Tag Archives: New Musical Express

We’re here because we’re here

One

At the beginning of it all it was so exciting and intriguing just to gaze and to wonder.

My morning read of The Guardian newspaper website reported numerous sightings of army personnel appearing en masse in various public places across the UK. Sometimes in groups of one or two soldiers, sometimes many more, each occupying public space in their vintage green military uniform.

Two

They did not speak as they gathered, not to each other, nor to curious passers by, but merely arrived silently in places of hectic rush as people headed into work. Apparently there were a thousand of them all told. If approached by intrigued commuters they would hand over a small card bearing a detailed inscription of a fallen soldier who was killed in battle during World War 1.

Today marks the one-hundred year anniversary of the beginning of the battle of the Somme in France, during which eventually more than one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history. But this was not a typically fitting bereavement or commemoration of events, it felt more like an art installation of the unusual or perverse suddenly appearing without fanfare into modern everyday life, and for that reason I found it so much more compelling because of it.

For most of the day in my workplace the intrigue still lingered around me as I went about my typical routine, and I was keen to tell as many people as I thought would be interested of what an unusual and powerful statement I had seen. As a tribute to remembrance this felt more like a Banksy sighting than an event at a cenotaph.

And so I had songs of war on my mind for most of the day. This is just how my mind works most of the time. I can distract myself so easily with this stuff and I just love it when I do. But in truth I don’t have many records that could be considered songs of war, in fact very few at all, and even less that might reflect or represent the first World War.

But there is this one great song I have by a four-piece band called GoodBooks, and that’s no typo there, folks. They really did write their name like that on their records. They represent that frequent recurrence in my record collection of bands that barely extend themselves beyond a couple of singles or maybe an album or two if they’re even that lucky.

GoodBooks came from Kent in the South-East of England, arriving with their first single in 2005 and leaving with their last in 2007. In between they put out a total of six singles and one LP. (They also issued a CD-only remix album of the one LP which for me doesn’t count at all because those things are usually a rubbish idea.)

With two years of total activity and one of those on a major label, they released their sole LP, Control, in 2007, and five songs had come from it as various singles throughout their short time. If my memory serves me right, because the internet yields virtually nothing about their releases, the song I was singing all day long was the fourth single from that LP, and its name is Passchendaele.

Three

Also named for a first World War battle as well as the name of a rural village in Belgium, it’s a simple but emotive tale of lost love and heartbreak fought on the battlefields of Northern Europe by young men who may well have had no choice but to be there. Towards the end of the song a lone trumpet pierces the rising music and never fails to send me off to somewhere else as it plays.

He carried English bayonets in an English way. he smoked German cigarettes on Christmas Day. He never made is past twenty-five, he died at Passchendaele. Fighting for the cause in a war to end all wars…

GoodBooks singer and Harry Potter doppelganger Max Cook refers in part to a scene immortalized in the 2005 French movie Joyeux Noel, about a Christmas truce between the warring nations, when soldiers from France, Germany, and Scotland declared a truce on Christmas Day, playing football together and exchanging cigarettes and stories.

Four

Later in the day as I returned  home from work I learned that the event of soldiers appearing throughout the UK was in fact a work by a Turner Prize-winning artist by the name of Jeremy Deller.

With a Twitter hashtag of #We Are Here it employed volunteers from all walks of life; from farmers to flight attendants, shopkeepers to schoolboys, all sworn to secrecy, and rendering the occasion that much more fantastic because of it.

Deller said he didn’t want to take the people to a memorial, but instead took the memorial to the people, who would not know that it was happening as it arrived. Such a simple idea rendered so effectively by secrecy. His idea was to avoid sentimentality. He named the event We’re Here Because We’re Here, a title which marked the one and only time that the soldiers’ voices would be heard today, singing those words along to the familiar tune of Auld Lang Syne, as sung by the wearied soldiers back in the dark trenches of the Somme.

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Son, you must take my word

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Silver Thunderbird // Angelsong (Atlantic Records 7″ single, 1991)

Don’t you give me no Buick. Son, you must take my word. If there’s a god in heaven, he’s got a Silver Thunderbird. You can keep your Eldorados and the foreign car’s absurd. Me, I wanna go down in a Silver Thunderbird…

This song to me is just a dream, and an ideal. A pure fantasy.

A young boy waits patiently by the window for his father to come home. His dad drives a big American car that he is so proud of, and almost every word of the song echoes his passion for it. You can feel it in the life around that car for the boy, and in the detail of his father’s daily grind in the geography of the journey.

