Tag Archives: The Teardrop Explodes

Soft enough for you

Goldfishes after slumber? Return of the Goldfish? Whatever, I’m sort of back. For a start I’ve written a new Toppermost about The Teardrop Explodes which is available to read now if you so wish. And there is a new Goldfish entry on its way, which covers about thirty years. Not necessarily my years though. That should be available by this time next week.

in the meantime, have a nice weekend and ser you the same time next week.

Fingers crossed 😊

More by luck than judgement

“Wilder” is an important album for me. I’ve talked about my introduction to the Teardrop Explodes already, but I didn’t really talk about “Wilder”‘s place in my heart. I might not again because history ain’t that special and nobody cares about mine. But “Wilder” deserves a decent reissue, and the new double CD edition of it released this week isn’t quite good enough.

A few years ago, The Teardrop Explodes’ first album “Kilimanjaro” was reissued as a 3 CD deluxe edition. Disc one was the album itself, Disc Two was all the early Zoo singles issued before the album was recorded and b-sides from the album’s singles and Disc Three was three Radio One sessions from 1979 to 1981 showing the development of the material. The new edition of “Wilder” would be far superior if it were three CDs, but instead it is two discs – one being the original album and the other being b-sides and two more BBC sessions from 1981. The singles tracks include all five songs from their final EP issued in 83 after the band had split up – and which was my introduction to the band – but the songs are randomly placed amongst other b-sides. And the BBC session tracks – as noted in Bob Stanley’s blog here and probably elsewhere – sound very different to the eventual album versions. We have to go back to January 1981 to find out why.

In that month, Mercury issued the single “Reward” for a band that barely existed at that point. The line up for the previous six months had disintegrated. Guitarist Alan Gill had quit, unable to take the psychic warfare within the band and returned to his own band Dalek I Love You whose debut album “Compass Kumpass” was a minimal synthpop treat from 1980. Julian Cope also used this as a chance to sack keyboard player Dave Balfe, leaving not much of a band – Cope and drummer Gary Dwyer. According to Cope’s “Head on” autobiography he then recruited session players for guitarist, keyboard player and bass – allowing him to concentrate on singing and taking control of the band. These auditions seemed to take place in an acid daze and he just accepted whatever was bearable. He also took control of the songwriting too – all previous songs had been collaborations between Cope, Dwyer and previous guitarists Mick Finkler or Alan Gill. All songs issued in 1981 would be credited to Cope alone.

Issuing “Reward” in January was a masterstroke for the label – it’s always a quiet time in the post-Christmas doldrums so a good time to issue a single to break a new band. Their major label debut single “When I dream” had been moderately successful the previous Autumn and they’d performed it on “Swap Shop” and had good radio play for it. “Reward” would break the band at a point when they were changing radically, and the subsequent reissue of the “Treason” single and “Kilimanjaro” album made them a pop sensation in their homeland using material that was essentially a different band from what they were at the time.

In the Spring of 81 the new five piece band toured the USA, working on mainly new material that Cope was writing. This material was being affected by changes he was going through – falling in love with a new woman and struggling to hide this from his first wife. Also his intake of LSD made a difference, and the perceived success of his rival Ian McCulloch with Echo and the Bunnymen. The new band appeared to gel on stage but behind the scenes were already divided in those who were chemically enhanced (Cope, Dwyer) and those who were unenhanced (keyboard player Jeff Hammer and bass player Alfie Agius). Guitarist Troy Tate fell between the two camps, siding with whoever was most interesting.

While the band were being treated like psychedelic cult artists in America they were regarded as pop star pinups in their homeland. When they returned to home soil they were treated very differently. 1981 saw the return of the pop star with artists such as Adam and the Ants, The Human League and Duran Duran crossing over into the mainstream, but having enough roots in punk and post-punk to have theories and schemes worth hearing in interviews. Cope also fell into this category and gave very good interviews, talking about his musical heroes like Jim Morrison and Scott Walker, and about the next Teardrop album – “The Great Dominions”. The first BBC session on the second disc of the “Wilder” gives some idea of what the album would have sounded like – “Pure Joy” is nearly as fast as the eventual version on the album, but “Like Leila Khaled said” and “The culture bunker” are slower and more lumpen. There are better live versions of both songs, but not from this lineup.

