I’m more Grandpa Simpson than finger on the pulse!

Charlie Adley
Charlie Adley

Double Vision with Charlie Adley

As I grow older, my finger drifts further and further from the cultural pulse. As a teenager in London, I needed to know what was hot and happening, and thanks to my much-missed mate Jon Lewin, I usually did.  Jon had a way of anticipating each big musical trend. In May 1976 he took me and my mate Martin to the Hope and Anchor, to see a band called The Jam. This was six months before the Sex Pistols released Anarchy in the UK, and we were hesitant as we’d heard mention of swastikas and goose steps connected to the nascent punk phenomenon.

Inside the pub there were only a few people milling around and we watched the three-piece outfit deliver a tight set, but left unconvinced, wary of the Union Jack displayed behind the drum kit: it smacked of nationalism at a time and an age when we didn’t want to belong to anything, except each other.

A seminal moment in a young life, to be there, at punk’s beginning, and over the next few years I used to cut out the adverts in the NME for the Marquee Club on Wardour Street, because with them, from Monday to Thursday, you could get in for free. I saw The Clash; The Damned; The everybody starting with The.

In between acts, two young lads called John Cooper Clarke and Lynton Kwesi Johnson walked on stage, armed with their biting poetry, recited to a backing track playing on a little Philips tape recorder.

We knew we had our fingers on the pulse, because we were the pulse, and this we did, after school, as often as we could.

Tremendous gigs involving The Specials, Madness and The Selecter cemented my burgeoning love affair with reggae, so Jon Lewin took me to Dub Vendor Record Shack on Ladbroke Grove. On the way there he explained to me the new concept of dub, and how it was going to change music forever.

I had my doubts, but should have known better.

To read Charlie’s column in full, please see this week’s Galway City Tribune.