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ufoHe’s back – the man behind the classic rock mask. And this week Self Made Man admits to a liking for new-fangled forms of music provision.

Every week our resident columnist offers his unique view on the rock world.

And RUSHONROCK is the only place to read Self Made Man


From Dial-A-Disc to Spotify, listening to music has changed beyond all recognition from my pre-teens to now.

In this era of free music, in-house and in-car entertainment, it’s amazing to think that just 40 years ago, the only way to listen to a song you liked, other than to buy the record, was to phone 16.

Dial-A-Disc, launched in 1966 but accessible to the whole country only after 1972, was a phone service which played music 24/7.

Not that you had a choice of listening. Basically, there was a song for every day of the week, which was played repeatedly morning, noon and night.

Sounds pretty pathetic in these modern times, doesn’t it?

And yet it proved a popular service. I can still recall as a ten-year-old tuning into Radio One, waiting for Blockbuster by Sweet to be played.

Commercial radio was in its infancy. Radio Luxembourg was the cool thing to listen to back then though the signal, particularly living in the North East of England, was average at best.

During the day, Radio One effectively had a monopoly.

I waited and waited until my patience finally snapped. So I rang Dial-A-Disc and lo and behold, Blockbuster was the song of the day.

Of course, I couldn’t download it or even sit back on the settee listening to it. No, it was a case of standing in the hall (there were no cordless phones back then), listening to a mono, muzzy, muffled song over and over again until my Dad reminded me I was ‘racking up the phone bill’.

I loved growing up in the 70s. Television was great, despite there being only three channels. The decade produce the music which shaped my life and those ten years were also a golden era for sport.

But trying to explain services like Dial-A-Disc to today’s generation and you almost feel sorry for your former self, existing in such a backward age.

Earlier this week, I bought myself an iPad mini and, for the first time, downloaded Spotify, which is, effectively, the modern day Dial-A-Disc multiplied 20 million fold.

It’s a remarkable piece of technology being able to play virtually any song you want, anytime, any place, anywhere.

I already own over 16,000 songs in my iTunes library and will continue to buy CDs, partly out of habit and partly because it feels more substantial to own something solid rather than something digital.

Spotify will complement my iTunes library allowing me to listen to songs I would never contemplate buying or downloading.

For example, the other day, for some bizarre reason, I listened to songs from my childhood, including Lieutenant Pigeon’s Mouldy Old Dough, Two Little Boys by Rolf Harris and even a bit of sing-a-long Neil Diamond.

But of course, you’ve already guessed the song I typed in first, haven’t you?

And Blockbuster sounded an awful lot better blasting out of my mini-speakers than over the phone!

Ian Murtagh