Friday, January 6, 2012
1983: Mother smiles she did it too
The Woolies, WH Smith and Boots singles bargain bins were ace, weren't they?
Any shop that sold singles that they then discounted once they dropped out of the charts was a treasure trove. There were those singles you never got round to buying. The ones you liked but not enough to buy at full price. And most intriguingly the ones that hovered outside the Top 40 and those that floated around the lower reaches of the charts that you had seen, read about but never heard. At such knockdown prices now was the time to buy. The ex-jukebox singles on the newsagents' counter was rich vein too.
Among many such gems I discovered this way was this Marillion number. The anti-thesis of everything I stood for at the time, I had always liked the cover. I knew they were rock, and I wasn't really into metal back then. That's what I thought they were, though of course they're not metal at all. Modern prog if anything at all, with their jester imagery, etc.
But for 20p it was worth a punt, and I was instantly enraptured by staccato pace and Fish's soaring vocals. I was pleasantly surprised. It took me a while to work out that it's the biggest class war song going, the garden party of the title up for derision rather than celebration, though the whole tone of the record is so upbeat it's an easy mistake to make.
I've had a soft spot for Marillion ever since. I was kind of pleased and disappointed when they hit big with Kayleigh. They were my discoery, my semi-secret crush and now everyone loved them. Ah well, nothing good stays hidden forever. Since then they've proved to be by turns dull, ludicrous and forgettable, sometimes even embarrassing, but I'll forgive them.
The last bargain bin I regularly visited was in the basement of the Sloane Square WH Smith, which I'd get off the bus specifically for on my way home every Monday when it was replenished. They binned singles in 1991 and that was the end of that. Another pleasure bit the dust. CD singles were never the same, though I'll cherish doing even that when there are no longer any record shops on the high street whatsoever.
What sort of world will it be for the next generations where one is unable to rummage in record shops? Unthinkable.
Anyhoo, I've never seen this video before.