Z is for Zoo Station. Last stop.

January 11 2015 948On 1 July 2014 I embarked on a month long, A to Z of music that has touched or influenced me in some way. And here we are, July, two years on, and our A to Z journey is coming to an end. The journey was enriched by the tunes of Paul Kelly, Tom Waits, the Finns, even I got a run, or two, or three?

Oddly enough, we end where a significant part of my musical life started. I am well and truly old enough to have a cassette collection. From the admirable (Blue Sky Mining – Midnight Oil) to the cringe-worthy (Waking Up the Neighbours – Bryan Adams), to Genesis: The Shorts, which I’m still a little confused by.

On the way home from church, a quick google of the calendar suggests December 27th, 1992, my family made a trip to the old Brashs store on Canterbury Road in Punchbowl. For those who don’t remember Brashs, it was basically an old fashioned JB Hifi/HMV/Best Buy, depending on where you are from, selling music and electrical equipment.

So in I go armed with Christmas money, to buy my very first CD. I bought two actually. With Motor City (I Get Lost) all over the airwaves, and having read that Julian Lennon (Saltwater, I had not yet discovered the Beatles) was supposed to be part of the project (did I mention I wore a cassette of Daryl Braithwaite’s Rise out?), I bought the brand-spanking new Company of Strangers album, creatively titled Company of Strangers. Well, no Julian Lennon, but I did learn to understand James Reyne.

Number two was an album I was already somewhat familiar with, Achtung Baby. I’d sat through Rattle and Hum with my brother countless times, and loved the Joshua Tree, something I’m still proud of my 11 year old self for, but Achtung Baby gave a whole heap of other new sounds. I can’t think of anything I would have listened to back then that would compare. It was much darker, much more ‘grown up’. Adam Clayton’s bass playing had a profound impact too, although I think I’m only realising it as I write this (I was listening to a lot of Beatles and Split Enz when I first taught myself to play the bass, but, with the melodic bass of McCartney and Griggs out of my reach, it was the dark riffs of Achtung Baby that I cut my teeth on).

TMIAdamAdam Clayton had another impact I guess, as a certain square in the cover art was ‘coloured in’ with black texta.

I digress.

In my younger years I loved the first ‘half’ of the album, One, Until The End of The World, Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses, So Cruel, The Fly, Mysterious Ways. On the face of it, there was melody, there was rhythm (that’s all you need according to Big Audio Dynamite), there was the narrative, even if most of it went over my head. Nearly 25 years on, and I think I gravitate more to the back end of the album now. Ultraviolet, Acrobat, Love is Blindness. Don’t let the bastards grind you down…

Anyway, I missed, deliberately, one song from the front of the list. It is not my favourite song by any stretch, and I don’t think I felt fondly of it in 1992, nor do I now, for any musical sense. But clear in my brain is my memory of sticking a CD in the family CD player and pressing play.

The pulsing tone, the descending, the messy, distorted noise, giving way to the order, the smooth vocal, driving rhythm section, then back to a dirty, distorted vocal.

First stop, last stop, Zoo Station.

So the A to Z journey ends, a couple of years late. Some good memories, some musical lessons & some life lessons learned. If you’ve read one, some or all of the posts, well done, and thank you. I’m going to endeavour to revive It Only Goes Up To Your Knees, and make it enjoyable to update, like it used to be.

Thanks to Kate Parrish for the top picture.

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