Possibly as many as ten years ago I received an email from a stranger asking me curtly if I "...still had Threads Of Life, Alco." I wondered what the person meant for for a minute, but then worked out that they must have been referring to a record that I probably had mentioned on my website. I was in the habit of listing records I had bought as a sort of charity-shop hipster's version of conspicuous consumption, so the email flicked a switch that eventually turned the light bulb on that hovered above my head and shortly after that the dollar signs appeared in my eyes. At first Google told me nothing, which was kind of a good sign, and then deep in GEMM's listings I found some dude trying to flog this record for $1403 (funny figure, I know, but worth about half that in sterling at the time). At this point I started to wonder whether I really was in posession of the record myself, but after about ten minutes of sweaty fingering (a favourite hobby of mine) I was holding the 12" piece of treasure I never knew I had. I had bought it in Sally Ann's amongst a bunch of other records just on general cover-based instinct. I'm not a proper record collector by any means, although fuck knows I've got enough of them, but back then I was a real amateur, as this post plainly shows. Amazingly, the record was in really good nick too. I've actually just been in Twitter-correspondence with the always-worth-reading Kid Shirt, who sent me a link to someone selling another copy:
Alco -Threads Of Life - Rare Private Issue Progressive EURO 1350
Alco – Threads Of Life (UK Alco ALC530 – 1972) Ex /Ex+ Stunning condition copy of this incredibly rare private press progressive album. Recorded by the band Alco at University of Surrey Mobile Studio in 1972. A-Side contains a wonderful progressive suite, including sections augumented with the Itchen Orchestra conducted by Jonathan Palmer. B-side is just Alco themselves who are Tim Caesar – keyboards and lead vocals, Paul Fidlin – bass / lead / vocals, Ben Brooke – lead / bass / vocals and Julian Caesar, drums, / synthesizer / vocals. There are some tracks by the Itchen College Barbershop Shoppers at the end. Tracks are
Side A : Threads Of Life Suite (i) When I Was A Child (ii)Rain Upon My Mind (iii) In My Dreams. Side B : (1) Waiting To Be Born (2) Look At The Clouds (3) Hello Love (4) The Chordbuster (5) Carry Me Back To Old Virginny(6) De Animals(7) Humble (8) Bill Grogan’s Goat (9) Ashmolian
Funnily enough this listing contains several words that seem to allude to various Um themes and private mythologies. I used to clean the toilets at The University Of Surrey, for example, so it's nice to think that the karmic wheel had a done a full 360 with this one. Anyway, I was so freaked out at the thought of the record's value that I metaphorically hugged the thing close to my body and shooed the guy away who was enquiring about buying it off me, and for all I know he could have had very deep pockets. It seemed a cruel twist of fate that he should alert me to the value of the thing and in doing so place it further from his reach, if you know what I mean. The thing is I'm selling records at the moment, as I literally cannot move for the things both in the sense that my living space is severely restriced by them, and also they would represent such a collossal inconvenience if I ever wanted to get out of my current accommodation that it actually puts me off considering it. Plus I've got a lot of stuff that I have no interest in owning due to buying job lots or taking gambles on covers (innit!) or inheriting record collections just because people see you as some kind of record nut (a self-perpetuating myth rather like the harmoniums at Crabapple, where people donated harmoniums because of the harmoniums). And lastly because, although I have been laughably skint my entire adult life, I have never been as potlessly piss-poor as I am at the moment. I'm currently trying to sustain body and soul for myself and 50% of an 8-year old on about 50 quid a week and it ain't really possible, let me tell you. My JSA hasn't turned up this week and that's been just fucking calamitous.
Live rates at 2009.10.25 14:42:58 UTC
1,350.00 EUR = 1,236.99 GBP
Euro United Kingdom Pounds
1 EUR = 0.916288 GBP 1 GBP = 1.09136 EUR
would be extremely welcome, so if you're reading this let it be known that here at Um we say that IT'S ALL GRIST meaning art and life are one and the same if this post could function as an engine that alchemically transmogrifies my fated chance encounter with the certain Threads Of Life into actual Malcom McLaren-style CASH then I could actually go and buy myself the beer I could do with or pay my son's dinner money or something.