This was one of those holiday records from 1972. Sylvia was lovely - very skinny, with a big, wide-brimmed hat. It was the first time I went to a shop without my big sisters, who were into the Osmonds, and me and my Dad went to Fenwick in Leicester, and looked at the Top 40. I really wanted something by David Essex, which my sisters had, so I plumped for Sylvia because I knew neither of them would like it. It was a case of sibling rivalry. And I remember my dad told me I could pick anything I liked.
I didn't show any interest in pop music until that point. The sad truth is that I did fancy her; she was one of those women that eight-year-olds fancy. I didn't really listen to radio, but had seen her on Top of the Pops, among groups like The Sweet whom I didn't understand, and she was innocent and foreign. For all I know, she could have been from Scunthorpe, not Spain. Because it was this Spanish thing, it had lots of wobbly guitars, like in westerns, then after this introduction she came in singing. Although it was pre-disco, she sung over a four-to-the-floor stomp bass drum. It was jolly. But I certainly didn't dance in those days - I only discovered dancing about 10 years ago.
I think I listened to it once a day for a fortnight. It was the only record I owned, and on the B-side was one of those weird singles which had no song, but it had a groove. Instead of having a blank B-side they would have a fake one, a silent groove which is like a non-wiggly groove, so I just played three minutes of nothing.
Maybe it was a cover version of John Cage's "Four minutes 33", which he would conduct in front of a thousand people, and was four minutes and 33 seconds of silence.
Perhaps it was avant-garde that Sylvia was into on the B-side. If you were interviewing her, she would ask if you listened to her radical stuff! Sylvia was a classic one-hit wonder, and it would have been a great Eurovision record if she had managed to get it.
Last record: Sparklehorses, "Good Morning Spider"
I normally buy records four at a time. In my last batch, I got Sparklehorses' second album, which, surprisingly, is really good. When a record is the flavour of the month, and gets lots of good reviews, I generally run out and buy it, and don't understand why.
I like this because I like albums which have a variety with different tempos and textures. It starts off with a poppy punk rock song then, after two minutes, descends into a downer song, after which each song is radically different from every other.
Also the lead singer has a lovely voice, similar to Tom Waits'. It's like guitar music and American alternative rock. It's odd, and not predictable.
I got in to it immediately I put it on and couldn't believe it is an improvement on the first album. It's kind of like anti-Lo Fi in the way the guy sings, but it is recorded really beautifully. There is something perverse; weird, esoteric music recorded really well is a strange combination. It should be an amateur record, but the way it is recorded and performed is incredibly well constructed. It's like a Morris Minor built by a German car maker. Or something like that, anyway.
On the sleeve notes, he thanks a hospital in London who helped him after he took some sleeping pills, and was so sedated that the circulation in his legs was cut off. He had trouble walking and performing for quite a long time.
`Hatful of Rain: The Best of Del Amitri' is released on 7 SeptReuse content