The whiff of nostalgia coming off this photo is as strong as the smell of grease and vinegar probably was in the air.
That lovely little chip shop is glowing with fuggy, frying-tonight warmth, and the kids are a perfect lost-childhood vision of anoraks, jumpers, and bikes, looking so happy with what is probably their Friday night treat. Then there’s the boy sitting on the wall wearing on his feet what we called “basketball boots” that you used to get in Woolworth’s. They were like cheap, generic Converse hi-tops in an era when we didn’t know what Converse were. I spent a large part of my childhood in those so seeing them is really the icing on the memory cake — or the batter on the sausage.
This record makes me glow almost as much as that photo does, some sublime Latin Soul from 1972.
I’ve heard it can be anyway. Being one of those Londoners who got a nosebleed (and cultural panic) if he ventured north of Watford I couldn’t tell you myself. Short trips to Manchester and Newcastle are my only experience of that part of the country.
This is a really gorgeous track by British folky Catherine Howe from her “lost” 1971 album What A Beautiful Place. Apparently it’s about her hometown of Halifax which I’ve never been to either, but I doubt if it’s as pretty as this song.
I can’t remember why I bought the 12″ of “Where Does That Boy Hang Out?” by David Lasley in 1984 because I’m pretty sure I hadn’t heard it (doubt if it was ever played on the radio) and I had no idea who Lasley was either. I think it was as simple as liking the song title and the fact that it was produced by Don Was. Some of you kids might find this hard to believe but in those pre-internet days you couldn’t hear every record ever made and sometimes bought them unheard on a whim or a hunch. Back then I had the disposable income to do so, too.
I’m really glad I did buy it because it’s a terrific blue-eyed soul record, and the b-side “Saved By Love” is equally great too. Lasley has a gorgeous, soulful falsetto voice and was better known for singing on other people’s records (Chic, Sister Sledge, and Odyssey among others) than his own, and he also wrote “You Bring Me Joy” for Anita Baker. He only made a few solo albums and the original versions of these were on Raindance which is out of print now.
The Clash became instant punk gods with their debut album but then had the problem of “What do we do next?” — a problem The Pistols solved by breaking up, and The Ramones ignored by just doing the same thing again (and again). The Westway Wonders rightly felt that they couldn’t keep doing the same primitive three-chord thrash, and with punk pretty much being declared over by the end of 1977 they had to move on.
Their second album Give ‘Em Enough Rope was an attempt to move forward that wasn’t entirely successful. It’s a decent album but some of the songs are a bit duff and I’ve never liked the production. In retrospect the track “Julie’s Been Working For The Drug Squad” is a signpost for the future, but at the time it was regarded as a novelty lark.
The first taste of where they were going next came in May 1979 with The Cost of Living EP. The first track “I Fought The Law” was as blazingly ferocious as anything on their first album but with a production that was cleaner and brighter than anything they’d done before. The next two tracks “Groovy Times” and “Gates of The West” (one of my all-time favourite Clash songs) were even more different, one featuring acoustic guitars and harmonica while the other was an ode to America, a country the band once declared they were bored with. Clearly they were shedding their old practices and prejudices, freeing themselves from the shackles of punk orthodoxy.
Though The Clash are pretty much canonized now as one of the great rock bands, their reputation wasn’t quite so secure back then. I remember reaction to the EP being mixed at the time, with some feeling that they were running out of gas, and covering old rock and roll songs wasn’t exactly a sign of a band with new ideas, was it? Now it sounds like a stepping stone because seven months later they released London Calling. You know the rest.