Is there anything better than a surprise record fair?

Saturdays. It’s hard to say that you can genuinely enjoy just a seventh of your life, but yes, seeing as Saturdays only come round once a month, it’s hard to put it any other way. Fridays still involve work, and Sundays are spent dreading work, so yeah. One day of enjoyment a week.

This particularly depressive attitude means that I have to make the most of my Saturdays. I went to bed particularly early the night before, as “Totally 70s” was off-ait this week. It’s an online radio station that… Yep, you guessed it, plays 70s music, and has live videos, usually with a video stream. Unfortunately, the Friday night DJ couldn’tt make it, due to real-life commitments, so it was left to their automated system to dish out the tunes. And without the interactive element, it’s just not the same, so I went to bed.

It did mean, however, that I could wake up early enough to actually do something with my one enjoyable day, so thought I’d jump on the bus and go to Stockton and then Middlesbrough. It’s a good while since I’d done a full day of “charity Shop shit”.

I disembarked at Stockton, and quite literally the greatest sight that could ever be projected into my shiny little eyeballs, the sight of a marquee, and those magical words…

It was like some type of beautiful waking dream. It was free too, which was just the icing on the cake.

One complaint I’ve had about recent record fairs is that there’s been very few boxes to rummage through, namely random boxes of singles. This time, I was not disappointed. In fact the very first box I went through, I pulled out this….

It’s a song I don’t expect anyone reading this to know (much like the entirety of my collection), but I first heard it probably back in 2014, from this particular episode of Ron Gerber’s “Crap From The Past”. It was also used in the film “Playing For Keeps”, which I’m sure you’ll be unsurprised to learn I haven’t seen.

I picked up a few other bits from this particular stall, and ended up paying £8 overall. I think this marks a significant moment, as I’m sure it was the first time I’d paid for anything at a record fair using my card.

I went through a couple of other stalls and picked up a few bits and bobs, (including Now 1 on CD, the 2018 re-release though), and came out highly satisfied with my haul, considering I didn’t even know it was going to be there.

Of course, this record fair ate into the time that would have otherwise been allocated to the charity shops. This wasn’t much of an issue, as these days, the quality of the musical merchandise you can pick up from Stockton’s shops has gone slowly downhill recently, so I didn’t come out with that much.

Despite the fact that time was getting on, there was still enough time to grab the bus to Middlesbrough (there’d have been even more time if I hadn’t have forgotten which pocket I’d put my bus ticket in, meaning I had to wait for the next one).

I think Middlesbrough has to be my favourite place for charity shops. They’re plentiful, and a couple of them had even came back from the dead. The “Age UK” had reopened (despite it having a big “To Let” sign on the door, and also the “Cats’ Protection” which had closed at some point before the lockdown, I believe. I didn’t buy anything from either, but good to see they’ve been resurrected, at least for now.

There’s also a new “Amazing Grace” shop, in the place of Scope/Sense (Can’t remember which) in the shopping centre. Again, nothing of any interest.

YMCA always have some goodies on offer, and today was no exception, along with Farplace. They had some “100 Hits” boxsets, at a quid each, snapped up three of those. I probably already have, like 95% of the songs, but I’ve always found a couple of obscure gems on the other ones that I’ve not seen anywhere else.

That concluded my journey pretty much. The last stop was HMV. I considered getting a James Blunt “Greatest Hits” CD for his song “Bartender”, which I like, but don’t own, but it was too close to payday to consider paying £5.99 for such an item. Good lord, inagine going overdrawn because of James Blunt? It stayed on the shelf.

Last stop was the bakery near the bus station, where I picked up some lovely sausage rolls.

The bus ride was particularly uneventful, until the bus got to Asda, when a load of kids got on, who decided they want to make a nuisance of themselves, with water pistols and the like.

A teeny, tiny bit of water hit my hand, like maybe three drops.

“If you even think of aiming that at me again, I’ll jump over there and shove that down your throat”. Of course, I said that about 30 seconds before I got off, otherwise I’d have no doubt got completely soaked off them.

Just as I was getting off, the driver came out of his cab and bellowed at them to behave, or they were getting kicked off. I do wither what happened after that!

I then stocked up at lidl, and returned home, just in time to see the build-up of some insignificant football match, which The Liverpools lost, I believe.

