Spinning Platters Picks Six: Gems from My British Top 30 Tape

by Gordon Elgart on September 29, 2009

I'm pretty sure this was the model of my first tape deck.  That was a while ago, though.  Could be wrong.

I'm pretty sure this was the model of my first tape deck. That was a while ago, though. Could be wrong.

Getting my first tape deck was an amazing event in my life.  I went from constantly living on the whim of the DJ to being able to program my own little radio station of my favorite songs.  The one recorded-from-radio mixtape I listened to most often before it met its sad and sudden end at some point in the early 90s was a 60-minute cassette of songs recorded in 1985 off of a radio show called The British Top 30.  This show was amazing because it played songs by bands I’d never heard of, and surely never would.  And then some songs from bands I had heard of, but new songs!  How exciting!  Imagine being able to hear songs that magically appear from all the way around the world!

Atfer this tape broke, there were a few lost songs, ones that I would surely never hear again (along with some I can hear pretty easily as you’ll see in a moment).  But then the Internet happened, and now listening to these old favorites from my late great tape is as easy as surfing over to YouTube.  So now I present to you six classics from my British Top 30 tape.

1.  Jim Diamond – I Should Have Known Better.  I had never heard of this guy before, and I’ve still barely heard of him.  I just like the vocal style, and the simple lyrics in the chorus.  It’s fun to sing along too, I promise.

2.  Nik Kershaw – The Riddle.  I don’t think this riddle is solvable, but here’s a nice pop song.  I was proud of myself for recognizing the Beatles reference even in my youth.

3.  Elaine Paige & Barbara Dickson – I Know Him So Well.  Here’s some things I didn’t know about this song when I was younger:  it’s written by the two guys from Abba, it’s from a musical, and the two singers are kind of a big deal on the British stage.

4.  Tears For Fears – Shout.  (Embedding Disabled By Request because major labels are dumb unless they want to give me free tickets to shows, in which case they’re awesome.)  This was the first I had ever heard of Tears For Fears, and I absolutely loved them.  When it turned out that you could actually buy their records in the U.S., I was thrilled beyond belief.  They played the Agora Ballroom when I was 12, and you needed to be either 14 or 16 to get in there, and I think I may have actually cried about this.

5.  Paul McCartney and The Frog Chorus – We All Stand Together.  Sometimes the British Top 30 would play the long version, sometimes the short version.  I only managed to record the short version. I didn’t hear the long version until I bought this picture disc.  Finally, back in my eBayer days, I found an actual Rupert video and was able to see the animation that goes with it.

6.  Grandmaster Melle Mel & the Furious Five – Step Off.  This is the track that introduced me to rap.  I know the whole 7″ version by heart, and years later, my friend Tom will still ask me to perform it for him.  Although there’s no official video to this single, there is a “Step Off MegaMix” video on YouTube that features a few Sugar Hill hits all mixed together.  You can watch the video or listen to the original 12″, too.

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

homemadehitshow September 29, 2009 at 1:51 pm

Cool pics, if we have these kind of posts I could possibly post forever 🙂


Gordon Elgart September 29, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Don't we have these kinds of posts? I mean, it's not the only kind of post we have, but surely we have them. Go ahead! Post forever!


homemadehitshow September 29, 2009 at 1:57 pm

We have them for sure but I was holding back LOL


Joby September 29, 2009 at 10:32 pm

“Everything Must Change” by Paul Young! Also I remember “Love and Pride” by King being on that tape, but my version of it doesn't have that, so I could be wrong.


Gordon Elgart September 30, 2009 at 12:06 am

“Love and Pride” wasn't on this tape, but you're right about the Paul Young song. I've got King coming on a future Picks Six, though.


Ben September 30, 2009 at 7:39 am

General comment: It will be remarkable to look back at the past decade and fully understand how digitizing music completely upended every aspect of how we enjoy our music.

Mixtapes being classic example. It was a BIG DEAL to make someone a mixtape back then. You needed the time, the music collection, and the equipment. You needed good judgement to produce something really listenable. You really only did it for good friends, or else, for a really cute girl you were into.

And now? Illegal peer-to-peer sharing aside — the impersonal equivalent of putting your collection on a street corner for people to duplicate — it seems to me the whole idea of putting together a collection of songs for someone is so trivially easy as to make the gesture a lot less meaningful. I mean, if a high schooler burns a disc for a girl nowadays, would it even register with their peers? (I have no idea, my kids are too young.)

Personal aside: I think you used that tape deck to make me my first mixtape of Queen. Legendary! I think I still have that tape, actually. Years later in college I would assiduously tape Dr. Demento off the radio and do some live-splicing to make sure I could skip the junk or repeated songs. I think I still have those tapes too. Less than legendary.


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