And the winner is…

AND THE WINNER IS…I’ve put all the entries from the facebook and blog pages for the Ekkoes CD EP in a hat, and the winner is Lorraine Brown 🙂 Well done & enjoy the EP. Many thanks to everyone who took part. For those who haven’t discovered Ekkes yet, you can take a listen to their music here: https://ekkoes.bandcamp.com/


Kathmandu, Earthquakes & Westlife

I was last in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city some eight years ago. I’ve always wanted to go back and at last got the chance en-route to Tibet this summer.

On April 25, 2015, a violent 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal. Weeks later a 7.3magnitude aftershock made things even worse. Almost 9,000 people were killed, with an estimated 22,000 injured, and some 800,000 homes damaged or destroyed. Kathmandu was seriously affected, with many affected housed in tents for months afterwards.

It was at the end of July 2016 when I landed at the airport. First impressions were good, as there seemed to be less damage remaining than I’d expected. Certainly the landscape looked very similar as the plane skirted over the capital before landing. Even the drive through the city to the hotel, and the walks through the heart of the city over the next couple of days suggested that those in the capital have taken little time to continue with their lives.

The effects were most noticable when we went to visit some of the ancient stupas and monuments. There were piles of rubble in some places, and extensive renovations afoot at some of the more prestigious Buddhist shrines. That was expected. What was less expected, and that’s probably nievity on my part is that many of those that needed help the most were not getting it. The city of tents is still there – we drove past a little too quickly for me to get a photograph, and virtually everyone I discussed the earthquake with had tales of government promises that had just not been met. Agencies that claimed to have rebuilt hundreds of buildings were found to have pocketed the money they had been given instead, and the slow machinations of an unstable government (one that is ranked well inside the world’s top 20 in terms of corruption) meant that many improvements were, at best, disorganised. Few of those I spoke with believed that any of the aid given by agencies and charities had reached those it was intended for.

The Nepalese are a friendly lot. They accept their situation, and are still proud of their country, their families and their everyday lives. Thamel is still a fantastic place to haggle with friendly shop-keepers, although it is far less busy than it was eight years ago. ‘Please tell your country that we are still here, that we want you to come to Nepal,’ one shop-keeper told me as I handed over 200 rupees for the Westlife CD I’d discovered in one of the few remaining shops that sells CDs. He was closing his shop for good at the end of the summer, but was happy that I’d found a foreign CD consisting of tracks that my better half doesn’t have in her collection.

Nepal is still open. They need visitors to return. Kathmandu hasn’t been flattened, it’s still there. It’s not a dangerous place to go, yes there’s corruption, but it’s friendly, it’s beautiful and it’s one of my favourite places on Earth.



They’ve still got it!

New Order  'Music Complete'

New Order
‘Music Complete’

I’m listening for the umpteenth time to the latest New Order release ‘Music Complete’ which dropped through the letterbox just 24 hours or so ago. The reviews both online & in print (‘Classic Pop’ et al) have been nothing short of positive, ‘their best album in decades’ and so on. I have to admit to being a bit sceptical about that because I’m a big fan of their last full blown release’ Waiting For The Sirens Call’ (‘The Lost Siren’s’ excluded). But the reviews are certainly not wrong ! Mr. Sumner and company have again produced a stunning album that certainly deserves the recognition it has received so far. There’s no shortage of reviews around, so I’m not going to discuss each individual track here, except to say that they haven’t strayed from that trademark New Order sound yet have still managed to sound fresh and modern. I couldn’t help thinking that the third track, Plastic’ could easily have been a Bobby Orlando masterpiece once upon a time though!

Duran Duran  'Paper Gods'

Duran Duran
‘Paper Gods’

The same could be said about Duran Duran’s newie, ‘Paper Gods’ (enjoyed once amazon logistics had finally managed to deliver a copy after having ‘lost’ the first one they claim to have delivered). This is another fine album that is trademark Duran yet sounding remarkably up-to-date. Both albums feature an extended list of ‘guests’, in New Order’s case the likes of La Roux, Iggy Pop and Brandon Flowers, and Duran with Lindsay Lohan, the remarkable Nile Rodgers and ex-Red Hot Chilli Peppers guitarist John Frusciante taking starring roles. I wouldn’t say this was a bad thing in these cases.

When you consider OMD’s last release, 2013’s ‘English Electric’, which is equally as impressive an album as any of their back catalogue, and the stunning ‘Big Music’, by Simple Minds (released last year) then it’s worthwhile considering that the bands that really ‘had it’ in the 80s have still got it now.

Another worthy mention must go to Blancmange’s ‘Nil By Mouth’, which is finally out on general release after having been limited to the band’s gigs & website in recent month. It’s an album of instrumentals but, as ‘Classic Pop’ says, is a ‘delightful little curio’ J I don’t have the latest A-ha or Alison Moyet albums yet, but even these, particularly the latter, are receiving favourable reviews in the music press.

OMD 'English Electric'

‘English Electric’

Blancmange 'Nil by Mouth'

‘Nil by Mouth’

With all this in mind, I really can’t wait for the promised new studio albums by the likes of Heaven 17 and Pet Shop Boys…if only George Michael could get his finger out.

Finally another mention for one of the best music sites anywhere online: www.electricity-club.co.uk/


My last Pennine Way post, all about an eventful evening up at England’s highest pub – Tan Hill – en route to completing the Pennine Way proved popular. So here’s another excerpt from ‘Anorak on the Pennine Way’ (which of course is available on amazon).

Chapter 9 – ‘Cross on Cross Fell’

“Getting lost is just another way of saying ‘going exploring.” – Justina Chen Headley (North of Beautiful)

The past few days had been utterly wonderful. Graham and Cherie had been a pleasure to walk with, my Achilles problems seemed to be behind me, and I looked forward to a right good slog up and over Cross Fell and beyond. Breakfast was consumed quickly, ‘unpooeyed’ trainers laced up, and I was on my way up to Knock Fell, the first of three summits along the same ridge – the final one being the all important Cross Fell. Lunch could be had at an old hut on the way down before an undulating stroll in further uncharted territory for me, the South Tyne Valley

A quick check the previous evening had confirmed that the compass was packed, thankfully, as the when I woke to see view of the tops obscured in mist I realised I might need it. Hopefully the sun would burn that off as the morning progressed – after all, things were going swimmingly and the finish line was mere stone’s throw or two away.

