The Never Ending Playlist – #36

Insane in the Brain – Cypress Hill (1992, RCA Records)

Doug is waving at me.  I don’t really know Doug that well.  Actually he’s not waving at me, he’s calling me over.  I am at a record fair, I am 17 years old.  The record fair is held in the social club that is next to the chip shop that is next to the newsagents where I used to work (the one owned by the Indian Organised Crime Syndicate).  

Doug owns a record shop in Chatham, or he did in 1992, I just looked on Google Maps and found out that where his shop was is now a taxi office. I probably went in his shop once every couple of weeks and spend some of my wages on cheap 7”s.  I bought a limited edition copy of ‘One Love’ by the Stone Roses from his shop as it happens.  Chris once apparently squirted superglue into his locks because the 12” of ‘Pure’ by the Lightning Seeds that Doug sold him jumped about two minutes in.

One Love – Stone Roses (1990, Silvertone Records)

Pure – The Lightning Seeds (1989, Ghetto Records)

Anyway, I digress, Doug is calling me over at the record fair.  “Want to make yourself £10” he asks me.  I look at him, “I’m not that sort of boy” I tell him.  He laughs at my, frankly, brilliant bit of wit and tells me to look at the chap standing at the stall just off to the right.  I clock him, about 40, green corduroy trousers, carrying a Tesco bag, and, hang on, is that a Cliff Richard Tshirt?

Doug nods, “He’s Kevin, a huge Cliff fan.  I want to sell him this incredibly rare Australian 12” of ‘Devil Woman’ (it might have been another Cliff single).  When he comes over offer me £20 for it…..He’ll offer £25, act disappointed when I take his money and I’ll give you a tenner”.

I look at Kevin and I look at myself.  I’m wearing a Pop Will Eat Itself TShirt and have just spent £5 on a Billy Bragg album, I don’t look like a Cliff fan.  “What if he doesn’t offer you £25 for it, I don’t have £20 on me…” Doug shoves his hand in a tin and then quickly shoves £20 in my hand.

Greetings to the new Brunette – Billy Bragg (1986, Go! Discs)

Kevin appears stage right and my hand hovers over the ‘incredibly rare’ Cliff record.  Kevin looks at me.  “Are you a Cliff fan?” he asks.  He has a whiny voice, I bet he’s a R.E Teacher I tell myself.  I look at him, and for some reason, god knows why, I say “No, but my Dad is, this will make a great birthday present, how much is it, Doug?”

“Its £25” he says rather too quickly

 “Oh” I say, and if the Academy Award Committee were there on that wet Sunday morning in April, then I would have been kissing actresses on the stage in some swanky hotel because readers, my performance was remarkable. “I don’t suppose you’ll take £20 and…” I rummaged in my pocket “….27p” I say with a smile so sickly that its dripping treacle.

Kevin literally nudges me out the way, very sharp elbows for a Cliff fan, “I’ll give you £25” and then offers me a smile that would snap a gastric band.

“Sold, sorry mate” Doug says to me, with a very discreet wink.

The Sunday Shuffle

The Price I Pay – Billy Bragg (1988, Go! Discs Records, Taken from ‘Workers Playtime’)

Today’s shuffle comes courtesy of my iPod Classic which is now roughly 11 years old and constantly needs charging just to keep it going. If it was a dog it would have ‘wandered off in the woods’ about two years. I am however, very fond of it and I like to think that somewhere in its inanimate soul it is really pleased that I still ask it to shuffle the 18,000 or so songs that sit inside it, even if it does mean the iPod equivalent of a coughing fit straight afterwards.

I was listening to a podcast the other day and Mark Steel, a very funny comedian was talking about his love of Billy Bragg – now I know what you are thinking, left wing comedian heavily influenced by left wing singer, how very obvious. However, Steel was saying actually Billy Bragg wrote very few overtly political songs, and what often gets ignored is the simple fact that Billy Bragg writes wonderful lyrics about life, love and what matters to him. Yes he stands up for the down trodden but deep down he is a big old softy.

Steel used ‘Workers Playtime’ as his prime example (he also used the song ‘A New England‘ as well), it is an album he claims that dispenses with the tubthumping and the rabble rousing and concentrates more on romance. He also said that maybe Billy didn’t want to alienate his political fans, so at the last minute, stuck a picture of a communist march on the sleeve – just to keep the comrades happy.

‘The Price I Pay’ is perhaps one of the most obvious ballads on this album, its a sorrowful piano led affair about love and rejection and contains lyrics such as “There’s something inside that hurts my foolish pride/ To visit the places we used to go together/ Not a day goes by that I don’t sit and wonder why/ Your feelings for me didn’t last forever“ – which is just lovely.