22 April 2009

Second Hand Record Store Dip Part 30 - Mankind - "Doctor Who"


Who: Mankind
What: Doctor Who (b/w "Time Traveller")
Label: Pinnacle
When: 1978
Where: Wood Street Market, Walthamstow
Cost: One pound

...and it's yet another Left and To The Back top thirty chart entry from yore. People shall begin to talk.

"Doctor Who" by session musicians Mankind hovered around the bottom end of the Top Thirty for ages, like gnats cloud around stagnant water. It's an interpretation of the TV theme which seems to have been largely forgotten about now, perhaps because it's yet another disco "rethink" of the original piece. The original BBC Radiophonic Workshop piece still has the ability to send chills down the spine with its whooshing and whirring and demonic oscillations, but it's safe to say that sticking a funky bassline to it does sap away most of its power. In fact, what we're left with is a song that asks us to dance about whilst being forced to think about Tom Baker, which is a tempting offer, but one which I can't bring myself to do at home without getting tremendously confused and unfootsure. One is also unsure what a Tom Baker disco dance would involve, but one suspects the choreography of scarves would play a role.

As a record, it's perhaps more noteable for being one of Pinnacle's earliest hit singles, causing the distribution company to raise its stakes slightly in the game of pop. Whilst the label itself would quickly dissolve, despite having some of the loudest and frankly best designs of the seventies (see here), the distribution arm would eventually become all-powerful, handling the likes of Factory Records and eventually PWL (and therefore Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan). Last year it finally went bankrupt amidst the present music industry turmoil, which is regrettable given its long history - alongside Stock Aitken and Waterman favourites, it actually did release a lot of underground material throughout its existence, and gave plenty of bands breaks they weren't likely to get from the major labels. Rough Trade may have always been more right-on and credible, but Pinnacle's back catalogue is also not entirely to be sniffed at.

So... here's (more or less) where it all started, not with a Joy Division seven inch, or an unexpected punk hit, or even Keith Marshall's "Only Crying" (another hit of theirs) but with a funky sci-fi theme. You've got to wonder.

Download here

It was on Top of the Pops as well, and some kind soul has decided to upload it to YouTube...

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