After a regulation youth hostel breakfast, served with the efficiency you would expect, it was time to continue my epic journey. It was a pleasant morning down here in the bottom of the valley, even if not so further up the hill, and there was nothing but the sound of bird-song to keep me company as I made all my checks on the village green before departing for good. Maybe the smell of my kit had rendered the possibility of anyone else passing my way right now pretty remote. However, once I had made my move, Dufton disappeared into the distance quickly as I strode out confidently in the direction of the hills ahead.

Cross Fell

Cross Fell

Following a gradual ascent at first, the climb up Knock Fell gradually became steeper, almost a hand and knees job at times, which I found I quite enjoyed. I’d not had a good slog up a hill on my own since Pen-Y-Ghent, and it was nice to have to work hard, makes you feel that your long adventure is more than a mere jaunt in the countryside. And then I looked up and saw the mist. The sun wasn’t, as I’d hoped, burning it off. Now Paddy Dillon is most insistent that this is a difficult place to navigate in the mist. It’s a doddle in clear weather, but in mist you could end up anywhere. I checked my jacket pocket, confirming that the compass was still safely tucked away, and headed on up past a number of cairns, as well as Knock Hush. This is one of several man made watercourses up here, the likes of which miners made good use of in order to wash away the soils to reveal bare rock in times past. Life as a miner was harsh here in the past as it had been back in Swaledale. Then it was onwards to the Old Man of Knock, who was waiting for me nearer the top – not actually an ageing gentleman who preferred to spend his twilight years up here, but a large well-known, imposing cairn marking the way to the summit of Knock Fell. After another short pull, there was at last the cairn that marked the top of the hill. This marked the lowest of several summits along this broad ridge – and all you have to do to get to the next summit at Great Dun Fell is to stay on the ridge. Given that there is a huge radar station on top of Great Dun then it’s pretty straightforward, unless of course there’s this pea-soup mist to contend with. In my case, that radar station could have been anywhere, I’d not seen any concrete proof so far that it actually existed.

Now, being a Geography teacher with a great sense of direction, I pride myself in not allowing myself to get lost. Ever. I have an acquaintance who is always getting lost on the hills; he can see what’s on a map but he can’t read a map. He knows what contour lines are, but can’t work out what they tell him, and ten minutes after setting off on a walk really hasn’t the faintest notion where he might be on his map. His usual excuse for getting lost is that the map is wrong and why haven’t ‘they’ (the people that designed the map) done something about it. So I avoid like the plague spending any time on the hills with him. I, on the other hand, am something of an expert in this line of work. Why else would I have got here so easily, with the only mishap of any note being that slight deviation on Kinder? No chance of me erring up here y’know. Plus, despite having left the GPS at home, I have the trusty compass to supplement Dillon’s instructions, and the precise ordnance survey 1:25000 scale map. I surely can’t go wrong.

So at the top of Knock Fell I sat down, enjoyed a quick snack, made a simple compass bearing and headed off in a straight line across the summit to search for Great Dun summit and some radar station. After a hundred or so yards the faint path faded away and I continued in my straight line for a minute or two longer. Being still enshrouded in the very deep mist, it was therefore pertinent to take another compass bearing. So I again sat on a rock and got out the compass. Text book stuff this.

Great Dun Fell from Cross Fell...a sight I would have loved to have seen! (courtesy of grough.co.uk...probably the bestest outdoor/walking site on the planet)

Great Dun Fell from Cross Fell…a sight I would have loved to have seen! (courtesy of grough.co.uk…probably the bestest outdoor/walking site on the planet)

At least I would have got the compass out had it been there. It seemed that it was no longer nestling safely in my jacket pocket, or any pocket come to think of it. Ok, something of a problem, but not to panic – let’s just see what Paddy Dillon would say about this…

No Paddy Dillon either. Not in the rucksack, not in my jacket pocket, not anywhere to be had. Missing, absent without leave.

It then dawned on me that Paddy and the compass were, in all probability, waiting for me to return on that same rock I’d taken the original bearing several minutes ago. Slightly not so text book stuff anymore. So should I return to that rock?

Yes….but hold on. In which direction, exactly, is that rock?

Now if you’ve ever been lost in thick mist you’ll know that once you become a little disorientated, it is damn hard become re-orientated again. I didn’t make it easy for myself either. My first idea was to head back in the general direction that I may have come – but after a while it was obvious that I was not reaching the intended feature. No summit cairn, no rock, no sign of a footpath, or anything else other than random stones, rocks, and lashing and lashings of black peat.

Then it began to rain. Quite heavily in fact.

I wandered around aimlessly for a while longer, looking for maybe another walker, a chance encounter with someone I might need to point me in the right direction, but with not an ounce of luck. Maybe an hour after making that compass bearing I was no closer the next summit, or Cross Fell, or Alston, than I had been an hour ago. Furthermore, there was little chance of me getting any closer to said destinations while I was still wandering around aimlessly up here. It wasn’t quite Mark Thatcher adrift in the Sahara out here, but neither did I wish to become another Amelia Earhart, who vanished forever without trace in her aeroplane. If I was going to get stuck I wanted to be found alive and well please.

At least I was well equipped if I was going to be lost for some time. I had full waterproof cover, of which I was making full use of right now, a bivvy tent and plenty of warm clothes and spare food, so in theory I could survive for quite some time should it be necessary to sit down and give up. It might be a problem if I suddenly find myself waist deep (or worse) in a peat bog. There was, after all, nobody who actually knew I was lost up here, my friends and family were going about their own lives regardless, and I couldn’t call for help because the old mobile phone signal was non-existent in this neck of the woods.

So, only one thing to do that made any sense. Sack the hill. I had a couple of ‘get out of jail’ cards I could play that would at least take me to somewhere I could find on the map, even if it was no closer to where I wanted to be. Once I knew I where I was I would be able to get myself back en-route, wherever that was, and despite the fact that Paddy had run off with the compass.

Get out of jail card #1: Head downhill. It’s safer than being on top, and you can see more than a couple of yards ahead because there’s currently no mist down there. It might not even be raining down there. Its common sense really.

