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Second hand record shops, eh? Those lazy afternoons flipping through endless copies of Black Sabbath's Paranoid while two blokes at the other end of the racks debated the relative merits of Frank Zappa's You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Nos. 1 to 98. For better or worse they're a dying breed, and let's face it those HMV sales may be a laugh but there's no soul there. In unrestrained homage to the plywood racks and surly till-minders of days past, not forgetting the still-extant charity shop punnet of LPs (on the floor, next to the books, dear), here's a round-up of the stars of the vinyl emporia, those discs that, for one reason or another, seemed to crop up with alarming regularity.



PETER FRAMPTON - Frampton Comes Alive
The classic thrift shop leftover, of course. A two-disc live set (ah, there's a heartwarming pipe-and-slippers phrase) documenting former mucker of David Bowie and Face of '68 Peter F's 1976 concert, this now largely forgotten guitar extravaganza still holds the record for biggest selling live album. Frampto's key gimmick was the filling- loosening 'talkbox', a little electronic device which linked guitar to mouth via a saliva-encrusted plastic tube, enabling the lad to pluck semi-intelligible words out during favourites like Show You The Way and Baby I Love Your, Er, Way. And we love it. To check its longevity, Creamup ducked into a randomly-chosen charity shop just last week and, sure enough, that unmistakeable Paul-Nicholas-caught- in-headlights gatefold sleeve was present and correct in the record bin, alongside that other reliable '70s "it was an unwanted birthday present, can I swap it for Slayed?" stalwart, Tales From Topographic Oceans.

SEX PISTOLS - Flogging a Dead Horse/Some Product
There were plenty of cash-in LPs from the post-Sid fag-end of the rotters' career, but these self-conciously shameless Virgin efforts seem to crop up more than most. 'Horse is an OK, if superfluous, compilation, of note mainly for its Top Of The Pops album cover parody, often leading SCOPE et al. to file it innocently alongside the real article. 'Product, meanwhile, is a hopeless interview disc, with most of the interviews consisting of just Steve Jones and Paul Cook mumbling, its saving graces being a full version of the Grundy interview and a cover of mocked-up Pistols merchandise, including a tube of Refreshers with 'Swindles' written on it, and a Sue Catwoman doll, which Creamup still wouldn't mind being real.

THE KIDS FROM FAME - The Kids From Fame
The vintage OST of the film of the series performed by Bruno and the others (as Creamup will always prioritise them), featuring the inspirational likes of I Still Believe In Me, Life Is A Celebration, Starmaker and, of course, Hi-Fidelity. If you want to keep it light and keep it tight (all right), the till at Help The Aged's where you start paying.

CAMEL - Music Inspired by The Snow Goose
That familiar '70s airbrushed chrome-medallion-with-florid-lettering look spelt out the title of this prog opus, based (unofficially though, hence the 'inspired by') on an obscure book about a hunchback who lives in a lighthouse, nurses a wounded goose back to health, and then goes to fight at Dunkirk - ideal fodder for a series of 'symphonic rock' skits, with mini-moog and flute to the fore. A massive returnee this one, to be found sheltering in pairs or groups of three in second hand shops, though fans labelled it "a beautiful work of prog grandeur". With the help of those good folk at Oxfam, you can judge for yourself.

Anything by CRASS
Which crops up time and again due to their infamous 'pay no more than four pounds' anarchist pricing policy leading many a casual browser to buy and quickly discard (see also Faust's 49p-a-throw Faust Tapes). Best of all is the classily-boxed Christ: The Album, which alongside none-more-right-on songs like Nineteen Eighty-Bore (boasting the lines "Who needs lobotomy when we've got the ITV?/Who needs ECT when there's good old BBC?" as well as being very possibly the only pop song to mention Bobby Sands, Paul Daniels and Branston pickle) features a bizarre bonus disc full of porn film samples, and a great anti-Thatcher collage poster. Still very much around, still no more than four pounds.

