Paul The A&M Guy

Recently I was invited to join a FaceBook group for people who worked at A&M records in the UK because once, a long time ago, I was Paul The A&M Guy.

The A&M record label was founded in 1962 by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss. During the late sixties and seventies they signed lots of great British artists to add to their American roster including many of my personal favourites like The Police, Joan Armatrading, Squeeze and Supertramp.

Paul The A&M Guy

I wrote the following to introduce myself the FaceBook group members …

It was a long time ago (35 years) and I’m really struggling to remember much. I think I joined the sales team early in 1982 and only stayed until August 1983 when I got poached by Tandem (Chrysalis/Arista).

I only visited the office at 136-140 New Kings Road a few times, I remember some of the sales meetings were held elsewhere. A couple of meetings stand out in my memory – one where we were split into two only to find out that the other group were being made redundant and another time a “meeting” was held on a boat on the river.

My role was to travel the South West, from Southampton (my home town) down to Plymouth, up to South Wales. I called on chart return shops and a few of the chains on a weekly basis helping them complete their diaries – about ten shops a day. My point of contact was Marion in the sales office and the team boss was Brian.



I had a cerise satin bomber jacket with the A&M badge (it wasn’t as bad as it sounds – these were the eighties after all), a black tote bag, a display folder and a blue Mk3 Ford Escort L.



A couple of other events I remember were going to see “Party Party” with the tea, and the launch of “Synchronicity” at a chip up the road from the office.



After a few years of life with Tandem I opened my own shop The Disc & Tape Centre, in partnership with my friend Mike who was an ex Our Price manager, in Lymington. I remember one of our A&M reps at the shop was the bubbly Jackie Glendinning. I’m looking forward to connecting with some of the people I knew back then – maybe more memories will come flooding back!

That was me, Paul The A&M Guy.

8 Days Of 80’s ~ Day 8 ~ Crowded House ~ Love This Life

And so we come to Crowded House ~ Love This Life for day 8 of my “8 Days Of 80’s” … it’s been a lot of fun, so thanks again Rory for the nomination. As I’ve mentioned before these are just 8 random songs that could have been totally different. I picked them for each for individual reasons and today’s is no exception.

To be honest, I didn’t really “get” Crowded House until 1991. We stocked all the albums and Michael again played them to many of ur regular customers, I didn’t really have any strong feelings about them either way. Around the time Woodface launched in 1991 our EMI rep, Steve, gave us a special double promo cd “Live at the Town & Country Club” and that really resonated with me. I had seen Neil Finn in Split Enz back in 1976, I’d even promoted “Six Months In A Leaky Boat” during my time with A&M, but it wasn’t until their that third album they I really connected – and then they became a bit of an obsession!

I’ve now seen Neil Finn in his various incarnations (Split Enz, Crowded House, The Finn Brothers, and solo) more than any other artist. The last show we saw was 22nd September 2015 when Neil was touring with his son Liam. I’d go again tomorrow if I could.

So, it’s back to the second album, “Temple Of Low Men” from 1988, for this beautiful song that I feel is an apt finale to my “8 Days Of 80’s”

Crowded House ~ Love This Life

Here’s the orginal album version featuring Neil, Nick and Paul (RIP)

And here’s Neil performing it live a few years ago…

For more about Crowded House TRY HERE for Wiki
Or TRY HERE for Friends Of The Enz

Thanks for reading my 8 Days Of 80’s and please “Love This Life”

P x

8 Days Of 80’s ~ Day 7 ~ Deacon Blue ~ Dignity

Day 7 of 8 Days Of 80’s and I’ve gone with Deacon Blue’s “Dignity”.

Carrying on from yesterdays post and my time running the Disc & Tape Centre with Michael – such good times, so many concerts and nights out. Michael always had great ears for music and championed many new acts to our customers. Deacon Blue were one such act.

We had good friends at CBS who were very excited about Deacon Blue and frustrated by the difficulty they had establishing the band. “Dignity” has been officially released as a single three times. It was first released in May 1987 as the first single before the release of their debut album Raintown. The single failed to chart and sales on the album were slow to start. After the release of two more singles(“Loaded” and “When Will You Make My Telephone Ring”), “Dignity” was re-recorded late in 1987 and the new mix released early in 1988 as the fourth single.

On the 29th March 1988 we were invited as guests of CBS to see them at Southampton Top Rank, which closed not long after. It was a very good night, Fairground Attraction were support and their debut single “Perfect” reached number one a few weeks later. “Dignity” was finally hit too and things finally started to happen for Deacon Blue. This also meant their previous singles became very collectable which takes me on to think about record fairs and our involvement in the collectors market … but that’s another story.

