Fly-by: Twenty years on interlude

Hello from a very rainy Oxford Street in London! I have come full circle and stepped foot into an HMV for the first time since probably 2001, when its US stores started closing up. This particular shop I believe is connected to the original first one, if it isn’t THE first one.

I’m glad to say the selection is still fantastic and the prices are great. Found everything I was looking for (which is often a rarity) and the service was aces.

So yeah — glad to be able to hit an HMV one more time for old times sake. 😁

Vacation fly-by: 4AD origins

The above building with the green store front is 8 Hogarth Road, just down the block from where we’re staying in Earl’s Court.

For those curious, this was the original location of the Beggars Banquet record shop, and soon after housed the record label/distributor of the same name. In 1980, Ivo Watts-Russell started the 4AD label there on the second floor. They only stayed there for a few formative years, but those years included Matt Johnson/The The, Bauhaus, and Modern English.

Thirty Years On: August 1988

August 1988: Summer is winding down, and I’m preparing myself for my last year in high school. At this point I’m quite certain I want to go to Emerson College and study film, but I have Amherst, UMass and North Adams State as backups. All I need to do is fill out the forms, visit the campuses, and see where it all takes me. And try to at least do a decent job with my grades.

28 August: late Sunday afternoon, working my shift at the local radio station. Coming to terms with the fact that my closest friends of the last few years are spending this very same afternoon preparing for their move to college dorm life. I’m wishing we’d have gotten one last afternoon to hang out together, even though we’d gathered a few weeks earlier in one of our road trips to the Pioneer Valley. They’re probably planning what they want to pack, having one last get-together with their families, dealing with whatever else they have to deal with.

I’m feeling moody and irritable, faffing about on one of the half-working typewriters there, thinking I should probably work on some writing. The radio station feed goes to commercial, kicks off the usual carts, and then comes back to more adult contemporary. “Suddenly Last Summer” from the Motels comes on, like a punch to the gut.

I’d promised myself I wouldn’t be one of those students that gets all emotional that I wouldn’t be seeing my friends and classmates anytime soon. All I wanted to do was get the hell out of my small town and get to The Big City as fast as I could. But there it was: I wasn’t free yet. I still had one year left before I could escape. The circle of friends that had opened my eyes and mind to a new way of life were leaving. I had a few close friends still in high school, but everyone else was only an acquaintance of some sort.

I sat down at that rickety typewriter and bled out some of the most personal words and lyrics I’d written yet that would change not only my outlook on life but would change my writing style for years to come.

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The Go-Betweens, 16 Lovers Lane, released ?? August. The Aussie quintet released what would end up being their last album for a number of years, but it’s a lovely pastoral album full of gorgeous ballads and quirky pop gems. WMDK loved this album and would play deep tracks from it quite often, and the above track was a favorite on 120 Minutes. Highly recommended.

Compilation: Listen in Silence: The Singles, created ?? August. Partly inspired by Chris’ mixtape style, I pulled together a 90-minute tape filled with tracks from some of my absolute favorite albums at the time: “Under the Milky Way”, “The Dead Heart”, “Blister in the Sun”, “Holidays in the Sun”, “Kidney Bingos”, “How Soon Is Now?”, “All Night Long”, “Alex Chilton”, and more. It’s one of my best mixtapes. I’ve since resurrected the title and theme around 2011 and still use it to this day.

The Wonder Stuff, The Eight Legged Groove Machine, released ?? August. Goofy, smartass Britpop that was a WAMH favorite. I’d hear “Give Give Give Me More More More” and “It’s Yer Money I’m After Baby” all the time. I picked this one up eventually when I took a trip to Boston to check out Emerson.

Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars, released 9 August. Everyone knows the main single (“What I Am”, their only major hit), but the rest of the album is a lovely folk-rock collection of acoustic balladry and fun full band bash-outs worth checking out.

Pixies, “Gigantic” single, released 22 August. My ears immediately pricked up on this songs for two reasons.  First, that it was a bass-heavy song, which meant that I could learn how to play it. Secondly, that they were a local band. And by local, that meant their origins were at UMass Amherst, a mere 30 miles away from my home town. [And let me tell you, Amherst/Noho bands weren’t all that big a draw outside the Pioneer valley, except for maybe Dinosaur Jr!] I got in on the ground floor on this band and have loved them ever since.

Jane’s Addiction, Nothing’s Shocking, releases 23 August. Another ‘borrowed’ promo from the radio station. Really, was there a single track here that they could get away with playing? I loved their curious mix of metal crunch, intricate melodies, and psychedelia. Oh, and the fact that this album sounds great when it’s played LOUD. “Summertime Rolls” is one of my favorite summer-themed songs of all time. Highly recommended, even and especially if the only thing you know by them is “Jane Says” or “Been Caught Stealing”.

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Next Up: September 1988, in which my senior year starts and I get broadsided by a handful of brilliant albums.

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NOTE: We’ll be on vacation for the next few weeks, heading to the UK for a week and a half, followed by an extended weekend at Worldcon down in San Jose.  The blog schedule will be rather wonky until the latter half of August, when we’ll return.  Thanks for waiting!