Day 3 – One 2 Many – Mirror

So, onto Day 3 now, and I’m taking my first excursion into the left-field, and talking about a band and album that I’m sure literally none of you have ever heard of, unless I’ve gnawed your ear off about them. or you’ve found this from a Google search result.

You’ll be happy to know that I expect this post to be a hell of a lot shorter than the previous one, but just to warn you, I’m going to get a little into detail about one particular song again.

If you have *ever* heard of this band, it’ll be for their 1988/89 single “Downtown”, and that’s probably because I’ve played you it. It seems to be a favourite among radio afficionados. Tom Davies (spit) used it as one of this musical “beds”. Ron “Boogiemonster” Gerber also has a very soft spot for this song (more on that later), and when Ron wasn’t available for a show one day, a fan of his stepped in and opened up with this song.

I’m going to talk in-depth about “Downtown” first of all. Track 6 on the album. This was how I discovered the band. I’ve definitely talked about this in the past, so I’m probably repeating myself.

The year is 1996. Daddykins picked myself and Chris up after school. You remember Chris. Mentioned him on here many times before. Yes, we’ve been friends for that long. Anyway. Daddykins had an errand to run. He needed a power supply from a place up near Washington. I remember, it was a cold winters’ day. Snow had drifted up against the fences on the way there, and everything looked ever so slightly wintry. I don’t particularly remember anything about the journey there other than the snow, but the power supply was acquired, and we were heading back.

TFM, the local radio station, was still in range at that point, and they had a daily quiz called “The 4 at 4”. Basically, 4 songs. Ring in and state the artist and title. Grab yourself a prize, maybe a CD or two. We were heading back, and a song came on the radio. Oh my. Slow piano intro. Synthy, slightly tinkly instruments, female vocals, extended piano section (which, I remember, we lost slightly as we went under a bridge)… It was like this song was performed just for me.

A snap from the music video. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

I was absolutely in love. Obviously, it was part of a quiz, so the DJ couldn’t just blurt the title out. I remember the guy ringing in, attempting to get the artist. He incorrectly guessed “SWV”. They did have a song called Downtown, but clearly wasn’t this one. The DJ naturally gave the right answers at the end of the ‘quiz’, so at least I didn’t have to search high and low for the title. Neither did I have to wait long for a slightly decent copy. No idea why, but whichever computer selects the records for the week inserted this one again a few days later, and I happened to get most of it on tape.

Tom Davies (c*nt) must have been listening at the time, as he began to use an edited “instrumental” version on his talk-in.

In a stroke of unbelieveable fortune, only a few months later, I was down the flea market one day and managed to pick out “Downtown”. I was absolutely over the moon. I didn’t have to spend years looking for a copy!

SO, that would be the end of the story. I had everything I wanted. That would be great if I wasn’t such a clumsy and/or untidy bastard. Somewhere down the line, I broke the record, chipped a great part out of it, and leaving a crack down the rest of the surface. Aaaaargh. It was still playable, if you missed the first minute or so out.

Gutted, and in search of a nother copy, I turned to Tom Davies. I rang the talk-in show, and asked where I could get a copy. He really was a knob about the whole thing, eventually cutting me off. Somewhere in the vast tape archives, I have that exact recording. I’ve never listened to it.

At some point, I did indeed pick up another copy, again from the very same flea market. Unfortunately, some of the pellets used to mould the record had not been melted correctly. Admittedly, it played on my older equipment, but a finely balanced tone arm would be more than likely sent into orbit. Bugger.

The internet era came, and more exactly, the ability to grab MP3s. WinMX was my piracy tool of choice at the time, and back then, everything came through a 56K modem. I’d wait hours, even days for one single song. Eventually, a decent copy of the song became available. One Friday night, Coatesy had came round (now there’s a name I’ve not mentioned for over a decade), and he was talking to me, just as the download had completed. His words were a blur. I finally had an unscratched, unbumped copy. After that, we ended up in my now long demolished local.

Thanks to the internet, I found of other versions of the record being available. Unlike “the Way It Is”, there are many different remixes of the song available
I weas going to do a breakdown of every track, but really it’s an academic excersise. Unless you have the CD or album, my whitterings about an album that’s been completely out of print for 30 years. Instead, I’ll continue talking about my searches for every version of “Downtown” available.

In Europe, it’s simple. You’ve got the 7″ / album version, and also the 12″ single version and instrumental version. All of these are available in the 4-track CD single version from Germany. This was nice and easy to pick up. It’s in the collection, it’s ripped as FLAC.

The UK version of the CD single is 3″ in size, as opposed to the standard 5″. If you ever look at the tray on a CD player, that’s what the indent is for. These small CDs. That’s another blog post in itself. Either way, forget the UK copy. It was printed by PDO, and the copy I own has >rotted and is unplayable. America and Canada had several different versions to contend with, all with the same design of cover, but in different colours, and also, slightly different lyrics. I’ve never been able to put together an exact timeline of recordings and releases of the song, but there are two distinct versions of the lyrics. This version features the line “Loosen up down in the village for a while, we can live a life of happiness and style”. The “main” 7″ and album mix mangles it slightly, to “Loosen Up (Wooo hoo hoo hoo hoo), we can live… etc” . I have no idea why this line was ovberdubbed.

