In the late summer of 1999 the time had come to leave home and go to university, very exciting times. In much the same way as leaving school to go to college, university was a gateway to opening my eyes to the bigger world around me. I moved to the north east of England to study computer animation (never made it to Pixar) and was dropped into halls of residence with people from all over the country. What a great melting pot of young enthusiastic people that gave me a great outlook on diversity and life.
This was when I was first introduced to hi-fi separates. A friend of a friend had spent his student loan on a new setup of amp, CD player and speakers. The quality of the sound was unlike anything I had heard before. What struck me the most was how low you could turn the sound and how clear everything still was. It was a world away from my Awia 7 CD player all in one system. It was time for an upgrade. However I was a poor student that had to pay bills (and drink alcohol) and stuff like that would have to wait for summer work money.
From this period I find it hard to point to one particular band or album that sticks out as being great. The brit pop era was coming to an end and more US artists were ruling the UK charts. The main US stand out being Eminem, I started to take notice with The Slim Shady LP but really got into his work with The Marshall Matters LP. I had never really listened to rap music before, I loved the way Eminem would create different characters and voices when singing/rapping. It was totally new to me. Some of his tracks are very dark though and I haven’t listened to his albums in a long time.
As there wasn’t a great amount of new music coming out that I liked at this time, I found that one album would start a trend of looking back to find past masters and albums to listen to. Xmas 2000 saw the release of The Beatles 1 album. The Beatles had always been there and I knew a lot of their earlier songs but this album was to give me an overview of their whole career. The album is great at showing the change in style within one band over such a short space of time. A must listen for everyone.
Summer work came and I upgraded my music system but didn’t go with separates at this time as I had to get a new widescreen TV to help with my love of film. As MiniDisc were now the main form of portable music and I had no car as a student (I had crashed my beloved Seat Ibiza in the summer before I started University), it was time to buy a hi-fi with integrated MiniDisc and went with a second hand Sony DHC-MD333. The sound was a big step up from my Awia system and it was such a neat looking little package, and having CD, MiniDisc and Radio in one great looking little box was just amazing, I loved that system.
I may not remember much new music during this time but I do remember one thing, seeing Oasis for the first time. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants had been released in early 2000 and I knew they would tour the album in the summer. So I kept a close eye each week on NMEs adverts for upcoming gigs (this was before you could find that kind of info on the internet). Sure enough the advert came out that they were going to play in the summer and at Bolton’s football ground. I remember the Saturday morning getting friends from university to ring the hot line to get tickets. The actual gig was more of an experience than a great show to be honest. I have never seen so many drunk people in one place at one time. Big stadium shows like that always leave me a little flat as I find you just can’t get the feeling from the music in such an open space. I would see them again at other gigs and enjoy them much more. Maybe I expected too much that first time?
One of the great things about music is that certain songs or albums can remind you of times or places in your life. One of these for me is the album Reveal by R.E.M, it’s a sunny upbeat album that reminds me of the summer it was released. Every time I listen to it I’m transported back to long warm summer days spent with my future wife. Music can be very powerful on your emotions!
My music taste by this point had started to expand with influences from new people at university and the changing record industry from the US where Rap was now the main form of popular music over Rock. The world was changing and so was I.
CDs getting a listen between 1999 and 2001: