Time to trawl the tapes once more and play you some retro tunes from my misspent musical youth.
Today’s selection from the nostalgic boom box is made up of a magazine freebie, another tailor-made mixtape (with bonus anecdote) and a chil-out classic, so let’s get on with the music.
Q Magazine has been my favourite monthly music publication, ever since I bought issue 11 (featuring cover stars Morrissey and Roger Waters) many, many years ago.
One of the cool things about it was that there would often be free cassettes on the cover (and later, CDs) many of which were loosely themed.
The thread that runs through Livin’ in the ’80s is a pretty straightforward one, compared to some of the more obscure and tenuous collections they managed to crowbar together and it contains some bona fide pop masterpieces.
First up are a pair of electro-pop classics, starting with the Human League and this single from the groundbreaking “Dare” album: Love Action (I believe in love)
…followed by the 80’s most whistleable tune about nuclear devastation, OMD and their peon to the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Enola Gay
Side two mixes it up a bit, starting with this raucous stomp from Killing Joke, the anthem of the decade, Eighties…
…and continuing in a gentler vein with Culture Club and a tune I’ll dedicate to my wife, Rhonda, who apparently strutted her stuff to this at every ’80s disco; here’s Time (Clock of the heart)
The second of today’s tapes is a compilation that was made for me by a friend in Sussex in the early ’90s, from just a tiny fraction of his enormous record collection.
He went by the nickname “Tufty” at the time and he was, like me, a massive fan of the late, great John Peel, a fact which resulted in him suffering a highly amusing and rather public embarrassment in our local pub, The Wheatsheaf in Crowborough, (where he worked as a barman) which I’m guessing he would rather forget.
However, I haven’t forgotten and I’d like to share it with you now.
John Peel had a brother.
This isn’t an especially interesting piece of information, except when coupled with the fact that this brother lived opposite the aforementioned pub and was one of the regulars.
One day, Francis, for that was his name, came into the bottom bar of the pub with a visitor in tow (it’s an old, split level building, with the public bar at the top and a sunken lounge on the opposite side of the central serving area) and this visitor looked uncannily like our musical saviour himself, complete with trademark beard.
Plus, he was with Francis, who else could it be?
Sitting in the top of the pub, looking down into the lounge, those of us who cared about such things instantly began discussing whether this was in fact the champion of all things musically cool and if so, would etiquette, coolness and/or star-struck hero-worship permit anyone to approach the great man for a few pearls of his no doubt affable wisdom?
No such procrastination for Tufty however, who immediately went into paroxsysms of delight that such a member of radio royalty would grace the bar with his saintly presence.
He immediately informed us that he was going to introduce himself to John, offer to buy him a drink and attempt to engage the great man in conversation.
The rest of us watched with a mixture of interest, envy and amusement as Tufty, never knowingly short of words, shyly sidled up to Francis and his companion and waited for his chance.
At the earliest opportunity that decency would allow, he politely interrupted, pint in hand, and spoke thusly to the illustrious visitor:
“John, I’d just like to say that I’m a huge fan and it would be an honour if you would allow me to buy you a drink.”
…at which point, the object of his adoration turned to him with a puzzled smile and said;
“Well that’s very kind of you, I’m afraid I’m Francis’ other brother. but thank you for the drink.”
Needless to say, it took a while for my impulsive friend to live that down, but he does compile a very fine mixtape, so let’s get back to the music.
I’m going to pick four from Tufty’s compilation too, simply because it’s got a fantastic range of songs on it and I couldn’t narrow it down any further.
An unexplainably underrated British band from the ’90s, Kitchens of Distinction never got the recognition or hits that they deserved, so to redress the balance in some small way, here is their third single, The 3rd Time We Opened The Capsule…
…along with a song you may know, but a version you may not have heard, this is Trisha‘s cover of Tracy Chapman‘s track, She’s Got Her Ticket.
But I’ll end tape with a pair of cheerful chunks of ’90s guitar pop the first of which is Lancashire’s Milltown Brothers, with 1991’s Which Way Should I Jump?
…and the second is the sublimely jangly Heavenly Pop Hit from New Zealand’s Martin Phillipps and his revolving musical project, The Chills.
Which brings us to the final entry in this chapter of my magnetically memorized musical marathon, tape 3 is a bit of a departure from the rest but just as great in its own way for all that.
So here, in its chilled-out, cosmic entirety, is The Orb and the epic Orbvs Terrarvm
Stay tuned for more archive dredging in the not too distant future, may your spools stay loose and your tape never crumple.
Until next time…