Anyhoooooo, on to the different promo releases. Firstly, there’s the 12″ yellow cover, catalogue number SP-12297.

I have no way of checking, but This seems to be from an earlier release of the song. This record also features a 7″ version that’s different to the one finally released. There’s no long instrumental, and the percussion is different, sounding a lot more basic than the final version. The fade out is also slightly longer.

Secondly is the 1-track “blue cover” CD single, catalogue number CD 17708.

This is the standard “album” mix, but with an edited intro. The piano intro is cut down from 48 seconds to just 8 seconds. It’s not even subtle.

Right, onto the “RED” CD single.

Ohhh, and this is a story I never want to relive. If anyone asks about a low point in collecting CDs, this is it.

This single was the last piece of the puzzle. I had every other known release, and I’d searched high and low for a copy of this particular disc.

Let’s fly back to 2016. Ebay was a thing. It still is, but I’m trying to add depth to the story. Amazingly, up comes this particular red single. Meh, it’s an auction. I slap a bid of £1.50 on it, and away I go, doing whatever I was doing in 2016. Probably the same as what I’m doing right now, but with more clothes on.

Time passes, and so does my memory of checking my email. I’d totally forgot about bidding on this. 3rd September rolls along, and I get an unexpected email…

Thank you for your purchase. Details are provided below and your total amount due is £2.77.

Now, if I’d actually had been checking my specially set-up email that I use especially for my auctions, I’d be over the moon. Except, I didn’t.

The 5th September rolled along..

Thanks for your recent purchase on eBay! Please remember to pay for your item so that the seller can send it to you as soon as possible. Note: If you’ve already made payment arrangements with your seller, please disregard this reminder. Thanks again for shopping on eBay!

I’d still forgotten that I’d bidded on anything on ebay… On comes 7th September…

Seller has opened an unpaid item case for One 2 Many – Downtown [CD single]. They opened the case because they haven’t received payment for the item.

Please pay by 11-Sep-16, so the seller can ship the item to you, otherwise, the seller can cancel this order.

Yep, I was still sound asleep.

11th September comes around… yes, a day that shall remain infamy for something else, but for me…

Payment for this item hasn’t been received during the past 8 days. [user] has cancelled the transaction, and you’re no longer entitled to receive the item. Also, an unpaid item has been recorded on your account.

Unfortunately, I haven’t kept records of the eact dates and times, but at some point a a few days after that, I emailed the seller. I explained I was a complete idiot, and if there was any chance of sending me the CD. Quite rightly so, he refused. I hold my hands up. It was my fuck-up It’s really one of those moments I still hit myself in the balls over. A genuine low point.

Years passed. I kept an open eye out for this CD. It would eventually turrn up for stupid money.

One day, I was browsing discogs, and a copy appeared. The very same “red” CD single I was after.Who happened to be selling it? Yup, none other than Ron “boogiemonster” Gerber. That was enough for me to click “purchase”. I think I’d been working some overtime (or I was very, very drunk), as the cost of the CD was $22, postage of $14.25, meaning a total of £28.62. Yikes.

Days passed, and I tracked the CDs location, as it made its way from the leafy subburbs of Minneapolis, to the quiet fishing village of Hartlepool. I soon ran into a problem. Customs. I didn’t even think of it at the time, but any goods over a vertain value entering the UK are subject to customs duties, and as luck would have it, my package had been stopped. As the CD had been given a commerial value of $50, this meant I had to pay roughly £18 in customs duty.

I’m pretty sure I screamed. This was a lot of money to lose, but at the end of the experience, I had a CD I wanted to own, from someone who I’ve spent many, many hours listening to.I’ll kick myself on spending £48 on a CD single that I could have had for under £3, but it’s a learning curve. It’s shit that happens if you’re a music hoarder, and now that I’ve publicly shared this, it’s a period I can put behi… Oh, wait. I haven’t even mentioned the single, have I?

The “Red” single is Track 1 from the yellow 12″ mix, and track 2 the early 7″ mix”.

Well, that concludes the post for now, as I really want to move onto another album. One that won’t be so “wordy” and has no relevance, as nobody knows the album. I’ll return to something more mainstream next. I could still talk about the song, and my discovery about the end of the song but this is has already gone on far too long, and is beginning to sound like the ramblings of a madman who has not left the house for four weeks The rest of the album isn’t too mad if you like late 80s stuff.

Day 2(ish): The Way It Is – Bruce Hornsby & The Range

OK, so this isn’t technically the second day, I didn’t post anything yesterday or the day before, but meh. Sit down, as this one’s a long one.

Once again, this is an album I’ve talked about quite a few times (I’ve probably mentioned the title track many, many times), but I’ve never gon through exactly why I like this album, and considering we’re in lockdown still, I might as well go through every single little detail of why I liked the title song so much… Strap in, this is going to be a long one (that’s what she said!)

