There’s only one thing good about Hallowe’en and that’s tablet. I despise Hallowe’en. Really properly hate it. I think it dates back to the times when I was a wee boy and I was sent out every year as a one-man band – my Dad’s old guitar (it was old then, it’s ancient now), a coathanger fashioned into a half-arsed harmonica harness, two cardboard cymbals between the knees and a massive big bass drum hanging off my skinny shoulders right down to my backside. Oh, and a couple of bells strapped round my ankles for added effect. “Who…what….are you meant to be?” they’d always ask and I’d mumble the answer while stuffing monkey nuts into a poly bag already full of monkey nuts. Then I’d shamble off to the next house sounding like the Eastenders theme falling down the stairs. With bells on.
“Can I not just be a skeleton next year Dad?”
“We’ll see son, we’ll see…”
Not that I’m scarred for life or anything. I’ve just spent the last couple of hours in classic grumpy old man fashion, hanging cheap orange and black Poundland tat from the outside walls of my garage and front door. An inflatable bat here, a plastic pumpkin there. Tat, tat and more tat. At least the kids’ll like it though. Hang some of that junk to your wall and it’s an open invitation to all and sundry. I expect literally hundreds of the wee grubbers round here tomorrow night, with their rubbish jokes and shop-bought costumes (there’ll be no one-man bands, I can guarantee you that), rattling my letterbox just as The One Show kicks off. “Oany tablet mister?”
Heres 2 version of a vaguely Hallowe’en themed double whammy (thanks to Big Stuff for the inspiration).
Spooky was first recorded by Classics IV, a band from Florida featuring a singing drummer and harmonies to rival the Wilson family. They were so laid back and chilled out they make Fleetwood Mac seem like Sonic Youth in comparison. Indeed, they practically invented the whole ‘soft rock’ genre. Gads. Spooky is almost garage band in presentation, but if you listen closely to the clipped guitar and polite vibraphone you just know they were heading in a different direction entirely. Indeed, by the time you’ve picked up on the lack of fuzz bass and the singing drummer’s vocal inflections (groovy, baby), it’s clear they’d bought a one-way ticket to mid-70s elevator muzak central, sax solos ‘n all. And it was only 1968.
Dusty Springfield hid her version away on the b-side of 1970’s How Can I Be Sure. Picked up since by hip samplers and happenin’ film soundtrack compilers, it’s been rightly placed amongst the canon of her best work. Dusty practically breathes the vocal across the top like a butterfly on a breeze as her fingers click in time to the coolest Fender Rhodes this side of Ronnie Scott’s in 1972. Even more cocktail lounge than the Classics IV version, it had, for a brief two and a half groovy minutes there made me forget the reason I was posting it in the first place.
There’s no tablet, by the way. I ate it all. Every last tooth-melting soft ‘n sugary bit of it. Right at this minute I am, as someone once sang, shakin’ all over. What’re ye goin’ as?
REM did Spooky now and again in concert. Here they are in Hamburg a couple of years ago: