On Saturday night, at the Earl Haig Hall in Crouch End, all was excitement. It was another night of Stylus Stories. You take along your vinyl, your name is called (at some point), you tell your story, they play your record. This was the third time I had been, but this time I was part of a Gang. There were our weekend house-guests, Maggie and Steve, my sister and partner, there was also Cal and our friend Maureen. So as well as being sick with fear about my own performance I had the responsibility of having dragged people along (some with their own vinyl) with the promise of a great night out.
Let’s be honest, the PA system was not what it could have been, and we were sitting close, very very close to a large amplifier. But there was a bar and there was wine and beer and crisps.
There was a big crowd, lots of people were coming in with plastic bags holding albums, all with stories to tell, so it took a little while before Maggie’s name was called, but it was called, and then so was Steve’s and then mine. I had three singles.
It’s Better to Have (and don’t need) – Don Covay (1974)
Back in the Night – Dr Feelgood (1975)
Comin’ Home – Delaney and Bonnie (1969)
I couldn’t decide which one to go for and I was pretty low on stories. But then it came to me.
Maggie had chosen a record from our Birmingham University days, a Country and Western track that I didn’t know, but thereby introducing a Birmingham theme. Steve told a story about his life on the road just before he went to Birmingham. And someone just before me chose a John Mayall track, bringing Eric Clapton into the picture. So it had to be Delaney and Bonnie – because Eric Clapton played on it and thus I could tell a Birmingham and Maggie story.
Maggie and I in our first year at Birmingham – unknowingly and not knowing each other – went out with the same bloke at the same time. And he had tickets to the last ever Cream concert, and apprently choosing between us, he took me (at which point in my telling of the story someone in the audience shouted Bitch, which was absurd, but I felt showed a level of support for Maggie). However, when we got to the Albert Hall we discovered it was for the matinee performance which I felt didn’t have the same historical importance as the real, last ever, round midnight, show. And in fact, apart from Sunshine of your Love and I Feel Free – and if pushed Strange Brew – I didn’t really like Cream and certainly not the drum solos.
But Maggie and I became friends (even though he took her to see ‘2001’ and not me) and Dave, for that was his name, disappeared from our lives forever.
So Delaney and Bonnie – it’s a great big, messy, rocking record. You have to play it loud.