Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vinyl Adventures #17

Another double header...

December 2012 has seen the passing of 2 great soulmen.

On December 2nd Howard Tate passed away at the age of 72. Born in Macon Georgia in 1939, as a teenager he began performing in a gospel group that also featured the great Garnet Mimms. He recorded R&B sides for Mercury and Cameo Records in the ealy 60's and also performed with the organist Bill Doggett.

Garnet Mimms introduced Tate to the legendary producer Jerry Ragovoy and between 1966 and 1968 the two of them produced some outstanding soul/blues recordings for Verve Records including "Ain't Nobody Home", "Look At Granny Run Run" and "Stop" all of which reached the Billboard R&B Top 20.

After more recordings for Turntable, Epic and his own label, Tate retired from the music business in the early 1970's and began selling insurance in Philadelphia. Tragedy struck when he lost his daughter in a house fire and as a result he started drinking heavily and became addicted to drugs, ending up homeless. By the mid 1990's he had cleaned up and was counselling drug users and preaching. Around this time his 1967 album "Get It While You Can" was reissued on CD and in the sleeve notes Jerry Ragovoy wrote that Tate was probably dead.

In 2001 a chance meeting between Tate and a member of Harold Melvin's Blue Notes in a grocery store let everyone know he was very much alive and in 2003 Howard Tate and Jerry Ragovoy worked together again to produce the comeback album "Rediscovered". Over the ensuing years Howard Tate had a second career, making further albums and touring regularly.

So in tribute I give you Howard Tate's 1967 recording for Verve "Baby, I Love You"...enjoy

Just 4 days later on December 6th came the news that Dobie Gray had also left us. If you don't know Dobie's name I'm willing to bet you've heard his 1973 hit single "Drift Away" before.

Born either Lawrence Darrow Brown or Leonard Victor Ainsworth (a name under which he later recorded) in 1940, his family were share croppers in Texas and he developed a love of gospel music through his grandfather who was a Baptist minister. In 1960 Lawrence/Leonard moved to Los Angeles where he recorded for a number of local labels under various names, including Leonard Ainsworth, Larry Curtis and Larry Dennis. Sonny Bono recommended him to Stripe Records and it was they who suggested the name change to "Dobie Gray" (a nod to the then popular sitcom "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis"). During the early 1960's the newly renamed Dobie Gray issued a clutch of singles on Stripe and more on Real Fine, Cordak and Jak before he turned up at Charger Records.

Dobie's first single for Charger gave him his first worldwide hit. In 1964 "The "In" Crowd" reached number 13 in the US Pop charts and 25 in the UK.
His legendary position with UK soul fans was, however, cemented by his 5th release for Charger. "Out On The Floor", released in 1966, is Northern Soul encapsulated on a 7" single. It was a complete flop when first released but has become revered over the years due to it's popularity on the Northern Soul dancefloor. When re-released in the UK in 1975 it reached number 42 in the charts and in 2000 former Wigan Casino DJ Kev Roberts placed it at number 2 in his list of the all time greatest 500 Northern Soul records, second only to Frank Wilson's "Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)".

So we bid farewell to Dobie Gray, one of the greats of Northern Soul, by bringing you "See You At The "Go-Go""...I'll see you where the girl's are...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Vinyl Adventures #16

OK, so I'm sure Mr William 'Smokey' Robinson needs absolutely no introduction...does he ?

Singer, songwriter, record producer, record company executive, known as "Mr Motown", he was probably second in importance at Motown Records only to Berry Gordy Jr himself.

Bob Dylan described him as "America's greatest living poet".

The list of songs he has written is, frankly, quite astonishing, "My Guy" for Mary Wells; "The Way You Do the Things You Do", "My Girl" and "Get Ready" for The Temptations; "When I'm Gone" for Brenda Holloway; "Ain't That Peculiar" and "I'll Be Doggone" for Marvin Gaye, not to mention the many classics for his own group The Miracles, "Tears Of A Clown", "Tracks Of My Tears", "I Second That Emotion", "Shop Around" and "You've Really Got A Hold On Me" (later covered by The Beatles).

Born William Robinson Jr. on February 19, 1940, at the age of 6 his Uncle gave him the nickname "Smokey Joe". In African American culture "smokey" is used to decscribe dark skinned black people. Young William was very light skinned and his Uncle told him "I'm doing this so you won't ever forget that you're black". In his teens "Smokey Joe" was shortened to "Smokey" and the name stuck.

In August 1958 Smokey, who was already playing Detroit venues with his group The Matadors, met Berry Gordy Jr and co-wrote the song "Got A Job". The Matadors changed their name to The Miracles and recorded the song with Gordy for End Records in November 1958. The Miracles also recorded for Chess Records and in 1959 Robinson suggested to Gordy that he start his own label. This saw the birth of Tamla Records.

The Miracles were amongst the first signings to the new label and in 1960 their 4th single for the new label, "Shop Around", became Tamla's first number one hit on the R&B singles chart and companies first million-selling single when it reached number 1 on the Cash Box Pop Chart. During their career The Miracles achieved 17 US Pop top 20 singles.

"Whole Lot Of Shaking' In My Heart (Since I Met You)" wasn't written by Smokey Robinson and didn't make the US Pop top 20, it peaked at 46 and missed out on the UK chart completely. The song was written by Motown staff writer Frank Wilson, of "Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)" fame.

It's a 100mph slice of prime Motown soul featuring an urgent horn section and the Funk Brothers creating dance floor dynamite on the backing track. The vocal performance by all of the Miracles is fabulous but check out Smokey's almost scat like vocalising on the word "I" at around 2 mins 14 seconds, that's a masterful singer at work.

I've just had a copy of this record given to me (yes GIVEN!) and it'll definitely be getting an outing at our next soul night on 14th January. Until then please enjoy The Miracles and "Whole Lot Of Shaking' In My Heart (Since I Met You)"...

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Vinyl Adventures #15

This is one I bought back in October but didn't get around to writing about and I think it deserves it.

Erma Vernice Franklin was born in Shelby, Mississippi on March 13, 1938. 4 years later her sister Aretha came into the world. Together with their sister Carolyn they sang at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit where their father, the Reverend C. L. Franklin, was pastor.

In the late 1950's Erma was approached by Berry Gordy and his songwriting partner Billy Davis who were interested in making her the first artist for their new record label. She travelled to Chicago with Gordy and Davis to meet with Phil Chess of Chess Records trying to arrange a distribution deal for their fledgling label. Erma's father persuaded her to complete her education telling her that she could always sing after she graduated. She was later to learn that three songs Gordy and Davis had intended for her to sing were recorded by others, most notably "I Get The Sweetest Feeling" recorded by Jackie Wilson. She did eventually record the song, releasing it in 1970.

After Erma finished college The Rev. Franklin took her and Aretha to audition for Columbia Records. Aretha signed with Columbia and Erma with their subsidiary label Epic. The label issued 7 singles and an album on Erma between 1961 and 1963. At the end of her contract she spent 5 years as the featured vocalist with The Lloyd Price Orchestra.

In 1967 Erma signed with Shout Records and that year released what is probably her best known recording, the original version of "Piece of My Heart", which earned her a Grammy nomination for best new artist in 1968.

Following the sudden death of Shout label owner and songwriter, Bert Berns, Erma moved to the Brunswick label where her debut single in 1969 was "Gotta Find Me A Lover (24 Hours A Day)".

I first heard this at a very sparsely attended charity allnighter and it grabbed me immediately. That driving guitar gives it the feeling of a rock single as much as a soul groove. But whatever, it's a fantastic record that sends me dashing for the dancefloor whenever I hear it.

Erma Franklin sadly passed away in 2002, but she left behind some great music (the b-side of "Gotta Find Me A Lover..." is well worth a listen too). But right now sit back and enjoy the driving "Gotta Find Me A Lover (24 Hours A Day)" from the "The Queen Of Soul's" big sister, Erma Franklin...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Vinyl Adventures #14

Patti Drew was born in North Carolina in 1944 and spent time living in Nashville. She began singing in church with her sisters Lorraine and Erma where they were spotted by their mothers employer, a Capitol Records promoter, who signed them to the label as The Drew-Vels. In 1963 they released the single "Tell Him" which was a local hit and flirted around the bottom end of the Billboard national charts.

Patti signed as a solo artist to Quill Records in 1966 and shortly after moved back to Capitol. She released a total of 3 albums and a handful of singles before leaving the music business in 1971.

"Stop And Listen" was released as a single in 1967. It has a laid back groove but builds to a crescendo of vocals and horns during the chorus. Listen out especially for the bass player, who is laying down some serious moves in there, and a fantastic baritone sax honking away in the background.

People, give it up for Miss Patti Drew and "Stop And Listen"

Vinyl Adventures #12

No, not the hairy middle of the road-ers from the mid 70's (see here) but this Guys & Dolls are a (possibly) Chicago based group about whom very little is known.

The track in question is again the b-side and starts out with strident strings supported by a more than keen drummer who after a lightning fast roll proceeds to go mental on his bass drum for the entire remaining 2 minutes and 51 seconds (he must have been shattered by the end of this session) supported by a great female lead and intertwining group vocals. Well worth £10.

I present you with Guys & Dolls and "Heartaches"...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Me & My Friends

Back in June we were invited to my friend Ian's 40th birthday party and Ian asked if I would play a few songs. I did and here they are...

Coz I Luv You
Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart
The Ballad Of Me And My Friends
Tainted Love
Down In The Tubestation At Midnight

Thanks to Dave for his rhythmic accompaniment and Deb & Sally for vocal assistance.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Vinyl Adventures #11

This one will be very short

A big thank you and a link to "Derek's Daily 45" for bringing this one to my attention. My copy arrived last week.

Take a listen to Johnny Sayles with "Somebody's Changing (My Sweet Baby's Mind)"

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Vinyl Adventures #10

OK, so we've figured out that Northern Soul is based primarily around the playing of Black American soul records and that added to that, many records by artists neither black nor American have been played under the banner of Northern Soul. Well here's a double header demonstrating a kind of US/UK crossover.

Madeline Bell was born in Newark, New Jersey. She arrived in the UK in 1962 as part of the vocal group, The Bradford Singers, appearing in the gospel show Black Nativity. It was in the UK that her career took off. She became an in demand session singer, most famously singing backing vocals on many Dusty Springfield recordings.

Between 1963 and 1969 Madeline released a string of singles on UK labels, most notably Philips, without ever having that one big hit. Her version of Evie Sands "Picture Me Gone" was released in October 1967 b/w "Go Ahead On" (Dusty Springfield sings backing voacals on Madeline's version of "Go Ahead On" after Madeline sang backing vocals on Dusty's version released as the b-side to her single "All I See Is You" in 1966).

The version I have here is the US Philips release which was the b-side to Madeline's take on "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" which reached number 30 in the US charts in 1968.

Although never a hit in the UK "Picture Me Gone" found an appreciative home on Northern Soul dancefloors. Me, I've loved it since I first heard it, never tiring of it. That little solo guitar part at about 2 mins 26 seconds sends you hurtling into the last 30 seconds perfectly.

Boys and girls I give you Madeline Bell and "Picture Me Gone". Great song, great performance, great record...so why wasn't it a hit ?

Now, after a US artist that came to the UK to make a name for herself before having a hit in the US, how about a US EP track that had to come to the UK to find fame and a release on a single of it's very own.

Willie Mitchell was born in 1928 in Ashland, Mississippi. By the time he was in high school he had moved to Memphis, Tennessee. He'd been playing the trumpet from a young age and at high school featured in local big bands. By the 1960's Willie was working at Hi Records where he was involved in engineering, producing (the likes of Al Green), scouting talent and eventually running the label...oh and he made a few records too!

"The Champion (Part 1)" was originally released on a 6 track EP titled "That Driving Beat". It started to pick up plays at Northern clubs in the early 70's and became so popular that it was issued as a 7" single in it's own right by Decca, on the London label in 1976, with "The Champion (Part 2)" on the flip side, naturally.

Mitchell's records are famed for their stomping bass drum sound (usually supplied by drummer Al Jackson of Booker T & The MG's fame). Some Northern Soul records are often described as "Stompers".

If you ever needed to know what a "Stomper" sounds like just lend an ear to Willie Mitchell and "The Champion (Part 1)"...bangin'

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Vinyl Adventures #9

The world of Northern Soul is a rare old beast. Yes it's a style of music based mainly on the playing of rare, black American soul records, primarily from the 1960's. But...if a record has "the sound" it get's played. This has resulted in some very strange things being played on the scene, such as "Theme From Joe 90", Muriel Day's "Nine Times Out Of Ten" (the b-side to an Irish Eurovision Song Contest entry, and yes, you're right, it's awful) and more than one record by Tom Jones (yes that's Jones the Voice from that hotbed of Soul & R'n'B, Pontypridd in South Wales) including this one:

I've often said that if "It's Not Unusual" hadn't been a major hit it would have fit right in on the Northern dance floor (have a listen to The Dells version). Well in the mid 60's Tom was knocking out covers of US soul tunes and R'n'B flavoured dancers to great effect. Check out his take on Ben E Kings "I Can't Break The News To Myself" or "Dr Love".

"Stop Breaking My Heart" was originally released in 1966, and was a complete flop. This copy I have is a 1970 issue of his cover of Shirley Bassey's 1963 hit "I Who Have Nothing" (which was also originally recorded by Ben E King) with "Stop Breaking My Heart" tucked away on the b-side.

Written by Tom's manager, Gordon Mills (who also wrote "It's Not Unusual") and produced for Gordon Mills Productions, right from the intro this is a huge sounding record that gallops along at a fair old pace. I particularly like the slightly disinterested sounding backing vocalists droning "don't you break my heart" between filing their nails and chewing gum (or so it sounds to me).

So with thanks to Dave, for pointing out all this Jonesy goodness to me, please enjoy Tom Jones and "Stop Breaking My Heart"...hotdamn

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Part 4 - Let's Play Life...

As I mentioned in Part 3 - Flowers In The Dustbin, I started to play the guitar in 1977 mainly due to my discovery of Punk Rock and the offering of such sage advice from the likes of Alternative TV’s Mark Perry who said you only needed to know 3 chords and you could form a band.

The only problem with that was that you needed other people to form a band other than the "one man" type favoured three years earlier by Leo Sayer.

Fortunately my brother had an inkling to play the drums and my recollection tells me that at Xmas 1977 I received an electric guitar and small practice amp and my brother a snare drum and hi-hat and we promptly set to learning to play some of the songs we now knew should be simple to play cos, as people kept telling us, "them punk rockers can't play".

Well I beg to differ !

What I did discover was you really didn't need to learn the 3 chords previously demonstrated, you just needed to learn one chord shape, this one

If you are not, nor ever have been, a guitar player that diagram may look as indecipherable to you as a page full of a random foreign language. Hopefully, dear reader, you are a fan of the Ramones so I shall let Johnny demonstrate

That being a picture of the mighty Johnny Ramone playing the above diagrammed chord, commonly known as a barre chord.

The beauty of the barre chord is that if you move it up and down the fret board of a guitar the same shape becomes a different chord at each position. So at the first fret it is an F, at the 3rd fret a G, at the 5th an A and so on and so forth until you reach the dusty end of the neck. So you have a myriad of chords at your disposal all from learning to play one shape.

The down side of the barre chord is that for the inexperienced guitarist they are bloody difficult and excrutiatingly painful to play in equal measure. As you can see you are required to stretch one finger across the whole neck and hold down all the strings while at the same time using your remaining 3 available fingers to make the chord. Add to this using your thumb at the back of the neck to clamp down that stretched index digit and shifting that shape up and down the neck at a speed dictated by the punk rock we chose to play...well it bloody hurt and you had to persevere to make it sound anywhere close to acceptable. It may go some way to explaining why I have, in the ensuing years, avoided the use of barre chords whenever possible!

But persevere I did and my brother and I would wait for our parents to go out, set up the amp and drum kit-lite in the living room and thrash our way through such hits of the day as the Tom Robinson Bands "Up Against the Wall" and the Angelic Upstarts "Police Oppression". I'm certain at times it sounded bloody awful (oh those poor neighbours) but we were having a great time.

The next logical steps are two-fold; find the remaining members to make up a full band and then, write some of your own songs. We found a bass player who also played the saxophone and, calling ourselves "A Moment", we set to learning to play together. We played a few gigs at local church halls and at my 18th birthday party. But most importantly we started to write our own songs. I don't remember if it was the first one I/we wrote but a song called "Everything You Need" was born. I can't remember the words anymore but I can still play most of it.

(Actually I've just had a go and I can still play all of it. Now I wonder where the lyrics are ??? Oh yeah, we recorded it. I've just been up into my loft and retrieved a reel of tape containing the very first recordings we made. It's 30 years old, dated March 1981. Two songs are on this reel, "Happy Fields Of Thought" and "Everything You Need". I guess I need to get on to some people and try and get these songs digitised somehow. Watch this space)

Music became pretty much my reason for doing everything. Listening to it, making it, anything so long as it was music related. We went to endless gigs and dreamt about being as big as the bands we went to see. Hanging out and talking about how great your band was was almost as important as your band actually being great.

I don't remember when or how A Moment finished but by 1983 I was in another band called Pop Da Freak. I'd given up playing the guitar and just concentrated on being the singer. We dressed in leather and frills, wore make up and had vertical haircuts (well most of us did). We made a racket inspired by Joy Division, Magazine, Iggy Pop and the Velvet Underground (or so we thought) and there's an example of it right here.

Pop Da Freak - Play Life For Keeps by russh29

I've always been really proud of that song. The lyrics were based on a book called "Ringolevio" by Emmett Grogan which if you have any interest in the 60's counter culture is a book you should seek out and read.

Pop Da Freak would have folded in late 1986 and by 1987 I'd formed yet another new band, The Libertines (got there waaaay before ya Doherty). What we were doing back then would have been described as sounding very C86, what came to pick up the all encompassing description "Indie", whatever the hell that is. We had a fine old time. We picked up supports with some well known bands, played some big shows and I finally got to do something I'd dreamed about doing since back when my first single was either "Skweeze Me Pleeze Me", "The Wanderer" or "Solid Gold Easy Action" (don't know what I'm babbling on about ? Have a look here) I GOT TO MAKE A SINGLE OF MY OWN !!!

The Libertines "Smith Is A Liar"

It was recorded at The Workshop studio in Redditch near Birmingham, with co-production duties handled by my brother, who had ditched the drums in favour of the guitar and was by then making records of his own on a major label and heading for "pop star" status. "Smith Is A Liar" didn't sell many copies (I still have boxes of them around the house if anybody still wants to buy one) and I never got to hear it on the radio but I had finally made a record of my very own.

Despite it's abject failure we did some gigs to try and promote it and even made plans to release a second single, which would have been this

The Libertines "Wolf!"

The Libertines - Wolf! by russh29

But by now I needed a little more security in my life. I was about to become a Dad and I needed a job. I'd done a few gigs pretending to be a roadie for my brothers band and they were about to embark on their first major support tour of the UK. They asked me to go with them as the roadie and offered me what was then a handsome sum to do it. So I told my fellow Libertines that was it and, 25 days after the birth of my son, embarked on my first tour as a roadie, something that would occupy me for the next 8 years. But that story is for another time...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vinyl Adventures #8

I've just had my first charity shop find !

I had to go into our little town to get some essentials (butter, mayonnaise, ketchup, digestives. Yeah! Essentials!) and decided to have a look in a couple of the local charity shops. Nothing in the first but in the second there were two boxes of singles. Unfortunately someone was at them before me and he seemed to know what he was looking for. He'd already pulled out a picture sleeved copy of the Sex Pistols "God Save The Queen" (see my recent post) and a record on the Blue Beat label but I couldn't see what that was.

He eventually moved on and I got to flicking through the first box. Not much in there but when I got to the second box this was right at the front

Yeah OK so it's not exactly gonna earn me enough to retire on but it was only 50p and in very fine condition.

R Dean Taylor moved from his native Toronto to Detroit in the early 60's and was hired by Motown as a songwriter and recording artist for their subsidiary label V.I.P. He released "There's A Ghost In My House" on V.I.P. in 1967. Co-written by Taylor and the legendary Motown writing team of "Holland-Dozier-Holland" and produced by Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier it was a commercial flop, allegedly because Motown chose not to promote it well enough.

The single was picked up on in the early 70's by the Northern Soul scene and became so popular that Motown re-released it and R Dean found himself with a #3 UK chart hit in 1974.

So enjoy Mr R Dean Taylor and "There's A Ghost in My House"

P.S I found a copy of Gary Lewis & The Playboys "My Hearts Symphony" in the same box but I decided to keep that to myself...D'OH!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Vinyl Adventures #7

You may recall that in Vinyl Adventures #5 I told you "I'm really not a lover of white guys trying to play "the Blues"". So what do we have here ?

The Skyliners were an (all white) Doo Wop group formed in 1958 in Pittsburgh and released their first single "Since I Don't Have You" in December of that year. It reached #12 in the US charts.

By May 1965 when "Everything Is Fine" was released the original group had disbanded and leader Jimmy Beaumont had transformed himself into something of an impressive soul singer. So yes, what we have here is an example of a white guy singing (rhythm &) blues...but hey! this is my Blog and if I can't contradict myself here then where can I ?

Again this is a B-side (the A-side being "The Loser"). It's a beautiful mid-tempo floater of a record kicking off with with a vocal intro over strummed guitar chords before it settles into being a laid back dancer replete with handclaps and fabulous close harmonies from the rest of The Skyliners. I can't remember where I first heard this (maybe at The Station Hotel nights in the 90's) but I've loved it since that first time and it's a thrill to get hold of such a great copy of it.

So all of you settle back and let The Skyliners "Everything Is Fine" brighten your day...cool!

Vinyl Adventures #6

It's something of a mystery that some Northern Soul nights are known as "Oldies" nights. This from a scene where the majority of the records played are from the 1960's. What is meant by this term "Oldies" is records that have been played at events for many years and have become very well known, even to people who don't follow Northern Soul.

A few years ago DJ Kev Roverts compiled a book, "The Northern Soul Top 500", which collected together what he described as the "definitive chart of the 500 top sounds that put northern soul on the map". You can view a list of the 500 here. These are the records you will likely hear at an "Oldies" night.

At number 95 in that list you'll find Spyder Turner's "I Can’t Make It Anymore", a well loved Northern Soul Oldie. But Spyder made many other great records, including this one

"You're Good Enough For Me" was the B-side to Spyder's debut single for MGM Records, a take on the Ben E King classic "Stand By Me". Spyder was none too happy with his version of "Stand By Me" telling Blues & Soul magazine that MGM "felt it was good enough. I didn't agree. I didn't like it but I wanted a record deal so I went on ahead and did a B-side for them."

And oh what a B-side! Spyder and his girly backing singers are to be heard chirping and stomping away while the band lays down a groove that just doesn't give up. The sum of all those parts results in a sublime dancer that fortunately was discovered languishing on the B-side by a group of soul crazed dancers and DJ's in the north of 1970's England.

Spyder Turner is still regularly playing live shows, writing and making records and does some acting too. I love "I Can’t Make It Anymore" but I'd much rather hear something like this played out than another played to death Oldie.

So give it up for Spyder Turner and "You're Good Enough For Me"...Yeah!

Vinyl Adventures #5

I don't know why but until recently I had always assumed that Arthur Alexander was white. Maybe it was because I had first come across his name in tandem with that of Mose Allison, who is white (I'm really not a lover of white guys trying to play "the Blues", although in Mose' defence his style is more Jazz). Maybe it was because the only music I knew by Arthur Alexander were insipid covers of "Anna Go To Him" by The Beatles and "You Better Move On" by the Rolling Stones. I've never been much of a fan of either of those groups. I'd much rather get my '60's kicks from the Small Faces, The Kinks or The Who.

I'm not much of a fan of Elvis Presley either, never have been. I can appreciate the importance of what he did at Sun Records but I'd much rather get my shots of '50's rock 'n' roll from Jerry Lee or Eddie Cochran or Little Richard.

So I'm therefore pleased to have recently discovered that Arthur Alexander was Afro-American, otherwise we might now be talking about a record featuring two of my least favourite things; a white "blues" artist performing, what became, an Elvis Presley hit.

As it is what we have is Arthur's 1972 original version of a song that Mr Presley took to #2 in the US a few months later. Legend has it that "The King" didn't much care for the song and was uncomfortable performing it even though it gave him his last US top 10 hit.

Arthur's version however thunders along. This is another record I came across thanks to the (sadly now defunct) Makin' Trax Blog that highlighted records that have, in the past, been played on the Northern/Rare Soul scene that might be ripe for revival and the copy I've bought is a white label promo with the same song on both sides (mono and stereo mixes) in practically mint condition. It's very "southern soul" in arrangement and style and I'm not sure how it's going to go down when presented to the dancers. Oh well I guess I'll find out at Telford Soul Club on November 12th.

In the meantime let me know what you think of of Mr Arthur Alexanders hunk-a-hunk-a "Burnin' Love"...enjoy!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Part 3 - Flowers In The Dustbin

The 27th May 1977 is a date that should be writ large in mine, and many of my friends, memories, but even I had to do a bit of research to find out that that was the date upon which a record was released that can still have a very deep effect upon my mood to this day.

To continue our somewhat disjointed story...I’d progressed through singles and Glam Rock to actually going to gigs and the final piece of my musical education was waiting to be discovered. Where did I find out more about the music I liked, what was being released and when, who was playing gigs and where ? The answers to all my questions were to be found each week inside the approximately 60 pages of newspaper print, that would usually end up all over your hands and clothes. We’re talking the music press, the inkies as they came to be known.

At the time we are talking about, that being late 1976 or early 1977, Sounds, Melody Maker and the New Musical Express, or NME, were the papers that covered all things music, serious music that is, not pop which was taken care of by the likes of Jackie and other teen girl magazines which no self respecting glam rocker would be seen reading. Sounds was very heavy rock oriented and Melody Maker quite studious. NME was a bit out of my league when I was 14, I didn’t understand most of what was written in there, very literary.

I latched onto Sounds, not because I particularly like heavy rock but because it seemed the easiest of the inkies to understand. I started buying Sounds each week, scouring the news items and gig listings for any Slade related info. I don’t recall that I was reading the features, but I was learning about lots of bands and artists from the news items, ad’s and reviews. Inevitably some names began to stick out more than others and I began to read about bands with names like the Sex Pistols, The Damned, The Jam, The Clash, The Adverts and others who seemed to be causing quite a stir, being commented about as much negatively as positively and being described as Punk Rock.

From what I could make out from the items in Sounds, these bands played loud, basic, noisy rock music, maybe were not very proficient musicians but were attracting young audiences who were maybe somewhat disillusioned with the current music available on the airwaves of Britain’s only national music radio station...wunnerful Radio 1.

BBC4 recently began repeating Top Of The Pops from 1976. They still hold full archives of the shows from then forward and are showing them in full every Wednesday evening. It really is astonishing what crap was charting in 1976. If you’re feeling real brave try some of this rubbish:

Paul Nicholas - Reggae Like It Used To Be
Harpo - Movie Star
Rubettes - You’re The Reason Why
Slik - Requiem
Sheer Elegance - Life Is Too Short Girl

Is it any wonder Punk Rock happened ???

I did see a 1976 TOTP recently that opened with the Heavy Metal Kids performing their new single (at the time) “She’s No Angel”. It didn’t chart, I didn’t discover the Heavy Metal Kids until some time in late 1977 thanks to a Radio 1 In Concert broadcast which I only recorded for the performance by the support band, The Vibrators, but how I wish I’d seen that TOTP performance in 1976, it would have been a shining beacon in a sea of 1976’s pop trash.

I remember the summer of 1976, it was a bloody scorcher, day after day of endless sunshine and heat and hour after hour of The Real Things “You To Me Are Everything” and Wings “Silly”bloody”Love Songs” on the radio, and I’m sure me thinking that there must be something better than this to listen to. Unbeknownst to me that “something better” was simmering away in pubs and clubs in London in readiness for revealing itself to me in the spring of 1977.

So back to our narrative; there I was scouring Sounds for any Slade based news I could find and becoming more and more aware of these new bands that were popping up in the news and reviews pages. By May and into June 1977 the occasional mentions had developed into something of a firestorm mainly centred around the group known as the Sex Pistols.

All of 1977 saw the UK “celebrating” Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee, 25 years on the throne, and the Jubilee Days of June 6th-9th saw a series of events in and around London with many people holding street parties on 7th June. Also on the 7th June the Sex Pistols held a party, on a boat sailing up and down the Thames, on which they performed, their new single. The boat was hauled over by police and many people on board were arrested. The boat episode was reported in the music press and the national press the next week. Fantastic publicity for their newly released single “God Save The Queen”, which had been unleashed upon the world on 27th May. Publicity enough for me to finally decide “OK let’s go and buy this Punk Rock record and see what all the fuss is about”.

So on my next trip into Birmingham, most likely on a Saturday, most likely to HMV on New Street, or Virgin on Bull Street, or maybe Inferno in Dale End, I don’t remember, but I do know I bought a copy of the Sex Pistols “God Save The Queen” along with The Stranglers “Peaches” b/w “Go Buddy Go” combination. When we got those records home, we played them, obviously, and the first time I played “God Save The Queen”....listen, I’ve written this up on here before, you can find out what happened here and for those of you too lazy to click the link I copy and paste here:

We dropped the needle on the groove and...it felt like I was physically hurled across the room and pinned against the opposite wall for 3 minutes and 20 seconds. When it had finished I think I was in shock. It was like nothing I had ever heard before.

Did I really just hear that ?
People don't make records that sound like that.
Do they ?
They do ?

So I played it again....and again...and again...you get the picture...just to reassure myself that I had heard it right. And I think I knew then that some things were never going to seem quite the same ever again

And astonishingly, that record still gives me a rush when I hear it to this day. Steve Jones opening guitar blast can instantly transport me back to that point in time when I first heard it and felt slightly awed, slightly frightened, slightly exhilarated and realised that things had just changed in a big way.

I never did become much of a fan of The Stranglers but the Sex Pistols 4 singles and 1 album are constant companions even now. I started buying other Punk Rock records by The Jam (who replaced Slade as my musical obsession), The Clash (I was lucky enough to meet Joe Strummer shortly before he passed away. A meeting that left a lasting impression on me), The Adverts (TV Smith’s music has stuck by me all these years and I can now count him amongst my acqauintances), X-Ray Spex, The Damned, The Ruts, Generation X and Siouxsie & The Banshees. I started to play the guitar because Alternative TV’s Mark Perry said you only needed to know 3 chords and you could form a band. Eventually I made a record of my own...but that tale is for another day...

Friday, September 02, 2011

Vinyl Adventures #4

It arrived...at last. Exactly one month after winning the auction on eBay and much sweating on whether it was ever going to arrive, hanging around the front door waiting for the postman, it dropped through the letterbox this morning...phew!

Debbie Taylor seems to have become a singer in the same way as many great black American singers, via the church. When young she sang gospel in her fathers church and toured nationally as a gospel singer in her teens. Through this route she came to the attention of Decca records who released her first two singles during 1968. After parting company with Decca she moved to the New York label GWP.

I first came across "Don't Nobody Mess With My Baby" when it was released on a CD complitaion of GWP's output by Kent Records, "GWP: NYC TCB", and was struck by it's power from the very first listen.

Debbie released 3 singles for GWP through 1969. Then, in 1970, she released "Don't Nobody Mess With My Baby" on the GWP subsidiary Grapevine. It's a pounding piece of big city soul, custom built for the dancefloor and Debbie's vocal performance is nothing short of astonishing.

Unfortunately my copy arrived too late for me to spin it at our soul night last Sunday, but watch out on November 12th when Debbie will be ripping up the dancefloor at Telford Soul Club.

Good people, I give you Debbie Taylor and "Don't Nobody Mess With My Baby"...hell yeah !

Monday, August 22, 2011

Vinyl Adventures #3

And another arrived this morning...

Len Jewell, or as he occasionally liked to be known "His Imperial Highness Sir Leonard Jewel Smith", fronted soul group The Styles and first released "Betting On Love" on his own label Teri De. It was later picked up for a wider release by the Fontana label in 1967.

This is another record I have bought for the B-side however. "All My Good Lovin'" is a fabulously smooth piece of late 60's/early 70's soul sounding like it may have been purpose made for the Northern Soul scene. I think it's original release was in 1969 on the Pzazz Records label.

The two songs were bought together in 2004 on the re-activated Soul City label. Soul City was a British record label run by the great soul fan and writer Dave Godin from his record shop of the same name in London. This here copy of the release is a promo release with hand written artist name and song titles on the label.