So downhill I headed. Or I would have done had I been able to find downhill. No matter which direction I headed in the land just would not go downhill. In and out of bogs, peat hags, more bogs, further peat hags, things were starting to get a little irritating. It’s not as if I was still going up the hill, I wasn’t, I just seemed to be in an endless landscape of nothingness. Here I was right on top of a hill in the pissing rain, unable to find a way down. Never in all my years had I found myself in a position such as this – I mean, how hard is it to find downhill?

Without panicking, and in my utterly discombobulated state, get out of jail card # 2 was called for instead. Follow water. Water naturally heads downhill. Find a stream and it should, unless the usual laws of nature don’t apply up here, take me down the hill and eventually to some place where I could gather my thoughts and reschedule my day.

So, some minutes later, after wandering around like a right wally, I found a tiny stream, fresh and exuberant after emerging from some nearby spring. As tiny as it was, this would lead me back to the rest of humanity. I seemed at the time that I had discovered the north of England’s most twisty, winding little stream but it did, slowly, start to get a little wider and did at least begin to head slightly downhill. I really could have been anywhere by now, but at this stage of the day I cared not where I was as much as I did how long it would take me to work out how to get back to where I should have been. Frustration was starting to set in, but the stream was getting larger and I was beginning to think that some time later in the day I might be back on track. It was difficult going, with only short stretches of easy walking, much of time being forced to walk ankle deep along its channel in order to avoid particularly mudded banks – but I was consoled in the fact that it was at least taking me somewhere.

And then suddenly, right in front of me were the occasional mudded remains of human footprints in the peat on the edges of this ever growing watercourse. No sign of a footpath as such, but confirmation that there had been mankind in these parts in the not too distant past. As the stream took on the shape of a small river, the mist began to lighten somewhat, but not enough to allow me to work out where I might be…..and then, out of nowhere, a bridge.

The small, isolated wooden structure I had come across posed another dilemma. This obviously housed a public right of way as there were clear signs of a small, not particularly well trodden, footpath leading into the mist in each direction. There was also a sign warning that this was ‘Cow Green reservoir catchment area’.

What! This was most worryingly well out of the way. While this bridge was undoubtedly on my map somewhere, the catchment area of this huge reservoir rendered any accurate assumptions most inaccurate. Besides, the rain was preventing me from making anything like a studious perusal virtually impossible.

So, do you continue to follow the stream that seems to be taking you on a relentless journey, seeming to a huge reservoir I thought I’d seen the back of, or do I head off to the left – or to the right – where I might at last find humanity waiting, or where I could easily lose my way once again should the path vanish. Decisions, decisions, and nobody but myself to offer guidance. I decided to play safe (or as safe as you can get up here) and follow the stream a little further as it crashed through a narrow gorge before widening into a shallow bowl.

There was also something else to consider at this point. Legend has it that that when a storm breaks over Cross Fell, and the Tees, of which this was undoubtedly a tributary, is in spate, the swirling patches of foam are known as ‘Peg Powler’s Suds’. And you know what that might mean.

Then, as the mist began at last to clear, and the rain began to relent, there was a sight of a fellow walker, a few hundred yards off in the distance. A saviour, the first human being I had seen since waving goodbye to my hosts at the youth hostel several hours earlier. I could track him down and seek directions, I wasn’t too proud to admit that I was I was lost, I didn’t care if he laughed, and if he was friendly enough I might even kiss him. Old Peg wasn’t going to have her wicked way with this hardy wayfarer after all.

But before I had chance to break into anything more than the Grillo shuffle it suddenly dawned on me where I was. I was walking, sorry, shuffling, down the middle of the Maize Beck, and there, just on my right was a small Pennine Way marker post pointing in the direction of High Cup Nick a mile or so further on. I was back where I had been the day before and had, it transpired, just passed the ‘old’ Pennine Way bridge on the disused route over Maizebeck Scar. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, as I had managed, somehow, to survive crossing one of the wettest, most boggy moorland stretches in the country. All I could do now was retrace my steps back down into Dufton, except without the exceptional views I had enjoyed less than twenty-four hours earlier. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry – back on track (of sorts) but facing a lengthy trek back to where I had been at the start of the day. I didn’t linger at High Cup Nick – not much to see today anyway – and the path downhill from there seemed even more eternal than it had before I sorrowfully sloped back into the village without having walked through any piles of cow poo. But what now? There was no chance of attempting the same range of hills again, the mist had not risen enough to allow me to get any further than I already had without the compass or guidebook, so I would have make emergency plans.

High Cup Nick

High Cup Nick

Being a small, rather out of the way country village, Dufton is not the kind of place where you can casually jump onto the next bus and head off in the required direction. No, I would have to locate the nearest town before I could even think about trying to get back onto the section of the trail I wanted to be on – which wasn’t that far away as the crow flies, but which had a bloody huge set of hills in the way.

Appleby-in-Westmoreland is about three and a half boring miles walk from Dufton. It probably isn’t boring really, but to me, on this particular day, it was very, very tedious. If only because it was a walk I really did not want to be doing. I was drenched, very tired, and most depressed as I crawled into Appleby, along the road, in search of the railway station. That bit wasn’t too hard, as remember I’m really good at reading maps and not getting lost.

Now. Consider this. Appleby railway station is on the famous Settle-Carlisle line, so popular among tourists in this part of the world. If you catch a train in the direction of Settle you can actually stay on the train a little longer and alight later at Keighley station. Keighley station being my local station of course. Being this fed up, I could quite easily take the easy option, sack the whole thing and head home into the arms of my family. So easy. After all, isn’t that what was expected?

But this was definitely not an option. Not now. Maybe this day was supposed to end this way in order to test my resolve. I’d come this far, had those bloody fantastic days, some cracking company and had been enjoying every minute, even the bits that had proved painful, and there was no way I was going to jack it all in because I’d taken the wrong turn, bruised my own ego, and had to take emergency action. Why, it was just part of the adventure. The proper and correct thing to do was catch a train- in the opposite direction of course – to Carlisle – and take it from there. It was, by now, late in the day but I just might be able to get to Alston, or Greenhead in good time. It was obvious that I wouldn’t be able to get some of the South Tyne Valley done, but as I’d done several miles extra in the wrong direction it felt as if at least in spirit I’d covered that ground, or at least an equivalent distance.

