Now, somehow I've managed to achieve 50 years on this planet.
So what better way to mark the occasion than to drone on about some musical things.
The first installment is the 70s - a decade I don't really remember (surprisingly). There are bits of clarity - eating Beans on Toast by candle light, getting my finger stuck in a glass bottle at school, being convinced that my hair in shadow looked like Rod Stewart's, the last 3 minutes of the 1979 FA Cup Final (the other 87 were pretty uninspiring), watching Top Of The Pops, getting my first tape player and recording things from the Radio 1 chart countdown.
As I never actually bought an album until 1982. these choices are "learned" choices either by self-discovery, or by a friend saying "listen to this!"
Many of the selections I have waxed lyrical about before - so hopefully I'm just repeating myself, rather than contradicting myself.
PART 1 - 1970 to 1979
1970 Derek and The Dominoes – Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs
After Cream and Blind Faith, Eric Clapton craved anonymity and just being part of a group. This he achieved with the formation of Derek and The Dominoes. This band consisted of 3 members nicked from George Harrison's band, and a personal invitation to Duane Allman.
Not content with nicking George's band, many of the sings here are about nicking Georges's wife.
On first hearing some of the blues workouts sound laboured and overlong - a bit like a jam session rather than a song recording. But repeated listening drills the songs in and you wouldn't want it any other way.
Personally, I don't think Delboy has ever topped this one.
And yes, it includes that song - overplayed perhaps, but the riff is enough to send you into air guitar frenzy. And he full version with the extended coda pushes the track into damned near perfect territory. But it's not the best track here. That prize goes to:
1971 Who – Who's Next
1969s 'Tommy' moved the band from a 60s singles band to an album band proper. 1970s 'Live At Leeds' showcased their incendiary on stage prowess, honed by incessant touring of 'Tommy'.
'Whos Next' started out as Pete's next concept album - Lifehouse - but he couldn't make the story stick.
The album is bookened by two absolute belters ("Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again") and the bits in the middle are none too shabby either.
As the concept was dropped, the remaining songs were honed into some of the finest rock tracks to lay in the grooves of a 12" vinyl platter.
1972 David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust
David Bowie had been trying to be famous since the mid-sixties - he briefly was in 1969 with "Space Oddity" but was seemingly unable to follow it up, and he watched as his mate Marc Bolan became the biggest pop-star in Britain. His 1971 album 'Hunky Dory' signalled a change in approach, confidence and consistency (and with the track "Queen Bitch" seemed to lay the ground work for what came next).
'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust' is cited as a Rock Opera with a continuing narrative - this is both true and un-true as the narrative came together after many of the songs were already complete.
Released into a Glam world of 1972, it was perfectly placed and the legend was born - each subsequent album seemed to mark a development, or a change of outlook and style. For me, it's only the first two of the Berlin-trilogy ('Low' and 'Heroes') which better this album in the DB canon.
1973 Who – Quadrophenia
They've scored with one concept album, they've proved the live chops, and they've failed to make a second concept a reality. So what next? I know another concept album (actually a second one, after the aborted planned autobiographical film/next attempt to make Lifehouse stick) - Long Live Rock).
Pete Towshend returned to a more real grounding spinning the tale of Jimmy The Mod and his double schizophrenia.
History and biographies suggest the band (and most certainly Pete) were burning out with exhaustion at this point. One listen to the album will poo-poo that suggestion.
1974 Slade – In Flame
Slade were very probably the most successful singles act in the UK in the early 70s
- 6 Number Ones (3 straight in at Number One) and 7 other Top 10 singles between 1971 and 1975. They also manged 5 Top 10 albums (3 hitting Number One).
By 1974 they wanted to broaden their appeal, and crack the US. A film seemed the obvious choice - after all it worked for The Beatles. Initial scripts centred on the band's image and had a slapstick appeal. The project chosen was an altogether grittier affair - the rise (and fall) of a band from Wedding Parties and two-bit gigs to chart success, including the unsavoury managers and record companies along the way.
In truth, the film (and subsequent attempts at the US) ended up doing more harm than good as by 1976 Slade were in decline.
This album - the soundtrack to that film - contains some of their best songs. It's unmistakably Slade, but you can just hear them pushing a bit further than the rabble-rousing 7" singles. It also contains their very best song (if not one of the best songs ever committed to tape). This one ...
1975 Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
When your last album has shifted many many unite, you'd better make sure your next outing is a corker. And it was - it just took a little longer to recognise the fact. How much more Prog can you get - 5 tracks bookended by a 25 minute suite in 9 parts. 1 track is a tribute to Syd Barrett ("Shine On You Crazy Diamond"), 1 can be interpreted as a message to Syd )"Wish You Were Here") and the other two are having a pop at the record business.
1976 AC/DC – High Voltage
Accadacca guitarist Angus Young once got upset with a journalist who said "AC/DC have released 10 albums that all sound the same". "Not true", replied Angus, "we've released 11 that all sound the same". And this was the first (or third depending on how you read the discography), This was the first international release plundering the pick of the 2 previous Australia only releases.
Every track is a thundering slice of Aussie Barroom boogie.
They've now released 15 albums that all sound the same - and with few exceptions in the same league as this one.
1977 Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks
Regular readers of this tosh will now doubt be aware of the affection I hold for this album. Not just the ultimate Punk Rock album, but surely one of the greatest Rock albums ever.
The sheer force, energy, tightness of the band, and most importantly power of the songs themselves.
Re-issued, re-packaged and re-configured several dozen times, and always a thrill to hear it.
1978 Stiff Little Fingers – Inflammable Material
John Peel's affection for The Undertones "Teenage Kicks" is well recorded. He was also a massive supporter of another Northern Irish band, whose debut single ("Suspect Device") sits 5 places higher in the 1978 Festive Fifty.
This was their debut - recorded in under a fortnight on a 50/50 profit share deal with Rough Trade. It sold enough on release to become the first independent album to enter the Top 20 of the UK album, and (despite Geoff Travis rarely mentioning it) kept Rough Trade going and allowed them to build into the empire it became.
Terri Hooley (Good Vibrations Records mainman) said: “New York has the bands, London has the clothes but Belfast has the reason".
And SLF had the album that explained the reasons
1979 The Specials – The Specials
Independent record labels, politicsing youth, and a focus on race relations are 3 things bequeathed by Punk. And 3 things Jerry Dammers used when co-creating The Specials. Harking back to 60s Reggae and Ska, looking sharp, multi-racial band members, and being in charge of their own destiny were all in The Specials agenda, and they were joined by other like-minded bands from their Midlands home and throughout the country.
Punks, Skins, Mods, Rastas - there's something in these grooves that appeals to most listeners. And while the messages may be deeper, there is also something properly joyous happening