Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Transvision 12 inch memories

The weekend held the catch up with a number of friends & acquaintances that I have not seen in some instances for the 20 years since leaving school. The topics discussed started with where people lived (a number surprisingly still in the locale) and whether people had kids (it seems second generations of kids have been playing together without anyone knowing) and finding out what people do for a living, a surprising amount in IT and surprising people to have gone into the teaching profession.

When a few more beers had been quoffed, to top up the one for dutch courage before going out the discussions got into good old fashioned reminiscing.... about all manner of things, a particular favourite being how in assembly people would borrow hymn books and then launch them over the balcony at the back of the hall, making life difficult for the Jehovah's witnesses (not allowed to sit with us) who had to dodge them and random shoes. Plus the fact that at every assembly the same gag was played on the unsuspecting individual sitting at the end of the row, by sliding the seats along one place (they were linked together) during the hymn when standing, sitting down resulted in a member of class falling flat on his backside - this happened so many times and we never got into any grief about it - probably because the teachers found the site funny too. This reminiscing really brought me out in fits of giggles - I had been transported back 20 years.

We did get to the topic of music once however, a really good friend of mine reminded me of our trip to see Transvision Vamp, and the legendary Wendy James. This was at the Aston Villa leisure centre - a real hole of a venue, better suited to basket ball than seeing the years heart throb belting out hits such as Revolution Baby, I want your love and the only one.

The video for the only one nicely summed up the feel of the concerts if not the level of sweat

A couple of things stand out from this concert (the middle of 3 visits to the Villa leisure centre to see Wendy and the Gang, the third being in support of the 3rd album never released in the UK 'Little Magnets versus the Bubble of Babble' and a concert that I could not entice anyone to come with me - oh how times changed in that 2 year career).

The first was I drove, in my beat up mini, that overheated all the time, with my newly installed cassette tape player that I had spent all weekend installing and was very proud of, but found that it played tapes slowly which was not too flash.

The second was that this was my first gig when I was thrust into the mosh pit from the start of the gig to the end, I have never been in a hotter place. Jeff, Fitz and I were soaking and on returning to the car steamed it up in shocking fashion, but I did encounter a catastrophe which haunted me for quite some time. I invested at the beginning of the gig in some over priced merchandise, a cracking tour programme, which I now realise was a single sheet folded.

Now the issue I had was I purchased this (piece of paper that cost as much as an album!) before Wendy came on stage, and I went in Jeans and T Shirt, so naturally when I went moshing, to hold onto it I shoved it up my T Shirt and ended up with a wonderful purple paper mache blob, with one small salvagable image (bottom left tiny pic flicking hair - I can still remember after 21 years!).

This didn't stop my enthusiasm for the band but spurred me on to buy every 12' they ever produced, in fact everything they ever released on Vinyl, and this was the era of great 12' mixes.

So the first 12' I bought from Wendy and still cherish was I Want your love, with

and B sides

These were the start of a lot of 12 inches and lots of memories to return to in time.....

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Welcome to the Monkey House - 20 years since school

Todays entry reminisces on a song that I have only purchased through the joys of Ebay but brings the pleasures of the last year of school racing back. Why's that in mind, because on Saturday I am off to a reunion in a pub to celebrate 20 years since I left 6th form.

This pub, the Station was the pub where we would congregate in the beer garden, no matter what the weather as many were under age. Buy bottles of grolsch with flash tops for a pound and generally try to chat to any girls we new. The pub was always rammed and a great venue to rush to after working at Asda on the tills for £3 per hour, I felt rich with that wage.

The tune 'Welcome to the Monkey House' was a staple in all the parties that year, (it was released in 1984 so no doubt had been a staple for a few years), at Shenstone, Spartans or the Rugby Club and would immediately result in everyone bouncing about in the middle of the dance floor bumping into one another. Every weekend had a party, celebrating a birthday of someone or other, it didn't matter who so long as you got an invite, which everyone seemed to. I seem to recall at the time dodgy kids from other schools all attending but the level of violence and drugs was nil, all alcohol experimentation, a particular favourite being the Purple Nasty, snake bite and pernod and black, so the worst you had was a vomiting mate waiting for parents to take him home.

But going back to the tune, it was an incredible buzz to hear the first few bars and would immediately result in a 'here hold this' to which ever young lady was being chatted to and a sprint to the dance floor. From what I recall the dance moves were not too hard, they consisted of bouncing up and down whilst moving in and out of a circle, in fact a mixture between baggy trousers and New York New York (which ended said parties).

I didn't know anything about the artist at the time, and now from what I can gather the band was the starting point for Paul Caplin, he signed to emi and supported Duran Duran but he didn't enjoy the constraints. He was then part of Haysi Fantayzee (in the background whilst his girlfriend was in the foreground) before ditching music to get into computing in a really successful way. He won an Ernst & Young entrepreneur of the year award and is allegedly looking to get funding for more development, quite a left turn in career.

The B side is interesting, but not a patch on on the single which does not seem to have charted so no wonder I never managed to buy it in Woolies, Boots, Smiths or HMV.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Westworld: Sonic Boom Boy

Westworld were a band I found out about in school, a random lad enthused about this single and at the weekend I went and bought it and fell in love with it. The strange thing was when on Monday I sat behind him in French I think and told him about what a fantastic single it was he just looked blankly at me making me think I had dreamed the whole episode. But his loss really was my gain and Westworld despite only charting with 4 singles have become a major part of my record collection and if this catches on I will write more about them. But Sonic Boom Boy was the start.

