Sunday, March 18, 2018

Did an LP ever get anybody into bed?

In the 1970s you could ask a girl back to your place "to listen to my albums" without being openly laughed at.

Why was that? Primarily because the only way you were going to hear Neil Young's "Harvest" or Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On" at the time they came out was to go to the home of somebody who owned a copy. The experience of listening to records like these simply wasn't available any other way. Saying "I have a record" was a legitimate overture.

As well as the small bump of delight that came from hearing something you hadn't heard before, there was also the fact that certain long playing records imbued their owners with prestige. In the early 70s I was aware there were other males who spent their disposable cash on cars rather than records but reasoned correctly there was no future in a girl who was more impressed by an old MG Midget than the new album by Todd Rundgren.

There was also something intimate about the two of you just listening to a record in your room, a place with no other facilities or distractions. It wasn't like watching a video was to become in the following decade. Responding to a record was something both personal and public. There was nothing to look at apart from each other and the album cover. In this way playing a record to a girl turned into a form of wooing. With a little bit of luck the record – its sound, its appearance, its fresh, unscratched surface, its manifold associations – would melt the space between you and render possible things that without it would have been impossible.

But you could overdo it with the boudoir albums. When I worked in the record shop we would smirk knowingly at the would-be Lotharios who came in to get an import copy of Roy C's album "Sex And Soul". This was a standard Southern Soul album which opened with the line "a man can't go no further than a woman let him" and had a woman on its cover apparently delighted that she has extended just such permission. They were clearly planning to use it to facilitate a seduction.

 I've never been convinced that any albums "worked" just like that. Maybe that was just my failing.


  1. Invariably you would start listening on the bed, with plans to liberate the sheets shortly thereafter. It usually depended on the location of parents/siblings.

  2. I pretended to like Tracy Chapman's album more than I actually did, and thought ever since that that had 'worked' with a particular girl. But reading, this, I wonder whether I was the one being 'worked' on?

  3. I went through a phase of thinking that the key to a girl's heart was a bit of Prog (lots of notes and complicated time signatures). As a 15 year-old I believed that they only needed to hear Siberian Khatru and they would be putty in my hands.

  4. I dated a girl for a year because she was carrying a copy of the Dalek I album. She introduced me to Marvin Gaye, and less successfully to Genesis. So yes.

  5. John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman? (I don't speak from personal experience.)

  6. TBH Dave - that nerdy, big specs, tousled hair look of yours was always going to be a bit of a handicap.
    By the by - 2nd side of the Isley Brothers' "The Heat Is On" and you were in with a shout!

  7. "Dandruff" by Ivor Cutler remains my most unlikely (and accidental) seduction material.