Tacky Chinese pirates attempt to clone Madonna…

`As you know, I am a purveyor of some of the best and the worst of music. Sometimes I’ve found some albums which have clearly been bootlegged. As in, not genuine. Someone with access to a pressing plant thinks they can make a quick quid by doing what is, usually, quite a good job of knocking out a CD or two. Usually they make a decent job of it, and sometimes

Today, while on my almost-daily peruse of the local charity shops, I came across this. Because this is quite clearly a bootleg CD, and the guys over in Asia-land just really aren’t trying. I bring you… THIS Madonna “Greatest Hits” album…

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The first thing you’ll notice is that the sleeve is in the case upside-down. Yeah, that was me. I took it out, and couldn’t get back in the normal way. Even the case isn’t very good. Firstly, look at that choice of picture. I sincerely doubt ol’ Madge would be happy to have that image on the front of an album. I know she’s a show off and all that, but it doesn’t exactly leave much to the imagination.

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So, onto the back of the case. Same photo on the back, but the errors start to become clear. “La Isla Bonnita”, for instance, and where on earth is “Los Angelis”?. And from what I can see, there was never a Star Records there.

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And finally, the CD. I’ve saved the best until last. Just look at it. Take it in. Look at the track names.

PAPADONT PREACH
LAISLABONNITA (again)
JUSTRFY MY LOVE
OPEN YOUR HEATR
CRAZY FER YOU

No, I haven’t listened to it. And to be honest, I don’t think I ever will. I have a sneaking suspicion this didn’t originate from 24-bit digital masters…

The record shop that almost destroyed me…

NOTE: I originally wrote this in a rather pissed-off and unhappy mood. I’ve slept on it since then… I’m only publishing it because everyone likes a car-crash style blog post.

Sigh. It’s a Saturday night. It’s one of those times when I really should be meticulously updating my record collection with the huge haul of wonderful vinyl that I have acquired. but no, I’m sat here with a can of Carling, freezing feet and a pet lip the size of an inflatable dinghy.

If you don’t bother with Facebook, or have me blocked for some reason, you won’t have seen my realtime updates. You won’t have noticed that I was due to travel to Newcastle to attend a local record shops’ “All you can carry for a tenner” deal.

So, let’s start from the very beginning, shall we? Approximately three weeks ago, I get tagged in a post which says “All the records you can cary for a tenner”. It’s one of those things that make your heartbeat skip a beat. Or that could have been the cholesterol in my blood. I don’t know, but I began to make plans in my head to go.

This was around the time that I got my eyes done, as you can remember from the previous post. Even from that moment, my gut was telling me not to bother. All the records you can carry for a tenner with my scrawny little pins? Would I really be getting my money’s worth? And then the logistical task of getting them from Newcastle to the leafy mansion known as Mercuryvapour Towers would be a nightmare.

I had a couple of offers of lifts, but these fell by the wayside, due to work commitments. So, I was literally on my own.

Flash forward to this morning. My alarm clock rings to the tune of… whatever the default alarm sound is on Ericsson phones. Despite knocking 7.5 pints back the night before, I was unusually ready for the occasion. Clothes were donned, pockets were lined with mandatory headphones, and a selection of “bags-for-life”, and I set off to catch the 9:02 train to Newcastle.

An uneventful journey took place, except the train was 6 minutes late.

Bing bong! The next station is Newcastle. Well, that’s what I imagined the announcement would have been, I was listening to the 12″ version of “Lambada” by Kaoma as we pulled into the station.

I walked the small journey where the record shop was, expecting to see a few people there… and well.

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For those of you who want to play along with Google Maps…

Click here

The queue starts where that blue wall is, and if you turn 180 degrees, then turn right at the end of the road, at the top is the shop. That’s your queue.

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I could have walked off. I’d already had backup plans. It was a nice day. Cold, but not raining. The backup plan was to get the metro to Whitley Bay. There are plenty of charity shops there, and they are all virgin territory to me. Yes, there’s a joke in there somewhere.

I joined the queue, mainly just to get a GPS location to post to Facebook, and to see how far it moved after 10 minutes. The answer was, not far. But, after 10 minutes. I thought I might as well see it a bit further.

30 minutes into it, and I wasn’t quite sure whether ice was forming in my blood, or whether the excess sugar in there was turning it to sherbert. Either way, the longer I waited, the more I was determined to stick it out. Every small march of a few steps closer up the road released a small fanfare in my mind, as it brought me closer to records, and more importantly, warmth.

Hours ticked by. I got sick of the music on my phone the instant it played One Direction (I can explain). I was getting colder by the minute.

