EDitorial ± 5-Jul-2004

List We Forget

I wouldn't usually buy a Sunday paper — I have trouble enough throwing them away to want to add further to my unread stack — but a Pavlovian response kicked in when I saw this tag-line:
The 100 Greatest British Albums: The Definitive Poll

This list has provided musical fodder for the last three weeks:

  • trying to listen to Sticky Fingers without thinking of Stella Street,
  • hearing Bryan & Brian's For Your Pleasure for the first time,
  • feeling an obligation to own Here Come The Warm Jets, as you do.

Keeps me off The Streets (controversially in there at number 75).

Which nudged me to recall an earlier Hornby-esque period that began in February 1987 when the inky NME printed their All Time Top 150 Singles, crowned by Aretha Franklin's wonderful I Say A Little Prayer, one of many tracks I'd never heard (of).

In what could be seen as an obvious move to avoid anything to do with my finals, I set out to get on cassette each and every one of these 150. After all, I was familiar with Aretha, Booker T and Chic, but a complete stranger to Ann Peebles, Hamilton Bohannon and Culture.

A man with a mission, I doorstepped friends, friends of friends and anyone else on that corridor. Wasn't at all difficult to begin with, slowly filling up one TDK AD90 after another, my photocopied list becoming increasingly dog-eared as I trooped round second-hand vinyl specialists and bric-a-brac boutiques in and around Exeter.

Exams intervened and partially interrupted my quest, then I started full-time work. With money came the chance to plug some more gaps, buying the odd complete album to obtain one three-minute track by the likes of Johnnie Allan, Gil Scott-Heron and Tyrone Davis. Yet still some tracks proved elusive, such as:

  • (7) King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown by Augustus Pablo
  • (50) Complete Control by The Clash
  • (71) She Is Beyond Good And Evil by The Pop Group

This being the NME, perhaps some of their choices were wilfully obscure. Plus there was no world wide web, MP3s or iTunes in those days, no sirree.

Possibly my first ever use of the Internet was way back in May 1990 when I posted a query to a newsgroup, rec.music.misc, asking for info on The Pop Group. Answers were helpful though I was no nearer to finding a copy of the long-deleted single. Years later, in 2001, I was in Virgin idly browsing when I saw a compilation entitled In The Beginning There Was Rhythm, inc. track 8, She Is Beyond Good And Evil. There, that only took 14 years.

Be seeing you!