If the WordPress gods have aligned, you will be reading this post at 9AM, on September 7th 2018. That’s because, exactly 20 years ago, to the very second, I’d have been in a record shop, in Hartlepool’s Middleton Grange shopping centre, looking to pick up a record. Not just any old record, but to me, one of the best songs that never saw the light of day. Some of you may know the story, but as the majority of my readership won’t be familiar with the original post, I’ll go through it again
It was the summer of 1998. I had just finished college, and had been seconded to a local accountancy firm, or rather the software sales arm of said accountants. They dealt in business software, and to be perfectly honest, I lost all interest in the work placement when I discovered the password for the internet. Mornings and afternoons would be filled with random surfing (Angelfire chat rooms, and improving my poor attempt at an Angelfire website) and doing various other things that simply didn’t involve working, whilst the two people who ran the business disappeared around the local area selling, and installing software. I hated it there.
Whilst travelling home one day, there was a voice, coming through the radio, behind a panio melody. It started off scratchy. The vocals kicked in. “Where’s my Angel? Can you hear me? Can you see?”. They sounded strange. Echoey, and even slightly slowed down. The scratchy piano sample carried on in the background. A drum beat kicked in. More and more dance samples were added, and then the drum beat kicks in. The song evolves, and eventually ends with a cracking little synth melody. I absolutely loved it. the DJ spoke over the end.
“And that was The Quest Project, with their new song ‘Angel’. It’ll be hitting the stores on September 7th”. OK, those weren’t the exact words, but you get the picture. I found out it was a new song, and when I can buy it.
Days passed, and it disappeared off the playlists. Nothing strange about that. At least I knew when it was going to be out.
Days went by, September 7th 1998 turned up. I got out of bed early, with the whole intention of heading to the local record shop and snapping up a copy. It must have been the first time the record shop had ever had a queue outside before the shutters opened. This is how early it was. As I went through the door, one of the assistants was waving a CD in front of the door to verify the theft detectors were working. I rushed to the new releases, and… nothing. Not a single copy.
Surely there must have been some mistake! I’d heard it on the radio after all! I asked the bloke behind the counter. He flicked through a tatty, Biro-filled notebook, looking for the releases. I could just about work out through the barely readable scrawl that there was no track called “Angel” coming out on this day. Surely there must have been some mistake. For weeks, I checked the releases, just in case it had been delayed, or somehow slipped through the notebook of biblical proportions that they kept behind the counter. Nope, nothing, nada. The song disappeared out of everyone’s consciousness, except mine. I played the small recording I;d got off the radio over and over again. I can’t have been the only person to know it.
There was one course of action left. The radio station where I’d heard it in the first place, the now-exists-only-in-name “TFM Radio” in Stockton. I reached out to a producer/DJ named Richard Kell, who said he knew the song, but didn’t know if the station still had a copy. During this time he’d taken over the late-night talk-in. Richard would often use edited versions of some great songs as the music between tak breaks, and one night, I just happened to be hovering over the pause button of my favourite tape recorder… “Teeee – Eeeeef- Emmmmm!” I depressed the pause button. Out came the familiar scratchy piano intro. I let out a scream of excitement. This was a perfect case of right place, right time, and I know the song wouldn’t have been aired if it wasn’t for me asking for it.
And that, as far as I know, was the last time it ever got played on the radio. Now, one thing I didn’t know at the time was that the version I liked, and the one being played on the radio wasn’t the proper version. It was a remix by “Trouser Enthusiasts”.
This made tracking it down just that little bit harder. Thanks to the likes of… ahem… “online services”, I tracked down the original version. It had a slower backing track, slightly different vocals, and sounded a hello of a lot more “jazz-funk” than the version that I knew and loved. Where was that upbeat sound? The progressive melody going through the song? I hate to say it, but… I… wasn’t a fan. In fact, I’m pretty sure I posted on here that it “sounded like shit” to the more upbeat version. Imagine my horror when I actually got an email from a member of the band! This was back in 2003, so I don’t think I’ll be as lucky now, especially since 20 years have passed, but it’d be nice to hear if they’re still around.
A few years ago, Jon Cox, a member of the band, posted the official video on YouTube, explaining that the record company got took over, the track got pulled, and all of the CDs that were already pressed, never saw the light of day. A few did slip through the net, mainly promos, so with the help of eBay, and other sites like it, I’ve amassed a few different versions.
The first one is the 6 track promo., catalogue CIDDJ 715 There’s no cover art for this one, as it was just a plain brown CD sleeve. It contains the radio edit of the Trouser Enthusiasts mix, along with 4 other mixes, and a remix of their earlier single “Initiate The Creative”
The second one is CD1 of the single (CID 715) . At the time, if everything had got released as it should, this would have been the one I’d bought, and as you can see by the tracklisting, there’s no “Trouser Enthusiasts mix. This was back when CD singles were a luxury item to me, earning a mere £45 a week whilst in college, so if I’d picked this one up, I’d have been somewhat disappointed.
CD Single 2 (CIDT 715) contains only two tracks, and comes in a sleeve. The original, and the elusive Trouser Enthusiasts mix. It’s just the radio edit again, so both tracks are on the promo CD mentioned earlier. This one proved the most difficult to find. In fact, I paid nearly £8 back in 2015. There is a three track version that comes in a jewel case, but I don’t have that one. I believe mine was actually an import.
The song was also released on 2x promo 12″ singles. (12 ISX 715 DJ) This was the first version I owned and contains the full length version of the Trouser Enthusiasts mix. There’s no timings on that page, but I believe it clocks in at just under 9 minutes. This is, to me, the best version. There’s also a dub version. I don’t really care for the “Dillon and Dickins” mixes also on there, and I don’t have a digital copy of those.
The other one (12 IS 715 DJ) is a slightly extended “album” version of the original, and the “Live at Fatboy J’s Remix” is the same version that’s on the CD single.
It comes as no surprise that there was no album released, and “The Quest Project” disappeared, all going their separate ways. Sian Evans, the lead singer went on to be a part of “Kosheen”.