Extra Time

So to summarise: yesterday was my birthday. Spurs thrashed Man City 4-1. Good. Wales beat England in the egg-chasing. As an Englishman who lived in Wales for 20 years, I can’t be upset about this. I do wish I was still in Cardiff for the party that undoubtedly happened last night though.

Instead, I got very, very drunk which means this morning I can post this:

220px-Construction_for_the_Modern_Idiot The Wonder Stuff – A Great Drinker

I’ll see you on the other side of the plink plink fizz.

1985 And All That (May – July)

Let me make something perfectly clear: whilst 1985 was definitely a transitional year for me in terms of the sort of records I was buying, I certainly hadn’t yet cracked this thing called “cool” yet. This will become self-evident when you consider the next batch of 45s and 33s that found their way into my life and onto my turntable.

That said, given the idea behind this blog stems from the book and film “High Fidelity” it seems apt to start this section off with a single I bought which later popped up on the soundtrack to the latter.

220px-Walkingonsunshine Katrina & The Waves – Walking on Sunshine

How I wish I could say that I bought this identically-titled and much cooler tune from a couple of years earlier. But I didn’t. Ho hum. Forget I ever mentioned it.

In one of my earlier posts here, I talked about Andy’s Records, a semi-independent record store (there was a chain of about four shops dotted around East Anglia/East Midlands) which had a basement dedicated to second hand vinyl, and I find myself being drawn downstairs more and more often, sometimes spending hours flicking through the racks in the desperate search for some hidden nugget that some other poor fool had castaway.

Putting aside the term “hidden nugget” and its connotation of being linked to an unearthed gem for a moment, it was here that I picked up the next (non-Quo) album to be added to my growing collection, an album my brother had owned (yeh, that’s right: I know you’re reading this and if I’m going down I’m taking you with me!) and which I inexplicably decided I wanted a copy of too. And who can blame me? Oh yes, anyone else who ever heard “An Innocent Man” by Billy Joel could. For that’s what it was. In 1983, “An Innocent Man” was huge, spawning hit after hit after hit. Buying it at the time might be just about excusable, but two years later? I’m not so sure.

Anyway, rules is rules, so here’s a single from “An Innocent Man” which I have to admit I do still have a bit of a soft spot for:

51ozwZ1Ke-L Billy Joel – Tell Her About It

Actually, I’m being a bit disingenuous here: there are plenty of songs by Joel which I have a soft spot for, not least this, a song I hated at the time, but which became a firm favourite of the Friday Night Music Club, Hel and I often collapsing in fits of giggles after drunkenly squawking the line “children of thalidomide” into each other’s face (if we missed it, we would start the song again) – not that kids born with disabilities is in any way funny just…y’know, props to the guy for weaving that lyric into a hit record.

Andy’s Records also provided me with another album which I bought purely to fill in some gaps in my “classic rock” compendium, a compilation album called “Formula 30”. Check out the track listing here. If anyone can explain to me the concept behind the title of this album, I’d be delighted. The “30” clearly refers to the number of tracks, but the “Formula”? And the band names scrawled on a classroom blackboard? Are we equating classic rock with scientific theories…?

*Shrugs* I dunno…

Anyway, “Formula 30” gave me my first taste of a band that I would soon become moderately obsessed with, further proof (if proof were needed) that I definitely had not got the hang of this thing called “cool” yet:

R-903957-1176299751_jpeg Dire Straits – Sultans of Swing

I’m putting my love (there, I said it) of this record down to my burgeoning desire to better my guitar playing. By this point, I had become relatively competent (even if I do say so myself), and would spend hours upstairs trying to master every little lick, with varying degrees of success. My parents tell me that the moment I got home from school every day, I would race upstairs to get my fix, plug my guitar in, put a record on and play along at maximum volume. The record was my backing band, and I was the lead singer and guitarist, practicing my rock star foot-on-monitor poses for all I was worth. My apologies to the neighbours.

