Having not started work until 1982, my ’70s overseas travel was limited to one French exchange trip, however during the eighties I really started to flex my wanderlust.
Continuing my posts on the music that transports me back to my travels I have now reached the ’80s.
My Travels in the Eighties
My first independent trip was a 1982 fruit picking holiday in Cambridgeshire with two mates. We still talk about the trip nowadays, so action packed and full of laughs was it (and back-breaking!).
A couple of ‘boys’ trips to Benidorm followed, before the real exploring happened and the music I listened to on my Walkman became synonymous with the travels themselves.
Benidorm, Spain, 1983
In both 1987 and 1989 I headed off on inter-rail trips with a school friend named Poll (the same guy that I will be doing the Trans-Mongolian with as soon as we can).
In ’87 we visited the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Yugoslavia (for forty-minutes, see elsewhere on the site for details as to why the visit was so brief!) & France.
Me in Amsterdam in 1987
In ’89 it was cripplingly expensive Scandinavia that was our main destination.
As I mentioned I started to earn a living in 1982 and had proper money for the first time. Who remembers the Britannia Music Club?
Every month you would be sent a glossy brochure inviting you to order cassettes, vinyl and later on CDs. There was a twist however. Every edition would contain an ‘album of the month’ and unless you posted a card back in time to reject it, you would receive it by post and have to pay. That’s how I ended up with music from Marillion, Robert Palmer & REO Speedwagon that I never played!
It was however the source of my early listening.
Blancmange, Happy Families
This remains one of my favourite albums and was released in 1982. I absolutely love tracks such as Living On The Ceiling, Waves & I Can’t Explain. Fairly niche stuff but right up my street.
I played it to death on the 1983 trip to Benidorm with three mates as we lounged around the pool.
We went to Benidorm again in 1985 as a group of six and then it was all about two mix tapes that I bought from a club we frequented every night.
The tapes included When Doves Cry by Prince, Self Control by Laura Brannigan, Dr Beat by Miami Sound Machine, Such A Shame by Talk Talk & What’s Love Got To Do With It by Tina Turner. They too were played incessantly.
The last song that brings back the Benidorm vibe for me is Agadoo by Black Lace! That’s due to me drunkenly winning a competition for the best moves when dancing to the novelty tune. I won a cocktail of my choice and just got drunker as a result!
Other Britannia Music Club favourite purchases of mine at the time were The Lexicon of Love by ABC, The Pursuit of Accidents by Level 42 & Torch by The Eurythmics.
The World Won’t Listen & Strangeways Here We Come by The Smiths
I cannot separate these two albums that are both inextricably linked to my ’87 & ’89 inter-rail trips. They were my company on long overnight train journeys and in dodgy youth hostel dormitories.
I simply love the lyrics of Morrissey & Marr. Every song is a classic portrayal of the angst of youth, of tumultuous relationships, of early sexual encounters, of bereavement and just growing up in a working class city in Thatcher’s ’80s.
Many people find The Smiths melancholic & depressing. I find them mesmerising & uplifting and the perfect soundtrack to remember those fabulous adventures by.
The song Ask from the first album includes the lyrics, “Spending warm summer days indoors, Writing frightening verse, To a buck-toothed girl in Luxembourg,” which transports me straight back to waiting for a train on a rainy station platform in Ettelbruck in Luxembourg in ’89. Wonderful memories!
Peer Gynt by Edvard Grieg
The classical piece by Norway’s best known composer is the music that I listened to when undertaking my favourite ever train-bus combo journey from Trondheim to Fauske by train and then Fauske to Narvik deep inside the Arctic Circle by bus.
I first did the journey in 1987 and repeated it in 1992 & 2018 and the wonderful score put to Henrik Ibsen’s 1867 play featuring sprites & trolls, forests & mountains, was the absolutely perfect accompaniment to the majestic landscapes we cut through.
Our train from Trondheim to Fauske, Norway in 1918
I am getting goosebumps just thinking about it. A fourth trip may just be necessary!
Scene on the bus journey from Fauske to Narvik, Norway
Coming next – the ’90s.