Monday, 10 April 2017


1: THE WILD PLACES - Duncan Browne

by Dave Roberts

It's odd how pieces of music you haven't heard for many years will suddenly come back into your head as if out of nowhere.

This happened to me recently when I was sitting around, thinking of nothing in particular, and a long-lost track which I'm sure I haven't heard since I played it back in our 'glory days' at the Vaults in Middlewich in 1979, seeped into my consciousness.

It was The Wild Places by Duncan Browne, a record which was never even a hit - other than a 'turntable hit', as we used to say - and which we must only have played, at most, about half a dozen times.

Nothing happened to spark this off.

Nobody mentioned Duncan Browne; nobody said anything about 'wild places', it was all completely out of the blue.

This sort of thing happens to everyone, of  course, and quite frequently. 

A piece of music floats into your mind, bringing back sensations, feelings and, above all, memories of a time long gone.
But usually that piece of music is something which you've heard many times and has become a part of 'the soundtrack to your life', as we also used to say.

This was something quite different.

We never restricted ourselves to 'disco' music at the Vaults. We played everything that got in to the charts.  Stuff like Matchstick Men and Matchstick Cats and Dogs, One Day At A Time and, yes, even Day Trip To Bangor were all fair game.

And we also played records which never made it into the 'BBC and Record Mirror Chart', which we followed religiously at that time. 

Steve Wells, who ran what has in more recent years been Chisholm's Newsagents in Wheelock Street, supplied our records and, every Thursday, Steve and I got together and looked through all the new releases to see what we thought might get into the chart and what we thought might not.

Usually we got it right, but sometimes we failed; something which sounded like a sure-fire chart entry would, inexplicably, fail to get anywhere.

So Duncan Browne taking us to The Wild Places is a vivid reminder of those days; an elusive little fragment of a memory which can take us back to a different time - a different era really.

An era when all our music came from 45rpm singles or 33rpm albums (unless, like Cliffy, we were 'wired for sound' and plugged our headphones into our Walkmans - or should that be Walkmen?)

An era when to have coloured lights which flashed in time to the music was still regarded as 'cool'; when a 100 watt amplifier was considered 'massive'; when getting in a stock of Shure styli to ensure against breakages during a rough weekend at the Vaults was a must.

So come back with us now, courtesy of YouTube, to 1979 and hear Duncan Browne and The Wild Places, a rare piece of Dees Disco Solid Gold...

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