oh dear. yes, look you see, i've been doing yet more unpacking. this means that, for those of you brave enough to read on, here we go again with some washing in the nostalgia that is sentimental hygiene. i do hope you stick around and read, but if not that's cool, hope you find something ace elsewhere on the internet.
the boys made a request that yet more boxes get unpacked over this weekend. you'd have thought that we would have everything unpacked by now, what with it all arriving two years ago, but alas no. in fairness most of what is still boxes is my collections of books and things, but there are one or two containers of toys for them to rediscover.
and, in a look for a box or two of toys, i found this box.
yes, indeed it is, if only in ostensible terms, a cardboard box branded by the business parmalat, the purveyors of cheese and certain other, albeit limited, dairy products.
it's unlikely, yet very possible, that what comes to mind for you when you think of parmalat is what comes to mind for me. that would be my mate Fraser, and his ambitious yet ill-fated quest to have a boycott of parmalat products in place. why? it was something to do with the football team Parma, although the specifics escape me. this is Fraser, mind, so it could be just that he considered the team to be a "bunch of c***s" or something like that.
behold, though, for it is not parmalat products that i have in this box. it is not, i would like to think, something that Fraser would call for a boycott of either.
yep, i have a bunch of seven inch singles, or if you like 7" records, stored in this box. all in perfect hibernation, which is to say that they have made it home with me in a perfectly serviceable condition.
this is, as the title somewhat suggests, almost all of my surviving 7" single collection. i have another box full to the brim with my Dad's collection of them from the 60s, 70s and 80s, and my Frankie Goes To Hollywood ones are hidden away in my smart Rage Hard 12" box. but let us worry about what we have here, and tell some stories as we have a bit of a gander at some of them.
i can pretty much remember the story behind every 7" record i have. to that extent, 19 by Paul Hardcastle is one i bought on a trip to town with Mike Llewellyn. we probably went on the Escort bus, and the fare for that will have been 15p or 30p or something. this was just after bus routes got deregulated, and the new competitors were way cheaper that the state sponsored buses; United i think they were called. i am all but certain that this single was bought on one of the first instances that myself and Mike were allowed to go into town on our own, as in without parental supervision. or it might be one of the first instances when we just decided to do that.
the Prince single is the magnificent When Does Cry, with a number called 17 Days on the b-side. this was a gift from the legendary Steven Legget before i went off on one of my adventures around the world. to say more on that subject would kind of undermine the lengthy thing i wrote just a little while ago.
facts about the 7" single? from what i can remember they cost either £1.49 or £1.99 each (at least this was the case in the 80s), although some had a 99p price. for the most part here we went and bought them off of HMV, although an Our Price opened up in the mid-80s. it was the Our Price where i bought my tape of Simple Minds' Once Upon A Time, but that's a story for another day.
you could, however, pretty much buy 7" singles everywhere. WH Smith sold them, as did Woolworths and, as far as i can remember, Boots. also independent record stores, which once we had a fair few of. sales from all of them, i think, counted towards chart positions.
there you go, two examples of fixing the world through the conduit of buying vibes. i am not sure if this remains the case, but once Do They Know It's Christmas? in its original form by Band Aid was the biggest selling single of all time. i didn't buy this one, though. for Christmas 1984 Mum & Dad got me, Richard and Gillian a copy of this each as part of our Christmas presents. if Mum & Dad had bought us The Power Of Love by Frankie Goes To Hollywood instead it might have helped Frankie and not Band Aid be the Christmas number one, but there you go, everything in retrospect.
Dancing In The Street is closely related to the above, as it was the single released in support of Live Aid, that massive concert in support of the same causes as Band Aid. it sold many copies and stayed at number one for a while. i remember the days well, it feels like everyone felt groovy and just got on with it.
7" singles made an awful lot of coins of money, you know. sometimes it was for good causes like the above, at the time you hoped it was for the musicians but mostly it was for the record label. you had to sell a lot of singles to get into the top ten back then. if a single, for example, sold 200,000 copies, that's something like £300k gross it would make. loads of records sold less than that, but a few sold considerably more.
i was, and indeed still am, quite the fan of movie related musical things. i have quite a collection of film soundtracks, and as you can see that extends to 7" singles what were released in support of a film.
sorry for the bad light on it, but that is indeed the beautiful looking 7" single that is We Don't Need Another Hero by Tina Turner, off of the Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome soundtrack. great film, i remember my Mum taking me to see it at the Odeon. Tina Turner was ace in it, i never quite understood why she didn't do more film work after this one. maybe she just didn't like the experience.
