The first I owned was in 1976, bought for me by my grandparents for my birthday, my 11th. So think about it... I liked good lively music. I was 11 and interested in girls - actually, I always have been, as far back as I can remember. Even at infants' school, aged almost 5, I had the biggest crush on Karina Tidy. Her rosy cheeks and bee-stung lips, not to mention her bushy light brown hair, had quite an effect on me even though I was years from pubescence. So by the age of 11, you can imagine how much into the opposite sex I was.
So, musically speaking, I wanted to rock a bit and see some females. Therefore, Agnetha and Annifrid from ABBA were totally my scene. Gorgeous tall Swedish babes who could sing in tight white stretchy suits, and one of them a blonde, no less? And of course the musical genius of Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus was not hurting, either. So it should not surprise you, then, that the album Arrival was my first.
However, the first album I bought for myself was a result of my being given some money for Christmas '77. The previous summer, if you can recall, was the summer of the Olympic Games in Montreal. As you may recall further, the theme of the Olympics was Aaron Copland's "Fanfare For The Common Man" as performed by Emerson, Lake and Palmer. I loved that track. I bought it on 45. Played it to death. And the video that accompanied it was of ELP playing it in a giant empty Olympic stadium with snow on the ground. It was awesome. Majestic. Brilliant. In March of '77 ELP released Works, Vol. 1 & 2. Vol.1 was a double album: Side 1 was Keith Emerson's first piano concerto. Side 2, Greg Lake's solo songs. Side 3, Carl Palmer's forays into different forms of percussion. Side 4 was two 15-minute tracks, the brilliant 'Pirates': "'Who'll make his mark' the captain said, "to the devil drink a toast, we'll glut the hold with cups of gold, and we'll fill the sea with ghosts..." And the other track was the extended version of 'Fanfare' which absolutely blew my 11-year old mind. But I had to wait from March until Christmas, as that was when the money rolled in. That November, for my birthday, Nan & Grandad did, however, buy me Vol. 2, a single album, with such classics on it as 'Brain Salad Surgery', 'Maple Leaf Rag', and 'Tiger In A Spotlight'. To me, though, the standouts were 'Barrelhouse Shakedown' , a cover of a Meade 'Lux' Lewis tune done with a full orchestra and Keith's wonderful boogie-woogie piano, and 'Bullfrog', Carl Palmer doing jungle music. They also bought me 'Spiral' by Vangelis, a scorcher of an album, with only 5 tracks on it, but oh! what tracks! But it was that extended modal solo on the keyboards on 'Fanfare For the Common Man' that really tickled my fancy. So much so that I went out and bought a 'best of' ELP album, a copy of Tarkus on cassette (all the younguns are now scratching their heads and saying "whassa cassette?") and later, a 1974 live album Welcome Back, My Friends, To The Show That Never Ends. I also at one point had a huge ELP badge. I mean huge, about 5" in diameter. Monstrous. Anyway, let's give you a little of both, ABBA and ELP. Why not? Call it a twofer.