Rewind and edit is my first novel- perhaps it shows. Like much of my fiction, it takes real events from my life and re-imagines them. Perhaps this is a sort of psychotherapy; definitely (I confess) there’s some wish fulfillment going on, with real situations and relationships improved upon so that the outcomes are more what I would have wished. We all dream, though, so why not?
In Rewind and edit my character Jeff travels back in time 35 years to his first days at university, reliving his fresher life as a mature and experienced mind within a youthful and innocent body. He also travels home in the holidays to his home- called ‘North Coleton’ in the book but, let’s be honest, really Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Here he gets things together with a girlfriend that never was (Fiona) and meets up with old school-friends, some of whom might be identified from my other two Barnsley books. Jeff and his friends are in bands and music is a big part of the whole story. A close reading of Rewind and edit in conjunction with these notes will clarify exactly what I was alluding to in the story. Here then is the real soundtrack to the sci-fi novel- all you need to do is highlight the links, right click and ‘go to’:
- Martha & the Muffins, ‘Echo beach’ – This was the soundtrack of junior common room discos in my first year halls of residence, Glen Eyre Hall. I was entranced by that opening guitar line as well as the escapist sentiments. The discos would always, predictably, end with ‘Hi-ho silver’ lining, though: ho-hum;
- Toyah, ‘It’s a mystery‘ – This came out half way through my second year in February 1981 when I was living in our shared house in Sirdar Road, Southampton. I already had her 12″ single ‘Ieya’ and I was in love with Ms Wilcox’s pink hair and unique style. Sadly, this was (for me) the beginning of a slide into not-as-good-as-her -early-work-ness, but I still enjoyed it. Compare and contrast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qi6p8iYkWe0.
- Echo and the Bunnymen, Villiers Terrace – Either Sounds or NME told me that the first album by this Liverpool band was fantastic and essential and had to be bought. I got it from Smiths during the summer holiday after my first year at university- and they were right. This, for me, was the stand out track. I still play that album just for this song.
- David Bowie- Fashion– The album, Scary monsters and super freaks, was released on September 12th 1980, just a few weeks before I went back to Southampton to start my second year. As a Bowie fanatic at that point, this was a major event for me, as was seeing the video of Ashes to ashes on Top of the Pops. I had already started to model myself on David, my white shirts unbuttoned at the cuffs with sleeves dangling and peg-legged trousers. ‘Fashion,’ therefore, is apt.
- Human League, ‘Love action‘- This was released in July 1981, but I didn’t for some reason hear it until late September that year when I had got back to Southampton and one of the many young women I admired from a distance (Soob) played it to me. I was hooked, and this was just the start of their imperial phase: ‘Open your heart’ and ‘Don’t you want me’ and the album ‘Dare’ were to follow. They got us out on the floor at our undergraduate discos then and they still have the same effect at ‘You should be dancing’at the Trades Hall, Walthamstow, now! As for the video, it’s TOTP I’m afraid, with those classic microphones that are connected to nothing.
- Crass, ‘Bloody revolutions‘- I’m not sure how I cottoned on to Crass. Derived (I think) from an interest in Buddhism, I came across anarchist philosophy and discovered that Crass were the leading exponents of anarchist punk. A lot of their work was (to say the least) challenging, but this is a proper catchy tune. It was released as a double A side with ‘Persons Unknown‘ by Poison Girls, which is also an excellent political track- ‘Pay no more than 70p’! In the book, Jeff defines himself as an anarchist and a Buddhist; now you know why. Crass were my guides to dealing with the Falklands war and to the CND anti-cruise missile campaign. Several times we travelled up from So’ton to Greenham to protest around the USAF base. I bought my Crass albums and singles- and many other records- from Henry’s Records in St Mary’s Street, So’ton. This was a very fine independent store, of a kind now sadly nearly extinct.
- Thompson Twins, ‘In the name of love‘ – Here’s a story. On October 2nd 1981 I supported the Thompson Twins at the Southampton University Students’ Union Freshers’ Ball. Well, I lie. My friends band, The Anal Fleas, supported them and I sat on stage whilst they played, and, with the help of vocalist Dave Cooke’s sister Jill made toast, which we threw out to the audience. How rock and roll was that? The Fleas were originally named (I apologise for any offence that this may cause) Ayatollah Khomeini and his Anal Fleas but a wish for memorable brevity (rather, I believe, than any concern over causing offence and being subject to fatwahs- this was 1981,not 2016, don’t forget) caused them to slash the name soon after their inception. They played various gigs in the Student Union and also at people’s parties- including in our front room at Sirdar Road. You may spot some affinity with the book’s Arthur Scargill and the Scabs; the major distinction is that the latter go on to international stardom whilst the Fleas recorded a single (a copy of which I still proudly possess) and then graduated and went on to do sensible,grown-up stuff. They are still commemorated online though and you can listen to the single too.
- Splodgenessabounds, ‘Two pints of lager and a packet of crisps please‘- During the summer holidays of 1981 Jeff and Fiona go to a gig at the civic hall in Coleton. The guitarist of Jeff’s former band expresses his disillusionment with his present repertoire and his wish to play more socially and politically aware material. In any eerie parallel, something very similar happened to me in Barnsley that summer. I went to see my old band supporting Inshalah (again, would anyone dare use such a name today for fear of causing deep offence?). That night Damascus covered this song- it’a classic of sorts.
- Dance Society, ‘Somewhere‘ – Jeff and Fiona go to see Northern Dance Cult (with added umlauts) playing. You may spot the Goth references here; other posts and pages on this blog explain the connection.
- Joy Division, ‘Love will tear us apart‘- This single came out in June 1980; I remember buying it off a record stall in Barnsley’s indoor market- ex-juke box and needing one of those plastic things to fill the hole in the middle. I thought it (and the album Closer) were impressive, but it was hard assess any of it impartially in light of Ian Curtis’ suicide that May.
- Soft Cell, Tainted love– I’ve run ahead slightly here to the summer of 1981, right at the end of the story in Rewind and edit. This song was released on July 7th; I was staying with my aunt in Cornwall, awaiting my parents’ move down from Barnsley (you may spot here another parallel with Jeff). I had to sneak playing this in secret because she disapproved of ‘the racket’ made by pop groups. This is a fantastic song from a Leeds band and it was originally a Northern Soul staple by Gloria Jones (for which see a forthcoming posting). I include just because it’s so good and is a fitting point on which to end.