Paul Jackson Music

Paul Jackson Music

Thursday, 22 May 2014

#18: Relax in Richmond

I now work in Richmond, which is a pleasant riverside town situated in Surrey/Greater London. One aspect of my new job is to do with archived Top 40 UK singles charts, where one can pick a date and listen to the Top 40 singles from that time,  A personal favourite era of mine has always been 1984 when, as a ten year old, my already established musical passions were further enhanced by the arrival of some amazing records. As I was listening back to some chart playlists from thirty years ago, one particular Top Ten stood out by being bookended by two notable tracks. 'Relax' by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and 'White Lines' by Grandmaster and Melle Mel (not Grandmaster Flash as is often erroneously reported).
Marrick Priory, North Yorkshire

Aside from both tracks coincidentally featuring the phrase 'Don't do it' a lot, another coincidence is that listening to these two tracks in Richmond, Surrey, takes me on a nostalgic trip to Richmond, North Yorkshire
In January 1984, I went on a junior school trip to North Yorkshire, where a large group of us resided at Marrick Priory for a few days. It was freezing cold and we were surrounded by deep snow, in which we made daily treks out to places of interest; including a trip to Richmond swimming baths. From starting swimming lessons at junior school, to current family outings to the local baths, I have never been a fan of swimming pools for a number of reasons which have no place on my blog. Needless to say they attack many of the senses including the sound, the sights, the smells, the heat (or general lack of) and many many more. Enough for me to shudder at the thought.

At the age of nine and ten months (because at that age you still counted the months) I couldn't think of anything I wanted to do less. And then the highlight of the school trip came, and one which I remember fondly. We were given the option of either swimming in the baths, or sitting in the cafeteria. Obviously I chose the latter and although I can't remember exactly who else was with me in there, I do have a vivid memory of 'what' was in there. 

A jukebox! 

I can't quite recall if I had seen one before, let alone used one, but suddenly myself and some schoolfriends soon dug out a few coins between us from our holiday pocket money and started to feed this large record box of lights and buttons and seven inch vinyl discs. And we played only two tracks on it: 'Relax' and 'White Lines'. 

I don't know how well I knew the records before that time but I knew of them well enough to want to play them several times. I remember it being an exciting moment listening to them with friends sat around the jukebox. 'Relax' had gone to number one in the charts after moving up and down the Top 40 over the previous three months, and stayed at or near the top for most of 1984.'White Lines' was recorded by Melle Mel without Grandmaster Flash even knowing about the track. Similarly with 'The Message' which still gets credited as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five though Flash had nothing to do with it.

However, 'White Lines' became one of the remaining group's biggest hits and entered the Top 10 in early 1984 and fully entered my conciousness via the jukebox in Richmond, North Yorkshire,

Fast forward some thirty years (and change) and I'm sat in another Richmond town, listening to the same singles on what is now dubbed a 'digital jukebox' with as much love for the tracks as I had back then, and a little less for swimming baths.