Looking at them side by side, I’ve spotted an obvious connection between my first and last LP.
The first I ever consider being mine was bought for me by my mum in either Woolworths or Our Price in some town centre. It must have been either Stratford, Leamington or Banbury. Whichever, it isn’t there any more. I remember seeing it on the chart rack and feeling an incredible compulsion to own it. London Boys: The Twelve Commandments of Dance. I’d seen the single, London Nights performed on TOTP (“London nights, when the party’s out and the fever drives you wild!”) a couple of week before I think, and I also recall being amazed that when I when a friend turned on the radio that week, the song played immediately! I felt destined to own it. I re-listened to it recently. While its cover boasted the sort of graphics that would not be recognised as stylish until MIA’s Kala, it had some great songs etched on it. Harlem Desire and Requiem were the other singles and Chinese Radio should have been a single.
It was the first, and last vinyl album I’d own for the period between 1989 and 1999, a desert of warped tape cassettes and scratched CDs. I quenched my vinyl fast when I acquired my Grand Mother’s record player and bought both The Doors’ ‘Strange Days’ and Underworld’s ‘Beaucoup Fish’ from Fopp in Leamington Spa. I was wearing a Hawaiian shirt that day. Underworld’s King of Snake features the best use of a Donna Summer sample to date. Long may she be re-contextualised.
Between then and now, I’ve accumulated a floor sagging collection of hip-hop, electro and reggae LPs. The black discs remained the best medium for playing music to friends at parties until very recently, when I acquired Seratos Vinyl simulation technology, allowing me to play my MP3s with record players. While the collection has subsequently slowed down, I still buy occasional vinyl LPs. The last I bought for myself was a compilation of mashed up Clash Songs called “London’s Booted”. I’d heard two tracks from it in a bar and hassled the DJ for his sources. Turns out, somewhat ironically given mash-up culture’s dependence on digitised music, it was only available on vinyl.