March 2018
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1988 (1988):

Pixies – Surfer Rosa

1988 was where everything changed. In the second year of the sixth form, I had reached the point where I had to actually make an effort to get good grades. I decided not to bother and so coasted towards a set of mediocre A Levels (2 at Grade D, 2 at Grade N)

During 1987 I had started to read the music papers consistently. I loved the Smiths. I loved the Wedding Present. I do still have C86 somewhere on vinyl.

And then, in March 1988, the Pixies released Surfer Rosa. I don’t remember who wrote the review in Melody Maker, but it was the first time where I ever bought a record having never heard the band, purely on the basis of a review. And I loved that album. I had my Sony Walkman and that tape was the only one I needed. I’d listen to one side, flip it over, listen to the next one, flip it over, and so on, and so on.

Although I’d been listening to indie music for a while now, this felt different. I read about them in the music papers, but unlike the Smiths or New Order, they didn’t threaten the charts. It felt like I had discovered them, it felt like they were my band.

Now, if I hadn’t started listening to the Pixies at that point, I’m sure my listening habits would have developed along much the same lines. Maybe there would have been more emphasis on a different indie sub-genre. Maybe I would have carried on devoutly following The Wedding Present, but it would still have been white boys with guitars; things wouldn’t have been radically different.

But the Pixies were the first band that I ever truly loved, and so I assign far more significance to them than was possibly truly the case.

So, 1988, as I idled lazily towards my inauspicious set of A Level grades was soundtracked by the Pixies.

I didn’t apply to University. I didn’t see any point, so I had to start applying for jobs and I naturally went for entry level jobs in IT. I was offered two interviews, one with an Insurance Company and one with a Building Society. I got a job offer a day after the first interview so I didn’t bother with the second one. I’m glad things were that easy because, even though they hadn’t invented the slacker yet, I was just coasting along and I’d have been terrible at a prolonged jobhunt.

I started the job, and easily fell into the routines of shiftwork. At weekends and on nights, we were able to listen to music, and to drown out the sounds of the computers, we had to play it loud. Surfer Rosa was my CD of choice. Most people didn’t have any time for it, but in the belly of the machine room, with Black Francis bellowing as loud as the CD player would allow, I was able to find a curious kind of peace.

4 comments to 1988 (1988):

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