People, I give you Len Jewell and "All My Good Lovin'"...enjoy!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Vinyl Adventures #2

Here comes the second installment of Vinyl Adventures already as the record arrived today.

I came across The Marvellos "Why Do You Want To Hurt The One That Loves You" on a blog that I frequent that suggests soul records that are not so often played at events these days and are ripe for revival. I was immediately taken with the reasonably sparse arrangement which then crashes into a monstrous "let's throw the kitchen sink at it" chorus.

I searched around for it in vain for some time until I discovered that it was a B-side, the A-side being "You're Such A Sweet Thing" which you can listen to at Derek's Daily 45 blog right here. Armed with this information I tracked down a couple of copies but the price was a little rich for me. Finally I tracked down a copy in the US which was priced more to my liking and it arrived this morning.

Ladies and gents I give you The Marvellos and "Why Do You Want To Hurt The One That Loves You"...enjoy!

Vinyl Adventures #1

I've started buying vinyl again. Why, you ask ? Well a couple of years ago I was idly searching t'internet for a soul night I might attend in our local area. I came across an announcement for a night at a sports and social club about 15 minutes walk from our house. I sent an e-mail to the address on the announcement and very quickly got a reply from DJ Double-0 Soul with more info and an invite to go say hello when I arrived.

So my inarguably better half and I attended and I did indeed go up and introduce myself to DJ Double-0 Soul. The thing that surprised me most about all this was that here we were at a soul/Northern soul/rare soul night (call it what you will) and the DJ's were playing from CD's !

Now I had never come across a Soul night previously where this was allowed. DJ'ing from CD's is frowned upon on the rare soul scene. But as a relatively new adherant to the scene and one with only CD's and a desire to DJ, I offered my services and the next month was given a spot.

Our little soul club has moved venues and developed over the ensuing 2 years. We now have 4 regular DJ's 3 of whom, including me, now spin from vinyl as do all our guest DJ's. This means I've had to start buying vinyl again. So I thought I would present some of those purchases here under the title Vinyl Adventures because it's very exciting when I get a new record.

So here is the first, a Northern Soul Classic, NF Porter's "Keep On Keeping On". This was released in 1971 and played almost as a new release at the Golden Torch, quite unusual on the Northern Soul scene.

I didn't buy this one myself. It was a 45th birthday present from my brother and very well received too. It is rumoured that Joy Division based the song "Interzone" on the main riff from this song, they would undoubtedly have known it from Manchester clubs in the mid '70's. You can hear "Interzone" here and make up your own mind.

Our Mr Porter has another big tune on the Northern scene, "If I Could Only Be Sure" credited to Nolan Porter this time, but right now I give Mr NF Porter and "Keep On Keeping On"...enjoy!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Time to say goodbye...

We had to let our beautiful little Siouxsie-dog go on Friday. Everyone keeps telling us we did the right thing but, hell, it doesn't feel like we did.

Sleep tight little girl, we miss you like crazy already. Mom, Dad and J xxx

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Part 2a - I’m Ready Now So What The Heck…(cont.)

While I was writing my last blog post I needed to do some research into dates and came across a couple of websites that I wanted to let you know about.

Firstly www.slayed.co.uk which was where I discovered the dates I was looking for. If you're at all a fan of SLADE this is a great site packed with info.

In the Links section of www.slayed.co.uk was a link to www.davekempandslade.com. What's all that about ? Well as Dave Kemp himself says:

"Slade. Noddy Holder, Dave Hill, Jim Lea and Don Powell. Between 1972 and 1986 they were the main focus of my life. I lived and breathed the band. In tribute I have created my own website about the happiest times in my life - 15 years following Slade.
This website therefore is really for my personal use. It's to act as my diary. It will sit in the past. It will be my personal memories of West Hampstead days and of all the fun, laughter and tears of following, who I consider, were Britain's greatest rock band - Slade."

So there I was rummaging through Dave's memories when to my absolute delight I found he had pictures taken at the two gigs I referred to in my last blog post. I hope Dave doesn't mind but there are links to them just underneath here. Enjoy ! I know I did...

Birmingham Hippodrome May 5th 1977

Birmingham Town Hall March 21st 1978

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Part 2 - I’m Ready Now So What The Heck…

As you may have surmised from the previous instalment of this tale, Glam Rock was the first “thing” I got into. Let’s face it, Glam Rock wasn’t really a “musical movement” it was just that the chart hits of the day featured be-glittered men in outrageous platform boots playing guitars and writing (or having written for them) great pop songs. Slade, T.Rex, The Sweet, Gary Glitter and the Glitter Band, Mud, (and of course Wizzard but that’s a little nepotistic) they were the bands that first captured the ears of this young fella. I would love to have listed Bowie and Mott The Hoople and Roxy Music there but I have to confess that at the time I think I found them a little strange, frightening even, and I didn’t really “get” them until later in life. But the reason I think Glam Rock appealed is for the exact same reason that music, of any sort, has appealed to me ever since; and the requirements are great big tunes, great big drum beats, guitars to front and centre, proper choruses you can shout or sing along to delivered by a great singer and you have to be able to dance to it. I discovered the dance-a-bility factor could be very important.

When I was around 11 or 12, one of my school friends was the son of a local licensee, and the pub where my friend lived had an upstairs function room. Myself and this friend (whom I recall was named Stephen) decided to put on afternoon “disco’s” for our school mates in this room, maybe at weekends, maybe in the summer holidays, I don’t really remember. What I do remember is the lads and lasses in attendance sitting on opposite sides of the room, the lads skulking and shuffling about on one side not quite knowing what to do while the girls, all dressed up in their finest outfits, sat talking amongst themselves on the other, while Stephen was playing his way through records by the likes of The Stylistics, The Bee Gees and Gilbert O’Sullivan (probably).

When it came to my turn I thought we should rock a little more and so proceeded to spin my very small selection of Glam Rock discs. It may be wishful thinking on my part but I am almost certain the first thing I played was Wizzard’s “See My Baby Jive” (which would date this event to around the Spring of 1973 at the earliest) but what I am most certain of is that, almost as soon as the needle hit the record, our previously empty dance floor was now a packed morass of writhing pre-teenage groovers. This taught me some very important lessons, chiefly, the effect music can have on girls; girls like to dance; girls like boys that can dance. Now I’m not suggesting any of the boys were budding Michael Jackson’s (in fact most of them were probably doing that rather strange Glam Rock dance that me and my brother have been known to indulge in, when drunk. You can witness it in this Top Of The Pops performance by Mud, take note at 1 minute 25 seconds in) but those lads that did venture out on the floor were receiving admiring glances and gigglesome comment from the grooving girlies.

