“Infectious, gay music”.
I’ve bought an odd collection of musical items this week.
I’d say that the ones to have given me the most instant gratification would have to be those which I came home with this afternoon, after a few hours lazily trawling the charity shops between Southbourne and Boscombe.
It’s hard to imagine why anyone in the western world would bother putting a price tag of “20p” on anything in 2009. It’s also hard to understand how some classic charity shop bargains of yesteryear can still be found, in this nouvelle-student, post-ironic world. But they can. For, browsing the modest LP section of Help The Aged’s Boscombe shop, I found the Torero Band’s Tijuana Sound of Brass, from 1968, and its remarkably suitable bedfellow A swingin’ safari by Bert Kaempfert and his orchestra, from 1963.
The title track to the latter is, it turns out, every lazy bank ad’s soundtrack of choice – the one that goes: ‘duh-duh DUP duh-duh DUP, duh-duh DUP duh-duh DUP, duh-duh DUP duh-duh DUP, duh-duh duh-duh dah’ on two penny whistles. Oh, you know the one. It’s Mr Kaempfert, anyway – who knew?
And the very pre-Avengers lady on the cover, clicking her fingers and doing a toe point while dressed in pith helmet and khaki shorts, with a couple of lank leopard skins, a rotten djembi and an old ficus from someone’s living room sort of all placed around her in an otherwise conspicuously un-dressed white photographer’s studio, is a period delight. Certainly very Kaempf.
Meanwhile, the ignominious Toreros may patently not be Herb Alpert’s more legendary outfit of Not Ironic, Mexican horn grinners, but on this playful long player they’re delivering some of the same classic numbers I’d been pining for for years, such as Spanish Flea.
I’d been pining for these, in fact, since I first discovered the arduous side of graphic design. Working the final weeks towards my degree show in ’93, I well recall how someone found a copy of Mr Alpert’s greatest hits in an equivolent of Help The Aged in Leicester at the time and brought it in to cheer a stressed, overworked studio of students – only, also taking the trouble to deliver it with the added creative inspiration of recording the old LP at the record speed of a seven-inch.
My subsequent memory of hearing this essentially Pinky & Perky-ed version of what is already undeniably some of the campest lift music in the world – under the susceptible emotional conditions of workload nervous meltdown, of course – is among my fondest in life.
People were coughing up organs with laughter. Bless me – I can still see myself, lying there on the floor, turning blue for lack of oxygen and all but filling my trousers with the convulsions.
To have found almost the equivalent today, for 20p, was a gem. And, at my age, normal speed seemed pleasure enough somehow.
The sleave notes describe the Tijuana sounds celebrated in these recordings as: “the newest, freshest, gayest Latin tribute to popular music”, ramming home its point in the next par by emphasising it was “infectious, gay music which reflects the land of sunshine and wild scenery”.
No one would wish to argue a single moment with that.
Earlier in the week, I came home from an arduous daytime forray to the far side of Poole and back with three distinctly differently-sized and shaped boxes. A big, square, heavy one; a little, flat, light one, and a medium-sized triangular one.
When I’d arrived at Absolute Music Solutions that afternoon, I’d thought that I should come clean and play the Dim Momo Doofus card fairly strongly, as I later put it on Facebook. Not a sausage of knowledge did I have about any of my utterly random collection of requirements, as I smiled good-naturedly at the polite music expert behind the sweeping showroom desk.
But, none the less, I left their good patronage some thirty minutes later with some new monitor speakers, a looping DJ widget of some kind, and the ugliest, “most offensively cheap” guitar they could sell me, as specifically requested. “Parts of it look like they’re from discarded 70s prosthetic limbs” I had said flatly, as I and the store chap had stared down at the offending implement. “You did ask” he then pointed out simply, and I handed over my credit card.
I’m just so very bad at getting around to some things. The boring things. The boring but essential things – like having speakers in my studio of aspirationally-professional musical creative that are at least almost as good as the cheap set in my invisibly grease-draped kitchen. Or having at least a basic way to chime out some bad chords on one of the most fundamental instruments in modern music.
Or being able to at least see the floor of my aspirationally-professional workspace for boxes, leads, job bags, drums, things that clack, things that shingle, CDs, proofs, old magazines and random clothing.
This last point I plan to work on before the long Easter weekend is out. Really. On the other points I now have no excuse.
Still, since when was I interested in taking music that seriously?