31.3.12

THE BILLY CHILDISH : The 1982 Cassetes (Hangman LP, 1988).

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Suspending disbelief for a moment, & imagining that Discogs isn't just an opportunistic flea market free-for-all for aspiring Del Boys, then The 1982 Cassetes is without a doubt the most "valuable" record I own. There's a copy for sale on there at the moment, a snip at £500, though I suspect a generous pinch of salt might be in order? I paid £1.99 for my copy, at Nottingham's much-missed Selectadisc, in the mid 90s, along with a stack of other, equally neglected, late 80s Childish releases, all of which have since become stupendously "rare", though I doubt many of 'em would fetch anything like half a grand...

Released in 1988 on Billy's own Hangman label, along with a torrent of other similarly low key &/or esoteric vinyl-only titles, The 1982 Cassetes (Billy's spelling, not mine) was the fruit of an advantageous non-profit production deal with Revolver - the gist being that R.T. would press up & distribute a small run (300-500 copies) of anything Billy delivered to them, on the understanding that he would relinquish his royalties (or something to that effect). As, throughout the late 80s & early 90s, Billy was content to live a frugal life of painting & signing on, supplementing his meagre income with an occasional Thee Mighty Caesars or Thee Headcoats show, it must've seemed an ideal artistic arrangement. And the result, in time, was Hangman's enviable back catalogue. The label eventually folded in the mid-90s, partially due to an unfortunate incident involving some unlicensed Link Wray demos, which had allegedly been obtained in exchange for an answering machine!

Despite looking like it might've been taken with a Kodak Coloursnap circa 1962, the striking cover portrait features, of course, Billy & then-girlfriend Tracey Emin - another reason why used copies of the album currently command such an inflated sum, perhaps? As it's title suggests, The 1982 Cassetes' budget didn't extend far beyond the cost of a blank tape - adequately recorded using a couple of tracks, Billy often sounds like he's improvising his lyrics, while accompanying himself with some very primitive guitar (i.e. it's a bona fide "condenser mic in the bathroom" affair). Though I doubt it's anybody's favourite Childish-related release, it's nonetheless a particularly interesting one, offering rare insights into his elementary production methods, his austere breadline lifestyle, & the beginnings of his self-mythology. I found it very hard going when I first heard it, nigh on 20 years ago, but I've grown to really love it.

Seriously though, isn't it about time somebody started reissuing this stuff?

4 comments:

  1. sonic7.5.12

    I have a really nice copy of this original, green labels and all -- I imagine it would be difficult to find someone stateside willing to part with 800 bucks for it (DiscOgs), but I am looking to sell -- any thoughts as to who might want it and what I could really get for it? Ain't nuthin out there sounds like this....

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  2. Trying listing it on Discogs with a suitably silly price tag, that seems to be standard practice these days! £500 is possibly a little "optimistic" (!), but you might want to try it at £200 & see if anybody bites? Billy's work goes for silly money on eBay too these days, worth a go?

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  3. Would you be able to re-upload this album? The link is dead.

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  4. Link restored - enjoy!

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