London Records have sent me the vinyl version of the remastered and expanded reissue of Bronski Beat’s 1984 album The Age Of Consent.
The original ten-track album now ends with with four bonus 12-inch remixes. Plus, there’s material from the London Records’ archive making this reissue feel old and new at the same time. This is a very well cut vinyl and sounds beautiful – that’s the way I discovered the original record, and is so bright and pink, that it’s kind of blinding. The 2xCD inside is also available in a nicely designed package where, like the vinyl, the original artwork had to be reassembled as the original files were lost. And this attention to detail is not lost on me, it’s not some triple-scanned assemblage. Great liner notes too from the original team. Going back two decades, I worked at Royal Mile Whiskies in Edinburgh. We did a collaboration with the AIDS charity The Waverley Care Trust and I spent the evening chatting to Quinten Crisp. No one knew who he was. They’d bottled a cask-strength Springbank in a bright pink bottle but that was nowhere near as bright as this vinyl. This record will not be ignored. Much like the band in the eighties.
I liked Bronksi Beat. I was thirteen and full of hormones. I wasn’t gay. I didn’t even know where you went to be openly gay in Cleveland. I’ve never really told anyone this but I’d kissed a boy and didn’t like it much. But one thing I did resonate with, was feeling different. Arty. Unrequited for the best part of the next decade.
I liked any kind of anthems which rocked the status quo, of which I thought Smalltown Boy was a good example of, and I seem to remember it was at number one for weeks, but it turns out it was a respectable number three – but number one in other European states. I was from a small town. I remember really liking the bassline in WHY. It got me searching for N-R-G sections in Alan Fearnley Records in Middlesbrough. And it seemed that the gays had the best beats. I had bought the I Feel Love 12” without knowing the Donna Summer one.
A few years back ZTT had been pressing reissue CDs with Frankie Goes to Hollywood material and Art of Noise boxsets of which I was a huge fan in the 1980s. But I felt ZTT stuffed up somewhat with their attention to detail and c**k-ups by releasing CDs in mono for God’s sake.
The Age of Consent is not a perfect record by any means, the track Heatwave sticks out like a sort thumb with some ghastly synth work and it’s not all-killer no-filler, some of it comes across as having to fill a deadline to ride the wave of this bluesy, high N-R-G vogue at the time. But it was an important record, nicely produced and presented pop which any angsty teen of any sexual orientation could relate to – and as, in my case the still angsty 47 year old man.
Photo courtesy of Paul Cox.