Over the next few months my musical tastes started to, well, not narrow, but become more partisan shall we say. The cause of this was a growing obsession (the first of many musical obsessions I might add) with the Black Country’s, nay, the country’s finest Glam Rockers, the mighty SLADE. The first evidence of this obsession came when I bought…AN ALBUM. The album in question was SLAYED, their 3rd studio album but their first as bona fide pop stars. It was home to the singles “Gudbuy T’ Jane” and “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”. It had a great picture of them on the cover looking like some rough arsed gang of Glam boot boys and all sporting the word SLADE biro’d across their knuckles (I’m sure they were going for the gang-tattoo look but I was 12, I didn’t know what a tattoo was, but I did have easy access to biro’s). But this wasn’t the album that led me on to the next development in my musical journey. That was what I think was the next album I bought, SLADE ALIVE.

In 1971 SLADE had their first 2 hit singles, “Get Down And Get With It”, which reached number 16 in August, and “Coz I Luv You”, which became Slade’s first number 1 in November. SLADE ALIVE was released in March 1972 and was recorded before a specially invited audience of fans at the Command Theatre Studio to cash in on their 2 hits and so that the band’s increasingly talked about live show could be captured perfectly. SLADE were so confident in their live show that “Coz I Luv You”, their number 1 hit, isn’t even on the album.

For a single buying pop kid the album is a big progression. I knew what albums were about, a collection of songs that mostly were not singles, which were split between the 2 sides of the record with nice uniform silent gaps between the tracks. I owned SLAYED so I knew what to expect and my Dad had albums by The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and others that demonstrated the same behaviour. But SLADE ALIVE was different. There were no uniform silent gaps between the songs, the band were talking, in fact everyone was talking, and shouting, and belching, and stomping, and clapping, and woooo-ing, in fact there was even a hint of someone bawling out swear words from the audience.

You’ll have read earlier about my previous gig near misses (The Kinks and Wizzard) and I hadn’t yet managed to attend a gig. I didn’t actually know what happened at a gig other than the band played their songs. I guess I had imagined everyone sitting down and listening politely then applauding at the end of each song and on to the next. So to hear the chaos that was happening (audience wise) on SLADE ALIVE was something of a surprise. It also convinced me that I needed to go to a gig. I’d immersed myself in singles, moved on up to albums and so surely seeing a band live was the next logical step.

Now it’s here that the timeline once more gets a little messed about with. The last few paragraphs events occurred over a period beginning somewhere in 1973 and winding up at their conclusion on 5th May 1977, the night I went to my first gig, that bit I’m sure of. The venue: Birmingham’s Hippodrome Theatre; The occasion: the 5th night of SLADE’s “Whatever Happened To Slade” UK Tour.

Details are hazy. The Hippodrome is now a newly refurbished shining home to the Birmingham Royal Ballet company. Back in 1977 it was a slightly frayed around the edges old Victorian theatre. My Dad had secured tickets and he, me, my brother and a school friend, and fellow SLADE fan, of mine known as Martin settled into pretty good seats I must say, in the stalls on the left side of the house probably a dozen rows back from the stage. The lights went down, I thought this was it, but the guys who walked out on stage weren’t SLADE. This was how I discovered support bands. This lot were called “Liar” and a review of the gig 2 days later in Manchester by one Paul Morley had this to say about them:

I was asleep when Liar came on. As the shrill thrusting boogie raked my eardrums and the vocalist sincerely grunted "I've been up and I've been down / I've been lost and I've been found" I was paralysed by the type of fear usually associated with dark alleys and filed teeth. Not, I shivered, trying to rip my eyes open, The goddam Steve Gibbons Band again.

"We are Liar," said the ever so butch frontman at the conclusion of their five-minute bullying and my eyes popped open in relief. Some relief . . . Believe this - Liar are a pale imitation of The Steve Gibbons Band, and actually play a song called 'Born to Rock'n'Roll'.

So I guess it’s not so much of a surprise that I don’t remember anything about them. However, during their set the gig experience was much as I had imagined it might be at one time, everyone sitting down and listening politely then applauding at the end of each song and on to the next, not like SLADE ALIVE at all. Liar finished their set, the lights came back up and I sat back expectantly awaiting the main event and thinking what a great view we would have when SLADE finally appeared. And after a while a series of somewhat shocking events occurred

The lights went down again, suddenly
Everyone in front of and around me simultaneously stood up, so I couldn’t see the stage, and expelled some sort of unintelligible primal roar, so I couldn’t hear much either.
What I thought was a small herd of elephants sounded like it was approaching rapidly from behind me down the aisle to my right.

And then most excitingly of all, SLADE launched into “Get On Up” at a volume I can only liken to that of standing between 2 of the engines on a Boeing 747 at take off, otherwise known as killingly loud.

I couldn’t see a bloody thing. Eventually my Dad got us all to stand on our seats and we could finally see SLADE as well as hear them. I don’t remember too many details of that night but I’ve done some research to help out. I’ve discovered they probably followed that opening song with “Be” from their then current album “Whatever Happened To Slade”; Dave Hill had shaved off his long hair and was now completely bald but still bouncing about like a madman; all around me people were punching the air and singing, no bellowing, at the top of their voices; Jimmy Lea was doing impossible back bends while playing and I thought any minute now he’s gonna fall over; it was loud, so loud my ears were literally ringing for days afterwards and I loved every bloody minute of it.

I can’t even begin to total up how many gigs I’ve been to since then. I’m sure I’ve been to better ones, bigger ones, I’ve been to gigs that I recall in more detail than that one but I’ve not been to a gig that meant more to me than that one at the time.

10 months later I saw Slade again,(21st March 1978 at Birmingham Town Hall supported by Little Acre whose bass player, trivia fans, was one John Bryant, also the DJ at a club in Dudley that was eventually named after him, JB’s) but by then my whole musical world had been flipped upside down, back again and given a good old fashioned kicking for good measure. Just 22 days after that first gig at The Hippodrome, a record was released that would ensure many things would never be the same again.

But that tale is for another installment

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Part 1 - Music Was My First Love…But It Won’t Be My Last

Music has been pretty much a constant in my life.

My two earliest memories are:

i. trying to protect my infant brother in his pram from a marauding bee that
had invaded the back room of our house in Aston, Birmingham

ii. hearing The Move’s “Blackberry Way” on the radio in that same house

Those two things occured somewhere between the ages of 31/2 and 6 years, given my brothers birthdate and the release date of “Blackberry Way”, even though they now feel like they may have happened at the same time, on the same day even. But my brain does strange things with time and still does to this day. It also means that I remember the 1960’s, which, as popular legend claims, could mean that I wasn’t there and those things never happened; hmmmm.

