14 January 2008

Kool & The Gang - Celebramos mp3


Kool & The Gang - Take It To The Top / Celebramos cover

Been a while since I posted one of those foreign language versions, so here's Celebration sung in Spanish, from the B-side of the 12 inch of Take It to The Top.

It was a great day when I found this record. I'd just been to see The Church, one of my favourite bands ever, in Brighton. The Church have been going so long and inspire such fervent devotion that there's quite a community of those of us who go to all their UK gigs. I've not missed one in 20 years. There was a day off after Brighton before the London date so we were going to hang out by the sea.

I rang T when I woke up, and he was in a big record fair he'd found in one of the posh hotels on the seafront, so I met him there. I'd not been to one for years, since the days of trawling the live tapes for those early REM gigs. These days you don't get the acres of live bootlegs at record fairs.

Indeed, I wonder how they can keep going at all in an age of Ebay, Gemm and Netsounds. I wasn't the only one feeling there was something surprising about a concept that felt intrinsically anachronistic, but I'll come to that later.

I mooched around, half interested but a bit skint and frankly looking forward to the pub, when I found a stall with a box of 1960s soul 45s. Always something of a soul boy (my birthday party every year sees me DJing a five hour 60s soul set), in the last couple of years it's started deepening. I'm spending embarrassing amounts of money on vintage American singles. Go and find, say, Real Humdinger by JJ Barnes or You Can't Sit Down by the Dovells and you'll understand why.

There were loads and, as always, I'd not heard of most of them. Some I knew the artist but not the track, others I knew the label but not the artist. The stallholder, as any decent soul stallholder should, had a little record player with him. Fatal. There were a good 50 quid's worth that I fell for.

I went and asked T what I should do. He shall forevermore be held in the highest esteem, for he did what any good friend should. He took me out of the building. To the cashpoint to get out a chunky wedge that I couldn't really afford to spend, then into the pub for a swift pint to loosen my judgement and grease the hinges on my wallet, then back to the record fair.

I stood with him whittling the choices down a little. There was one tune, Out On The Floor by Dobie Gray, that gave me The Grin, that instant liftoff sensation hearing something so irresistably exuberant and uplifting, the feeling I got the first time I heard Do I Love You by Frank Wilson or The Tams' Be Young Be Foolish Be Happy. Worth the cost of everything by itself.

Feeling all pleased and excited, on the way out my eye was caught by an Everything A Pound box of 70s and 80s soul. I picked up Celebramos.

I love the it-is-but-it-isn't feeling of these foreign language versions, the seeing your mum with a nosejob effect of having the same very familiar backing track and voice but a different language.

Spanish was a common choice for many bands as the population of Spanish speaking countries who love Western pop is probably second only to English. Indeed, on Celebramos the lyric is clearly a sop to them with the numerous references to 'los Latinos' and a shoutout listing of assorted Central and South American countries.

Just as I'm paying a bloke comes up to me and says he's doing a study on why people still buy vinyl in the age of the MP3 player. We go off into a room and I fill out a questionnaire about what I've bought and why.

The one that sticks with me is 'If push comes to shove and you were only allowed to listen to one track for the rest of your life, what would it be?'. Apparently other people had problems with that. I didn't. Natural High by Bloodstone (but the original single version, not that one you get on the Jackie Brown soundtrack with the weird double length splice on the intro and the inexplicable unforgivable spell-breaking uptempo bit at the end). The sweetest, softest, most beautiful track ever, like sinking into a warm bath of chocolate duvets.

The guy wants a picture of me with one of my new acquisitions. I want to hold up a real classic, The Contours' Do You Love Me?, original American 7 inch on Gordy. But from a distance it'll just look like a single with a purple label. It's not the Gordy single but the gaudy single that he wants.

There is only one record I've bought with a picture cover. (You're way ahead of me here, aren't you?). A record I only really bought for a laugh, and cos it was cheap. A record that has some blokes looking like twattish 80s Scousers in their tacky tracksuits on the front.

So somewhere out there there's a picture, me being represented and this thing being the archetypal piece of my vinyl, the proudest purchase from a room of thousands of records. Sheesh.

There is, however, a certain neatness in the way that the 'why in the age of the MP3 player?' vinyl he asked me about ends up as your MP3.

[MP3 deleted to make room for new ones. Sorry!]