It wasn’t until I got on the train that I realised I had a further problem. I reeked. I really, really smelled bad. If I’d thought the smell of cow-poo the previous evening was hideous enough, today it was the whiff of stale sweat, mixed in with the peaty grime of the moors, and washed in with the rain and damp I’d encountered for much of the day. This was far worse. The gore-tex trainers were saturated, they were after all this time now beginning to show their age, and had I a mirror handy I would surely have considered myself a pretty sorry, and most shocking sight.

Fumbling around in my by-now grimy looking and muddied rucksack, I found myself a spare top (clean, dry type) to change into. Unfortunately someone had moved into the nearest toilets and was staying there for quite some time, so the only option was to change in my seat. Another slight problem lay in the fact that an elderly lady was sat reading her book in the opposite aisle. She would surely not approve of this.

But for the first time today I had a stroke of luck. Said lady was not actually reading any more. No, she has dropped off mid-page, giving the impression that she was concentrating intently on the words in front of her, when in fact she was in mid-snooze. So it is not just the books that I have penned that can be used as a cure for insomnia! I seized the opportunity to make a double quick replacement of clothing, and hey presto, I was just a little bit less smelly than I had been seconds earlier. She never noticed a thing. The smelly bottoms would have to wait though. That would be pushing it. Should sleeping lady wake to find a man in his underwear sat opposite her then a right nasty scene might have materialised.

Once we had pulled into Carlisle I made haste for the men’s’ toilets and removed the smelly bottoms. That would have been an arrestable offence in many men’s’ lavatories across the country, but even the most ardent of constables would have recognised my predicament had he seen the sight of me, or even had he walked within a hundred yards or the smelliest gentleman in Cumbria. Changing pungent clothing I was, ‘cottaging’ I was most certainly not. Then, after a good wash down to supplement the uniform change it was time to work out what to do next, or rather where to go next.

Anorak on the Pennine Way is available for kindle here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00ECHGTUW

Tan Hill part 1: https://robgrillo.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/there-be-no-laws-up-there-yknow-part-one/

Tan Hill part 2: https://robgrillo.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/there-be-no-laws-up-there-yknowpart-two/

RELAX…it’s only a remix

It’s probably my age, but i’m still adding to my collection of vinyl. Just last weekend I picked up an almost complete collection of Altered Images 12 inch singles, all in great condition, and I was well chuffed.

I’m still adding to my Frankie Goes To Hollywood collection. There are just a handful of discs I need but I’m going to have to work hard to find them, I won’t get them at a car boot sale, and even then a couple are well outside my price range. More about that later, but what I will say now is that ZTT records certainly made things interesting for the record collector.


7″ & 7″ picture disc

First there’s the 7” versions. There’s a few of them…the standard 7” and the picture disc 7” (did you know that if you have ‘relax’ on a compilation CD it won’t be the 7” mix, it’ll probably be the album version, which is slightly different). Then there’s the limited edition ‘last seven inches’ white label…both of them! One is a mis-pressing with ‘Ferry ‘cross the Mersey’ wrongly listed as the ‘B’ side and with A & B labels actually the wrong way round. The other is correctly pressed with ‘One September Monday’ on the reverse. Other ‘variations’ are available! I had to get a US copy of Relax with alternative chequerboard sleeve and slightly different mix to the standard UK 7” too…

American 7

American 7″ pressing

'The Last Seven Inches' x2

‘The Last Seven Inches’ x2

If you have a smashing 12” copy of the ‘sex mix’ then the chances are you don’t actually have the ‘sex mix’. I went through this is in ‘Is That The 12” Mix’. The original 16 minute sex mix was mastered at 33rpm and had the cat no ‘12 ZTAS 1’. However, upon criticism that it was too long, an edited 8 minute version was then put out…at 45rpm in the same ‘sex mix’ sleeve and with the cat. no ‘12 ZTAS 1’. This didn’t appease the critics so Trevor Horn put out a new 7 minute plus mix…again with the same sleeve and cat.no – this is actually known as the US Mix or New York Mix and is the one that sold in 90% of cases. You can tell which mix you have by looking at the matrix number in the run out grooves. 1A-4U (or 1A-5U) is the US Mix which is pretty standard. But 1A-1U is the original sex mix and A-2U / 12-IS-ZTAS-1 the 8.20 mix. All are pictured apart from the original 33rpm pressing as I still need that. There’s also a 12″ picture disc that contains the US Mix…

I hope you’re keeping up because it gets a little tricker. ZTT records then decided to confuse everybody by reissuing the 16 minute sex mix at 45rpm but with ‘original mix’ written in big letters on the inner label (there was no picture sleeve for this pressing)…and if you’ve got a German 12” and the label indicates it is the 8.20 mix then it could be the US/New York Mix (as mine does) instead as there are several pressings emanating from there too. One thing ALL the UK 12″ versions have in common is the instrumental mix of Relax (with an acapella start) on the B side along with Ferry ‘cross the Mersey.

Twelve Inches of Pleasure

Twelve Inches of Pleasure

A couple of years ago Salvo music reissued a new 12” of Relax featuring a new ‘sex mix edition 3’ – it has a purple lettering rather than the standard peachy colour. It is open to debate whether this is a ‘new’ mix or one that had remained in the ZTT archives waiting to be discovered for the best part of three decades.

There’s a cassette single too….containing the ‘greatest bits’. This is a type of megamix which incorporates the best of all the Relax mixes. This ,along with every other mix has appeared on one of the many recent CD releases that Salvo music have put out since acquiring the rights to the ZTT back catalogue.



I might add that I always have a budget. I never spend more than £10 (including postage!) for a record, which is why the single sided ‘Warp mix’ of Relax is out of reach as it tends to go for upwards of £50. As it’s virtually the same as the ‘last seven inches’ version I won’t lose any sleep over that. There’s also a ‘Greek Disco Mix’, released only in Greece which is a cut and paste mix using bits of the 16 minute mix and 7” mix – this too goes for a fortune. The other I still need is the original sex mix pressing at 33rpm (mentioned above) ..not that rare a pressing but all of them advertised on discogs are actually the 45rpm version. Remember the key is that matrix number etched into the run-off grooves..in this case it has to be 1 A-1U.. I’ll have it if you have it for sale please.

ZTT decided not to confuse all of us who liked Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax 1984 follow-up TWO TRIBES. They didn’t need to replace any mixes in order to get the song noticed, simply because FGTH HAD been noticed by now – but they did issue their second consecutive number one in a large number of formats in the UK.