Way back in 1986, Bruce Hornsby released his debut album, and the lead single was its title track, The Way It is. I can pinpoint the first time I ever heard the song. It was a Sunday morning and I was 6, we were going along Davison Drive, past Holy Trinity church. I remember hearing the piano section in the chorus, and not liking it. That was that, or so I thought. As the months went by, it became to be used a lot on TV, especially the instrumetal sections. Out of a song that’s 4 minutes and 58 seconds in length, a good three minutes of it is fully instrumental. Its most prominent use was showing the football league tables on Grandstand, where the instrumental section at the end of the song was looped. By this time, I was about 7 or 8, and began to like the song. In fact, I loved it. Obviously, the never mentioned its name.

Hartlepool hang on for dear life, as usual, while Bruce plinky-plonks on the background

At that age, I couldn’t ask anyone what it was called. Nobody knew what I was on about. It began to become an obsession. I still have vivid recollections of Saturday afternoons, the smell of roast pork wafting through the house, the big light blaring in the living room because it was winter and getting dark at 4:45.

I heard it ONCE on the radio around that time. Going down Warren Road. For some reason, I thought it was called “Run For The Hills” or something like that. Obviously, that’d be a dead end. then, back in Xmas 1989, I caught part of the song on tape. At this point, I didn’t know if it was the right song or now. It was a piano instrumental, but part of the middle bit. In fact, the sectrion from 2:40 – 2:49 if you’re playing along at home. I played this tape to within an inch of its life, still not knowing if that was the song or not. Sometime after this, I got to learn the titile, sadly I can’t remember how. I think some kid sang it and played the piano on “Going Live”. No footage of this exists on Youtube that I can see.

April 1991. BBC’s coverage of the Grand National used a full portion of the song! I always tape the Grand National, so the video was ready. I rushed over, pressed record, aaaand I’d accidentally recorded Tyne Tees instead of BBC1. I could have cried. In fact, I probably did. What should have been the runners and riders played to this tune resulted in 2 minutes of The Chart Show. Aaargh. Was I ever going to get a decent recording of the song?

Some time later in 1991, I caught, purely by chance, the first 15 seconds. It was being used by TFM to advertise their “200 best songs”, where listeners would vote for their best songs. I still didn’t know if this clip was “The Way It Is” or not, after never hearing the intro. It did sound really similar through. For some reason, this was printed in the local paper. There it was! I finally had the name and the artist! Which… I promptly forgot. I guess when I was 11, I thought my short term memory was better than it is, and within minutes I’d forgotten. Bugger. No idea why I didn’t think of keeping that piece of paper, or at least write it down somewhere.

So, I was back to square 1. A couple of years passed, and we’re in 1993. I wqas spending a sunny Saturday out in the car with my dad. He used to mend and deliver tellies, so I would often join him in his jaunts around the north east. I would listen to the radio while he would go in, and do what he needed to do with the telly. The radio was tuned to Atlantic 252. All of a sudden, the intro came on. Oh my god. Would this be it? The song played, and I must have lost about half a stone, dancing around in the van. Both sections I had on tape were from the song! I was over the moon. Unfortunately, they had a habit of playing a bunch of songs then never saying the title and artist, exactly what they did in this situation. At least I knew of a radio station that had a copy.

I would then listen to Atlantic 252 at every given opportunity. One day, my dad was off work so he picked me up from school at lunchtime. On goes Atlantic 252, and on comes the song! It was a short drive, so we get home, I burst through the door, run upstairs and manage to get the last minute or so on tape! YES! Again, no artist or title. Damn you, afore-mentioned radio station! This time, I had enough audio to play people to see if they knew it. As I mentioned, this was 1993. It was after my mam had died, and my nanna was still living with us. We had a home help called Trina, who I played the song to… “Yeah, it’s Bruce Hornsby & The Range”. FINALLY! After years of searching, I finally had the artists’ name. I’d heard it a couple of times on the radio after that, again on this same station. I managed to tape a slightly longer portion of the song, albeit with a deafening high-pitched tome over the top of it. Atlantic 252 was broadcast from Ireland (hence its name) on long wave, so you’d often get plenty of interference on there. Now, to track down a copy.

Summer 1993 came. We’d planned a family trip to the lakes. A friend called Steven was going to come too, but the night before he spewed up a load of jumbo sausage and chips, so unfortunately couldn’t make it. The day went ahead anwyay, and was a pretty standard day out. Me and my dad ended up in a shop that sold tapes. There it was, the holy grail. An actual real, no foolin’ copy of the tape. Unfortuanely, this was at the end of the day. My money had dried up. I asked my dad if he could buy it for me, and I’d pay him back with what little pocket money I’d earn over the following couple of weeks. He refused. He wouldn’t even put it on his card, saying he didn’t have enough money on it. I was devastated, and I left, having to put the tape back from whence it came. It literally felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. Something I’d wanted for most of my childhood was right in my hands, and it was being denied.

