Thursday, 9 June 2011

‘Hex Enduction Hour’ – The Fall (1982)

"White collar hits motorway services;
It’s the hip priest.
From the eyes he can see they know;
It’s the hip priest."

"What’s this meant to be?!" That was pretty much the shared reaction from the sixth form common room whenever my friend Chris or I popped an album on the stereo. Which just encouraged us further. Climaxing in us attending a Prince-themed party with a copy of ‘Hex Enduction Hour’. Yes, I know. Let’s rewind. A lot to take in there.

One: Why am I at a party? Well, I think I went to about three parties in total between the years 1980 and, well, present day really. I like to go to one every decade to remind myself why I don’t go to more. Two: Prince-themed? Really? Yep, Chris and I had a mutual friend named Christopher ("Well, that's just confusing") who loved Prince and had a birthday bash every Christmas Eve. I think I’ve mentioned him before. Yes, I have, in my very first post. Keep up. Anyhoo… he lived on a steady diet of Prince. He had every record by his Purple Majesty you could imagine. ("Even the Black album before it was officially released?" Yep, even the Black album before it was officially released.) So any party Christopher held was in effect a Prince-themed party. Three: You’re taking 'Hex Enduction Hour' to a party? Well, it would seem so. But I can’t quite recall why. I think Chris and I were just so captivated by it at the time that we carried it around to share with people at every opportunity. Just look at that wonderful sleeve for starters. Banned from the windows and shelves of Virgin record stores at the time for being too amateurish, fact fans.  

Now after three hours of non-stop Prince records, I think you’ll agree it was about time someone hi-jacked the stereo. But I guess what you may not agree with is us hi-jacking the stereo to play such party floor fillers as ‘Jawbone and the Air-rifle’ and ‘Mere Pseud Mag. Ed’. We actually never made it that far through the album – from memory we got to about track three (‘Hip Priest’) before the revelers broke through our makeshift sofa cushion barrier and Prince was restored. You can perhaps now see why it was another ten years before I ventured out to my next party. But I left ‘Hex Enduction Hour’ at home that time.    

Spotify linky: 

On this day …1991 (aged 20)

Scribblings from my diary …

“I always forget a face. Because I always feel uncomfortable looking at people. I remember more useless things. The way people eat. Things that can be brought into conversation. But faces escape me.”

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

‘On Tape’ – The Pooh Sticks (1988)

"You want it,
I’ve got it,
I’m talking about everything.
I’ve got the Monkees’ ‘Head’ soundtrack …
On tape."

Always be suspicious of anyone with a good-looking record player. They’ll have the most awful record collection. Fact! No point arguing. Music lovers spend money on vinyl. Level 42 fans spend money on turntables. This is true. I conducted a survey. Yes, when I was about 15, admittedly. A couple of kids at school were very proud of their ‘hi-fis’. It’s just a shame that they only owned about two records between them. And those records were both ‘Now That’s What I Call Music’ compilations.

Every penny that came my way growing up was spent on records. That’s a lie to emphasise my point. Every penny that came my way growing up was actually spent on records and Star Wars figures, cards, comics, transfers, pencil cases, bubble bath, etc. Every record player that came my way growing up was a present. I had two. Both of little monetary value, but they meant everything to me. The first was manual (you lifted the arm yourself) and you could play 78s – only really useful if I wanted to listen to my mum’s old Adam Faith singles. Which I didn’t. The second, about five years later, was automatic and had a central spindle where you could stack records and they’d drop down after each side ended. A revolutionary way to scratch and warp your beloved collection. I’m only on my third record player now – had it a good 15 years – and would still rather spend money on new music than new equipment. Although I’m happy to invest in a good record duster if anyone has ever found one – I really should stop using my shirt sleeves.

This track by The Pooh Sticks always made me smile, with its wonderfully astute lyrical digs. Still does. I bought it in the Friary Shopping Centre in Guildford. No idea why I remember that so clearly. I’m sure it’d sound great on a top-end record player. But it feels perfectly at home on mine.   

Obviously Spotify has failed me again, but here’s the song on YouTube (with a great pic showcasing a haircut I copied for my upper sixth form school photo): 

Everyone should express their greatest loves through the medium of badges (or buttons, if you're reading this in the US) - here's my parka:

Monday, 6 June 2011

‘Palomine’ – Bettie Serveert (1992)

"Well, I wish I had known you then,
Well, who knows, I might have been a better friend."

Favourite Christmas present of 1992. ("This is very seasonal, Michael.") From my sister. I doubt she remembers it. Would have been plucked from my annual wish list, which was most usually dominated by obscure indie records. Only now have I realised how annoying it must have been for my aunts and uncles trying to find anything from this list in their local Our Price. Putting ‘Pornography’ by The Cure on the list one year probably wasn’t a great idea either.

Every record that found it in to my Yuletide stocking though was much cherished and worth every effort it must have taken to find. ‘Palomine’ in particular (released on 4AD's short-lived spin-off label Guernica). This album, and its accompanying limited edition bonus 7-inch single ‘Brain-Tag’, rarely left my record player the following year. A ridiculous exaggeration, I know, but you get the idea. Carol van Dijk’s stark vocals – at turns mournful and strident – were quite irresistible and the band were never better than on this affecting debut. And how cute’s that toy dog?

No Spotify linky available for this album, so here's the video for the title track ...    

On this day …1986 (aged 15)

Scribblings from my diary …

“School camping trip. Hike 12km across Exmoor. Find loads of dead sheep. Sleep in a bin bag, in a hole, covered by a polythene sheet. Get no sleep.”