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 But now, all that seems to have been superseded by this "saving stuff from the flames" business.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"......
Oh bugger.
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)


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16 comments:

So It Goes said...

Very interesting. Why was there a slew of bands that had everyday, mundane names? Hobbies of Today, Tools You Can Trust, The Smiths, Robert Rental And The Normal...yet all of them making great, unforgettable music. Once again, I've never heard of this, and that is why there are people like you out there, educating us. Nice work.

Mick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mick said...

Another good one. I also have some records from this era with very basic packaging, some with xeroxed sleeves and at least one with staples. I'll get around to posting some soon.

Previous comment deleted due to stupid spelling mistake :)

iain said...

@ so it goes, you're right, I think...the punk era was full of names which reeked of contrivance (Brent Ford & The Nylons, Billy Karloff & The Goats...) and the post-punk era retreated into names which had a comforting air of normality about them...
The 90's brought us lot's of band names full of oddness and abstraction, before the current slew of "The..." names...
@Mick, you gotta love all those "private pressing" singles haven't you? The fact that they're imbued with so much hope, seemingly against all the odds, only makes me love them more!

gareth Walters said...

I played synthesizer on the single, so many thanks for the nice comments. I live in California these days, but have passed your posting on to Kevin, who will no doubt be as happy to read it as I was. For the record we were (are) from Mexborough in South Yorkshire, not Manchester. If memory serves, Kevin came up with the guitar riff as a surprise for the rest of the band on the day of recording - oh and the amateurish drum machine's name is Steve.

iain said...

Gareth, i'm stunned. Genuinely. To worship a record like I've worshipped this little piece of plastic, for so many years, then have someone who actually played on it get in touch....well, it's just amazing.
First up, it looks like I better eat some humble pie, doesn't it? tell Steve i'm sorry for the "amateurish" remark, i'll be honest and say I actually PREFER records to sound like that, and the beat is so metronomic, I was convinced it was just a little drum machine you'd set up in the studio! If it was someone drumming all the way through...well, i'm impressed.
Also, my apolgies for the geographical innacuracy, I was just using the information on the sleeve, i'm truly happy you've been able to set the record straight.
And again, cheers. "Metal Boys" is one of my most cherished records ever, and having you appear on this little blog has put the icing on the cake.
Keep in touch,
iain

gareth Walters said...

Hi Iain - no worries on the comments, I'm honored by the mention – Steve always was rock steady and (as I recall) we recorded at Strawberry Studios in Manchester (nice to see they just got a blue plaque). The fact that Joy Division, The Smiths and The Stone Roses later recorded there, only slightly offsets the fact that we were next door to Brotherhood of Man. For more info on Hobbies of Today, check out Martin Lilleker's excellent book Beats Working for a Living: Sheffield Popular Music 1973-1984. Cheers and all the best.

kevin said...

I too bought the single, saw them at Mexborough 6th Form and had the privilege of playing synths for Mr Hobbi on a later single (Nature's Daughter / Odd Man Out).

Unfortunately lost touch with Kevin around 15 years ago - if you read this Kev - Kevin Ford is alive-ish and still playing with the Korg et al on the Isle Of Man. The new capital of Rock. And Roll.

thornyone said...

hi everyone kevin's album sex detective is available here
http://www.netsoundsmusic.com/intellisearch/artist/Kevin%20Hobbi
hi Gareth its Neil still see your paul now and again

thornyone said...

hi there Gareth its Neil still see Paul now and again just been listening to kevin's album sex detective released in 1990

kit said...

I am sat with kev hobbi avin a glass and being amazed at the comments on your site...you have taste because kev is the most amazin writer / composer i have ever known

Bomar said...

I've always wanted to get back in touck with Kevin. Where is he? I've just moved away from Sheffield into the belly of the beast.

It's Jamie, Cheryl's son from Robin Hood's Bay)

(popanon@yahoo.co.uk)

pharmacy said...

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Elliott Broidy said...

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Anonymous said...

Just to let you know that the tracks from Hobbies of Today's intended debut single of 1977 have been unearthed. The single was never issued as planned, back in the day, due to shenanigans at the record pressing plant, and disappearing master tapes. Anyway, for more details of the soon to be released 7" single, please go to our Facebook page, and like it, if you want more details: www.facebook.com/HobbiesOfTodayMexborough

Jon