The second verse implies a distance between the son and his ideal. He lies in bed in the morning and listens to his dad getting ready for work, but he’s gone by the time he gets out of bed. It doesn’t describe any further the relationship between father and son, but leaves it hanging with just enough for the listener to fill in the cracks.

At least that’s what it does for me, because it speaks to me about my own fantasy life with my father too.

Silver Thunderbird is the second single from Marc Cohn’s self titled album in 1991. It’s the follow-up to the Grammy winning Walking in Memphis, which is permanently placed in my all-time top-five most loathed songs on planet Earth.

What’s worse is that I seem to hear that more famous song everywhere I go; whether it’s in line at the bank, in the grocery store, or at least once a day in my workplace. Cohn must have made enough moolah from that dang song alone to happily live on a small island with his piano for the rest of his life.

Walking in Memphis is just a cheesy list to me, a grab-bag of Memphis cliche, and in my mind I have often performed my own cover version of the song as part of a comedy routine.

My version is called Wikipedia Memphis, and it goes like this.

WIKIPEDIA MEMPHIS: A short two-minute sketch for three players.

CAST:

A piano player, a singer, and a placard bearer a la Subterranean Homesick Blues.

The song begins;

Singer: Put on my blue suede shoes…

Placard: “Blue Suede Shoes is a rock n’ roll standard made famous by Carl Perkins…”

Singer: … and I boarded the plane. Touched down in the land of the delta blues…

Placard: “The delta blues is one of the earliest styles of blues music…”

Singer: … in the middle of the pouring rain…

Placard: “Memphis’ average annual precipitation is 53.67 inches…”

etc etc…

Trust me on this one, this imagined sketch has kept me entertained in different versions for every time I have to suffer that infernal song. So as a result of my disdain I shan’t ever be able to fully invest into the album-length work of Marc Cohn, but just content myself with my perfectly formed compact seven-inch single version as pictured here.

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I watched the Silver Thunderbird video on You Tube – the view-count paling in the shadow of his ten-million-plus other song – and although its story is something of a literal translation I can still take it. With some maneuvering I can just about place my own life with my father into it.

Today being Father’s Day I recall how I used to avoid this day when I was a Facebook subscriber. “Here’s me and dad at the ball game…” or “enjoying a couple of beers…”, came post after post. “Here’s us hanging out at the mall… and now playing a round of golf…” Heck, even going walking in Memphis would have suited me over barely being able to stroll with mine.

This isn’t meant to sound woeful at all. It isn’t a bleat. It just is what it was.

It was just different times in the seventies and eighties. Dads didn’t have to bond with their kids, and besides my younger brother was much more dad’s speed anyway, by taking apart car engines on newspapers in front of the kitchen fireplace. Dad could relate to that. I had an earring and often brought home weird loud music, trying to get band after band off the ground.

He was a simple man, my mum said. These days I call him a Pleasantville dad, after William H. Macy in the film of the same name. He sat and read his paper, cut the grass when needed, drove mum to the shops, kept himself to himself, didn’t want to be disturbed.

He passed away from Parkinson’s complications in 2003, and I was over here in the states for most of that, so I didn’t get to say goodbye to him, which again is just what it is since we weren’t particularly close anyway. Maybe it’s just the modern age that places such importance on the way parents are with their kids.

Earlier this month I took my vacation back to the old house, the only one I’ve ever known, and with mum now in assisted living I had to sort out the small mountain range of photographs that had accumulated in albums and drawers and boxes. My sister said she couldn’t do it, by her own admission being far too sentimental for the serious amount of editing that would have to be done.

I managed to cram a small suitcase full of mostly black and white photos, many of my dad when he was a lot younger, most of which I’d never seen before, not being interested when I lived there. I made the suitcase my second carry-on for the flight back, not wanting to risk losing them in transit.

I hadn’t really thought about the fact that there aren’t any photos of my dad and me after we’d stopped taking family holidays together when we were very young. I tried to find one to post with this piece but couldn’t. Again, our family just didn’t think about stuff like that later on, but just got on with it. It is what it is.

So instead I get to try to place him leaving the house at the wheel of a big American car, Willy Loman style, driving with his packed lunch into work, and not putting the radio on because he didn’t care for music, he once said in earnest to me.

He’d have just taken the journey in silence I suppose, but then even he would have to agree that he’d have looked really good just getting there.