I’ll never know if Daddykins had enough money on his card or not. He probably won’t remember anything of the day, but this hurt me pretty bad.

Fast forward a few months. December 9th 1993. This was not long after my birthday, and I finally had some money to call my own. I remember going to the shooping centre. This was my first visit to the shopping centre after the glass roof had been installed, and how bright and shiny it all looked. I went to Woolworths, and browsed the tapes section. There it was! And I finally had my own money to pay for it. BANG! DONE! My long search was over. A stereo, uninterfered copy of my favourite song. Ibviously, there were other songs on the album, which I’ll get to shortly.

That’s pretty much it. On Decmber 27th 1994, I tracked down a copy of the track on CD, thanks to Dino Entertainment’s “Rock Anthems”. Track 5, disc 2. I always remember the advert played a section of a house burning over the song. I later learned that this was never in the video, so no idea where they dragged that up from.

Fire! Smoke filled rooms… oh, hang on, wrong song.

Obviously, I’ve picked up a CD copy of the album since then. In more recent times, it came back to prominence, thanks to 2Pac’s song “Changes”, which makes heavy use of Hornsby’s composition. Thanks to this resurgence, the song is no longer hard to track down, and is in every “classic hits” radio station’s playlist. For that reason, it doesn’t quite have the same impact to me that it once had, but I hope you found this interesting. Almost 1500 words in, and I haven’t even got the the actual album yet.

Here goes…

01. ON THE WESTERN SKYLINE
Interestingly, on all of the UK / European CD copies of this I’ve seen, has this titled as “On The Western Sklyline”. Even the re-released version with the 74321 catalogue number has this typo. The US pressings with the yellow back have the right spelling, so do all of the LP versions.

Anyway, it starts off with a country vibe. More fiddles than a [insert libellous joke here]. I like this one a lot more than I used to. Mentioned a streetlight. Gets a bonus point for that. Overall, a nice little song, even if it doesn’t seem to do anywhere.

02. EVERY LITTLE KISS
One of the songs off the album to be released as a single. This is the longest song on the album. It starts off with a piano intro very similar to “the Way It Is” According to Wikipedia, The introductory passage of the song quotes Charles Ives’s work “The Alcotts” (another wikipedia page says “Piano Sonata No 2” so fight amongst yourselves about which one is correct.

This was also the first song to be released as a single in the US, though it didn’t fare too well. It was released as a single over here too. The B side contains a different version of “The River Runs Low”… more on that later. The other track is an intrumental remix of “the Way It Is”. This also has piano instrumental sections, which are cut down for the 7″ single release. the 12″ has this full version on it. An instrumental version cann be found on the CD single of the next track, so with slightly different percussion, and about 20 seconds longer.

03. MANDOLIN RAIN
Arguably, Bruce’s second biggest hit, though it only reached 70 in the charts over here. Don’t mind it, but it does sort-of plod on a bit. The single version apparently checks in at just under 4 minutes long, and this one is just under 6.

04. THE LONG RACE
Another good, poppy little song. Guitar, accordion, drums… but no piano? The only song so far that doesn’t have a piano solo on it. Maybe on the entire album? Strange that all of the times I’ve listened to the album I’ve never noticed that before. And that’s side 1 complete, if you’re listening to the tape or album.

05. THE WAY IT IS
See above. I’m not going through all that again.

06. DOWN THE ROAD TONIGHT
Possibly my favourite song about going to see a prostitute ever (Sorry if you’ve turned of from a Google search for the phrase, you’re in for a disappointment). It’s “OK”, I guess, but a bit slow and doesn’t really go anywhere. If you play this song at 45PRM instead of 33RPM, it genuinely sounds much better. The exatra speed improves it immensely, and stops it feeling too “ploddy”. Features Huey Lewis on Harmonica and backing vocals

07. THE WILD FRONTIER
More of a country feel to this one, and a bassline that seems to get in the way quite a bit. I’m find it hard to find a track to skip with this album, but I’d probably have to go for this one, as it doesn’t really fit with the rest of the album. No piano in this one either. It sounds strangely disjointed.

08. THE RIVER RUNS LOW
The slowest track on the album, entirely piano, synth and vocal. It was never always like that, as the first pressing of the album has a different version on it, that has more of a beat to it. This alternate version is the one that’s featured on the B side to “every Little Kiss”. I can see why they re-recorded it though. Each album needs a slow ballady type track, and the original version doesn’t really do this.

09. THE RED PLAINS
Possibly my favourite song about someone’s house burning down. Or a wildfire. Not quite sure. If you flipped the “The Way It Is” single over, this is what you got. My second favourite track on the album by far. Probably the catchiest song and album Finished with a 90-second guitar and piano instrmental. A great way to close off the album.

Well, there we have it. This lockdown’s allowed me to dump more memories onto my blog. I’m pretty much burned out after three hours of typing, so I’m going to play some more pinball, and think of what to post tomorrow(ish). I’ve not really scanned it for typos either, so feel free to bombard the collents if you spot any. Ah, who am I kidding? Nobody’s read this far!

