VINYL JUNKIES – John Heston, 7 songs that shaped my world

The love for vinyl has always been there and many stories are attached to it. There are whispers in some quarters that vinyl is back, and they are getting louder.

Not in the same numbers that it was in the pre-cd days of the 70’s and 80’s, but the records are up on display shelves of record shops. 

There are hundreds of reasons why we like a certain song. Vinyl Junkies is looking for the stories behind them.


John Heston has been a Tyneside musician for 30 years and is currently in ska punk band The Panic Report. These are John’s 7 songs that shaped his world.

1. New York Groove – Ace Frehley: This was the first record I ever bought from the Handy Shop in Frederick Street, South Shields when I was about ten years old. A few of my mates were into KISS, and as an impressionable youth I was immediately attracted to the image. Being a fan of horror films, I loved all the blood and fire breathing etc.

I saw this record in the racks and when I got it home was surprised that it wasn’t some demonic metal tune but a funky ode to New York City. I loved it then and still do now.


2. At the Edge – Stiff Little Fingers: I was a heavy rock fan until I was about 14, but this is the song that made me cut my hair and lose the denim jacket. I first heard it at Buddys nightclub in South Shields on the 14-18 night, and I was transfixed straight away.

The lyrics totally summed up the teen angst that everyone faces at some point, and what a tune! Yet again I paid a visit to the Handy Shop and bought Hanx!, their live album. It turned me into a big fan, and they’re probably the band I’ve seen most times live.


3. Should I Stay Or Should I Go/ Straight To Hell (double A side) – The Clash: I first consciously heard The Clash in the Eureka pub in South Shields when I was about 14. We used to get in and play pool even though we were underage, and they used to have a great jukebox.

From the moment Should I Stay Or Should I Go kicked in I was hooked, and found myself singing along before the song had even finished. I immediately walked 100 yards up the road to the Handy Shop to see if they had it in stock, and I was in luck, they had the 12″ single.

I got it home and after a few plays I put the other song, Straight To Hell on. This is the moment I totally fell in love with The Clash, this song just stopped me in my tracks. A haunting, eerie track that sounds like no one else, telling the tale of abandoned children of the Vietnam war, and the troubles the veterans faced when they got back to America. This is still probably my favourite song of all time.


4. Lady Stardust – David Bowie: I ‘borrowed’ the Ziggy Stardust LP from my cousin Jill in the mid 80’s. She had left home for London so I liberated it from her house as I was a casual fan of his Let’s Dance-era stuff.

This was something else altogether and immediately fell in love with this album. Every song is a winner but Lady Stardust is my favourite, just an amazing vocal and brilliant piano from Mick Ronson. I still have the LP somewhere, I’ll give it back one day Jill, I promise!

5. E=MC2 – Big Audio Dynamite: The Clash are my favourite band but they’d split up by the time I got on board. The next best thing was guitarist Mick Jones’ outfit. They were quite groundbreaking at the time, one of the first bands to use samples etc, and this track remains one of my favourites.

It’s a great lesson in making two chords go a long way, with different melodies interwoven on top. A strangely hypnotic song, it had me hooked straight way, and was a sizeable hit in the UK.


6. Senses Working Overtime – XTC: One of the most underrated bands ever. This is probably their most well known song, and another one I picked up in the Handy Shop from the bargain bin.

It has strange medieval sounding verses then explodes into one of the catchiest choruses I’ve ever heard. This led me to digging deeper into their catalogue and what a treasure trove it is.

It’s a shame they packed in touring in 1982 because I would have loved to have seen them live. Fiercely intelligent music and totally original, one of my favourite bands.

7. Good Morning Britain – Aztec Camera: As we entered the Nineties I was buying less and less records but this one came as a breath of fresh air. A great lyric with each verse dealing with a different country of the British Isles. The river Tyne even gets a mention which always helps for a local lad like myself.

Scorching guitar solo as well leading into one of those key changes which get the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end. Unfortunately the Handy Shop had closed by the time this came out, I think I ended up buying it at the rather soulless WH Smith.

Recommended: WILL BINKS July 7th 2017 – MARTIN POPOFF July 12th 2017 – NEIL ARMSTRONG August 11th 2017 – COLIN SMOULT  August 29th 2017 -– NEIL NEWTON September 12th 2017 – TONY HIGGINS October 11th 2017 – VINCE HIGH December 11th 2017.

Intro Gary Alikivi July 2017.