Now that we are in this Golden Shower era of wall-to-wall digitalism, collecting vinyl, cassettes, CDs, picture disks, fanzines, box sets, DVDs, videos, fan club letters ad nauseum will soon-ish be a remnant of the past unless, like me, you cling to the last vestiges of thing-ism and continue to visit record stores in the quest for something to get my grubby hands on. The cheaper the better.
So, in a tribute if you will to what is a new, tech-savvy era, this ageing Luddite says goodbye with a tear in his eye to all that goodness attached to a price tag, with a glorious trawl through some of the musical tat and collectibles that have enlivened a life of living with the volume on medium to high.
The Manics were virtually unknowns in 1990, with just a limited-edition promo single and a raft of incendiary but low-key gigs behind them. This flexi disk came with a fanzine and was coupled with a track by long-forgotten The Laurens, who’s poppier sound was out of synch with the brash and brazen Manics. The disk was so light I had to put some pound coins on top of it just to get the damn thing to play. This was worth 100 pounds a few years ago, a figure which may well have increased.
Jesus and Mary Chain – Psychocandy/
Echo & the Bunnymen – Songs to Learn and Sing
I bought these pretty much at the same time, on glorious vinyl, shocking my parents with the Mary Chain one, as, well, it just looked so ….. strange, and dark. This was more than just a case of purchasing some classic mid-80s sounds, this was Porky becoming a bona fide music fan. This shocks me even now, but the stuff I was buying up until about mid-85 was Level 42, Queen and Dire Straits. Only Madness could be considered acceptable. I had been subjected to a stream of radio-friendly unit shifters while working during a balmy summer on a wire rope mini-factory that served the oil industry in Aberdeen. These guys played Radio 1 or the local commercial station all day long, and with that wafting in your ears it takes a lot of will power to resist. With some new mates, the transition to New Order, The Cure, Half Man Half Biscuit, the House of Love, The Pogues and the Cocteau Twins had begun.
I only bought a few of their singles, and only the 7inches as the 12” cost double for one extra track although that was often a cracker. They had wonderful sleeves, always bouncing with colour and featuring people the world were largely unaware of, such as Warhol star Joe Dallesandro, and pools winner Viv Nicholson. The vinyl part also came inscribed with the run-out groove: Another Porky Prime Cut, which of course gave this site its name.
The Free French: It’s Not Me It’s You
At the beginning of the century I was working at the Bury Free Press in the beautiful setting of west Suffolk. Englishness at its finest. The landlord at the Priors pub, which is tucked away in a housing estate, was a right character by the name of Geordie and he allowed all sorts of bands to come into his establishment. The over-hyped Cord came, so did miserable Mancunians Longview, and local favourites Miss Black America were always there. There were a procession of largely indie bands, from East Anglia and the south-east that blew their candles in front of about 60 people. The Free French were one of those who stand out, playing what I described as XTC meets Tony Hancock. Afterwards I blagged their last album, which I felt I deserved since I wrote about them in the local rag. There’s no doubt this is a fine album with its delicious melodies and down-to-earth lyrics and it’s included here because this is a one of the great lost collections, a rarity that’s hard to find.
Frisbee fight, with 7” records:
I had been at a market while studying in Hull, and saw someone selling a pile of 7″ singles. It was the sturdy box that tempted me more as the records were old chart mush, though there might have been a couple of the 40+ records that may have been worth keeping. This was the summer, virtually the end of term, so there was a lot of drinking and watching the European Championships in which England were in. I was a Scot down south so there was some lively banter going on. So, with the cheap cider, the football, and a pile of crap singles in a corner, you can almost imagine what went on next. How no-one didn’t have their neck badly cut by a copy of a Sam Brown single I’ll never know.
A forthcoming blog will explain the legacy and mystique of the vastly under-rated Babes, who influenced, if that is the word, one of the biggest British bands of the 80s, Dexys Midnight Runners. I found the Babes’ International Hope Campaign 12″ in a bargain bin for 50p. Bought it on a hunch and that was proved correct. By the mid-90s I’d largely forgotten about them until a friend living in the same student hellhole in Hull, Scouse Neil, brought back a cassette by the band. This was the album, and he’d got it in a charity shop for 50p – my favourite price. Blimey, I thought as I took it off his hands. Blimey tripled a few years later when I found that this was a promo, and the album had never actually been released. A mighty find indeed.
The Redskins: Lean On Me 7”
Pretty rare and I’d been looking for it for some time, not searching the graveyards kinda thing, just monitoring the racks of a record shop I might happen to enter. Found this at a record store in a small town in north-east Scotland, selling for 15 pounds. The owner wasn’t around but some young lad doing a Saturday job was, so I said how much did he want. A fiver. Sold. Deal of the bloody century.
Gene were endlessly compared to The Smiths in their mid-90s heyday, and while there is an element of truth in that, they had a whole new sphere and were one of the best bands of the time, pissing on many of the Britpop acts. By 1999, however, their star had fallen and they weren’t selling so much. While writing a music column for a newspaper in north-east Scotland I would be sent loads of promos by their record label, most of the one-track singles coming in a slimline, card case, and like many promos, had a slightly alternative cover to the normal release. We press journos were so lucky to have these we’d often flog them on eBay. The Gene singles, and the label did the same thing for the As Good As It Gets compilation – remain treasured items for Porky.