I’ve seen Deacon Blue at least once more and would like to see them again.

8 Days Of 80’s ~ Day 6 ~ Bruce Hornsby & The Range ~ The Way It Is

Today is day six in my 8 Days Of 80’s FaceBook challenge and I’ve picked Bruce Hornsby & The Range with “The Way It Is”. I was nominated to take part in the 8 Days Of 80’s by one of my American friends, Rory, I’m supposed to nominate two more people each day but I’d prefer to see if anyone contacts me to be nominated – so if you are interested please let me know. These are just 8 random tracks – I could have picked 800 others!

As well as posting the 8 songs on FaceBook I’ve been telling my eighties story and putting some context to my choices.

In 1986 I opened The Disc & Tape Centre in Lymington in partnership with my friend Michael. I have so many wonderful memories of this time in my life – Ce and I had just got married and we moved from our first house on Calmore to a new-build which as been our home ever since.

Yet again there are so many stories I could tell about the business but you’ll have to buy me a cuppa if you want to know more than I’m sharing here – with just two more days of my challenge to go!

IMG_0002
This is a picture Michael took of me with my mum and dad at about the time of the opening of the shop in the front doorway. I’m wearing a promo sweat-shirt for Adele Bertei – remember her? In fairness I couldn’t name any of her tracks. CLICK HERE to see her on video. I think I lived in promotional clothing for most of the 80’s and a fair bit of the 90’s!

Bruce Hornsby & The Range ~ The Way It Is

The single was also title track from their debut the album which also featured the songs “Mandolin Rain” and “Every Little Kiss”. I still have a promo CD that our RCA rep, Shay, gave us of a Hornsby concert from “The Way It Is Tour 1986-87”

To find out more about “The Way It Is” CLICK HERE

8 Days Of 80’s ~ Day 5 ~ Ray Parker Jr ~ Ghostbusters

8 Days Of 80’s ~ Day 5 ~ Ray Parker Jr ~ Ghostbusters

Yesterday I talked about the Chrysalis side of Tandem so today it’s Arista. Artists on the lable during my time included The Thompson Twins, The Lotus Eaters, Nick Hayward, Whitney Houston, Jermaine Jackson, Meatloaf (who once rode his motorcycle through a false wall into a sales conference) and Ray Parker Jr.

During my time working for the three record companies each one was linked to a film. While I was at A&M they had, what turned out to be a cult-favourite, the British comedy Party Party CLICK HERE. Chrysalis had Huey Lewis and the News had The Power Of Love CLICK HERE on the first Back To The Future soundtrack and Arista had Ray Parker Jr and Ghostbusters. This meant lots of trips to preview showings in Soho, promotional items and tickets to take people to see the films – it was a tough life!

Because the new version has just been released it seemed right to select Ghostbusters to represent my time at Arista.

Ray Parker Jr ~ Ghostbusters

The Ghostbusters single made number two over here (for three weeks) but was a number one in the USA and plenty of other places – I guess we were a rubbish promotions team! My car was full of singles, soundtrack albums, t-shirts and stickers!


Now, here’s the really freaky thing, when Ghostbusters was released, Huey Lewis sued Ray Parker Jr. for plagiarism, claiming the melody came from “I Want a New Drug”. The two parties settled out of court. It was all a bit weird working for both companies at the time.

That’s Day 5 of my 8 Days Of 80’s, tomorrow I’ll be looking at what happened when I left working for record companies to set up my own shop in partnership with my friend Michael.

8 Days Of 80’s ~ Day 4~ Theophilus P. Wildebeeste a.k.a. Lenny Henry ~ Big Love

Day 4 of the 8 Days Of The 80’s FaceBook challenge ~ Lenny Henry ~ Big Love on Chrysalis Records.

After our wedding in 1983 I moved from A&M Records to work for a company called Tandem who promoted two record companies ~ Chrysalis and Arista. As I mentioned in my last post I left A&M the day before our wedding and I was actually unemployed until 10 days later when I started my new job at the Tandem annual sales conference. The Escort was replaced by a company Cavalier and I switched are slightly to cover Central Southern England. The company ran out of offices in Cavendish Square and I have many great memories from this time.

On the Chrysalis label were Spandau Ballet, Billy Idol, Huey lewis, Go West, Paul Hardcastle, David Grant, Pat Benatar and many more great acts. I helped promote numerous Top 10 singles, quite a few of which reached number one, but for todays entry I’ve decided to pick something that wasn’t quite so big.

