Wednesday, 15 August 2007
Hobbies Of Today "Metal Boys" (Waxworks, 1979)
"Your house is burning down, what do you save?"
It's become the question that bulks out most interviews I read now; when I was growing up it used to be: "The four-minute warning has just sounded, what do you do?" . The answer was invariably that you'd kiss your loved ones/pets/schoolmates etc and tell them how you'd always loved them and you'd see them on the other side. But now, all that seems to have been superseded by this "saving stuff from the flames" business. And it's always stuff. Possessions, valuables, whatever. It's a measure of how materialistic we've become, I suppose: we used to worry about kissing our loved ones goodbye, now we worry about how we'll get that HUGE plasma screen out of the lounge before the flames ruin the screen.
Well, let's just apply the "saving stuff from the flames" argument to the one thing that all of us vinyl freaks out there would rather not think about- the record collection.
It's a scary thought, isn't it? What would you save? For the most part, I wouldn't be that bothered (yeah, right) seeing as most of the old punk stuff is now on CD, most of the rest of the collection is available somewhere on line.......
Of course, there's exceptions. I've got a couple of Lee Perry acetates with unreleased dub mixes which are completely irreplaceable, and most of the old Ska and Rocksteady sevens would have to be saved...oh, and the old-school hardcore 12"s, and the Lemon Jelly "Soft Rock" 7"......
This isn't going at all well, is it?
Right. Let me come out and say definitively, that my Hobbies Of Today single would really be one of the only things I'd save in the event of an unforeseen conflagration. What is it? Well, it's nothing, really. A long-forgotten 7" from a band from Manchester. Look at that sleeve! the lettering on the hand-printed cover was done with those plastic stencils you bought from John Menzies! The label (Waxworks) was a vehicle of convenience for this particular release, and I never saw anything else on it......
The driving force behind the band was Kevin Hobbi, who appeared to release at least one solo single after Hobbies Of Today's demise(it's somewhere in here, and will cost you £100): the band only recorded this one single, and had a track on a local compilation LP (I remember that from looking at adverts in the back of Sounds) and that was it.
And, there's the rub. That's why I'd save this particular piece of vinyl from the flames. I bought this in 1979. It came from the Small Wonder mail order catalogue-I can remember buying it with a copy of The Only Ones "Another Girl,Another Planet", with the "Flower" sleeve, and some other punk singles, whose identity are lost in the mists of time. I remember getting the postal orders from the Post Office, and the wonderful burst of excitement when the postman turned up with my single a couple of weeks later...and that copy that arrived with the postman, in 1979, on my doorstep in Wiltshire, is the only one I've ever seen. I've looked in an awful lot of record racks over the years, hell, I've even WORKED in second-hand record shops, yet I've never seen another copy.So that's why it escapes the flames; not because it's the greatest record ever made, but because I know I'd never replace it.
But why does it matter so much to me? Because it's just such a great little song: it's in the combination of that amateurish drum machine with the synths buzzing over the top- it's in the way the melody strains to go up a note when it reaches the chorus,it's in the wonderfully constructed harmonies, and most of all it's in the utterly unforgettable guitar riff....this record has haunted me since I first heard it, and it haunts me still.
If you ever catch me staggering out of a burning building, I'll be spluttering, coughing, wiping the soot from my eyes, and clutching a copy of this single.
Hobbies Of Today "Metal Boys" (mp3)