Two tribes 7

Two tribes 7″ & 7″ picture disc

There’s the standard 7” version, although amazingly that original mix (‘cowboys & indians’) is virtually unobtainable on CD. The 7” picture disc is a slightly different mix (‘we don’t want to die’) as is the American pressing (which I don’t actually have) which is the same as the album version (‘for the victims of ravishment’)

The 12” mixes are easily recognisable. The standard 12” with Lenin on the cover is the ‘annihilation mix’. The second, released a few weeks later, is the ‘carnage mix’. Both have an extra track, War , on the B side as well as an alternative version of Two Tribes (‘surrender’).. A third twelve inch version featured the ‘carnage’ mix on the B side with a remix of War (‘hidden’ mix) on the A side instead. War was not available on the 7” versions despite being classed as the double-A side in the UK.


‘annihilation’ 12″

'carnage' 12

‘carnage’ 12″

A fourth UK 12” was the picture disc, which had the same tracks as the third release before a final fifth disc -featuring the ‘Hibakusha’ mix of Two tribes, with War back on the B side . There was no picture sleeve for this one and for many years was considered a ‘rare’ disc.

I do have a sixth 12” disc – a rare promo copy that features the ‘carnage mix’ on side A and the (correctly-titled) US mix of Relax on the reverse.

'War (hidden)' & picture disc 12

‘War (hidden)’ & picture disc 12″ singles

'hibakusha' & 'carnage promo' 12

‘hibakusha’ & ‘carnage promo’ 12″ singles

The cassette single of Two Tribes is similar in format to that of ‘Relax’, pasting together bits of various mixes of the track.

I will keep collecting Frankie Goes to Hollywood releases. Unfortunately there are others 80s acts i’ll also keep collecting. Needless to say, I have an understanding partner & younger brother who is just as insane…his blog is at http://thefreeeps.blogspot.co.uk/


When I were a lad, I was a bit of a fan of popular music. Of course I still am. The cheesier the better – i’m no music snob. I had a particular affinity with HI-NRG dance music, and in particular with anything released on Record Shack records, which was located at number 12 Berwick Street, London.  Pride of place in my vinyl collection was the double album ‘Record Shack Presents volume 1’, which contains classic tunes from the likes of Miquel Brown, Evelyn Thomas, Eartha Kitt and Break Machine (I really couldn’t break-dance though). Each side was sequed by Ian Levine, who produced the majority of the label’s releases. Imagine my delight when I discovered volume 2 and then volume 3..sheer bliss. I also owned a growing collection of 12″ singles from the label, many of which featured on those compilation albums.

xxxxx2 xxxxx3 xxxxx

In the mid 1980s I wanted to visit the Record Shack store. I wanted to meet the owners, I wanted to meet Ian Levine, and I wanted to meet all the artists that they recorded. I just wanted to stand in there and browse the racks to see, in the flesh, many of those releases I  could only read about in the pages of Record Mirror magazine, and see going up and down the magazine’s HI-NRG chart. Bradford and Leeds had their fair share of record stores but they didn’t sell the more obscure releases – Record Shack sold every single HI-NRG record that was ever released (or so I imagined) so I had to go.

My girlfriends never really understood why I bought records such as ‘So Many Men, So Little Time’, and ‘I Love Men’. Nobody would give a damn on Berwick Street.

Alas, by the time I’d graduated to University in the midlands, and at last got the chance to visit the big smoke, the store was gone. Record Shack was gone. I was a year too late in 1988. I knew the label had gone bust, and that the store had been leased to Bluebird records (another record store at least) but I charged down Berwick Street stridently, ignoring the masses, the market sellers, and the friends I’d gone to visit the capital with. I had to see 12 Berwick Street for myself.

I didn’t buy anything that day. But I did go inside. It wasn’t Record Shack, but it had been. I didn’t tell anyone why I had gone there, because they would never have understood, or cared. It remains one of my few regrets in life that I never got there when I wanted to, but to a Yorkshire lad with no money a visit to London was a rare experience.

It’s far easier these days. I try not to go, as I find the place so unfriendly, but I was there last weekend to see Bradford City annihilate Chelsea. When I am there, in and around Oxford Street, I always make that short detour down Berwick Street to remember those early days when I discovered music and formed my own tastes. It’s not even a record store any more. Most of the record stores that lined that street are also gone, as have times changed (Sister Ray survives, I always like to nip in there). But I was there again. Nobody knew (or cared) what my motives were. I took a photo or two, turned round, and headed back for ther tube. I didn’t want to miss kick off…

It’s only banter, mate…

Evidently Aaron Mclean is ‘sh@t’. He’s currently on loan at Peterborough United (for whom he once scored 33 goals in one season) as he just isn’t doing the business at his current club, Bradford City. You have to question the sanity of the Football League managers who rely on players week in week out, who are so poor, when everyone who doesn’t manage a Football League team, and has played only Sunday League (lower division) football know that they are ‘sh@t’.

James Hanson used to work at the local co-op. Bradford City fans are proud of their local-local-lad-cum-hero, whose goals helped them earn promotion from the fourth tier of football, as well as thrust the club o worldwide acclaim when they defeated three premier league teams en-route to making a Capital One cup final. And yet, a few weeks ago following injury and the great form of loanee John Stead he found himself on the bench. Suddenly he was ‘sh@t ’too. He must have been because the same experts said he was and how could City’s manager Phil Parkinson not agree with them.

That kind of stuff I find funny, especially as those that say and post stuff like that have no idea of the irony of their posts.

Other things just plainly annoy me, because there are others, admittedly only a minority (although judging by the number of ‘likes’ they get for their posts on facebook may-be less of a minority than you might think) who take it further by then personally abusing the players they feel are ‘cr@p’


A recent issue of the brilliant City fanzine, ‘The City Gent’ recently carried a letter from a fan who had thought up as many reasons as he could to slate, ridicule and personally abuse Aaron Mclean (all in the name of ‘banter’). Of course it said more about the writer of the article than it did the player he was writing about, but I’m pleased that I wasn’t the only person to complain about the article. Mike, the fanzine editor, is a fantastic bloke who would never have agreed with the content itself, and he was well within his rights to print the ‘article’ as it was one man’s personal opinion, but had a similar letter been written about the writer himself that same man would have been splitting blood. And what would the player himself, or his family, have thought had he read it (would he have tracked the guy down and told him he was on his way to sort him out as boxer Curtis Woodhouse so famously managed to do after being the victim of a twitter troll). It hasn’t worked out for Mclean at Bradford, but I’m not going to write a load of personal tripe about him.

