Thursday, January 31, 2008


Stocking Clad Nazi Death Squad Bitches by the Bleach Boys sells for £63.86. I am radiating in a warm wave of smugness as I purchased it last year for £20 from Davids in Letchworth.


First rule, don't be disheartened. You will walk into a charity shop and spy a mountain of vinyl and pound signs will pirouette before your eyes. Nonchalantly you'll wander over and study the first record. It'll most likely be a James Last LP or Paul Young's No Parlez. If it is a Matt Bianco 12" think yourself blessed. It's not worth anything but it's more encouraging than being confronted by Mrs Mills's chubby cheeks. I once found Matt Bianco singles in at least five charity shops on the same day. They were all different. I had no idea Matt Bianco had been so prolific; I had no idea a record company could be so tolerant.
As you begin to forage there will be gasps of recognition as the musical carnage of the 80's is offered up for your inspection. If you're lucky some lesser lights of the 70's or 90's may appear. If you're really lucky you might find one indie record. It won't be worth anything and you won't want it but it'll be a talking point when you describe the day to your friends. Under the influence of despair you'll even start rummaging through cassettes. Unless you find something by Judith Durham say no to tapes. This is the real life of the scavenger. If you can't cut it, leave it to those who can.


Braving industrial strength winds I ventured westward to Twickenham. Scene of many a decent find in the past I expected to be buried under an avalanche of C86 rarities. I have always been wary of the Cancer Research after they valued a harmless Abba LP at £20. Maybe some lunatic had run in with a price gun and wreaked unknown havoc before being chased out. Wariness this time was replaced with weariness as I flicked through a wasteland of Dave Edmunds LPs. Luck, I can't hear you knocking. Then right at the back I found a Yeh Yeh Noh Peel Sessions 12". At first I suppressed a full throated yeh, then I uttered an indifferent yeh, then I muttered noh; I already had everything it had to offer. I realized my excitement was simply due to the fact that I'd encountered Pasadenas 12"'s and Marcella Detroit CD singles and so my joy reflex was prone to jolt at any titbit that didn't stink of corporate. Nothing and five other charity shops were just as parsimonious. But the Trinity Hospice never lets me down. In there some years back I fell upon an LP by Adam Best called Wall Of Sound and more recently Dogs by the Who. This time I liberated the rather more prosaic Wannadies vinyl LP Be A Girl. All in a wet day's work.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


A rather half-hearted attempt to procure the Originals 7" on Rutland records sees me shunted into second place by him again, Gothic Darkwave. I just wasn't prepared to pay more than £8.19 so I paid the price, or rather Gothic Darkwave did. With a tag like that shouldn't he be chasing death metal groups?

My New imeem Page

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Distaff Wham!

The prototype Reynolds Girls dressed in jackets provided by House Of Arthur Daley fashions. Their other single Marvellous Guy is bright and breezy pop which sounds like classic Wham. Both singles are on Innervision, Wham's label. In fact if you listen hard enough you can hear George Michael blow drying his hair during the middle eight. This song is only slightly inferior, a sort of Tina Charles/Sheena Easton confection. The girl in the top of the picture has a nasty dark stain spreading through her hair which probably accounts for her moody demeanour. The other girl has a hint of a smile because she has not quit her job at Smiths for pop fame though she'll have to remember to put that brooch back in Jackie magazine.

The International Tweexcore Underground

Monday, January 28, 2008

pop on film


In the official UK chart ( that's the one where the Buzzcocks don't have half a dozen no.1's, i.e. not mine ) there have been some strange no.1's. A surfeit of appalling chart toppers definitely and even a few very good ones but here are some that were just too good to push their way through the chaff to the vertiginous peak that is the top spot, and yet they did, somehow.


