My 2013 memories of 1983

Although I’d never been a fan of The Jam, I was aware of their existence. Who couldn’t be in the late 1970s and early 1980s? I was developing a taste for jazz, playing sax in big bands all over the place and NYJO (National Youth Jazz Orchestra). Friends who were much better players than I would ever be turned me onto musicians I’d never heard of before and it was a period of real musical learning for me.

I was also becoming politically aware, and it was Paul Weller and Billy Bragg who seemed to be putting into words some of the way I felt about life: “The public gets what the public wants/ But I want nothing this society’s got.”

My English and Music degree studies at Froebel in Roehampton began in 1981 and I quickly became bored with classical music – I wasn’t a bad clarinettist but it just didn’t do it for me. I began to play sax in lots of bands in London and helped form the Fairer Sax quartet in 1982. Pop music wasn’t really on my radar until people I knew began getting gigs with bands like Wham! and Dexy’s Midnight Runners.

The summer of 1983 was dominated by the bass line of Long Hot Summer. It seemed to be everywhere through August and September as I was getting ready to start the third year of my degree. Probably my first ear worm. It was so simple and acted as a great counter to Paul’s vocal line. I’d seen the video once on and loved the humour, although I did assume Paul and Mick were a couple. The lyrics resonated with me, as I’d suffered my first broken heart and was wallowing in it: “We’re dashing ourselves against the rocks of a lifetime.”

Sometime at the end of September I got a phone call and was asked to come to Solid Bond Studios the next day to meet Paul and Mick. They wanted a tenor sax player and I didn’t own one – my local woodwind shop lent me one and I spent the afternoon getting up to scratch before getting the gig the next day. We rehearsed hard and then took a coach trip around Europe’s venues before coming back to Solid Bond to record Café Bleu. The Style Council was a great collective of musicians and I’m proud that I was one of them.

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