…from very different backgrounds in record collecting, three very different people met to discuss starting a record label.
Through private discussions on the VG+ Forum, Col Wolfe, Towny and I realised we had all entertained the idea of creating a label for a considerable amount of time and shared similar thoughts about how it could happen.
The idea of pooling our resources and working collectively to create a new record label from the ground up was massively appealing.
As good a starting point as any, we knew from the start we wanted to…
- Create high quality 7″ vinyl 45rpm records for DJs who love the format.
- Reissue great songs that are either expensive on original or hard to find.
- Reissue great songs that have been overlooked.
- Convert LP only songs to create great double-sided 45s.
- Release brand new material or previously unissued songs.
An evening’s conversation with any regular forum user will often flow seamlessly through the lexicon of musical genres from A to Z securely anchored by ‘M’ for ‘music’ slap-bang in the centre of the alphabet.
Hence our final starting point was the easiest to agree on. We wanted to release great music regardless of genre.
Our un-named new label did not start officially until September 2010 but our first and second releases were decided upon by chance in May of that year.
One particularly amphibious UK single from 1973 seemed an obvious choice for first release but being fairly well-known and with both sides by the same band we voted to hold it over to be release number two.
What we really wanted for our first single was a mixed genre double-sider acknowledging our belief in the new eclecticism that has evolved amongst music lovers.
Crimpton Krompton Canary Bridge
First heard on Beddoes’ Vinyl Vulture Forum Swap CD from 2006, Crimpton Krompton Canary Bridge by Shirley Bates was high on our ‘Wanted’ list Mark Johnson, a record collector from Philadelphia, had found a scratchy vinyl copy of Crimpton and liked it enough to include it on his first and only Swap CD to date. After tracing and securing the sound recording rights and a lot of supportive emails about doing a reissue from Shirley herself, the problem of sourcing a clean copy to master from became imperative. It turned out to be a long wait.
In late May 2010 ; away on holiday and far from internet access, I returned home to find an email message from Ebay informing me a clean copy of Crimpton had been listed. Scrolling fast ; two further alerts informed me it was ‘Ending Soon’ and finally that ‘Bidding Has Ended.’ It had sold for $3.
Angry to have lost out after a three-year wait, I rang Col and Towny for words of consolation. Both were sympathetic. Towny offered his condolences before adding with a laugh that he’d let me know what condition the single was in when it arrived.
My joy at this was matched a few weeks later by his reaction to playing it.
‘I love it Ian, it’s an absolute banger! We’ve got to get this out.’
He went on to say that the copy was better than clean, it was near mint and he was relishing the chance to master it himself. Anyone possessing a Towny compilation CD knows he would have made a superb job of it.
Immensely shocking to his family and friends, Towny (Neil Suddes) passed away suddenly on June 18th 2010. The deep sense of loss felt by the record collecting fraternity was expressed in hundreds of tributes to Neil which flooded in to the VG+ music forum for months. Everyone who knew him is still grieving the loss of such a warm and generous man.
Col and I are indebted to Neil’s family for taking the time and trouble in the midst of their enormous grief to find the Shirley Bates single for us. Respecting Towny’s complete conviction for the song, it now forms one half of SPK 1101, the first 45rpm single on the Spoke label.
Towny, Col and I had spent months seeking one very short word for the label. At the time of Towny’s departure we were still nameless. One evening in September 2010 after trawling through family names, Col suggested the word Spoke and it struck a chord immediately. Its relevance to Towny’s love of cycling art work themed around gears and cycle parts only dawned on us much later on.
We’ve learned a lot since September 2010 and away from the business end of licensing, copyright, royalties, deal memos, pressing and publishing the most pleasurable experiences have been communicating with the artists, composers and producers themselves.
Behind The Music
Fascinating stories behind each song slowly unfolded as various contributors to their creation were traced. Shirley Bates didn’t mention until late October 2010 that Elvis Presley’s guitarist James Burton played lead on Crimpton or that he had recorded the same riff on Secret Agent Man the same day.
We had no idea the writer of ‘Don’t Mind If I Cry,’ J A Freedman, included the same arrangement of the song on his rare 1969 Decca psych LP. An internet search of memorials revealed that Winona ‘Nona’ Oliver, the writer of ‘Crimpton,’ was an accomplished trick cyclist in Vaudeville shows and is featured performing cycle stunts in a Roy Rogers movie.
In January 2012, having enjoyed creating our strictly montone Spoke website so much we decided to launch a subsidiary one in full-colour called Forumusic (pronounced ‘forum,’ ‘music‘)
Sporadically updated, Forumusic features articles on record collectors, music forums, musical canons, compilations and CD collecting. Forumusic articles aim to highlight and contextualise shifting changes in record collecting and crate-digging that have occurred since the birth of the World Wide Web in 1990.
New Spoke In The Wheel / Andy Cann
In 2012 Spoke recruited a fellow vinyl obsessive and good friend of many years standing called Andy Cann. Andy has a long history of working in the music industry and music retail. He worked for Norwich-based Backs distribution before going it alone to form Plastic Dreams, a highly respected vinyl and CD internet music retailer.
We hope you find great music, regardless of genre, on all Spoke releases.
Ian, Col and Andy