Monday, 13 October 2014

Vintage Vinyl 2

Laurie Anderson – O Superman (7”)
Bought from: Strawberry Fields, Cardiff
Price paid: one of a batch of 6 singles I paid £8 for. You do the maths!

I just happened to chance upon Strawberry Fields as MrsRobster and I were exploring one of the many smaller shopping arcades dotted around Cardiff City Centre. The box of old singles outside is what actually caught my eye, but I ventured inside to see what else was lurking. The shop is crammed floor to ceiling with... stuff! Loads of it, including showbiz memorabilia and, of course, records. Perhaps most interesting of all is that it is owned and run by a Scouser who claims to have been a founder member of Underworld. Yes, this lot! Nowadays, as well as the shop, he works as a bit-part actor in TV shows like Doctor Who, Merlin, Gavin & Stacey and Casualty.

There was a smaller selection of singles inside the shop. These were considered to be a bit more special than the ones outside. Among them was one of the most bizarre, fluke hits to ever grace the UK charts. O Superman really wasn't a pop single, it was a piece of experimental art, a segment of a much larger work entitled 'United States'. It was released in 1981, my 10th year. I couldn't make head nor tail of it, but its "uh-uh-uh-uh-uh" pulse was infectious to the point of irritating. I suppose to most people it was a novelty record, though its subject matter was far more serious (read the Wikipedia entry for details). Naturally John Peel loved it, but this didn't mean it was going to be a hit. In fact, that it charted at all was a massive surprise. But it kept selling and selling and selling, eventually reaching number 2!

I never owned it originally, but my cousin John did. I played his copy several times but just couldn't understand what the record-buying public saw in it. I still can't if I'm being honest - the record-buying public have never been very open-minded, certainly not open-minded or adventurous enough to accept a record like this - so unusual, so haunting, disturbing even. Yet something about it captured people's imagination, and that's what makes it a rather special record.

So I bought it from Strawberry Fields along with five other singles that will feature here in due course. Total price £8, which isn't bad considering a couple of original Jam singles were among them.



  1. I love this little arty single. It's bit hypnotic.

  2. I bought the single after seeing the video. It was mesmerising. I've surrealism and this was right down my purple tree lined street.

  3. One of my most played and favourite singles. Have to say Walk the Dog got played more than O Superman and I have really missed owning it. (it was sold in the big post wedding purge) Thank you for the upload as I have been searching for an MP3 of Walk the Dog for several years