Here’s a find of mine from the bottom of a pile of charity shop records – the album Whispering Winds by Steve Burns. When I came across this platter it meant nothing to me. I didn’t recognise the record label either; BGS of Lethame Road, Strathhaven, Scotland. It was the sleeve notes that convinced me I should part with 50p for this particular 12 inches of vinyl pleasure:
“As a disc jockey, I have to listen to a lot of alleged singers, which is, I suppose, as good a way as any of getting your ears pierced in an era when the average pop singer sounds like a Rice Crispy calling to its mate, and a pop song seems to be anything that isn’t worth saying made into a song. How we’ve allowed ourselves to be conned in paying ridiculous sums to senile young men who look like armpits with eyes and whose sole contribution to the arts is to scratch themselves in public is a question for the psychiatrists. But the inevitable effect on the adult recorder presenter, weary of performers with all the charm of a temporary filling and the entertainment value of one wrestler, is that he ends up depressingly conscious that trying to find real talent these days is like looking for eggs in a cuckoo clock. Yet it does still exist, which is why I heartily welcome Steve Burn’s first LP, not just because it makes a very pleasant change from music that sounds like labour pains with a beat, but because Steve made it the hard way in to-day’s show business – he’s got talent. Frank Skerret.”
As you’d expect after such a build up, the music is cheesy easy listening. The backing musicians are the Bill Garden Orchestra & Chorus, and that ensemble’s band leader also provides the musical arrangements. The highlight is a very limp cover of Blueberry Hill, while the cod Celtic romanticism of Isle of Innisfree and Mary Of Argyle are almost as much of a thrill. Obviously, cult records are valued as much – if not more – for their obscurity as the quality of their grooves, and Steve Burns is definitely a complete unknown. The day I got my copy of Whispering Winds I did a web search for it, and found nothing at all about the release. Since you can now get information about almost any drongo punk release online, something that comes up blank has got to be better! To fill me with even greater joy, my copy is signed by both Steve Burns and the man who wrote the sleeve notes ‘the legendary’ Frank Skerret!
Of course, I’ve rather blown the credibility of this obscurity by blogging about it, but it grooves me to bring 1977 independent unknowns to the attention of record collector scum! You can forget Son Of Sam by Chain Gang, or anything issued by The Motors (especially Airport but even You Beat The Hell Outta Me), Steve Burns is the authentic sound of the punk era! “1977’s got a hold on me!” Full track listing for Whispering Winds:
- Whispering Winds.
- Ramblin’ Rose.
- I Think Of You.
- Brush The Tears From My Eyes.
- Carolina Moon.
- Isle Of Innisfree.
- Beautiful Lies.
- I Really Don’t Want To Know.
9. Before I Met You.
- Why Did You Make Me Care.
- Blueberry Hill.
- Mary Of Argyle.
- Little Man You’ve Had A Busy Day.
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!
Comment by Christopher Nosnibor on 2009-08-01 09:36:21 +0000
Well I’d never heard of Steve Burns, of ‘the legendary’ Frank Skerret for that matter, but hey, 50p’s a bargain and Skerret makes a fair point well made regarding ‘senile young men who look like armpits with eyes’ – or am I just becoming an old cunt prematurely?
Comment by Michael K, sniffing glue while doing his trigonometry homework on 2009-08-01 10:38:46 +0000
The real sound of 1977 is ‘Mull of Kintyre b/w Girls School’ and ‘Brown Girl in the Ring b/w Mary’s Boy Child’. It’s Potty Time!
Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-08-01 10:53:53 +0000
Chris – there’s nothing like being an old cunt, other than being a senile young man… I thought Skerret’s prose had a real touch of James Moffatt/Richard Allen about it… Skerret’s pathetic posturing made me laugh enough to pay 50p for Burns’ album… and I think it’s great the way he actually says nothing about Burns and just goes off on a rant apros of nuffin!
K – shit on that for a game of soldiers! I remember those tunes from the time, they just ain’t obscure enough! And don’t forget that if you believe some of the bollocks you read on the net, then it wasn’t really Macca who made Mull of Kintyre but Billy Pepper!! And Boney M are also too hip to make it in this category, after all they also covered freakbeat classics like Painter Man and My Friend Jack!
Comment by Howling Wizard, Shrieking Toad on 2009-08-01 11:24:28 +0000
The funny thing is, Malcolm Maclaren dug the Creation, and he wanted the Pistols to do Creation’s “Painter Man” as a cover tune…but he opted for “See through My Eyes” instead…
Just think how history might have been different had the Pistols “done that Boney M tune”….
There’s also a ( reliable) story that says when Glen was kicked out, Rotten brought in Wobble for an audition, but Steve and Paul simply said no, cos he was “too scary” , being a speed freak at the time….
Sid joined instead…
Apparenly, Sid was also ( very breifly of course) pencilled in as the PIL bassist.
