At an unspecific point in 1979, my dad arrived home from work carrying a long playing record. It turned out to be the new Police album. At this point, ‘Message In a Bottle’ had been all over the radio and I knew I liked this new music. My mum, on the other hand did not have quite the same enthusiasm; she’s a bit put out that this does not have ‘Roxanne’ on it. Presumably, the album – like others – had been purchased at Barnaby’s, a record shop (no longer there) very near my dad’s then place of employment; a giant tin shed in which he worked with dangerous acidic chemicals and little regard for health and safety. That Police album (‘Reggatta De Blanc’) got played a lot. If I think hard, I can still see Dad sitting by his Fidelity stereo system lifting the needle onto the record and playing the title track over and over and I remember thinking how fitting it was that the word emblazoned on the front looked a bit like the word fiddle. That piece of music must have spoken to him: decades later, he would still attract my attention by calling my name to the tune of that track.
The sight of my dad coming home with new music in this way was not entirely uncommon.
In 1987, Electric Light Orchestra head honcho Jeff Lynne sat in as producer with ex-Beatle George Harrison on his hugely popular ‘Cloud Nine’ album. The combination of Harrison’s gift for pop melodies and Lynne’s very distinctive production sound (often revolving around filtered harmony vocals and a gated snare drum leading to a very compressed sound) led to the album being a multi-million seller. The sessions also gave birth to the greatest supergroup ever – The Traveling Wilburys, comprising Harrison, Lynne, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison. While some people overlook Lynne’s contribution to the group, it is his studio expertise which, perhaps, brings the most to what we now think of as the “Wilbury sound”.