Being Blue

I was very sad to hear about the death of former Chelsea manager Dave Sexton who will always be the real “special one” to Chelsea fans my age. Before the club became the plaything of a Russian gazillionaire and started racking up the trophies, the “glory years” had been way back in the early 70s when Sexton was manager and the team contained names — nay, legends! — like Osgood, Bonetti, Harris, Cooke, and Hudson.

Chelsea and Fulham were my two local sides growing up but the latter seemed like the team of Brylcreemed old men going on about Johnny Haynes — the first player to make £100 a week! — while Chelsea were all King’s Road flash, sideburns, and Raquel Welch. No contest really, especially when they won the FA Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup (beating the mighty Leeds and Real Madrid in the process) which made them all heroes in my young eyes. Little was I to know they wouldn’t win another trophy for nearly 30 years.

Like those kids in the picture above I used to hang around outside Stamford Bridge waiting for the players to come out from training in the hopes of getting an autograph. A lot of them would just walk out of the ground on foot so it was easy to get an autograph, these days they’d probably zoom right past in their Bentleys and Ferraris, knocking over old ladies on their way to shag a Page Three girl or meet with their accountant. But player’s lives were less opulent then, I used to see Chelsea players in local pubs and our silky winger Charlie Cooke lived down the road from us in a regular terraced house. When they retired a player’s biggest dream was to have enough money saved to buy a pub.

The one autograph I still have is of Ray “Butch” Wilkins who was the golden boy of the team at the time, having been made captain when he was only 18 and being a bit of a handsome pin-up star (hard to believe when you see him now), so it was a real thrill getting him to sign my 1975-76 Fixture Card, like being a teenybopper and having David Cassidy sign your boob.

Thrilled though I was, I remember being a little disappointed that he signed his name Ray and not Butch which was his nickname back then. Who was this Ray fella? No one called him that!

1975 was a crap year for Chelsea (and there were many more crap years to come), Sexton had been sacked the season before and we were in the Second Division. Sexton’s replacement Eddie McCreadie eventually quit himself because the Chairman wouldn’t get him a company car (this after he had got Chelsea back to the First Division) so it seems like our owners have always been arseholes. But whenever friends talk to me now about how the money we have is destroying the game, the bad behaviour of our players, our owner changing managers like socks etc. etc., I always reply “Sure, it’s terrible. But what am I supposed to do, start supporting another club?”

Download: Pass, Shoot, Goal! – Gracie Fields (mp3)


Counter Culture

I just discovered the wonderful British Record Shop Archive, a vast compendium of Britain’s (mostly) long-lost record emporiums. The site could do with some design help but, basic though it is, just going through the London section set off a fireworks display of memories in my brain from seeing many of the places in Fulham I did my early record buying: Beggar’s Banquet, At The Hop, and even Harry Hayes which I’d completely forgotten about even though I bought a lot of records there (turns out Harry was a well-known jazz musician.) Those have all been closed for years now but thankfully On Broadway is still in business though they’ve moved from their original location, I bought most of my Northern Soul collection in there.

Other places that stirred the old memory pot were Cloud 7 in Putney where I joined The Pretenders fan club which had just been started by a bloke who worked there, and even Virgin Records which, in the pre-Megastore days, was actually quite the hip place. I remember going in the Notting Hill branch when Never Mind The Bollocks came out and they had racks of the sleeve everywhere and all over the windows which seemed like the height of dangerous rebellion at the time. I’d also forgotten that Biba had a record department.

Even now I can remember the interiors of these shops and in many cases the actual records I bought in them (I bought my copy of All Mod Cons at Harry Hayes), I’m sure you’ll all find some place that will make you go “Ah!” too.

This was on the b-side of Boys Don’t Cry which I’m pretty sure I bought at Cloud 7.

Download: Plastic Passion – The Cure (mp3)

And while we’re in a nostalgic “where did it all go?” mood (which we usually are here) you’ll also find much to enjoy at London RIP.

Something for the Weekend

Well, this was a real find. For years there was a grand total of one Pauline Murray & The Invisible Girls video on YouTube which was frustrating for someone like me who adored Ms. Murray and the album she made with that lot. So finding this clip of them performing three songs was like discovering the Holy Grail, the lost city of Atlantis, and those keys you dropped behind the couch years ago.

I saw her live in 1980 with the Invisible Girls and it’s still one of the best gigs I’ve ever been too, and not just because I had a huge crush on Pauline. They played the entire album and when the audience shouted them back for a third encore Pauline said “we’ve run out of songs” so they played them all again.

Money in my pocket

Why spend your 50p on any of that stuff when you could buy a single for 45p back when I was a kid? That’s what I always did when an uncle or auntie slipped me a 50p coin, head straight down the record shop. But that could be because I never got pocket money so getting 50p was a treat I didn’t want to waste on a Beano or tube of Smarties.

Download: Brass In Pocket (Demo) – The Pretenders (mp3)

Sleeve Talk

I’ll let someone else do the sleeve talking this time, and who better than Mr. Peter Saville (who, as usual, looks like he’s been up all night.)

I had an Unknown Pleasures t-shirt and badge back when Ian Curtis was still alive but I would have thought a tattoo was a bit excessive even at the age when I lived and breathed for the bands I loved. A mate of mine had a Theatre of Hate tattoo on his arm, something he thought was stupid the minute they broke up. I wonder if he still has it now that he’s nearly 50.