Friday, 22 May 2009

Oops! Wrong Planet

When I browse through my music collection, as I do from time to time, I come across certain LPs which fill me with a sort of how-on-earth-did-I-get-to-own-that feeling. Here’s the story of one of them.

At the end of the seventies, I left home and shared a dilapidated house in London’s Brondesbury Park with a small army of others. One of the female inhabitants had a copy of Utopia’s ‘Oops! Wrong Planet’ (Todd Rundgren’s band when it was recorded in 1977) which she played from time to time and I thought reasonably interesting but nothing special. Little did I know that this album would inexorably find its way into my collection some years later.

My job at that time involved the management of commercial properties in the West Midlands which meant a drive up the grid-locked M1 every so often to deal with property related issues. One such jaunt took me to Wolverhampton where there was a dispute on at a shop property close to the town centre on the corner of Dudley Street and Lichfield Street. Having concluded business, I did what I normally did on business trips and wandered about the town looking for a record shop to spend half an hour or so browsing the stock. Just along the road on the other side of Lichfield Street was a beauty. It was run down, painted a sort of mauve as I recall and so dark inside that you could hardly see the scruffy LP racks and walls festooned with tatty posters and ‘wanted’ ads. The sort of place that used to thrive then but is all but gone now more’s the pity.

My half hour turned into rather more like an hour but the stock was fabulous and to a seasoned browser, this was heaven. I did all the normal things music collectors do – like checking to see that the shop has all the LPs you already own on the wholly unjustified premise that your favourite bands have released a new LP that you didn’t know about and you would find it lurking just here. And, as expected, under the heading ‘U’ I found it – ‘Oops! Wrong Planet’ by Utopia and by some peculiar sequence of events that even now evade me it was under my arm when I eventually emerged, blinking into the bright Wolverhampton sunlight (a minor feat in itself). And I was a few quid down – funny that.

So that is the story of how I came to own it and I still don’t really understand it. I really must play it a bit more often.

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