The next question is, why do any of our brains record such trivia, or retain it?
Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-08-01 13:53:30 +0000
Not sure why remember that kind of stuff… but the music really can bring back the times… But most of the kids I grew up with liked disco and soul, not punk, so in some ways that takes me back much more… Salsoul style recordings are really what I remember blasting outta Ford Cortinas….
And while nothing is happening in the culture industry for the summer, this old music stuff is my equivalent of newspaper silly season stories….
Comment by Howling Wizard, Shrieking Toad on 2009-08-01 14:01:25 +0000
Yes, good points Mr. Home.
Actually, I *thrive* on such trivia, which often seems so much more important, evocative — and fun! — than the “heavy” stuff.
Give me Funk before Keirkegaard any day of the week, Dub rather than dour Wittgenstein and the insufferably serious Nietszche, a garage band rather than Hegel on aesthetics, Ray Barretto and Tito Puente any day rather than bloody Adorno.
Now that’s when trivia trumps the serious, uptight gits!
Comment by raymond anderson on 2009-08-01 14:34:59 +0000
History is who tells the best story.
If the Sixties was one big Mother then the Seventies was a Teenage Dream.
Comment by raymond anderson on 2009-08-01 14:37:27 +0000
Of course the Sixties began in 1956 and the Seventies started in 1967 with Sgt Pepper. Pat attention at the back!
Comment by Howling Wizard, Shrieking Toad on 2009-08-01 14:49:54 +0000
Intro to Richard Huelsenbeck’s “Memoirs of a Dada Drummer” :
“History consists of stories we invent about the past. The temptation of an egocentric reinterpretation and re-evaluation of historical phenomena seems overwhelming. We impose structures and schemata upon the past in order to crystallize meaning and facilitate intellectual comprehension and developments that would otherwise remain obscure, bewildering and threatening. And we also use history to understand ourselves better. We may fall into the trap of projecting our fears and prejudices, our moral, political and aesthetic values into the past and thereby distort utterly what really happened.”
Comment by raymond anderson on 2009-08-01 14:53:32 +0000
The Proclaimers once said that no one was listening to The Velvet Underground in Auchtermuchty. It was more likely to be Jim Reeves, The Alexander Brothers and for the more serious members of the family, George Jones.
As a pre pubescent DJ for family drinking parties I knew my jams. When we picked up three lasses from the local Children’s Home and brought them to a mates room for some carnal experimentation, the setlist as the lights went out was The Carpenters Greatest Hits, I Only Have Eyes For You by Art Garfunkel, I Love To Love by Tina Charles, I’m Mandy Fly Me by 10 CC and I even brought along my folks Perry Como 40 greatest album for his catchier late 50s numbers like Prisoner Of Love. Donna Summer’s Love To Love You Baby was seen as a cheeky novelty record like My Ding-a-Ling and Judge Dread’s Big Eight.
That soul rhythm was seeping into the bones though – and other household items.
Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-08-01 15:25:02 +0000
History is written by the victors as they say. Which is why we got a world to win! And while we’re smashing the state we gotta keep a song in our hearts and a smile on our lips!
Comment by Time Traveller on 2009-08-01 17:20:14 +0000
I’ll take 12 inches of vinyl pleasure right now, thank you..
Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-08-01 17:33:47 +0000
Yours for the asking, any time!
Comment by Murray The K on 2009-08-01 21:24:54 +0000
What about a double dose of vinyl pleasure by inviting in the fifth Beatle?
Comment by raymond anderson on 2009-08-01 22:36:34 +0000
OK pop pickers thats all the movers and groovers in this weeks chart countdown and now the moment you have been waiting for…straight in at number one..it’s SLADE
Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-08-01 22:56:36 +0000
TAKE ME BAK HOME!
Comment by Howling Wizard, Shrieking Toad on 2009-08-02 17:41:28 +0000
Jah Wobble and the Invaders of the heart
Comment by Howling Wizard, Shrieking Toad on 2009-08-02 18:25:11 +0000
Comment by Michael K, eating walnut bread and needing to cut his nails on 2009-08-03 14:38:21 +0000
Slade in Flame!
Comment by Rou Leed on 2009-08-05 22:50:57 +0000
Animal Magic by Johnny Morris contains a fine recording of a Haddock, which is actually not a Haddock, its me Lou Reed from the Velcro Underpants!
Comment by rev.two-sheds on 2009-08-11 00:51:29 +0000
fish grunt – i got a flex record of pollock [not the painter man – the fish] doin it somewhere at 120 feet down or so… could be the new brian jones clone frug of the week – must now find it & DJ it to mash festo swedes…. maybe over Mull of Kintyre 45 played backwards or silver machine with a repetetive kick back skip carved in at the into the intro… i’ll let you know…
for the memories…