Music has the almost magical quality of transporting you back to another era or destination, evoking the feelings that you felt at that time or enhancing your experience of the exciting things that you are seeing or doing.
I don’t mean gamelan music in Indonesia, samba in Brazil, rumba in Cuba or jazz in New Orleans (although they are wonderful accompaniments to the culture). I am talking about the vibes that you take with you to listen to on that journey or when taking in that sunset.
I am taking you through my personal favourites that have come along with me for the ride or have taken on significance during the trip.
My first ever trip abroad was in 1979, a school exchange trip to Pont Leveque in Normandy, a place most famous for producing very smelly French cheese.
I stayed in a thatched chateau out in the sticks and as a fourteen year-old my main memories are of being horrified to have eaten rabbit without realising it (I had a pet rabbit during my teen years), being overjoyed that I could receive Radio Two on my old transistor so I could listen to English sport and that me and my French teenage host shared a similar taste in music and spent ages in his room listening to his vinyl LPs and a couple of tapes I had brought along.
This is what we listened to in the main.
Parallel Lines by Blondie
Like pretty much every boy of my age, I had a huge crush on Debbie Harry, the lead singer of Blondie.
This album released in 1978 is full of perfect pop songs, spawning hits such as Heart of Glass, Sunday Girl and Hanging on the Telephone. It is 11:59 however which is my own personal favourite.
We played Jean-Paul’s copy over and over, often playing the same side of the LP two or three times before flipping it over.
He very kindly gave me the album as a leaving present. I still have it even though I no longer own a record player. I have it on CD however and whenever I play it I am transported back to youthful sunny days in rural France.
A Tonic For The Troops, The Boomtown Rats
This album was also released in 1978 and contains instantly recognisable tunes such as Rat Trap, which reached number one in the UK charts, She’s So Modern and Like Clockwork.
I had taken a cassette tape with me to play on my tape recorder. Jean-Paul had never heard of them but through several listens he was hooked. I gave him the tape when I left and replaced it with the LP as soon as my elder brother handed me down his old Bush record player.
Another favourite album of mine that transports me back to adolescence and that French exchange trip.
A limited start due to my lack of trips or money during the decade. Things will truly start to take off in part two – the eighties.