Ya get nothin’ for nothin’
If that’s what ya do
So there I was yesterday in Birkenhead with 20 minutes to go between trains, looking suave, unshaven and cool in my second-best Batman T-shirt after popping into work to finish some stuff off, what do you reckon I did?
- Waited patiently at the station with my book, as 20 minutes isn’t a very long time and I was anxious to get home to wife and family.
- Set off home at a run, after all it’s only 10 miles away and I did have my gym kit in my rucksack.
- Bed a passing wench, show her to heaven and back and still catch my train with 5 minutes to spare.
- Set out to see if Skeleton Records was still in business and possibly buy some shit; even if it meant I’d be getting the train home an hour later.
Congratulations all of you who answered #4, shame on you all who answered #3^. Skeleton Records, very much an institution in Birkenhead, mural and all, is very much still in business, despite the fact that the last time I went there was circa 1998* and it is a proper, proper old skool record shop. Stock crammed in racks, packed so tightly that you can barely either move between them, or actually flip through the records themselves. I made a B-line straight for the ‘B’ section as I always do, just to orientate myself and then struck out for the 12″ section and the Indie/Punk/New Wave section**. Okay so there were a couple of Dollar Brand LPs that I just didn’t have the money on me for and I was tempted by all the early Marillion 12″ singles, but I did pick up one I’ve wanted for ages and a couple of strangers:
Manic Street Preachers You Love Us (12″)
The wonderful arrogant blast of the title track aside, I wanted this for the B-side cover of Guns ‘n Roses ‘It’s So Easy’, which they played the first time I ever saw them but has never been compilationalised since on any of the deluxe releases I’ve stumped up for since, I’m not sure why: royalties? an embarrassment at the lyrics? who cares. It was the fact that the Manics openly worshipped GNR that first made me take notice of them, it wasn’t cool amongst indie/punk circles at the time and made me realise that they were very much small town rock kids at heart, like me. The other B-side, ‘A Vision Of Dead Desire’ really rocks – it comes on like Trixter having an existential political crisis, which is a very good thing.
Manic Street Preachers Instore Promo (12″)
A strange semi-official release from 1996 featuring, mostly quite unlistenable remixes of their tracks by such illuminati as the Chemical Brothers and Massive Attack. It also features the Manics remix of Massive Attack’s ‘Inertia Creeps’. A bit of a curio.
Black Widow Sacrifice
As I mentioned to a very friendly fellow customer when he asked me what I’d found, ‘You can’t beat a bit of Satan from 1970’. A recent reissue^^, this looked awesome and after a grand total of one play last night, is awesome. Often, wrongly, bracketed with Midlands contemporaries Black Sabbath, Leicester’s Black Widow wove a stranger folk-prog-rock path with loads of organ, sax and flute extravaganzas in praise of the Lord of all Depravity. Think of a cross between early Yes, a jazzier Atomic Rooster and the song at the end of Wickerman and you’re most of the way there. ‘Come To The Sabbat’ with its borderline autistic repetition of ‘Come to the Sabbat – Satan’s there’ is really quite a thing, a bit like Comus with concussion. I thought this was a tremendous LP and I’m very glad I own it.
Discard your clothes and come on foot,
Through streams and fields and moonlit moors,
Your bodies soaked in secret oils,
Perfumed herbs will heal your sores.
Join me in my search for power.
Thank goodness for the perfumed herbs, eh readers?
Just a final question before you go on your merry way, just out of interest what’s your default browsing section as soon as you walk into a record shop?
735 Down (still).
PS: This quote by Chuck D (the Manics always put quotes on their records) – you think Trump is modelling himself on my favourite rapper’s paranoid world view circa ’88?
*Miles Davis My Funny Valentine and Filles De Kilimanjaro, since you ask.
**heavy metal/hard rock was mixed in/formed most of the rest of the stuff in there, it wasn’t ghettoized into a rack.
^I’d actually only just have caught the train by the skin of my teeth.
^^If, when he passes, you find that your strange uncle Dean has an original copy in his basement then I’d happily take it off your hands totally free of charge and ensure its’ safe disposal. Yes, I would do that for you.