How To Have 1000 Number Ones - The Easy Way

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Blame It On The Weatherman

Jo from the Resplendents had raided her Mum’s record collection for potential additions to the collection and come up with a 7” of In The Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus) by Zager & Evans. This kind gift inspired me to take a walk to Headingley on a sunny day to see what the old favourites had to offer.

Before the old, however, came the new. My first stop was the recently-opened RSPCA shop. I hoped this newcomer would prove to be good for the cause, but was disappointed to find only a small selection of CD singles. The one ray of light was the 800th Number One, Bootie Call by All Saints, complete with four postcards with a picture of each All Saint, which I rearranged to preference.

Next door was the familiar British Heart Foundation, where I was able to replace my scratchy copy of The Roussos Phenomenon EP by Demis Roussos with one in much better nick. I also found Tears On My Pillow by Johnny Nash and a CD of Fatman Scoop’s Be Faithful, which oddly did not include the cleaned-up radio version, only the full-on sweary mix.

I have tended to avoid the Arc shop, due to being overly frustrated with the inflated price of some of the items I desired. This time I decided to take a peek, however, and was pleased to find a selection of CD singles at only £1 apiece. These included Emma Bunton’s What Took You So Long?, a personal favourite, and Take That’s Back For Good, which came as two separate CDs, one of which included a live Beatles medley.

Craig David’s 7 Days and Yeah! by Usher featuring Lil’ Jon are barely worthy of comment, but Madonna’s version of American Pie* is notable for being perhaps the worst ever cover version to reach the top. To add insult to injury this monstrosity was being sold at a premium price of £1.99, but I grudgingly bought it, along with another Madonna hit, the 7” of Into The Groove which I needed only for the picture sleeve which I had been unable to locate until now.

By now I was too hot and I had work to do, so I brought my trip to an end. A few days later I returned to Headingley to start where I left off, braving the weather – rain, on this occasion – once again.

As I went on the rain got progressively worse and I began to wish I hadn’t bothered, but by now it was easier to go forward than back, so I pressed on to Help The Aged. Here I picked up McFly’s Obviously. This was the first part of a 2-CD set and included only two tracks, but was nonetheless an essential purchase. Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) was another only needed for the sleeve, but Cliff Richard’s awful Christmas hit Saviour’s Day was all new and fully intact. The B-side ‘Oh Boy Medley’ is something special, with Cliff destroying a series of rock and roll classics. It sounded better before I realised that it ought to be played at 33rpm.

The till assistant had no idea how much to charge for the 7” singles. I used my expertise and experience to suggest a price of 50p each, but he deferred to his boss who over-ruled me and imposed a £1 tariff. The assistant apologetically checked that I still wanted to them, and naturally I agreed the deal.

In the PDSA shop I found two 7”s from the 1950s, Buddy Holly’s fantastic It Doesn’t Matter Anymore and When by the Kalin Twins. Both were in poor condition but were nevertheless welcome additions. I found a remix CD of Culture Beat’s Mr Vain, which I bought despite doubting that it was exactly what I needed. My suspicion was later confirmed – this was a separate release and didn't contain the single mix.

The CD single of Please Don’t Go/Game Boy is something of a curiosity. ‘Please Don’t Go’ appears as an extended version, while ‘Game Boy’ is a shorter edit than the 7”. This gave me a quandary regarding the construction of my iTunes playlist, which ended with my decision to stick to the 7” versions.

Take That’s Everything Changes included another Beatles medley, and there was yet another on A1’s Take On Me. One of the great travesties of my mission is that I must now own A1’s limp cover version (another candidate for the worst ever) but won’t get the pleasure of adding A-Ha’s classic original to the collection, it having stalled at Number Two. The fact that a free A1 poster was included is no consolation.

My final destination was Oxfam. I dipped into the 7” singles and found two possible quality improvements. The new copy of Leo Sayer’s When I Need You was a great deal better than the one I already had, but When Will I See You Again by the Three Degrees was worse. I passed on a copy of Sandie Shaw’s There’s Always Something There To Remind Me priced at an outrageous £4.99.

In the CD singles I found Blur’s Beetlebum, No Doubt’s Don’t Speak, Dilemma by Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland and Stay Another Day by East 17, often thought of as a Christmas record despite the fact that it doesn’t mention Christmas or anything to do with it. I bought a promotional version of Five’s Let’s Dance as a curio.

When I had paid for my goods the assistant made a brave attempt to squeeze my purchases into a carrier bag that was blatantly too small for the job. Eventually he abandoned the mission and chose to place the small bag inside a larger one along with the remaining items.

The rain continued to fall but it was time to go, so I bought a box of lager and a newspaper and waited for a bus to take me home.

* One of only five occasions that a Number One title has included a nationality or country.