A Yankee Visits


Well, hello you! This is becoming quite the habit. Two posts in the space of (just over) a week…who’d have thunk it.??

Anyway, this is where things get a little tricky, as some records came into my life now which I neither bought nor requested, but they were records which I clutched to my bosom, consumed, and then nearly 40 years later decided to share with you, you lucky people.

I have family in the flag-kissing, gun-toting US of A, and I lived there when I was a kid. I don’t really remember anything about it, I was too young, but I’ve seen photos and slides of me trying to elope with Mickey Mouse when we visited Disneyworld, and of me with my head stuck in some railings at a local restaurant we apparently visited regularly called “The Big Banjo”, a joint where men in bowler hats, waist coats, stripy trousers and exotic moustaches twanged away in the background while Yankees stuffed their fat faces with treble quarter pounders followed by waffles and maple syrup and ice cream. As an appetiser.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, I don’t have any specific memory of these events, but I’ve seen photographs and slides which seem to illustrate both of these events happened, and they have become my inherited memories. I certainly wouldn’t want to rule them out as never having happened. I mean, trying to run off with Mickey Mouse and getting my head stuck in railings both kinda sound like the sort of things I’d do…

But I digress. I have family in America, and every now and then when I was growing up they would come over and visit, and on one such occasion my cousin Terri bought a bunch of 7″ singles with her.

Now, I don’t particularly recall when exactly it was that this visit was, but I do remember that when she came over I was allowed to stay up and watch The Sweeney with her. Could’ve been a repeat, no idea. But I remember her being annoyed that at the end, Carter and Regan had failed to catch the criminals, which strikes me now as being a thoroughly British way of ending a cop show. Anyway doubtless at some point, someone said this (isn’t that Howard from Howard’s Way getting busted? Nice to see he changed his ways and went into the reputable world of yachting for his next venture)

So, to the records. I can look at these now and see that they added to my growing hunger for different sounding stuff. Sure, I had the Quo, and The Police, and Shaky, but these added to my palate.

It also occurs to me that three of these singles came out in 1979, the other in 1982. I can’t rule out the possibility that Terri hated the 1979 ones and was just looking for an opportunity to pass them off on someone….well, someone who was more inclined to run off with Mickey Mouse or get his head stuck in railings.

a) “Don’t Bring Me Down” – ELO Now these days, I bloody love a bit of ELO. Mr Blue Sky is a go-to classic feel good record in my book, and I have vague memories of it being on Top of the Pops, a video with some piss-poor special effects which I found amazing at the time and which I can’t seem to source now, so have this instead: Mr Blue Sky Kudos to the perms. Columbia was missing a midfield general the day this was shot.

Buy it here: Bruce!

Actually, whilst I think about it, and since I never actually bought any of their records so they won’t crop up here again, have this, another formative Top Of The Pops memory. Seriously, was nobody else weirded out by Ron Mael’s and his moustache?? (Jesus, that was 1974?? Then, I must confess it must be a later record of there’s that I remember seeing on Top of the Pops. At least, that’s what I’ll be telling my shrink)

b) The Devil Went Down To Georgia – The Charlie Daniels Band I think this one hits the nerve as I was coerced into learning the violin when I was a kid, and the thought of being Johnny and defeating the Devil in a Deilverance/Duelling Banjos scenario (not that I’d seen the film at that point, mind) definitely appealed.

Buy it here: Fiddly Fiddly

c) Jack and Diane – John “Cougar” Mellencamp I have three things to say about this record. 1) It is an incredible description of that age when you’re not quite adult, but too old to consider yourself a kid anymore 2) Diane sucking on a chilli dog was a formative image, and 3) The term “cougar” has really changed over the years, hasn’t it?

Buy it here: Sucking on Chilli Dog

d) My Sharona – The Knack l would hope this needs no introduction or explanation. One of the greatest singles ever made, in my book (please don’t ask me to list my Top 10 favourites, I’m not Nick Hornby, much as I clearly want to be. Arsenal, see? No thanks.) But imagine my delight when this record got sampled/ripped off/call it what you will on this. (By the way, my apologies if having clicked that link you have to endure a car advert urging you to “Go Fun Yourself”. I in no way endorse this product. But did you see what they did there? Fun? Sounds a bit like Fuck? Oh you waggish advertising scamps!)

Buy it here: Wouldn’t Get Away With a Record Sleeve Like That These Days

More surprisingly soon.