(Of course, any mention of “Sultans of Swing” starts the synapses in my brain sparking, and leads me inevitably to mention this lot. Glorious.)

But for every song on “Formula 30” by Dire Straits, Free or The Moody Blues that decreased my cool rating, there was one which added a gold star, and if you’ve taken the time to check out the album’s track-listing, you will have spotted which band who feature twice on it I can attribute two stars to:

R-903957-1176299751_jpeg Roxy Music – Virginia Plain

Seriously, in the canon of great debut singles, that must rate pretty highly.

And of course, noting the 11th track on the album (or Side Two, Track Three as vinyl-heads may prefer) I can’t let the chance to post this slide.

And the horror of some of the records I picked up in Andy’s Records doesn’t end with “Formula 30”. Oh no. Around this time, my mother commented that money seemed to burn a hole in my pocket: no sooner did I have some, than I was pleading for a lift into town so I could go browsing in Andy’s Records second hand emporium.  What other explanation, apart from a rush of blood to the head, or temporary insanity, can there be for the purchase of this album:

Genesis83 Genesis – That’s All

Yes, not content with having bought Phil Collins & Philip Bailey’s “Easy Lover” a year earlier, I found myself parting with my hard-earned for this abomination. The only solace I can glean from this purchase is that at least I picked it up second-hand and so I wasn’t further lining the pocket of Mr Collins. (In 1992, Phil Collins was attributed with a quote that he would leave the country if Labour won the election. Questioned on this later, whilst neither confirming or denying he said it, Collins admitted that he certainly did not want most of his income taken. He said this from his home in the tax haven country of Switzerland. This album contains a song called “Illegal Alien”. Go figure. And let’s not forget him faxing his soon to be ex-wife over their impending divorce. What a guy.)

Think anything I’ve posted so far qualifies as the most embarrassing record I bought in this chunk of 1985? You’re wrong. Much worse was still to come.

But not just yet.

On to slightly more contemporary (for the time) records. Next up, less controversially titled than “Black Man Ray”, but no less baffling lyrically:

China-Crisis-King-In-A-Catholi-116069 China Crisis – King in a Catholic Style

When writing this post, I did some research into what this record is actually about. All I managed to find was this post on one of those song lyric websites:

“The song has such strong political overtones, although not as well executed as some bands for making political statements.
Still, fairly insightful lyrics, a catchy beat, what more can you ask?”

Yeh, thanks for that.

And just what is going on in that record sleeve? *Shrugs* I dunno…. (Have I got a new catchphrase here…?)

Next up, an album which came out in early 1985 but which I held off buying until now: “Songs From The Big Chair” by Tears for Fears. A couple of years earlier, they had been one of the bands that the cool kids were into. Of course, me being me, I arrived to the party late. Better known for huge singles “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”, “Shout” and the frankly rather wonderful “Head Over Heels”, the next song was released at the arse-end of 1984, the first single to be lifted from the album, and is somewhat overlooked when compared with that list of smasheroos from the album:

Tears_for_Fears_Songs_from_the_Big_Chair Tears for Fears – Mother’s Talk

All funky bass and synth-stabs, I’m not sure it’s possible for a song to sound any more 80s than that.

Next this:

billy_idol__white_wedding Billy Idol -White Wedding

Seriously, you don’t need me to tell you about this record do you? Thought not.

The next one takes some explaining. Drum roll…for it is time for the award for the “Undisputed Worst Record of This Post”, which hands down goes to:

jimmy-nail-love-dont-live-here-anymore-virgin-2 Jimmy Nail – Love Don’t Live Here Anymore

I know. What the fuck was I thinking? Well, I’m afraid I have no justification for this whatsoever. At the time I did, and it’s time for the obligatory Quo mention. At the time, I was under the impression that Rick Parfitt played guitar on the record. Now, as I am forced to admit I actually paid money for this soulless slaying of the Rose Royce classic, I can find no evidence to support this. Roger Taylor from Queen? He’s certainly there. But Parfitt? Well he’s in the video …soo…

Anyway, this is indicative of just how all-consuming my obsession with the Quo had become. If only there had been such things as Quo-patches (and not the sort I had sewn into my denim jacket) to help wean me off all things heads-down-no-nonsense-boogie-esque. Don’t worry, I snap out of it soon enough.

