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Bops, Babes, Booze & Bovver, CD (£7.43)
Oi! Want bovver, mush?
Ace introduced its first Compact Disc line in 1986, and since then we've reformatted most of our best selling vinyl albums to fit those small shiny circles. It would be fair to say that , 17 years later, almost all of the classic Ace/Kent/Chiswick/Big Beat vinyls do now have a CD equivalent but, honest types that we are, we'd be the first to admit that there's still a handful of our long-serving catalogue albums that have so far eluded Cdfication.
By now, though we really are talking just a handful" and not a shelf-full. And this month we've taken a step towards making that handful ever-so-slightly smaller, by giving long-time catalogue resident WIK 66 a compact companion, and thereby giving the Nipple Erectors (and their more politely named abbreviation, the Nips) their first ever legitimate CD. To be fair, we've been asked many times to do the Nips on CD down the years. However the original vinyl of Bops, Babes, Booze and Bovver was thought to contain every recording the group made for our friends at Soho Records - thus we kinda felt like we'd be short-changing our loyal customers by issuing a midprice CD that contained only 8 tracks, and just 18 minutes of music. However, a recent reappraisal of the "N" section of our huge tape database revealed the existence of two further tracks, which were cut at the group's first session and which have lain undisturbed on their multitrack tape since 1977. Thus we now have a CD that runs nearly 25 minutes, and boasts a more acceptable 10 tracks.
That's virtually a full album now, of course, but being the honourable chaps that we are, it's one we still feel compelled to offer as a cor-blimey-guv'nor, you-don't-get-many-of-those-to-the-pound, budget release that, if you're buying it, you shouldn't really pay more than six quid for. What a deal, eh? You'd pay nearly that for your new Girls Aloud single, wouldn't you?...
So, what you get on this newly expanded Nipathon are both sides of each of the group's three Soho singles, each one a perfect example of Great British Punk. Plus you have two tracks - again from the first sessions - that saw light of day for the first time on the vinyl BBB+B, and, finally, a pair of freshly minted versions of two NE stage favourites Venus In Bother Boots and its spiritual companion Fuss And Bother. You also get the young Shane MacGowan in fine growling form, a young and renowned punk about town and still very much the "King Of The Bop" rather than the "King Of The (alcoholic) Pop" that he later became in his years as a Professional Irishman and frontsperson of Pogue Mahone/The Pogues. (Now there's a good bit of trivia for you - Shane might well be the only person in the world to have fronted two bands that have had to shorten their name to avoid public outrage, and to get their records played on the radio!). You also get Shane's then best gal Shanne Bradley, fresh from being preserved for posterity (allegedly) as the subject of the Sex Pistols' mighty Satellite and learning to become the pretty good bass player that she eventually did become as a member of the Pogues' 80s contemporaries the Men They Couldn't Hang.
You get 20-odd minutes of uproarious music that has stood the test of time rather better than has a lot of 1978's 'new wave' outpourings - including at least two undisputed genre classics in the anthemic (Gab-gab-gab) Gabrielle and the wild garage riffola of All The Time In The World. And, most of all, you get the musical answer to Mr MacGowan's time-honoured question that's been baffling music historians for a quarter of a century, "Why do - theycallmethekingofthabop?"
No need to bother with the answers on a postcard. They're all here. Still want bovver? Then you're in the right place for it. Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough...
by Tony Rounce