Repressed childhood memories #186

Picture if you will. The year is 1988. I sit in school, in Mrs. Dawson’s class, staring out of the window, paying very little to no attention to what is flowing from the afore-mentioned teachers’ mouth, instead he stars across the playground, watching two birds peck away at the remains of another dead bird, when all of a sudden, the classroom doors bang. It’s the caretaker, and behind him he’s pulling the school telly! Of course, it’s a Rumbelows one, on wheels. The class erupts with excitement as she pulls out an ancient VHS tape out of her desk drawer.

This will be the only time in the entire school day that the class will have her full undivided attention.

“If you’re good, I’ll let you hear the music”, she says, bribing the class into facing the front, as she struggles to get the sun visor across the top of the telly in place, as it collapses hilariously at least once. Of course, we’ll hear the music because Mrs Dawson only knew one button, and that was the Play button.

In goes the tape, and she presses play. There they are. For me, the highlight of computer animation at the time. Yes, four spinning ITV logos.

We could have been waiting for a programme on making cardboard boxes (to be honest, we probably were), but as long as I got to see (and hear) that, I was content.

These “Schools” TV shows were always broadcast in the morning, so when you were off poorly, it’d be a special treat to actually see that animation on your own telly. And, of course, I’d be sat there with the tape recorder, grabbing as much as I could.. Sometimes you’d get more of the track than before, as the gap in between each program was different

At the time, we thought that this music and countdown clock was there to help teachers queue the programme up for the class. While this may be partially right, there was also a much more mundane reason. These were the days before the national curriculum, and different areas were allowed to show different programmes, meaning that one region could show a 14-minute programme, and the rest of the country could be watching a 12-minute programme, so for that extra two minutes, the rest of the country will see an extra two minutes of the spinning ITVs while they wait for that region to catch up. On very rare occasions, they would play the full track, if there was an especially long wait between regions.

I remember getting this on audio tape, and I played it that much, the tape snapped. The music was surely lost to obscurity. This animation ran every school morning from 1987 until 1993. By then, the national curriculum was fully in place, and eventually there was no need for long breaks between programmes.

In 2002, I made a brief post about this animation and a site I’d discovered which had far too much technical detail about this. Sadly, the site no longer exists.

However, I did manage to find out who did the music. It was by someone named James Aldenham. Except it wasn’t, because that name was a pseudonym for Brian Bennett, the bloke out of The Shadows. It turns out that both of the pieces of music were released on CD, and due to their rarity, were stupidly expensive. They were on the “Music House” label.

“The Journey”, which is the long bit of music was released on “Atmosphere 12 MHA-!2)” and “Just a Minute”, unsurprisingly, the countdown clock music was on “That’s Entertainment (MHE-15)”

And, thanks to eBay, at under a fiver each, I have them both. Another part of my musical journey (pardon the pun) over.

EDIT 5/7/17: Here’s a little bit of extra information for those playing along at home. For the entirety of its run, both tracks were only ever aired in mono. During the initial introduction when the schools broadcast started for that day, the first minute of “The Journey” would always be played, before fading out to the clock. This recording was of a fixed length, and the audio was taken from the left channel track, and every other broadcast would be played from the right.

The reason for this, is that the left channel had slightly less instrumentation around the intro, so it could be made to sound more “peaceful” to start the day.

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.

Four pound? Profound!

I’m, once again, going to dedicate this post to streetlighting and yet another musical purchase I’ve made, but hell, when I’m finished with that, and if I can be bothered, I’ll extend it to include some normal life stuff.

So, yesterday (Saturday), I was in York. I was dismayed to find that this fine example of a GEC z5590 burning SON has been replaced…

Trip to York, 24th July 2010. Stunningly warm day! A GEC Z5590 has picked up a little bit of a mowhawk! This would have been mercury originally, but like all of the ones around it, now running a dayburning SON lamp.
Trip to York, 24th July 2010. Stunningly warm day!
A GEC Z5590 has picked up a little bit of a mowhawk!
This would have been mercury originally, but like all of the ones around it, now running a dayburning SON lamp.

It was a fine example, drilled for a photocell, and everything. Ironically, it’s been replaced with a dayburning heritage lantern, with LED arrays as its light output. Shame.

I’m actually posting that news as an experiment to see who actually reads this page. I wonder how many people from work actually know I have a streetlight interest? I’ll hazard a guess at not many of them.

So, er, anyway. Onto the music. I’ve been a fan of Jan Hammer for many years, since I first heard “Crockett’s Theme”. I didn’t know anything about it at the time, and certainly didn’t know it was from Jan Hammer.Anyway, yesterday, I picked up one of his CDs. A CD I probably paid over the odds for, but I’d say it’s worth it, seeing as I’ve been after one of the tracks since I was 11 years old, and that track is “Payback”, the last track on the CD. I’ve never saw a copy of it on CD before, nor have I ever held one in my hand, and never actually owned it!