Day 1: Bridge of Spies – T’Pau (An album a day for 10 days)

I was recently nominated in a post on Facebook to post 10 albums, one a day, that mean something to me. The rules were to originally not add a description, and just post the cover, but that’s changed as it’s went on. I’m blowing that *right* out of the water, by only posting an abridged version on Facebook, and then the full waffle on here. After all, it’s the perfect platform!

I’m starting off with “Bridge of Spies”, by T’Pau.

I’ll be very surprised if I’ve never mentioned this album on here before, as it’s one of my favourites. Let’s start from the beginning. I must have been about 8 years old. At that age, I never really had pocket money. Any money I did manage to come by, went on ZX Spectrum games and magazines. I always had an interest in music, but had no way of acquiring it. Funds were dry, and I didn’t have any way of recording stuff from the radio. Now, Chad (yes, the same Chad who often trolls my spelling on here) obviously saw a gap in the market, and sold me a cassette tape. On it was a really badly recorded version of the afore-mentioned album. In fact, I’ve definitely mentioned this on here, as I have a photo of that exact tape already uploaded on here…

Honestly, this recording was shocking. Both sides managed to fit on one side of a C90, but whoever taped it originally had got the sides mixed up, so side 2 played first, followed by side 1. Personally, I like this running order much more. It starts off with the piano intro of “Bridge Of Spies” and finishes with the upbeat instrumental section of “Sex Talk”.

And, for that reason I’m going to give the album another listen, and play the tracks in the order that I remember them…

01. Bridge Of Spies
A great opener, and one of my favourites on the album. Great instrumentals, great vocals. Also contains a false ending which leads into an instrumental section. The album quickly goes into track 2, and until I actually got a proper copy, I always thought that the first opening bars of “Monkey House” were part of this song.

02. Monkey House
Fast-paced nonsense about “mental hygeine”. There’ll be no more dirty looks, and no more dirty looks. Indeed. The lyrics always bring an image of an Orwellian society, though I didn’t know what it was back then. Another instrumental section, and some strangely distorted guitars.

03. Valentine
Onto the slower paced songs now. “Valentine”. I’ve come to appreciate this one a bit more than what I used to. This was the first track in the album to be released as a single. Over here anyway. “Bridge Of Spies” got a US single release

04. Than You For Goodbyes
Probably the low point of the album for me. If I was to fast forward a track, it’d be this one. That’s a thing. Each day, I’ll name a track that I’d fast-forward. Just for funsies. Anyway, it’s a slow plodder that doesn’t get anywhere. Carol’s vocals are still great. The expanded version of this album features “Thank You For Goodbyes Rides Again”, which is an upbeat reworking of the song. Infinitely better in my opinion, though they do just seem to give up half-way through and ended the song. It sould have been so much longer!

05. You Give Up
We’re back to the great songs again. The song starts with what sounds like a hammond organ warming up, and finishes with the same. Another upbeat tune that also has the hammond solo in it. Overall a great track. On this remastered version, you don’t get to hear much of the afore-mentioned organ powering down, as it quickly segues into…

06. China In Your Hand (Reprise)
This was always a strange one to me, as I never really saw the point of its existence. Obviously, listening to the album tracks in the right order, puts this after “China In Your Hand”, but it’s basically the 2nd portion of the album version, shortened, and instrumental. Even when listening to the album properly, it just doesn’t need to be there. Did they have some spare tape?
Was the album running a minute short? “Oh, just stick that on the end”.

07. Heart and soul
As I mentioned before, my original recording of this was really quiet. Therefore, the extended fade-out of the above song, and the long one-note intro that fades in, made it seem like a really long period of silence. I absolutely loved this song. It was like two songs in one. You have the chanting backing vocals, with Carol Decker’s vocals over the top. I listened to this song many times to decipher both sets of lyrics. I even remember writing them out at one point, as I heard them. No idea how accurate they were. Overall a brilliant track.

08. I Will Be With You
We’re back to the slow ones, but this one isn’t bad. Happy memories of listening to this, playing on the c16 that Chad sold me after I blew up my Speccy. This song was always the fore-runner to the big hit…

09. China In Your Hand
A song written about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which “plucked violin” synths throughout. Recorded in two versions, one for the radio-friendly single release which is shorter, faster and clocks in at a minute shorter. This album version is more structured. Again, that’s personal opinion. I guess you like whichever version you grew up listening to. This was mine. I also have the demo version, and another strange version I found on a really cheap compilation, which was really good. So that, er, makes 4 versions. This one’s the classic though. Listening to it gives me an image of the blue dusk sky, as me and my dad cross over the Peterlee flyover in his works Transit van, with this playing on the radio. Odd, seeing as I’ve heard it so many times in so many places – that’s the one that my brain decides to commit to ROM.

