26 June 2008

Second Hand Record Dip Part 11 - Graham De Wilde - Threshold

Whicker!

Who: Graham De Wilde
What: Threshold
Where: Music and Video Exchange, Camden
Label: BBC
Year of Release: 1984
Cost: 50p

Ah... BBC Records and Tapes... purveyors of many a fine comedy album, Radio Four recording, and Brown Sauce's hit "I Just Wanna Be A Winner". Was there ever a finer label? Depends what you're looking for, I suppose. If it's music, there's a strong chance you're stuffed.

In his excellent biography "All of the Moves But None of the Licks", the owner of Strange Fruit records Clive Selwood reveals that BBC Records and Tapes were rather shortsighted when it came to issuing John Peel sessions. When Peel himself approached the organisation with a view to releasing some, they replied that they felt it would not deliver many returns and should not be considered a priority. They apparently had to focus on their present "big project", which was some LP recordings of a Radio Four gardening show.

Whether the above story is apocryphal or not, you needn't be Poirot to spot some exceptionally rum BBC releases in second hand stores out there. Also considered more important than releasing a Jimi Hendrix sessions EP in 1984 was... this. The theme tune to "Whicker's World - A Fast Boat To China". Clearly somebody within the organisation anticipated a demand for it, but none came, not even when they threw in the catchy "Whicker!" title song on the flip, which surely represents value in anyone's language. The former is an eerie, atmospheric KPM library instrumental which I'm guessing the Beeb had to pay them to release, whereas the latter we should all be familiar with. It's also interesting to note that its given title is "Newsweek", suggesting that KPM had other plans for its use originally. Sadly, neither tracks have vocals singing the praises of Alan, although obviously I think the "Whicker!" theme is crying out for some contributions from you good readers at home.

Better things would come for BBC Records and Tapes in 1986 when Nick Berry's "Every Loser Wins" became the second biggest selling single of that year. In the end, the Peel Sessions series of EPs was issued on Selwood's own label Strange Fruit. In all honesty, it was probably the safest place for them.

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