2 hours into the ordeal, I turned the corner. There it was! The big, white sign… totally obscured by a sea of people… but at least I knew where it was! The Chinese Christian church, the Indian restaurant, the tattoo shop, and then the record shop. Heavenly angels sang overhead. It surely was almost over.

2 hours, 30 minutes ticked by. The moment I was dreading arrived. Years of heavy drinking means my bladder has been honed to become a finely tuned barrel, capable of holding enough liquid to fill the ballast tanks of a small passenger ferry. Unfortunately, thanks to years of spicy curries, the same can’t be said about my bowels. It was either flight, flight or shite. I had to rely on complete strangers to keep my place, and not see me as some kind of pushy-inny pushy-inner, when all I wanted to to was pushy-outy.

Thankfully, the matter was taken care of, thanks to a nearby pub, and I rightfully took my place back in the circle of life. Er, Sorry, the queue. Boredom was soon setting in, not just with me, but the rest of the queue. Someone even said “If I was here on my own, I’d have gone by now”.

Everything stalled at this point. The queue stopped moving. Very little progress was made for an hour, and we’re now up to 3 hours 30 minutes. It became clear this was because they were clearly running out of stock, and there were still about 50 people in front of me. My fears were confirmed, when a guy came out of the shop and announced that had virtually nothing left. Plenty of CDs, but the vinyl had all but gone. I was heartbroken. This always happens, whenever I do something like this, it never works out. I never get there. I am forced to live a life where I avoid queues because I know, I’ll get to the front, and they’ll have ran out of what I want. This was proven today, but in a more extreme scale.

I wanted to prove myself that I was being daft with this theory, but no, I was right, I am never destined to succeed with queues. I could be holding what I want to buy and they’ll still come up and say it’s out of stock.

It’s not very often these days that I feel rage, but that was one moment, where I walked out of the queue, and headed up Westgate Road, almost with my head in my hands, the last insult was having to walk past the place, and see the amount of people in there, clutching their piles of vinyl. I can imagine what they felt like on Bullseye, when Jim Bowen announced “Look at what you could have won”. I literally could have cried. Both shoulders had seized up from shivering. My back had pretty much locked from standing for so long.

I should have listened to my little bony arms and just not bothered.

I’ll tell you how bad I felt. I went charity shop diving afterwards. Mainly to warm up, mainly because there was no way I was going home empty handed. Here’s what I picked up…

A K-Tel instrumentals album called “Horizons”. K-tel for fuck’s sake.
Neil Young – Decade, 2CD set for £1.50. Actually, that’s not bad. Don’t mind a bit of Neil Young
Prefab Sprout – From Langley Part to Memphis…. scratched to buggery for 99p
The Adventures – Trading Secrets With the Moon… also badly scratched for 99p. It’s the follow-up to “Broken Land”, and I’ve never heard it. And, if those marks don’t come off, I never will.
Pete Yorn – musicforthemorningafter – I had one of his singles. The album was 50p. Suppose it’s worth a punt. No idea who he is.

Anyway, this browsing of CDs calmed me down a little, and I vented my spleen on the stores’ facebook page about their lack of communication.

Back to “the day after”. In hindsight, I probably should have calmed down first. My choice of words were harsh. It was pointed out to me that only 4 people work there. My conclusion is that it wasn’t their fault entirely. To a point, anyway. It’s not their fault the facebook posting spread like wildfire. It’s not their fault the amount of people turned up.

I do still think more could have been done to “help” the crowd, with more updates on stock levels and the likelihood of not getting anything. By that point, I’#d have been happy with a cup of water.

The little red bloke on my left shoulder, however thinks “£10 for everyone past the front door? Ker-ching!”

It’s an argument that could run and run. I do know, however, that “one bitten, twice shy” comes to mind, and next time an event like this happens, I shall think of my comfy, comfy pillows, and the duvet that I really could do with replacing.

Thinning the herd… a CD giveaway

I’m giving away some of my CDs! If you live near me and want some of them leave a comment, facebook me, shot me a text, email, all that good stuff. Here’s the list.

The list

I intend to give them to a charity shop on Monday, so you’ve got the whole weekend to peruse the list.

And if you’re interested on why, well, it’s not that exciting. I just don’t listen to them. They’re taking up space in the front room that could quite easily be given to other CDs that have been hanging around the living room for the best part of 15 years since I discovered ebay, the internet and all stuff like that.

Most of them I bought in bulk, with the intention of keeping the good ones for myself, and then selling the rest on, on somewhere like ebay. I did list some of these multiple times, and they never sold, so they’ve just been languishing on a shelf ever since. They’ve also came from charity shops and various other second hand shops.