After the success of “Treason” as a single the band toured the UK in the summer of 81. They were greeted by screaming female fans almost everywhere they went. Cope thought he could persuade these new fans to “dig” his idols and new direction and courted them while secretly despising them – an incident at a gig in Nottingham where he grossed them out by saying something along the lines of “You all want to shag me” caused consternation. The band’s performances at this time were interesting and there are numerous bootlegs from this tour, and a BBC Transcription Disc (which was eventually released as a live album). The band were perfectly capable of playing the older material from “Kilimanjaro” but the newer material wasn’t quite working with this lineup. “The culture bunker” and “Sleeping gas” were both getting longer and the band were encouraged to improvise. Tate would rise to the challenge and prove himself to be the best guitarist the band would have, alternating spindly guitar lines with soaring sustained notes. On the other hand Agius would be stuck in his one groove and Hammer didn’t really have the equipment to improvise much – an organ and piano and string synth. “The culture bunker” itself would start to drag – Cope’s solo introductions on guitar would start fast then the whole band would come lumbering in at about 15 mph and drag the song down. Other new songs played during that period included “Suffocate”, “The great dominions” and “Screaming secrets”. The first two songs had been introduced on a BBC session in January – probably the first recordings of this lineup – which appeared on the “Kilimanjaro” reissue. “Suffocate” sounds closest to the version which was issued on the b-side of “You disappear from view” in 1983, while “The great dominions” is how it was played as a regular encore during 1981 – grandiose piano and huge chorus. “Screaming secrets” would be recorded in the Richard Skinner session for the BBC in August 81 included on the “Wilder” reissue and again this whole session shows the problem with this lineup.

The session really starts with “Better scream / Make that move” – a medley of Wah! and Shalamar songs which works strangely well, big churchy organ chords holding the song together, but already Cope is getting self-referential – “I can hear you screaming secrets in your sleep”. “Screaming secrets” follows and it’s nowhere near fast enough – live versions are far faster and less reliant on piano and more reliant on Tate’s guitar. Cope is almost murmering the lyrics when he should be shouting them. “And the fighting takes over” is almost as good as the “Wilder” version but again the organ bed takes the song over. Finally “Bent out of shape” is one organ song too many, in a very similar arrangement to “The great dominions” only substituting grandiose piano for grandiose organ. Cope said at the time he was obsessing over Traffic’s “John Barleycorn must die” album and it was reflected in this session – the emphasis on organ textures and the speed of the songs.

When “Passionate friend” was issued at the end of the summer it was the first official recording by this lineup and it showed the band at their pop peak, the melodies building forever skywards, but there was a psychedelic edge there too in Tate’s electric sitar, an instrument long forgotten by history but all over 1968’s singles like “Games people play” and various Motown gems. The b-side
“Christ vs Warhol” was simply Cope and Dwyer – Cope really was taking over. Again in “Head on” Cope writes about sessions in the summer for b-sides, how he directed the six minute instrumental “East of the equator” but took control for the eerie spine-chilling “Window shopping for a new crown of thorns”. There are other recordings from this era available on bootlegs – mainly songs already mentioned like “Leila Khaled” and “Culture Bunker” but one of the most important is “The butcher’s tale” – a cover version of the Zombies’ anti-war classic. It sounds very similar to the arrangement of “East of the equator” – slightly faster and with more propulsion but sadly no vocal was recorded, but you can imagine Cope’s plummy tones over the top of it.

