Albums like very few other things timestamp our lives.
I’ll start with Portishead - Dummy.
I was working in a record shop, only a small shop and we were ticking over a CD album sale approximately every week. If that. It released August 1994.
I noticed the album for its Jazz looking sleeve, never played it though at all in store or recall reading anything about them.
Why was it selling even in them remote quantities? Then, The Stone Roses did an exclusive interview for The Big Issue prior to the release of The Second Coming (December 1994) and say what you like about The Stone Roses but their soul was in the right place mentioning Dummy being the album of the year.
Then, Dummy started to swell and sell, and sell. Glory Box although technically the 3rd single release from the album ignited it and I do not need to tell any readers of these words what a remarkable album it is. I bought it at the time of Glory Box being in the charts and all of the singles on 12" too from Polydor ordered via EROS (electronic record ordering service) over dial up on the record shop PC of which I would order records every week at 6pm on a Saturday when the record shop closed for the week.
An album I knew was out, knew nothing about and it only chimed when The Stone Roses pointed people there. Thank god they did. What an album. For every track on it to have the room, doom, heart, soul, space and for it to hit nerves in the way it does.
I’ve great memories of Dummy during my first year at uni and bought it from Mr CD in Berwick Street but several months after it’s release.
I’ll have many examples for this thread. I probably will add to this when I’m in a better state. I’m currently a bit drunk but the ones that come to mind are Automatic For The People.
Bought it from a WH Smith’s in Brent Cross on a Saturday very shortly after it was released. I don’t know which day albums were released back then but remember listening to it at home after buying and somehow knew it’ll be a big part of my life. Stunning album and remember being in the queue at the WH Smith’s where 90% of people either were holding a copy of Automatic or ABBA - Gold which was released around the same time. Different genres but one is one hell of an album and the other is one of the best Best Of’s ever.
Probably mentioned this before but I was at the big Oxford Street HMV and had a tenner to spend in August 1994. I liked Oasis’ Supersonic single but didn’t know whether to buy Definitely Maybe that had amazing reviews or The Jesus Lizard - Down album. So so glad I opted for The Jesus Lizard and still don’t own any Oasis. David Yow kicking me in the head accidentally in 2012 when he played as Stratch Acid was a further good reminder that I made the better decision in '94.
If anyone tells you they bought Dummy the day it released, you are probably talking to somebody that is lying though their teeth.
What a remarkable album though.
Oh. Come On Feel…The Lemonheads
Another big album of my life and remember buying it from Tower Records in Leicester Square on the week of its release.
Back in the day when you pinged/walked from shop to shop…HMV Oxford Circus, Virgin Megastore, Tower Records, Berwick Street to save a quid or two. The walking around back then in Central London was sort of an adventure too.
Remember opening the CD and its inlay on the tube home and thinking Dando is the coolest guy. Also remember specifically that they stuck a big yellow/red Tower Records price sticker on the front of the CD that wouldn’t come off cleanly even if pulled very very slowly. It left that white residue that looked shit and over the months and years looked like your CD has an increasingly bad fungal infection.
Love that album more than Ray and a pity he banks on gigs where Shame About Ray is played in its entirety and a tour of Come On Feel has never materialised.
I’ve obviously got a Roundhouse ticket for his Ray gig next month.
Certain purchases. The friends you were with that day. The journey home. Perhaps even the weather that day are all so memorable for certain album release purchases. Looking forward to other people’s lists.
Interesting about The Stone Roses. Had no idea.
Feels like successful bands enthusing about other bands used to be quite a common way to find out about new stuff back in the glory days of the weeklies.
The success of the Portishead album - along with Tricky & Massive Attack - is an interesting little period. Doesn’t feel like critical acclaim and massive commercial success often overlapped like that. No idea now tbh, feels different as there is less snobbishness towards more commercially successful artists.
“If anyone tells you they bought Dummy the day it released, you are probably talking to somebody that is lying though their teeth.”
That may be an over generalisation!! The first two singles came out in Summer 1994 and got positive coverage in the weeklies at the time. I was well into the ‘Bristol’ sound at the time and bought them and got the album the week it was released. It was really critically adored at the time, but, as you say, didn’t take off commercially immediately.
I wasn’t aware of the Roses’ endorsement, but do remember Portishead being on Later with Jools and doing Glory Box at the end of 94, then that song being released as a single and being a hit. The album was literally everywhere after that.
Would really like to hear a fourth album.
Only joking, good on you for getting on board so soon. What an album. I agree, I would love to hear something new from them and think they could still deliver, like easily.
I don’t really listen to their other 2 albums at all as I just cant get past how good Dummy is.
I’ve been mad about getting albums the day/week they are released since the 80s, so this wasn’t unusual .
