Kane is my brother. And today is his birthday. So by way of a very cheap present – since he does not live in the same country as me – I thought I’d dedicate this post to him. (Hey, if I could announce my own birthday, this is no biggie right?) But don’t worry, as you have come to expect, it’s about music…
I figure there’s no better time to thank my brother than now – here, with this post – for the influence he has had on me with regard to music. Being the older brother, he introduced me to a lot of music; so much of it stays with me to this day.
Last week I touched on it with this post about the Rolling Stones; Kane bought Rolled Gold and it became the soundtrack to our South Island family road trip. And a while back I referenced the “introduction” to music that would occur when Kane had a new CD and I, the younger brother, was invited in to listen to it. Cast your eye back to this look at the music of The Who for that story…but, if you can’t be bothered clicking there the thing is that was not an isolated event…the “introduction” occurred when new music made its way in to our house; I must have been a beyond-eager student, always keen and ready to learn.
When my brother, nearly five years older, moved away to university and I started high school we really started to bond over music. He went to Auckland, where the range of music was just a little bit larger than what was available in Hawke’s Bay. He was still buying cassette tapes, to start with, but moved on to CDs pretty swiftly. We shared an interest in the Stones, Santana and Pink Floyd and had picked up on our dad’s love of The Beatles and mum’s enthusiasm for jazz.
That first Easter holiday break my brother returned with Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side, a best-of compilation that very much changed my life. I knew the title song and the album Mistrial (mum had bought that at the time it was released; and I loved it) but hearing Satellite of Love, Sweet Jane, New York Telephone Conversation and Coney Island Baby was so huge for me; I can actually recall the precise moment when I first listened to that tape. I was hooked…
Always a fan of the definitive Greatest Hits/Best-of compilation Kane has introduced me to not only Rolled Gold and Who’s Better, Who’s Best – but also Bob Marley’s Legend, Led Zeppelin’s Re-Masters, Bob Dylan’s Masterpieces and The Best of The Doors. He got there first by virtue of age, in most cases I would have found my way there, but still…
He also – and this is huge – bought me for Christmas one year the three-tape set of Volumes 1-3 of Dylan’s Bootleg Series. If you go back to my post about Dylan albums you’ll see that compilation of rarities has stayed with me. It was the first box-set I ever obtained. I remember devouring the information in the booklet that Boxing Day.
We were also able to share a few key, formative, live gigs: Eric Clapton and Dire Straits; Guns N' Roses, Michael Jackson and more recently The Police; a hark back to those days of Kane introducing me to great best-of albums (The Police’s Their Greatest Hits was another).
So many of those “classic” artists I like to think I would have discovered, even if it took some time…but I can’t thank my brother enough for introducing me to John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme – way back in the early life of Blog on the Tracks I confirmed that as a Desert Island Disc – and it’s still an album I play most weeks. Another life-changing album. Ditto: Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue. Formative stuff.
But if I had to pick one act I was very pleased to be turned on to by my brother it would be Schnell-Fenster. This Split Enz-offshoot features a post-Swingers Phil Judd reconnecting with Noel Crombie. I think Kane’s art teacher probably introduced him. But that tape of The Sound of Trees went round and round in my blue Volvo and I remember being so stoked finally finding it on CD many years later. The Sound of Trees is an underrated, under-discovered, under-appreciated album, an antipodean Oingo Boingo and it always made me sad to think of Phil Judd’s reluctance to play live when I would listen to those awesome songs.
I like to think, now, that I have passed a bit of music back to my older brother. For his birthday – I’m not actually cheap enough to just offer this blog-post, okay, okay, not now anyway…there were years when I prayed for a blog to pass posts off as presents – but anyway, as part of the real present I gave Kane a copy of SJD’s Dayglo Spectres (you may remember I was excited about this album when it was released). I figure he will really dig it, since I put him on to Songs from a Dictaphone last year. LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver was another I passed on last year.
We don’t have any sisters or other brothers (that we know of) so I was never the older sibling passing music on to a young, keen mind. But perhaps you were? Or maybe, like me, you had an older brother and/or sister who gave you so many ideas about music and opened doors, provided starting points…
So, today’s plan is for you to recall the music you have either proudly passed on to a sibling and/or the music (and wisdom) you received from your older sister or brother.
And Happy Birthday Kane; look forward to seeing you and Frances for Christmas.
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