Friday, 18 April 2014

Influences #3: Steve

Of all my colleagues at Our Price, my closest bond was with Steve Beardsley. Steve was pretty much instrumental in broadening my musical tastes of the time beyond the narrow remit of indie bands and so-called ‘alternative rock’. As much as Steve loved to rock – the Ramones and Killing Joke were among his most favourite bands – he was fired up on wildly different, diverse genres. He was a huge fan of the KLF in their many guises, he adored Neil Young’s country phase as much as his hard-rock stuff, and even rap music was on the agenda. I remember one evening as we closed the store and the last customer was gone, we locked the doors and Steve commandeered the CD deck.
He stuck NWA’s ‘Straight Outta Compton’ on, turned the volume up to 11 and the place shook as the beats pummelled our eardrums.

  “Comin’ straight outta Compton
  Crazy motherfucker named Ice Cube
  In a band called Niggers With Attitude…”

Bemused passers-by, who could probably have heard this from the far end of the street, gawped at the empty store with some of the best WTF? expressions on their faces that I’ve ever seen. It was Steve who lent me the first two Public Enemy records after they’d blown me to smithereens at the 1992 Reading Festival.

Steve fed my appetite for discovery, latching on to my enthusiasm, even telling me how he saw a lot of himself in me. That’s either a huge self-deprecation of himself, or a supermassive compliment towards me. Of course, we didn’t always see eye-to-eye. He despised Chumbawamba, and regarded the great David Gedge as his nemesis. I never forgave him for that latter one especially!

He also never understood my liking of All About Eve. Then one night, years later (in fact I’d moved to Wales by this point), I get a late-night phone call out of the blue. It was Steve. He’d been drinking.

“Listen to this,” he bellowed over the din of loud music, loud music that after a few seconds I recognised as All About Eve performing In The Clouds. Steve was at some all-day concert which was being headlined by the recently reformed folk-goths. I thought it was hilarious and it was obvious Steve saw the irony of being at an All About Eve show after years of winding me up about them.

Steve and I remained good friends for some time. We continued to compile wildly eclectic mix tapes for each other, along with comprehensive (and frequently hilarious) sleeve notes spanning numerous sheets of A4 paper (yes, really!). They were works of art. Like others before him, Steve eventually stopped getting in touch and I haven’t heard from him in 10 years. Apparently he’s into skateboarding now, which means he never really properly grew up. Still a top bloke, then!


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