Live It Up by Mental As Anything was pleasing for many reasons. other than being a great song, it gave a band i loved in Australia in the early 80s an audience in England and around the world. it's sometimes easy to forget just what a bloody massive film Crocodile Dundee was. i don't have the facts at hand, but i seem to think it was the biggest money maker of the year it was released, and indeed is in the top ten (or thereabouts) of money making movies of the decade.
what stopped the seven inch single from continuing to be a licence to print coins of money? technology, but not what you think. in the mid to late 80s we got petulant. we loved and embraced this new compact disc technology, and we wanted everything on compact disc not vinyl. and so the cd single was born. i have a stack of them, too, somewhere.
a cd single cost between £2.99 and £4.99, featured better quality recordings that were unlikely to scratch and, until the chart officials stepped in to curtail it, generally gave you more minutes of music than what was contained on either the 7" and the 12" or a record combined. from what i remember, when the chart people clocked that labels were stuffing cd singles with vibes to make them high value for money, any cd single which had a running length of over 20 minutes was excluded from sales.
it's not just today that celebrities get their whims and egos indulged, you know. that Bruce Willis was granted his wish of a musical recording career, as illustrated by the two singles above, shows that there was always a time when the famous and the celebrated were allowed to do pretty much whatever they wanted, irrespective of any talent or ability they may have.
the scary thing about the Bruce Willis music career, if it is indeed scary, is that these two cover versions were released as singles before the film Die Hard came out. i mean, yeah, Bruce Willis was a pretty well known actor through the TV series Moonlighting, but he was not the grade a box office star at this stage/
from what i remember Bruce Willis made it a very open secret that he wished to play Mr Sinatra in a film of his life, and would play the part for free. if these records were released as some sort of ambitious effort to audition for such a project, well, now you know exactly why there was never a biopic of Mr Sinatra with Bruce Willis in the titular role.
yeah, everyone has things lurking in their record collection that you cannot deny the history of.
what the hell was i thinking when i bought My Favourite Waste Of Time by Owen Paul? i think Nicky Sinclair asked such a question at the actual time i bought it, and i believe he bought an early Whitney Houston single at the time i got this. what i was thinking was probably that girls were a very nice thing after all, and that this was the sort of record that girls liked, and if i owned it then maybe the girls would like me.
i remain to this day proud of the fact that i bought this single by Stefan Dennis. it is a disgrace that his music career was the least successful of all the people off of Neighbours who made records. i mean, sure, he's no Jason Donovan or Kylie, but he was still smart. look at that pouting on the sleeve, man.
other than the cd single, the other piece of technology what killed the single as a seven inch concern was the advent of mobile phones. a convincing theory i once read was that the kids, from the mid to late 90s onwards, stopped buying music, instead using their disposable income (pocket money) on funds so that they could send text messages to their friends off of their smart Nokia phones.
Levi, or if you like Levi's, elected to flog their 501 brand jeans by shoving a male model in a bath whilst wearing them, and have Wonderful World by Sam Cooke play as a soundtrack. the effect of this is that we all wanted to own Levi's 501s as we would look as cool as the lad in the bath and the girls would date us, and many of us wanted to own the song off the advert, which at the time also featured on the soundtrack of the film Witness. i seem to remember that Wonderful World got to number one as a consequence, a move that saw a great many 60s Motown and soul singles get reissued. for me, it kicked down a door to some music i had not heard of.
just for the sake of it, pictured there is my copy of the 7" of Skin Trade off of Duran Duran, which came with a free fold out poster of the then 3 members of the band. sorry, no picture of the fold out - i am not giving Simon le Bon any more free advertising until he stops imitating my look.
a freebie with a 7" single was a bit of a sales gimmick. another such sales gimmick was, of course, the prized possession in any collection, a picture disc.
that 7" picture disc of Miami Vice Theme by Jan Hammer is, i think, the closest i have to one of my singles from the 80s having any sort of serious value in terms of coins of money, and even then not that much. i would never part with it, but i believe that this record goes for around £20 or so.
the Superman II picture disc is one that you might think would be worth a bit, but not so much. this is off of Australia, and no doubt Dad bought it for me. despite having an image of General Zod on the back, usually copies of this sell for south of £5. i think they produced quite a few copies, and they're still in circulation out there.
