Pet Shop Boys - Actually
This was the first album I ever bought for myself, after getting a £5 record token for my 8th birthday. I had some change left so I also bought my first single that day too - I Should be So Lucky by Kylie. I got the album on vinyl so I could listen to it on my Mum and Dad’s record player, but I ended up recording it onto a blank tape so I could listen to it on my Walkman as well. I didn’t understand a lot of the lyrics back then so I just made up my own words or sounds for the bits I didn’t get. My own kids do the same thing now with the music that they listen to and hearing them is something that I wish I could bottle and keep forever.
I thought the Pet Shop Boys were ace (I still do) and had my first pop star crush on Neil Tennant. My entire family knew how much I liked them, to the point that my grandparents bought me a poster of them which hung over my bed for years afterwards. As first albums go, I think it’s a pretty decent one, and it will always be significant to me for starting off my music collection.
The Corries - Barrett's Privateers
My first experience of live music was my Dad taking me to see the Corries in the late 80s. I saw them twice, once at Pitlochry Theatre and then again at Perth Theatre. We used to listen to The Corries in the car and a lot of the albums were live recordings. They’d always talk and tell wee stories and jokes between songs and I liked the speaking bits almost as much as I liked the music. They’d get the audience involved too, asking them to clap and stamp their feet and, as a kid, that participation element helped to keep me interested. I remember my Grandparents and my Granny’s sister sitting a few rows behind us at the Pitlochry show and I kept turning round to wave at them. After the Perth show, my Dad took me to the stage door and we met Roy and Ronnie outside, loading their instruments onto a van. They were so friendly and made the effort to speak to me and to sign the record that my Dad had bought at the show.
Roy Williamson was my first experience of a celebrity death and it really upset me. Losing someone you consider as a friend, but who in reality is a stranger, is such a bizarre feeling. It’s hard to process the confusion and grief of that as an adult, never mind as a ten-year-old. This album also reminds me of driving to Connel to visit my grandparents; certain songs will actually transport me back to a particular stretch of road. We would always start the tape as soon as we left the house so the songs would play at much the same places as they had on the last trip. Both my Granny and Grandpa died within a month of each other in 1993, so listening to the album today also evokes a melancholy and longing in me to go back to that time; to childhood and missed loved ones.
Leo Sayer - Silverbird
I shared a bedroom for a while with my wee brother, and we had a record player in there that we listened to my parents’ records on while we played. Looking back, I think my Mum and Dad were crazy to leave us alone with their records. I’m not sure that my husband and I would let our kids loose on our precious music collection! I’m grateful they did though, as it gave us access to loads of different types of music. We’d listen to anything that had an interesting record cover so our games were sound-tracked by everything from The Everly Brothers, to Paint Your Wagon. I was drawn to Silverbird by Leo Sayer because of the gatefold sleeve it had. Leo Sayer’s face in close-up on the front and then, when you opened it out, there was a photo of him dressed in his full pierrot clown get-up inside. I also loved The Muppet Show as a kid, and I’ve got a really vivid memory of watching the Leo Sayer episode and associating the man climbing a tree on TV with the man on the front of the record. My Mum and Dad were big fans of Leo Sayer and, if they were to do a similar list of albums, I’m sure he would appear on it. I like the way that music can transcend generations like that. Whenever I listen to him, I’m not only taken back to my own childhood but I also imagine my Mum and Dad, before they got married and had us kids, and it gives me a strange homesickness for their youth as well as my own.
Bon Jovi - Keep the Faith
I was obsessed with the film Young Guns II when I was a kid and it was through Jon Bon Jovi’s soundtrack to this that I discovered Bon Jovi. My parents then got me tickets for my birthday to go and see Bon Jovi at the SECC on the Keep the Faith tour. I think my Dad even went and queued up outside Goldrush Records in Perth to get me the tickets. Although I’d loved The Corries concerts, this was the first gig that I’d actually chosen for myself, rather than being taken to by my parents - although it was my Mum who came with me to see Bon Jovi! The whole thing was so exciting to a 13-year-old. They came on stage early to record a song live for Top of the Pops and I imagined all my friends spotting me in the crowd as they watched at home (they didn’t)! When Bon Jovi came on for the actual show, everyone surged forward and I grabbed onto my Mum in the crush – it was terrifying but exciting at the same time. I got a programme and a t-shirt on the way out and I read the programme on the way home trying to memorise the names of the other band members as, up until that point, I only knew who Jon Bon Jovi was. I had posters of Jon all over my bedroom ceiling as a teenager and would spend ages lying on my bed, gazing up at him while listening to his music.
