We all have a musical mentor. Our parents always play a big role I think, and I’ve already given my pal James Strath quite enough praise on these pages already, so it’s time to mention someone else: my cousin Steve.
Steve is quite a bit older than me – about twelve years or so, I think – and when I was a toddler I couldn’t really pronounce Steve very well so I called him Beebie, which rather stuck. He was my hero when I was very young and when we moved away from England when I was five he would send out tapes to us in Vienna and Singapore to aid my folks in my embryonic musical education. Steve introduced me to The Smiths, Billy Bragg, The Clash, The Specials, The Dead Kennedys and all sort of other legends, so you can imagine why I am so grateful for his early influence.
Anyhow, before I hit my teens I remember he sent me one legendary mix tape that stands out above all others and was on an old, grey TDK cassette almost identical to the one pictured. This tape had all sorts on it – Bankrobber by The Clash, Ghost Town by The Specials, Antmusic by Adam & the Ants, and then some lesser known stuff like Stand Down Margaret by The Beat and Getting Beaten Up by The Piranhas.
It was such a brilliant tape that we inevitably wore it out completely and until the dawn of the digital age I never really thought about tracking down all the songs and resurrecting this legendary compilation. Well I have done now and, although it’s not quite the same as a playlist rather than a lovingly crafted cassette, it’s amazing to hear how incredibly well all the music has aged. So, Beebie, I salute you, and here are a couple of songs from that mythical mix.
The Beat – Stand Down Margaret
Adam & the Ants – Antmusic
The Piranhas – Boyfriend
The Specials – Why?