Inexplicably a no.1. How did this bluesy number beguile the British public, most of whom would never have heard of Muddy Waters or Son House. Jagger takes the name Partially Sighted Yelping Hyena and the lily white kids of suburbia can't control an urge to get down and mucky, if not in the farmyard at least in their own back gardens. Nowadays when R & B stands for raunch and boobs this sounds like an authentic slice of Mississippi blues with a rhythm as drowsy as a lazy dog but with a mean snarl if provoked. My theory is that its resting on the chart summit was due to perfect timing. A year earlier, 1963, the charts were in the grip of the frivolous uptempo sounds of Merseybeat; in 1965 the music scene went meaty and beaty. But in December 1964 there was a void that Cilla Black and Herman's Hermits were too insubstantial to fill. The signs were there in July when the Animals took House Of The Rising Sun to the top. It was lewd and spotty but that swirling organ softened its seediness and was pleasing to the ear. Little Red Rooster had a threatening indeterminate filth that seemed to sully the listener. No surprise then that it was no.1 for only a week, knocked off the top my those pretty boys in suits, the Beatles.

Friday, January 25, 2008


I have been doing my own chart for over 30 years. Singles only. I did attempt an LP chart but lost interest in it. What features in the chart could be old, could be new, it's subject to my whim. It's a top 40 but I'm posting the top 20. The current no.1 has been there now for four weeks and is forty years old.

1 Trout : Sunrise Highway
2 Irregulars : Against The Grain Of My Life
3 Hardy Boys : Wonderful Lie
4 Rumblefish : Mexico
5 Gags : Sex Ist Schau
6 Almost Charlotte : Sleep
7 Sarah Goes Shopping : Summer Blues
8 Boy Friends : Boyfriend
9 No Flags Etc. : Don't Bring Me Back
10 Joy Division : Warsaw
11 Aston Hall : My Daily Sun
12 Ebony Bones : We Know All About You
13 Bobby Scarlet : Mosquito
14 Rasca Cocous : Vanity
15 Counting House : Pack Your Bags
16 Liberty Thieves : I Regret Nothing
17 Classics : Audio Audio
18 Innocents : One Way Love
19 Such Perfect Liars : Innocent And Pure
20 Greenhouse : Mad As Love

Thursday, January 24, 2008


The sun was out so I could not restrain myself. Off I went to the local Oxfam. So often a source of unexpected vinyl like the Peppermint Rainbow LP that ambushed me some years back. Today though it's all about that modern horror, the CD. Smirking to myself as I inspect the half a dozen unruffled Fish CD's I wonder when the good volunteers of Oxfam will finally consign the Marillion man's artistic disasterpiece to the bin; or donate it to the road builders of China. Meanwhile the staff were agonizing over what to play and it seemed got lodged in a time warp as they treated customers to Elvis singing xmas songs. Isn't it enough that we have to suffer festive musical mucus the second Halloween costumes are hung up? They came to their senses and put on Heartbreak Hotel which got stuck on repeat and finally after Elvis had booked into Heartbreak Hotel four times they put him, and me, out of our misery. My CD finds were: Liliput double CD; Youth Group : Casino Twilight Dogs; Voxtrot :s/t; The Bird And The Bee : s/t; B.C. Camplight : Blink Of A Nihilist.


Stolen before I even had a chance to bid, a single by Clamber. On my list of wants for over a year and Gothic Darkwave offers to pay £40 to the seller and he bites. Gothic Darkwave is a scoundrel and a nuisance; he outbid me on a Dancette 7" last year. I'm watching you Mr. Darkwave.


5 My Bloody Valentine : Strawberry Wine

Fara, Twickenham. I feel I've deprived a Romanian of a month's wages. I've just been flicking through an unkempt pile of 12"'s and I've uncovered this. I stare at it and then check to see if it's on the Lazy label. It is. Flutter this in front of a flush MBV fanatic and they could be persuaded to part with £50. Next to me a fellow scavenger is examining a Lou Reed LP with unrestrained glee. I contaminate his happiness by informing him of my amazing find. I can see the eighties, in collecting terms, have yet to happen him. Suddenly a Shop Assistants LP is in my grubby paws. Oooh, I'll have that too. Other records appear which I gather up in my loving arms, a Sinister Cleaners 12" and a couple of compilations. Mr. 70's man is entangled with unremarkable Reed and Hendrix LP's while I carry my booty over to the till. "How much are these?" "Oh, we're trying to shift those quickly. 25p each will do." Somewhere in a Romanian backwater a man is selling a kidney and I feel responsible.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Radio Active single from 1979 fetches a hefty £139. It's pressed on the BBC owned label Beeb.
Tin Openers Set Me Free single on Logo sells for a breathtaking £325. Rumours are it's a lost classic; that's a lot of money to throw at a rumour.
Deadly Toys single, no picture cover but that's near impossible to find, stalls at £79.28. I stalled at £54.


