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?

  1. 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.
  2. Set off home at a run, after all it’s only 10 miles away and I did have my gym kit in my rucksack.
  3. Bed a passing wench, show her to heaven and back and still catch my train with 5 minutes to spare.
  4. 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?

Check out those demon boobs!
Check out those demon boobs!

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.

Was this type of thing even invented in 1970?
Was this type of thing even invented in 1970?

31 thoughts on “It’s So Easy

  1. Oh. That Black Widow sounds and looks, eh, interesting. Need to investigate that one further, I reckon.

    My go to section in record stores is Z, in the hope I can add to my ZZ Top collection (and finding a London release of the first couple of LPs – particularly Tres Hombres). After that I have a root about the country stuff.

  2. I feel strangely proud to come from the home of satanic folk-prog. Although we tend to refer to the Lord of all Depravity by his real name of Jimmy Hill.
    Oddly I tend to check if there’s a bossanova section first – Jorge Ben

    1. I think its about time British heritage put a blue plaque up to commemorate Black Widow in your home town.

      Please, do not invoke the name of the Lord of all Depravity here on these pages – not even over a bossa nova soundtrack.

  3. I was going to choose 3 and then 4.

    I just got my first taste of Manic Street Preachers in the mail, and it includes a live version of It’s So Easy. I have not had a chance to listen to it yet though.

    As for the record store, usually new arrivals, then discounted records then blues, then stoner/doom/metal.

      1. Oh really. I saw a sealed one at a thrift store the other day but I chose a scratched up copy of Herb Alperts Whipped Cream And Other Delights instead. They were each $1, I only had enough on me to buy one, and I liked the cover on Whipped Cream best.

    1. Repertoire Records, I’d not heard of them before, reissued in 2015.

      Can’t beat a good bit of portentousness! I was thinking as I listened that you’d really like it.

      1. Repertoire built quite a name in the 90s as a CD re-issuer of obscure and/or interesting albums. Great to hear they are into vinyl now, as they usually did a damn fine job and (unlike Arkarma) actually pay the artists.
        And yes, I reckon this is just up my first-division prog alley!

      2. It’s sumptuously redone, the quality of the package and vinyl is very good indeed. I know you’ll love this one Bruce.

        Come on Bruce, come to the sabbat … there’s someone here who’d like to meet you.

  4. I really enjoy these posts. Weird that there are still rare Manics tracks to be found despite all the big cashectomy box sets they’ve been bringing out.

    I’ve heard of Black Widow but never heard them… very intrigued. Lots of bands doing that kinda occult folky rock these days, it would be good to hear where it started.

    1. Thank you, thank you.

      I think you’d really like the Black Widow and you’re right it is a genre that’s risen from the dead in the last few years (makes spooky noises).

    1. Sorry Danica, I should have put one of those warning thingys up to stop sensitive lady-types such as yourself from swooning away -I can only hope you weren’t operating heavy machinery when you first glanced at it.

  5. Nice, of course having missed the train, bought records and the fact you are already running late you should then have gone drinking. Or bought flowers and food to make up for being late and coming home with records.

    My default section is H as I am looking for more Hawkwind always.

    1. They had loads of Hawkwind and Hawklords stuff … I’m always very wary of live stuff. They did have a very nice copy of Choose Your Masques, which I was tempted by.

  6. Skeleton Records sounds pretty damn proper to me. I was secretly hoping #2 wasn’t what happened, as I’d feel very unmanly in my shorts and hooded sweatshirt melting into my recliner.

    I love that GnR cover. I’d never heard it before. I’m tempted to say I like it more than the original. Black Widow is another I’ve never heard of. Doom/Folk/Prog…a genre that needs to be brought back I think.

    Lastly, the default section I go to first off in a proper record store? Electronic, followed shortly by Experimental. Those are the two I see least and know least about, so I like rummaging through and finding something that looks interesting. Next? Doom/Folk/Prog of course.

    1. Yup Doom/Folk/Prog wil be my default genre from here on in, I think.

      You wouldn’t find an electronic, or an experimental in Skeleton Records, there is a pretty good soundtrack section though.

  7. Thats a pretty trashy sounding version of Its So Easy. Read a lot about these guys in Classic Rock Magazine as they were pretty high on them. I took notice when they interviewed Geddy and Alex in one issue …..

    1. They’re a big band for my wife and I, I took her to see them on our second date and I’ve watched them from pub gigs on up to arenas.

      This is a proper thrashy punk version. I love it.

      1. Kinda like the Tragically Hip here in Canuckland…from the bars which I seen them to the arenas…
        Thats cool when a band takes off like that and you seen them in both scenarios….

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