Vinyl values

portable record player - picture3-2

Unexpected and best Christmas present – a record player!  And not only is it a record player but it’s portable. Imagine – I could take it with me when I have to stay in hotels or go on holiday.  Unlike some people, I still have quite a lot of vinyl and it’s very nice to sit in the kitchen and put on some old favourites.  I’m only sorry I’m not still practising as a barrister – along with the brief and the papers, and notebooks, I could have taken my neat little green case into court.

portable record player - case

A couple of bars of ‘I fought the law,’ or even ‘Jailhouse Rock’ could have melted the heart of many a judge. I notice (only now, because he was not in my time) that there is a song by Jackson Browne called ‘Lawyers in Love‘ but that might have been a bit distracting.  But this is the thing, you could get to a tricky point in cross examination, where all seems to be going badly – a not infrequent event – and you could say, ‘Officer, I put it to you that my client is not that bad.  Why, listen to this!’ and slip ‘I shot the sheriff’ on to the turntable.  After a couple of lines you could go back to cross examination.  ‘Officer, don’t you understand, he did not shoot the deputy.’  Verdict – not guilty!  In my dreams.  *

Yo Yo Ma Sing Me Home

Another surprising and lovely gift was an album by Yo Yo Ma, Sing Me Home, from friend Susan in Yorkshire.  One of the most intriguing tracks, because I have a history with this song, is St James Infirmary Blues, featuring Rhiannon Giddens, Michael Ward-Bergeman & Reylon Yount.

Those of you who watched the BBC documentary Living in ’66 – Pop, pirates and postmen will remember (possibly) that during the section where I walked round Chelmsford I read an extract from my diary describing a day in March 1966 where friend Christine and I went in to Dace’s music shop to buy Lee Dorsey and Lou Christie’s latest singles, but bumped into a couple of pals who were listening to something else and so Christine walked out of the shop with a copy of St James Infirmary by the Graham Bond Organisation.  Very different, but great!

* For more songs that have to do with lawyers look at this website, Abnormal Use

Rebel rouser

On the evening of 12 March 1966 Cliff Bennet played at the Chelmsford Corn Exchange.

Chelmsford Directory 005Meanwhile, that afternoon Sandra and I went to Dace’s, Chelmsford’s main record shop, to buy Lee Dorsey’s latest single and Lou Christie’s, ‘Lightnin’ Strikes’.  But while we stood in the booth with the papier mache walls, swaying to the rhythm of  ‘Get Out of My Life, Woman,’ looking at the small discreet biro messages of love and protest – Me 4 You, shit – some lads we knew knocked on the window in the door and squeezed into the booth with us.  They said we should listen to something they had just heard.  They said it was the best thing around.  So we did.  It was the Graham Bond Organisation’s ‘St James Infirmary’.

Standing in that hot, airless booth, on a grey Saturday afternoon, surrounded by the smell of Avon perfume and Old Spice after-shave, it seemed like a deep, soulful song that spoke of all the emotions and tragedy that we experienced every day.  And Sandra ended up buying the Lee Dorsey and ‘St James Infirmary’.

Listening to it now, it doesn’t speak to me in quite the same way.  Having said that, compared to the Lou Christie, it’s a classic.