The Jakobians slipped away for a grand £62. The seller let bidders hear a snippet. I think I can get over letting it go, even to my old rival Picheux.
Zoot Alors zooms out of reach for a mere £57. I'm sure this item broke the £100 mark in the past. My limit was £26.

Brussels Binge

Go to Belgium? To find records. What insanity is this. Well I sent the lovely girlfriend there on an unofficial scouting trip last year and she came back bearing chocolates and informing me that beer stocks were holding up well. In passing she also mentioned a record shop she thought I might enjoy scavenging in. So this weekend we hopped on to the Eurostar and headed for Brussels. The fun game we all know and love is, how many famous Belgians can you name? To which I reply, how many famous Swiss can you name? But I digress. We were greeted with the exact replica skies we left in London, grey and drizzly. And it remained that way. The first shop was swollen with vinyl and had a good array of 60's and 70's LP's plus an extensive selection of 7"'s. The latter yielded very little except a Sylvie Vartan EP dressed in a striking cover from which one may assume that French women had a nits problem. Also found a Fehlfarben LP, a CD of girl group sounds of the early 60's called The Girls Of Hideaway Heaven and a Luv LP for the queenly sum of 1 euro.
The next shop presented us with an Eggplant LP and a Samantha Jones LP My Way which does include that My Way, a song best left to die a lonely death in working men's clubs. We also rooted through a graveyard of gormless 80's pop stars captured for eternity on 7". There were thousands of them among which was Nottingham Forest's deluded boast "We've Got The Whole World In Our Hands". Maybe not lads but at least you extended a finger or two to Brussels. What we did buy was Luv: You're The Greatest Lover; Baccara : Parlez Vous Francais; Middle Of The Road : Bottoms Up ; La Bionda : One For You, One For Me and Dolly Dots : Leila (The Queen Of Sheba). I have to emphasize that they only cost 10 cents each.
Shop three was called Juke Box and it was not offering any bargains except for Odessey And Oracle by the Chrysanthemums; yes it is the Zombies LP lovingly recreated by Alan Jenkins and his crazy cohorts. A mere 15 euros. Take my money.
We were done then and repaired to a pub to quaff beer and guzzle a vast plate of cheese which helped reinforce the dams in our arteries.
The next day we were thwarted in our attempt to visit the Brel museum, it was closed, and almost failed to locate the chocolate museum. Fortunately we did discover another record shop where we purchased the db's : Living A Lie; Pink Noise : Move For You and Lizzy Mercier Descloux : Suspense. Also rummaged around a flea market and discovered two Jacques Dutronc singles.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Company She Keeps - What A Girl Wants

Talulah Gosh the real inspiration behind Girls Aloud

Top find this week : Aston Hall : My Daily Sun.

Not often I venture into the lost caves of Beanos but Croydon called and after a two year absence I returned to a shop where pleasure has so often been denied me by ridiculous over-pricing. I scuttled feverishly among the cheap boxes and discovered a Tiny Town LP. A good start. Claire Mooney was then uncovered nestling between some unloved soul 12"'s. Then a Yeah Jazz LP beckoned me over; I went willingly. It got even better when I lurched over with lusty-eyed hunger to several 7" boxes proudly displayed on the counter. Go on, impress me, I dared them. And they did. I rescued the Innocents : One Way Love; Attrix : Lost Lenore; Features : She Makes Me Blue and My Daily Sun by Aston Hall. And all at half price as Beanos had generously declared a special discount for those on their mailing list, for a limited time only of course, the dastardly niggards.


