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Ian Ravendale

Posted by Ian Ravendale on

Ian Ravendale belongs to a secret society of immortals patiently waiting for a man on a flaming pie to fly through his window. He lives in a Gothic mansion that he shares with 6,000 albums, 3,000 books and magazines at least half of which are about music and 10,000 comics none of which are about music, particularly the dreadful Marvel mag with Kiss in it. He's been writing about music since before his last regeneration for Sounds, Kerrang, Classic Rock, Vive Le Rock, AOR, The Word, Record Collector, Fireworks. Classic Pop, Iron Fist and American Songwriter but his Mam says he'd be better off getting on with his homework.

 

My First Vinyl:
Abbey Road - The Beatles (LP)

 

But... before that, a career as a cack-handed pirate.

The microphone of my reel-to-reel tape recorder was stuck in front of my mate Les's record player as we did our best not to talk. Sometimes we couldn't contain ourselves and the tape that I've still got somewhere of Revolver has Les lending his dulcet tones to the end of Norwegian Wood. Eventually, the bullet was bit and a Boots record player was bought.

 

My Second Vinyl:
I've Got No Choice - The Dream Police (45)

 

The Dream Police were a Glasgow combo featuring Hamish Stuart, who played in Paul McCartney's band for quite a few years. From 1970, this is their third and last Decca single, all of which were produced by Junior Campbell, formerly of The Marmalade. Great song, with nice harmonies, more than a tinge of country and nothing like the funk that Stuart would be getting up to just a few years later with The Average White Band. This started me off on a lifetime of liking obscure music and bands that most other people hadn't heard, which has held me in good stead for working on specialist radio and TV programmes and writing for the music press.

 

My Possibly Purloined Vinyl:
"Head" Soundtrack Album - The Monkees (LP)

 

RCA Records had a factory in Washington, just a few miles from me in Sunderland and the town's secondhand shops benefited from a hefty amount of mint condition RCA albums, including said Monkees album and a few other LP's I picked up. Test pressings or samples? Quality control rejects? Maybe. They all played alright, though.

 

Favourite Track By A Crap Artist:
The More You Ignore Me The Closer I Get - Morrissey

 

I've been generally immune to Moz's charms. With The Smiths I liked Johnny Marr's guitar work but hated the fey, posturing up-his-own-arse-ness of the vocalist, who is, to coin a cliche, very like Marmite indeed. But this track from Morrissey's 1994 album Vauxhall And I is nifty stuff. Co-written by Morrissey and his musical director/guitarist (and ex-Polecat) Boz Boorer it has one of my all time favourite guitar hooks. Lyric like "I bear more grudges than lonely High Court judges" are a tad obvious and self-referring (or seem to be) but have a droll appeal. And only Morrissey could get away with a song glorifying the virtues of stalking. Well, him and Mr ‘Every Breath You Take’ Sting, anyway. Where's that Marmite again?

 

Favourite Track By A Band Who Needed A Kick Up The Backside:
Owner Of A Lonely Heart - Yes

 

With new, extra-value Trevor Rabin on board this earned da twiddly boys a whole new audience including me (for a while) and rescued them from the precipice by giving them a US no 1 single in 1984. Trevor Horn is safely behind the desk rather than the lead vocalist mike that he'd stumbled across during one of Jon Anderson's sabbaticals. The Newcastle City Hall performance by the Horn fronted-Yes was the only occasion where I witnessed a major band be genuinely embarrassed by their own performance.

 

Track That Changed My Life:
Some Of Shelley's Blues - Michael Nesmith

 

In the mid-1970's BBC Radio Newcastle's Bedrock programme had a feature called Top Track where a listener would bring in their fave cut of the day and talk about it with presenter Dick Godfrey. I'd done that with the Nesmith number, from his Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash album and after recording I asked Dick whether he's be interested in me trying to get an interview with said former Monkee who was soon playing a one-off gig in London that I was going to. Dick said he would so I set about making contact with Nesmith, which was surprisingly easy. My interview was broadcast on Bedrock, leading to me doing lots more for the programme and eventually taking it over after Dick vacated the BBC. This progressed into me working for national and local television and the music press, which continues to this day.

 

Family Member's Unluckiest Track:
Caravan - Ambrose & His Orchestra.

 

John, my late step-father, would jump out of his seat like he'd been propelled by a gigantic spring to turn the radio or television off whenever the instrumental Caravan came on. Not because he didn't like the tune. But because hearing the number would bring him bad luck. Why he thought that, I never found out. He wouldn't talk about it. In case that brought him bad luck as well.

 

Track That If It Was A Person I'd Like To Slap Round The Mush With A Wet Fish:
Anything by Dr Hook. (Apart from Cover Of The Rolling Stone)

 

Irritating, cloying, annoying, soppy, everywhere. You couldn't turn on Top Of The Pops in the 1970's without them being on it.

 

Favourite Track Where Nothing Is Everything:
Teardrops - Womack and Womack

 

Instrumentally there's next to nothing going here and the piano solo is just the same three notes repeated but this is a record that's all about feel. The video is a (probably mocked up) recording session with the mulleted engineer really getting into it, Cecil Womack nodding his groove approval and snapping his fingers as wife Linda and the two female backing singers lay down super-cool vocals without breaking sweat. Womack and Womack's Teardrops is a track that's a lot more than the sum of its' parts, as Elton John and KD Laing proved on Elt's 1993 Duets album by totally missing the point and steamrollering through the song. The recent Joss Stone version is much better, but the original is still the greatest.

 

Track I'm Crazy About That No One Else Knows:
Hold Fire - The Delays

 

Taken from their 2010 album Star Tiger Star Ariel, The Delays' Hold Fire has wonderful vocals by Greg Gilbert on a song that sounds like it's always existed and just needed to be plucked out of the air. Some of The Delays hookier songs like Valentine and Hurray have been used in TV promo slots but the band remain a huge secret.

 

Favourite B Side You Won't Have Heard:
Just Lately - Tommy Morrison

 

This is the flip of How Come The Weak Man Looks So Strong from some time in the 1980's which may be the only release on the North East Hiscadillac label. Tommy Morrison was a Wearside singer/songwriter who regrettably passed away in January of this year. A friend of Paul Rodgers, who co-produced one of his albums, Morrison wrote songs for the likes of Elkie Brooks. Just Lately is a gem of a ballad that easily surpasses the rockier A side.

If you fancy contributing your own Vinylist, get in touch using the comments box below. We'll send you all the details and look forward to seeing your Vinylist.


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