James Hanson’s family read the media. They also read the recent personal abuse directed at him on City’s facebook fan page. Luckily it is moderated adequately and the offensive piece was quickly removed, but not before the damage had been done and the player’s mother was forced to post a quite irate response to the abuse. She was obviously upset and did make the point that she had no problems who criticised his football, but why should he be personally abused by people who have never actually met him.

Within 48 hours someone else was being treated to the same by the same postees, and no, I’m not to repeat any of the personal insults I refer to above.

Personal insults aren’t anything new of course. Over a decade ago I was unlucky enought to be sat behind a ‘football fan’ who decided to shout out ‘You’re wife’s a sl&g’ to David Beckham when the player came over to take a throw-in. The player ignored him, so he shouted it again. When taken to task by someone sat behind him, his excuse was ‘It’s only Banter, mate’.

Beckham way back in 1996

Beckham way back in 1996

To which the reply was, ‘No it isn’t, if I walked up to you and said your wife was a ‘sl&g’ you would deck me’, He still didn’t get the point.

There’s nothing wrong with stating your opinion and having your say, having a moan at a player, either on your own team or the opposition. They might be playing poorly, but they’re hardly ‘sh@t’, they play in the Football/Premier League after all, and surely they don’t deserve the level of personal abuse that some people seem to enjoy handing out.

(NB…Fleetwood Town must be really really ‘sh@t’ if James Hanson managed to score against them on his return to the team)


This is the chapter that didn’t make it to the final draft of ‘anoraknophobia’. An abridged version was also jettisoned from ‘Is That The 12″ Mix’ too. But here it is (slightly reduced in length)…all about people with ‘alternative’ hobbies


            We all know somebody who likes to do something that is maybe a little different from the norm.

There are those who find it particularly hard to comprehend why I would enjoy taking part in a 62 mile trek called the ‘Fellsman Hike’ across the Yorkshire Dales, taking in not only some of the region’s highest peaks, but also some of the roughest, most uncompromising terrain outside of the Lake District. The weather can be so bad that your anorak becomes you best friend.

There are of course much longer ultra-running events around the globe, but this type of event is not the only one to severally test ones resolve, and indeed there are others that one could claim could only be competed for by either the utterly insane or the really geeky. There is an annual race in downtown Boston, USA where up to 500 participants climb up the 82 flights of stairs in the Mellon Financial Center to help raise money for the American Lung Association. At least is about saving lives rather than taking them. The New York Road Runners club organise a similar event, not on the road but up the city’s Empire State Building. Competitors race up the 1575 stairs of the building, from the lobby to the 86th floor, and even if the famous skyscraper has now relinquished its title as ‘tallest building in the world’, the event remains a gruelling trial. A gentleman by the name of Paul Crake holds the current men’s record of nine minutes and 33 seconds! Ones friends and colleagues really would be labelling you as certifiable should you save your spare cash in order to book a flight out there to take part.

This is not the place to discuss the merits of Extreme Ironing, Volcano Bagging or Elevator Surfing – even if, as many claim, they should be classed as sporting events. There has been a range of publications produced over the past few years dedicated to these pastimes of the utterly obsessive so I will leave them here. There are just one or two that maybe should be introduced to you though, and here I leave you in the hands of another long-time friend of mine.

When one is searching for a definitive record of the conesilliest, most dementedly eccentric hobbies and leisure pursuits it is often prudent to seek out the local historian. Jim Pressley is a local historian. He is known to most of us who seek ancient documentation from the annals of Keighley’s past, and has been found seated alongside me on more than one occasion in our local reference library, searching those ancient records for hours on end. Now he has met some people in his time, others he has just heard about.

‘ I once saw a thing on the television about a man who collected road cones’ he muses ‘the red ones. Apparently there are different sorts. He had hundreds of them and was missing one specific cone which he appealed for people to donate. I wanted him to be charged with theft and crimes against humanity. I did try to die during the programme as it seemed to be the only solution to the futility of life.’

Start digging a little deeper and you will find that Pressley isn’t wrong. According to the Guinness World Records website that very gentleman enjoys a collection of 137 said items, roughly one third of all types of roadside cone ever made. That’s three less than the average student has stashed away under his bed.

There is no stopping my former classmate once he has started;

‘I also once saw a display in Lancaster museum from someone who collected compliments slips. Life at the cutting edge.

            I also came across a sport called Mole Mooting but never quite worked out what it was. I think it involved sitting over a mole hill till the mole appeared and then bashing it with a stick. Seemed very dull as I have been around for 37 years and never seen a mole coming out of mole hill. Seems a long wait for a short reward.

            Bat Fowling sounds like a daft sport but it is not as silly as the name suggests. There is even the Bat fowlers jig. There are lots of stupid hunting sports such as animal tossing- you put an animal in a net and throw it in the air till it dies. I think weasels were common, rather than lions and rhinos’.

I would agree with Jim when he says that historically, if it involves the inflicting of pain on an animal in a stupid but safe way, then you can bet it has been labelled as sport. Surely you have to be at least a bit of an anorak to partake in any of these ‘activities’.

There are other eccentric sports around, but the assumption that only an anorak would take part in them is probably not a correct one to make. Non-anoraks do them too. ‘Haggis Hurling’, ‘Wellie Wangling’ and ‘Cheese Rolling’ are comical events, a fair amount of alcohol passing the lips of more than a few of those participating, and quite often take place on bank holidays or other festivals. They are festivals for the common man, and particularly the beer-swiller. The antipodeans are similarly inclined towards these ‘fun’ rather than ‘geeky’ sports – Nude Olympics (for obvious reasons this could never be ‘huge’ in Britain), Giant Plastic Platypus Throwing, and Cane Toad Racing among them.

