If you didn’t have them you had to invite someone who did, even if you didn’t like them.
Ah, young people, I hear you say, what nonsense is this? Surely you could just stream such things. Children, this was back in the days before such wonders.
Wireless then was a thing your mum listened to Family Favourites on in the kitchen. Our Bush radio started life as blue and grey, but you couldn’t see that any more because it was coated in Be-Ro flour. It was limited as a listening device, but on the upside, it didn’t need a password to get started.
No streaming for us back in them days. We had to go to the hottest record shop in town to buy a vinyl record. HMV, you say? No, cooler than that. Woolworths. Again, not quite as rock ’n’ roll as the Virgin Megastore, but again, an upside, you could get a bag of pick and mix at the same time.
It's hard to remember now, but back then punk was tearing up the country (literally) and bands like Sex Pistols, Ramones and the Clash ruled the charts with a hard, raw and very simple sound. Sheena really was a punk rocker, and all her pals were, too.
When Bat Out of Hell landed, it was like Wagner got smashed on tequila and beer and wrote a rock opera. We loved it. Jim Steinman had clearly never seen a top he didn’t want to go over.
Insane guitar thrashing, bonkers drumming and best of all, Meat Loaf, a man who sounded like the people’s Pavarotti, a streetwise tenor who could ride a motorbike through a plate glass window and never drop a note.
Even better, the original LP cover came with the lyrics inside. This was a revelation. Prior to that, it was listen over and over again, or buy those magazines that printed song lyrics, but it might not be the song lyrics you wanted.
‘Bat’ had the lot. Drama, excitement, music and the words. You and your pal could get squiffy and sing along to the mighty lung-busting boy/girl duet Paradise by the Dashboard Light.
Like Meat Loaf, I’ve known my best pal Fiona since uni. We’ve done the Paradise duet when we were miserable back in the 70s, we’ve sung it together when we felt great in the 80s. We belted it out to celebrate our children’s births back in the 90s and hammered it out in 00s when we got drunk, and we roared it out in the 10s because we were still standing, and only Covid stopped us in the last two years. We’ve sung along with vinyl, CDs, MP3s and streaming.
Fiona has still never actually learned the words, and reading them whilst under the influence of alcohol has the inevitable effect of her starting to sing the wrong part, which always leads to me missing the big note to sigh in exasperation. “You’re the GIRL, Fiona!”
Good night, sweet Meat Loaf. Thank you. You deserve to see Paradise by the dashboard light.