January 6, 2012 § 2 Comments
My grandparents had a house in the mountains where they usually spent most of the summer. My troubled uncle, their son, used to live there for some years to get away from the temptations of the big city, so to speak. In the summer of 1992 my parents, God knows why, decided that I was to spend my holidays with my grandparents. At first I was not so enthusiast about it (a teenager is never enthusiast about something imposed on him by mum & dad) but, truth being told I was curious and intrigued. I used to spend months up there with my grandparents when I was a kid, and I loved that place: it was (and it is) beautiful, it smelled good, people talked with a funny accent and some of them were really weird. And, last but not least, I enjoyed having lot more freedom that in the city and I had plenty of friends. It was almost ten years since my last visit.
More to this, I didn’t meet my uncle in years as well. When I was still a child he used to tease me a lot. He used to shoot me behind the ears with a toy soft-air gun, he stood in front of the TV when I was watching cartoons, stuff like that. I went crazy when he did these things and I found him really annoying. He was in his early twenties by that time and he was still living with my grandparents. I remember him coming home from work and immediately storming into his room: seconds later the house would be shaking with the loudest music I ever heard. He used to go to see concerts and gigs at least twice a week, he knew lots about music. Some years ago he even won a bet against Joe Strummer whom he befriended while living in Spain. He had like a million cassettes and ten million vinyls. I would be sneaking into his room when he wasn’t there to peek at magazines and the record covers… Anyway now I was fourteen and I had developed the same kind of music fever which he had. So yeah: I was pretty much excited about meeting him again.
My granny and my uncle picked me up at the station in his car. He a had an old red Dyane 6 which I fell in love with immediately: it was so old, that on the way home from the station the numbers on the odometer reach 200.000. There was a strange smell in the car: he told me later that some nights before he went with a friend raiding a maize field where he knew somebody was growing weed hidden among the plants. There where leaves scattered all over the trunk.
That very same evening he took me with his moped to a cabin where some of the local guys where having a birthday party. The muffler came off and the noise of the engine loud as an aeroplane, could be heard for miles echoing in the valley above the lake, while we where climbing on the dirt road to the cabin. There, I met all the kids I used to play with when I was little and a guy who was later to become one of my best friends. It was the start of an unforgettable summer.
So about this, and many other tapes. Even if many of his vinyls were sold or went lost, my rock’n’roll uncle still had a pretty decent collection and he still had one million cassettes. It was like huge library to me, where I could go whenever I wanted and listen to bands and records I had only heard of, and discover new stuff and hidden treasures. I would tape everything I liked. From that year on, I spent many holidays up there and I cherish the memory of every one of them. For instance that’s where I first kissed a girl (it happened that very summer actually!) but, along with these teenage kicks, came also the pure and private pleasure of discovering new music, and the newfound kindom with the tormentor of my childhood, now turned into an ally: how good was that!
Note on The Two Tone Story.
I was already a bit into punk in 1992, and I heard about reggae and ska from there. Also in those years a new ska revival was rising. When I found this record I realised I had a goldmine in my hands. The tracks that really made me jump out of my shoes where Ghost Town by The Specials and One Step Beyond by Madness: I didn’t know how huge and famous these songs were. I know that it felt like I knew them already, like they were waiting for me, even if it was the first time I listened to them. Some songs i didn’t like, and in fact while taping That Man Is Forward by Rico, I found it really boring, so I decided that I would…edit it. If’ll you ever get to that point on the tape, you’ll find out what I mean.
The Two Tone logo, with the stylised rude boy was inside the cassette. I drew it on the backside of a business card.