The main criteria for bunging stuff up on this little blog has to be: 1) Is it unavailable on CD? 2) Is it suitably difficult to find, therefore people might be interested in hearing it? As long as tunes fulfill those two criteria, they're in. This tune scores particularly heavily on point 2). Let me explain......
1986 finds me working in Our Price records, more often than not at its two branches in Watford. I was a cocky little kid, and not above telling the shop managers which records they should and shouldn't be ordering from the reps. The reps were the mobile salesmen from various record labels, who would pass by our shops on a weekly basis, park their Granada estates outside and stagger in with an armful of promotional stock. They would then attempt to coerce you into ordering as many copies as possible of their priority acts for that week. Often, the deal would be sweetened with the rep passing over FOC (free of charge) stock, so the shop would make a clear profit, or else we'd end up with some Belouis Some slipmats, or a Danny Wilson promotional T-shirt (oh, the glamour.) On this visit, the rep for Pinnacle had, amongst a pile of other stuff, this little beauty. It's Max Splodge (surely you guessed that?) of Splodgenessabounds "fame", in one of his many attempts to repeat the success of "Two Pints Of Lager...." This time, the target of his attention was Sigue Sigue Sputnik. "The Year Of The Bean" is a barely-disguised pastiche of "Love Missile F-111", with a lyric attempting to join the Sputnik vision of cold, robotic modernity to the 100th birthday of the Baked Bean. And it's therefore got LOADS of fart noises on it. These, it has to be said, are funny the first time you hear them, but lose their, ahem, sparkle soon afterwards. Perhaps the central failing of the record is that it seeks to try and make SSS funny, when in truth, they were doing a pretty good job of it themselves, albeit unintentionally.
So far(t), so good. The rep played the single in the shop, the manager thought it was daft, so did I; but I reckoned it would sell. So, I got the rep to put us down for 3 copies, and asked if we could get one now, and put it out in the racks. The rep went out to his Granada, coming back with a disconsolate look on his face. "Sorry lads, that's the only copy they gave me. You can buy it now, if you're desperate" Well, we weren't desperate, but we bought it anyway (it was always good to look after the reps, you'd get paid back somehow, in the future). As it turned out, I was wrong about the single: no-one wanted to buy it. Except me. Yes, over the course of the next few weeks, I became rather attached to it's juvenile charms, and persuaded the manager to let me have it as a staff purchase. We put it's number down on our order sheet, next to the three copies that we still hadn't received.
And they never turned up. I can remember phoning in the Pinnacle order over the next few months, spouting a long list of catalogue numbers down the phone "Rough Trade RT 121 for 6, Demon 56 for 10......" and every time I got to this records catalogue number "....and Mad 03 for three copies..." the computer would just emit a squawk and the girl on the order desk would say "I'm sorry, that's no longer on our lists" It had vanished. But now, it seems that it never even made it as far as the record buying public anyway: according to this it seems to have been the victim of a record company that went into liquidation, and hardly any copies ever saw the light of day. Rumour has it that Max Splodge himself doesn't even own a copy. If that's all true, I'm guessing that the copies that were given to reps were the only ones to reach the public, if indeed they ever did. If the record had a thousand-copy print run (fairly standard) there would probably have been around 50 copies which were given to the reps to drum up interest. My copy is one of those. Whatever, it's probably one of the rarest records I've got, as well as being one of the silliest. If anyone else out there knows anything more about this particular slice of buffoonery, you know where I am.
Max Splodge is still very much with us, his myspace is here. There's a great Splodgenessabounds reissue, which you can get here containing pretty much all you'll ever need (including the 40 seconds of GENIUS which is "Yarmouth 5-0")
So, to finish, enjoy, but be warned: may contain fart noises.