A friend on Facebook asked me this week to list ten albums that mattered to me. Sounds like a blog topic, I thought.
One of the albums I mentioned in my “top ten” was Stigma, EMF’s second studio album. Those of you who have known me long enough will know how important this band was to me as a teenager. And since then, in various guises, they’ve found a way to pop up in my life time and again.
They say you never forget your first love. I fell in love with Stigma. Of course, I‘d already gone mad for Schubert Dip, the band’s first studio album, but Stigma was a totally different beast and it remains my favourite musical work by the band, as well as one of my favourite albums ever.
Rewind to early 1992. I had popped down to EMI Records in London to say hello to Simon, EMF’s fab Press Officer, who often helped with tickets, promos and so on. On that particular visit, he was really, really excited. He had a tape for me, he said. The tape was a very early copy of Stigma, with a hand typed inlay. “Just wait until you hear it!” he said.
I rushed home, popped it into my stereo, and pressed play. At that time, I’d had a diet of pop, musical influences from the family, and UK indie. Stigma blew my mind. It was packed full of infectious guitars, intelligent samples, insane lyrics and this incredible energy – a sense of something coming, a sense of life being out there.
I remember there were some fantastic interviews surrounding the album. Tales of trips to America, of wandering in the desert, of giving birth to this brilliant sound. My friends and I were hooked. I must have played it several times a day that whole year. And getting to see it performed live in London was incredible (as was the afterparty).
You rarely get a chance to thank the people who inspired you, or who gave you the music that shaped you. The nicest part about the Internet is that these days, you can.
There are lots of reasons to thank James, Derry, Zac, Ian and Mark. But most of all, I’d like to say thanks for Stigma. Because whenever I put it on, I’m taken right back to 1992 and to being a happy 16-year-old with her whole life ahead of her. And things don’t get much better than that.
Image (c) Kevin Westenberg Photography
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