Secondary school opened me up to the world of music. I had grown up with the music of my parents and to some extent my grandparents. Being the oldest, there were no older sibling record collections to engage my ears. My dad had quite an adventurous taste in music, mostly leaned towards jazz but also introduced our ears to the likes of The Who, courtesy of their excellent compilation "Meaty, Beaty, Big & Bouncy" which even today stands out as perhaps one of the most cohesive compilation albums of all time. Dad also had a bit of an interest in the more adventurous end of rock music and introduced me to Van Der Graaf Generator as well as the truly captivating David Bowie single "Life On Mars?"
I was aware of the Beatles, vaguely aware of some other rock bands. We were a stones throw from the Weeley pop festival which happened not long after we moved to the area from sleepy Tollesbury.
The first new friend I made in secondary school was a guy called Farid, his family were from Iraq and he really loved the music of the Beatles. This was seemingly something that his older sisters had introduced him to. Also, in the first year of secondary school. I met Pete, who to this day is my main musical collaborator. Pete had older brothers (and an older sister) who had introduced him to a treasure trove of rock music which was off the charts of anything I had heard before. I first heard "In the court of the crimson king" round Pete's, Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "Brain Salad Surgery", "Ceremony" by Spooky Tooth with Pierre Henry and "Ummagumma" by Pink Floyd. Oh yeah, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and "We're only in it for the money" by The Mothers Of Invention. Anyway, I will dig deeper into that territory at a later date.
The long and short of it is that music suddenly ignited a spark in me and it had was already long burning in Pete. We wanted to form a band. Neither of us could play an instrument and at this point neither of us owned an instrument. Instead we listened to endless amounts of music round at Pete's house and often in the evening would tune into Radio Caroline on a transistor radio as we wandered along the seafront at Holland on Sea, scheming of the day we might form a band. On a clear night we could see the lights of the Radio Caroline ship as it wasn't too far off the coast from us.
At that time, they were playing mostly album tracks and I can recall hearing the full length "Autobahn" by Kraftwerk for the first time on Radio Caroline. That blew my mind in an altogether different direction.
Sometime in 1976, something began to happen in the world of music. I used to get the NME every week, so i was becoming aware of this punk thing and by 1977 it was full throttle. The first punk singles I bought were "Sheena is punk rocker" by the Ramones and "White Riot" by the Clash. I don't think I had heard anything that was regarded as punk before that. The BBC were not broadcasting it and Radio Caroline seemed to be stuck in more mainstream rock but my mind was blown and the door of possibility was opened.
Both myself and Pete got our first instruments and we began to form a band with very little knowledge of how to play anything but we recorded our sessions on a mono Philips cassette recorder and sometimes we would duplicate them with a 5 pin din plug. This was the beginnings of our journey into cassette culture ... again, another story for another day.
The thing about punk was that it was a game changer for us. We loved the immediacy, the vitality, the message and the sheer energy. We loved the imperfection and rough edges. Queen were delivering the most expensive album ever produced with "A night at the opera" and don't get me wrong, we didn't hate it. The album actually ranks among one of my favourite rock albums to this day, it was quite simply just polished within an inch of it's life and was so out of reach for us, we needed something that we could aspire to be.
The playlist below is pretty much compiled from the records that really inspired me at that time. Those that made it possible to visualize a future of creating music, those that gave us ideas and carried a message. These were the punk records that inspired what was to become Frenzid Melon. However, in the world of Frenzid Melon there was still room for the more experimental and let's say art rock end of the progressive rock spectrum and we would never dismiss what had inspired us to enjoy music in the first place but here we found our home for a while, an identity, a sound and a way of delivering our own music to the world.
Records like "Gary Gilmores Eyes" by the Adverts, the first four Sex Pistols singles and the Boys debut album changed our landscape completely. Frenzid Melon saw us through secondary school and a couple of years beyond, before we morphed into the insane picnic for another leg of our musical journey and we owe it to the 77-79 punk years which truly captured our imagination and resonated with our hearts.
Frenzid Melon - Temporarily Out Of Order
You have to remember we were 14 at the time!