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Happy Father’s Day, dad.

xo

Listening to my Versus tape

Bright Light // Forest Fire (Pop Narcotic Records 7" single, 1992
Bright Light // Forest Fire (Pop Narcotic Records 7″ single, 1992)

I can’t seem to get it straight, stay up late and sleep all day, listening to my Versus tape is still the same…

 

 

 

I came to America and got to hang out with bands.

Small Factory from my previous post has a song on the first CD that I bought by them and it’s called Versus Tape. It seems to be about the singer trying to get his life into some kind of shape, and listening to the Brooklyn band Versus clearly helps him a lot. I love it when singers of songs mention other singers or bands in their lyrics, and especially if the singer is a fan of the particular act in question.

(There are probably hundreds of examples of artist references in songs that I sure would appreciate y’all adding your own versions to in the comments. Right now I’m stuck on Versus Tape and something by The Who that mentions drinking himself blind to the sound of old T.Rex. Patrik Fitzgerald in another of my posts mentions listening to Bowie and riding with him out through the stars. That’s just breathtaking. I love that namedrop thing.)

I liked Versus Tape so much and the way he sang about them that I went and bought a Versus CD without ever hearing them. This was back in the day when you couldn’t just key up a song on any device you happened to have handy to see if you liked it or not. (Writing this post I tried to find songs by Small Factory and Versus on the net and they weren’t easy to track down either.)

As I’ve said on here I was living in a town that didn’t have much going for it and so I just had to take a chance on a band I’d never heard. I bought the first CD Versus released – which was fairly new at the time – because even though I didn’t know the singer in Small Factory personally I trusted him implicitly. The love of a good band can do that to you.

As I found out Versus are very good and didn’t sound a million miles away from Small Factory. On their debut album Versus also consisted of two guys and a girl, like Small Factory, except the girl in Versus plays the bass and she’s called Fontaine Toups; another excellent name to rival that of Small Factory drummer Phoebe Summersquash. The other two guys in Versus were that rare thing of being Filipino brothers in a rock band in America; singer and guitarist Richard Baluyut and his brother Ed on the drums.

I guess you’d call Versus ‘indie rock’ if you were looking for a safe house. I recall being pleased with my risk purchase for the way that they played their guitars being somewhat different and more melodic to grunge and hard rock which I didn’t particularly care for. Don’t get me wrong Versus can certainly belt it out with the best of them too.

Over the years I bought everything they released up to a point, and all on compact disc as records were hard to find in lower Alabama at that time. I would do this thing to liven up or personalize CD packaging by replacing the grey back plate that typically holds the disc in place with a clear plastic back plate, which I would then store stuff behind, such as reviews and bits of receipts and such. Anything to make it seem more mine as I found the compact disc format rather impersonal and clunky and I never really got to care for it.

I recall seeing Versus one time only at a venue called Howlin’ Wolf in the warehouse district of New Orleans. The venue is still going strong in its new location in the French Quarter of the city. I say this because I don’t recall much about the show that I saw or even what year it was but I do recall that my ex-wife and I got lost attempting to locate the venue in the warehouse district, ending up driving through a poor and run-down ghetto area of the city; with huge potholes in the road, street lights smashed out or broken, and large numbers of gathered people staring in at us as we drove past, and with a cop car following us with its lights on full beam to guide us both safely out.

At the venue I met two of the members of Versus and they signed their names on a compilation CD of theirs called Dead Leaves, a detail of which I include here alongside an image from their debut CD The Stars are Insane, complete with its adjusted back plate;

Dead Leaves

Stars are Insane

I spoke to Richard from the band as he signed the inside of the CD case, and was thrilled that he referred to me as The King of England. That’s a landmark memory right there. Also behind the back case of The Stars are Insane there’s a small torn corner from a newspaper upon which Richard wrote a note to me about bringing the band to perform in my then hometown of Mobile, Alabama, thus;

Richard writes

No way was I capable or connected enough to be able to bring Versus to perform a show in Mobile as I just didn’t know how to go about doing that sort of thing. It was different in the USA to how it was when the band I’d been in – at that time in my life nary five years ago – had been given lots of opportunities and varied venues to play in England. In America I could but dream and hope that a band I was interested in would one day play in my part of the world, which at that time was a rare thing.

Speaking of dreams, one of mine eventually came true when I came across Versus on vinyl at last, via the single featured here, at a record fair in my new home town of Winston Salem some years later. I paid $6.00 for the 7″ 45 on the Pop Narcotic label based out of Boston, MA, and was chuffed that it featured Bright Light, my favourite song on the Dead Leaves CD that Richard from the band had scrawled on back there.