As “Passionate friend” slowly staggered around the middle of the charts in September, Cope took control of the band again and sacked Hammer and Agius. In “Head on” he claimed he did this to annoy the teenage fans and because they didn’t fit in the band. This is true in both cases – there’s no doubting they were both good musicians but they didn’t bring anything much to the musical table. Also it seemed that Cope was getting fed with the teenage fans’ attention to these two members – signs at gigs saying “I love Jeff” or “I love Alfie” and then there was Agius’ “New wave bop” dance which always drove the girls wild but took attention away from the band’s leader. The fans were indeed upset and wrote tearful letters to Smash Hits about it. Cope then invited Dave Balfe back into the band as keyboard player, and started to record the band’s second album “The great dominions” only for it to appear a few months later as “Wilder”.

Now this is where things get interesting… In Mark Cooper’s excellent book “Liverpool Explodes!” Bill Drummond implies the existence of the original album. Citing the Zoo Records discography which has only two albums to its name (“Fire escape in the sky” – the Scott Walker compilation – is Zoo 2 and “To the shores of Lake Placid” – a compilation – is Zoo 4) he claims that Zoo 1 was the original “Everybody wants to shag the Teardrop Explodes” (which was the version of “Kilimanjaro” recorded with Mick Finkler in the band and mostly scrapped or rerecorded with Alan Gill) and Zoo 3 was “The great dominions”.
When I started collecting the Teardrop Explodes after 85 I managed to pick up as many bootleg cassettes of theirs as I could, and one had a long and fascinating radio interview with Cope from the time “Wilder” was released where the interviewer asks lots of probing questions about the songs and the band, he also asks what the difference is between “The great dominions” and “Wilder”. Cope explains that “The great dominions” did exist as a whole album but when he wrote some newer numbers – “Falling down around me”, “Seven views of Jerusalem” and “Tiny children” – he removed two ‘epics’ (which he names as “Screaming secrets” and “Suffocate”) as they didn’t fit the album’s new vision. So does a full version of “The great dominions” exist on tape in the vaults? Certainly this reissue doesn’t seem to think so.

“Wilder” then is a mix of the old and the new. I won’t talk about the album itself as it’ll get enough words written about it due to its reissue, except to say I love it dearly and I think it’s near perfect and side two is end to end glorious. However I’d like to return to the Teardrop story after “Wilder”‘s release and how it relates to the reissue.

“Wilder” was a flop in late 81, the single “Colours fly away” didn’t sell, nobody really understood the album and reviews were varied. However there was a three song Peel session recorded in December that showed more new directions for the band. “Sex” was almost funky, “The challenger” was frantic but odd and “Soft enough for you” a delicate ballad. Only one of these songs would be performed live.

The next part of an album’s lifecycle is to tour, but before that there was a residency is Club Zoo in Liverpool. A new bass player was found – Ronnie Francois from Lena Lovich’s band – who added a nice edge to the sound, and Balfe brought along some synthesisers to the live unit, allowing for some of the stranger album sounds to be performed live. This five piece line up was probably the best live unit of the Teardrop Explodes, and I’ve heard numerous bootlegs to prove it – they could whizz through the older material, perform radical reworkings of “Wilder” tracks – “Colours fly away” sounded far better live – and Cope was writing new material which was equal to previous songs like “Sex” (also known as “Pussyface”), “You disappear from view”, the beautiful lilting “Log cabin” and the Dr John voodoo of “Clemantis”. The band also could improvise and there were plenty of chances on “Sleeping gas” and “The culture bunker” to go off on one, and Cope frequently did, alongside Tate’s squally guitar and Balfe’s odd synth noises. The reissue includes a version of “Sleeping gas” from a Club Zoo performance but there must be more from this gig in the vault.

1982 started with a UK tour and the band were on their toes and playing wonderfully, also touring the US and Australia, though again there seemed to be overindulgences all round. There is however a brilliant audio visual record of this band – a half hour “Old Grey Whistle Test In Concert” special on the band, performing songs from “Wilder” and newer songs too. It includes lovely versions of “Log cabin” and “Suffocate” and a storming version of “Screaming secrets” and a long improvisation on “The culture bunker” where Cope does a face solo – “I’ve got complete control of my face. Ok face. SMILE!” It’s on Youtube somewhere and is fabulous.