10. Friends Like These
The song that follows the big hit. An absolutely lovely little ditty, and a great tune. Starts off with the opening bars of “Abide With Me”, then into another fantastically crafted tune, and the most sing-along chorus of the full album. This was also available on the “China In Your Hand” CD single, though they fade it out for some unknown reason. There’s not even any mix between this and the final track, which is…

11. Sex Talk
Released as a single, but recorded as a live version and under the name “Intimate Strangers”. This one was always a mystery to me, as even as a kid, I heard the lyrics “I don’t know when I got so wet”. Obviously at the time, not knowing exactly what the song referred to (spoiler: it’s about two people who called one of those 0898 sex lines, and are clearly mastu(YES, We get the picture – Ed.)), I didn’t know what that meant. The lyrics booklet had it printed as “I don’t know how I got through it”. Oh, I think we know which one’s correct, don’t we! Can I check those fingernails? (Too far, Jamie. – Ed.) Ahem. The track finishes with a brief instrumental section, and that’s it. That’s version of the album I grew up with.

—————–
So, that’s the album. I’ve got nothing else to do so I might as well give a little bit of info on my purchases of this album. First off was an original tape off the Hartlpool flea market, probably back in 1995 or 1996. Think I paid a quid for it. Everything was original. I go and play the tape, and some arsehole had taped Pink Floyd over the top. Absolutely fuming. Bin!

Next up was the LP. This was the first time I’;d heard some of the songs as they were supposed to have sounded. My record player probably wasn’t the best at the time, but it was as close as I was going to get. Next up was the CD. A bit scratched, probnably from the flea market again. Played perfectly though.

At some point, I picked up the “Demos” album that was released. As far as I know, this only came out on (official) MP3 download, which I purchased) though some of the tracks made it onto the 37-track expanded version of the Bridge Of Spies album, and the 4-disc Virgin Years” compilation, both of these I also own.

Right, so that’s day one over with. I hope you found it informative. Probably not, but thanks to the lockdown you’re going to have 9 more days of this crap. Be lucky, stay well, keep off the streets, don’t touch each other, remember to have your pets spayed or neutered and warning: this surface may be hot. See you tomorrow! Maybe.

Charity Shop mysteries – Waterfront – E.P.

Hello, and welcome to a new feature. Since I’ve been hunting through the charity shops, I’ve garnered a liking for “mystery” CDs. these are CDs from bands that I’ve never actually heard of, bands who never made it big, and independently produced CDs. You know those ones, people who got together in their mate’s garage. It all started a few years ago when I unearthed that Jean Bennet Record waaaay back in 2011, and over the years I’ve had comments from many fans of Jean, found out more than I thought I ever would, and learned that she’d had a more interesting life than I’d ever realised.

Since then, my charity shop travels would often unearth little gems like that. CDs without catalogue numbers, barcodes and even record labels. CDs produced in small numbers, that somehow make their way into the charity shops.

Of course, I’m not buying them just for their music, but to also hopefully shed a bit of light on the band itself, do a little bit of research, and hopefully one day this page will turn up in search results and return some happy memories for those concerned and know that someone, somewhere has a copy of their music.

One reason I’m doing it, is because of the Myspace fiasco that occurred a couple of years back. Myspace was a place where this exact type of band could upload their work, share it with family and friends, and of course, fans. Some time a couple of years ago, the Myspace media player fell silent. Thanks to a “server migration”, terabytes of music and countless tracks by these unsigned bands went up in virtual smoke. To this day, I still don’t believe that this archive of hard work and dedication could have just gone, without warning, with a single click of a Myspace emloyee’s mouse, bit it happened. It’s gone..

Some of these bands took it upon themselves to produce CDs, so thankfully, their music lives on. This first one is exactly one of those bands affected by the Myspace server blackout, so at least 4 of their tracks survive into the 2020s.

This is a CD that I just picked up today. It’s a CD that has their Myspace site on the back cover, and it’s the whole reason that spurred me onto start these, as I knew their music would have been affected by the loss. And, indeed they were.

This one comes from a band called Waterfront. Their Myspace link is still active, but as I predicted, the link to the music has stopped working.

Here’s a couple of pictures of the artwork, and CD. I promise my photography will get more professional as this goes on (No it won’t – Ed.)

The inside of the CD sleeve reads as follows:

Waterfront are:
Sam Willoughby – Vocals & Guitar
David Dowling – Guitar
Pip Coates – Bass & Backing Vocals
Tim Carr – Drums & Backing Vocals

with
Mark Broughton – Keyboards

Recorded @ Digital Gardens on October 24-26 2007
Engineered by Johanas Rawlinson
Propduced by Waterfront
Additional Production by Johanas Rawlinson

Thanks to Matthew Brown, Mark Broughton, Johanas Rawlinson and all our friends and family

All songs written by Waterfront
Copyright Sam Willoughby
All Artwork by Matthew Brown

The CD is a professionally printed CD-R, with decent quality inlays and CD label. There’s no catalogue / matrix numbers anywhere on the disc or packaging. There’s a link in the Myspace profile to “Polinta CD manufacturing”. This could be a coincidence, however, as they’re based in Malaysia.

