Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Steve McQueen.

Another tough day and at the end of it, after all the struggling, fighting through all the aches and pains, the sorting things out and the sheer, hard f@#*ing struggle of it all, I’m sunk back into an armchair.

I’m drinking something warming and Scottish and I’m pretty well stuffed from eating home-made bread straight out of the oven. I got a lot of things done and still remained human (almost) by the end of it all.

And now to annoy everyone who reads this Blog I’m listening to this;

‘Steve McQueen’ by ‘Prefab Sprout’ and I’m basking in memories while the music washes over me.

It’s 1985 and I’m working in a record shop, a dead end job for no money, one of many. There are about 9 of us (remember it was 30 years ago).

Each of us would get to choose the music for the shop by turns, playing either a side of an album or three or four 12 inch singles every three hours. It was about the only real benefit of being there but can you imagine how great it is hearing the selections of 8 people in turn, then putting on yours?

Everyone had different preferences and so every 4 hours I’d be forced to listen to different spells of Heavy Metal or Soul or Pop whatever it was.

‘Steve McQueen’ came from an unlikely person – the white socked soul boy who educated me into ‘Blues and Soul’ and Caister Alldayers.

But this album doesn’t come from there, in fact I’m still not sure where you would place it or where it comes from – it’s not any style I can think of. But it’s good.

Produced by Thomas Dolby – his post punk career had stalled by then and he was making a living as a much sought after producer – his clean, clear, cool sounds give this album an electric atmosphere.

Paddy McAloon later said (I’m not quoting) that this period was one where everything just worked perfectly for him; the writing, the playing – production, everything. It was never to work out like that again. Those times only come once.

All the copies we sold must have had worn out side ones from us playing it. This was the days of vinyl and that side one has to be the best on any record ever made. There aren’t any sides anymore and no ones listening to things they didn’t choose/click on, so no one ever gets forced to listen to anything new or unexpected.

And it’s an adult record – for grownups even if they are only 15 years old.

‘When Love Breaks Down’, ‘Faron Young’ and ‘Bonny’ are all fantastic.

Then there is;


“If you take then put back good

If you steal, be Robin Hood,

If your eyes are wanting all you see

Then I think I’ll name you after me

I think I’ll call you appetite

I think I’ll name you after me

I think I’ll call you appetite”

I remember it all; the records I sold, the amazement of discovering Hip-hop, rap and scratching, exploring the bizarre and exciting material of the ‘no compromise’ output of Factory records.
Exploring Jazz. Trying and failing to get on with classical music.

Dealing with ‘Goldstar’, the main independent Reggae distributor at that time.

Delving in the chaos of records on the floor of the ‘Cartel’ van, the independent record distributor that grew out of ‘Rough Trade Records’, the home of punk and new wave. Which is where my copy of The Buzzcocks’ Boredom E.P. came from.


No record collection should be without this one.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)



No comments:

Post a Comment