Near the beginning of the year we asked a number of bands to reflect on their first ever albums. We were lucky enough to receive some really interesting and varied replies. However, in reminiscing about his childhood and trying to work off the guilt of an early Bon Jovi crush, one musician not only missed the deadline but also seems to have completely forgotten the question. Read on below, for the brilliant response of Let Our Enemies Beware's lead singer, Shareef Dahroug. Shareef Dahroug – Let Our Enemies Beware This is LATE - really LATE. Just listen a minute: a long time ago, in a sea of boozed up meat, I was asked to write about the first album I ever bought, describe how it had influenced me to do whatever it is I do in Let Our Enemies Beware. Not a whole lot, but I said something along the lines of: “OK, man. Sure. No sweat. It would be an honour.” Something along those lines. It’s months later - months of patiently waiting for the sudden finger rush of ideas, for that age old spastic’s game of alphanumeric whack-a-mole – and it is a very strange thing indeed to reach this point and find that I have still not written about the first album I ever bought. That makes this both very LATE and a WASTE OF EVERYONES TIME. So: brother/sparring partner/teacher/arch-nemesis - goes by the name of Dode - fucked off to join the RAF when I was quite young. Dode had decided that enough was enough; life was too short to sit around waiting for shit to happen. He decided, with clear eyes and a suicidal finality, that he would make his own destiny. He got up early, went off into the Great Unknown and came back carrying the bloody corpse of his life-long dream in his teeth. The RAF gave him a home, a surrogate family, some floss and discovered his long hidden talent for safely and efficiently transporting people around the world to kill other people. Whenever I probed him about his time, he usually said that it was boring: mostly waiting around with the occasional flash of violence, nothing at all like the all-out Schumacher war that the media sells. But there were times, in melancholic stupors brought on by a bevy too many, when he told me of terrible and ugly things. No breach of trust, I won’t be recounting any here. I will, however, tell you this: when he had finally settled into life as an instructor with his beautiful new son and wife, he told me that one of his proudest achievements in all his time in the warzones of Afghanistan and Iraq, was that he had never directly killed anyone. I just nodded blankly. Dode would occasionally swing back our way - this week’s special guest star - and I always looked forward to it. The outsider, come to tell tales to brighten the cramped little corner of the world that I shared with parents hell-bent on destroying each other piece-meal. We fought in very different wars. Dode and I would talk shit, argue and play computer - like old-times. Then, after a few days, he’d be gone again and I’d be left alone in the Chinese Hell of ‘Watching-Your-Parents-Tearing-Fresh-Chunks-Out-Of-Each-Other-Nightly’. To be fair though, it makes better watching than wrestling - people really do get hurt. Why settle for imitation schadenfreude when the real deal’s right in front of you or a few doors down the street? Go on: black your face up and look through your neighbor’s window tonight – you may strike gold. What doubled the excitement for my mercenary little teenage mind though was the cast-offs. I remember him leaving all kinds of books, computer games, films and clothes. When he first left for the RAF he had to ditch literally bucket-loads of old tapes: stuff he had recorded from the radio or from albums that he had blagged off mates. Then there were the countless other assorted abominations for which he had actually given away money, like NOW 24. Every return journey, he always left something. They pay you a handsome wage to not directly kill people. We did have music in the house before those halcyon scavenger days: my mum would listen to a lot of Spector and Motown: Diana Ross, the whatevers, Marvin Gaye. Michael Jackson was staple, too. He was an early favourite of mine, like everybody else under twelve, and yet, he was probably the last person on the planet who should be granted the power to create music that appeals so perfectly to preteens - like flute music to the children and rats of a certain German town. I’m digressing libellously. Memories fade like old tapes – no particular order: I remember skipping through an unmarked C-90, recoiling from a sudden snaking blast of ‘Hobo Humping Slobo Babe’... Listening to ‘Creep’ and ‘Cat’s in the Cradle’ over and over, desperately searching for a track-list between incoherent scribbles … Brother visits, getting territorial over a borrowed copy of ‘Different Class’ he takes me to get my own… I piss him off further by instead purchasing ‘The Bends’ purely because I liked the cover… I’m getting ready to pile into another chapter of Stephen King’s IT (another left over), Italian-American cowboy Bon Jovi keeping me company. Yes, that’s right: Bon Jovi - shut the fuck up. I can’t defend him. I have long since realised how monstrous everything he represents actually is. I’m just worried that I’m a ticking time-bomb, waiting to explode into power-ballads in later life. Seriously, listen: ‘Living on a Prayer’ is a song about the lives of assorted people struggling against all the odds to earn just enough dollar to survive, who only find a sliver of solace in the hope provided by a simple proletarian love. The music video was stretched limos, permed hair, leather pants, cocaine explosions, high-wire flying, shoulder pads and sad-eyed hookers having their lifeless heads’ bashed open against a cold toilet rim - it seems a mite disingenuous perhaps? But it was never about what was actually on the tapes, so long ago now that tapes themselves have become hip trinkets. I’m, thankfully, a different kind of beast with a very different playlist but it’s those tapes that sparked my interest in music. In the early days, like any teen, I got the idea to make my own tapes for my friends. I slavishly spent hours on each of them, reliving old emotions - I was hoping to kindle something similar in others. iPod playlists miss the physicality of a mix-tape: I would carefully rewind-erase recording clicks, write out the track-listings sans smudge and mix in a surprise movie quote or, in many cases, the opening dialogue from Michael Jackson’s ‘Dangerous’ - each tape, a little private mystery for two. That treasure trove Dode left, allowed me to not only discover a hither to unknown lust for music, but indirectly helped forge nearly all of my most important life-long friendships. Those tapes contained tiny echoes of an unseen side of my brother - a side I never knew existed. This is what he would do behind closed doors. At least, this was the other thing he did behind closed doors. I don’t want to know about the latter. He might only be 4ft fuck all but I still look up to him now.
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