When I was younger, I was a serious vinyl junkie, much to my mother’s annoyance.
Every spare penny went on two things:
- records, and
- 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:
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.