“Me, I`m a part of your circle of friends, and we notice you don’t come around.”
Paul parked the van and as I got out I kissed you on the lips. I felt an electricity and you felt it too because you blushed. But then the doors were closed and you drove off with the rest of them. Paul, Bev, Anna, and the Pompey boys. Longhairs the lot. I was always the first to be dropped. Sometimes I`d try to convince you to join me but I never succeeded. High on e and acid. At the height of Rave.
Jay`d be in his Chanel baseball cap, so he could be easily spotted in the crowds. Forced to knock out pills for the security guys, since they’d caught him serving up. There’d be girls in floral jumpsuits. Topknots tied up with spoons. Smackheads from the surrounding estates, smuggling in paraphernalia. The DJ would play the same records, in the same order, every time we went. But it added to the excitement. I`d know when to wander off, and when to come find you. Simple Minds` Theme For Great Cities span as green lasers cut the night in half. Everyone`s arms raised. Together. A Split Second`s Flesh as the fireworks went off. Each record evoked memories, feelings, its own internal movie. Tears For Fears` Shout was for Becky. Then Jericho`s The Motive for Jo. The Whole Of The Moon, The Waterboys, and it was time to go home.
I learnt the hard way not to use the telephone on a Sunday. I`m sure you were flattered. The procedure was buy eight cans of Stella from the offie, and keep drinking. Alone. Take the edge off. Watch The Wonder Years on TV. Sing along with some irony to Joe Cocker windmilling his way through The Beatles` I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends. Cry at the lost treasure of childhood, the show`s wisdom in hindsight. Sob as Kevin fails, again, to get requited with Winnie. Think about my own girl next door just out of reach. Wait for sleep. Then the shock of Monday.
Jack Barron reviewed the unofficial remix of Edie Brickell`s Circle in his column for the NME. Waxing lyrical about a top ten of new Dance releases in the Autumn of 1989. The soundtrack to his Acid House adventures. Tunes mentioned alongside it were Bobby Konders` The Poem and Massive Attack`s remix of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Which I guess gives some idea of how “eclectic” things were then. He said its slower tempo and melancholy suited the times. Post-Rave, Post-E`s first rush. Which was spot on, `cos Circle made for the perfect last track on a Saturday night. Scoring the Blues in my head that I`d hum through Sunday `til Wednesday. The remix placing Edie`s ballad over a drum beat, part Soul II Soul but also part that Gherkin Jerks take on Grace Jones` La Vie En Rose. A steal from Marvin’s Sexual Healing, and a piano inspired by Thrashing Doves` Jesus On The Payroll. It heralded Paul Oakenfold`s Movement 98, and ushered in a long line of similarly Funki-Dred-a-like wistful Pop rehashes. From Diana Ross` I’m Still Waiting to Sister Sledge`s Thinking Of You. What became the sound of The Yellow Book.
The Yellow Book was a party in Covent Garden, where boys from Bexley Heath wore Paul Smith, Christopher New and Michiko Koshino, and you shared the dance floor, and queues in the loos, with Jack and Creation Records` alumni. All shuffling to Saint Etienne`s Reggae re-work of Neil Young’s Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Foxy Brown`s Lovers Rock cover of Tracy Chapman`s Fast Car, and countless remixes of remixes of Gary Clail`s Beef. I never found a copy of the bootleg of Circle. I made do instead with the legit LP it was lifted from, Shooting Rubberbands At The Stars.
“Everything is temporary anyway.”