I tumbled into this world in December 1962, on the same day that NASA's Mariner 2 became the first spacecraft to fly by Venus, and the same day that American porn actress Ginger Lynn also took her first tumble on this earth. The winter that enveloped my birth is also known as the Big Freeze of 1963. According to the Central England Temperature record, which records temperatures back to 1659, it was the most severe winter since 1683-84 (oh, and apparently 1739-40 was a bit parky too, but not significantly so). My Mom tells of how there was still a foot of snow and ice on the ground in March 1963 and how I had to sleep in her bed from birth so that I didn’t freeze to death, 1960’s housing not yet having been commonly introduced to the concept of central heating, thanks Mom.

At the time of my birth my Dad’s occupation, as listed on my birth certificate, was musician. How cool is that ? I think my son’s birth certificate show’s me up as being either a shop assistant or unemployed (sorry son). My Dad was a drummer in dance bands. They played at weddings and parties and dances at Co-Op clubs and US military bases on the continent. So they had to know everything from a Viennese Waltz through to the pop hits of the day. Dad still proudly attests that on first hearing The Beatles his considered opinion was “they won’t last”.

Dad was a toolmaker by trade, apprenticed at Lucas in Birmingham, and grew up in a family where music was important. His Mother, my Nan, sang all the time and she and my Grandad encouraged their children to be musical. Dad chose the drums, his brother, Uncle Bill, studied the French Horn at the Birmingham School of Music and Dad’s sister, my Aunt Sandra, studied ballet and dance and became an actress.

Mom and Dad met on a blind date, decided they liked each other and, when Dad’s band got themselves a tour of the continent, they got married and sashayed off on tour until my arrival was foretold (returning with great tales about having digs in a French Bordello). Again, how cool is that ? It does however leave open the possibility that I was very nearly born French; that was a close one.

So, as is becoming evident, my pre, and early formative years were very musical, maybe holding portents of things to come. I even have musical regrets from those very early years. I recently discovered that on a family holiday to Skegness I was left with the holiday camp babysitters while Mom and Dad went off to see the house band in the camp social club that week; THE KINKS ! I could have been the coolest kid in class during the “what I did on my holidays” reports when we went back after the summer holidays:

Teacher: “And what did you do on your holidays Michael”
Michael: “We went to the beach and went paddling and built sandcastles Miss”
Teacher: “And what did you do on your holidays Jenny”
Jenny: “We played catch and I ate so much ice cream I was sick Miss”
Teacher: “And what did you do on your holidays Russell”
Me: “I went to a club to see The Kinks, Miss”

So close but so far.

My parents pulled a similar trick a few years later. By the time I had reached the age of 10 my Dad had got a full time job as a trade union official and the whole family had upped sticks and re-located to Derby. By this time my Uncle Bill (remember him from earlier on, French Horn, Birmingham School of Music ?) had taken to playing keyboards and joined a popular Birmingham beat combo known as Wizzard. Now I know from more recent experience that although Wizzard had a single in the charts they were obviously touring on a tight budget as one morning when my brother and I came down to have breakfast before going to school, a bunch of large hairy men had appeared in sleeping bags on our living room floor. No hurling TV’s out of the window at the Derby Holiday Inn for these popsters.

It became apparent over Rice Crispies (it may have been an alternative breakfast cereal but snap, crackle and pop will suffice at this point) that there had been an event the previous evening (one that I now know of as “a gig”) and myself and my brother had missed out on the opportunity of attending our first pop concert. To this day my brother cites this breakfast meeting with hairy muso’s as being key in his deciding at a startlingly young age that he didn’t fancy a proper job when he grew up but wanted to be a musician and spend his life waking up on metaphorical living room floors.

My first gig was still a few years off (5 of the devilling things to be more precise. We’ll get to that soon enough). First was the excitement of singles.

The first single I owned, as I had recalled, was bought for me, by whom I now know not. It was Dion’s re-released chart hit from 1961 “The Wanderer”. But…I think we have encountered another of those instances of my brain doing strange things with time, as, on investigating a little further, that particular record was a UK hit in 1976. Now I definitely remember buying my first single. It was the mighty Slade’s epic glam rock howl “Skweeze Me Pleeze Me” which was a number 1 hit in July of 1973. Much cooler as a first single than Dion I think you’ll agree.

Now here I was going to write a section about the magical properties singles held for me over many years; how their release and purchase at times consumed a young man’s every waking thought; how collecting enormous numbers of them seemed the most important thing in the world; how some singles evoke memories both happy, sad even traumatic; but another of those instances of my brain doing strange things with time interrupts me.

My first traumatic experience with a single happened while we were still living in Derby. I had purchased a copy of the T.Rex coupling of “Solid Gold Easy Action” and “Born To Boogie”. For those of you who have never had the pleasure, the purchase of a new record of any kind was a very exciting thing. Between shop and home you had the time to take in everything about it apart from how it sounded. How it looked, how it smelled, what was written on the sleeve, the labels and scratched into the run-out groove (would it be a “Porky Prime Cut”*** or would something else be etched on that groove ?).

*** George "Porky" Peckham is a British record cutting engineer. His master discs, and the records pressed from them, are known as "Porky Prime Cuts" and often bear the epithet "A Porky Prime Cut" etched into the run-out groove.

So there was I, walking home with my newly purchased slice of glam rock, taking it all in. It was on T.Rex’s Wax Co. label, housed in one of those deep blue paper sleeves with T.Rex written across the top in vivid red lettering and a 2 tone, red and blue, image of Marc Bolan staring out at you from the bottom right corner. On the label itself, the same deep shade of blue, was again written the red lettered logo of T.Rex next to another image of Marc Bolan staring out from the disc and, as I drank all this in, the way I was holding the record caused it to slip from the sleeve, bounce gently on the ground and slide a few feet along the gravelly, tarmacadamed pavement before it came to a skidding halt a few feet in front of me.

One side of the record was, of course, scratched and gouged beyond salvation and this could explain why, even now, “Born To Boogie” is one of my favourite T.Rex songs (with or without Bolan’s Christmas message to fans wishing us a “super funk Christmas”). That was the side that survived and got played to death.

So why” I hear you enquire “is this another example of your brain doing strange things with time” ? Well; the “Solid Gold Easy Action”/“Born To Boogie” coupling was released in December 1972, a full 6 months before Slade’s “Skweeze Me Pleeze Me”. So I tell you what, I’m going to ask you to agree that my T.Rex purchase was made from one of those bargain boxes sometime after the original release and that way, I can say that the first record I bought was the one I want it to be (Hey! This is my story, if you don’t like it go write yer own).