God, I love The Record & Tape Exchange. I know it's Music and Video Exchange now, but it'll always be the Record & Tape to me: I even ended working there for a couple of years when I was between Jobs in the late 90's... Here's a little bit of a history lesson about me and Record & Tape, it meanders a little, but we'll get there, so bear with me...
When I was a kid, I lived in the middle of nowhere, deep in the Wiltshire countryside. If I needed to go and shop for vinyl, it was either an hours cycle ride into Devizes, which basically had a Woolies and a couple of small music shops with tiny selections of records, or I'd have to wait and cadge a lift off my parents if they were going to Bath, Bristol or Swindon. I'd only really get to go shopping for records every couple of months, and even when I did get myself to a shop, I'd never really have a huge amount of money, so all my purchases had to be debated, pondered upon, and agonised over. All of that changed in 1981, when my father got a new job in London, and we moved to Hatch End, out in the North London suburbs. At first I was devastated to be leaving the landscape of my childhood behind, with all of it's memories, it's friendships and it's carefree happiness. This feeling of melancholia lasted about as long as it took me to work out that for about two pounds, I could get on a train, then a tube and be in the centre of Notting Hill Gate, in about an hour. I'd been to the Record & Tape in Notting Hill before, on school trips up to London; but now it could be my local record shop! I was like a kid in a sweet shop for the next six months, and my record collection grew exponentially. The great thing about R&T was it's bargain basement, full to bursting point of great vinyl at stupidly low prices. Because I still didn't really have much money, this is where I concentrated my shopping: buying things on the cheap because I liked the label they were on, because I'd seen positive reviews, because I'd heard them on the John Peel Show. All of this leads to a vitally important fact about the way my taste evolved: because I grew up buying piles of stuff at knock-down prices, it meant I ended up listening to, and loving, stuff that other people had discarded. I was being drawn to the underdogs of the musical world. Records that would otherwise have ended up unloved and alone. Sometimes it felt like a bit of a mission. To be honest, sometimes it still does.
This record is just such one of those purchases. I'd heard it on the John Peel show in 1983, taped it, loved it, memorised its details. One day shortly after that, it turned up in the basement of 38 NHG. I remember it cost me 40p. It's a fantastically dark record (I referred to the early 80's doom-rock that was everywhere in this post and this is the record I was promising to dig up and post for you) It's saturated with earth-shuddering bass, and it's liberally covered inwhat sounds like waves of church organ (or at least, an approximation of it) to give it that authentic Gothic feel. It's Bauhaus-y in it's sense of drama and scope, yet there's a little less glamour, and slightly more psychedelia in there.... And what on earth are the lyrics on about?
"Virgin Sands, walk over us.....swaying in the wheat"
Existential angst doesn't get more daft than that, does it? It's wonderfully overblown in it's vision and execution. I also remember Peel remarking on that line, and getting SERIOUSLY caught out by the ending, which seems to have been engineered specifically to frustrate him (make sure you listen to the end of the track, you'll see what I mean.)
And what of the band themselves? Well, nothing. Nothing at all. there's no real record of them on the Internet, bar this entry on Discogs. I don't recognise any of those names, and they don't seem to have done anything else. It's frustrating that there's no way of verifying whether the information is true or not.... Anyway, whatever its provenance, it's a truly great record, and deserves it's moment in the blog-spotlight.
(And as a little post-script, I still shop in 38 NHG, was just in there on Tuesday night. I bought "Amour Amour" by the Mobiles. It cost me 10p. Old habits die hard)