“Amazing!”, says the handwriting on the small white sticker that was affixed to the front of the 7″ record sleeve. “Brooklynesque pop on Brack’s candy vinyl… I (heart) dese guys!”

I enjoyed the handwritten colloquial play on the word ‘these’ written there, even if I still have no idea what Brack’s candy actually is or even looks like. Let’s look at the actual record, shall we, and see if it reminds y’all of the candy brand and colour that my sticker refers to;

Vers6

Chances are good that the white background of the scanner I use at work is not doing the vibrancy of the plastic featured here any justice at all. It really is a lovely thing; a wonder found purely through a chance meeting with another band on MTV 120 Minutes, who were singing about a cassette tape that featured another band who were so good they just had to write a song about the feeling it gave.

And now I wonder if any song on my many cassette mix-tapes had that same effect on those I sent them to.

When I first came to America I discovered so much new music so quickly that I just had to share it with my friends I’d left back home in England.

At first I couldn’t work here until I was legalized and so days would turn into months listening to music and compiling tapes at a large circular wooden table in the dining room in Mobile, Alabama. I would keep scrupulous notes of which mate got which song, notes I still have, so that I wouldn’t duplicate music that may even pass between the two. It was a light industry of creativity and entertainment and variety that I sorely miss in these digital days, when music doesn’t seem to even want to have a tangible form anymore.

At first my tapes were just songs played consecutively one after the other, until one day I decided to add a faux DJ element to the mix with a microphone I plugged into the cassette deck; my dreams of being a real radio DJ peering into the light. I even invented a name for my pretend radio station; Radio Cheezwiz, the subtle vocabulary difference allegedly separating me from the popular US cheese spread brand of a similar name.

I’d get a six-pack of beer, a full night stretching ahead of me (later with a day off from work the next day), and records and tapes stacked around as I began my journey. There was no template or plan other than the desire to belt a song over the imaginary tennis net to the receiver on the other side.

I had little or no specific response about songs from the many subscribers I had on my yellow legal pad lists, but just to do it was enough for me, and I loved it.

In return I’d get tapes from the same mates in Old Blighty, a selection of which I’ve photographed here alongside one or two of mine, to wrap this show up.

I’d make covers from magazine ads and such, double-stick taped to the label inner of the Maxell XLII 90, (Radio Cheezwiz cassette tape brand of choice. You can’t buy them in stores anymore.)

Often I would give the entire shebang a title – one pictured here that my mate Greg photographed for me from his own copy is named Search: Go To just because I liked the sound of the phrase.

Then off it would fly in the post, its destination varied, hopefully to invoke a similar reaction upon its receipt to the Frazier Chorus song String that I have previously written about on here. Same words, different feeling.

I am still dreaming and I keep listening, even if  I’m not taping anymore. Some of the cassette tapes featured have specks of dust on them, and I like that.

You can’t get dust on a digital file. I’m fairly certain you can’t even own it, and at no point does it ever seem like it’s being used. My creased up card and worn down plastic buzzes and creaks like something mechanical, and I will always rejoice in that difference.

 

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The Paranoid Ward

The Paranoid Ward (Small Wonder Records 12", 1978)
Babysitter / Irrelevant Battles / Cruellest Crime / The Paranoid Ward / The Bingo Crowd (Instrumental) // Life at the Top / Ragged Generation for Real / Live Out my Stars / George (Small Wonder Records 12″ EP, 1978)

Who needs to sleep, I play pinball ’til three in the night. Ain’t got a job, ain’t got a home, but I like the lifestyle. I listen to Bowie, I ride with him out through the stars. I live out my heroes, try to touch them, I live out my stars.

 

 

Another classic find, purchased a few years after I had first heard it, from Vinyl Exchange in Manchester, the price sticker here peeled carefully from its cover and affixed to the inside paper sleeve.

The 12″ single was not a common format in the seventies, and so to find this used for a respectable one-pound-ninety-nine pence after being reduced four times, well, I was pleased. My younger brother had this originally on a 7″ single when it first came out, long lost now, from back when he had more money than me and would introduce me to new acts on an almost weekly basis.

This could have been the first time I’d heard Patrik Fitzgerald. He wouldn’t have been played on daytime radio, and none of my heavy rock loving school friends would have known about him. This impressive introduction – eight songs on my brother’s 7″ single, there are nine on my 12″ copy – being something of a revelation to me too.

