THIS is where it starts getting tricky. It’s getting on for three decades ago since I first heard this album, so you’re just going to have to bear with me if it all gets a bit sketchy.
Magic Reggae, a collection of music by Island, Creole, Trojan, Gull, WEA and Lightning Records artists put together by the TV advertised compilation behemoth K-Tel, has got ‘hastily purchased birthday present from Auntie Denise’ written all over it.
Well, it hasn’t. This particular copy of Magic Reggae actually has a green and white sticker saying “3.50, exclusive of VAT” on the back.
But it’s precisely the kind of thing my young, clued-up aunt would have bought me for my birthday. You can see her logic: “Our expletiveundeleted likes reggae, that album has got reggae in the title – job done. Now then, where’s the Tia Maria?”
Having said all that, I could easily have bought Magic Reggae myself. I was as happy with compilation albums as I was with the original releases – and unfortunately not many 10-inch dub plates made it from JA to Scunthorpe, so low-cost samplers and compilations came in handy.
Historically, in 1980, the full extent of Thatcher’s psychotic megalomania had yet to become apparent. The exhilarating, inspiring, inclusive 2Tone phenomenom was at its height.
The year before, I’d somehow had a holiday romance with beautiful, sweet, sultry Lynne from Jacksonville, FL who gently showed me the delights of physical love on a moonlit white-sand beach (it was all very From Here To Eternity), but when I got back to the UK I was utterly dismayed to find that I wasn’t the cute, exotic English kid anymore. As far as everyone else was concerned I was the same old speccy, dorky spaz as ever, totally into Star Wars, reggae, comics and skateboarding, totally uncool – and totally unshaggable.
Doing it once and then not doing it again for about two years was probably even harder than not doing it at all. Not a lot I could do about it though. Obviously, I tried. Without any success. Whatsoever.
This was my frustrated, alienated, love-lorn mindset in the summer of 1980.