This particular line up didn’t spend much time in recording studios though but did record a few songs – “You disappear from view” and “Rachael built a steamboat” (the b-side of “Tiny children”, belatedly issued in the summer of 82) – and while the former’s funk is an interesting direction, the latter is one of my favourite Teardrop songs. Sadly this lineup would record little else – Cope was rapidly losing interest and sacked Francois and Tate after big gigs supporting Queen in the summer of 82. Balfe started work on a third album but neither Cope or Dwyer were interested. There was another BBC session that summer of the now three piece Teardrops. “Buchanan” is an odd piano and synth pounder that would never be returned to (and the title may refer to one of the band’s roadies who gets a mention in “Head on”), “You disappear from view” is mainly Cope on twelve string electric and shows how he wanted it to be before it turned into a funk workout. “Log cabin” is a spectral version of the song that had been played live for months. “Serious danger” showed that Balfe knew his way around a sequencer, almost inventing the squelch of acid house in the process. Sessions for the unloved third album continued, a disastrous tour with backing tapes was undertaken and Cope split the band on the fourth anniversairy of their debut performance at Erics in 1978. What a long strange trip et cetera.

But what about that final album? Parts of it were issued on the “You disappear from view” EP in 1983 – both the original version of “Suffocate” and a rerecorded version with strings and harpsichord from the 82 sessions. In 1990 a version of the third album was issued – misleadingly titled “Everybody wants to shag the Teardrop Explodes” – but some of the tracks had been remixed and sounded awful – the version of “Soft enough for you” lost its venom and “The in-psychlopedia” seemed to turn into stadium house. There had been a bootleg tape around since the mid 80s of the ‘real’ third album and songs like “My only friend” and “Count to ten” sound far better there. It also included a strange 12 minute drifting synthesised mood piece entitled “Flipped out on LSD” (allegedly release as a 12 inch according to “Liverpool explodes”) whose main melody and theme would become “Mock turtle”, an extra track on Cope’s “Trampolene” single years later.

So with a lot of this material available somewhere in the vaults, the actual deluxe edition of “Wilder” comes as a disappointment. Obviously if you hadn’t spent years collecting illicit recordings of a band you loved, you would be happy with what was available. But I was envisioning a three disc affair – one disc of the album, one disc of b-sides including the material from the unreleased “The great dominions” and third album, then a third disc with the two sessions included plus the late 81 and mid 82 BBC sessions. That would truly have been a deluxe edition. Cope himself has issued some fine out-takes and live versions on his “Zoology” set a few years back, including demos and the third album’s version of “Log cabin” which got lost on the 1990 issue. . Maybe a ‘third album’ set is on its way. Who knows. As it stands – and as Bob Stanley notes – the new edition of “Wilder” falls between two stools. It doesn’t tell the full story. I’ll still buy it though.

Next time – well this post wasn’t supposed to happen anyway until I read Bob Stanley’s post, so next time it really will be anticipointment etc etc.

We don’t need time, we just need places

(For the sake of anonymity, I am going to use only initials for the names of people. The reason for this is that one person mentioned in the story is now a relatively well known political blogger and another person in the story is a sports writer for a national newspaper. And before you ask, no I am not telling you who they are)

May 4th 1985 was a Saturday. After a week in school everyone was ready to blow off steam and let rip and have a party, get drunk, trash someone else’s house and not worry about it, we were 14 or 15 or thereabouts and who was going to stop us.

Well that’s how the version scripted by John Hughes would start. In reality it was all a bit more parochial than that. It was S’s birthday and his parents were going out leaving him alone in the house so people decided that he should have a party. He lived in Sully, a small town on the outskirts of Barry which was about three miles from Penarth where we all went to school together. It was arranged, be there around seven and see what happens.