The first being how the world of music had suddenly opened up to reveal much more of itself than had existed previously in my small-town world, and secondly it was just how varied one could still be within the newly established punk rock year-zero code of musical restriction.

NB: The impact that the Sex Pistols’ offensive verbal farrago on the BBC’s The Today Show one evening in December of 1976 had on the tender ears of the nation has been widely and somewhat excessively documented elsewhere. An inebriated presenter Bill Grundy goaded the band and received a stream of expletives in response. The next morning the newspapers had the story splashed across their front covers; The Filth and the Fury being my favourite headline from The Daily Mirror newspaper that my dad would read every day.

Here’s how it might have been for me at that time.

My dad was not a particularly communicative man, and would leave most of that difficult dealing with children later becoming teenagers stuff to my overworked mum. Consequently when taking his sweet time to read his daily newspaper he would not want to be disturbed at all. Mum later informed me that he was quite dyslexic, which would explain why it could take him anything up to four or five hours to peruse his Daily Mirror, and he would also somehow want to read everything that was in it.

I was fifteen years old and in that restless phase between two stages of life, and likely to have been hoping for something incendiary to come along and shake up the mundanity. It seemed as though the Sex Pistols would be it, if only I could have read, seen, or heard anything of them to help make up my mind. There’s also a distinct chance that had I read the cover story on the paper that day I would not have fully grasped what all of the fuss was about anyway.

This was because The Today Show was a regional arts-based programme available in the London area only, and I lived in the North of England where our equivalent was called Look North. To have faced a void of nothingness regarding the Pistols one day, and then to suddenly have them all over front covers the next was a very curious and now confusing thing. Now, if only my dad would hurry up and finish reading the paper I might find out what the fuss is all about!

Fast forward to 1978 and the music world has now fully opened up to me. From an era pre-Pistols where I wasn’t even particularly aware of any small and affordable 7″ single records being available that weren’t what was in the charts at that time, to suddenly find so much choice in such different styles, pressed on different coloured plastics too, and with images of all kinds of excitement printed on their picture sleeves. Well, this was a revelation to me and I couldn’t get enough of it.

Patrik Fitzgerald was signed to the tiny London independent label Small Wonder Records – home to The Cure’s debut single Killing An Arab amongst many others. The label heard Patrik for the first time via a cassette tape recording he made in his bedroom, freezing cold, and yelling his songs via acoustic guitar into a condenser microphone on his cassette player. I know this because four of those demo recordings make up the second side of the 12″ of The Paranoid Ward I have here, which was his second release for the label.

To have journeyed from a time when I naively thought that you had to attend a record company in some castle somewhere – I was pretty naive at the time, kids – then to suddenly find that you could mail them a cassette tape of your songs and from it one day make a record, well, this was a music future I could very much relate to.

On this second record Patrik veers from acoustic guitar pop songs with witty lyrics, to a home organ instrumental, to a tiny spoken recitation over a hum drone, and a further side of almost folk-like songs featuring his wonderfully lyrical turn of phrase. Try to get to hear it if you can, or any other of his earlier singles. They’re very good indeed and to be so bold with his switching between styles less than a year after the punk explosion speaks volumes about his confidence in himself.

But there are two specific and very trivial things about this fine record that I would like to share with you today;

One is regarding the lyric I quoted up there, where Patrik talks about listening to David Bowie. It is a minor bugbear of mine as an avid reader of the music press to constantly learn of pop stars I admire having in the seventies listened to a diet of nothing but David Bowie, Roxy Music, Iggy Pop, Kraftwerk, or The Velvet Underground, and typically only those five acts in one variation or another.

These people in bands that I admire are often just a couple of years older than me, sometimes even younger. How come they weren’t listening to Slade or The Sweet, Alvin Stardust or Mud like the rest of us? Methinks that some artists have what I term ‘selective memory loss’.

They wouldn’t want to be thought of in stupid loon pants doing a dance called ‘The Bump’ or squeezing spots into a wall mirror surrounded by pictures of David Cassidy. Oh no, it was all decadence round our way, mate. You couldn’t move for arch glam icons tripping over each other in our record collections…

The second concerns my favourite team sport of rugby league. A very good friend of mine sends DVD-R copies of rugby matches that he records from the UK TV channel Sky Sports, and I keep up with games in that way, through my all-regions DVD player. It’s hard enough living in America to find anyone with even an interest in rugby league – if they like the sport at all it’s usually rugby union that they prefer, which is a slightly different game – and not their preferred premier league soccer.