It was an early night for me, as there was something exciting happening that following morning… A radio rally!

A veritable smorgasbord of East Coast misery (Day 3)

Sunday morning came, and it was time to say goodbye to the quaint little B+B that had been our home for the previous two days. Micl/Mike was there to see us off (and to waft the credit card reader under our noses), we had a brief chat, mainly about Seaton Carew and John Darwin.

And with that, we left. We put the bags in the car, but left it there,, as it was still a bit early to set off. And of course, Chris had to make sure there was no beer circulation, as he’d be the one driving.

There were still a couple of places we hadn’t visited, such as the shopping centre. There wasn’t much there, except for a Home Bargains, and a beer shop. I stocked up on crap from Home Bargains, and beer from the… Er, beer shop. Naturally.

I think it must have been about 11am at this point. As we left the beer shop, we both caught sight of the drunkest “woman” I think we’d ever seen. Clearly still worse for wear from the night before, she was staggering about, trying to hols onto, what I can only assume is her long-suffering boyfriend, whilst clutching onto a McDonald’s cup. I genuinely felt sorry for the bloke, as she exits the shopping centre, and throws the cup to the ground. The boyfriend, admitting defeat, picks the cup up, and deposits it into a nearby bin.

Stay Classy, Skeggy.

We popped into a nearby cafe to grab a bit of breakfast, whilst recapping the events of the weekend, and where to go on our way home. I wanted to go the Humber Bridge way, as I’ve never been over it (except in Euro Trck simulator 2) and then stop off at Beverley, a place I’d heard of, but never been to. Never even looked at it on Google Maps. It shall be a surprise.

We waved goodbye to Skeggy, and typed Humber Bridge into Googley Maps. Apparently it was about an hour from where we were, and I’m not sure which way we went, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the most direct route. We must have hit every twisty road going. At one point, the maps gave up, went off, came back on, and said “Do a U-turn.” You know what? Nah, we’ll just keep going, how’s about that?

So, Sally Sat-Nav was silenced, and eventually, the roads opened out into proper A-roads, and a few miles away, we could see the towering structure of the Humber bridge

It’s certainly impressive as you go over it.

I hope the photo was worth it, as it cost me £1.50 for the toll.

Beverley was a short ride away, and before we knew it, we were parked up. I tried to befriend one of the nearby resident, but he didn’ t want anything to do with me.

I must say, I have to give a full 9/10 to this place. I liked it a lot. It reminded me a lot of Thirsk, but bigger. Just as quaint though, with its market square and knitted characters on the pillar boxes…

Of course, there were charity shops, but to be honest, even I was getting a little burned out with them. I didn’t keep a tally on how many we went through, but I’m certain it must have been a record. It was approaching 4PM at this point… The time when everything closes on a Sunday, so I made one last stop into an Oxfam. The last CD I purchased turned out to be the best!

Yeah, Neil Sedaka. I know. I only bought it for the one song though, “Bad Blood”. A jolly little 70s tune, which reached number 1 in America, but failed to chart over here. Has Elton John on the backing vocals so I’m surprised it didn’t do well over here.

I have this actual album on LP, but was very surprised to see a CD release of it, so snapped it up. Definitely paid over the odds at £1.99 but I’ll probably never see a copy again.

And that pretty much concludes the trip. We headed back to the car (unfortunately my feline friend had long gone by this point), and completely guessed at the route home. Turns out we went a but further south than we needed to, but it took us through a couple of picturesque little villages, so all was not lost.

We somehow ended up going through the outskirts of York… Not sure how we ended there, and it was here that I learned that Chris does like a little bit of road rage! Not quite sure if it was the actual other drivers, or my choice of music after three days. I suspect a little from column A, a little from column B…

Thankfully for Chris, the journey ended shortly after. I was home, and the rest of the night was spent watching snooker and cataloguing CDs…. A process that took roughly a week, and the main reason you’re reading all of this long after it happened!

Of course, the big (and final) question is, where to next? I doubt anyone has reached this far after three days, but feel free to leave a comment….

Eurovision 2022! Hurrah!

