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'...



  1. Mort,Looking Forward To The Audio.Some Sound Guerrilla Activity You Are Doing In Oxfam!

  2. ah. . . charity shops - I've found some of the lost vinyl from my yoof in such places (not bought for the quality of the disc, more the memories of the album covers and inner sleeves)

    mind you, half of "my" record collection (and the associated memories) was really my brother's - so now, many years on, thanks to some charity shop or other, I actually own my own copy of Hotel California

    I look back fondly and remember a 12" picture single that he had of Sylvester's You Make Me Feel Mighty Real, complete with leopard spots and sweat droplets (the pattern on the vinyl, not my brother's fashion sense/bodily fluids)

    the first Beatles album I possessed was a compliation of hits, given to me in 1976; I still segue into the lyrics of the next track on the album when I hear one of the songs from it being played

    I don't have any original vinyl from those days anymore - 'twas all nicked in a burglary some years back now


  3. Howdy do, I just surfed in.
    Groovin'ly cool blog, the banner reminded moi of a "Heart Of Glass" parody I did ages ago.
    I've done a couple of George parodies as well.

    Stay on groovin' safari,

  4. Tony: thank you squire - "the revolution will not have Gift Aid levied on it", eh?!

    Aye Comma LTV: Yes, I know what you mean about the sleeves - but those LPs do sound fabulous too. As they were intended to, at least... Was that 'Oldies but Goldies' you had? That was the first Beatles (or any) LP I bought - Woolies in Twickenham - probably about 1973 (I nearly typed 1873 there....)

    Being resolutely uncool even back then, it was a choice between that and Revolver. 'Oldies but G' was £2.29 and had 16 tracks, 'Revolver' was £2.50 and had 14... I did the math. I do the same thing with that as you, start singing the next song etc - plus, it has 'Bad Boy' which is one of the best ever Beatles covers and still sounds fab on disc.

    Tory, Tory, Tory....

    [Sighs and rubs hands disgustingly up and down thighs in Vic Reeves fashion whilst almost passing out at thought of having acquired a *third* reader....]

    You are far too kind. As some of my older readers will tell you, I myself did a pretty average and embarrassing Deborah Harry impersonation up until fairly recently... But, you'll be pleased to note that I've given up the old platinum blond wigs and bin-liner dresses and will be going back to my much-lamented solo rendition of 'While my Guitar Gently Weeps', where did I leave that ukulele??


    Speak soon and l.u.v. on you all