VARIOUS - Historia De La Musica Rock
Not sure how they managed to migrate en masse from their native Spain, but these compilations of works from selected "rock giants" (Bowie, Burdon, Cohen etc.) turn up with surprising regularity over here, readily identifiable by their blue and gold airbrushed lettering and wiggly framed onstage photo covers. So insidious that '80s indiemasters Pussy Galore released an album with exactly the same title and cover design in tribute.

Fabulously erratic three-disc set from Francis. First disc, 'Past', is a collection of re-recorded classic croons. 'Present' is a serviceable enough selection of more contemporary standards like Just the Way You Are, Macarthur Park, Song Sung Blue etc. But it's the supper-club prog third disc, entitled "Reflections on the Future in Three Tenses" which takes the biscuit. A sort of semi- autobiographical romp through the solar system featuring tracks like What Time Does the Next Miracle Leave?, World War None! and, best of all, The Future: "I've Been There!", featuring some grand Star Trek- style high-pitched space wailing.

THE BEE GEES AND PETER FRAMPTON - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band OST
"Rock impresario" Robert Stigwood's biggest indulgence was this 're- imagining' of the Fab Four's non-concept album (cue George Martin: "People think it is, because of the 'Billy Shears' segue, but...") with the Gibbs and, returning to these second-hand shores, Mr Show Me The Way as some kind of, er, fantasy semi-recreation of the Fabs, but not them, even though they sing all the songs and George Martin's producing it etc. The film itself is a very rare thing indeed, almost never screened these days, perhaps out of a stunned respect. The LP, however, isn't so rare (it racked up a then-record number of unsold units) or interesting, apart from maybe the curiosity value of George Burns' rendition of Fixing A Hole.

ELVIS PRESLEY - Having Fun With Elvis On Stage vols. 1-5
"Look at these little red things in my pants here!" '70s jumpsuit Elvis live in Memphis, but with all the actual songs removed, and just the false starts, hopeless 'banter' and towel requests left in. The ultimate moneyraking release, and now something of a cult item, though any remaining copies turfed up in Oxfam are unlikely to make you an eBay millionaire.

The same trio's classical effort Pictures at an Exhibition may crop up in the racks with greater regularity, but the dreadful armadilloid artwork on the front of this soundtrack to a supposed battle between military hardware/animal hybrids, with a few jokey rock 'n' roll pastiches thrown in, makes this easily the daftest LP you're likely to come across, though fans laud it as a classic. The usual pretentious slevenotes are replaced by a dodgy comic strip detailing the ins and outs of the "war". Priceless stuff, and all for 75p.

Shorn of their amateurishly camp stage presence and furry glove puppets, The 'Fit failed to stay more then a week or two in the nation's racks, despite the presence of The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Fantasy Island, those sub-Pump Boys and Dinettes '60s medleys and, er, the rest.

You'll remember them for their jaunty setting of the likes of Tchaikovsky and Strauss to a 'pumping modern disco beat' for a solitary top ten hit in 1981, but four bloody albums were made of this (including 'Journey through the Classics' and the fear- inducing 'Can't Stop the Classics') with a great airbrushed chrome- and-neon treble clef on the sleeve. Brought to you by - as if you couldn't tell - K-Tel records.

The balding magpie of dance's first post-Heaton long player flew out of the shops on the back of no.1 'Dub Be Good To Me' (of course, they'd changed the title because adding a nicked Clash bassline and a nicked bit of 'tank fly boss' chat made the cover entirely their own, right?) Rest of it really not that good - 'Blame It On The Bassline' anyone? "Woo! Come on, now!" Norman Cook moved on soon after, chiefly to fur-coated student union funk outfit Freak Power. Oh, look, that's here too...

