Time for some Topper, The Clash’s spikey-haired human drum machine.
I was in Altrincham Oxfam Books and Records, nothing much of interest, flick flick flick… ah, what’s this?
A Mercury Records compilation from 1986, a painting of a black clad beatnik girl dancing on the front and this piece of text: ‘from a moaning wail of the blues to the impulsive beat of a bass drum… Curiosity Killed The Cat, Swing Out Sister, Brandon Cooke (with Roxanne Shante), Love And Money, Topper Headon, Tom Verlaine, Wet Wet Wet, Pete Shelley, Zerra One, Hipsway… theirs was a frenzied world of passion and excitement. Beat Runs Wild’.

Bit of a mixed bag, to put it mildly. 99p. Go on then, if only to see what the Topper song is like. Jazzy, big band, instrumental. S’alright. 

Hope For Donna

Further research brings us a video from Topper’s only solo album.

Didn’t he have some involvement with Flowered Up or am I imagining that?

>Wah Wah


This is one of those records that often seems to populate the 7″ box in charity shops, all dog eared sleeves and scratched disc. I’ve written before of my buying multiple copies of records in Oxfam and suchlike over the years, just because I can’t leave them in the shop, decaying and unloved, surely eventually ending up as landfill. However I could not house the numbers of copies of this single I’ve seen. Why is it so often abandoned?

Our local Oxfam occasionally turns up trumps- one time it was full of the entire Siouxsie And The Banshees back catalogue and most of Wah!s output. I was trying to work out what sort of person would have such musical taste, to collect the full works of both the ice queen of goth and Liverpool’s ‘part time rock star, full time legend’. But then again maybe it was two different people, coincidentally getting rid of vinyl at the same time. Or even better, maybe it was a couple, each one dumping it’s youthful record collection to make space in a new place they’ve just got together, one a Banshees fan, the other a Wylie lover – that’s an idea I like. But I’m sure I would’ve spotted a Siouxsie lookalike and a Wylie wannabee wandering around Sale by now.

Enough blathering. From 1984, The Mighty Wah!’s mighty Come Back. It’s not as good maybe as The Story Of The Blues or Sinful, but it’s still worth a few minutes of your time.

Come Back.mp3

History Lesson With Breakbeats

Steinski’s Lesson 3 (History Of Hip Hop) is slide ‘n’ fade, cut ‘n’ paste, hip hop without rap (if that makes sense). Built from the now over-familiar samples and beats, it’s funky, urgent party music from before rappers took over. Ideal if you’re staying in with friends tomorrow night.

I found a copy of this (a 90’s reisssue, but still…) in Sale Oxfam for £2.99 the other day. How does this stuff end up there? It’s a reason I can’t, no daren’t, pass a charity shop without rummaging in their vinyl box.

Steinski_01_03_Lesson 3 (History Of Hip Hop).mp3

The Style Council ‘Headstart For Happiness’

I find it really hard to pass a charity shop without going and having a rummage through their used vinyl. Sometimes there’s nothing, sometimes you find some real surprises and sometimes they turn up trumps. With the success of ebay, everyone who had the time and the patience realised they could sell their old vinyl, even if it was just for pennies. The charity shops, especially Oxfam, wised up and set up specialist branches selling books and records, at second hand record shop prices, with hand-written labels saying why it was good/rare. The stock and supply of vinyl in the ordinary, suburban charity shops seems to be dwindling as a result. I suppose also there’s a limited ammount of old records to go around. That Barry Gibb and Barbara Streisand album’s always there, you can rely on finding Terence Trent Darby’s first album gathering dust and sleeve damage, and Phil Collins is an ever-present.

Recently I realised that I’ve been buying vinyl in the charity shops that either I don’t really want or have already got. I bought a stack of Wah! 7″ singles a couple of months ago, who I was never really into, although they’ve grown on me. The buying duplicates thing has led me to having, off the top of my head, three copies of Rip It Up by Orange Juice (all in picture bags), two extra copies of Blue Monday (sadly not with the die-cut sleeve), 7″ and 12″versions of Love Missile F1-11 by Sigue Sigue Sputnik, two 12″ Beatmasters singles (the one with Betty Boo), S’Express’s Theme several times, and two copies of Cafe Blue by The Style Council (who are charity shop repeat offenders). I’m sure there are others but I can’t be bothered going to check. I hate the thought of these little nuggets of pop culture going unsold, unloved, scratched, sleeves knackered and ending up in landfill. I suppose I’m denying someone else the chance of owning Rip It Up but I can’t take the chance, so home it comes, causing storage and space problems, but safe and loved.

Anyway, back to The Style Council, who’s records frequently crop up in the charity shops. They must have been produced in their millions, and dumped in similar quantities, and I’ve said it before but early Style Council is as good as anything else Mr Weller has done (some examples-Speak Like A Child, Solid Bond In Your Heart, Shout To The Top, Walls Come Tumbling Down), including this one. This is off Cafe Blue, and is a cracking little upbeat pop song, wearing it’s Motown and Northern Soul influences proudly, and featuring great twin vocals from Paul Weller and Dee C. Lee. Get down your local high street and see if you can find a copy.

Headstart For Happiness.mp3