"Look At Me, I Own Records!" returns again, an under the hood look at the record collections of our true loves. If you'd like to contribute to the series then get in touch HERE.
Musician/writer Ben Parker made his mark on Audio Antihero Records as one half of the acclaimed Nosferatu D2, our proverbial calling card. He has subsequently released music with Superman Revenge Squad and The Jonbarr Hinge and recently made forays into writing with his first play "Yeah, This House Is Haunted" enjoying a sell-out run late last year and his debut graphic novel on the way. He was once described as a 'lyrical ninja'.
Look At Me, I Own Records - Ben Parker
Looking through my record collection is like flicking through a sequence of musical obsessions that I’ve had over the years.
FIRST ALBUM I OWNED
The first album I owned was 'Thriller' by Michael Jackson, on cassette. And I seem to remember that my parents brought me this when I was at primary school. Maybe it was a birthday present; that would make sense. But I seem to remember it being a present they gave me at Easter; but that makes no sense at all. I still have it somewhere, I think. But I haven’t included a photo, because I can’t be bothered to search it out. And because everyone knows what the front cover of 'Thriller' looks like. Don’t they?
FIRST CD I OWNED
The first CD I owned was 'Bigger and Deffer' by LL Cool J. But I hardly ever played it, mainly because the only CD player was in the main room in the house and I didn’t think my parents really liked rap music that much. But I found it in a boot sale and it was really cheap so I purchased it, maybe thinking that I would eventually own a CD player myself one day, or maybe not really thinking it through at all. A similar problem occurred when I bought 'Scum' by Napalm Death before I owned a CD player, again because I found it for really cheap - But I don’t think that album is particularly listenable at all anyway, so no great loss really.
BEST ALBUM COVER (FOR RECORD THAT DOESN’T ACTUALLY PLAY)
'Jailbreak' by Thin Lizzy has a marvellous cover. So good that it didn’t actually bother me that I paid 20p for a record that is so scratched it doesn’t play at all. The sleeve is in very good health, even if the record it is meant to be protecting isn’t. There’s a hole in the front that reveals the band as cartoon characters inside, then you open it up and see the jailbreak they are running from. Oh, just look at it - words do not do justice to such a piece of art.
A HAND MADE ALBUM COVER (FOR A RECORD THAT DOES ACTUALLY PLAY)
The first album I heard by Leonard Cohen was 'Songs From A Room', and the version I picked up from a charity shop was this one - clearly the old record sleeve was been lost or something so a previous owner has improvised a new sleeve with some yellow card and a biro. I quite like it; I think it adds to the mystery of the record somehow.
MOST UNPLEASANT ARTWORK
'Joy' by Isaac Hayes is another much loved charity shop find. But the picture on the back of the sleeve is somewhat hard to look at as it depicts Isaac seemingly just dressed in gold chains; a look that compliments one of the tracks on the album which I find quite hard to listen to as it seems to offer quite a detailed soundtrack to Isaac wooing a lady.
THE ONLY SIGNED RECORD I OWN
When Pantera came to Croydon I wasn’t really much of a fan, and I’m not really much of a fan now, but all my friends were going to get stuff signed so I went along. We queued outside Rocket Records in South Croydon and when I got inside I decided I’d feel a bit awkward without something to sign, so I brought the LP of 'Vulgar Display of Power' and got it signed. I still have the signed copy, and it is probably in mint condition as I haven’t played it much; I often wonder if its worth anything now that Dimebag Darrell has been murdered and all that.
MAKE IT EASY ON YOURSELF
I used to buy loads of records from charity shops. Anything that looked remotely interesting would be bought, as long as it was about 20p. The first Burt Bacharach record I got was this one, 'Make it Easy on Yourself', and what makes this one so good is the title track because it features Burt himself on vocals. And I really like his voice, mainly because it’s not really that strong and, as he struggles through the song, it has loads of character.
I think the Nosferatu D2 song called I Killed Burt Bacharach was started as a jam with me singing this song over the top, and it progressed from there.
MINX BY LEATHERFACE
One of my favourite ever records is called' Minx' and is by a band called Leatherface. I brought this on cassette and listened to it a hell of a lot whilst doing my a-levels. A few years later I began a quest to find it on CD - it had been deleted Roughneck records by then and after many a year I discovered a somewhat unloved copy of it in one of the CD and Tape exchanges that had gradually been reduced to a pound. So I got it. And then it was re-released. But it is still a treasure.
THE MALE NURSE
Another obsession of mine was the Male Nurse - a band that sounded a lot like early Fall, but I hadn’t heard early Fall at the time so I thought they were pretty original - saw them live a few times and then I think Tempertwig supported them at their last ever gig (I think - they had a fight before and only two members played. I think Adam really disliked them). I have all three of the singles that were put our by the band, and a CD that contains their John Peel sessions that was posted to me by a kind stranger that saw me mention them on the internet. But the main thing about them is that I have heard from someone that put out one of their singles that she thought they’d released an album and then never did anything with it - so I still have a dream of tracking down this set of recordings somehow one day. Maybe on cassette.
OTHER MUSICAL ‘QUESTS’ OF NOTE
Its always nice to have a record to seek out. A job that was a lot easier back in the days when a load more record shops existed. As a result, I have nearly everything Alasdair Roberts has released (I went round record shops in Scotland when I first heard Appendix Out and brought everything I could find by them), I’ve waited patiently for blokes in charity shops to re-consider the Isaac Hayes record they found seconds before I did, and I still live in hope of finding a few Prince Buster singles that Benjamin Zephaniah once played on the radio and described as very rare indeed. As a result, I now own far too many records for my own good. But long may it continue.
The semi-legendary Nosferatu D2 album is available now on CD & Download:
More content from Ben Parker:
Thanks Ben and Never Say DIY!
Jamie - Audio Antihero: Specialists in Commercial Suicide
Jamie - Audio Antihero: Specialists in Commercial Suicide