Replenishing the Vinyl

When I was younger, I was a serious vinyl junkie, much to my mother’s annoyance.

Every spare penny went on two things:

  1. records, and
  2. the bus fare into town and back so I could buy records.

And every time I returned home, square plastic bag clutched in my sweaty little hand, I would race upstairs to listen to my latest purchases, oblivious to my Mum’s calls after me that “money burns a hole in your pocket”.

Well, something happened this week which, when she reads this, will lead her to tut, roll her eyes and mutter how she was right and how nothing has changed.

I’ll explain. Wednesday evening, I’ve finished work and am waiting to catch the bus home. Just next to my bus stop is a charity shop which has fairly recently opened. I’ve no idea what charity it supports; I rarely check the benefactors of such establishments, just in case its one that I don’t like. You know, one of those notorious bad charities.

Anyway, the shop has closed but the shutters aren’t down yet so I thought I’d do a bit of window shopping. Truth is, I’ve done this quite a lot at this shop recently, ever since the chap who sits on the desk opposite me (also a vinyl junkie, also a lover of trawling round charity shops in the hope of unearthing a bargain) waltzed back into work after lunch, gleefully clutching a hardback copy “Alan Partridge: Nomad” that he’d picked up for £2.00 there.

The book shelves are quite close to the window, and with a bit of squinting you can make out some of the titles: Dan Brown, Dan Brown, Russell Brand, Dan Brown. The usual selections one finds donated to charity stores.

But underneath that, I spied a new addition to the Entertainment Section: a plastic container full of vinyl, and there, right at the front, a copy of “Now That’s What I Call Music Vol II”. I determined that I would return there the following day to investigate further.

Thursday lunchtime. I’ve been out visiting one of the schools in the Borough and have caught the bus back to the office. I say the office, but actually I swung by the charity shop in question en route. (S’ok, it was my lunch break.)

The 80s compilation album was there, priced up at £3.75. Reasonable, I thought, as long as the vinyl itself was in good nick. I slipped both discs from their inner sleeves (reassuringly, the previous owner had placed them with the opening facing upwards so the vinyl couldn’t roll out or attract dust), held them both up to the light from the window and examined them. A tad dusty, but not warped and no obvious scratches or blemishes. I decided to buy it. As I turned to approach the counter, I glanced down at the plastic container, and there, now, after I had liberated “…Vol II”, at the front was….

“Now That’s What I Call Music”.

The first volume. They didn’t call it “Now That’s What I Call Music Vol I” for much the same reason, I imagine, as the First World War wasn’t called that at the time: they didn’t know there was going to be Second one.

I knelt down again, pulled that one from the container. And behind it was “Vol III”. And “Vol IV”. And “Vol V”. And “Vol VI”. And “Vol VIII”. And “Vol IX”. And “Vol X”. And “Vol XI”. And “Vol XIV”. And “Vol XVI”. That’s 12 volumes, all in pretty good nick, all, bar Vols I & II, priced at just £1.10 each.

Five minutes later, I left the shop, just over £18.00 poorer, but immeasurably happier. So, what if it’s two weeks until payday, I don’t need to eat every day.

At work, one of the girls asked me what I’d bought. She’s quite a lot younger than me, so I showed her, but started off by saying “You’re probably not old enough to remember these…”, meaning when the “Now…” series started. “Oh, I remember those,” she said. “My Dad used to own some records.” Bubble of joy duly punctured.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times how much I enjoy watching the reruns of old 80s editions of Top of the Pops on BBC4, as they bring back so many memories and the same is true of these albums, the first couple being from roughly the period those repeats are no now. Although, perversely, I didn’t buy a single one of them back in the day. (I say perversely, but I know exactly why I didn’t: Quo don’t appear for the first time until Vol VIII. Had they featured earlier/more frequently, the teenage me would have undoubtedly been unable to resist. And to save you checking, yes Vol VIII was amongst the ones I bought.)

