2 February 2011

Second Hand Record Dip Part 69 - The Spitballs - Telstar

The Spitballs - Telstar

Who: The Spitballs 
What: Telstar/ Boris The Spider
Label: Beserkley
When: 1978
Where: Wood Street Market, Walthamstow, London
Cost: 50p

"Rock Follies" was the name of a comedy musical drama from the seventies, but in reality, actual rock follies do exist.  No, not buildings made out of rock by eccentric millionaires that are follies, you fool, but rather records nobody wanted or needed, nobody artistically absolutely had to get out of their systems, and very few people played.  Creation Records put out a number of records we could regard as follies, for example, discs which appeared to have been dreamt up in the pub the night before after a few ales.  The primary thing which separates a folly from a novelty record is the fact that it was usually recorded with no commercial purpose at all in mind, but clearly wasn't taking its artistic value very seriously either.

Spitballs almost certainly fall under the category.  Essentially a supergroup consisting of various musicians from other bands on Beserkley records (including Jonathan Richman) they made an entire album of covers of various songs they liked and admired, with no real grand purpose at all.  There's no special reason why they should have done this, but clearly they got a huge kick out of doing so, and there's a kind of undiluted pub rock enthusiasm running through the grooves, but little more than that.

This version of "Telstar" is so basic and stripped back that Joe Meek would probably have thrown a violent fit if he'd had a chance to hear it.  It's almost possible to imagine a particularly pissed-up wedding ensemble doing something similar whilst various children run amok about them spinning around like little satellites.  The B-side "Boris The Spider", covers The Who in a similarly carefree way, not that the song would ever have been possible to reproduce with a straight face in any case.

It's a funny old thing, the music business.

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