I was all alone, no-one around, and all I can hear is this fucked up sound
All alone yeah, no-one around, and all I can hear is this fucked up sound
So begins an album so unremarkable it cannot be bought from Amazon (well, a single seller claimed to have a single new copy). It didn’t chart. And it’s full of tracks that most people I know would switch off in a heartbeat. And yet, this obscure compilation from 1996 holds a very special place in my heart.
1996. I was in St Andrews, performing miserably in the efforts of securing anything other than a beer drinker’s degree, ruling the student newspaper’s layout team with the force of my personality and opinions. I was friends with the music editors. They were a funny double-act, but they were deadly serious about their music. I latched onto them because they would avoid the mainstream pop and the obvious “alternative choices” with equal fervour. They were into dance music, mixing, seeing what would happen.
And they were being sent records. They had access to the new music without the worry of the student grant. I was hoovering up the specialist shows on radio networks, and learning that the musical tastes for which I’d been so derided at school were in fact OK. Our musical world pivoted around The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers, and the Cream nightclub (although I never went). While others were willingly robotising themselves to Whigfield, we were Exiting Planet Dust.
Naturally, I’m now an IT Consultant, Gavin Smith is a lawyer, but Adam “the Sword” Wilkinson is still in the music business in one form or another.
It all coalesced around a promo CD that arrived in The Chronicle’s office. Three of them. An an exhortation from the record company that we should hold a competition to give them away. The CD was entitled “Brit Hop and Amyl House”. I wanted it. Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Death in Vegas, Fatboy Slim, a sweary start and an awesome Bomb the Bass finish made it a perfect match for my musical loves. It was so much the antithesis to the generic Take That and Steps that populated the charts, or Meat Loaf to which everyone was dancing, that it was a perfect microcosm of music for me.
I entered the competition on the understanding that I’d win. Even if there hadn’t been such an understanding, I would have won: the hoardes of student heathens failed to muster an entry.
And now, it’s a permanent reminder to me. Of the time I spent at university, of the friendships with Adam and Gavin, of my time on the student newspaper. And all set to an awesome powerhouse soundtrack. I’ll never let it go.
And it still has the little “promo copy not for resale” sticker on the back.