But first there was the rest of the day. In the bright morning sunshine my parents and I went into Penarth’s town centre to buy me a new pair of trainers. While browsing around the single street of shops – WH Smiths, Boots, Spar, Woolworths and numerous banks and building societies – we dropped into Oxfam. Years before my mother had volunteered in this store and years later I would also volunteer in there, ending up doing a charity exercise bike ride in their window for six hours. But this time I was just browsing through their singles box. I’d picked up a few odd things along the way from that particular box, but nothing prepared me for what I was to find that day. There was three copies of the same record, a double pack seven inch single – a dark black and white picture of a shaggy haired guitarist with light reflecting off his Gibson 335, and the plain words “The Teardrop Explodes” on the sleeve.

By this point I knew who they were – I’d bought “Reward” from the same store the previous year, blasted out the a-side and marvelled at how off-kilter the b-side was. I was also reading the music papers – a habit I’d acquired around February 84 – and had seen damning reviews of Julian Cope’s first two albums, he was an acid casualty with a tortoise shell on his back. In the summer of 84 I had discovered the John Peel show and Cope’s session had been the first I had taped – onto an orange BASF C90 which chewed up quite frequently. I recently dug this tape out of the attic and it was weird hearing Peel’s voice between songs, and how quietly it was taped, and all the other songs I taped from the show – some much loved and some long forgotten – “Sahara electric” by Die Dissidenten still sounds amazing. That Cope session was intriguing because it was a man, a guitar and a Casio – which was what I was working with myself at the time but my tentative baby steps in songwriting could not compare to gems like “Sunspots” or “Me singing”. But that was an introduction to Cope’s music but besides the hit singles I knew nothing of the Teardrops.

So I took a chance and bought it. In fact I bought two copies, just in case – it still left one more copy for some other Penarthian. It was 50p for five songs, how could I go wrong? What did I have to lose? We got home, tried on the shoes, got that out of the way and I hooked myself up to my father’s hifi and read the sleevenotes inside. They seemed a bit peculiar, about Cope’s sense of absurdity and how this was the end, but what would come next would be seven times better. Intrigued, I strapped on the headphones and started the tape – a blue Tandy Concertape C90. .

“You disappear from view” was labelled A1. It sounded like funk, short blasts of brass and slap bass, and it sounded very familiar too. It turned out I had heard it on the Futurist Chart two years earlier but hadn’t really noticed it at the time. Once I had found the twelve inch of the single a year or so later I would also recognise it from the wall of twelve inchers on my first HMV visit. It was a rather cool song, I liked it a lot and I wanted it to go on further but the fade out seemed too premature. Flip the single over for side B1, the song “Suffocate”. There’s a delicacy about the start, the first verse, as if tentatively skirting the borders of the subject – it sounds like an argument waiting to happen, and it does – the chorus explodes in drums and fire alarm organ before returning to the delicate second verse, but there’s more tension, there’s a cymbal ticking like a time bomb counting down to another chorus. The third verse is more strident and features a guitar part that I’ve never heard repllicated, a sort of random scrabble of notes after each line of lyric. The song closes on the ticking cymbal and a bass pulse. This isn’t quite what I expected but it’s good.

Remove first single, change the speed down to 33 rpm for C1, the song “Ouch monkeys”. An already ancient sounding drum machine beats away followed by muffled marimbas and haunted choral voices. Then Cope enters, speak- singing as if through a telephone, strange words that even now sometimes I don’t know. Drum rolls break the chorus followed by more sirens and alarms. Towards the end, Cope intones “Oh such fun and games” over and over, and I couldn’t tell if he was being ironic or not, there’s no malice in his voice, just a blankness.

Turn over for side four, with two songs. D1 is “Soft enough for you”, a piano waltz in an echo chamber, and it’s nice to hear real instruments. Cope is singing more normally now, and again it seems to be a relationship being dismembered. As the chorus arrives a string quartet appear and add to the general disquiet. The song revolves around its unresolved chord changes and seems to stumble to a close. Song D2 is “The In-psychlopedia” which was definitely not what I was expecting, pulsing synths and syn drums thrashing away but my word I absolutely loved it. Again the words didn’t make sense and a chorus of soneone counting to eight?