Now. An apology. The original intention of this blog was to a) chronicle every record I bought in the order that I bought them, and b) provide an anecdote related to the purchase of said record, where possible. Regular, patient readers (patients…?) will have noticed that this latter point has rather fallen by the wayside somewhat recently. Truth be told, much as I’d like to believe that everything I do will be of endless fascination to everyone else (I’m hoping you sense the tongue-firmly-in-cheek tone of that last statement), as I’ve worked my way through all of the records, I’ve realised that there simply aren’t as many funny things to tell you about as I had hoped. So, sorry that this has become a bit “and then I bought this…” recently.

1985, however, gives me plenty to tell you about. Or So Much Thing To Say, as Lenny Henry would quip. Not necessarily linked directly to record purchases, but still snapshots of where I was at at the time. Sitting comfortably? Good. Then I’ll begin.

See, 1985 sees the start and equally swift end to my career as a petty criminal. (I say end, but in fact I had two further run-ins with “the law”, once for riding pillion on a motorbike without a helmet, the other for singing as I walked down the fast lane of the A470 at 3am in the morning singing.)

First, some back info. In 1984, some of my mates from school had gone on a fortnight’s trip to Sweden with the school’s Canoe Club. (Every school had a Canoe Club, right…?). They had returned with tales of high jinx and hot girls, so when the Canoe Club announced they were going to do a similar trip to Norway in 1985, I signed up.

Shortly before the trip, a friend (who had best stay anonymous for legal reasons – let’s call him Pete) and I went into town to pick up a few provisions for our holiday. At this point, we had every intention of paying for them, but once in Boots the Chemist looking to purchase a battery for my pocket torch, Pete whispered in my ear “Nick it! Nick it!“. The next thing I knew, the battery was safely deposited in my pocket and we were skedaddling from the scene of the crime sharpish.

I know. Crime of the century, right? Eat your heart out Ronnie Biggs!

Flush from our successful pilfering debut, next on the shopping list was socks. Not just any socks, for this was the 1980s. Oh no. White socks were the order of the day. In fact, they were probably already unfashionable by 1985, but that was me, late again. And so to Littlewoods, an online vendor these days, but back then a reputable high street chain-store. Littlewoods was situated over two floors in Peterborough’s Queensgate arcade, the first floor of which offered several vantage points from which you could look down (and throw things) onto the shoppers below. One such spot was immediately outside Littlewoods.

Pete and I entered on the ground floor, collected the bounty that was a four-pack of gleaming white socks, before making our way upstairs, me via the escalator, Pete by way of the adjacent staircase. It was here, where I thought I could not be spotted, that the socks got dropped into my bag.

On exiting the shop, we stopped to lean nonchalantly against the railing, and it was then that over Pete’s shoulder I spotted a bloke who seemed to be trying to draw my attention to something without making it obvious he was doing so. Turning, I was confronted with two security guards, who launched into the “we have reason to believe you have items in your bag which you have not paid for” speech, and I was invited to accompany them to their office. They turned to Pete and told him that as he wasn’t actually with me at the point of theft, he was free to go, unless he wanted to come too, an offer which he politely declined before fucking right off. Cheers, mate.

Pete and I were actually supposed to meet his parents for lunch that day, about half an hour after I was nicked. He went, and had to spend the entire time pretending that we had got separated in the sprawling metropolis that is Peterborough, and he had no idea where I was. Had it happened now, of course, they would have just called my mobile (which would have been confiscated, and the police would assume that all the calls were from disappointed punters trying to work out where the stolen goods they’d ordered were).

