A few years ago (actually, now I think about it, 12 years ago. Ouch!) a mate of mine threw a birthday party (I think….) at his place in West London. It was a day-into-night affair, so there was a barbecue and lazing around and drinking in the afternoon, followed by a fair amount of substance abuse of one kind or another in the evening. (Can I just stress again that when I mention this kind of thing, I am not advocating their use? I’m just relating, s’all. Y’know, just in case someone sues me or something. Don’t shoot the messenger.)
There were 30 or so people there, but apart from the host and his wife, and the couple I’d travelled up from Cardiff with, I knew nobody. This makes what happens next fairly predictable.
There was a trade-off to being invited: all attendees were instructed to prepare in advance, and provide on arrival, a mix-tape, over both sides of a C-60. All cassettes were to be unmarked, no track listing provided, and they would provide the soundtrack to the party. For added fun (there were no prizes), attendees were then supposed to try and work out who had made which mix-tape.
I still think this is a cracking idea for a party, provided you’ve got a working tape deck to play them on.
You won’t be surprised to learn that I attacked this task with much vigour and gusto. What I needed to do, I thought, was one of my trademark mixes that slowly build to a climax, but at the same time pick songs which I liked but which the few people I knew there might not necessarily associate with me, so as to throw them off the trail when it came to identifying the creator of the cassette.
In other words, I over-thought it.
You’ll be even less surprised to learn that of the 30 or so attendees, only four of us bothered making a mix-tape, all of whom were male. And one of whom used a C-90, the dirty rotten cheat.
My selection caused much bafflement and scratching of heads, and I was delighted that nobody managed to twig which mix-tape was mine. I had won!! I was the Belle of the Ball!!
But then, much later, someone else turned up with a mix-tape that started with Dennis Waterman’s “I Could Be So Good For You” and everyone forgot about mine and hailed him a genius instead.
Dammit, I own that on 7″ single, why didn’t I think of including it?
I’m not bitter though. Oh no.
I wish I could remember all of the songs I’d included, but alas, I can only remember the first three, the ones which were sufficient to throw everyone off the scent, and they’re all perfect for posting here, so, well, here you go:
In order they were (and, in brackets, my reason for selecting them):
(Step 1: Pick some weird old 60s tune everyone kinda knows, but which nobody would associate with you. Unless they had heard any of my previous mix-tapes (which they hadn’t) which almost inevitably start off with something in this vein. A scene setter, if you like. Ladies and Gentleman, fasten your seatbelts, we’re going on a journey).
(Step 2: A journey to Wales. A stroke of genius this; the host of the party is Welsh, as are his wife and the couple I had travelled up from Cardiff with, but other than that, all English (as far as I can recall). I literally (not literally; metaphorically) cloaked myself with Welsh language psych-folk.)
(Step 3: Then throw in a curveball, a tune by someone that you know at least one other person is bound to have a bit of an obsession with.)
It worked: there was much finger pointing after this came on in a “But this must be yours, you like Gorky’s and Prince!”, “So do you!” kinda way, but none in my direction.
Much, much later that night, as it got darker and colder and people started to either drift off home or, at the very least, into the house, I found someone frantically hunting around the tape deck. I asked what they had lost.
“I’m trying to find that tape that had the balloon song at the start,” they replied.
I allowed myself a smug smirk, and pointed it out from the pile. “Good that one, wasn’t it?”
And no I’m not going to play you “I Could Be So Good For You”. Well not yet, anyway.
That should get your Sunday morning off to a breezy start, alright.