PAUL YOUNG - No Parlez
"A strong set of soulful covers of forgotten and contemporary classics", or pastel-jumpered bowlderisations of old blues, reggae and new wave standards? Kathryn Hudson: "In Record and Tape Exchange in Notting Hill Gate no more than two years ago the entire back wall of the bargain basement was pretty much covered in copies of this album with a large sign pathetically saying "please buy me". With that dodgy Joy Division cover I hope that no-one did."

Surprisingly not containing their "strap a-hangin'!" acapella radio fave 9AM (The Comfort Zone), this mediocre collection of Quaverlight soul saw the 'Beat, fresh from backing Bruno and Liz on their '89 charity slog It Takes Two Baby, cashing in on the surprise success of the bland-as-you-like I've Been Thinking About You, but crucially failing to repeat it. Cover shows the band escaping their novelty soul-lite roots by the big and clever ruse of letting off a fire extinguisher in an abandoned warehouse. Last seen losing out to Love City Groove in the '95 Song For Europe contest.

TIN MACHINE - Tin Machine
An obvious choice maybe, but the continuing presence in our shops of Bowie standing about in line on the cover as if to say "Look! Here I am! Standing way, waaay at the back! It's a band! Ignore me! But here I am anyway!" makes us want to go "somewhere without alcohol/Or goons with muddy hair". Or this record. But don't those "I'm an angry young man and not a knocking-on ex-pop idol, me" lyrics ring ever truer these days? "Washington heads in the toilet bowl/Don't see supremacist hate/Right wing dicks in their boiler suits/Picking out who to annihilate" Makes you think...

SOHO - Goddess
Wolverhampton's seventh-finest export (you work it out), Soho are still just about remembered for nicking the How Soon Is Now riff for their moderately-sized, miner's strike-mentioning hit Hippychick, if not for nicking the bassline from The Fall's Slang King for their total flop follow-up, Love Generation, which signalled the general quality of the rest of this album. Toured the US with Jesus Jones, who we'll be coming to in due course. Surprisingly, they managed to last a while afterwards in the indie-dance margins, last seen renamed as Oosh (geddit?)

BROS - Push
NKOTB, Take That, East 17, Yell... nothing guarantees a charity shop backlog better than a boy band's nanocareer, but the fall from grace of the jean-shredding, nothing-owing Aryan Ken-baiters was greater and faster than most. Back came the wistful When Will I Be Famous, the almost identical I Owe You Nothing, the rather bizarre Drop the Boy, and, lest we forget, the kitchen sink balladry of Cat Among the Pigeons. Roll on Kim Appleby's GLAD, eh?

Very much an anomaly in the careers of the 'Frisco-based anonymous pop conceptualists, who up till this point were more used to sales figures in the hundreds than the relatively massive tens of thousands this sold in. Granted, on paper this largely tuneless semi-operetta detailing the minutiae of a fictional eskimo culture on tracks like Arctic Hysteria and The Festival of Death doesn't sound much of a unit-shifter, but those costumes, some judicious UK publicity stunts and a disco remix single (no, really) was enough to entice a fair few floating fans, only for them to swiftly defect on hearing the contents.

FLEETWOOD MAC - Tango in the Night
"Fleetwood Mac lives!" chimed the press release for this late-'80s "return to form" for the warring prog-blues dynasty, and the LPs flew out of the shops at an astounding rate, in anticipation of a Rumours for the '80s. It wasn't much cop, though, all told (unless you really like Stevie Nicks), so, in the UK at least, it soon enough found itself filling that unenviable position of "album you're most likely to trip over in a second hand record shop basement" as the decade wound to a weary close.

TERENCE TRENT D'ARBY - Neither Fish Nor Flesh
"People! This is not a film, this is my song! Now pick up your shovel and dig!" And so we did, to bury this rather tragic career-nullifying folly from the former wunderkind of British soul. The phenomenal success of his first, ace, LP must have had a hypnotic effect on Columbia bosses as they gave him carte blanche to record whatever he wanted, and if that meant lyrical pretension, titles such as To Know Someone Deeply (Is to Know Someone Softly) and interminable noodling with D'Arby on various exotic instruments and "manifestations", well, what harm could that do? If you ever find a copy of its follow-up, Terence Trent D'Arby's Vibrator (featuring the likes of Supermodel Sandwich w/ Cheese (A Funky Sandwich Vibe)), you should alert the fire brigade.

