To my middle, most media-savvy son, the record player is the stuff of legend. Could a needle bouncing through wiggly grooves on a disc of black plastic truly recreate music as faithfully as the bits and bytes that play the part today?
On a rainy July Saturday afternoon I stagger from the loft with my old turntable and a box of vinyl dating back to the mid-1980s. For my first trick I play music the boys already know, the stuff we have as MP3s. Somehow transparency of operation makes the old technology seem more miraculous than the new.
Then we dig a little deeper into my teenage listening habits, into the stuff so embarrassing or forgettable that it never made the cut when formats flipped to CD and then over to digital. That’s where I find this forgotten future.
A follow-up to Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s “Love Missile F1-11,” “21st Century Boy” is all space hotels and acid rain. It features the news from 13th July 2011. Back in 1986 it hit number 20 in the UK singles chart, apparently. I have no memory of how it came to be in my attic.
But look closely at 21st Century Boy (Modelled, I guess, by Tony James et al.?) He is:
- (and, um, Rocket Baby. Best not go there.)
He is clutching all the technologies that we now see clamped together in the disruptive embrace of communications, information, entertainment and education convergence.
He is old enough to be my 21st century boy’s granddad. He is Device Man, and he wasn’t far wrong.
And that’s just Side 1. Side 2 is “Buy EMI“.