The four tracks on the CD are as follows…

1 For You (04:05)
2. New Life (04:09)
3. Far Away (04:02)
4. Hate To Say it (04:12)

I have, of course, had a play of it. The first two tracks or my favourite. I could probably get away with playing “For You” on loop for a while and not get sick of it, it’s got some nice acoustic guitar bits and decent bassline to it.

But, what became of the band? Apart from the Myspace profile, very little. It’s proved more difficult than I imagined to track down anything about the band at all. Normally the place where it’s recorded is a good start, but nothing for “Digital Gardens” that I can see in the UK Obviously, it’s coming up to 13 years since this CD was recorded, so anything could have happened. A shame, as I’ve really enjoyed listening to this CD. Had it playing the entire time I’ve been typing this.

EDIT: I’m aware there was a late 80s band called Waterfront. These aren’t the same people.

Let’s Go To Misterland

I’ve been buying music again. Seeing as this blog’s been going on for 20 years, I’m bound to have touched on this subject before, but seeing as I can’t remember, I’m sure you, my dear reader won’t recall either. Today, I’ve had good reason to revisit this subject… so how did my love for music begin, and how did it flourish into what could be classed an a compulsive collecting disorder, or something?

Some of my earliest memories are in my dad’s car. I’m sure he had a particular tape that had “Hang On Sloopy” by The McCoys taped onto it. I’d go so far as to say this was my first musical memory. I’m sure at this point, I must have shown some interest in music, as for Xmas 1984, I got my first ever record player. It was a Fisher Price jobby. Beige in colour, with an orange turntable, and a massive orange tone arm. I have a photo somewhere, but unfortunately, you’ll have to make do with a photo of me opening my presents on what may have been the same day, or it may have been the year after.

Gosh darn it, I’m close to reminiscing about that brown sofa now. Anyhoo. Xmas came, and I got a small selection of records, all perfectly suited for a child of this age…

“Do They Know It’s Xmas” – It’ll have been the most popular record at the time.
“We All Stand Together” – Paul McCartney and The Frog Chorus
“Child’s Play” – a BBC record containing tracks interesting for kids, including the Dr. Who theme, some stories, and a couple of tracks containing Floella Benjamin.
“The Mr. Men Songs”. Featured Arthur Lowe. Another BBC record. Originally released on Pye records
“Stories from Playschool”. A spoken-word record, containing, as it suggests, stories from Playschool.

One main problem with this setup, is that this was a real record player. It played real records, from a real stylus. Sadly, after years of playing everything from Band Aid to biscuits, the turntable finally gave up the ghost. The player “went into storage”, also known as the black bin bag at the side of the road, and most of the records suffered a similar fate. As my childhood grew, I’d moved onto tapes, or rather, taping stuff off the radio, outgrowing these kid’s records.

Fast forward to 1991. My dad brought home a music centre from work. Not sure how he got hold of it. Maybe one of the customers wanted shot of it? Don’t know. Either way, it ended up in our possession, and I was thrilled to finally have a proper music system. It then came to see what records I had to play on it…

I had a choice of either “The Mr. Men Songs” or “Child’s Play”. The rest had went to the great jukebox in the sky. I still have tapes of me doing pretendy radio stations from back in the day featuring selected tracks from these two records. Eventually, these scratched kiddy records went out of circulation, for the final time, eventually becoming part of experiments involving light bulbs and sharp things. Years and years passed, and about 5 years ago, I founf the Mr. Men record smashed under a ppile of old boxes in the cupboard. It was then that I started regretting my actions. A small part of my brain gnawed away at me, wanting to hear some of those songs again. I thought it’d be interesting to hear them with a proper setup, not like the mono little record player, and not like the jumping, scratched mess I forced the music system into playing.

Turns out it’s been particularly hard to find in the second-hand market. Most copies probably just got scratched or thrown away, when the child grew up. After all, it’s not going to win an Ivor Novello award any time soon, but thankfully, I never grew up, and there’s been a little part of my brain dedicated to its memory.

Over the years, I learned it was arranged by Keith Mansfield… the very same guy who composed so many BBC themes, and who gives his name to the KPM music library (I believe). The lyrics were written by Roger Hargreaves himself.

Well, after years of searching I finally found a copy… on tape! Yesterday, I was in Northallerton, which Chris, and after spending more time and money than I really should have in a certain brilliant record shop, I headed round the charity shops. the last one I went into was the Blue Cross shop, near the end of the high street. The CDs weren’t up to much, so I had a look through the tapes. There it was, in all of its plastic glory. The sticker said £1.49. Oof. I’ve paid much more for much worse so I waddled off to the counter, with tape in hand. Turns out it was only 20p, and I only had a tenner, after I’d fed the parking machine gods all of my loose change earlier on in the day. Chris had disappeared outside by this point so I sheepishly handed over The Queen, and while the lady showed the trainee cashier how to use the till, I explained pretty much everything I typed above.