YES - Tales from Topographic Oceans
"As the silence of seasons on we relive abridge sails afloat/As to call light the soul shall sing of the velvet sailors course on." Jon Anderson there, at the outset of the second of four side-long "movements" of this ill-conceived shastric sci-fi concept romp, dragging along his increasingly bored bandmates in a studio fitted out with straw bales and model cows, for 80 minutes of maximum-strength noodling. Unlike most other prog casualties, this hasn't undergone a critical re-evaluation, and with good reason - it's half-baked, tuneless self-indulgence of the highest water, clogging up the "Y" section of your local emporium almost single-handedly. So remember - "Sol, Dhoop, Sun, Ilios, Naytheet, Ah Kin, Saule, Tonatiuh, Qurax, Gunes, Grian Surje, Ir, Samse."

JON AND VANGELIS - The Friends of Mr Cairo
The falsetto ex-Yes frontman branched out for the hit single I'll Find My Way Home with rotund Greek keyboardist Vangelis, which was pleasant enough in a being-driven-home-by-your-dad way. The following album, however, didn't hold up quite so well. The title track, a homage to the old gangster flicks, with "Edward G and all those guys/Who always shoot between the eyes" had some kind of conceptual dialogue behind it, but elsewhere it was sci-fi whimsy as usual - "In 1620, The Mayflower sailed from Plymouth westward/Carrying the Pilgrims in search of a new land/In Star date 27X, year, minute 33, location earth, 16 degrees polar star west/The Mayflower was launched into space in search of a new land," informed Anderson on Mayflower, and somehow the album found its way into the back room of the Sue Ryder shop.

Wendy James and her menacing looks galvanised the overly-purple cover of this 1989 definer which had a predictable postscript of failure around it, confirmed by the band's inability to do anything worthy afterwards. Containing the four hits of the year - Wendy screaming, Wendy rocking, Wendy balladeering, Wendy whispering - the album sold well, of course, but the ever-presence of the album in the bins and on the walls with big, cover-tearing discount stickers suggested that the record company were over-zealous in their estimates...

TRANSVISION VAMP - The Little Magnets vs the Bubble of Babble
They really don't deserve this much of a ribbing, but this is a bona fide charity shop flop, ending the career of Wendy J and co. in a surfeit of self-indulgent electro-blues (Twangy Wigout, anyone?), with a, er, singular cover of Dylan's Crawl Out Your Window thrown in for good measure. With nary a hit single to its name, this meisterwerk quickly became a byword for career suicide in the smoking jacket-era music press. Only about one in five copies that turn up in remainder have actually been bought. Those Groovy Fellers millions couldn't have come at a better time.

THE WENDYS - Gobbledygook
One of the ill-fated 'second wave' of baggy acts, signed to Factory and as ever endlessly plugged by Anthony H. Wilson. To be fair, the album isn't too bad - it got some good reviews on release, and although it contains some absolute clunkers like 'Suckling', the likes of 'Pulling My Own Fingers Off' are fine stuff indeed. However, Factory went to the wall shortly after the album's release, resulting in the vast amount of already-pressed copies being sold off cheaply in high street record stores, from whence they soon found their way to the second hand outlets...

LEO SAYER - Endless Flight
"One of the most dynamic voices in rock," said Rolling Stone at the time. And with You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, When I Need You, and covers of the likes of Tears of a Clown in there, what's not to like? Well, the dreary interviews tracks, for a start. Interestingly, recent independent surveys carried out by both Q magazine and Danny Baker (and we're not going to doubt those sources) both found this to be the worst second hand seller of all time.

