions (abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com) was a self-published title, something that worked out very well for me. One of the main inspirations behind going into self-publishing was a Beatles book entitled Eight Arms To Hold You by Chip Madinger and Mark Easter (by the way, Mark is a passionate ABBA fan who supported the crowdfunding for ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions).

Detailing - and this book really puts the detail into detailing! - the recordings made by the four Beatles members outside the group, it was first published by the authors in 2000, and has been one of my favourite Beatles books ever since. It describes every known fact about live and studio recordings (released and officially unreleased) made by John, Paul, George and Ringo up until the new millennium. It's the kind of book that sets the bar for anyone who's mad enough to try to find every available fact about the recordings of a band or a solo performer and then present those findings in book form. And, apart from anything else, as a life-long Beatles fan, I just love dipping into it to read about the background stories and facts about everything from acknowledged classics such as the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album to those much-maligned late-1970s Ringo solo albums.

I know that Chip (together with co-author Scott Raile) is knee-deep in his equally amazing Lennonology project, so it came as a surprise to learn that he and Mark have found time to thoroughly and substantially revise Eight Arms To Hold You to include every known fact that has emerged since it was first published - that's 18 years of accumulated knowledge. I have seen a few sample pages, and they look very impressive indeed. Although the scope of the book still only takes you up to the year 2000 (quite frankly, not a massive problem for me, as I have little emotional connection to most of the solo Beatles work released since then), I can't wait to read this ebook version of Chip and Mark's magnum opus.

Eight Arms To Hold You - Remastered is published today. To learn more and order your copy, click here.


When I wrote to Smash Hits

Published August 31, 2016

Like many of my generation I was an avid Smash Hits reader. Especially for me, as a Swede in my early teens, the tone of the writing was just about right: not as impenetrable as something like the NME, yet really good and informative interviews and reports. I bought the first issue in 1978 and then began subscribing in the summer of 1979.

But! Nothing's so good that it can't be improved, as I saw fit to point out in a letter that was published in the first Smash Hits issue of 1980. It's about the charts, you see, something that interested me a great deal back then.

The letter and the reply:

Letter to Smash Hits 01

Letter to Smash Hits 02

Their reply made quite a lot of sense, I have to admit, and there were in fact a number of very generous people who began sending me the charts. I didn't quite know how to handle that, I'm afraid, so the lack of responses in kind eventually put an end to all that. But at least I was published in Smash Hits!

P.S. As every Swede will know, the spelling of my address is a bit off. I got that from my dad who, when he was out on trips in the early Seventies, changed all the "ä" characters to "e". Naturally, the young and naïve me thought you had to do that so that foreign postal workers wouldn't be confused, when in fact they will only look at "SWEDEN" and not bother about the spelling of the rest of the address. I later asked him why he wrote it like that, and he said he wasn't aware that he'd done that. Thanks for making me look a fool in Smash Hits, dad!


1971 - Never A Dull Moment book review

Published August 10, 2016

In 1971 I was six years old and living in Sweden, so I didn't quite experience that year in the same way that David Hepworth did. While I was probably wondering if there was any way I could get to hear 'Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep' more often than when it happened to be played on the radio, Hepworth was 21 and living in the UK, smack in the middle of the British music scene (or at least on its outskirts) and old enough to be fairly perceptive of what was going on there and in the United States. In his book 1971 - Never A Dull Moment, published earlier this year, he argues that 1971 was "rock's golden year": the year when the highest quota of important albums were released and when the seeds were sown for much of what has happened in the 45 years since then.

Whether you agree that this one year can actually carry all that weight on its tiny shoulders - Hepworth's counter-argument for anyone who might feel that other years were more important for them is, "There's an important difference in the case of me and 1971. The difference is this: I'm right" - is beside the point. The point is rather that this is a well-argued read that is never less than entertaining and that will encourage you to reconsider your views on popular music and our culture in general. In my book, if you excuse the pun, there is no higher recommendation. 1971 - Never A Dull Moment made me want to revisit music that I've listened to hundreds of times, and it made me want to seek out music that I've never heard before, so you can tick off that particular "music book recommendation" box as well.

Is 1971 the most important year in popular music? Well, I've long felt that the late 1960s and the early 1970s may be the only period when all the popular music genres were truly great at the same time, so I think Hepworth may be on to something. I know that Ram, released in 1971, is my favourite Paul McCartney album, so that must also count for something. On the other hand, since I know many readers of this review will be ardent ABBA fans, what did the four members have to offer this year? I'm afraid it was 'Det kan ingen doktor hjälpa' ("There's No Cure For That"), which doesn't much strengthen the case for 1971.

Anyway, as I've made clear in an earlier blog, I'm a David Hepworth fan, and if you're interested in popular music history but not interested in the same old tired opinions being re-hashed, you should read this book. Click the ordering links to the right.