The Metal Cell Podcast

A Metal show dedicated to promoting and growing the Irish Metal Scene.

Hidden treasures, vinyl feasts and tennis rackets.

When I turned ten years old my older brother had moved out, his bed was dumped and I had a large room to myself. I also inherited a Ferguson record player and a collection of scratched, bent eared vinyl, whether any other kid would have bothered investigating this hidden treasure is anyone’s guess. That summer of 1981 was spent by most kids playing sports or just roaming around fields and newly built estates pretending they were soldiers for hours upon end. The summers were a lot warmer back then so more often than not you were booted out of the house early by your parents rather than be sat in front of a TV/console unless you were me. Since both my parents worked I had the choice. When I’d wake up it would be to an empty house and a list of chores which would be done to Gillian’s "Future Shock" or Sparks "Propaganda" playing in the background on the record player. Radio never played that stuff.
My brother’s collection of vinyl was full of original first pressings and are now considered classic albums unlike my parents Feast of Irish Folk records. I had Deep Purples “Made in Japan”, Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak”, Led Zeppelin’s “Physical Graffiti”, Saxons “Wheels of Steel” and Motorhead’s “No Sleep Til Hammersmith” to name drop a few of the forty or so LP’s my brother left behind. I’d always check to see if there was printed lyric’s on the inner sleeve of those albums or strange markings etched into the vinyl where the circular label was. From my experience, if for example you had an older sister, you were really goosed vinyl wise. Those collections included anything from Donny Osmond, Chris De Burgh, Boney M, Abba, The Carpenters and Simon & Garfunkel and because both of my close friends had big sisters swapping vinyl wasn’t an option. Since we had hardly any money but just enough to buy a magazine, we’d all meet up in each others houses and look longingly at Kerrang or Metal Hammer to check out all the cool American bands whose artwork looked amazing.
I lived in an end of the row terraced house on a hill and every Saturday morning metal was blasting out of my brothers Ferguson record player to people going down town to do their shopping. They’d often stop and stare into the windows as I’d manically duck down and laugh back at them. Having no guitar I used a wooden sweeping brush which became Jimmy Pages Les Paul, when I got a new hurley, it became Angus Youngs Gibson SG and a tennis racket (more realistic as it had strings) became Jimi Hendrix’s Strat. I never had the urge to be drummer and as for keyboard player, don’t make me laugh! I just wanted to be battering out a song or sliding along my knees on a stage or I'd just jump off the couch to Motorcyle Man by Saxon or bunny hop along to AC/DC pretending I was Angus. I’d have one eye on the clock the whole time as usually both parents came up to the house for dinner at 13:00. My biggest concern whilst hammering out metal was not to forget to turn on the gas for potatoes at 12:00 though a lot of times I did and get a bollocking because of it.
When you’d get an album on vinyl, like for example Iron Maidens “Powerslave” and take the time to admire the artwork of Derek Riggs, it’s the metal equivalent of being handed a Carravaggio. The amount of time spent staring at Derek’s works of art and trying to understand it and discuss the symbols just goes on for weeks and weeks when you were a kid. You’d spend time all your time trying to draw and perfect the cover or the bands logo with a pencil and then go over it using a marker. A skilled logo artist was a busy one. There was numerous army jackets called Parkas that needed to be logoed up long before tattoo sleeves became popular. If you were flush enough to be able to afford a denim jacket, a back patch was a necessity though the sleeves were never cut off back then. This usually resulted in a trip to the city with the mother and while she would be in some clothes shop I would be in the Queens Old Castle shopping mall trying to buy patches. Countless arguments ensued with parents over what patches and pin badges could be allowed on the jackets. I was in over in Camden last year for a gig and was enjoying stall after stall of pin badges, patches and bullet belts. AC/DC came on over the speakers and I could feel myself slip back in time to that album Let There Be Rock. I could vividly remember putting that beautiful piece of black vinyl onto my Ferguson record player and flicking the switch to play it. If there was a tennis racket in that stall in Camden I would have grabbed it and bunny hopped off into the distance