Unable to pigeonhole amidst the shoegazing boom, the 'Jones produced this on the legendary Food label and sent it to the proles with a warning that some of the sounds could damage playing equipment when played loudly, which really only applied to the two-minute opening jam "Trust Me", to which they should have added further disclaimers about harm to inner ears. Four hits, with "Real Real Real" being the most playable, though "International Bright Young Thing" got them into the Top 10. Head thranger Mike Edwards upped the trend of 1990 of adding one-sentence summaries of each song on the track listing ("Right Here Right Now" had Edwards eulogising "interesting experiment from us"). Got bought a lot, and then got ignored for years as Edwards went more experimental. Greatest hits recently released.

EMF - Schubert Dip
Yoko Ono went up the wall when this was released, as prior to the track "Lies" (a poorly peaked single), the 'Mef' placed a short clip of Mark Chapman spouting words from "Watching The Wheels", recorded from his holding cell mere hours after he shot Lennon. Within a week the album was pulped and re-issued sans Ono-offending soundbite. As the 'big thing' of 1990, which involved lots of baseball caps and running round keyboards, this was a decent album, though how much of it after "Unbelievable" was actually properly digested remains in the air. Poor play on words within the album title, and as well as Chapman, some tracks also began with Radio 3 links and, more famously, mad keyboard 'player' Derry Brownson chucking stuff through a window and shouting "I'm gonna smash the fucking place".

FISH - Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors
When the erstwhile Derek Dick left Aylesbury's second finest to go solo, cynical observers predicted more of the same out-of-time Genesis Jr. prog rock. Correct, as it happens. From the title (it's a partial TS Eliot quote, you see) to the airbrushed sleeve artwork, you pretty much knew what you were letting yourself in for. Those who took the plunge reckon it a searing, if rather impenetrable, tirade against the excesses of Thatcher's Britain. We just put it back in the racks and carried on looking for Switched on Bach.

WENDY CARLOS - Switched-on Bach
Ah, here it is! Venerable electronican Wendy (nee Walter) Carlos reaped recognition and awards aplenty for this Moog-pioneering reinterpretation of some highlight of Js's canon, selling by the bucketload and laying the groundwork for A Clockwork Orange in the process. Not all homes welcomed this innovation, however, ensuring its future status, alongside SOBII (Bach in space on the cover) and The Well-Tempered Synthesiser, as one of the more welcome second hand staples.

TRACEY ULLMAN - You Broke My Heart in 17 Places
In which Our Trace jumps on the dayglo faux-'50s retro bandwagon as it roars through the mid-'80s, taking no prisoners. The hits at that time, namely Breakaway and They Don't Know, provide the cornerstones of this 'best of' collection of covers, with the rest ranging from Move Over Darling to Presence Dear, assisted by Jools Holland's backing singers for that authentic inauthentic atmos. Sunglasses, My Guy, Kinnock and The Simpsons were all still to come.

CILLA BLACK - Cilla Sings a Rainbow
Cilla's biggest album ever, recorded at the height of swingingdom (as the cover makes patently clear), and packed with standards from the easy listening end of the popular spectrum - old chum Macca's Yesterday is in there, alongside Make it Easy on Yourself, the inevitable SIng a Rainbow, and others. Not exactly a shock returnee, but its one-time prevalence among the collections of families who found themselves needing a bit of extra loft space in the late '70s explains its multifarious presence down the local Mencap.

FAUST - The Faust Tapes
An avant garde favourite thanks to Virgin Records' inspired scam of marking up this op art-covered sonic collage at the bargain price of 49p, thus (according to Krautrockhead Julian Cope) inspiring the heathen likes of Jim Kerr to use them as frisbees. Inside, the plaintively melodic collides with the dissonantly abrasive in what's a decidedly acquired taste. Possibly the only album here likely to fetch more in the charity shop than it did on its original release.