I have the single twice, my version from school and also one from a record fare in Liverpool Uni student union. This was purchased because it was signed by all 3 members of the band (as shown in the photo) Bob Derwood Andrews (from Generation X) Elizabeth Westwood (fabulous American voice and pretended to be Elvis on the cover of Silver Mac) and the other one. These record fairs were another great way to miss lectures and to thumb through hundreds of tapes 7's and albums for that missing Sigue Sigue Sputnik promo.

I always wondered why Derwood had signed the single 'Wiggle Derwood' . Was this a second Nickname, or something that related to a discussion with the fan he had signed the record for. In the early days of the Internet I got the chance to find out as I briefly sent emails back and forth with him. Whilst I did find out some interesting facts about where to go in LA on holiday I was disappointed to find out that he had no idea why he signed it thus and so the mystery will remain. I was also left missing an answer to why Andrews, Westwood and the other one were credit on the KLF album with a writing credit. As was he! That comment shows how anoraky I was about Westworld and I seem to remember writing to Q with an article to put in the where are they now bit. (the answer being in the US writing and recording as Moondogg).

The third Sonic Boom Boy format I got was again from a record fair. A hand made promo sprayed by the band. One of 500 and Ebay provided a second one of these 500 I hope the other 498 don't turn up because after a pint or two I will purchase them I know I will. This was a nice one to get - record fare at the NEC - as being hand sprayed I now owned something I imagined the band had been creative with in their own homes.

and the music........ it was like nothing else in the charts and for me is pretty timeless borrowing from the past and infusing with the cutting edge (for the time), so now that would mean borrowing from the past and a bit more of the later past. A nice line in samples which every now and then I will come across in a film and it will throw me back to my school days. It was nice to hear it used for a Sony Centres advert recently as it had me bouncing up and down with my little boy in the front room.

The A side, with possibly Hi Tech or low budget video, really bounced along and Mark Radcliffe said he had a soft spot for it on his Radio Show when played

The B sides that came with this were an interesting mix:

On the 12' was Bubble Bo Duddley a tribute to Bo Diddley and then a rap done by Elizabeth impossible Mission

The promo edition that was hawked round record companies included this remix, Sonic Boom Beat with a lot of additional samples - ahh, the joys of 12' remixes

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

No 1. Prince - Purple Rain - Multiple Formats

With Prince releasing his new album 20Ten through the Mirror at the weekend (and being provided a physical product by the Father in Law - nice one) it provided me with the impetus to do something I had been meaning to get round to, capture the memories music evokes for me, if for no better reason than my boy and girl won't have the joy of buying CD's, tapes and vinyl in record shops for weeks on end, and hence may not feel the way I do about tunes.

Prince's Purple Rain is the ideal place to start as I have more physical versions of this Album than any other.

The first copy arrived in school, not on the day of release, but when the chap I sat next to got bored of his tape (and Wham!'s make it big) and offered it to me in return for a blank tape so he could tape the charts. Without the pocket money for albums, but with availability of Dad's box of blank tapes, it seemed an easy way to expand my music collection.

Unfortunately this album saw the one and only piece of censorship in our household that I can remember, and quite clearly. I used to get the joys of listening to an album on the way back and forth to swimming twice a week on the car stereo and slipped Purple Rain in with the usual fodder of Madness, Adam Ant and Shakey. We got through a few listens, no doubt with Dad being zoned out, but suddenly the album was never to be played again, with no explanation. In hindsight certain of the lyrics to Darling Nikki may have contributed .....(innocent days and an embarrassed Dad not wanting to get into this I guess)

The LP arrived a few years later, complete with a slit taken out of it, from Power Cuts Record Shop in Manchester. A bargain in the 90's at 69p. Power Cuts opened a whole new world in record collecting as annually LP's with the slits (due to being imported I believe) were flogged off cheap in legendary sales and the poor student I was got too excited and came away with Armful's of LP's (some of which never received a rotation).

Power Cuts is discussed eloquently here and it seems that others have equally bulked record collections of dubious note but remember Power Cuts fondly:


The CD arrived to further bulk out my University record collection (I was keen to improve my CD collection having been bought a CD player for passing my A Levels), via one of many trips to 'the big HMV in Liverpool' a decent stroll down from the Union, but one I seemed to make most days. HMV's regular 3 CD's for £20 seemed like such a bargain 15 years ago....... in fact such a bargain that a lot of my student grant!!! went this way rather than on books, food (the Missus reminds me I lived on Sausages and Ketchup at Uni which seems to be my boys favourite food now - a child prodigy obviously) and clothes (the home knitted grey baggy cardi meant I did not need to buy many other clothes) but not rather than Aldi Vodka.

The DVD - Region 1, was brought back from the last minute holiday to Vegas (£243 all in for a week with a car if you go today) having trawled the local record shops for CD's and DVD's which I would continue to do for a number of years.

But the final over riding memory from this album was only a year or so ago when Prince decided to do his residency at the O2. Seeing a spare ticket sent round on email, I thought I would go along for Nostalgia's sake, not having played the album in years. On arriving Prince looked the same as in 1984 and when the opening bars to Purple Rain started ........

......... the hairs on my arms just stuck up on end.

Will sitting in front of my computer downloading mp3's evoke such memories in the future for my boy and girl.......................