Back in the store, meanwhile, I found myself standing like a naughty school boy (which of course was exactly what I was) in front of the manager. After a brief interrogation, wherein I apologised profusely for my moment of madness (copyright Richard Madeley, Winona Ryder et al) and offered to pay for the contraband (he declined), he instructed the security guards to call the police. He then left, leaving me sitting with my head in my hands, pretending to cry whilst peeking through my fingers to see if the security guard’s heart would melt at my histrionics. It didn’t of course: he remained with his hand on the door handle, as if I was likely to try and make a run for it.

The police duly arrived, about six of them – clearly they considered me to be a major catch – and proceeded to escort me through Queensgate, me surrounded by coppers, like a celebrity with his entourage and security. I was then bundled into the back of a police van and driven off to the local police station. Clearly they were making an example of me, and at the same time, scaring enough shit out of me to make sure I never went shop-lifting again. (It worked).

Once at the station, you have to be interviewed, booked in and read your rights by the Duty Sergeant. However, on arrival I found there was a queue of similarly arrested teenage (or younger) shoplifters, and I was instructed to take my place against the wall at the back of the line.

As we all stood there in shameful silence, a policeman walked by, and asked each of us why we were here.

“Nicking” said the first lad.

“What?” asked PC Plod.

“A personal stereo” came the budding Oliver Twist’s response.

The same question was asked of the other two in the queue; I can’t remember what their answers were, but they were definitely cooler and harder things to steal than my meagre haul.

And then it was my turn.

“What about you, sonny?”

“Four pairs of socks” I replied, eliciting smirks from my new found fellow thieves.

“Socks???”

“Yes sir. White ones.”

There was a pause for dramatic effect. I’ll give him something, this guy’s comic timing was impeccable.

“Bet you feel a bit of a twat now, don’t you?” said the copper, looking back down the line and proffering a “Hark at him!” gesture at my fellow convicts. I couldn’t disagree.

Finally I got to the desk, where my particulars were taken down, and my pockets emptied, at which point the shocking presence of the battery was exposed.

“What’s this?” my interrogator asked.

“A battery” I replied, matter-of-factly.

“Nick this as well did you?”

“No, I bought that”.

“Oh? Where’s the receipt then? And the bag?”

“I didn’t keep the receipt and I didn’t ask for a bag.”

“Where did you buy it?”

“Boots.”

“Which counter?”

“The photography department” I answered, the first thing to come into my head.

“Well, we’ve got you there Sonny Jim. My wife works on the photography counter in Boots on a Saturday. I can give her a ring and see if she remembers you.”

I may only have been a kid, but even I could spot such an obvious bluff.

“Okay. Feel free to ask her” I replied, looking him straight in the eye. I wanted to add “Though I don’t think they’re allowed to take personal calls during opening hours”, but thought better of it.

I was then led to a cell, where I was to be held until my parents had arrived. Before entering the cell, they make you remove your shoes and belt, and anything else you might potentially use to top yourself whilst in custody. (The shoes have a dual suicide purpose: firstly, the laces could be used to hang myself, secondly, as a teenage boy, one whiff of the insoles would have induced a catatonic state at the very least).

I handed these over, and went into the cell, to find I was sharing with the youngest of the three other kids I had been lined up with. He was displaying considerably less bravado than he had when in the queue, sitting on the bench, knees up against his chest, arms clasped round them, sniffing in an effort to stop himself from crying.

The door slammed behind me, and I decided that as my cellmate was about to blub, I needed to show I was top dog, that I wasn’t bothered, that I was the Norman Stanley Fletcher and he was the Lenny Godber of this cell. I lay down on what was left of the bench, and proceeded to have a kip.

I was woken some time later by the sound of the flap in the door clanging open, and the words “Oi! You! Get up, your parents are here” being barked through. I assumed, as did my cellmate, that as he had been here longer than me, it was his parents, and he got up to leave. However, it turned out his folks gave less of a fuck about him than mine did about me.