I played it all again and again, those eighteen or so minutes got drummed into my head to the point where little chunks of melody or lyric circled in my mind – this is probably my favourite time when getting to know new music, five or six plays in, the songs becoming more familiar, the pieces of the puzzle falling into place, but not so familiar that new details can’t leap out and surprise you. And I was at that point that day when H turned up in a taxi to take us to S’s party.

I can still remember the layout of the house even though I only visited on this one occasion. The hall with stairs that guests were forbidden from using, the downstairs bathroom, the little study with Amstrad computer, the main lounge leading from the kitchen, then out to the conservatory and the garden heading downhill with a greenhouse at the bottom. A few people were already there and drinks were given out and the general lack of females there was bemoaned. Cider was drunk by one and all and then a miracle happened. Around eight thirty two females arrived and all hell broke loose.

The first girl was M who was a good friend of mine, she was a year older than all of us and that maturity made a huge difference at that age. Certainly she was one of the very very few females I could talk to, mainly brcause she had never appeared on one of my ‘fancy’ lists, so I wasn’t too scared to talk to her for fear of making myself seem foolish. Alongside M was her friend R, which seemed to make the partygoers happy because everyone had been trying to get R and myself together as the general consensus was that we really fancied each other and our firm claims to oppose this was really just a smokescreen for our real feelings towards each other.

With hindsight I wonder if there was some truth in the matter. I would never ever EVER admit it to anyone – not even to my diary which I had started in 83 and stopped in 89 after 28 exercise books and three well-filled A4 folders – that sometimes I found her attractive. Not always but sometimes. I can imagine there are friends of mine from the time reading this and shouting “Yes! I knew it all along!”. She was always there on the periphery of whatever was happening wirh a carefully timed sarcastic comment. For instance….

WHY I HATE “HOTEL CALIFORNIA”

There was this one time around late 1985 when a bunch of us sixth formers were given time to ourselves in the Careers Library to try and discern a future for ourselves. The library itself consisted of leaflets from various government departments on types of work out there and how to claim benefits, alongside prospectus after prospectus for universities and polytechnics. These careers sessions were seen as a cop-out, nobody cared about such things in the Lower Sixth, we’d only just got over our O levels, can we not think too hard about the future please? So we sat around in groups and chatted or read newspapers (or music papers in my case). It was mainly boys in the library on this occasion and in one corner was J, P and S (a different S to the host of the above party). They were discussing music so I joined in the conversation from time to time. At some point both M and R joined us, both having been playing netball or something as they were both still in their games kit, and I’d never seen R’s legs before – she usually had the longest skirt possible, sometimes touching her ankles, and usually with the edge of a petticoat showing too – she was a very prim and proper girl. I wasn’t the only one making admiring glances in the direction of those legs. Then for no reason at all J started singing “On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair” and pointed to S who sang the next line. This proceeded along between J, P and S trading lines of the verse of “Hotel California” with one of them table drumming to keep the beat. For the chorus they burst into harmony, off key and unplanned, with J taking the role of Don Henley on lead vocals and P and S harmonising behind him. J had quite a good voice and a few months later would join my band Final Ecstasy as lead vocalist, proceed to sing the heart out of the five songs I’d given the band, then get sacked for preferring to watch a Welsh rugby international than rehearse with us.

