Wednesday, 9 September 2009

If I fell...

"While remnants of our once-stable core of religious faith survive, few are very edifying. Till the hard drugs are legalised, the old world will retain some moral hold on us; but when they are, as the dictates of vulgar pragmatism predict, the last ties will be cut with our former way of life, far away from us on the other side of the sun-flooded chasm of the Sixties - where courtesy of scientific technology, the Beatles can still be heard singing their bouyant, poignant, hopeful, love-advocating songs."

Ian MacDonald, Revolution in the Head

It was 1974 when I fell. Or maybe 1975. It's a Tuesday morning somewhere in the middle of one of those long drawn-out summer holidays where time seems to crawl and decades seem to pass in a shimmering heat haze and then, all of a sudden it's a gloomy Sunday in September and you're experiencing that terrible sinking of the guts as you realise that tomorrow you'll be back in class. The BBC are showing A Hard Day's Night the following day and they preview it by playing a 30 second blast of this. So now you have, somehow, to endure the next 36 or so hours before you can hear that exquisite sound again, see those cheery monochrome faces and those lovely guitars again. Why does it go so slow? And how do you even begin to fill all that time? Probably by playing along to your copy of A Collection of Beatles Oldies (But Goldies) by beating the crap out of an old leather armchair with a pair of knitting needles. Later, you'll have learned how to improvise a Rickenbacker out of a badminton racket into the handle of which you'll have implanted a dozen or so map pins, having already stripped out the lateral strings for added verisimilitude. But for now you're Ringo, not George, patiently beating away as hour after hour slowly peels away bringing you snail-like towards that butterfly stomached reunion.

So that's how you fell in love for the first time. Because it really is love that this music excites. That's why grown men, my age and older, will no doubt have queued up outside the Virgin Megastore or HMV last night, waiting for the magic hour of midnight when that painfully slow atomic clock will finally have ticked over into tomorrow and the long-awaited 9.9.09 will be upon us. They'll file up towards the counter where kids young enough to be their grandchildren will hand them a ready-bagged box set containing the complete works of the greatest pop band that ever lived and the lovesick will hand over their Gold Amex or Platinum Visa cards and have the £169 (stereo) or £199 (mono) added to next month's unread statement. There'll be no hysteria or, if there is, it'll be a far-off echo of the original version - perhaps a gaggle of over-excitable Japanese students still high from their octopedal procession across Abbey Road. They'll all file back out, into the night and the seconds will limp all the way through the car journey or night bus ride until finally they can be alone with their loved ones again, settling into the comfiest chair with the wireless headphones set to loud waiting for that eager "1,2,3, FAAWWW!" to send a gunpowder trail of pleasure soaring up the spine.

So, here for the lovesick, a little gift from across that "sun-flooded chasm". This is my copy - a 1964 first pressing:

Side one (YEX.126-1) comes off stamper number 29, side two (YEX.127-1) is off stamper number 4; so this is one of the first 10,000 stereo copies pressed.

Of course, it won't compare with the shiny new remasters; they'll blow you away and make you feel as if you're hearing the band for the first time, apparently. But this is the music as you were meant to hear it - with nothing added and nothing taken away. This is how it really did sound when you first fell in love, when it first blew you away.


Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Karma Kimono...

"We're not taking cash today..." announces one of the jovial pair of older ladies behind the counter at the Princess Alice Hospice shop. "You'll have to do a fan-dance for us", she tells one of the other oldies milling around by the till. I'm in the corner, obviously, with my back to them, flicking through the L.P.s. This is the place that had the Linda Lewis album I didn't buy (for karmic reasons) and the nice copy of Phil Collins, Hello, I must be going which, if you'll recall, I also didn't buy because they were asking three quid for it. And because it's by Phil Collins and therefore most probably a cack of shit, regardless of what the editors of The Mojo Collection have to say in its defence. This is the last stop on the charity shop run and things are getting desperate.

Today I've already failed to buy - again for karmic reasons - beautiful copies of Grace Jones' Warm Leatherette and Harry Nilsson's Nilsson Schmilsson. I have both already but neither of my copies are in as good nick as either of these and they're only a pound each. The Nilsson has the original black inner sleeve with the plug for the (then) new R. Buckmaster Fuller book - or is it F. Ruckminster Buller? I have this too (the inner sleeve that is, not the book by B. Fuckminster Ruler), only it's currently housing my copy of Dory Previn's Mythical Kings and Iguanas L.P. I'd been meaning to try to track down the rightful owner of this inner sleeve ever since I noticed that the catalogue numbers didn't match but, as with so many things, never got around to it. Such is life, eh? One door opens, another one slams shut in your face. You've no sooner reunited your Nilsson Schmilsson with its original inner sleeve than you realise you have to hunt for a new one for Mythical Kings and Iguanas...