“Not you” shouted the kindly policeman, “you!” It was directed at me.

I mentioned earlier that they had taken my shoes and my belt; the reason I was wearing a belt that day was because I was wearing a pair of grey canvas trousers with a popper button (I know, cool, right?) which had a nasty habit of unpopping at inopportune moments. This, of course, transpired to be one such moment.

As I stood up, I failed to notice the popper had performed its usual trick, leading me to literally fall over my trousers which had, in true slap-stick style, plummeted to around my ankles. Lord only knows what the police must have thought I was doing with my cellmate….

Into the interview room, where I was met with understandably frosty glares from my parents. I was released with a caution, the only thing my mother saying on the drive home was “Well, you’ll never get a job now”. The subject was never mentioned again, and I have a sneaking suspicion that this might be the first time my brother has ever found about this (although I might have told him during a drinking session sometime).

It was not until several years later that I ever discussed the events of that day with my parents. Luckily we can laugh about it now, although I am always disappointed that, bearing in mind the identity of store from which I had stolen, this old, slightly adapted, joke didn’t happen on that day:

I had a phone call yesterday.

“Hello?” I said.

“Hello. This is Dominic from Littlewoods”

“Littlewoods? Oh God thank you thank you thank you! I’ve won the football pools!! I’m rich! Rich! Rich!!!!”

“Er…no….we’ve just caught your son shoplifting.”

We’ll save the trip to Norway for next time. To finish off with, a song which perhaps goes some way to explaining the reason I stole that day, a jealousy of those who seemed to get everything they wanted with minimum effort, and the last of the singles I bought (yes, bought) in this chunk of 1985:

522b5c8dd844503c7dfa41b149d2c053 Dire Straits -Money For Nothing

Or I could just blame Pete.

More soon.

1985 and All That (January – April)

Deep breaths. Come on, we can do this.

It is 1985. Oh yes it is. The year that I think it’s fairly safe to say that my record buying took off with a vengeance. And it’s fair to say, it’s quite a mixed bag. Some of which, in direct contradiction to my “There’s No Such Things as a Guilty Pleasure” tag line, I cannot believe I am about to confess in such a public arena that I spent money on.

There, that’s piqued your interest, hasn’t it?

But before we get cracking, some admin. Firstly, as there’s quite a few records for me to reminisce over, I’ll split 1985 into three different posts. Secondly, I can’t really go any further without talking a little more about the behemoth that was Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, partly because it topped the charts for what seemed forever at the start of the year, but when researching this post I was surprised to find that actually it was toppled from pole position on 13th January.

I think there are two reasons it dropped from the top so quickly:

  • there wasn’t anyone left to buy the bloody thing, and
  • the cynic in me thinks that this is wholly indicative of that British spirit of charity, and how quickly it can be forgotten when it no longer suits. “It’s not Christmas anymore, so we can stop spending our money telling them it is.” The inverse of the current volte-face in opinion regarding the refugee situation, if you will (although pretty much everyone I’ve spoken to has been sympathetic to their cause, it just took the media – and the press specifically – a while to realise they were out of step with what most people were thinking.)

So to kick things off in 1985, a song from 1984, which, in light of the above, and even more so when you look at the shabby scaremongering this week about Jeremy Corbyn, sums up the political bias of the press in typical style.

I guarantee that when you watch this you will think two things:

1: Blimey (or insert your own swear word/exclamation of preference here), doesn’t he look young?, and

2: Blimey (or insert your own swear word/exclamation of preference here),  nothing much has changed since 1984, has it?

It Says Here

But I digress. Where was I? Ah yes – Band Aid and admin. Thirdly, I am obliged to mention The Quo somewhere, so lets get it out of the way now, shall we?

