Listen: Stronger / Thelma Jones
I recall hearing the last minute or so of ‘Stronger’ upon entering one of the many used vinyl shops along Ladbroke Grove in March ’77. Despite being totally infatuated with punk, my tastes were still pretty wide when it came to stuff before it, like glam and RnB and such. Plus it was just as hard to avoid a deep strong female voice then as it is now, and so Thelma Jones spiked my interest on the spot.
The bickering about the record’s £100 price sticker immediately disqualified me as it’s potential owner and I proceeded to get plenty light headed over stacks of other things. But I always remembered needing that Thelma Jones single on Sue from then on.
Almost ten years later to the day, I was working for Island and suddenly in the fortunate position of having access to the overflow of extras and forgotten copies that were stowed in various cabinets and cupboards around the St. Peter’s Square office. Rob Partridge, even then a long time employee was now head of press and showed me into a massive storage room bulging with multiples representing all eras, including a few boxes of Sue singles from the bygone days when Island distributed the US label in England.
Distributed initially that is, until Island’s Guy Stevens reportedly started licensing non Sue titles from America and issuing them on Sue UK, unbeknown to Juggy Murray who owned the original label. That resulting saga is easily found on many Sue Records fan and historical sites.
‘Stronger’ was one such record, having been released on the Barry label in the States. Upon finding the above copy amongst the Sue extras in that storage room, I was forever surprised to discover that the last minute I heard several years prior, whereby the “stronger’ lyric is on repeat, was actually the entire song from start to finish. No lyrics basically, and no chorus. Yet when it’s over, seems most folks are drawn to hear it all over again.