What do “Theme And Variations 1-4” by Andrew Lloyd Webber, “They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haa!!” by Napoleon XIV and “O Superman” by Laurie Anderson have in common? Nothing, as far as I’m aware, except that they’re in my singles collection. They’re not three songs that you’d often read in the same sentence and, unless you’re listening to “Pick Of The Pops” at the correct time, not likely to hear on the radio. Hearing them, admittedly these days either on my PC or iPod rather than vinyl, transports me back to a time or place or mood. I bought “Theme And Variations 1-4” after it was the subject of a school music lesson only to find that my mother had already bought the “Variations” album. I love the deep, soulful sound of the cello with “Variation 23” being my favourite of all the tracks. “They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haa!!” must have been an ironic teenage angst purchase. I used to love singing the chorus at the top of my voice. It’s surprising that they didn’t come to take me away, ha-haa! “O Superman” was a slow burner but, for me at least, was worth the persistence. There’s something dark and unnerving about the lyric and I can’t totally explain why like the song so much. Maybe it’s the hypnotic “ha, ha, ha” backing track that’s put me under its spell.
Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe are two artists who appear in my record collection and, together with Billy Bremner and Terry Williams, occasionally recorded under the “Rockpile” banner. “(Wrong Again) Let’s Face It” is a cover of the Squeeze song that was given away as a flexi-disc on the cover of the 4th October 1979 edition of “Smash Hits”. I much prefer Squeeze’s effort.
More trips down “the cul-de-sac of memory lane”, as Glenn once described it, next week. In the meantime, are you brave enough to tell us about the more obscure singles you’ve got in your collection and why you bought them?