The Spasms, accidentally renamed by the seller as the Spams, Never Happens Like It Does On The Telly 7" on the fabled Ellie Jay label. I got priced out at £26.48. It went for £33.


The Snowbirds / Les Poissons Solubles split single for a note-crinkling £34.33. One of my old ebay sparring partners Krischan! flashed his wad but I subdued him. About the going rate for this single.


1 Birds : You're On My Mind

A sunny day in Tooting. Yes it does, it really does, the sun, shine in Tooting. I was early to meet a fellow music geek though his passion rarely extends backwards beyond 2006. As one does, if one is a scavenger, I paid a visit to the Trinity Hospice charity shop. Thrown higgledy-piggledy into a box a selection of dusty 7" singles yearned for a farewell caress. Not encouraged by the crumpled covers of generic 80's hits that peered back at me I reluctantly pawed my way through a morass of moronic top 20 tunes. I continued, though depressed, for I am the Scavenger. And then sleeveless, grooves gobbled up by unclassified brick-sweat particles, something like the scavenger's Holy Grail presented its sickly self to me. I swallowed hard, I stifled a cry, I may have tossed a Paula Abdul single in the air in joy, I temporarily believed in a God, not a specific one, whatever one was available. I held in my hands a single by the Birds, not their hit that meekly stalled a t no.49 but their first single. Oh it was worn, it did not shine, it looked like several Grand Prixs had been held on its lustreless surface but I cared not. I trembled as I presented it to the old man manning the till. He registered my ecstasy but couldn't fathom it.
The next few hours were long and tiresome. I had to get home to hear how wrecked it was. Eventually it lay on my turntable. I gently placed the needle on the groove. Crackles I expected but there were few. It sounded fine though obviously played numerous times. And why not, it's a fabulous song with an even stronger B side. After years of paddling through waves of James Last and Paul Young records this was illustrious reward.

2 Typhoon Saturday : What Do I Do

Sometimes you walk into a charity shop and you feel lucky. A pile of 7" singles await your attention and you know they will offer up a delightful chum for you to cuddle and take home. So it was when I walked into a charity shop in New Malden. I had no idea whom I would befriend that day, perhaps that elusive Evening Outs single or an LP by the Deep Freeze Mice. But somehow I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. And so it came to pass; clothed in a raddled cover was this, a naughty 7" that refused to come live with me when I had tried to snatch it from ebay. I paid a measly 50p for its company, a lot less than that Japanese collector who grabbed it from me in the last seconds of an ebay auction.

3 Keen : Sad EP

I had no idea what this was when I bought it in a Chiswick charity shop several years back. Clad in a black sleeve I took pity on its neglected existence. It was the label name, Scaredy Cat, that reeled me in. It spoke to me of a twee charm and my impetuousness paid dividends. Ok, one song is a total rip off of Politics by the excellent Girls At Our Best but that seems to endear it to me even more. After all they could have ripped off Wake Me Up Before You Go Go but instead they chose an obscure new wave band. That's class. Some years later it crops up on ebay and sells for £20 plus. Then a 12" makes its existence known on ebay. Feverish bidding sees me lose all care of financial stability but I'm outbid in the closing seconds. A year later it ventures onto ebay again. There is only one bid, and it remains that way until the last minute when I pounce but my fiscal claws are trimmed despite my reckless use of the numbers on the keyboard. My only consolation, my rival pays £92 for this unattainable gem. I check to see where my vanquisher lives.......Japan, I should have known.

4 Chin Chin : Stop ! Your Crying.

They came from Switzerland. They were three girls. They released this 12" on 53rd and a 3rd. But first it appeared on Farmer records. And this is the version I unearthed in an Acton charity shop. I already owned the reissue so why the fuss over this. Well imagine if you're a tramp and you dip your hand into a bin and you find not only a Burger King meal, untouched and warm, but a bar of Green and Blacks wrapped in a £50 note. How would you feel? Skip the emotion, you'd guzzle down the food and then march defiantly into a pub. Am I stereotyping tramps? Cage the metaphor ; I was elated. And then I found the Turn To Flowers 12". Hey, I need that tramp again.