Quo’s Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt were actually supposed to have lead lines on “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, but performed them so badly in the studio that they got ditched for Paul Weller, Sting and Glenn Gregory. Their performance is probably explained by the fact that the duo openly admit to turning up at the studio with “shitloads of drugs…coke, dope and all sorts. People were saying, ‘Let’s go and see Doctor Rossi and Doctor Parfitt, shall we?’….” (Rossi has since revealed that he blew £1.7 million on coke in the 1980s, which explains not only why most of their records were, with the benefit of hindsight (mine – everyone else knew it at the time) shite, but also why a chunk of his septum fell out).

They also managed to lock Spandau Ballet in the toilets at the Band Aid recording sessions, so…y’know…s’not all bad.

That’s the admin out of the way: on to the hits!

First up, a song I have already written about, and so I’m going to skip past it now. That song is Kirsty MacColl’s version of “A New England” and you can read all about it and listen to it here: self-referential tosser.

Next up, an artist I have a great deal of affection for, without actually owning very many of his records: Terry Hall. By 1985, he had left The Specials, formed Fun Boy Three, co-written “Our Lips Are Sealed” with Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Go’s, given a helping hand to Bananarama’s career by way of a guest appearance on “It Ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It)” (or did Banarama appears as guests on the Fun Boy Three’s version? I never did quite manage to work that out), split from Fun Boy Three, and formed The Colourfield.

Truth be told, The Colourfield marked the start of a decline if not in the quality of Hall’s work, then certainly in the commercial success he achieved. This, though, was their first single, and their biggest hit, and rather lovely it is too:

the-colour-field-thinking-of-you-chrysalis The Colourfield – Thinking of You

Don’t go thinking I’d gone all soft though. Nope, at the start of 1985 rawwwwk was very much where my heart still lay, although I would have to admit my tastes were starting to shift towards more poppy territory.

But wait – who’s this coming over the horizon? A Canadian chap in a checked shirt who seems to marry rock and pop together in perfect harmony? Just what The Doctors ordered! And so it was that I bought this:

Bryan-Adams-Run-To-You-vinyl Bryan Adams – Run to You

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking this is one of the records I’m embarrassed to admit to owning, right? Well no, actually. See, in 1985 The Bryster (as nobody has ever called him) was not yet the purveyor of power ballads and Number One hogger that we have since come to know and hate, for whilst it was actually released in 1984, it was in 1985 that his “Reckless” album was, frankly massive. I bought that too, but not just yet, so we’ll come back to that later, but suffice it to say it was packed with, yes, power ballads (“Heaven“), enduring power pop (“Summer of ’69“) – c’mon, everyone loves that record, don’t they? – and a rather shonkingly awful duet with Tina Turner (“It’s Only Love“).

Ah, Tina. Tina Turner. It is to you I turn to present the “What on Earth Was I Thinking When I Bought This???” award for the first part of 1985. I have neither clue nor excuse. Maybe I was blinded by the fright-wig. Maybe it was that “riding an invisible horse” dance she seemed to do. I dunno. But somehow, lurking in my record collection, is this:

tina-turner-priavte-dancer-album-artwork Tina Turner – Private Dancer

But I didn’t just go out and buy the single. Oh no. In fact, I didn’t buy, nor have I ever bought, any of her singles. Not for me on this occasion the usual “Buy first single. Buy second single. Like third single? Buy the album” routine I had safely established. No. To compound my shame, I went straight out and bought the fucking album.

I’ll get my coat.

But no. I won’t. Instead, I’m going to turn things round by posting what to my mind is one of the great lost singles from the 1980s, an absolute belter, and if I had to list my favourite singles of all time, this would be right in there:

the-big-sound-authority-this-house-is-where-your-love-stands-source Big Sound Authority – This House (Is Where Your Love Stands)

Criminally short-lived, Big Sound Authority only released three more singles, none of which managed anything approaching the success of “This House” (which itself only managed to get to Number 21 in the charts) and one album, which also tanked.

