Ripping Badgers CDs
The nearly finished A to Z Charity Shop CD Challenge #1

Electro Glide in Blue – Apollo 440 (1997, Stealth Sonic Recordings)
Bought from Oxfam, Teignmouth for 99p

There was of course a box of CDs that came with the records given to me by Mrs Badger. The CDs were nearly all purchased from charity shops in Devon. I was there when Badger bought this particular CD, it cost him 99p and he got it from the excellent Oxfam Book and Music shop in Teignmouth.

“You should get that…” I tell Badger, spying the CD in his hand. “For 99p, that is a bonafide bargain”. He looks at me doubtfully. “Of course,” I tell him “you could borrow my copy and burn it but think of all the good your 99p could do to help communities in Chad devastated by another dry summer and potato blight”.

Badger sighs and adds it to the other two CDs that he holds in his mitts. He pauses, checks his wallet, sighs again and wanders over to the rack and picks up the copy of ‘Green Mind’ by Dinosaur Jr that he had put down a few minutes ago. He turns to me and says “When was the last time you ate a potato that had come from Chad…?”

He reaches over to the Fairtrade chocolate and adds two bars of the ‘Mandarin Dark’ to the pile.

“You buy your potatoes from a vastly overpriced Organic Farm in Totnes, that are personally licked by a passing tramp for organic authenticity”. He smiles at the old lady behind the counter and hands over a crisp, newly printed tenner. We walk outside, Badger cradling his new bag of swag, me empty-handed, it had started to rain so we decide to take refuge in the handily placed ‘Award Winning Coffee Shop’ directly opposite.

As we sit at the table, supping our drinks (me tea, Badger, a turmeric latte) Badger inspects his wares. He has four CDs – They are ‘Electro Glide in Blue’ by Apollo 440, ‘Workers Playtime’ by Billy Bragg, ‘Handcream for a Generation’ by Cornershop and as mentioned already ‘Green Mind’ by Dinosaur Jr.

He looks at them and smiles “Well look at that” he says. “The CDs I have bought are alphabetical, A,B,C and D…I wonder if we could go all the way through the alphabet buying CDs from charity shops…”

And that folks is how Badger and I started and sadly never finished, our last ‘stupid boys challenge’, for The Sound of Being OK blog. We had a little spreadsheet and as and when we bought a CD we would fill in the details on it. It looks like we found CDs from 20 of the 26 letters of the alphabet (missing H, I, Q, U, X, Z). Badger bought at least ten of these – so the CD series will feature those ten in alphabetical order.

All of which misty-eyed reminiscing brings us to the first CD in the pile.

‘Electro Glide In Blue’ by Apollo 440 was considered by some to be an unlucky record (and you can perhaps see why). It was recorded in the mid-nineties and features guest contributions from Charles Bukowski and Billy Mackenzie from The Associates and also a tribute to jazz drumming superstar Gene Krupa.

All three had sadly died by the time the album was released.

mp3: Krupa
mp3: Tears of the Gods (Featuring Charles Bukowksi)
mp3: Pain in any Language (featuring Billy Mackenzie)

If you ask me, these three tracks are the best three moments on a fantastic (if quite lengthy) album. ‘Krupa’, for instance, is a wonderful piece of music. It’s all about the drumming which bounces along cheerily like a four-year-old on a trampoline after three back-to-back Sherbet fountains. It also has this decent little synth holding it together which takes it to that sublime level. But it’s not just about synths and bouncy beats, ‘Electro Glide…’ blends various types of music, rock, techno, soft porn soundtracks. It is if you like a musical kettle of fish.

‘Tears of the Gods’ is the track that features American – German poet Charles Bukowksi and perhaps underlines what I mean about it being a musical kettle of fish. This one contains a lot of guitars and when you add them to Bukowski’s frankly brilliant vocals it is sublime and way more sultry than most of the soundalike indie bands that were around at the time that this was recorded.

Which brings us on to dear old Billy Mackenzie and ‘Pain In Any Language’ which I think is the finest moment on the entire album. A nearly nine-minute electronic opus that blends Asian sounding chimes and soft subtle beats. But it’s the vocal that really make this track. I don’t know if it’s because of all the sadness around Billy’s death or the fact that writing this has made me reflective but my oh my, Billy Mackenzie could sing. I mean his voice on this is just incredible and very nearly reduced me to tears.

‘Electro Glide in Blue’ also contains two more tracks of note, the first you will all recognise and that is the Van Halen sampling, apostrophe utilising monster that is ‘Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Dub’. Which is obviously brilliant.

mp3: Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Dub

It also contains an enormous mock classical piece right at the end, called ‘Stealth Mass in F#M’. Which brings us back to the ‘unlucky record’ – because fact fans, this track, you might be interested to know was I think, playing on BBC Radio 1 when the news of the death of Princess Diana flooded in.

mp3: Stealth Mass in F#M


7 thoughts on “RIPPING BADGERS CDs (Part 1): APOLLO 440

  1. Pain in any language was (I think) the last recording Billy did, the sole reason I picked up the CD (but found also the rest quite enjoyable). It’s an absolute cracker of tune, and as you write – his voice is amazing, out of this world-like.

  2. Crikey – not heard Krupa since a work colleague played the (then new) track in his car en route to one of the many liquid lunches we used to have back then. Wouldn’t dream of doing that now – even if the pubs were open properly. It’s a cracking tune.

  3. As I was d3vastated by Billy’s death, I immediately researched any and all loose bits that had just come out and I got one of these bad boys. As I was also a fan of “Luxuria” and Noko was half of Apollo 440, I knew that for a computerized 90s dance album that might be too long, we were in good hands. And so we were! As they say: come for the MacKenzie; stay for “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Dub!”

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