The idea behind all this karmic non-purchasing is quite simple; if you don't really, really, really, really, really, really want something, you leave it for someone who really, really, really, really, really, really does. Karma thus satisfied, you know that having left the Nilsson and the Grace Jones and the slightly battered picture sleeved copy of Hit me with your rhythm stick that you've just remembered you didn't pick up in the Romanian Orphans place that isn't the FARA shop and the Linda Lewis you will once again not buy so that some real diehard L.L. fan who doesn't already have her 1975 disco album can have that all-their-Christmases-have-come-at-once-feeling when they eventually *do* find it, you will in turn, and as a direct result of all this self sacrifice and benevolence, find as you're flipping back the last half dozen or so albums of the day's trawl that much-coveted, top-opening, low-numbered, mono copy of the White Album with the black inner sleeves and barely ever opened poster sat there waiting just for you.

And so you shuffle disconsolately through the last of the James Last and the Johnny Mathis, the Spandau Ballet and the Mrs. Mills until there, suddenly, they are - first Indiscreet

and then, sat proudly in amongst the last four or five no-hopers, Kimono my House.

"Where do you want me to do the fan dance?" I ask the ladies at the till...


Sunday, 6 September 2009

All Things Must Pass...

Phillippe: You've got '*this*, right?:

Mort: Er, ..... *no*!

Phillippe: Well, you have now...

Until last Friday, I'd never owned a vinyl copy of George's first and best solo album. But it still feels like being reunited with an old friend. I used to be pals with a guy called Toby whose father was someone well-known in the music business. Toby's Dad's agent lived in Putney and one day I was dragged along there and shown the astonishing goldmine dominating the family living room. The whole of one wall was taken up with a set of shelves a foot deep and with foot squared divisions each one of which was snugly filled with LPs - at a guess, several thousand. Somewhere towards the top left hand corner ran the sequence of original Beatles LPs, mono copies first, then stereo (Please Please Me, With the Beatles, A Hard Day's Night, Beatles for Sale...anyone who can't already recite this litany parrot-fashion will have it hot wired into the memory come this Wednesday when the much-vaunted catalogue - fresh from its latest digital lick and polish - will once more be reissued...) After Let it Be came a series three times as long again; bootlegs - the most familiar of which to the time/booze-addled memory is the majestically titled Yellow Matter Custard. Then, in sequence of release date, all the solo LPs...

It's enough to make you really hate someone, isn't it? A collection like that. But I've since discovered that the guy who owned all that also invented the EMS synthesizer, as beloved of Brian Eno who used the famous 'synthesizer in a suitcase' just like the one Toby brought 'round to our house one far off day in the 1970s - the two of us head scratching and vainly playing cribbage with the small, red, plastic pegs that worked the oscillators or reversed the posi-trons or whatever the hell it was that they were supposed to do but which, for us, resulted only in silence - to create the sublime guitar sound for the solo Robert Fripp played on 'Heroes'. Similarly, Toby would occasionally liberate some of the gems from the collection just described and they would, like the fondly remembered copy of All Things Must Pass that it feels as if I'm just now welcoming back home, be subjected to rigorous examination by the Shadow stylus.

But it's not people like that who should be hated, is it? It's the sort I overheard in the Fara shop. "Ah, shit!", I thought as I spied him - pinstripe-shirt-with-cut-off-jeans-mismatch-prick-of-the-year-look; you know the sort - flicking through the LP section. "Another collector - ah the frigging fuckhead... Bet he'll nab a lovely mono first pressing of the White album - top opening, with black inner sleeves and mint condition poster. Number 0000124 or something ridiculous like that. Typical, isn't it? If I'd only left the house a minute sooner...fucking tosser..." I take intrusions like this remarkably well, as you can see. "Why don't you just grab any old thing?" Pipes up his bit-of-posh girlfriend or wife or whatever she is. "I mean, you're only going to make a *bowl* out of it..." Jesus wept.

I'm not proud of it, but I have to follow him, vigilante like. I can't bear the thought of a first Roxy Music LP or even a tulip rimmed Deutsche Grammophon copy of some classical shit I'd never listen to falling into the hands of this *philestine* *phucker*!! I track him all the way to the Cancer Research shop where he finally trots off to the till with a Des O'Connor LP and A New Flame by Simply Red. I'd even give him a flaming hand to bowlerise those... But be warned; they're out there. If you see one with anything halfway decent in his mitts, shoot first, ask questions later...

But this has all disturbed the karma to the extent that, by the time I come into the Oxfam shop, I'm in a right old strop. They're in the process of 'modernising' the record section. This means they invest some of the hard-earned moolah you lot have been popping into their collection tins in a copy of the Record Collector's guide to Collectable Vinyl and Album Valuation and price the scratched up old LPs people have had the goodness to entrust to them so that some other soul may have the opportunity to give them a good home accordingly, regardless of condition, local demand or any other ethical consideration. Fortunately, this process has only just been begun so there's still a state of, shall we say, somewhat erratic pricing; Fear of Music by Talking Heads - £6.99; Wings Over America (triple live LP!) - £1.99.

