Diane Wynd, wherever you are, thank you.
So I was aware that this was a potential rare gem, but convinced that when I pulled the record from the sleeve, I would find either a copy of 'Desdemona' so damaged as to be unplayable or, even worse, a Frank Ifield single in the wrong cover. In the event, the sleeve contained a near pristine copy of 'Desdemona'. With uncharacteristic maturity, I tried to control my breathing and told myself not to become over-excited, as I swallowed hard and asked the price. The man in the cap who ran the stall took a drag from his cigarette, sucked his teeth, thought for a second and said - '10p'. That was the hardest moment of all, I stifled a yelp of delight. He didn't realise the significance of the record! Hands shaking, I gave him the coin, he dropped the single into a brown paper bag and I was off home, heart beating fast and sweat trickling down my back.
The old faithful.
Back in my room I fired up my trusty Fidelity HF43 mono record player and listened to 'Desdemona' a couple of times. It was impossibly thrilling to hear Marc's voice, instantly recognisable, as he echoed the title refrain. Then, needless to say, I phoned all my friends to gloat about my good fortune. Everyone was at my place within the hour and it was orange squash and jaffa cakes all round as we played the single several times over to let it all sink in and make all-important attempts at transcribing the lyrics. Then we played the b-side. If we'd considered 'Desdemona' to be somewhat raw and primitive, compared to the lush Tony Visconti T.Rex productions our ears were attuned to, the opening few seconds of 'Remember Thomas à Becket' completely blew our young minds. 40 years on from that first play, it still sounds pretty far-out to me.
'Remember Thomas à Becket' features no Marc Bolan involvement - that's his predecessor in John's Children, Geoff McClelland, on guitar. The song was re-written and re-recorded later in 1967, emerging as a slightly more trippy, less freaky A-side, with the flowered-up title, 'Come and Play With Me in the Garden'.