Exploring the obscure highways of rock n roll...

Exploring the obscure highways of rock n roll...
Authored By John Nicholson
When I was a teenager I was stupid in some respects. Somehow I had got it into my head to take against very popular records because, so my warped thinking went, if they were popular with the masses, they couldn’t be any good. I recall saying that I’d met the general public and they usually had terrible taste.

I wouldn’t care, but my favourite band was Deep Purple, so I don’t know how I sold that to myself, because they had just had a #1 album. It stopped me getting into Zeppelin till 18, similarly Sabbath. Let alone admitting to liking 70s disco. Mad.

When I met Dawn I still had a bit of this in me and was keen to tell her I was into bands like the Groundhogs and Savoy Brown, not wanting to admit to liking more famous bands. She wasn’t fooled for a moment and promptly went to see Thin Lizzy at Newcastle City Hall, while I went to Wild Horses.

The one thing this daft idea inculcated in me was a habit of exploring the obscure highways of rock n roll which has served me very well and meant I didn’t miss out on something because it didn’t sell. 

There was only so long I could maintain this and of course by the time I’d left my teens behind I had copies of Led Zep 4, Dark Side Of The Moon and Paranoid but also records by Tim Blake, Caravan, National Health and Fruupp.

To this day, while I don’t have these ridiculous ideas anymore, I still get a frisson of excitement when buying an album by, say, Grootna or Pearls Before Swine. That’s a hangover from those days, but it’s also knowledge that there are some diamonds in the dirt. I have to actively remember to play popular stuff like Tubular Bells and Animals and not just head to the Atlanta Rhythm Section and Sea Level. The other thing is, it brought me into friendship groups of likeminds especially Kev who I still occasionally see. I would sit in Stockton Arms and talk about bands for hours, over 5 pints of Stones Best Bitter. The more obscure the better. It was an education that never left me and I bet I’m not the only one.

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