1989. I am established as the DJ (OK, co-DJ, just in case Danny Sweeney, who I’ve not heard from in 25 years is reading this) at the Indie Night (every other Tuesday) at the Student’s Union, and I have absolutely given up on the idea that my night may benefit from some funding to allow me to buy records that might keep me abreast of the then-current changes in the world of independent music.
Drastic times call for drastic measures; I realised I would have to spend some of my own money on records to play. So, I decided a percentage of the money I got paid to DJ would have to be reinvested, and so it was that I ventured into Cardiff to see what spoils I could find.
In those days, despite the presence of a Virgin Megastore and an HMV, there was only place to go to if you wanted to buy cool records in Cardiff: Spillers Records. Spillers is the oldest record shop in the world, established in Cardiff in 1894 by Henry Spiller, and I’m delighted to report still going strong today. If ever you’re in Cardiff, I urge you to go check it out. Or, visit them online here. The Robster will doubtless back me up on this.
On this occasion, I leave with two 12″ singles: Morrissey’s “Ouija Board, Ouija Board” and today’s choice, which, for the purposes of introducing some element of narrative suspense, I won’t divulge just yet.
Ordinarily, I would buy records and listen to them in advance, so I could see where it would fit in amongst all of the other stuff I intended to play. But on this occasion,I must have gone to Spillers on a Tuesday afternoon, for I know that when I arrived at the DJ booth that night I hadn’t listened to either record.
Aboiut an hour or so in, I popped the Morrissey record on. It is, to my dismay, one of the least dance-worthy records I have ever heard. I love it now, but I would never even contemplate playing it out.
Talking on the microphone was a definite no-no at the Union Nightclub, minus cool points if you did. Instead, around the venue were a number of TV screens, where you could write messages to the attending
“This is the new Morrissey single….” I typed as the opening bars kicked in.
A little over a minute later, as literally nothing had happened, I typed to an empty dancefloor and a slightly fuller bar:
“Shit, isn’t it?”
I’d never faded a record out before, but this was a first. I slammed something by The Cure on and a few ventured back to the dancefloor.
An hour or so later, and it is time to drop my other purchase, which I also haven’t listened to. I am, given the reaction to the Morrissey record, a little nervous.
I cue up the record, and type the words “And this is the new record by The Stone Roses…”.
Sounds okay. A couple of hardened troopers venture onto the dancefloor. Better, if only a little.
A week or so later, I am sorting records out in the DJ booth in advance of me playing a night I wasn’t particularly familiar with (a 70s night, in case you’re interested. I’m available for bookings, by the way. Weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc). I have Top of the Pops playing on the TV screens. It’s what transpires to be an iconic edition, the moment when the Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses both gate-crashed the chart party for the first time.
The Roses come on, and over the audience cheers (theirs, not mine) I hear what is now is a seminal drum beat and bass riff kick in.
Hang on. That’s not what I played the other week.
I glance up to the screen, in time to see the camera swoop over the studio audiences’ heads, and the caption: “13. New Entry. The Stone Roses. Fools Gold” briefly appear and disappear.
That’s definitely not what I played the other week.
I didn’t watch the rest of the performance, I was too busy scrabbling through my records, looking for the offending 12″, which I eventually found, and sat back on my haunches, looking at the record sleeve, confused, until I flipped it over and saw what the B-Side was.
Famously, they had swapped the A and B-side, meaning the record I’d bought, and played, in all good faith as the A-side, was suddenly relegated to the B-Side.
I’m going to look a right twat, I thought.
It’s still a classic, mind:
Although, I may have inadvertently got it wrong all those years ago, I stand by that being an absolute tune.
And certainly better than any of the formulaic old tosh they’ve served up since they reformed.