It’s one of my favourite times of the year. A time when I sit down and spend an entire night listening to potentially terrible music

The normal rules apply… Refresh this page to hear my thoughts on a particular song…

I’m already looking forward to “Give That Wolf A Banana”… In a perfect world, the best song will win, but we all know that Ukraine are going to win…

Here we go! Well, if the intro songs are to go by, this isn’t going to be too bad. No idea what they were (and I’m not referring to that “Give Peache a Chance” crap), but I quite liked them. Laura Bazini, or someone. I’ll probably look her up later.

Oh good lord, there’s a parade of the flags now. I think I’ve started this a bit early. Still enough time to nip for a piss before the real action starts

Oh no! Apparently, there’s going to be a load of “emotional ballads” this year.

Czech Republic: We Are Domi – Lights Off

Here we go! Bit of an 80s vidbe to it, not much of a tune. The flashing effects aren’t really doing much for the compression, considering I’m watching via iplayer. It’s definitely been the best song of the contact so far, but I’m sure there’ll be better.

Romania: WRS – Llámame

Well, the crowd are clapping. Nil points for whatever the bloke’s wearing, however. the intrumental bit’s pretty catchy, which isn’t great, seeing as this is a song contest. I’d probably prefer this over the first one if I’m honest.

Portugal: MARO – Saudade, Saudade

“Harmonised introspective ballad”. says Graham Norton. I don’t know what to make of it. Oh wait, yes, I do. It’s dreadful. I genuinely disliked everything about that. NEXT!

Finland: The Rasmus – Jezebel

Always amuses me when actual bands that I’ve heard of enter this competition. It’s certainly more uptempo than the last one, and that’s probably all I can say about it. Oh, wait, there was a nice little key change there. It’s improved it somewhat.

Switzerland: Marius Bear – Boys Do Cry

The question that Mr. Norton asked was “Will it stay in the memory?” I can guarantee it will NOT. this is pretty much everything wrong with music these days. Has there been a shortage of drumkits? He’s got a whiny voice like a mile Adele. Naaaaah.

“Boys do CRAAAAAAAGH”.

France: Alvan & Ahez – Fulenn

Ooh, I like this one. Well, I did until they started singing. Don’t know if it’s me, but the verse bit sounded ever so slightly out of time? La la la le li lo, lu, lm, lx, etc. Saying that, it’s one of the few that I’d listen to again so far.

There now follows a human sacrifice”. Hahahah.

Norway: Subwoolfer – Give That Wolf A Banana

I do love a good novelty song. And this is probably my favourite so far. SOMEONE GIVE THAT WOLF A BANANA. And they repeated the word “Yum” 90 times.

Armenia: Rosa Linn – Snap

Oh, it’s another ballad, but this one’s not too bad. I’m thinking KT Tunstall? I do actually really like this one. I’d say this is my favourite so far. I’d definitely listen to this one again. Deux points.

Italy: Mahmood & Blanco – Brividi

TO TERRY! Up to 9 songs already. Is it a ballad in Italian? well, I don’t understand, but the crowd appear to be loving it… I, however, do not. Now, where did I put that beer…

Spain: Chanel – SloMo

A song originally written for J-Lo, did he say? oooh, I’m sorry, I’ve totally zoned out of this song, she has a lovely bottom. I might have to watch this one back later. Good lord. That’s one way to be memorable.

Netherlands: S10 – De Diepte

“Something completely different”. Yeah, not amazing, but I’ve just noticed how much the backing scenery looks like the old “Taito” arcade games booting up…

Ukraine: Kalush Orchestra – Stefania

Well, this wasn’t what I was expecting. I have no idea what the guy’s wearing (it’s like when you put a lampshade on your head when you’re a kid), and I have no idea what he’s singing, but… it’s actually OK. When I read “Orchestra”, I was expecting another ballad, but this is a folky / rap crossover thing. With flutes. Not bad. Not bad at all.

It’s probably going to win.

Germany: Malik Harris – Rockstars

Oh, god. It’s that style of singing again. instead of “fast”, it’s pronounced fhaaaaaruuust”. “Rhhhockstaaaaaus”. I can’t get past the awful vocals. there’s a rap section that is a carbon copy of “Headlights” by Eminem and that guy off Fun. It’s a shame, because the song has got better as it went on, but, that style of vocal is just…. no.

