The Singles Box

This 1981 single is the last one Post-Punk squawkers Essential Logic released. A year later Laura Logic quit the music biz to join the Hare Krishnas with old buddy and former X-Ray Spex bandmate Poly Styrene.

They could be quite atonal at times but this is a sweet, bouncy record that’s about as pop as they ever got. Probably why I bought it and still have it.

Download: Fanfare In The Garden – Essential Logic (mp3)

Apparently they reformed — as everyone does these days — in 2001 but I haven’t heard any fruits of that.

Free Fourplay

The NME released 38 compilation cassettes between 1981-88 that could be bought cheaply by mail. Some of them, like C81 and C86 became famous and era-defining. Less well known is the short series of 7″ vinyl EPs they gave away in the middle of the decade. Unlike the tapes these were included free with the paper which must have caused headaches to make sure they didn’t end up at the newsagents broken into little pieces. I had all of them at one point, but the only one I still have is Fourplay from September 1986 (where the hell did the others go?)

As a snapshot of 1986 this is a very strong quartet of tracks. The Miles Davis is taken straight from his divisive Tutu album while, as far as my ears can tell, the Mantronix and Elvis tunes are slightly different mixes to the originals. Only the Billy Bragg sounds like it’s a different recording. Sadly my crappy old copy sticks right at the end of that track so I’ve had to fade it out. Sorry about that. My favourite of the four was (and is) the pile-driving Mantronix tune which still blows my socks off.

Download: Hardcore Hip Hop (NME version) – Mantronix (mp3)
Download: Uncomplicated (NME version) – Elvis Costello & The Attractions (mp3)
Download: Honey, I’m A Big Boy Now (NME version) – Billy Bragg (mp3)
Download: Splatch – Miles Davis (mp3)

Tee Two

Now on sale in a variety of styles and colours for the initial low price of $14. My riff on the famous campaign that we all ignored.

Every Day Is Record Store Day

Saturday was Record Store Day — Record Shop Day if you’re a Brit — and I had become very cynical about the whole event, thinking it had gone from being a well-meaning attempt to promote record buying in actual bricks-and-mortar shops, to a crazy gold rush for overpriced RSD “exclusives” by desperate anoraks with more money than sense and speculators who would put them on eBay for even more inflated prices (sometimes before the actual day).

Judging by some comments on Twitter that morning I wasn’t the only one who felt this way

I’ve only once been to a record shop on RSD and that wasn’t intentional. I popped into my local record emporium one Saturday without realizing what day it was and found the place mobbed. Getting more people into record shops is a noble pursuit but all I thought was “Where the hell are you people every other day of the year?”

So I was smugly disdaining the whole event and had no intention going anywhere near a record shop that day. But then someone tweeted this picture which took the snark right out of my sails

See how happy she looks? Remember that feeling? Seeing this young lady with her special One Direction RSD release reminded me of how chuffed I would be when I got a new Jam single in a picture sleeve, and made me realize that this is what the day should be about. Forget about old farts shelling out a week’s rent on ancient artifacts like Springsteen rarities, REM live sets, and Nirvana 45s; Record Store Day should get younger kids into shops by offering more releases by new pop acts — One Direction, Miley, Kanye West, Rhianna — in cool picture sleeves, coloured vinyl, and all those gimmicks that got us to spend our pocket money in our youth.

RSD turns record shops into museums with expensive gift shops and I’ve no interest in vinyl being a rare and pricey commodity for the 40+ set. But if RSD can get youngsters like that girl to discover the magic of buying a physical record in a shop (even better: on the day of release) in some cool format instead of a cold mp3 download on her phone, then maybe there will be a future for this record shop culture we love.

I still wouldn’t be caught dead in a record shop on that day though.

Download: EMI (Unlimited Edition) – Sex Pistols (mp3)

UPDATE: The 10 Most Expensive Record Store Day ’14 Flips On Ebay

Home taping is killing music

And has been since the 1950s apparently. That damn music is taking a long time to die.

Download: C30 C60 C90 Go – Bow Wow Wow (mp3)

Music was her first love

I’ve been out with plenty of girls who loved music and could tell their House from their Garage and their Orange Juice from their Jam — I even married one — but I’ve never met one who rose to the obsessive level of nerdy music anorak that men do. The same with films, comics, and sport.

I know they exist. I have occasionally seen a girl in a second-hand record shop intently digging through the boxes, and every man in the place will be staring at her as if they’ve spotted some rare bird — because they have (and probably wish she could be their girlfriend). But usually, whatever gene it is that turns men into anal trainspotters who can name every Clash b-side, women don’t have it.

Obviously this is a sweeping generalization and I don’t intend to be sexist in any way. It’s a compliment really, High Fidelity couldn’t have been written about a woman because they just aren’t that sad and ridiculous.

The young lady above should be able to tell Mike that this is a classic dance track from 1984. Then she should break up with him.

Download: Music Is The Answer – Colonel Abrams (mp3)

The Wheel of Steel

Talking about having a wank, you might want some privacy while you drool over these gorgeous photos by German photographer Kai Schaefer. I do love me some analogue porn.

I love me some sweet old reggae, too.

Download: Play Me – Marcia Griffiths (mp3)

Counter Culture

I just discovered the wonderful British Record Shop Archive, a vast compendium of Britain’s (mostly) long-lost record emporiums. The site could do with some design help but, basic though it is, just going through the London section set off a fireworks display of memories in my brain from seeing many of the places in Fulham I did my early record buying: Beggar’s Banquet, At The Hop, and even Harry Hayes which I’d completely forgotten about even though I bought a lot of records there (turns out Harry was a well-known jazz musician.) Those have all been closed for years now but thankfully On Broadway is still in business though they’ve moved from their original location, I bought most of my Northern Soul collection in there.

Other places that stirred the old memory pot were Cloud 7 in Putney where I joined The Pretenders fan club which had just been started by a bloke who worked there, and even Virgin Records which, in the pre-Megastore days, was actually quite the hip place. I remember going in the Notting Hill branch when Never Mind The Bollocks came out and they had racks of the sleeve everywhere and all over the windows which seemed like the height of dangerous rebellion at the time. I’d also forgotten that Biba had a record department.

Even now I can remember the interiors of these shops and in many cases the actual records I bought in them (I bought my copy of All Mod Cons at Harry Hayes), I’m sure you’ll all find some place that will make you go “Ah!” too.

This was on the b-side of Boys Don’t Cry which I’m pretty sure I bought at Cloud 7.

Download: Plastic Passion – The Cure (mp3)

And while we’re in a nostalgic “where did it all go?” mood (which we usually are here) you’ll also find much to enjoy at London RIP.

What’s it all about?

The sentimental musings of an ageing expat in words, music, and pictures. Mp3 files are up for a limited time so drink them while they're hot. Contact me: lee at londonlee dot com



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