Sunday, January 23, 2005

white man in ladysmith black mambazo

It was twenty years ago today. Or thereabouts. It was the mid-80s anyway and I was working in the office of a small independent record company in Manchester. CDs were still pretty new and the world was still getting excited playing things like Suzanne Vega's Tom's Diner and going 'ohh you can actually hear the silence'. Paul Simon's Graceland was bothering the charts. Anyway, the label I worked for was just beginning to issue the first few of it's major releases on CD and they'd installed a CD player and speakers in the office so as to play them, along with thing's like Vivaldi's Four Seasons before it became muzak de jour.

This being a cool record label, they bought a little Sony Discman and little some powered bookshelf speakers. Sounds trivial now, but these was the smallest kit available. Anywhere. You could hardly see where the sound was coming from. It sounded brillant.

Well one day, I was in charge of changing tunes. I put a CD in and couldn't get it to play. There was a bloke that used to call into the office nearly every day. Little guy. Lived round the corner actually. Very pleasant and quietly spoken. Looked poorly and had some sort of digestive illness. He was in one of the bands on the label. In fact it was one of his CDs that wouldn't play. I told him.

He quickly opended the Discman. Saw that I'd got two CDS stuck in it. Removed one and it played perefctly. I felt stupid. But that's not the point. I remeber what he told me.

He said 'in twenty years CDs will be old hat and they'll be playing music on tiny chips with no moving parts at all'. I remember thinking about what he said and imagining such a future.

Anyway, his music sounds beautiful whatever the format. He's playing the Manchester Tsunami gig. If you can't get there, download some of his work onto this. It's important.