ELO - Discovery
Even more prevalent than the more bombastic double Out of the Blue in the remainder buckets, this mammoth-selling platter saw a trimmed down Lynne and friends go disco - sort of. In places it works - Confusion, the fine Shine a Little Love and the storming Don't Bring Me Down are fantastic pop songs. On the other hand, you've got The Diary of Horace Wimp, which has to be one of the worst songs ever recorded. A game of two halves, then - you could try looking for Clog Dance in the singles section instead.

MIRAGE - Jack Mix '88 - The Best Of Mirage
Ah yes, the Starsound of the late '80s - well, 1988 anyway - Mirage were a model and some anonymous producers who knocked out seven (count 'em) 'Jack Mixes' - ie. what used to be called a 'medley of popular numbers from the hit parade' when Mrs Mills used to do it - all to a 'pumping' Eurobeat backing. This album collected six of those singles in a special 'segue mix', making it a medley of medleys, an artefact to get even the most post-modern minds in a spin. It was duly despatched Record Exchange-wards, a decision re- evaluated soon after when Jive Bunny hit the nation's shelves.

ADAMSKI - Dr Adamski's Musical Pharmacy
Which, of course, gains its heftily-returned status via the army of acid-lightweights who 'quite liked that one about solitary mothers' but couldn't stomach the rest of the numberplate-wielding techno exhibitionist's distinctive oeuvre. Thus the likes of Flashback Jack, Squiggy Groove and the challenging rejig of All Shook Up that was Space Jungle find themselves standing by to 'do their bit' for cancer relief at a shop near you.

LIVING IN A BOX - Living In A Box
With the estate agent suits, tepid funk rhythms and Bobby Womack endorsement, the Box were ubiquitous for the last three years of the 1980s despite keeping their hits to a minimum, This album, with its beige, shaded cover containing lots of 'alternatively' focussed photographs of the trio was on constant special offer. It contained ten standardised, unimaginative tracks including that eponymous, homeless-documentary debut, which allowed DJs to point out that never before had a single, an album and the band in question all had the same name. A standout track was called "Superheroes" though bizarrely, it only featured on the CD, at a time when still too few people were giving up on the sound of frying bacon tainting their collections.

BLASTER BATES - 1,001 Gelignites
Not entirely sure what the deal was here. Blaster Bates (note the 'subtle' innuendo) appears to have been some kind of proto-Fred Dibnah explosives expert turned raconteur, who went around delighting audiences with stories of blowing up chimneys, liberally sprinkled with old-fashioned expletives. Suffice to say that the stark black and white photographic cover of this LP has haunted us through every second hand record shop we've ever been in, staring out from the Comedy rack in the eternal absence of "Peter Cook Presents The Establishment" and "At Last The 1948 Show"...

RIDE - Tarantula
Knocked-off-in-a-week contract-fulfilling swansong from one of the most idolised indie acts of the early 1990s. By the time of 'Tarantula', the effect-drenched guitar soundscapers were at each other's throats and keen to get out of the band and into solo projects, and it showed. A collection of half-written tunes recorded in a handful of takes that sounded nothing like the band's previous output, the band are now so embarrassed by it that they have apparently refused to collect any royalties for it. Aside from the storming opener 'BlackNiteCrash', the fans hated it too. 'Tarantula' was released and deleted on the same day early in 1996, but enough people must have managed to buy it, as a surprisingly high proportion of late twentysomethings are given to darkly muttering that Andy Bell owes them fifteen quid. The majority appear to have attempted to recoup this loss by reselling their copies to second hand shops. Wonder how much they were given for them?

THE PASADENAS - To Whom It May Concern
Deafeningly hailed in 1988 as the revivalists of Proper Soul (cf. Terence Trent D'Arby, Sydney Youngblood), The Pasa's first single, Tribute (Right On), cunningly played up to this claim by eulogising old acts ("James Brown - How he slides, I don't know"). It was OK. Riding On A Train was, in time-honoured follow-up tradition, almost exactly the same song but with less of a tune. And so it went on, all the way to the record exchange.

