A million years ago, when killer reindeer stalked the face of the planet, almost driving the native Father Christmases to the brink of extinction, there used to be a record shop in Cardiff.
Buffalo Records, as I shall call the shop (for that was its name) took a significant amount of ill-gotten gains off me.
And in return I was given hours of character-forming, taste-titillating fun.
OK, I bought my first copy of Tubular Bells from Virgin Records (opposite Cardiff Castle), but from Buffalo Records I got my early addiction to Pink Floyd (Ummagumma, Atom Heart Mother, Meddle, and the disappointing Obscured By Clouds), my first vinyl taste of T. Rex (T. Rex, Slider), my first encounter with Mott The Hoople (All The Young Dudes, Mott), Lindisfarne (Nicely Out Of Tune), and Yes (Close To The Edge, Tales From The Topographic Oceans, Relayer).
I had built, in the comfort of my own bedroom, a record player of sorts.
The turntable was a cheap deck rescued from someone else’s unwanted items (possibly from one of my cousins, over in the next valley), but the stylus arm was an expensive and beautifully-balanced aftermarket addition that I bought from the HiFi shop in Abergavenny (Barnfields?). I had built the pre-amp from components liberated from decommissioned TVs, and the amp and a range of speakers came from several cast-off pieces of tech that I had begged, borrowed and possibly stolen from a friendly mechanic in Blaenavon who had a strong electronic interest.
I had a book, you see.
Teach Yourself Electronics.
So I did, sortov.
I can’t remember the detail of getting any of my new purchases home, but I can vividly recall the static cling as all new pieces of vinyl gradually slid out of the paper sleeve.
I would hold it up to the light and inspect it for visual fault, and finding none, place it on the turntable, and carefully place the stylus arm on the run-in to track one.
The slight ‘thud’ as the stylus landed.
The crackle and hiss as the needle sought the beginning of the track.
And while I’m sitting here, at 11pm on a Monday night, remembering – with a smile – what the occasional weekend (and sometimes a weekday, if I was bunking off school, which I did quite a lot and very often) would comprise, it is difficult to drag myself back to doing what I should be doing…
And straight away people will say that Genesis didn’t break up in 1974, and that the band went on to continue receiving critical and sales success with other albums and stadium performances for many years.
And those people will be wrong.
Genesis died the day that Peter Gabriel left.
They went on to become an AOR band, then a pop band, and then a dad band.
I’m not sneering.
There’s nothing wrong with any of those things, and nothing wrong with Genesis being any/all of them.
It’s just that while Genesis changed course, and became those things, they stopped being the prog rock band that Genesis used to be.
I often wonder where Genesis would have gone if the band had kept the faith with their original drummer, the very amiable Chris Stewart, and not allowed Jonathan King to bring in Phil Collins.
Anyway, back to those wise and foolish virgins.
Later this year Sam and I will be going to see Elbow.
They acknowledge that the early Genesis played a significant part in influencing the way Elbow developed their art.
So like a wise (not foolish) virgin, I am being calm about the long-awaited visit to Elbowland.