SO, yeah. It’s a bit of an embarrassing purchase, but there’s just something about those 1970s graphics and that BBC logo that will always hold a place in my heart. I’ve yet to play it… it came out in 1979, so no idea what 40 years have done to it.

And yes, I’m well aware that it was originally released on Epic Records back in 1976. It says so on the cover. Oh, here, have some photos of it. (This is your worst closing line ever – Ed). Oh, shut up.

As of December 2019, I’ve played and converted this. It really is as catchy as I remember. In parts, anyway.

ITV Racing music

Do you watch the racing on ITV? Do you like the double-bassy, mute-trumpety music they use when introducing the runners and riders for each race? Do you wish you could own a copy of this music, or at least stream it on somewhere like Spotify? Well, now you can!

It’s title is… Drum Roll Please…. “Les Fleurs” by 4 Hero, released on their 2001 album “Creating Patterns”.

I’ve been after it for ages, so I thought someone else might have been too, hence the blog post. Turns out I’ve had the exact track on a compilation CD for ages and never realised. Minnie Riperton originally performed the song in 1970.

Also, the flutey music they use when going into a break (not part of the main theme, which is also pretty flutey) is the instrumental version of “Go Do” by Jonsi.

The actual theme was composed especially for the program, and to my knowledge, has never been commercially released.

We will return you to your scheduled programming shortly. *cough*.

UPDATE: Well, that didn’t take long, thanks to the reliability of Discogs, I’ve got the single in my collection now, which contains the instrumental version.

2nd hand MP3 players!

I’ve typed a few times about radio rallies. They’re basically markets for new and old amateur radio equipment, computer bits, and box upon box of various other electronic hardware that have served its useful life. Still, there’s nothing wrong with digging through these boxes of miscellaneous flotsam to see if there’s something that’s worth looking at, or giving a second home.

You may remember I pulled out a perfectly working voice recorder last year for £1. Now, due to the fact that the headphone port on my phone is broken (or rather, there’s half a newspaper stuck in it, which won’t shift), I’ve been using this voice recorder as an MP3 player. The slight problem with it, is that it’s an absolute beast. The microphone on top of it makes it look like a taser, so I don’t like getting it out in public (oo-er). It was still serviceable, however, so I wasn’t really in the market for a new one

Today was the first radio rally of the year, in Ripon. Chris came with me, and right in the middle of a box of trash, he spied a little box. “MP3 Player 4Gb”. Of course, the burning question is, did it come home with me?

Pffft. Of course it did.

It’s one of those little “chewing gum” MP3 players, without any type of screen, or other functionality. The guy wanted £3 for it. I talked him down to £2. Finally, those years of watching re-runs of Bargain Hunt have finally paid off. My first successful haggle!

It came with everything it should have done. Manual, mini (not micro) USB cable, and Of course, the in-ear headphones. I don’t think they’ve been used, but I’m going to nuke them from orbit, just to be on the safe side. As you can see, it’s badged with the Alba name, and has the model number MP420008UK. Anybody that knows anything about hi-fi would probably projectile vomit at the mere mention of the word “Alba”, but if it wasn’t for my original Alba music system, which I got for Xmas 1991, and the CD player in 1992, I’d probably not have the same interest in music that I do now. The hi-fi is long gone, but the CD player still works. , or it did the last time I plugged it in anyways.

So, anyway, back to this MP3 player. What’s the first thing you do with any type of 2nd hand storage media? That’s right, you plug it in, check to see what the previous owner had on it! I think I’m safe publishing this. It’s an MP3 player. I don’t think they’re going to be listening to their personal documents through this.

It seems this MP3 player had a very easy life, as there were only a few files on it. The majority of the drive seemed to contain the same random data string, so it was either like this from the factory, or the previous owner wiped it using a utility. This was entirely possible, as due to the .trash-1000 folder, the previous owner was using Linux. It didn’t come back with anything other than the few tracks that were already visible. The rest of the 17 files were just random system files.

Oddly, a lot of German-named tracks. Edith Piaf too. Coincidentally, Chris was with me when I saw her grave in Paris. Funny how these things come together like that.

So, I’ve typed all of this, but does the bloody thing work? Yes, is the short answer.

Cosmetically, it’s in mint condition. No obvious wear, and the serial number sticker isn’t worn at all. As this has spent (what looks like) many years stashed away, I’m not sure how healthy the non-replaceable battery is going to be, but it charged without an issue.

I formatted it, and copied three, songs to it. They’re the first three instrumental versions from the “Pandora’s Box” version of Hell Frost, by The Unguided, if you were wondering, and yes, it works great. Despite it only being 4Gb, that’s plenty of space for the short bus journey to work. It certainly lasted the whole time it took me to type this.

In conclusion, I’m pretty happy with this purchase. It’ll certainly last me until I upgrade my phone. Now, to choose what other crap to fling on it!

EDIT: October 2019 – It’s appeared to have developed a loose/dirty power switch, where a knock or a jolt will turn it off. It might just need a clean, or it might have just been thrown about once too often. I’ll see how it goes. 6 months use out of a few quid. Not bad.