Today

June 1, 2017

Today is the oldest

you’ve ever been.

Today is the youngest

you’ll ever be.

So enjoy Today while it lasts.

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Abbey Road

June 1, 2017

It’s fifty years ago today (give or take a few weeks) since I bought the LP “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (Parlophone PMC 7027). It was the first (new) LP I ever owned. I saved a record token from my birthday along with a few weeks pocket money and was still short of the asking price. Luckily my father made up the difference. My LP was mono. I suspect the Stereo version would have been even more money and superfluous to me as I owned a mono Dansette record player. I still own the (now extremely scratchy) LP but I don’t own the cover! It spent a year or so pinned up on my bedroom wall and disappeared in the early 1970s! Ironically it is the first-pressing stereo LPs that are now worth the most money as they are rarer than mono versions. It is interesting to listen to both though due to the different mixes.

The difference in the stereo and mono mixes is due to the analogue compressor that was between the mixer and the tape recorder.The stereo mix used a Fairchild stereo compressor. The mono mix used an Altec limiter. This gave everything a punchy compressed sound which was how I heard my sixties music on the (medium wave and long wave) radio then. Also the mono echo used was different to the stereo version.

Originally meant to be a “concept” album only “Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!” really fitted in with the title track. That was probably a good thing. I doubt it would have been a classic if it was just full of novelty/music-hall type songs. But is it really such a classic as people claim? There are a few throwaway songs on there along with the classics such as “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” and “A Day In The Life”. “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” should really have been on the album too, but such was the desire for Beatles “product” those tracks were rush-released as a double A-side single in February 1967 (although why that prevented them being added to “Sgt Pepper” anyway escapes me!).

1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. With A Little Help From My Friends
3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
4. Getting Better
5. Fixing A Hole
6. She’s Leaving Home
7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!
8. Within You Without You
9. When I’m Sixty-Four
10. Lovely Rita
11. Good Morning Good Morning
12. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
13. A Day In The Life

Already owning the mono LP, the Stereo LP, a pre-recorded cassette, the T-Shirt and the original CD I now have the chance to purchase Sgt Pepper once more. This time it is a new (improved?) Stereo re-mix by Giles Martin and umpty-thrumpty versions/works-in-progress of the 13 tracks along with Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields from the Sgt Pepper sessions. At over £100 the box set is a luxury I could live without…but I bought it anyway. The best LP of all time? No. The most famous LP of all time? Probably.

PS: Nothing to do with the above whatsoever but I’ve always wondered if it was my car pictured on the “Abbey Road” sleeve. Not the Beetle LMW 281F, but what appears to be a Triumph Herald Estate visible further back on the left just above Paul’s head.

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Prog 633 of 2000AD dated 30th June 1989 was the final issue with a cover without a barcode. The back cover boasted that forthcoming issues would contain a free bar code for its lucky readers. Well, it amused me for at least 4.35 seconds…..

History lesson: The barcode was first proposed in the late 1940s/early 1950s and finally utilised in a few industries in the 1960s. The first use in retail happened in June 1974. A National Cash Register scanner was installed at Marsh’s supermarket in Troy, Ohio. On June 26, 1974, the first product with a bar code was scanned at a check-out counter. It was a 10-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum. The pack of gum wasn’t specially designated to be the first scanned product. It just happened to be the first item lifted from the shopping cart by a shopper whose name is long since lost to history. Today, the pack of gum is on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.

Nuff Said 67

June 1, 2017

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More Fantastic Tales

June 1, 2017

If I needed confirmation that I have TOO MANY COMICS here it is! A couple of years ago I pointed out the oddness of a couple of Thorpe and Porter comics from circa 1962/1963. Fantastic Tales No 8 and Fantastic Tales No 10 both sport identical cover images! The question was, were the whole contents of both issues identical too???

At the time I only owned issue No 8. I have recently acquired issue No 10, but am still none-the-wiser! Of course I’m unable to find issue No 8 (It’s within one of two hundred boxes). And stupidly I never thought to list the contents of that issue (or even open it, let alone read it!).

So, just for the record this is the rubbish/bonkers stuff that appears in issue No 10.
The Greater Evil
Bells and Noises
My Strange Godfather
The man who wasn’t there
Doctor Marlin’s menagerie
Annals of the Occult
The strangeness of Mr McGillicuddy
More Annals of the Occult
The Booster shots
Return of the Pequod
Yet more Annals of the Occult
The Old Man

Most of these black and white reprints were originally presented in ACG’s Forbidden Worlds 58 and Adventures into the Unknown 88 both cover dated September 1957. There were a couple of Charlton tales too. One whose origin I can’t identify and one which originally appeared in Out of this World 3 cover dated March 1957. (Oh, and I  mustn’t forget the adverts for T&P Classics Illustrated comics, sand-kicking Charles Atlas and Thorpe and Porter Western paperbacks).

My little town

June 1, 2017

“Nothin’ but the dead and dyin’ back in my little town”, sang Simon and Garfunkel back in 1975. “This town’s becoming like a ghost town”, sang the Specials in 1981. In hindsight the seventies and eighties was a golden age. My little town had a hundred thriving independent shops then. And even a Woolworths. I surveyed the desolation of my local town yesterday and wondered why the whole lot can’t be bulldozed down so they could start again. One bank has been turned into flats. The others are derelict. The few crumbling three-storey Victorian shop fronts still trading are great if all you are looking for is a new tattoo and some ecigs. Long gone are the Bakers, the 5 Butchers shops, the Fishmongers, the Ironmongers, the 4 Shoe shops, the 7 Clothes shops, the Photographers, the 3 Record shops, the Model shop, the fruit and veg shops, the Cinema, the Hat shop! etc etc. There are six tatty Charity shops now though dotted amongst the numerous boarded-up premises.

I’m currently reading a book entitled “When the lights went out: Britain in the 1970s” written by Andy Beckett. Although a bleak picture is painted of Industrial unrest, political upheaval (that’s nothing that’s any different in any decade) and inflation, I don’t recall any empty shops on the High Streets then. In the early 1970s I lived in the West Midlands. There were loads of small shops to visit. Newsagents on every street corner had Marvel and DC comics. Every town had two or three independent record shops. Charity shops were in their infancy. Perhaps there was an Oxfam shop. Far more common were second-hand shops and junk shops. Again, in hindsight I probably bought the wrong things from them. Victoriana was for sale for a few shillings. I was more interested in the boxes of second-hand singles and LPs.

So in the 1970s I began collecting Ska, Rock Steady and early Reggae singles. Strange colourful labels, often with different artists on each side of the single. Sometimes the B side was an instrumental version/backing track of the A side. And the music was so uplifting. Now I’m in my sixties I tire of listening to the “serious” Rock LPs/CDs I used to love. They seem destined to never leave their shelves again. But listening once more to stuff like this really cheers me up.