The climax of the song was approaching, the final verse, the denoument to the sixties dream blah blah blah. The three singers were now standing on a table belting it out like they were playing Wembley Stadium. And after “But you can never leave” P burst into air guitar, singing the guitar part note for note, followed by S ‘playing’ Joe Walsh’ solo, and both them standing face to face gurning at each other as they sang the arpeggio harmony section. It was the most horrible thing I had ever witnessed musically. At the end of the song J, P and S looked around expecting applause which never came, but R gave them a withering look and channelling her inner Simon Cowell said “That was interesting” – with heavy sarcasm on the third word – “but never do it again in my presence”. Secretly I cheered and loved her a little bit more, whixh was to say not very much. But from then on whenever I hear “Hotel California” I’m back there watching this performance and hating it more and more. I have been known to walk out of rooms, pubs, workplaces when it comes on the radio or jukebox. Last year when I was working as a cook in a nursing home it started playing on Radio Two as I was serving up lunch and I had to dash across the kitchen to turn the radio off. Everything stops for “Hotel California”.

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE PARTY…

M and R were there being ogled by slightly drunken teenage boys and everyone decided it was a good idea if R and myself kissed. So we were locked in a room and told to get on with it. It didn’t happen, of course. I was too embarrassed and she wasn’t interested and we both thought it was a bad idea and I looked at my shoes and mumbled apologies and M burst in and dragged R out and they left soon after.

More cider was consumed by one and all, the music got louder, someone crushed a box of Rice Krispies into the carpet in the living room, a game of ‘throw the empties on the conservatory roof” was started, then someone fell over me and broke my glasses.

(Good Lord that is the nerdiest sentence I’ve ever written)

I mean these weren'( just NHS specs, these were my Reactolite lenses which had cost a small fortune the previous year and were meant to shade my catarract-tainted eyes from daylight. In fact all they did was go dark on the school yard and briefly make my nickname Stevie Wonder. It was at this point in the party I decided I’d drunk enough and after H and I had bent my mis-shapen glasses back into some semblance of normality we both decided a return to normality might be good for both of us too. We stopped drinking, moved to orange juice and became observers of other people’s craziness. More people arrived, people we didn’t know or hadn’t been invited but had heard there was a party on. There was a stand-off between us and some other kids outside the house. Neighbours rang the police and we had a visit from a friendly policeman informing us to quieten down. People starting passing out in bathtubs. As I sobered up lines from the Teardrop Explodes songs kept floating into my mind – “Busy in the backroom having fun”, “Oh such fun and games”, “Don’t cast shadows on me” and suddenly it fitted together – the songs were about or describing disorientation (or so it seemed, I could be wrong but that was my interpretation) and now I understood a little better. I had got drunk for the first time, felt the world spin as I closed my eyes for the first time, and not really enjoyed the lack of control. Of course that wouldn’t stop me drinking again in the future.

By one in the morning it was clear the party was grinding to a halt, even though there were some hardy souls belting out “Everybody wants to rule the world” drunkenly. H and I decided to walk the three miles back to Penarth and talked all the way, apart from when we got spooked by some peculiar looking trees. The next morning I told my parents about my glasses and I reverted to my NHS specs for a few days. And on Monday afternoon…

Monday afternoons were PE that year. Due to my eye problems I was excused PE and had to sit in a room on my own doing homework or revision or something. But after a while I realised that nobody was taking any notice of whether I was in the room or not I started to use Monday afternoons as a chance to go record shopping in Cardiff. That Monday afternoon I disappeared from the school, making sure nobody saw me, then headed to Cardiff, bought “Kilimanjaro” and headed home. That album was more of what I expected the Teardrops to sound like but the brass and organ glare seemed too homogenous to me, and ir was a month or so later I found “Wilder” in a second hand shop and that made more sense. Over the next year I hunted high and low through record fairs and second hand shops picking up the singles for the strange but wonderful b-sides, and live tapes from different eras and line-ups of the band. But that final double pack of “You disappear from view” remains special, even now I know more about it’s cirumstances, the third album Balfe wanted but Cope hated. Even so I’ve still not seen a definitive answer of where and when “Suffocate” was recorded – it was included on the US “Kilimanjaro” in 81 so perhaps was recorded by the same line-up as on “Reward”.

And today it’s the 4th May, everyone talks about it being Star Wars Day and really it’s “You disappear from view” day. Maybe next rime there’ll be more music and less rambling. We’ll see what happens next.