Very odd one this. All things Magic Roundabout are highly collectable, and the film itself is still held in high regard and in itself something of a collector's item, so how come every single second hand record shop in Britain seems to have an endless supply of perfect condition copies with scratch-free sleeves, invariably on sale for less than a fiver? The album itself, incidentally, is a real masterwork of ill-advised 1970s marketing tactics - a cover photo of the Magic Roundabout cast with Buxton curedly pasted in, and the soundtrack itself has been 'electronically reprocessed for stereo'. Lovely!

VARIOUS - Charity Shop Stalwarts
Rounding up the albums which, though they keep a strictly low profile in the farthest corners of the high street record shop proper, spill out in all their garish variety in every charity shop everywhere, ever. The undisputed king of this genre is of course German popular bandleader James Last, closely followed by easy listening Bert Kaempfert and Klaus 'Hammond Pops' Wunderlich. For something a bit more experimental, you could try the pick 'n' mix Phase 4 Stereo Spectacular range, with LPs from Moog experiments to pop classics via the outer reaches of sound effects abstraction. Others worth a mention - the "Roll Out The Barrel" compilations of round-the-joanna pub songs, usually sponsored by Watneys' (of course), the awful Hare Krishna albums such as "A Change Of Heart" by Golden Avatar or the compilation called "Busy Making Progress". Twenty years ago you couldn't shift for unsold piles of the buggers. Last spotted on Leicester market no more than three weeks ago, going for 10p, which is extortionate.

THE GEOFF LOVE ORCHESTRA - Star Wars And Other Space Themes/Themes For Super Heroes/Close Encounters Of The Third Kind And Other Galactic Disco Themes
Two for the price of one, as the popular bandleader leads his band through a string of predictably excrutiating television and film themes. The great and good are reworked and reduced into a cross between wah wah-heavy 1970s discoporn (see the mauling of the theme from 'UFO' for particularly painful evidence) and music-by-the-yard shopping centre instrumentals (if the series had been presented with this arrangement, then 'Thunderbirds' would have been laughed off air). Of particular note is his absurd attempt to forge a hot dancefloor filler out of the four-note alien greeting from 'Close Encounters Of The Third Kind'. Usually mistakenly bought by punters who neglected to check the small print carefully, and didn't realise that instead of the original versions with fifty piece orchestras and real synthesisers, they were being palmed off with cheapo copied-off-the-It's-Fun-To-Play-sheet-music renditions by Bontempi Organ and 'minimalist' brass section. From there, second-hand status was a near-inevitability.

VARIOUS - Pre-'Now' Market Stranglehold Compilations
We're talking just after the Top Of The Pops non-original artists format ceased to be commercially viable, but before, as Kathryn Hudson puts it, "that bloody pig came along and spoilt all the fun." This period was, of course, dominated by the K-Tel/Ronco Cold War, as documented here - K-Tel had the disco-themed likes of Midnight Hustle, Ronco hit back with Rock 'N' Roller Disco and, best of all, the Indiana Jones-themed Raiders of the Pop Charts (featuring 1982/3 vintage Madness, Haircut 100, Clannad, Culture Club, Japan etc.) Another zeigeist surfer was Chart Invaders, featuring various arcade-inspired blocky aliens on the cover. All these one-off gimmicks went, of course, when the compilation franchise goldmine was broached. Meanwhile the spirit of the Pops LPs lives on, it seems, via such notables as Hits Of The '80s, a 10-CD box set, which cautions, in tiny wording, "The songs on this collection may not be the original recordings and hence may be re-recordings of the original song, either by the original artist or one of similar musical genre".

Being offered a fiver for their original mint edition of PiL's Metal Box: Kathryn Hudson, TJ Worthington, Bette Davis, Matthew Rudd, Karl Florczak, Jill Phythian, Bar Six, Horace Batchelor, Sarah King, Rob Anson.