We take the acquisition of music a little too much for granted nowadays, don't we? A download is but a mouse-click away; itunes can call on a library of millions of songs (but good luck finding exactly what you want!) and every magazine or newspaper you buy seems to disgorge at least 1 free covermounted CD.
So it's always nice to look back at a time when the height of musical technology was to be presented with a FREE RECORD, taped to the front of a magazine! Imagine that! Well, it wasn't without it's drawbacks- the record was actually a flexidisc, which meant sometimes it was creased, it wouldn't play properly, the needle on your record player would gouge holes in the flexi...... Welcome to the world of Flexipop Magazine. At the start of the 80's however, this free music/added bonus of a magazine concept was very funky indeed, and my heart would beat just a little faster when I arrived at the newsagents to see a pile of the magazines, with their flexis proudly attached to the cover: a yellow John Foxx one, The Cure (green) OMD (blue, with Nash The Slash as well)........ For those of you who remember, and perhaps those of you who are curious, there's a full list here. Amongst all of these other bands sat the subject of today's post: Haircut 100 (March 1982, Green) "Nobody's Fool" should be instantly recognisable to anyone with any knowledge of the band: it was a single after all, reaching number 9 in the charts later that year.
What's not so readily known is that this version of the song is actually solely written and performed by Haircut 100's driving force, singer-songwriter Nick Heyward. The band themselves seemed to be falling apart, due to the pressures of their new-found fame, and this song was earmarked as Nick's first solo single. In fact, it finally emerged as the last Haircut 100 single to feature Nick (the band carried on for a year or so without him, to no discernible success whatsoever). whether the band actually featured on the final single, or whether they were there merely in name, i don't really know. However, having had at least some knowledge of what it's like when bands start the process of falling apart, I can imagine the rancour and bitterness this song must have caused amongst his bandmates when they realised nick was setting out on his own and leaving them behind.
This version is fairly simplistic (as one might expect from a solo demo) but with all the added charm that demos have: yes, the vocals are shaky, the production is shonky...but there's a joyous sense of propulsion to the song: it drives along, whooping and crashing, with Nicks vocals powering along over the top. And there's one more thing that makes this copy special: it's a hard vinyl test pressing. Flexipop records were, obviously Flexis; but in the interests of promotion, the magazine had a limited number of hard vinyl copies made up of each one. These are incredibly rare: the Cure one goes for several hundred pounds, and there's an article on Goth in this month's Record Collector magazine which notes that the Bauhaus hard vinyl pressing goes for around £250! If anyone has the magazine to hand, have a little look at the handwriting on the Bauhaus label: exactly the same as on the record above- obviously it was one person's job to sit in the Flexipop offices and write out all the labels (in the same Black felt tip, too!) Well, though it's nice to know that my record is only one of 50 copies, and it's nice to be able to hear the song in some semblance of decent quality, I doubt that it's worth as much as the other Flexipop rarities. No matter, I love it just as much, regardless.
If you don't own any Haircut 100 records, then get yourself sorted. Pronto. It's less than a fiver :)