And so to Liverpool, and to China Crisis, and a song the title of which I don’t think you’d get away with these days:

China-Crisis-Black-Man-Ray-116071 China Crisis – Black Man Ray

Erm, where do you start? Well apparently, it’s about Ray Charles, but quite why they felt the need to point out he was black I have no idea. Let’s skip swiftly on.

I’ve already written about the other single by the next artiste, the godawful incomprehensible babble that was “The Riddle”. Unperturbed by just how terrible that was, I went and bought the follow up and until I came to write this, I’d forgotten that actually it’s rather good. Of it’s time, sure, but rather good all the same.

Nik_Kershaw_Wide_Boy_Single_Cover Nik Kershaw – Wide Boy

Needless to say, shortly after this, his own pop career nose-dived dramatically, before being ever so slightly resurrected when he wrote this. Yeh, cheers for that, Nik.

And so, to round off this first look back at 1985, another record that would not just join “This House” in my list of my favourite singles of all time, but would unquestionably nestle squarely in the top ten. The Cult were not a band I remember my brother ever owning any records by, but I think his recent radical change in musical taste had probably rubbed off on me enough to make my ears prick up when I first heard this:

the-cult-she-sells-sanctuary-beggars-banquet The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary

If ever a record deserves to be played as loudly as possible, it’s that one. And it still sounds as magnificent to these ears today as it did way back then. And I’m not the only one who thinks so: super-cool DJ Erol Alkan used to regularly drop it in his sets (I’ll try and source an example to post for you sometime) and even I witnessed the power of this record first hand. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine was in a band which did an “Indie-okie” night in North London once a month. (The premise: karaoke, but with a live band playing behind the volunteer singer, who would choose from a list of classic Indie tracks. It was as much fun as it sounds i.e. an enormous amount). They asked Hel and I to DJ on the bits in between and we were more than happy to oblige – in fact it was the first time we DJ’d together. Anyway, as everyone was basically there to either sing or to have good laugh at those who did, nobody was expected to actually dance. But that’s exactly what did happen when I dropped this: the dancefloor didn’t exactly go mental, but it suddenly filled up and there was definite movement, enough for one of the band to tap me on the shoulder and say “Steady on – they’re supposed to enjoy our bits more than the records!”.

Right, that’s yer lot for now. More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

It is the morning after the day that Jeremy Corbyn swept to the leadership of the Labour Party. I’m not going to bang on about politics here this morning, but suffice it to say I’m pretty happy about this. Although I appreciate this is the stuff of debate and he does have the potential to be the next Michael Foot, there’s something very refreshing about a man who is principled, speaks his mind and seems not be utterly dependant on spin, and wants to pull his party away from the centre ground it had been edging towards and back to its roots.

The fact his election slogan was “Jez we can” helped too, of course. Every knows it’s a cool name, right?

Anyway, from one Jez to another, some advice by way of this rather lovely cover of an R.E.M. song lifted from the “Wild” soundtrack:

Wild

First Aid Kit – “Walk Unafraid”

PS – Americans. You’ve spelt “Theatres” wrong.

More soon.

The Sample Life

So, this is the second post in this series, and yes I have changed the name. I hated the poorly punned title I gave this series last time out, so I changed it to a not-quite-so-poor-but-still-not-exactly-clever-is-it? slightly different title. And don’t bother checking what I changed it from, because I changed that too.

Anyway, this is the section where I post a record which features a sample of another record, and I let you hear them both, the sampler and the sampled, if you will. You try and work that into a usable pun, go on, I dare you.

Before I start, I haven’t forgotten about my recollections of 1985, I’ve just been really busy recently. (I appreciate this is bordering on an “I’m just really tired” or an “I’ve got a headache” type excuse. This is how I view you all, as an analogy I will make later on will prove.) (And by God I hope you’re sensing the tone there).

Anyway, this is why I’ve been busy: a friend of mine turns 40 next weekend, and I’ve been asked to compile a playlist for the party he’s throwing.

