Saturday, 14 July 2012

Saturday Scratch #3

In the early 1980s, purely because I worked in the local record shop, I was offered the opportunity to host my own Hospital Radio show. Visions of being hailed as the new John Peel flowed through my mind and I readily accepted.

When the day of my first show arrived, I headed off to the hospital with little preparation and no records - no need, I was told, the station had a bountiful supply of donated records, enough for a hundred shows. On arrival at the studio I was indeed greeted by a huge quantity of records...Foster & Allen, Mantovani, Charley Pride, Val Doonican, James Last, Johnny Mathis, Daniel O'Donnell, Klaus Wunderlich you name them, they were all there on the shelves of a musical wall of horror. My heart sank.

Needless to say, from my second show onwards, I made greater preparations and took my own tunes. That first week, however, I went through every last record in the studio in an effort to find an hour's worth of broadcastable music - the pickings were very slim indeed. On-air, I mumbled and waffled from nerves and also to cover the fact that I had scarcely anything decent to play.

Bizarrely and unaccountably, however, I found a 7" single of The Jolly Brothers 'Conscious Man' in amongst all the dross. I played it instantly. Then I played the dub version on the b-side. Then I rambled on a bit about reggae in general, Lee Perry in particular and the Black Ark studio where the track was recorded in 1977...I might have even played the a-side again!

What the patients on the wards upstairs made of my efforts that day, or in the slightly more organised weeks and months that followed, is thankfully lost in the mists of time, but whenever I hear the distinctive, squelchy, couldonlycomefromtheblackark intro to 'Conscious Man' I'm transported back to that studio and it's musical wall of horror.

Here's the full 12" mix. Have a great weekend.


C said...

What a shame that the 'bountiful supply of donated records' should contain so little of real interest - and isn't that nearly always, disappointingly, the case? If I'd been a patient in one of those wards at the time, listening to Daniel O'Donnell and Val Doonican et al would have made me even more ill. (Either that or sped up my recovery, perhaps, in a bid to get out of there as soon as possible - ah, maybe that was the idea?!) Anyway at least you found something refreshingly different amongst the dross and it was probably the first time it had been aired on there...I'm sure it would have made a number of patients smile.

Old Pa's Corner said...

Great post TS...reminds me of being in hospital many many years ago....the hospital ask me to give a request....the had no Joy Division, Tear Drop get the picture....I ended up requesting I'd Rather go Blind by Chicken Shack which they had,,,great record....I as uin there with an eye injury playing squash...not aware of the's good of course...I like Saturday Scratch

flycasual said...

nice post mr Swede. Go to the Orb's website (, they have a free download of the new collaboration with Lee Scratch Perry, 'Hold Me Upsetter'. That is if you haven't done it already of course...BO!

Singing Bear said...

Fab post, sir. Hospital radio DJ! I think that's great. The musical wall of horror sounds like almost every charity shop bin I've ever flicked through! Arrrggghhh! Do they really want the poor folk to get better? makes you wonder. As for The Jolly Brothers - this is one of my favourite roots reggae tracks. Perry genius strikes again. If I was in hospital, I'd definitely welcome them at my bedside.

The Swede said...

Thanks for the positive vibes one and all.

The postscript to the story is that when I mentioned the Jolly Brothers 7" to the station controller, his reaction to it was much as mine was to the whole wall of horror! He told me to keep the single on the grounds that it wasn't suitable for hospital radio and he had no idea where it came from. I couldn't do it though, even though I didn't then own a copy. I tucked it back into the middle of a pile of utterly naff records in the hope that it would one day be re-discovered by a desperate DJ with similar tastes to my own. I wonder if it ever got another airing?

(flycasual, already done, thanks to a tip on the Tunedoctor Twitter feed!)

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