The Beatles - A Hard Day's Night
In third year, I went on a school trip to Austria and, on the long bus journey home, one of the older kids put this on over the bus stereo. I thought it was great and, when we stopped at the next service station, I spent all the money my Mum had given me for emergencies on the Blue Album. I listened to it all the way back and thought it was the most amazing thing I’d ever heard. I arrived home and announced that I was now a Beatles fan. Luckily for me my Mum had a friend who was a Beatles obsessive and he gave me copies of all their albums; he even included more obscure things like the Christmas records and various live recordings. I listened to their albums (in chronological order at first) over and over and over, stopping and starting the tapes time and again so that I could write down the lyrics. That first run through of all the albums was the most intense listening experience I’ve ever had. I had no real idea of The Beatles at that point, beyond early singles like Love Me Do and I Want to Hold Your Hand. I was suddenly transported throughout their entire career over the course of a few days and I sometimes wish I could go back with fresh ears and experience that all over again. The White Album remains my favourite Beatles album, but it was A Hard Day’s Night that began my obsession with the Fab Four.
Travis - Good Feeling
I grew up in Kinross and had just finished sixth year when T in the Park showed up on our doorstep. Even when I left home, first to go to Uni in Aberdeen and then when I moved to Edinburgh, T in the Park was like a homing beacon. I’d return for the weekend, bump into old friends and enjoy a weekend of live music either in the sunshine or in the rain or both! The first year T in the Park came to Kinross we went to see Travis, playing in a half-full tent in the middle of the afternoon, just because we liked the name. It was love at first sight, cute Scottish boys playing jangly guitar while the sun shone and I got to hang out in a field with my pals. I went into Perth on the Monday and bought their album Good Feeling from Goldrush Records and listened to it on repeat. It was a long, lazy summer, the last where I had no real responsibilities; school was over and going to university at the end of September seemed a long way away. They’re a band I’ve come to rely on over the years, dependable and loyal and always there for me when I need them. Listening to Good Feeling reminds me of that summer, of the numerous T in the Parks that followed, of the joy that comes from seeing a band you’ve never heard of before and falling in love with them on the spot.
The Lemonheads - It's a Shame About Ray
When I was in sixth year at school, I once got chased along the Home Economics corridor by a prefect because I wouldn’t take my denim jacket off (this was against the rules for some reason). It was my favourite item of clothing though and felt part of my uniform, so I ignored the prefect. My jacket was decorated with badges and had an inside pocket which my Walkman fitted into perfectly, and I’d listen to different cassettes all the time. In art I sat beside a girl called Becca who was into the same kind of music as me and was a little bit offbeat. She was also quite quiet and introverted like I was too so, although we weren’t best friends, we got on well. I ended up sitting beside her on the way to a careers fair in Dundee one day. We were on a double decker bus and it took forever to get there and back again, chugging along the M90. We shared the earphones, from my Walkman in my denim jacket, and listened to It’s a Shame About Ray multiple times on the way there and the way back. I’d only brought the one cassette and it’s not a very long album! I had to keep turning the tape over halfway through too. I remember every time it stopped asking Becca, ‘Shall I turn it over again?’ and her nodding in agreement. Becca was a really sweet girl who struggled a lot and she sadly died in 2013. I can’t listen to this album without thinking of her and that bus trip to Dundee. It’s joyous, bittersweet guitar pop and reminds me of being a teenager and all the highs and lows that come with that.
Rilo Kiley - More Adventurous
My husband discovered this album when we both worked at Virgin Megastore. He spent a lot of time up in the stockroom processing everything that came in before it went out on the shop floor and it gave him easy access to lots of new music. He brought this one home with him and we listened to it loads, going to see the band when they supported Bright Eyes in Glasgow. Since then, for some unknown reason, More Adventurous has become our official road trip album. Whenever we go on holiday, this album always goes with us. It’s been playing in the background as we drove round numerous Scottish islands like Mull, Islay, Lewis and Harris; while we drove South to Liverpool, to Brighton, to London, and also in more exotic locations like our honeymoon road trip across BC in Canada. It reminds me of being on holiday, of getting away from reality for a while, and also of those few years I spent working in Virgin Megastore in Edinburgh where I met my husband.
Catriona Child is a writer and lives just outside Edinburgh with her husband and two children. She has had two novels published, Trackman and Swim Until You Can’t See Land.
Twitter - @CatrionaChild