With this lockdown in place, many of us have been whiling away the hours by thumbing through our vinyl collections and reliving our misspent youth. So, we thought it would be nice to do a music feature in ALS.
Our latest interview for Lockdown Tracks is well known former Metro commentator and all round nice bloke, Simon ‘Crabbers’ Crabtree.
So, let’s start with your childhood music. What do you remember listening to as a child?
My Mum had an amazing record collection. Loads of really different things. I remember The Small Faces, The Kinks, we listened to The Beatles red and blue albums over and over, just back to back. I think that’s where the grounding for me becoming a massive Oasis fan came from. And my sister had all sorts of records that I’d sneak in and have a listen to. I remember she had People, The Hothouse Flowers album. I used to love Don’t Go. That’s an amazing track. But, for me, the track I remember listening to, one of those real change of direction moments, was Otis Redding, Sitting on the Dock of the Bay. Mum had the single and I was just blown away by it. Years later I learned about how it got released after he’d died and, I listen to him whistle on that track now and, it’s just so sad. Mum had a lot of soul songs, Four Tops, Aretha, Smokey Robinson, but that Otis Redding song is something else.
And what about when you started buying music yourself?
I always liked two tone so The Specials, Madness, I still listen to Madness and then people like The Jam as well.
And what would you be up to back then?
Football. I was always obsessed by football. Mum lived just the other side of an underpass from a college where they always had pitches marked out. Me and my mates would go there in the holidays and play all day. Football daft. So much so that, I did the 11 plus exam and was offered a place at the Grammar school but, when I found out they played rugby and not football I didn’t want to go. Mum let me go to the Comprehensive instead and I absolutely loved it, mainly because we played football, I think!
And how about watching football?
We’d go to Deepdale and sneak in to see North End when we could and then, in 1982, I remember watching the World Cup from Spain. That’s my first clear memory of football on the TV. We had a market in Preston sold crockery, called the Pot Fair. Mum bought me an England 82 mug, I’ve still got it now. Happy memories.
And how about now? What do listen to in the car?
As I say, I’m a big Oasis fan so them, Catatonia, The View. At the moment I’m listening to a Liverpool Band called Red Rum Club. They’re really good. Like a Scouse Americana. People probably haven’t heard of them but they’re worth having a listen, the album Matador is the one on repeat in the car at the moment.
And is that what you’d listen to on the way to a match?
Yes, if it’s in the car. I don’t have a pre-match thing especially. When I first did commentary I tried to do everything formulaically but it was rubbish, it didn’t work. Then Lord Rowell and I just started being ourselves and it was better, listening figures were up and the feedback was a lot nicer than it had been. Once I started treating it like I did if I was just going to the match with mates it worked. At the end of the day I’m very lucky to be going to the football for free, never mind being paid while I’m there!
Do you ever have moments when you think, wow, I can’t believe I work in professional football? Was there a player you met…
Not because of the players, really, they’re just lads. Even as a kid I grew up with them around us because I was doing local match reports at 15 and, even Tom Finney was just someone everyone knew in Preston. But it’s more the atmosphere that gets you sometimes. I worked a few times at Anfield before they changed the tunnel set up and I was stood in the tunnel when You’ll Never Walk Alone started up, you know, the old tunnel with the steps and the ‘This is Anfield’ sign. That was one of those moments that you start thinking about how few people will ever experience that. They mean more than the individual players.
Is that the best walk out music?
No, it’s amazing obviously and so is Z cars at Everton but, for me there’s something about Prokofiev, Montagues and Capulets. Those first few notes and you know it’s match time. Time to finish your beer, get to your seat, whatever you’re doing, it’s time. I don’t think anything comes close to that and Republica.
What about a night out? What gigs have you been to?
I saw Amy Winehouse a couple of times, I’ve seen her smash it and, sadly, I’ve seen her look like she was on a different planet. Arctic Monkeys too and, of course, Oasis, I’m probably in double figures seeing them now. I was at Maine Road in 96 which is one of their seminal gigs, and before they were famous at a Park Festival in Preston, they were about halfway through the running order. And the Empress Ballroom, that’s an amazing place to see a band play. They’ve one of those sprung dancefloors so, when they say it’s bouncing, it really is.
And would you be up on the dancefloor?
Do you know what? I used to be. I used to love it but at some point rhythm just got up and moved out of the house and now I can’t dance for toffee. I still try sometimes. And it could be all sorts of music, Red Rum Club or the Soul Music we were talking about before. Actually, one thing that would get me dancing is Canned Heat by Jamiroquai but not so much for the track but because of Napolean Dynamite. I love films and that scene always cracks me up. And of course, Oasis, I’d always dance to Oasis.
Can you pick one Oasis track?
Seeing them play Live Forever stays with me but, at the moment it feels really different. I guess that’s the beauty of music, you hear the same song at those concerts and it feels different every time and then thinking back and it means something different again, with everything that’s going on.
And if we could let you out of your house for one night at the moment, where would you go?
Can I go to Ibiza?
Then Ibiza, but not for a foam party or anything, I’ve never been into that. I’d like to be sitting at the Cotton Beach Club in Ibiza watching the sun set drinking an amaretto sour, just sitting there, knowing this was all done and behind us all would be incredible.
Let’s hope it’s soon. Thanks Crabbers.