I sometimes think I’m the luckiest person on the planet. I certainly must be in terms of the quality of guest postings that appear here. The dynamic duo of JTFL and Echorich have been wowing everyone with their musings on all things musically from Gotham City. Today it’s the turn of the Eric’n’Ernie of the blogging fraternity with a post that features just as many post-modern cultural references as any Half Man Half Biscuit ditty. Without further ado…..
There I was minding my own business the other lunch time in Totnes, I’d popped out for a sandwich in between a day of long drawn out meetings and paragliding through a sea of shit. As I stood there in the sandwich shop awaiting my grilled halloumi and lightly toasted red pepper baguette (on granary), as the radio blared out the hits of Alexander O’Neal and Slade a very strange thing happened.
A light suddenly appeared across the road, it was emanating from the Oxfam Charity shop and a figure, spectral, and shimmering was beckoning me with a single finger, like the Grim Reaper, I suppose, only this figure was carrying a Six by Seven 12” single rather than a scythe and wearing a floaty dress rather than a black cape, but you know, pretty much the same thing.
I grabbed my sandwich (I was hungry, come on, I’d been in a meeting for three hours with a stale Bourborn and a crumbly Jammie Dodger for company) and wandered over to the figure. It spoke to me with this whispery voice, a bit like Bob Harris, only less sinister (he does sound a serial killer). Then a strange half bony, half plastic hand stretched out and handed me something, the whispery voice said “Here take this, use it wisely, save the Badger, provide him with warmth and fun in his hour of need”. Then it vanished, like mid nineties electro pop pioneers Electrasy, never to be seen again.
I looked down at my hand it contained £20. I surveyed my surroundings, I was outside the Oxfam Charity Shop in Totnes, possibly the finest second hand record shop in South Devon – with apologies to ‘Ricks Records’ at Dawlish Market, but face facts Rick, no one wants Bing Crosby Longplayers anymore, ok. This was meant to be, this was to quote George McFly, “My Density”. I walked in, to cries of “Halluejah!” from alternatively dressed angels and headed for the record section, which is lit with small red fairy lights and the faint playing of celestial trumpets can be heard, for a minute it seems like Slowdive are playing at a gig at the shop.
(Or, more truthfully, I bought Badger some old indie records from the charity shop, and gave them to him as a ‘Get Well Soon’ present, on the premise that he wrote about them for T(n)VV. But If I said that it would have been boring- right?).
I am sitting ‘recuperating’ on the sofa, to my left there is a small child, dressed in green and white with a hat with a cat’s face on it perched lopsidedly on her head. She is eagerly eyeing up the box of chocolate brownies that she has just given me as present. This is SWC’s daughter. Right in front of me is a cardboard box which has a badly tied ribbon around it. It has a note attached to it. To my right, sits SWC, he is also eagerly eyeing up the box of chocolate brownies.
The note reads thus
“Dear Badger, you malingering bastard, during this period of enforced laziness I have decided to buy you some records. Inside this box are seven individually wrapped 12 inch records that I have bought for you with some expenses that I was due. Please enjoy them. Oh and you have to write about each one for JC at T(n)VV as a thank you to everyone who was kind to you”.
I look at him, he smiles, I have no idea what 12 inch records he has bought me. Also, my record to mp3 skills are bad, to the point where the records jump, skip, and have very long intros as I forget to press play on the sodding machine. I reach for the Brownies, a hand comes across and slaps it.
I untie the ribbon, this takes three minutes because it is so badly tied that it is more of a knot that a bow. I have to remind myself twice that I am in the company of a minor and therefore cannot swear. Eventually I just pull out my keys and stab a hole in the top of the box (mumbling die you bastard ribbon under my breath) and pull it open that way. The first record on top of the box is wrapped up in Peppa Pig Wrapping Paper. Only Peppa’s face has spots all over it. “I did that, because you’ve got chicken pox” – the small girl with the hat says. I nod and smile at her, for one so young she already has more compassion that her daddy, she is also funnier and has better table manners, but that is another story.
I pick it up and look at it, a sense of dread and uneasiness suddenly hits me,
“This is going to be awful isn’t it”.
SWC looks hurt and he says “No, that record in particular is rather wonderful”. I raise my eyebrows, and unwrap it…
Well actually the small girl unwraps it, because I am taking so long, she pulls off the paper like a seasoned pro and looks at it and shouts “Red is my friend Arwen’s favourite colour” and throws the record on the floor. SWC picks it up for me, it is “The Ingredients EP” by Ned’s Atomic Dustbin.
Now, I have to break off from the scene of the lounge because here I am supposed to review the record, but suffice to say I was made to open all seven records and as it happens five of the seven are decent records and I’m pretty sure one of them was worth more than £1.99 than he paid for it.
Ned’s Atomic Dustbin – The Ingredients EP – Price £1.50
First a caveat – these are second hand records, I make no apologies for the sound quality. I do make apologies for the poor conversion though –i.e long intros, long outros that sort of thing.
This was the first EP (I think) released by Stourbridge’s Neds Atomic Dustbin and it was cleverly packed as a ‘double B Side’ – oh the wags, it still hurts when I laugh you bastards. The Unique Selling Point with Neds was that they had two bassplayers, which created this bouncy little noise, but ultimately they were The Wonder Stuff without the tunes. I think people saw them as a joke band, a joke band with a stupid name and stupid songs about “Killing Televsions”. Still, they were good at the time and I saw them on the ‘God Fodder’ tour and they were excellent and they went Top 20 in the UK which is more than can be said for other bands.
‘Ingredients’ starts with ‘Aim’ which is a jumpy little two minutes of grebo pop, which I remember being famous for a line about half way through in which the music stops and Jon (Who does the singing) goes ‘Manchester so much to answer for’, and when I was much younger I remember thinking he was right, they ruined Norman Whiteside. I also remember seeing Ned’s live a few times and whenever they played ‘Aim’ and got to the ‘Manchester’ bit they would change it to whatever song was irritating them at the time, so I heard them go ‘Ice Ice Baby’ and ‘Do the Bartman’. It was novel, but ultimately ‘Aim’ is quite forgettable. Seriously even now after I have literally just played it, I can’t remember anything about it apart from the ‘Manchester….’ bit.
What isn’t forgettable is ‘Grey Cell Green’ which is the third track on the EP, easily the best track on the EP, and probably the Neds finest moment – although admittedly that is not hugely difficult. ‘Grey Cell Green’ is really catchy and the chorus is a bit of an earworm with its “You’re telling me…” section. Why the Ned’s didn’t just release this a single instead of the stupid Double B Side nonsense that went with. Also around three minutes in you get this guitar break which is terrific.
The other two tracks on this are ‘Plug Me In’ which again is relatively catchy and worth your attention for the two minutes that it lasts, and at the end you get “Terminally Groovie” – which is the first time I have seen ’Groovy’ spelt that way since 80s cartoon ‘The Groovie Ghoulies” which was as bad at sounds, and the song contains the immortal lyric “I made love to you until my face turned blue, just because I had to”, with wisdom like that it’s a wonder that Ned’s Atomic Dustbin didn’t end up having an X factor special evening based around their hits.
So that’s the Peppa Pig wrapped present done, Part Two and Three to follow, now where did I put those Brownies…