Articles: The Importance of Guidance

    The Importance of Guidance by Torbjorn Pettersson

  Middle of the RoadAs a young kid (born 1961) in rural Sweden, I soon became obsessed by radio and
pop music. None of my parents played any instruments or listened to music, a fact that probably played an important part in the matter. But for some unknown reason I wanted it to stay a secret from my playground fellows, so I reached an agreement with ever loyal mom to call me up for tea etc when the chart program was due to start, every Sunday morning at 11 am.

Due to that particular interest of mine, I never became a frequent visitor at the local church. I later, though, came to understand the matter of immortality along with the real Church.

In the early seventies I started to buy my own records, singles mainly, instead of sticking with the ones I received at Christmas, birthdays, etc. My first record was Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep - I think it was spellt like that - by Middle of the Road. Lots of bubblegum, Mickey Most, Chinn-Chapman and Jonathan King was King.

Himself: Gilbert O'SullivanThe New SeekersThen it all went downward - through Tony Orlando and Dawn all the way to the Himself man himself, Gilbert O´Sullivan. I even embraced records by The New Seekers and Daniel Boone. Today, I don't keep those records next my others, but I always keep them in mind, as a brutal reminder of how it all could have turned out...

I am sure others too, have travelled that same damned middle of the road. Together with ELP and its ilk.

I guess by 73-74 a then young and ambitious reporter, we can call him Mr X (his name is of no real importance), started to cover pop music in the biggest national newspaper of Sweden, Expressen (The Express). A full page every Saturday! A new testament was being written every week. It was soon a more important buyers guide than MTV would ever become - at least to me. So, at the mere age of 14 I was resurrected by the great art of affectionate guidance, as opposed to the blatant misguidance of the 60s and early 70s that I was exposed to. My Sweet records were soon confined to the basement.

Ducks Deluxe10cc, once so great, came to my knowledge through Mr X. I tricked my parents to give it to me as soon as it arrived at the local record store. I still know the lyrics word by word. Ducks Deluxe was later mentioned every week. The Smithereens, the Fleshtones. Graham Parker & the Rumour. Dr Feelgood
Long interviews with people you'd never get to hear about otherwise. A new Stiff single
out every week, it seemed.
And while the whole wide world complained about Down By The Jetty by Dr Feelgood being recorded in mono, we were taught to consider it cool. And Wilko Johnson soon became the new King.

The Smithereens' first international tour was to Sweden, now you know the reason why none had heard of them elsewhere.

Rockpile: Williams, Lowe, Edmunds & BremnerOf all the great bands and artists that were covered on that page, none came closer to heaven than Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe. Never sold much though. Being associated with any of them meant everlasting love and devotion. All the way from the early Rockfield recordings, via Get It to the - still disappointing, ( though none ever said so at the time) Rockpile album, every aspect of Messrs Lowe and Edmunds was being discussed on that page.

Elvis CostelloElvis Costello, being a protégé of Lowe´s, was soon also a household name. Among us, the cognoscenti at least, He even survived an embarrassing performance on a Friday evening family show on TV, playing Mystery Dance backed by a tired Swedish country combo that appeared on the same show. However (and this was important to us), he played live for the first time, accompanied only by his battered old Fender Jazzmaster, his next, then unreleased single, Watching the Detectives. History was, we assumed, made there, on that very day.

BadfingerIn the late 70s and early 80s, I came to realise that my old bubblegum music and the sound of post-punk pop had lots more in common than I had previously understood. The songs used the same kinds of melodies, just with a different approach. Both Badfinger and Rich Kids are now being talked about as power pop bands.

Mr X later turned to sports journalism, living in New York, but still managed to sneak in the message in his unconventional essays in the same paper.

I would guess that there are as many equally important reporters as my Mr X as there are countries presenting popular music (maybe), each and everyone of them fulfilling their great mission of guiding us past the Pat Benetar's and Meatloaf's of hell to the real gems to cherish and hold. Which brings me to the point:

All due to that scouting mission of my Mr X, I can now boast a pretty good LP and singles collection, most of it bought when released as opposed to later when it got popular. Seen some great concerts before it really took off for many of the artists. None of which I am to take credit, though. My kids will eventually know nothing about my being guided by Mr X. They will probably take great pride in their father's collection of all the best albums as opposed to their mums less convincing lot. I won't tell them, though; I'm not really the one to take credit.

Kurt CorbainLee BrilleauxI met Mr X at a party in the mid 80s when I was introduced to him by a mutual friend on account of a record that I had participated in, that was well received at the time.He was drunk as hell. We couldn't speak, none of us. Therefore, he is still unaware of his guiding importance in my universe.

Driving back from the snowy mountains of Åre some years later, I stopped at a gas station to fuel up. The newspaper told of both Kurt Cobain and Lee Brilleaux deaths the previous day. Brilleaux was soon out of the media lamplight but Cobain is still there. I've never been able to appreciate Nirvana since after that fateful day.

Torbjorn Pettersson
Edited by Mr Qwerty