Lithuania: Monika Liu – Sentimentai

Oooh, old style Eurovision I have a feeling I like this…. Well, it’s certainly got a disco vibe, but it just doesn’t get going. It’s like a slightly faulty kettle that never gets to boil, just sits there almost bubbling away. Still, it gave me a chance to go and fix some spelling errors.

Azerbaijan: Nadir Rustamli – Fade To Black

You think he’d have got dressed up. Shame that it’s another ballad. Nope, it’s a nil points for me. I take it there’s not a break between the songs because I need a wee again now.

Belgium: Jérémie Makiese – Miss You

Well, Graham Norton was right when he said the show was “toploaded”. Some of the best songs at the start, and the rest towards the end.

Greece: Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord – Die Together

Hh no, “a batch of ballads”. If this was on CD I’d have skipped it after the first few seconds. Eventually, it got going. hmmm, I thought she was going to have a Bjork moment there.

Iceland: Systur – Með Hækkandi Sól

It’s a ballad, but I like it. It’s as if the Corrs attempted country. Out of all the ballady ones, this has been my favourite so far.

Moldova: Zdob şi Zdub & Advahov Brothers – Trenulețul

The ballads are done. Hurrah! YES! this is brilliant! This is what Eurovision is all about. After sitting through all of those bloody ballads, this is exactly the antidote to them. I think whoever owns the rights Blitzkreig Bop could sue them for copyright though… I absolutely loved that.

Sweden: Cornelia Jakobs – Hold Me Closer

Swedent are often my favourite, with “Invincible / Evighet” by Carola, being one of my favourite songs of all time”, and that Stormvind one from 1990, also by Carola. this one’s got a good instrumental. Vocalist sounds a bit like a drunk nanna on a karaoke though

Australia: Sheldon Riley – Not The Same

His face looks like the front door of a butchers. Did not like that one bit.

United Kingdom: Sam Ryder – Space Man

Here we go. The first time I’ve heard this song, at least I think so anyway. Yep, I like that one. Bleepy backing music. Guitars, and that overproduced percussion that’s been sadly lacking all night. That was great. Definitely not nil point this year.

Poland: Ochman – River

Three songs left. Mike made a balls-up and just caused Poland “holland”. Oh. Now if we had a nanna doing a karaoke earlier, now we’ve got the over-confident bloke doing karaoke. that’s a little unfair. I’ve heard worse tonight, but I’m certainly not going to rush out and add this to my CD collection any time soon.

Serbia: Konstrakta – In Corpore Sano

This will forever be known as the “Meghan Markle” song (or however it’s spelt). I think this one is the worst one of the night.

Estonia: Stefan – Hope

Awww, I’m actually gutted that it’s over for another year. 24 songs, 1 to go. Acoustic guitar, bit of whistling. Ennio Morricone would be turning in his grave, he’s totally ripped off “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly”… and I really like it. A decent one to finish the night on…. It could have done with a key change, but that was great.

Oh look, more records!

As promised, I thought I’d do another update on my charity shop purchases and days out. This week, there weren’t really that many. I didn’t do much on the Saturday. in fact the only place I went, was to Tesco to pick up a ready-cooked chicken, Therefore the rest of the day was spent with my face covered in the product of the rotisserie oven. Not much happening there.

Sunday was different, however.  There was a record fair in Durham… I’d remembered about it only a couple of days before, and Chris offered to give me a lift there. Woo, and indeed hoo.

The Durham record fair is never a big affair. I think I’ve mentioned about it before, there’s just a small section of a sports hall that’s netted off, while the rest of the place still is still used for badminton…

There was one stall that had quite a few boxes singles on it, at £1 each. It’s more than I normally like to pay for a single, but well, I thought I’m only here once, and there were some classics in there, such as Trevor and Simon (yes, THAT Trevor and Simon) covering a Donovan song (can’t remember which one off the top of my head) “Sky High” by Jigsaw… “I was made for Dancing” by Leif Garrett, and a couple of others that don’t spring to mind. I might edit this into a list later on… If there’s no list, then I couldn’t  be bothered. (EDIT: I couldn’t be bothered)

The Jigsaw and Leif Garrett songs are ones I’ve only just became familiar with in the last 6 months, thanks to an online “radio station” that I listen to quite regularly. Surprised I didn’t know them, as they were relatively big hits, reaching no. 4 and no. 9 respectively.

