I had a post all set to go for today…..indeed I’ve a whole bundle of posts set to go for the next few weeks as I’m shortly going off for my first holiday in three years.
But an e-mail arrived yesterday that changed everything. I think what follows will be of huge interest to a fair number of you. Here’s the legend who is Dirk (aka Sexy Loser)
ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN SINGLES
#001 – THE AKRYLYKZ – ‘Spyderman’ (Double R Records, ’80)
My name may still sound familiar to some of the older readers of this great blog, if it doesn’t: no matter. Well, yes, it’s been a while, reasons were many, and I surely won’t bore you with details, but every once in a while someone came up and asked me to post a little something again. Thanks to those nice people, it really meant a lot to me! In the end it was my mate JC who convinced me to finally reappear in one form or another, he suggested to do this here at his place instead of restarting sexyloser. And as his will is my command, I’m happy to oblige …
Please bear with me when I try to explain what this series is intended to be all about, I’m trying to keep it short and simple, promised. And also I won’t explain it again, so it’s just this post which will be even more boring than the ones to follow:
As you might imagine, the last few years have not been all golden (hence my hiatus), but there was also a positive feature: I stopped smoking in the first days of January this year. Now, smoking nearly ate away all of my ‘pocket money’ (in Sexyloserland we call it ‘pocket money’, at the end of the day it is an allowance for both Mrs. Loser and me which we take off our combined wages at the beginning of each month). Basically she bought shoes and handbags, I bought Lucky Strikes.
It didn’t take all too long until I had to ask myself what to do with all the money I suddenly had. I spent a bit on clothing and red wine, but also something inside me developed a cunning plan: I want to physically own the best 77 7” singles of all time! ‘The best’ in my humble opinion, of course. A few of them I already had (the bulk I sold for cigarettes though within the years. And for new shoes for Little Loser), but most of them I had to buy on discogs.
Now, this pocket money is less than you might expect it to be, so I had to make some restrictions: I wanted to have VG+ or NM copies, if possible, but simultaneously they had to be halfway affordable. Postage these days is a pain in the arse, as you might know, and it can easily double the record’s price depending on which country you buy from. Postage is one thing, but the prices sellers want – and, apparently, get – for records which aren’t mass items, are ludicrous sometimes. I mean, you have to draw the line somewhere, i.e.: although I clearly reckon Pavement’s ‘Box Elder’ to be one of the great songs of our time, still I wouldn’t (be able to) pay € 300,- for a copy of the 7” it came with. And that’s just one of hundreds of examples I could make!!
Also I had to realize that the newer the recording was, the less record companies were willing to offer it on vinyl when it came out. Which means: a really great song, but only available on CD single = out: Pulp’s ‘Common People’ comes to mind here.
Other fabulous songs were only available on albums, but never sold as 7” singles, Mazzy Star’s ‘Blue Flower’ for example.
Also I should add that my interest in music has always been, let’s say, very much diversified. So don’t expect Indie only, that’s far from the truth. Which didn’t make it easier for me, no.
And also, as the title of this series might already have shown the more clever contingent of you, I totally failed to diminish myself to 77 singles, in fact today I received the final one by post, number 111.
But what would it all mean if I would not share them with like-minded people? Not all too much, I suppose.
Therefore, thanks again to JC for his kind offer to present this series here, I do hope it meets with your approval – the comments will tell if this is the case or not. One last thing: I will send the files to JC as superior quality rips w/ 320 kbps, still it will always be the actual single that has been ripped. And I certainly don’t have a high-end record player. So if there are crackles or background noise, then that’s the way it is. I’m sure that if you are really interested, you can easily find a better download – or buy a mint copy yourself. And finally: I will post the singles in alphabetical order. And in my world (yes, I know you think otherwise) this means that Rick Astley is filed under ‘R’, not under ‘A’.
Thanks for having read the above, I won’t go through all of this again, promised! So, let’s start with # 001, shall we?
I’ve always had an appetite for Ska. Not necessarily for Reggae, but Ska, in all its forms, appealed to me greatly. And this is not only true for second and third wave Ska, but also for early 60’s Jamaican Ska.
The problem is, you see, I’m obviously too young to have witnessed the origins, I’m even too young to have witnessed second wave Ska when it came up in Europe. I was eleven in 1979 and I was stuck in a village in the middle of nowhere, where, apart from many sheep, there wasn’t pretty much interesting going on altogether (feel free to insert any old joke about bored county youths , sheep and sexual activities here and now). Also, obviously, there was no access to the music papers, no internet and no-one to talk to: the older youths I knew by and large consisted of two groups – those who listened to the softer side of hard rock, i.e. Genesis, and the ones who listened to the harder side of hard rock, i.e. Led Zeppelin. Anything else was strictly verboten to them musically, so hard rock was all that I got to hear back then.
Consequently it took me another three or four years before I got into Ska, although in 1983 the bands I first found (The Specials, The Selecter, Madness, The Beat , UB40 and Bad Manners) were more or less already dead … again, as with Punk, I came too late!
But still I never stopped searching for more, and people who lost interest after the ‘big’ names disappeared without a trace, will most likely never have heard of the first record in this series.
The point I was trying to make is: The Akrylykz are just one of the bands from that era, who, despite of never having had big success, are simply wonderful. Listen to the tune, and you’ll see what I mean.
Second wave Ska came up in Coventry, The Akrylykz though came from Hull of all places. The band consisted of Roland Gift (vox, tenor sax), Steve Pears (vox, tenor sax), Stevie “B” Robottom, (vox, alto sax, keys), Piotr Swiderski (drums) and Michael “Fred” Reynolds (bass)). And yes, if the name Roland Gift sounds familiar to some of you, it’s him of Fine Young Cannibals fame!
Originally they were called The Acrylic Victims, as a reference to the acrylic paint use in the art school. Later they changed this to The Akrylyk Vyktymz, but soon the name was abbreviated to The Akrylykz.
By mid ’79 the band had built up a considerable fanbase in Yorkshire and they were getting some seriously big gigs supporting the likes of the Specials, the Beat, UB40, the Clash, Bad Manners, Madness, etc. This lead Red Rhino Records to have the first single released on their Double R label in 1980. Not very much later, Polydor came up with a second single, ‘J.D.’.
The Akrylykz split in 1981, without any album of theirs ever to see the light of day. A real shame, because as far as I’m concerned, even if a handful of tunes would have reached the level that ‘Spyderman’ has reached, a potential album would surely have been a masterpiece!
If only I could understand the lyrics of ‘Spyderman’, I would be a happy man indeed. If you native speakers have a few minutes to kill, feel free to help me, okay?
Until then, enjoy!