September 7th,1998. The Quest Project. Angel.

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”.

I don’t feel like singing! Not without Fraulein Maria!

Oh, good-ee. Christmas is approaching us quicker than a speeding locomotive, blasting through the hills of Bavaria, and this year, every single advertisement break on TV has had an awfully twee advert about a mother and daughter who grow up watching “The Sound of Music” together, so the tune of “My Favourite Things”. The end of the advert sees the mother, alone, her daughter has clearly moved out, when all of a sudden, the daughter returns, and now has her own daughter, and the three of them are once again sat down to watch the Sound of Music, and I think I’ve just been sick.

Now, I thankfully have never saw the afore-mentioned film, and only know of the song because it’s used more often than a randy tramp’s condom. I genuinely think it’s something I’d never be able to sit through without retching. It got me wondering, however, if I agree with the choices made in the song, and if some of the things really are my favourite things too?

Raindrops on roses

Naaah. Admittedly, they can be photogenic, if I’ve got a good camera on me, but I’m rarely in the vacinity of roses, and I wouldn’t go out of the way to see them. Next!

And whiskers on kittens

Well that’s pretty specific isn’t it? What about the rest of the kitten? And do you suddenly go off them when the cat reaches adolescence? Admittedly, I’m not a cat person anyway. You can’t trust cats. I’ve only ever liked a handful of cats. There was Dogmeat, a small grey cat from my childhood. There was a guy that lived at the end of the road named Carl, who built bikes. I’m not sure if she was his or just a stray, but after a few months of watching us play cricket in the street, she fell pregnant, had kittens and was never seen again. Sad times.

There’s also James’s cat, who I’ve mentioned before on here.

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens

When I was a kid, we used to always go to Appleby, a small town in Cumbria, famed for its annual travellers’ fair, where people go to watch horses being led into a river. Takes all sorts. Anyway, there used to be a cafe called “The Copper Kettle”. They did lovely chips. Anyway, one year, we went and it had gone. This devastating news meant we never went back to Appleby.
Google tells me it still exists, so it appears it’s reopened in the same location. I doubt it’ll be the same, and their recipe for chips will likely be confined to the history books. It’s very unlikely I’ll ever return to Appleby anyway, so I guess I’ll never know. As for actual copper kettles… No. Not when electric kettles exist.

As for the mittens, absolutely not. I don’t like having my hands covered, and you’ll never see me with a pair of gloves on, or indeed, warm woolen mittens. That’s why coats have pockets.

Brown paper packages tied up with strings

In this day and age of terrorism, I’d be more wary of this, especially if it wasn’t expected. Anyway, cardboard boxes are more common these days. I wonder if anyone actually received packages like this any more…

These are a few of my favorite things

Zero from four. Not going good so far, is it?

Cream-colored ponies

I’ve never once looked at a pony of any colour and thought “That’s one of my favourite things”. I might have got slightly jealous, mind you….

and crisp apple strudels

You know, I went to Austria a few years ago, and never had strudel. I’m not a great fan of apple pie, so I don’t know whether I’d like it or not.

Doorbells and sleigh bells

Can’t stand the doorbell. It’s usually someone wanting money off me. Or, it’s one of the little local scruffians ringing the doorbell and running off. Unless I’m expecting someone, or expecting a package, I usually don’t answer the door. And sleigh bells usually signify Christmas, so you can get stuffed with those too.

And schnitzel with noodles

Ooooo! Finally! Going back to my trip to Austria, I DID have schnitzel, and really liked it. Not sure if I’d class it as one of my favourite things, but if I were to go to Vienna aagain, I’d definitely be ordering the schnitzel. I didn’t see it for sale with noodles though. Is that really a thing, or just more shoddy rhyming There can’t be many things that rhyme with “strudel”?

Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings

Right, I’m getting bored of this now, and I’m aware there’s another verse, but I can’t be arsed to do it. At this point, I think that they were just looking for words that rhymed with “things”, because I’ve never seen a moonlit goose. It’s also likely that I never will, as most of the time, I would be below the goose, and any moonlight reflecting off their wings would be pointed upwards. A poor show

These are a few of my favorite things

Well, as I expected, I disagreed with most of these, But, somewhere, in a Mexican jail, I bet there’ll be someone in a Mexican jail, with this going through their head, as Jose, the “cream coloured pony” enters the cell….

Jean Bennett Sings

UPDATE: March 2017 – Jean’s nephew David has posted a couple of comments, thanks to him for taking the time to comment and post her obituary, sadly she passed away in 2003. The mystery about the attire is also solved, thanks again for clearing that up!

I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “Who She?” The answer is, I don’t know. I just happened to be flicking through my records in order to catalogue them, and this one appeared…

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It was part of a bag of records given to me by a friend. As you can see, at some point during its life, it has been used as a chew toy by a mischeivous puppy, which means the vinyl really doesn’t fare much better. Due to its condition, and the fact I’ve never heard of Mrs Bennett, it almost went into the big green charity shop in the sky (aka, the wheelie bin), but something’s made me keep hold of it. There’s a mystery surrounding it. I can’t find anything about her. At all. A few places have this record for sale on the internets (no, I’m not on the lookout for a replacement copy), but there’s no information on the lady, at all. the record doesn’t have a date on either, so I’m not even sure how old she would be now. If she’s still alive, that is, which I hope.

Somewhere in this terrace of unassuming, yet incredibly expensive houses, is number 76, the registered address of Nevis Records. Doesn’t really look like the type of place to be churning out platinum discs by the skipload, but let me give you the spiel on the back of the record…

This album by Jean Bennett has been made in response to the many demands from her fans. It contains many of the songs for wich Jean is known so well.

Lancashire born and living in Blackpool, Jean’s popularity is nation wide.

The expert opinion of Nevis Records producer Jim McLean and the musical direction by Nicky Welsh has combined to make this a Jean Bennett Classic.

Right you are, then. I’ll take your “expert” word for it. Now, the stylus on my record deck is broken anyway, so I’m going to play myself a couple of tracks. I’m not too bothered if I hit a canine-induced crater. Track 1, “On Mother Kelly’s Doorstep” is a no-go. the teeth marks are too deep to even attempt it, so let’s start with Track 2, “Bless This House”…

One thing that strikes me straight away is that this record is badly manufactured. It’s off-centre, which means everything’s wobbling about, making it sound off-pitch.

I played that side to the end, and although not my cup of tea, it was acceptable. There are probably worse ones out there. Either way, I’d love to know what happened to old Jeano, and if there are any fans of hers still out there… and can anyone explain those clothes she’s wearing?

Here’s the track listing for this album…

A
1. ON MOTHER KELLY’S DOORSTEP
2. BLESS THIS HOUSE
3. MARTA
4. IF I WERE A RICH MAN
5. SUNSHINE OF YOUR SMILE
6. MATCHSTICK MEN

B
1. PEOPLE (WHO NEED PEOPLE)
2. WHAT I DID FOR LOVE
3. IT MUST BE HIM
4. LOVE IS ALL
5. SALLY
6. FOR ALL WE KNOW

UPDATE 4/2/2017 – 2016 imagery for the houses, couple of typos fixed