In the hot summer of 2003, I was on holiday with my family. Over from the States, we were traveling around the U.K. With only a day in London at the beginning, I made sure to get up early and hit all the record shops I knew of. And in the upstairs room of the Music Exchance in Notting Hill Gate (which we always considered Paradise) I discovered él Records . Flipping through the Sarah/Creation/él section for Sarah releases, I came upon 'Metroland' by Always (why do I think it was a 10"? Everywhere lists a 12" and I can't find any info about a 10", but all my vinyl is back in America. If I had a record player in London, I'd be broke) It looked STUNNING. As you get older, the moments where you stumble upon whole new worlds of music get less and less frequent, and I have always been thankful for this one. The artwork was lovely and it was a good band name. It also had that air of mystery about it. I held it in my hands for a very long time and in the end wrote down the name, as £26 for a record I'd never heard or heard of before was a bit steep, especially in those days when the exchange rate with the US dollar was over 2:1. (This was for the best, as, at Avalanche in Edinburgh the next week, I was to find 'Metroland' for £2.)
I went downstairs, very curious about this él label (more posts to come in future) and decided to look for some more. And came upon Bad Dream Fancy Dress' "Choirboys Gas". Again, it LOOKED AMAZING. And the song titles!!! "Lemon Tarts", "Curry Crazy"- with the flavourful-titled songs I was making then as rock stone (they're free, grab 'em!), I knew I needed to buy this. If nothing else, it would look cool on my wall. But I had a hunch, with this much dedication to the artwork, that the music would be quite special too. So I forked out the £13 for a record I'd never heard or heard of before. And it was one of the best decisions I ever made. él Records has brought me much joy and inspiration in the times since (especially while making the H Bird record). When I returned from my day of record shopping, I showed my cousin's 4-year-old son the 12" record and asked, "Do you know what this is?" He had no idea ; )
I had to wait 2 weeks until I was reunited with my record player and could listen to these. And they did not disappoint! "Choirboys Gas" is such a shining example of POP! Within seconds you're bouncing along to "The Supremes". And then it's "Lemon Tarts", which is one of my favourite pop songs of all time. "If you really want, to win my heart, you better start with a little lemon tart". Wow. And I've always wondered what "Spanish kissing" was, if anyone can enlighten me?
Here it is, uploaded with permission from Cherry Red:
Bad Dream Fancy Dress - Lemon Tarts
And "Curry Crazy" is just raucous, punk fun. "Do you like it HOT? Well so do I" & "We don't want boys, we want some spicy stuff". Wow again.
This album is an utter joy; fun and catchy, pop, pure and simple. As with nearly everything on él, it's delightful and unique, a POP GEM. Buy it! Buy it twice! I ordered it on cd as soon as I was done listening to the 12", but buy it on vinyl if you can, the record sleeve just looks so good : ) And like them on Facebook ; )