I was beginning to worry that I might run out of material to feature in this series; it’s been a while since I actually bought any vinyl and I was down to maybe four or five albums that I hadn’t already written about, and at least two of those were total impulse buys which I’d rather not admit to having purchased (but will – it would hardly be in the spirit of the whole “no such thing as a guilty pleasure” ethos I try to cultivate here were I not to write about what has rightly been described by friends as “any old crap I’ve bought”).
See, the vinyl I crave is not pristine new releases, but old records, donated to charity shops, ideally by the spouse of someone who recently died rather than by someone who just fell out of love with the records in question. But the only charity shops round where I live – and there are absolutely no actual record shops within walking distance at all – tend to have either no vinyl at all, or a pile of James Last albums, the aural equivalent of the mountain of copies of The Da Vinci Files piling up in charity shops across the country.
Still, charity shops haven’t politely requested that kind, generous donors refrain from giving any more James Last albums, as some have with Dan Brown’s most famous drivel.
What I mean to say is that there’s not exactly a wealth of sources to satisfy my craving. I could travel a little, sure, but then I begrudge having to fork out the cost of getting a bus to wherever, with no guarantee of a successful plunder.
Which is odd, because my main source of vinyl purchases is now via ebay, where I constantly find myself thinking I’ll bid on something, and then see the extortionate postage charges. What are they doing, gift-wrapping and hand-delivering it to me??
But still, I picked up a couple of reasonably priced albums this week, which I’m just waiting for the postman to try and squeeze through my letterbox, or for the folks who live downstairs from me to hide the “We Missed You Card” he’ll leave (At the bottom of the stairs is a pile of pizza flyers, junk mail, and letters addressed to people who used to live in the building, but have since moved on and not left a forwarding address. The property management agents used to take them with them when they did their routine inspections of the flats, but they seem to have given up on that notion of helpfulness. The other day, I decided to have a quick shuftie through the pile and found something addressed to me, which turned out to be my ticket to go and see Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds in September. Would it have killed the people in the flat below me to spot my name on the envelope and put it aside, rather than tossing it onto the pile of recyclable garbage?)
Ahem. But I digress.
The albums I’ve recently purchased have not yet arrived, so here’s one that I bought shortly after I got my new turntable. An album I didn’t own when I was a kid, though I seem to remember my brother had a copy on tape, which I think he got from our friends until we got to Secondary School, Michael and Peter.
We didn’t fall out with them or anything, they just went to a different Secondary School to us, so we just kind of lost touch..made new friends…you know how it is.
We had spent many summer evenings cruising round the village we lived in on our bikes. One of them had a Chopper (not an innuendo) which made them the subject of much jealousy from the other kids in the village. When we weren’t doing that, we whiled away the long summer holidays by ordering pizzas to be delivered to the house opposite theirs then watching from behind the curtains as the frustrated delivery guy arrived, (this was before you could type a number into your phone to find the identity of the caller; hell, this was before mobile phones and Caller IDs) or flicking through the phonebook and prank-calling people (“Hello? Is that Mr Rabbitt? We’ve got your order of 200 hundred weight of carrots here, when are you going to collect them?). I seem to remember us once just dialling a random number and pretending that a homicidal axe-wielding maniac had got into the house. Because that’s what you’d do if that ever happened: dial a random eleven digit number, rather than a simple three digit one, like 999.
And they had some cool records, namely by today’s artist, and I also remember them owning Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Two Tribes” on 12″. But none of these were by the Quo, so, whilst I rather enjoyed them, there was no way I’d be wasting my pocket money on them.
I bought this album a while ago, forgetting that it’s not actually that good. Rolling Stone magazine featured it in a list entitled “20 Terrible Debut Albums by Great Artists” and they have a bit of a point, to be honest.
So my apologies if you’ve just read all the above to find that out.
“Dirk Wears White Sox” by Adam & The Ants is not a great album. I’m featuring it here for two reasons: firstly, because if you listen really hard to some of the tracks, you can just about hear the ideas forming that went on to make Marco, Merrick, Terry Lee, Gary Tibbs – and Adam, of course – massive pop stars a couple of years later; and secondly, because there used to be a rather excellent blog called “Dirk Wears White Sox”, now sadly no more, which I must have raided so much stuff from when it was up an running. It’s been gone for at least ten years now, I reckon, and I never got chance to say thank you to whoever it was that used to write it. Every now and then I do a quick Google search, just in case it’s been resurrected, but no. So anyway, if you happen to be reading this: thanks. You were great.
So here’s a band on the verge of greatness. Although, you wouldn’t really know it from this, bar the drumming on two of the tracks do hint at what was to follow:
No “Kings of the Wild Frontier” here, clearly Mr Ant had decided that brevity in respect of titles was the key to success.
It was rumoured that he was asked if he was sure this was wise, to which he replied “Sure? I’m adamant!”, but this has never been confirmed.
I’m here all week.
By which I mean: More soon.