Also picked up another copy of the “Auf Weidersehen Pet” series 1 soundtrack. This wasn’t the one I had on tape as a kid, but instead contains the incidental music from the program. Been after a cleaner copy of “The Fire” from the final episode where the “hut borns doon”

So, onto Durham itself. This was a warm, if overcast Autumn day. There were only two charity shops open, so I think we only spent about half an hour there. I didn’t end up getting anything from there, except for a nice photo or two.

It was still incredibly early at that point, so on the way back, we made a detour to Peterlee. Despite being only a small town, it has its fair share of charity shops. There’s a huge Sue Ryder shop there. It’s pretty expensive too, so once again, I came out empty handed. There’s a large “Home Bargains” store next door, and I managed to pick up 5 of these for a quid.

You might notice there’s slightly more than 5 there. Turns out they’re absolutely brilliant for cleaning the muck, mould, shite and usually, for some unknown reason, dried blood, off the CDs that come from the charity shops. In fact, they’re so good, I went to the Hartlepool shop and picked up another 10 cans, and I might pick up more tomorrow. For that price, you literally can’t go wrong, and I’ll always need CD cleaning products.

Onto the main shopping precinct in Peterlee. It’s a depressing sight. This shop (which, until a couple of months ago used to be a British Heart Foundation) pretty much says it all.

I did notice that there’s a “Farplace” charity shop opened there too, which is great – they’re rapidly becoming my favourite chain of shops. It was closed, however, so I might have to make a detour there at some point.

The YMCA was open here, and I picked out a few singles from this batch. They were very well thumbed, and the covers were all an absolute state, but the vinyl itself didn’t look too bad.

Last stop in Peterlee was the “other” British Heart Foundation… Now, Peterlee is the same as most towns… Or at least it was. Two BHF stores. One that sells your standard charity shop clothes and bric-a-brac, and another, often much larger one that sells furniture only. Now, probably because the smaller shop had closed down, this larger shop had a very small selection of CDs. They had £1 stickers on, but the bloke out the back said he’d do three for a quid. Obviously, the person behind the till didn’t get the memo, as he tried to charge me £3…nah mate, I advised him to have a word with the guy out the back, and indeed, he then only charged me £1. Now I await the barrage of 0 comments calling me a greedy fecker.

Last stop of the day was another YMCA… The one in Hartlepool. I’ve had good results from this shop in the past… The items don’t get sorted as much as some other shops, so you can end up with some quality finds….

Something that I’ve been collecting for a little side project, are “knock-off” CDs. Take the songs from a famous artist, get someone else to record them in the style of the original singer, and sell them for much cheaper. These have been around since recorded music became a thing

A prolific manufacturer of these is/was Prism Leisure. I have no idea if they’re still in business, but, like this one, they released CDs along the lines of “Hits of {artist} as performed by Studio 99”

I have a couple of these now. Corrs, Britney Spears, Celine Dion, to name but a few, and they’re all absolute garbage! I have others too, the collection is coming along quite nicely.

And finally, I bought this.

I don’t think this needs explanation!

Day 4 – The Auf Weidersehen, Pet Soundtrack

The 1980s was a time of uncertainty for the British Isles. Margaret Thatcher was in power, the coal mines were on the brink of closing, and things really didn’t look rosy. In 1984, a new TV series started, featuring the exploits of 4 labourers from around the country, all applying for jobs in Germany, and ending up in a building site in Dusseldorf., with *hilarious* consequences. Anyway, I could babble on about the plotlines and characters for hours, but I’m up early for work in the morning, and seeing as I haven’t done one of these for a while, I thought I’d continue it.

A very early memory of mine comes from this first showing. At the end of one episode, the sound started going all wobbly. Amazingly, thanks to the power of youtube, someone captured this very fault onVHS, and uploaded it to Youtube albeit from a different ITV region…

Now, for some reason I believed that “Do not adjust your set” type messages were actually there, because if you DID adjust your set, it would blow up., so every time something like this happened when I was a youngster, it used to scare me. Obviously, it’s 2020, and I now know that faults like this were caused by a master tape fault, or a dirty video head… either way, something was causing the video player to lose its tracking, and not able to keep the correct tape speed. Two memories of the show stuck with me… that fault, and the last episode of season 1 where “the hut bornt doon”. Oh, and of course, the theme music.