Back in the world of the genuine anorak, there are ‘Drain Spotters’. No manhole cover is safe. Each and every one of these has a unique serial number and from this it is possible to trace back its year and origin of manufacture. Others prefer to take images of their designs, there are some pretty extravagantly designed ones around the world, and ‘drain-oraks’ will happily engage in conversation on the array of functional and ornamental designs that one could come across. I suppose drain spotting serves a similar purpose to that of ‘groundhopping’.drain

While researching a few of the more inane sports and pastimes on offer, I stumbled across the art of the computer generated sports game. Professional computer generated sports games, just for the guy who really is happy to spend all day in front of the screen playing with himself. The ‘Cyberathlete Professional League’ (CPL) was formed in 1997 and is the official association of preofessional video game players. There are tournaments held in most continents, prize money is measured in millions of dollars and there are multi-national corporations queuing up to sponsor the events. The CPL’s primary aim is to make the art of computer gaming a viable competitive and spectator event. Hold on, did I read spectator event? There are people who pay to watch these events too?

The CPL is no half-baked invention. Its terms and conditions have just been revised in order to cater for the necessary and appropriate need for drug testing in the sport. Cybercheats! Whatever next?

2001 saw the introduction of a spinoff, the ‘Cyberathlete Amateur League’, a free online gaming tournament which boasts 25 different games in 60 divisions, and more than half a million registered players. It too has devised an anti-cheat system and in addition to a regular season can offer pre-season competitions and end-of-season play offs. As yet I have been unable to locate any competition anywhere on the planet that has been designed solely for the average British statto like myself, but watch this space.

Without having actually met any of the competitors in the aforementioned competitions, I cannot say too much about the individuals who take part in them, but we have all met those whom we find a little more irritating that the average geek.

Even in the world of soccer there are occasions when you wonder whether the local statto is merely a geek or is really demented. Any groundhopper or statto would be happy to tell you he is visiting the home of Arsenal FC, or even Stevenage Borough or New Mills football clubs, but would he be as willing to announce that tomorrow morning he is making the journey to Scotland, to the home of Glenbuck Cherrypickers. The great Bill Shankly may have started his rise to the top there, but you have to be pretty clued up to know that this team ever existed, and maybe a little insane to follow them week-in week-out. In my part of the world, there have been the oddly named Norristhorpe Nibs, Deanhousemuir and Patrington Stanley football clubs over the years, although I have never met anyone who would freely admit to having followed their fortunes week after week.

Similarly, the Australian town of Vincentia, south of Sydney has a rugby team called the ‘Vincentia Van Gogh’s’, and have as their logo a severed ear! The same nation also has the Bomaderry Dromedaries football team, and the Mongolian Basketball league is reputed to have a team called ‘11+1’. Evidently this represents Jesus and eleven of his disciples, excluding Judas.

My favourite team name is that of are the hilariously titled Old Fallopians, a moniker used originally by a ladies football team before the Women’s’ Football Association lost their sense of humour and forced them to rename themselves Camberwell WFC. A London cricket team also uses this same title. I wonder if you have to use the tubes to get there. How many international groundhoppers would just love to announce to their wives that they were just off to ‘Wankdorf’, the home of Switzerland’s Young Boys FC.

There are many strange people out there, but there are very few, if any, impostors. Now the advantage of living in the world of the obsessive is that this is not the type of thing where certain individuals would want to jump on the bandwagon. There are very few fake anoraks.

Nobody pretends to be a train spotter and to my knowledge there have been no false claims of having collected an inordinate collection of barf bags. Who after all would want to make these claims unless they really had done this type of strange thing. If you are wanting young virgins to throw their underwear in your direction then you are in the wrong place. Claiming to have an irregularly large member might do the trick, but your collection of traffic cones is most definitely out of the question.

If there was to be a strangely god forsaken person who wanted to ‘get in on the act’ in the world of the groundhopper or football statistician they would be ‘outed’ almost at once. He would be completely unaware of the ‘lingo’, and plainly unable to make a reasonable input into the vast array of specialised information on offer to the initiated on the day. You have to remember that an anorak will more than happily jump on even the slightest of inaccuracies, and will not let it go until his point has been well and truly exhausted.

There may be incompetent anoraks out there, as well as arrogant ones, as there is in any profession and pastime, but I have never in all my years of watching minor league football suffered the experience of being sought out by an unruly individual hell bent on proving himself to all and sundry in the world of tremendously interesting fact finding. I have met up with several of those who I know to be equally as obsessive as I am, but thankfully never anyone hoping to improve his street credibility by sharing in such engaging conversation.

A genuine anorak will spot the fake. We should be recognised for more often for this gift. But the world of the imposter and the anorak are closely related.

Graham Souness should have consulted his local anoraks down on the South coast when he was in charge at Southampton FC in November 1996. It would have given himself and his club an awful lot less reason to endure their red faces. The club took a telephone call purportedly from Liberian international and World Footballer of the Year George Weah, who recommended that they gave his good friend Ali Diah a trial. Little did they know that the gentleman on the other end of the line was in fact not Weah himself but Diah’s agent, and that this supposedly fine sportsman was in reality a particularly poor football player. It was all a con. Somehow Diah managed to get on the bench for a league match against Leeds United – came on as substitute, was promptly withdrawn – not before making an ass of himself and Southampton Football Club – and little was ever heard of him again. Rumour has it that this Senegalese gentleman returned to the slightly lower surroundings of the non-league game in the north-east of England. Before returning to obscurity, he was purported as saying;

“I’ve been made to look a con man. It’s just not true. I do know George Weah, but I’m certainly not his best mate. I employed an agent when I came to England and he is the con man. He must have been calling all these clubs pretending to be George.”

Now any football statistician would have been able to see right through this right from the start. Had Souness et al at Southampton announced Diah’s imminent appearance beforehand someone would have pointed out that things were not quite as they seemed. How he managed to get himself on the substitutes list for that game is equally as startling – had they not taken a look at him first? Mind you, those of us who witnessed Bradford City’s two glorious Premiership seasons would possibly argue that Bruno Rodriguez and Jorge Cadete were just as poor, if not downright worse, than Diah. But at least they had pedigree and had proved themselves in the years prior to their brief stints at Valley Parade, even if they only lasted just a little longer at the club than the guy from Senegal did on the South coast.

There are the obvious name-droppers, who pretend to be friends with famous people. Geeks are not known for being gullible either. In the first place, they could probably make a far more convincing attempt at doing this than the name-dropper ever could.