The song went well with the loneliness I indulged in. After that last fight with the old man, I`d had to move out. I was renting a box room in the house of bloke from work. Jo was back with her parents in Liverpool. Dave was off at Poly. I`d go out “clubbing” on my own, sometimes tagging along with Anna and her mates. Their fellas and her new fella. Me, assuming the role of drunken court jester. I`ll give you a for instance. There was this one night. The birthday of someone in advertising’s daughters. Twins. Some of the cast of Blackadder were there. Plug was there. There was a nose-up line outside one of the second floor bedrooms, and someone had given me magic mushrooms. They had a big bag to them but kinda baulked when I took a handful. Clutching an outsized bottle of whiskey*, I`d commandeered the Hi-Fi. Ejecting, loudly rejecting, tape after tape, as “shit”. Obviously causing a scene. Then at some point I tripped backwards into a huge floral display, in what felt like slow motion. Destroyed it. I think the birthday girls were crying. It must have been their 21st. My escorts didn’t know whether to laugh or to join them, but they did drive me home. Where they watched me fumble, fail to get my front door key in the lock, and fall flat on the concrete. I was then off to A&E with concussion. I developed a crush on each of these Croydon, Norbury, and Thornton Heath, girls in turn, and in turn was knocked back. Hence the Sundays of Stella and The Wonder Years.
Edie`s What I Am also got the “remix” treatment. Making the charts in the Boys Own fanzine – “The village newspaper of London’s Acid House scene.” On my first ever visit to Black Market Records, on D`Arbly Street, I was armed with a list of tunes that I`d memorized from the `zine, which included Edie, and Primal Scream`s Loaded. From the main counter I`d been sent downstairs, and was really fucking chuffed to come up holding a 12. Record shopping these days rarely packs such a high. I`d heard Andrew Weatherall play What I Am at Steve Bicknell`s party, Kazoo**. Held on a Friday, in a basement under Praed Street, it was corridor of a club. The DJ, sometimes a band, at one end. A bar with a couple of optics and a crate of Red Stripe at the other. The clientele was a mix of smart chaps, some of whom I recognized from The Downham Tavern, Bonnies in Catford, Echoes in Bow,… and a small group of folks in crushed velvet and purple. Weatherall still had the long barnet, the nose ring, and may well have been sporting a velvet “tam o’ shanter” himself. I was dressed in an Aaron cardigan, and Converse. I had a can in each hand, and one in each of my back pockets. When two sharp toughs with closely cropped hair approached the then object of my affections, Miss Scott, Croydon`s answer to Kylie, she cut them short and pointed at me, swaying, shuffling, in my 98 BPM abandon.
“I`m with `im”.
They snorted /sniffed in disbelief / disgust. Told her she needed educating.
“I`m not aware of too many things, I know what I know, if you know what I mean. Do ya?”, sang Edie. Touching base with my confusion, angst, anger, and authority issues.
“What I am is what I am, you what you are or what.”
Capturing a defiant in-eloquence. Like Liam Gallagher barking on about glue and sausages. I felt like I`d always been forced to apologize for my existence. I`m sure I wasn’t the only one. The song`s message, to me at least, skipped hand-in-hand with Sting`s Englishman In New York.
“Be yourself no matter what they say.”
But hey, shove me in the shallow water before I get too deep.
Texas-born Edie Brickell joined The New Bohemians in 1985. Their “breakout” release was 1988`s Shooting Rubber Bands At The Sun. The media exposure resulted in Edie meeting and marrying Paul Simon. She has subsequently spent her musical time jamming with heavyweights, such as Dylan and Lou Reed, and seasoned veteran session men. She can be found collaborating with the banjo of Steve “Why aren’t you funny anymore” Martin***.
The remix of Circle came out on Habitat Productions in 1989. The “Soul II Soul” version of What I Am was released the same year. It was not, of course, the work of Jazzy B and the Funki-Dreds, but the anonymous Mad Magic DJs. Weatherall famously sampled the loop of Keep On Movin` from its B-side to create Primal Scream`s Loaded. Someone bootlegged the bootleg of Circle in 1991. Pairing it with a remix of Barry White`s It`s Only Love. Then the Mad Magic DJs version of What I Am was bootlegged in 1996. This time flipped with a mash-up of Michael Jackson, Eric B and Rakim.
*I`ve never drunk whisky since.
**Kazoo took place in a space below The Great Western Hotel, for a short while in 1990.
***Thank you Dennis Pennis (another Medicine Bar regular).