Theophilus P. Wildebeeste (Lenny Henry) ~ Big Love

Big Love is taken from the 1983 “Stand up … Get Down” album, this track see’s Lenny as Theophilus P. Wildebeeste (his tribute to Teddy Pendergrass). This was one of his characters, along with pirate radio DJ Delbert Wilkins and newsreader Trevor MacDoughnut, who were featured the following year on his big hit BBC1 TV show. I got to see Lenny Henry a couple of times. The first was at a small comedy show over a pub in Croydon when he was working on his material, then at Surrey University in Guildford where I took a handful of the shop owners I called on and did a “meet and greet” after the show in his dressing room, he was very gracious and a lot of fun.

For more about Lenny Henry CLICK HERE

This picture hangs in our downstairs “toilet of fame”, it’s a bit faded now but still a cherished part of my collection of autographs and special gold and silver discs.

Lenny

This is day 4 ~ check back on the blog to see the previous three entries.

8 Days Of 80’s ~ Day 3 ~ Joe Jackson ~ Another World

8 Days Of 80’s ~ Day 3 ~ Joe Jackson ~ Another World

My friend Rory challenged me to take part in the 8 Days Of 80’s FaceBook campaign and this is day three from me.

On A&M Records
I got to sell/plug/promote artists like The Police, Supertramp, Joan Armatrading, Squeeze, Split Enz, Elkie Brooks, Chris De Burgh, Janet Jackson’s first singles and album and Joe (no relation) Jackson, so today I picket a track from the amazing Night & Day album.

I have many great memories of my time at A&M working out of the offices on New Kings Road, it was like a dream come true to finally get a job in the record industry. I had a company car (Ford Escort) full of records, a company folder, tote bad and bomber jacket – I was living the dream! During my time with the company I saw many great gigs and went to exclusive functions like a fish and chip supper at a trendy restaurant on The Kings Road to launch a Police album.

I left A&M the day before I got married, I dropped my car back to the offices with Adrian/Norm (my best man) who was driving me back to Southampton, and they took us out for lunch to say goodbye – this delayed our return to Southampton and we nearly missed picking up the wedding paperwork from the registrars office in Romsey (but that’s another story).

Joe Jackson ~ Another World
As I say this is from the incredible Night and Day album, there were a number of tracks I could have selected, most notably “Steppin Out” and “Breaking Us In Two” but I decided to go with this one. I’ve seen Joe and his band many times over the years but the tours for this album were brilliant, Sue Hadjopoulos is an amazing percussionist and she brought even more energy to the band.

Joe Jackson with Sue Hadjopoulos

8 Days Of 80’s ~ Day 2 ~ Champaign ~ How ‘Bout Us

8 Days Of 80’s ~ Day 2 ~ Champaign ~ How ‘Bout Us

It’s day two of my attempt to pick eight tracks from the eighties and share them on FaceBook. If you’d like to take part message me and I’ll nominate you.

Champaign ~ How ‘Bout Us
This was released early in 1981 and was a top 10 hit here. The group named themselves after their hometown of Champaign, Illinois, and featured Pauli Carman and Rena Jones on vocals. “How ‘Bout Us” was written by keyboard player Dana Walden.

The significance to me was that it was one of the big ballads of that year, the year I went to DJ full time in Jersey and met Ce, my wife. This was the song we picked for our first dance when we married in 1983.

CLICK HERE to find out more about my time in Jersey.

8 Days Of 80’s ~ Day 1 ~ John Lennon ~ Woman

My first choice is John Lennon. Sorry, let me explain, my friend Rory, who currently lives with his lovely wife Gina in Hayward near San Francisco, challenged me to take part in “8 Days Of 80’s” on FaceBook. I’m supposed to post an 80’s video each day & nominate two people to do the same for eight days. Those two people (if they choose) should then, in turn nominate two more people etc. BUT I don’t like nominating people unless they want to take part – so, if you want to take part, please let me know.

Obviously I could chose hundreds of tracks so these aren’t going to be my definitive choices, they are just where my mind takes me while I’m doing the challenge. If you think some of these tracks are naff …. get over it! I could have chosen far worse!!

I thought I’d use the opportunity to give a little more substance and context to my selections and so for the next 8 days I’ll be posting my selections here too with added waffle.

Day 1 ~ John Lennon ~ Woman

“Woman” is taken from John Lennon’s 1980 album Double Fantasy. He chose it to be the second single and it was released in January 1981 after he was murdered on 8 December 1980. CLICK HERE for more about John Lennon

I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news of John’s death, visiting a friend near Penzance in my old MGB. I was at a point in my life where I had no real idea of where I was going, I was already DJ’ing but working in the motor trade as a parts salesman /delivery driver and getting ready to visit Jersey for the first time.

Having visited Liverpool last week I felt this was as good a choice as any to start my 8 Days Of 80’s