I already have the Heads one (albeit a horrifically warped copy courtesy of an exceptionally unethical ebayer - now, presumably working in an advisory capacity in the Charity retail sector...) and I've owned the Wings triple live set since childhood - although I lost/swapped the accompanying poster many moons ago. The copy of ...Over America before me, you'll be as relieved as I was to discover, does contain the said foldout reprographic missing from my own. As I'm flicking through the racks, grabbing an interesting CBS 'special disco' 12 inch pressing of the latter's 'Goodnight Tonight' (also, please note, for the princely sum of £1.99) and placing it at the front for future consideration, two youngsters who, I'm assuming by their tones and air of authority are overseeing the shop's transformation from tat shop to shabby chic boutique, are raising my hackles ever further. "So, right, Hector's coming in to over see the dried fruit display. Ok, yah, just leave the mango where it is for now and we'll see what Hector says when he gets here, OK...?"

I could make excuses for what I'm about to do - namely, subtly remove the poster from Wings Over America and, with sleight of hand that impresses even your humble servant, in one slick move deposit it inside the sleeve of the 12 inch 'special disco' mix of 'Goodnight Tonight'. I could say that I've acted honourably, as I see it; taking only what I need so that someone, somewhere, as yet oblivious to the good fortune he or she is about to come into when s/he lays eyes on that mint condition triple album bargain and equally none the wiser to the even greater good fortune that they may have had in store for them but for my burglarious intervention. I could insist, with good cause, I feel, that had I bought the triple album myself instead, Oxfam would still only have received the same paltry £1.99 - hardly enough to keep the most thrifty of dried fruit consultants in Marlboro lights and panini after an afternoon of frenzied yam stacking, I shouldn't wonder. I could stretch the reader's credulity further still and suggest that in a corrupt and dishonest world, my actions, dishonourable and dishonest though they may have been, will actually result in greater net good than would have resulted had I not done what I did. But I won't. Basically, if it *remotely* fucks Hector and his ilk up, I'm happy. (I just hope the phantom disc melder of old London Town isn't looking for a matching trio of bowls...)

Anyroad, I was going to post a piece on the George record and some audio therefrom, but I seem to have gone into rant mode. As we say down the Nearly New Emporium, 'laters'...


Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Pelling de Jour...

The Diary of a London former Erotic Review Editrice and Daily Mail You Magazine Sex Columnist. (Sorry, but I get more hits if I put in words like Sex, Erotic and Anal Penetration etc.

vendredi 19 aout

Heavy night out with the girls. Back to work with a teensy-weensy bit of a headache. Strange dreams last night - alcohol induced, no doubt. In one, I was dressed in a red bodicey thing and long floaty skirt with my suede boot heel plunging into the spine of a man dressed as Paul McCartney dressed as a pig in the Magical Mystery Tour. Weird. Then it morphed into another one where I was sitting on a bed wearing just a bra and an art deco necklace of some sort, with my feet hanging over a block of type-face - as if I was a photograph accompanying a newspaper article or somesuch silliness. Whatever next?

So, to work. Leaf through several towers worth of pornographic manuscripts. "He sat on my chest... blah blah blah ... fucked my mouth...tumpty tumpty tum.... took me behind... ho hum (must remember to defrost those onion bhajis when I get in...) above and below .... et cetera et cetera until I came harder, faster and longer than ever before, yawn, yawn yawn...the end. Several hours go by like this.

4pm: Dennis comes in and we have yet another row. He tells me we are relocating from Soho to Chobham relocating to Surrey. I say, "Surrey? Not bloody likely" and tell him where to stick his bloody job.

Evening: Eat in. Onion bhajis and 2 litres of Chardy and a quick J Arthur. Bliss.

// posted by pelling @ 9:39 AM

For more information about Rowan Pelling and how forge a successful career as a writer of Erotica, email her at:

Love on y'all,


Originally posted by Robert Swipe, 19.08.2005

Not all the links are still active, unfortunately.


Brel de Jour #4756...


I was looking forward to getting out in a large group after the Bruges show. My work can be so intense. I go through 15 packets of Gitanes in the first half of the show alone - I even get to take a drag once in a while. And two crates of mussels. I have lungs like a muddied road tarmaced with black pudding and my farts smell of the sea. And the material is such a downer - sex, war, guilt, death, blah blah blah. And then, after the break, I start on the serious themes. I sometimes wonder how I get the will to carry on - "My Death", If you go away" - hardly a barrell [sic] of laughs, is it? By the time I get to the bit "In the Port of Amsterdam" where the pissed up sailor laughs, it's a blessed relief. Then there are the groupies. It's like having a vacuum cleaner down your y-fronts, struggling to keep your end of the arrangement up, all the while knowing very little is going to come of it all. Except death, eventually - death and the black extinction of the soul by the black angel of death. It's so draining. Then there are all the hangers on at the after show party - "Oh, Jackie, you were wonderful..." And while I can't say I don't enjoy hanging around in cafes and coffee bars with a group of friends, smoking yet more Gitanes and discussing the Schengen agreement, there is always the danger that by knowing too much about each other, all those useful conversational skills will be lost. Lost like a childhood toy hurled into the abyss by a frightened trawlerman on a benzedrine spazz. So we end up talking about last night's Poirot yet again. Suchet was marvellous though, wasn't he?

// posted by brel @ 4:07 PM

Love on y'all,


Originally posted by Robert Swipe, 16.08.2005