Hello. So, I took a few days off. Frankly I was all shagged out from posting every day over Christmas and needed to recover. I have no idea how the more successful, popular bloggers manage it, but there you go.
Anyway, I made a New Year’s Resolution. Actually, I made several, most of which relate to me losing weight in an effort to be less repulsive to members of the opposite sex, but some of which relate to this place.
I’m really quite proud of what I’ve written here in my first full year of blogging, and so I’ve decided to up the ante a bit. Old strands will be resurrected, I have a few new ideas for posts, and an overall idea of what I want this blog to be. But all in good time.
The other thing I have resolved to do is to try a bit harder with the main theme of this blog, that is, for those who haven’t read my mission statement, to discuss every record I ever bought in chronological order, a la “High Fidelity”.
I left you in the middle of 1985, and that’s where we are now.
By the mid-80s, I have developed a love of visiting The Cresset in Peterborough. This is basically a large village hall masquerading as a venue, but which every first Saturday of the month held a record fair, 50p entry.
The first time I went, I just found myself wandering round not really knowing where to start. There was so much stuff! Mostly a lot of piss-poor quality bootleg cassettes of gigs, which much as they may have boasted about being of “soundboard quality” I was never taken in by.
No, I was more interested in unearthing a gem, a lost b-side that the vendor had no idea of the value of. Unfortunately, Record Fairs are not like your average car boot sale or flea market as featured on “Flog It! or “Bargain Hunt”. These stalls are presided over by predominantly middle-aged men who know exactly how much everything the purvey is worth.
The first time I went, I came away empty-handed. But the second time, having changed my philosophy to “buy anything you like that you don’t already own, or anything you like in a different format to what you already have”. I picked up a couple of corkers.
First up, a 7″ which for my money has the best sax solo since Baker Street and makes Steve Norman out of Spandau Ballet sound like a high street busker:
Hazel O’Connor – Will You?
This a song which always reminds me of Top of The Pops, at a time where they must have made some upper management decision to make the performances more theatrical. With “Will You?” I have a distinct memory of Hazel performing this on a stage made up to look like a café, with just her on stage, sitting on a chair, next to a table with two cups on it, as per the song.
Of course, I’ve not been able to find this, but here’s a clip of one of her Top of the Pops performances of the song, not quite as theatrical, but the green shoots are there (beware: this clip contains an introduction by Simon Bates):
What I’m getting at is that at the time Top of the Pops seemed to be going through something of a renaissance. Not quite gone were the “something for the Dads” routines of Pan’s People or Legs & Co or whatever they were called at the time. No. What tended to happen instead was that dancers were now incorporated into the artiste’s performance rather being used as visuals for an act that couldn’t be there, or were just a bit too big to grace the studio with their presence. These were the days before MTV and before the music video had really caught on, remember.
Perhaps the greatest example of what I’m chuffing on about is this, Adam Ant’s rather brilliant “Goody Two Shoes”, where he seems to have the run of the whole TOTP studio, dancers and all, and four – count ’em! – stages to gyrate on.
He was cool as, wasn’t he? There’s even a bit of that where he decides he can’t even be bothered to mouth the words, and he still looks fantastic.
Anyway, the second 7″ I bought that day was this, a song by a band I have already waxed lyrical about on these pages, and which I already owned on vinyl via The Best of Blondie compilation album. But the inner nerd in me had been awakened, the completist woken from its slumber, and as soon as I saw the little pink sleeve I knew I had to own it:
Blondie – Call Me
And just to round things off nicely, an extra special Welcome to 2016 treat: a mix by New York DJ legend and Ali G lookie-likie Armand Van Helden which features the 12″ version of Call Me as its opening track. Since he explains the idea behind it at the start of the mix, I’ll shut up:
Armand Van Helden – New York: A Mix Odyssey