In (possibly) the summer of 1988, ITV started to show abridged 30 minute episodes, cutting the 1-hour long episodes in half. I remember watching, and liking the show, and also the two theme songs. It was one of the few shows at the time that used a completely different theme for the beginning of the show, and the end. I still have recordings of the theme that i’d grab off the telly, holding the tape recorder up to the telly. At the end of these episodes, the announcer would remind us that the soundtrack was available to purchase on LP.

Later that year, one of Chad’s freinds, Darren, who was several years older than me, said he had the afore-mentioned LP, and would I like a copy. Well. Of course I would. I handed him a cassette tape, and he returned, a few days later, with this…

The writing’s mine, by the way, written several years later

It’s a very old photo, and again, I’m sure I’ve blogged about this before, but bollocks to it, I might touch on something I missed out previously. Plus, seeing as we’re in lockdown, it’s something to do, innit?

This was the night before I was going away for my first holiday to Sandy bay, and obviously the tape would come away with me. It would be played in the car ad infinitum. The tape would return to Sandy Bay, up to our last visit in 1992.

Of course, I picked up the soundtrack album, both on CD and LP. I was surprised just ow many differences there were in the two.

So, onto the tracks themselves. I’m only going to concentrate on side 1 of the LP, as Side 2 is just incidental music from the show. Darren didn’t record this, as cassette tape was a finite resource at the time, and to be honest, it’s not particularly interesting unless you have a knowledge and interest of the show. I’m also going by the original LP, as the CD has some minor differences, mainly the track order and lengths.

01. THAT’S LIVING ALRIGHT
The end theme to Series 1. Released as a single, and got to, I believe number 3 on the charts. It was featured on Now That’s What I Call Music 2. There are three versions of this I know of. The first is the one used on 12 out of the 13 episodes of the show. Episode 10 uses a different revision. This is also the episode that broke down as mentioned above. I always assumed that the tape fault had damaged the audio, so they had to hurriedly re-record it for future showings. Turns out this wasn’t the case, as if you listen carefully, this is also playing that dodgy version, so I’m at a loss as to why this version is different.

The third version is the partially re-recorded one. A strange one this, as it exists back in 1984, it’s used in his TOTP performance. Every second line is re-recorded, and sounds different to the original. No idea why this version was used on TOTP, as the original version clearly still existed.

02. BREAKIN’ AWAY
This was the intro to the show, and stayed the same all the way through. the first episode’s version is edited, and omits the “Not tryin’ a run” section. the first episode does, however, have the full guitar instrumental. The record fades after 25 seconds where it ends after 36 seconds in the programme.

It was this exact song that got me into looking for full versions of songs. I’d listen each time it was on and see if they’d play an extra bit of that guitar instrumental. The CD version fades out even earlier.

03. BACK WITH THE BOYS AGAIN
Undoubtedly my favourite theme of the show. Chuggy electric guitars, hint of piano, a great little track. Used for series 2, and Slightly re-recorded for the show, depending on the length of the credits, with the final episode having it played in full.

The same version is on the CD release.

04. GET IT RIGHT
A completely different version was used on the show for most episodes. The version on the show is a re-recording. the drum track remains the same, but the vocal and guitar are slightly different, with a slow instrumental ending, This was never aired in full (though I can recall a very long version being played on one of the abridged 30-min episodes) – the longest version of this instrumental features in episode 10 (Scoop).

Episode 1 also uses a different version, but this never used the official intro. Episode 3 uses this released version, with the 2nd verse faded out and used as the instrumental

05. THE SEVEN AGAIN
Used in Series 2, episode 2, one of the two songs that was used just once in an episode, and also one of the few times were a song needed LESS cowbell. It was re-edited for the soundtrack with the cowbell dropped way back in the mix, a slightly different arrangement, and an instrumental added. Fades early on the CD release. Probably my least favourite of the 6, but it still has its own charm.

06 TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT
Featured in Series 2, episode 5 and the last time an original song would be used in this series. The LP has the complete version, the show uses the instrumental after the first verse and chorus. the CD cuts out most of the song.

So, in conclusion, if you were after this I’d track down the original LP (Towerbell Records (1986), AUF 2), failing that, the CD, if the above shortfalls aren’t much of a concern (Prestige Stage + Screen , CDSGP0201)

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!