A playlist, mind, not a DJ set.

This stress of doing this right has taken up quite a lot of my spare time over the past few weeks.

A playlist, much as I love doing them, is to my mind, harder than DJ’ing. If I was DJ’ing I could just rock up, as I believe “the kids” on “the street” say (or did, in about 1990, or probably earlier) with my CDs and play whatever tickled my fancy to get the crowd rockin’ (note the missing ‘g’, I am sooo street).

A playlist, for public consumption, in a drinking atmosphere, where dancing is a possibility, is a different beast entirely. One has to try to drop the tunes at appropriate times, leave the floor fillers til the end, but keep the first couple of hours interesting enough that the natives don’t get restless and attempt to wrestle control of the sound system. (Those who know me, know exactly who I mean there…!)

A little over a year ago, my soon-to-join-me-in-the-40-club friend became a father, and to celebrate this joyous moment he decided he wanted him and a select crowd to go out on the lash, then hire a limo to drive around London for an hour or so, before going to a club. I was charged with providing the music for the vehicular instalment of the night, and I gladly obliged with a mix of songs which I think went down well with most of the small crowd (one notable exception, who tried to wrestle control of the sound system from me etc etc). One later posted on Facebook (other social media things are available) that he did not expect at the tender age of 39 to be driving round London in a limo, swigging cheap champagne and listening to “Kandy Pop” by Bis, which I took as a huge compliment, whether it was meant as one or not.

Anyway, I was hugely honoured to be asked to do something similar for his 40th, but a bar full of people most of whom I don’t know is a very different prospect to a limo with 11 people I do know. And as the night has tick-tocked ever nearer, so the slightly tweaked running order has changed, a song added here, deleted there, moved up the list somewhere else.

So. That’s what I’ve been doing. That’s my excuse.

Back to the topic in hand.

When you talk about records which have samples in them, generally we’re talking rap, hip-hop or dance records. But what we’re not usually talking about is a record by a couple of gothy Scottish teenage girls with a polka dot, lace glove and back-combed hair obsession. But, ladies, gentlemen and the undecided, I’m here to bring you one such record from 1985 which, when I heard the record from which the sample came, my little ears pricked up in astonishment, for I had no idea it was a sample at all until that moment, some 30 years after it came out.

strawberry-switchblade-since-yesterday-korova Strawberry Switchblade – “Since Yesterday”

This is a record which has enormous sentimental value for me. Firstly, because my much cooler and better looking friend bought it back in the day, which meant that much as I loved it. I couldn’t buy it too (them’s was the rules, I didn’t make them up. Although, actually, thinking about it, I probably did).  Secondly, because after a break of over 20 years from DJ’ing, this was the first record I played at a house party (which was very much in the come-down stage of the event, I must hasten to add. Otherwise, it would have been Quo, obviously. That’s my requisite one reference done, oh smart arse big brother). The opening bars were met with a chorus of contented “Aaaaah”‘s and much snuggling on sofas, and all seemed right with the world, which obviously had nothing at all to do with the drugs and everything to do with my choice of record.

“Since Yesterday” was released in 1985 and proved to be Strawberry Switchblade’s only real hit, a couple of the later singles flirting with the idea of penetrating the Top 40, but ultimately deciding abstinence to be the more virtuous course (There’s your saucy analogy. Just checking you’re paying attention.)

And the sample? Well, a month or so ago I was sorting myself out a little Summertime playlist, popped the next song on, and then heard those “aaah”-inducing opening bars buried in this record from 1974 by a bunch of bleach-blond-mullet-and sideburn wearing, stonewashed denim combo lovers:

114731779 The First Class – “Beach Baby”

Nope, me neither.

Anyway, as the former record is, apparently from 1985 (I have to be honest, I thought it was earlier) it does act as a rather convenient bridge between all which has consumed me recently and that to which I will be returning shortly.

More soon, folks.