Their ebay days are over. If you took the entire bag from me, I doubt you;d make anything from them. Some of the cases are damaged, and there are light marks on some of the disks (they ripped fine, so they’re still useable, but their resale value would be nothing). I have neither the time nor inclination to grade them. I do have a stock of replacement CD single cases, so if you’re only after a couple, I’ll be happy to swap damaged ones for new ones

I’d rather give them to someone who’d give them a good home, and not attempt to sell them on… which makes me giving them to a charity shop rather hypocritical, but that would be for a good cause.

My record collection is complete

I know some of you are itching to find out what happened on Day 2 of the Amsterdam trip. Yeah, well, that’ll have to wait for a little bit, because I’ve just had a moment that is so heart-stoppingly brilliant that I’m still trying to come to terms with the fact that I now have every record I want, with the exception of songs that I don’t know the name of, but then, they’re going to be pretty hard to find if I don’t know what they are!

Anyway, this is the vinyl varmint that has been on my wanted list since as long as I can remember…

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It’s the theme to very short-lived gameshow Interceptor. Though you could possibly work that out by the look of the cover. And I now own a copy. Let me take you back, to the very beginning. 1989 to be precise.

Channel 4’s long running gameshow “Treasure Hunt” has been axed, and Chatsworth Television had a similar, but more exciting gameshow. Technology had come a long way since the days of Treasure Hunt, where “Sky-runner” Anneka Rice would run around, solving clues, with the help of a helicopter, and two contestants in the studio, guiding her around a course, sometimes thousands of miles away. Obviously, the only communications they had was via radio, and Anneka’s live scenes were recorded by two blokes, Graham and Frankie. One of them would carry a camera, and the other would carry a huge “portable” U-Matic tape machine on his chest.

Anneka Rice had gone off to pop a sprog, and was replaced by Annabel Croft for the final series.

Treasure Hunt was a fun program (which also had a theme composed by Zack Laurence. It’s called “Peak Performance” if you really want to dig around for it. It’s commercially available.

So, as I was saying. Treasure hunt had came to an end. The two helicopters used to film Treasure Hunt, were redeployed for Interceptor.

This show was a little more complicated than TH. Let’s see if I can explain it without rushing off to Wiki.

Annabel Croft was re-used for this show. She was the presenter, and also the “middle-man”. The show has two contestants. Each with a backpack. One has the prize money in it (£1,000), and the other is empty. The two players get dropped in a helicopter in random parts of the countryside. Once this is complete, a 40-minute timer starts. They have to explain to Annabel where they are. Once Annabel finds where they are on a map, a waypoint lights up. This is the location of the key to the other person’s box. They have to find each other’s key, then meet up and touch hands to stop the clock.

Oh, but there’s a twist. “The Interceptor”. And it was a brilliant twist. Hats off to the guy to thought of this one. One the back of each person’s backpack is a series of infra-red receptors. The Interceptor has his own helicopter, and can fire an infra-red beam to the receptors, and this will lock the box permanently. Obviously, the Interceptor wasn’t just confined to a helicopter, he had access to a car, motorbike, and even a horse. I can’t remember if that was actually used, but it was in the opening credits.

The whole point was that the Interceptor, played by Sean O’Kane, was a villain. A bloody brilliant pantomime villain. There were some moments where he would see the contestants from the helicopter, and then sneak up on them. Unfortunately, it wasn’t easy for the contestants to hide, as they’d have a bloke with a 1989-style TV camera following them.

It worked. It really worked. Everything worked, but just like everything good from the 1980s, it was shit-canned faster than you can say “IIIIIII LIKE IT!” . 8 episodes were produced.

So, enough of the warble that you could have easily looked up on Wikipedia, why this particular theme? Why did “I Like It”? (By the way, that’s the Interceptor’s catchphrase). Hard for me to say. I just do. Many, many years ago, I found that the theme had been released as a single. I’m thinking about 1998 here. Sime time later, I found an MP3 of it, both the A side and the B side. Unfortunately, it had been recorded in pretty low quality. It was still listenable, but hell, I’ll get the 7″. And so the search began

It can’t be that difficult. The bloke who ran “Interceptor’s Lair” has a copy, because that’s where I downloaded it from. Must be millions out there.

Well.

No, is the simple answer to that. People who know me know I love my records. People who know me actually despise the fact that I love my records, because if they’re out anywhere with me, I drag them around every record shop, every market stall, every second hand shop I can find Every place that is likely to sell records, I’m in there.

Naturally, I’ve been looking for other things too, hence the fact my record collection’s just got too big to manage. But deep down, in my gut, I knew that “rock Revolution wasn’t part of the collection. I trawled eBay. Two copies turned up for ridiculous amounts of money. And I mean ridiculous. I think one of them was £22. I have a screenshot somewhere.