My love affair for that particular song started in 1991. I had, as I’ve done every year, recorded the grand national, but this year recorded some of the buildup too. The BBC used this particular track to show highlights of the previous two days racing. I’d recorded it, and instantly loved it. Obviously, back then, there was no way of being able to quickly identify a piece of music., and so it sat, rotting (literally) on the tape for years, eventually getting forgotten about.

One night, while flicking through the satellite channels, Miami Vice was starting, and would you believe it? The tune just happened to be featured in it. Naturally, armed with this information, I was able to narrow down my search somewhat, and eventually came across an MP3 of it.

Seems to be a regular story. I hear a song, ignore it for years, hear it in a place I wasn’t expecting, eventually track down on MP3, followed by a CD copy the song.

That, I thought, was the end of it. I had some time to kill while some files copied. I thought I’d listen to the entire CD. that is genuinely a rare occurrence. I normally buy a CD, listen to one track and ignore the rest. This one was Jan Hammer, so I knew, somewhere, there’d be a hidden pot of gold. And I wasn’t wrong.

I seem to have one of those things where my long-term memory is extremely strong. whether it’s a gift, or a curse, I haven’t decided, as it always seems I’m living in the past, but this CD played, and track 8 sparked my attention. It was a track called “The Runner”. Braincells flew into rewind mode. I knew it from an advert, going back as far as the 80s. It instantly reminded me of warm summer evenings, but I had a feeling I’d be the only one who recalled said advert. Off I go to Youtube, and typed in its name.

First result, third comment down…

“Anyone remember this music used in an advert for milk in the 80’s?”

The reply to that comment…

“Yes, they featured Bob Geldof in the late 1980s (about 1987/88). There are a couple of those adverts here on Youtube. Incidentally it was those adverts that brought me here. :-)”

Good lord. A buried memory from more than three quarters of my life ago, resolved in about two minutes. That was four pounds well spent. And now, a slew of youtube videos, that will undoubtedly die over time, and I won’t be bothered to fix them, but hey, they work now at the time of typing!

Here’s “Payback”, the track I bought the CD for…

And here’s “The Runner”….

And here’s advert 1, featuring the music.

Advert 2, the more memorable of the adverts, but with less music…

Finally found a clip of “Okavango”

I’ve whittered on about this a good few times, and you’ll know this if you’re a regular viewer, but there was an entirely forgettable show on The Disney Channel called “Okavango”. It aired in the mid nineties, and it disappeared without trace. No other channel over here showed it, as far as I’m aware. This led me, until a few moments ago, to believe it was a Disney production. Turns out it wasn’t. It was produced by “Gibraltar Entertainment”.

Anyway, the show itself is forgettable. It’s about a family that move from somewhere in Suburbia to, I assume, the Okavango Delta. I cared not for its plot, but what I did like was the theme music. Again, I’ve mentioned at least three times that I managed to source the MP3, and it was the first MP3 I ever purchased. Its name is “Invent Yourself”, by Julian Laxton

Because of copyright and all that jazz, I obviously couldn’t put the MP3 on here, so I’ve been searching the interwebs (or rather Youtube) for a clean copy of the theme I can link to, and as if by magic… here’s not only the theme, but a complete episode!

EDIT FEB 2016: Oh, you know what? It’s gone off Youtube now. Can’t seem to find another video either. Bah.

Before you rush to press play, I must warn you it’s in Russian. Incredibly badly dubbed Russian at that. But, if you can put up with some Russian bloke reading out the on-screen text, then you can appreciate this awesome theme. Skip to the end of the video (23:40) if you just want to hear the music. Note how there’s no credits for the music composer. Shame on you, Gibraltar Films or whatever you’re called.

Sky Sports F1 theme

Look, I’m not back, I just thought I’d post about something I know about. It’s TV theme related, therefore, falls in my mental durastiction (or however it’s spelled) on adding a post on here. It’s too long to mention on facebook, and Twitter would laugh at me if I even attempted anything as lengthy.

The Sky Sports F1 theme is a slightly re-recorded version of “Just Drive” by Alistair Griffin. The original version was available for free on his website after it was used on the closing montage of BBC’s coverage of the 2010 season. the Sky version apparently has a new backing track, and a line re-recorded.. the line “Take it to the edge where I would die a thousand times” replaces dying with living. I’ve not heard it fully, as the first race was 5AM, and I had only half woke up when they played it.

For reference, everybody knows that BBC used “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac, from their timeless album “Rumours”. ITV, in their short, and disastrous hold of the terrestrial license used “Lift me up” by Moby (alongside Rocket, by Def Leppard for the sponsor advert breaks). I can go back to lurking now.