are there any really very valuable 7" singles? yes and no. acetates and white label test pressings usually fetch a lot of money, but it's not like you could have ever bought them in HMV or Our Price. standard released 7" singles seem not to be as big a market as the vinyl lp one. you would think there might be, as there are some 7" singles which ob the b-side feature songs that never made it on to an album, or onto a CD reissue. there's a few by The Beatles, The Stones, The Who and so on that this is true of.
the last decade or so has seen something of a vinyl revival. this has been mostly related to vinyl lps being sold, but for a while the 7" single made a welcome return. the next few, last pictures are of some examples of these from over the last ten years.
as and when, or rather when, seven inch singles started to surface once more in the early to mid 00s, there was not really much in the way of an intention to make hundreds of thousands of coins of money off them. i think they, for the most part, got issued for the novelty factor for collectors, and to indulge the wishes of artists that the record labels considered worth indulging. hence these picture disc / transparent offerings off of Ian Brown and Morrissey.
man, i miss new music off of Ian Brown. the end, or in his words "parking", of his solo career was part of the price we had to pay for the restoration of The Stone Roses. just something we've had to live with, but i am rather delighted to hear that, truly, The Stone Roses are recording new music and will presumably be releasing it soon, what with them having mega-gigs ahead of us all in June. as for the Morrissey, well, here's the modern world - a man who was made famous for speaking his mind is now routinely dismissed or put down for speaking his mind. funny what happens with free speech; everyone absolutely loves it so long as it says exactly what you want to hear.
in terms of indulging musicians - and fans - i do find the whole idea of not physically owning and touching music quite depressing. i know these download things are all the more convenient, easier and profitable for the record label, but it drains the emotion out of it. we are tactile creatures, after all. for that reason, i suppose, the very worst 7" single i own will always be dearer to me than the very best mp3 i have ever downloaded, as there's a story attached to buying the single. who cares or who remembers when you downloaded something?
beyond the beauty of artwork and design, a physical copy of music also allows for other things to happen. like, for instance, the artist signing them.
no, sadly, i did not meet any of the artists above. these were purchased signed off of a website called Record Store, one that i am very delighted to see as being still very much on the go. yeah, kids of today, you go and get James Dean Bradfield off of the Manics or Brett Anderson off of the Suede to sign "an internet" or a memory stick, see how cool that is.
the technology that reduced the seven inch single to a marketing novelty in the end was, of course, the internet. downloads, whether legal or illegal, were cheaper, easier and more convenient for the kids to get and listen to. for the record labels they are a potential goldmine, as you don't have to press extra copies of an mp3.
i would suspect - hope, imagine - that just as i find the idea of not physically owning music depressing, so too musicians find it really rather sad to have no physical product in their hands after recording something.
not that digital downloads are bad. the way the world going is one which shows that both can exist. the sale of lps on vinyl is increasing year on year, whilst a survey suggested that less than 50% of people who buy records ever actually play the record. i am guessing that they are buying the record so that they can truly feel like they "own" it, but for convenience just play the downloaded version, since i believe albums are released with a "digital download code" enclosed.
some pretty, coloured vinyl there for you to finish off. the pink one is a "double a side", featuring Duran Duran's recording of David Bowie's Boys Keep Swinging on one side, and Carla Bruni's audacious recording of David Bowie's Absolute Beginners on the other. from what i remember there were 500 copies of the record issued in pink, 500 in another colour and 500 in regular black vinyl. luck of the draw that i got the pink version, i had no choice. the gold one is Another Way To Die off of Jack White and Alicia something, with it being the theme to the Bond film Quantum Of Solace. i happened to like both the theme and the film, but appreciate that many did not in either instance.
the generation today, these f*****g millenials that i often write so fondly of, actually seem to do just mighty fine without the need to take a lengthy bus ride in order to go and buy eight or so minutes of music that you can only listen to in your house on a stereo. that's totes cool, man, and no way would i ever argue in a general sense that the way i, we, did it was "better". i can but hope that the memories i have from these records are matched in memories they carve out and craft for themselves via other avenues.
and there we have it. i note over the last week or so the actual number of blog posts what i have done has dropped off, but yet these that i do seem far longer than normal. i trust that all sort of balances out for you somehow!
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!