So, today, then, and the fateful moment that allowed me to complete the collection.

Jamie S had rang me yesterday. He’d been working away, and was back home this morning, and wanted to know if I fancied doing something. My reply of “Do members of the ursidae line of mammals defecate in large wooded areas?” confirmed that I was freer than the afore mentioned ursine after a dose of curried prunes.

He had an errand to run, in Sunderland. Now, this is where I think fate kicked in. Does fate exist? I don’t know. Maybe this was just an extremely lucky course of events, but hey. There’s got to be some order to all of this.

We arrived in Sunderland, and proceeded to walk down Charity Shop Alley. It’s a row of shops with about eight charity shops in them. Jamie cracked a joke about something, and I said “For that, I’m going to have a look in this charity shop”. We laughed, and he continued walking. He wanted to find the place where this errand must be carried out. About 10 minutes later, he rang me and we met back at the train station. The call ended with “I’ve found something you might like”. Cor. My interest was piqued. He’d found a record shop that had just opened. It was a record / music / coffee shop type place.

I walked past, and looked through the window. There didn’t seem to be much in there. A row of records, a drum kit, some chairs, nothing substantial. I said I’d have a look in, but I’d probably end up in “That’s Entertainment”. It’s a chain of record shops that sell CDs, often hard to find ones, but for pennies. They often have 49p CDs, without cases, which are entirely random. I assume they’re rejects from proper CDs that had damaged cases, etc. You know this anyway, if you follow my music collection.

We went to McDonalds first. There was still some time to kill. Food was devoured, and Jamie was going to head off to Errandsborough, and I was going to go to That’s Entertainment. I was stopped in my tracks by the fact that “That’s Entertainment” had now closed. Gah! I think I know why they keep disappearing and reappearing, but this would be wild speculation.

Oh well, I thought I’d give that new record shop a go anyway. The stock consisted of stuff that looked like it came from a charity shop. 30p stickers, overridden by a £1.00 sticker on the other side. Never mind. I’d have a dig through. There were a couple of 12″ singles that sparked by interest, but for £1 each, I’d leave them there for now. I looked around and found a few boxes of 7″ singles.

I had an odd feeling. There would be something in there. The records just seemed the right era. There was a hand-written poem by someone on one record, which they clearly liked… “If this record attempts to roam, smack its bum and send it home”. I was tempted to buy it just because it made me smile, but it went back in the rack.

Jamie rang me shortly after, asking where I was. He didn’t see me in that record shop, probably because I was kneeled down. I explained about this, and come and entered the shop. He can’t have been in there more than 30 seconds when I pulled this out. This elusive, round, piece of black plastic that has chased me round the internet for nigh on two decades. My search was over.

I can’t possibly convey in a way that is meaningful what happened next, and I don’t expect anyone that doesn’t collect stuff to even know what this feels like. It’s like blood drained from my entire body for a split second, then rose back up. If Jamie had happened to have his phone recording, it’d went viral. It’s like a quest had ended.

It was an odd feeling. After finding the “Fourscore” record a couple of weeks ago, this was by last holy grail. The last piece of plastic that was never released on CD, and never available other than the original release. Even Darryl Way’s “Little Plum” proved much less elusive than this.

It was a feeling like “wow, I never have to go into a charity shop again. I never have to put my back out, trawling through dusty, mislabelled boxes, asking awkwardly how much the singles were.

I’ll never be on the lookout for that black, white and yellow cover. I have it now. It’s mine. I’m going to stick it in a safe deposit box in Hatton Gardens…. Maybe not.

I’ve naturally played it, and it’s noisy. Especially the B side. But I don’t care. It’s the charm of collecting records. Someone has played it before me. Played it many times. Maybe left it out of the cover for a bit. It’s had a home. Lost that home, and found a permanent one here. I’ve spent several hours typing this now, and I still glance to my left, there it is, “Rock Revolution”. I can’t believe it’s actually here.

God, I need a shag.

People of ZX Spectrum land!

I’ve been going through some old tapes, and found the following (rather knackered) recording. I have no recollection which game it’s from, but if you do, I’d appreciate it if you let me know!

[UPDATE 10/2/2014]
Poot, 28 comments and 160+ downloads of the file and still no further forward! I’ll keep searching. Thanks all for the help so far though!

[UPDATE 19/11/2014]
Added this to the Spectrum 4 Ever Facebook group, on the off-chance someone knows what it is. To answer questions, yes, the tape is knackered. It would have been a recording taken directly from my Speccy+’s Ear socket, into a cheap “slimline” tape recorder. Probably running of batteries, I can’t remember.