So I thought I’d spread some 80s joy today, and every now and again on a Saturday morning, picking my favourite track(s) from each side of each one that I picked up.

Volume I was released in 1983, and the compilers of the album have made my task somewhat easier by picking two tracks by Kajagoogoo (no thanks) and, one by former Kajagoogoo singer Limahl (by far the worst record on here, and given the inclusion of UB40 – also twice – that’s really saying something. Bop bop shoo be doo wah.) Seriously, breaking the golden rule of mix-tapes and compilations by featuring the same artist more than once really didn’t bode well for this series of releases, but here we are, 24 years later, and they’re still going.

Anyway, front and cover art is below, so you can have fun guessing which tracks I’ve picked, deciding which you’d have picked, and trying to remember what the significance of the pig was:

FrontBack

Heaven 17 – Temptation

(Surely their finest moment…?)

Rock Steady Crew – Hey You (Rock Steady Crew)

(I love this. It was going to feature on my motivational Monday morning series sooner or later, but I can’t resist the…erm…temptation to post it here.)

Human League – Fascination

(They were just brilliant back then, weren’t they? Then he cut (the other side of) his hair and they went off the boil.)

Tracey Ullman – They Don’t Know

(It’s nowhere near as great as the original, but it least it has Kirsty on it, performing the “Baby!” at the end of the musical bridge, as Ullman couldn’t hit the note.)

Will Powers – Kissing With Confidence

(That record taught me a lot when I was a teenager…)

Madness – The Sun And The Rain

(If I’m pushed, that’s probably my favourite record by The Nutty Boys. But, I don’t understand why people call them The Nutty Boys. It takes longer to both say and type than Madness does.)

That’ll do you.

More soon.

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Published by

Jez

Contact me by email at: dubioustaste26@gmail.com Follow me on Twitter: @atastehistory Or do both. Whatever.

10 thoughts on “Replenishing the Vinyl”

  1. I am so glad you wrote this today as earlier this week I also made mention of my purchase of Now Thats What I Call Music 5 bought for a flat party in 1985. I did expect raised eyebrows despite the fact it was bought 30+ years ago but here you are in 2017 really chuffed to have just bought another 12 volumes.

    I actually think you should see it as an investment though as that very first album is bound to rocket in value over time (not that you would ever sell of course). A snapshot of our recording buying past over the years these albums, and not a guilty pleasure at all – You realise we are now at Vol XCVII!

  2. Dammit, I cannot remember the significance of the pig! Please do tell!
    But , funnily enough mentioned this over at Alyson’s place recently, as that first Now album cover is very evocative. At the end of 1983 I had just started my first, proper, full-time job (40 hours a week at £3600 pa!) in an independent record shop – and vividly recall that album coming in and selling countless copies of it. And playing it on Saturdays when the shop rules dictated that we could only play chart music, so we had to put our less commercial personal choices to one side for the day. I don’t know if this will ring bells for anyone but the thing about that album that really stood out was its title. I just don’t remember there being any other compilation albums like that around with that kind of ‘phrase’ title, particularly with the word ‘I’ in it. That, and the fact that everything on it was quite mixed and current, seemed quite a novelty somehow. No, we had no idea there would ever be a follow-up. Let alone dozens of them!
    Enjoy your purchases…

  3. One of my favourite emporiums, Minster Records in Beverley, has a run of nineties Now albums in (21-34) at the moment. He has them priced between £35 and £60 apiece and reckons they’re cheap for the condition they’re in.

  4. I purchased most of the ones in the teens as I was earning a little extra by DJ-ing 18ths and 21sts, and it was an easy way to get a lot of the more poppy floor-fillers at a reasonable price. Most “indie” hits of the time I’d already acquired as singles.
    It is interesting, looking at the track listings and also watching the TOTP re-runs, that there is some quite decent music from the 80s that gets very little attention these days. If only Radio 2 could put on a decent 80’s programme every week (along the lines that the late Brian Matthew used to do with the 60s) rather than the drivel that Sara Cox does.

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