When I was much, much younger the most formative record collecting period of my life was the mid to late seventies. Safe to say – and this probably never stops needing explained to younger readers – most of that collection was curtailed by economy, not taste. I remember some of the purchases very well: Linda Ronstadt’s ‘Prisoner In Disguise’ purchased new as I was smitten by Tracks of My Tears, a song I’d missed first time round. Jackson Browne’s ‘ Late For The Sky’ bought from a small shop whose name I forget in Broughty Ferry then a Christmas Record Tokens splurge of Joni Mitchell’s Hejira and The Eagles Hotel California. (I still love the former but never really bonded with the latter). Those of a serious Dundee geographical/historical bent might remember I&M’s at the top of the Hilltown and also on Crichton Street where they kept all albums to an affordable £2:99. (Yes 40 years ago the album was only around half of what it costs now – try fitting that equation to any other consumer goods!) I think it might have been there that I bought Andrew Gold’s ‘What’s Wrong with This Picture’ and JD Souther’s, ‘Black Rose.’
It was opening these records that brought the revelation about ‘the label.’ In the middle of the vinyl was an unusual graphic. Asylum records, home of the above artists and more, was the vision of David Geffen.
Sometime William Morris mailroom guy, one time manager of Crosby, Stills and Nash and Laura Nyro he was to Laurel Canyon what Chris Blackwell had been to the singer songwriters of the UK. By the end of the seventies the label and the sound had both changed but for a few magical years you knew you could buy something you’d value if you bought something from the label. The label as a tastemaker has ebbed and flowed yet over the years Stiff, Factory, Bella Union and recently Fat Cat records have sought to re-establish the noble tradition.
On Tuesday evening at the AC we will celebrate the Asylum years from The Byrds to Tom Waits.
In the second hour we’ll revisit a conversation you may have missed over Christmas. last November I sat down with Jackson Browne to talk about his new album and his Asylum back catalogue. he tells me his own version of how great it was to be on that label and how some of the songs we love came together. It’s really not for me to say but I can’t help feeling this is two hours you’ll not want to miss. Join us from 9 on Tuesday evening on BBC Radio Scotland.