Thursday, 24 September 2015

"I'm a Val, I know." The record that exploded in my ears



Tonight I was listening to the excellent Round Table on Steve Lamacq’s show (Six Music) and I immediately turned it off. Why? Because I suddenly had a powerful memory of listening to the Radio One version of the show in 1982 and hearing something that moved me and has influenced me from that moment when Richard Skinner spun it on his record player. So tonight I located it on Spotify and listened again.

Back in 1982, the song exploded into my ears on 275/285 MW and I just had to hear a quality version, so I immediately went out and bought ‘Valley Girl’ by Moon Unit Zappa. Please have a listen now. It’s the most bizarre record I’ve ever heard. It still is, 33 years after that monumental moment on Round Table in ‘82. It’s a pastiche on a certain type of teenager who lived in the San Fernando Valley in California. “Gag me with a spoon. Gross. Grody. Grody to the max. Barf out. I am sure. Totally.”

The thing is, it opened up something in me. It was summer time and I was off to university in the autumn. I was open to anything that socked it to the man and I was very impressed with everything that Vivian Stanshall did. The wackier and more bizarre, the better. It was us eccentrics against the world. And I knew that when I turned up on campus, people would flock to me because I owned this ridiculous record.

Life is different to expectations though, isn’t it? I’m not sure I ever played it to anyone. But I’ve listened to it so, so many times. And Frank Zappa’s daughter, Moon Unit, apparently only sang the song so that she could get onto her dad’s tour and thus spend some time with her father. Moon Unit didn’t share my enthusiasm for bizarre things, after all.

But, listening on the bus just now, it sounds just as fresh, ridiculous and beautifully bizarre as it did in 1982.