Archive for the ‘Tower Records Piccadilly’ Category

Joan Armatrading

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Listen: Wrapped Around Her / Joan Armatrading JoanArmatradingWrappedAroundHer.mp3

Six years. That’s how long it was before Joan Armatrading played ‘Wrapped Around Her’ live in New York (August 5, 1999) post the single’s release. It was as unexpected as finding a stack of them in Tower Records’ on Piccadilly Circus one night.

For several years, there was a pattern in place. Take the 9am morning flight out of JFK to Heathrow, get in about 9pm, straight to the hotel, dump the bags and right over to Piccadilly Circus where Tower was open until midnight. Downstairs to the singles department, a true time warp into days gone by. Two solid walls of 7″ records, the entire Top 50 plus every last possible new release you could hope for…and more once you hit the bins.

The labels were by then using 7″ vinyl as loss leaders. Basically, they’d give retail a stack for free, thereby the shop would price them cheaply and the resulting detections would help the song into the charts – all in an effort to sell the cd version or more importantly the full length album. Very handy for a singles addict.

Really, it was like dying and going to heaven working for Island then, being the label was UK based. Meant I needed to make the trip often, sometimes very often. Top it off with an expense account that covered ‘competitive product’ purchases meant I’d burn through those racks like a tsunami, grabbing everything in sight.

On this particular trip, I had no idea ‘Wrapped Around Her’ was even scheduled. Can still vividly remember the very moment my eyes spotted it. Even Corinne stepped aside. You don’t get between me and a new Joan Armatrading record, not ever. There was no way I was not stocking up at 99p apiece. I bought twenty, and they felt so nice all together, a chunk of Joan Armatrading singles. Still have most of them too.

Back to the pattern: by midnight, we’d hit the checkout, then Corinne and I would walk over to my cousin Dinah’s on Clipstone Street, where I basically invited myself to live in ’73. Dinah never minded. She loved the company and we still reminisce constantly about those days. Now, like that night, she’d put on the kettle, force a few cups of sugary PG Tips plus endless slices of soda bread spread with too much Irish butter our way and proceed to have many a good laugh well into the early hours. Dinah’s tea, butter, bread and hospitality have never been topped.

I fired up her gramophone that evening and played ‘Wrapped Around Her’ repeatedly until they were both begging for mercy. Not only is it one of my all time favorite singles by anyone ever, but fuck, do I relive that night every last time it plays.