The fake is not just confined to the imposter or the name-dropper however. There is a plethora of fake sporting goods on ebay and practically every other on-line auction site. Whether it be tickets, shirts, memorabilia or autographs there are people out there selling not so honest items to an unsuspecting public. But the anorak knows best. For example, very few of us with unhealthy obsessions for seeking the truth about practically everything related to sport will be fooled by the fake Italian football shirts we could all so easily get hold of.

For a start, only a real idiot would be taken in by the low prices they are offered at – you just need a little bit of common sense for that, but there are also full prices fakes out there too. With any AS Roma shirt you should always check that they are 92% polyester and 8% elastine or 88% polyester and 12% elastine. Never be fooled by the 100% polyester shirt, especially if it is ‘super fine quality polyester’. Polyester is polyester, it is all the same. Every anorak should know that.


ROB GRILLO 'The anorak'

A selection of music books you really do need to go out and buy if you a lover of music (80s and disco music in particular). They are in no particular order, and even if they occasionally contain viewpoints I might not wholeheartedly agree with, or may contain the odd error, they are all essential reading, written by those in a good position from which to describe, explain or simply tell a story. Please feel free to add your own preferences in the ‘comments’ section.

If you want a place to start then it’s all here – every genre, every decade, and every big star featured in one huge volume of not far under 800 pages. This is one hell of a read, and perhaps requires a good prior understanding of the subject matter but is expertly written…

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HI-NRG…addendum…another couple of random charts

The previous post regarding old Record Mirror HI-NRG charts proved popular, so an extra bonus..two more to bring back those memories. The first, a ‘year-end’ 1984 chart illustrates Record Shack & particularly Ian Levine’s domination of the chart. The random chart from June 1986 shows how things had changed. Record Shack was on its last legs, Levine had jumped ship and was preparing to launch his own Nightmare Label (hence Eastbound Expressway appearing on Passion Records), and Stock, Aitken, Waterman were on their way to world domination. By ’86 the sound was well and truly mainstream, reflected in the number of ‘major’ labels that had entries in the latter chart.

1 HIGH ENERGY Evelyn Thomas Record Shack 12″
2 IN THE EVENING Sheryl Lee Ralph US Music Company12″
3 CAUGHT IN THE ACT Earlene Bentley Record Shack 12″
4 I’M LIVING MY OWN LIFE Earlene Bentley Record Shack 12″
5 COUNTDOWN (HERE I COME) Kofi & The Lovetones Electricity 12″
6 ALL AMERICAN BOY Barbara Pennington Record Shack 12″
7 YOU THINK YOU’RE A MAN Divine Proto 12″
8 ROCKET TO YOUR HEART Lisa Carrere 12″
9 BLACK LEATHER Miquel Brown Record Shack 12″
10 COMING OUT OF HIDING Pamala Stanley Casablanca 12″
11 HE’S A SAINT, HE’S A SINNER Miquel Brown Record Shack 12″
12 I HEAR THUNDER Seventh Avenue Record Shack 12″
13 SECOND BEST Evelyn Thomas Record Shack 12″
14 FRANTIC LOVE Eastbound Expressway Record Shack 12″
15 MASQUERADE Evelyn Thomas Record Shack 12″
16 NOTHING WORSE THAN BEING ALONE Velvette Electricity 12″
17 EMERGENCY Laura Pallas Record Shack 12″
18 EVERGREEN / JEALOUS LOVE Haell Dean Proto 12″
19 I’M GONNA LOVE YOU FOREVER Jackson Moore & Jimmy Ruffin ERC 12″
20 FALSE ALARM Marsha Raven Passion 12″
21 WHEN YOU WALK IN THE ROOM Ramming Speed Proto 12″
22 JUMP (FOR MY LOVE) Pointer Sisters Planet 12″
23 INVITATION Life Force Polo 12″
24 YOU’RE A WINNER Sharon Redd Prelude 12″
25 DON’T BEAT ABOUT THE BUSH Hot Gossip Fanfare 12″
26 THE NEXT IN LINE Eric Roberts Electricity 12″
27 HIM Simone Electricity 12″
28 BREAK ME INTO LITTLE PIECES Hot Gossip Fanfare 12″
29 DOCTORS ORDERS (COUGH COUGH) Maegan Savoire Faire 12″
30 DESIRE Paul Parker Technique 12″
tw lw RECORD MIRROR EUROBEAT CHART   14/6/86 Artist Label
1 1 REFLEX ACTION Louise Thomas R&B 12″
2 8 CAN’T LIVE Suzy Q Belgian ARS 12″
4 2 RUNNING AWAY FROM LOVE Astaire Passion LP bonus 12″
5 10 MALE STRIPPER Man 2 Man Meet Man Parrish US Recca 12″
6 7 VENUS (HELLFIRE MIX) Bananarama London 12″
8 4 YOU’RE GONNA BE MINE Novo Band German Ariola 12″
9 17 HOW MANY HEARTS Evelyn Thomas Record Shack 12″
10 12 ANGEL IN MY POCKET One To One German Ariola LP
12 NEW BEGINNING Bucks Fizz Polydor 12″
13 16 AMERICAN LOVE Rose Laurens German WEA 12″
15 6 I’M YOUR MAN (REMIX) Barry Manilow RCA 12″
16 11 AGAIN Do Piano French EMI 12″
17 15 THIRD TIME LUCKY Pearly Gates Funkin’ Marvellous 12″
18 13 HANDS UP Kelly Marie Passion 12″ w/l
19 I’M YOUR LOVE Joe Yellow Italian Power 12″
20 THE REAL THING Tom Robinson RCA 12″ w/l
21 27 BAND OF GOLD Bonnie Tyler CBS 12″
22 14 YOU’RE A BEAT Eastbound Expressway Passion 12″
23 21 SHY SHY SUGARMAN Jack’s Project German Ariola 12″
24 26 I LOVE MY RADIO (MIDNIGHT RADIO) (US REMIX) Taffy US Emergency 12″
25 COME BACK TO ME Prototype German ZYX 12″
26 RE ONCE MORE Taffy Italian Ibiza 12″
27 19 HUMANOID INVASION Laser Dance Dutch Hot Sound 12″
28 18 DISENCHANTED The Communards London 12″
29 HURTS Boytronic German Mercury 12″
30 RE IF THE LOVE FITS Lewis Riva 12″