So when the customer meets me at the counter of my day job and learns that I’m from England they typically ask me what my favourite team is. When I say Widnes Vikings – my local hometown rugby team – they look confused, expecting me to say one of the three teams they prefer from the premier league; those being Arsenal, Chelsea, or Manchester United. Almost always one of those three and rarely another.

So it’s with some joy in my heart to find a song that actually mentions rugby in it at all. Are there any others? Do you know of any others because I don’t and haven’t Googled it yet.

I shall leave you today with this wonderful and hilarious recitation by Patrik, from the title track to The Paranoid Ward.

Until such time, my friends.

 

 

The Paranoid Ward.

The room was quiet, the brains buzzed in all directions, but more quietly.

The old man and his friend watched TV, it was a rugby match.

The men gathered in for the scrummage, heads down.

The old man shook his friends arm urgently and whispered, nodding toward the rugby players;

Here………

They’re talking about me.

Tiny Black Round Thing

D.P. Gumby presents "Election '74" / The Lumberjack Song
D.P. Gumby presents “Election ’74” / The Lumberjack Song (Charisma Records 7″ flexi, 1974)

Can I just say that this is the first time I’ve been on television?

 

 

Woefully outmoded 7″ formats in the days before girls presents a flimsy, and easily creaseable, lightly bent and smudged tiny black round thing as cover-mounted and given free with the May 1974 issue of the New Musical Express rock music weekly.

I didn’t get mine from on there as I was only thirteen years old at the time and anyway the NME was full of sixteen page dissections of King Crimson and Blodwyn Pig live albums in 10-point type and with NO PICTURES.

On the contrary, I think mine came from a record fair quite some years later, in a much more sensible stiff white card sleeve and with a hole cut in the centre to make the label visible, upon which the seller had quite correctly indicated that the item inside “plays well and is jolly funny”.

Monty Python back

He’s not wrong either.

“Election ’74” is a slightly extended version of the ‘track’ (as we long-hairs called them in those days) from the classic Monty Python Live at Drury Lane album of the same year, backed by The Lumberjack Song from the same record. Prior to this on my featured record Michael Palin does an excellent announcement exclusive to this version that is hilarious and only available here.

Well, no, that’s not strictly true, as if it was only available here nobody would have ever got to hear it as it’s pressed on a flexi-disc, a record similar to a standard 7″ single in look and size, but of a completely different width. In that on a standard 7″ the playing surface won’t crease or fold if you sneeze near it, whereas this version most likely will. And anyway the entire farrago is captured for your listening pleasure on the Tube of You just over there. I’ve just now checked. Go see.

In the meantime I shall wax romantically about the kudos one could achieve back in those acned days of yore by quoting entire reams of Pythonesque garble such as this to one’s ‘troggy’ mates in between school lessons, when warming oneself by the radiator opposite the staff room. Each of us present during those eternal hours also silently wishing for the sweet breath of the female to invade our personal space but – to quote an excellent record of quite some years later – we were getting nowhere fast.

The flexi-disc itself never did catch on, although I do have a fair few of them – eight of them in total kept in one single paper sleeve and still not as thick as a standard 45. My favourite flexi is probably my ‘Synthesized Speech’ one courtesy of Bell Telephone Laboratories, affixed to a square sheet of also flimsy plastic page, and released in the year that I was born, in 1961.

There are three bands on this other record; a band in this instance not meaning Vampire Weekend or suchlike, but actually a section of the playing surface of the record. It got confusing in them days, which is possibly why the band became the track or cut in later usage.

Band 1 on my ‘Synthesized Speech’ record is ‘The computer speaking’. Band 2 (my personal favourite) is called ‘The computer reciting a soliloquy from Hamlet’, and band 3 is ‘The computer singing.’

I’ve just now visited the excellent Discogs website and stone me if this actual obscurity / piece of nonsense plastic is listed on there with many more details and seven pictures! Man, I love the future. But don’t get excited, kids. You can’t buy this baby on there.

It turns out that the computer machine on the record, on band 2, recites the ‘To be or not to be’ speech – later covered by Python in some form or other if I’m not mistaken – and on band 3 sings us a version of the classic A Bicycle Built for Two, in all of its early Kraftwerkian splendour.

This version of the Daisy song occurred seven years earlier than the one performed by the computer HAL in Stanley Kubrick’s excellent 2001 feature film. I wonder if Stan had his own copy of my Synthesized Speech record? I’d really like to know but I’m sorry there isn’t time.

Over to you, Brian, with the results from Leicester.

You never forget it.