Great thread idea. I am just working on my embryonic memoirs.
Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Welcome To The Pleasure Dome.
One of the first albums I can recall buying on day one. I had bought all of their singles at this time, which is only two singles but what proper monster hit records they were, (Relax and Two Tribes). The controversy, the, what felt like new then - different mixes and formats, cassingles even.
Released in October 1984, I would have been 14 and if memory serves me correctly it released in the school half term. I bought it from the smaller HMV on New Street and got a free poster with it.
Their imagery, t-shirts, press coverage really felt like, back then, that they were really waking up the 80’s on a massive commercial level but still having an edge of their competitors.
The problem is Welcome To The Pleasure Dome isn’t a great album. It is overly ambitious and fails as far as I’m concerned and with this slight failing the 80’s direction, in general felt like momentum had gone.
The album does feature some incredible production though. It still sounds fresh now. I remember the opening ramble of The World Is My Oyster that slowly launches into the soundscape of the sprawling title track and feeling like this is going to be the best album I’ve ever heard. It then, Two Tribes and Relax apart just falls flat, which is a real shame. It should have been a single album maybe? Exciting at the time though even if soured with ultimately - disappointment.
Hats off again to @midnightpunk for inspiring the nostalgic juices.
I was recently telling my daughter about some of these inspiring record buying moments. Felt a bit like describing the first steam train journey.
Both mine come from 1982. The first was the Associates - Sulk LP, which I have just purchased again in its 40th anniversary version !! I had bought the debut album in 1980 after a Paul Morley recommendation and then picked up their Situation 2 singles through 1981. Billy’s voice was unmatched and the arrangements were getting increasingly complex and off the wall. Then Party Fears Two dropped and was an actual top 10 hit. WTAF. Club Country did the same and I was bursting with anticipation at an album full of songs like these.
I had just started a temp job at the local Tax Office and so was in Southampton where all the best record shops were and I had some cash. I popped out at lunchtime and then made a weird decision. I was so eager to hear the album that I bought the cassette version not the vinyl, so I could hear it immediately on my Walkman. I had it on loop through lunchtime and on the bus home . But then regretted not having the LP when I got home. I still get such a buzz listening to that album, every song perfect (although not all pop hits like the singles). I bought the LP later in the year after I had a permanent job (and about 5 subsequent CD versions in the decades to come). That afternoon is so imprinted on my brain.
My second imprinted teenage music memory was from later that same year and is the Cocteau Twins debut LP Garlands.
I was beginning to realise that 4AD was releasing some cool records and heard a song on John Peel (may have been Wax & Wane). I had just started a Youth Training Scheme (popular for suppressing the unemployment figures at the time), which was about putting on educational theatre for primary schools. We had to wait a few weeks for our first wages and I had an ever increasing list of what I wanted (but hadn’t been able to afford). Garlands was top of that list. Wages cheque cashed, I bought it at lunchtime from the local Virgin (which were actually really cool in the early 80s) and put it in the corner of the team leader’s office to be safe. He asked me about it and the best I could come up with was that they sounded a bit like Siouxsie & the Banshees (which to be fair, they did at that time).
There was a record player in his office with some huge speakers - I have no idea why - but he offered to put the record on to see what it was like and the whole place was shaking to the bass in Blood Bitch !! I don’t think that first side ever sounded better to me than at that huge volume with a room of bemused teenagers outside wondering what that racket was!! I didn’t get the hear the second side there. It was clearly all a bit much, but we did get a regular afternoon spot to bring in records and play them .
Beastie Boys - Paul’s Boutique (1989).
This released in high Summer and I bought this album day one on a whim after seeing it in the same HMV I mention in the FGTH post above.
There was just something about the look of the record, the sleeve. HMV also had the multi-gatefold edition which was £18:99 which I seriously hummed and harred over but just bought the standard vinyl edition.
I was 19 and had just moved out of home for the first time. Now, Paul’s Boutique surpassed my expectations by some huge distance. I loved Licensed To Ill, still do, but that is a flawed record for a few reasons.
Pauls’ Boutique is such a rich, deep album. Many records people suggest you still hear something new in, and this album is the best example I can think of that applying to.
A commercial failure but from my first listen I just loved it. That dusted feel. Like really fried. Baked. I remember Chuck D saying something like “it’s a dirty secret of Hip-Hop that the Beasties have the best beats”. He wasn’t wrong.
I don’t think the album left my turntable that Summer only to be flipped over. It’s their best album although I love Check Your Head for the direction that record took. It’ll never top this album though. It’s in my all-time Top 5 albums and that will never change.
The album transmits love for music coupled with some insane sampling. Groundbreaking at the time and acclaim has come over the years but this record was overlooked for a long, long time.