Sunday, 1 April 2018
Dear readers, welcome to the new-look spiced up Alan’s Album Archives newsletter. Now with added grrrrl power! All together now: spice up your life!!! Wait, that’s not fair: one of you didn’t join in – guards, track them down and kung-fu kick them! We can’t have you thinking differently – we need you to buy all of our tat, erm, stay in your comfort zones, ah erm, to be positive about your life! And you know how to do that best, right? Protest the government? Demand a better future? Embrace the true spirit of feminism by closing that pay gap and treating people with respect? Nope, by wearing a mini-skirt and getting some blokes to write some songs for you! To the rest of you who are joining in: well done! Pat yourself on the back while jumping on the spot for no reason! Celebrate the fact that we created feminism and allowed girls to be themselves (or that at least our male manager Simon did). Isn’t that great?! We are also very pleased that as our mouthpiece we will no longer be using ‘Spice Fans R Us’ but have forced a takeover of this rather ramshackle newsletter dedicated to old music from the 1960s and 1970s. This means that we can now get rid of those old tired songs that always used to be reviewed here that are, like, well old and offer, nay force on you, messages that are packed full of meaning and will really speak to you readers like ‘zigazigah’ and ‘I wannahuhIannahuhIwannahuh!’ A big improvement from the usual rubbish about Merseybeat and pyschedelia, we know you’ll agree!
Inside this exciting new-look newsletter we’ll also be introducing you to our new-look Spice Girls because in our grand masterplan every band will now be taken over by or affiliated with Spice Girls – it’s for your own good! You can meet our new members and read more about what this means for the usual AAA bands further on down the page. We have by now, of course, taken over almost anything that’s even slightly subversive in the music business (thanks for pulling a few strings Donald Trump and your Russian puppet masters. Whoops! That last bit wasn’t meant to be out loud). Yippee – with the recent reunion of your favourite fiery fivesome suddenly everything everywhere is all about the Spice Girls. Isn’t that wonderful? So for this year’s April Fool’s Day piece there are to be no boring musicians from the old days recording what the history books tells us is something called rock and roll, no Max, no Bingo, no Dr Zeus and Nelson’s column has now been taken over so that he can only go to key events in the lives of The Spice Girls. Yay!!! The future has never been better – or spicier! It’s a big improvement, we’re sure you’ll agree. So make your choice and then rejoice in never being free. Remember, spice up your life!!!! Yours truly, madly, deeply
Due to the new takeover and dictatorship, we have been demanding the re-recordings of certain songs from the ‘old days’ so that they fit better with our new regime, umm, we mean way of life. Here’s your handy cut-out-and-weep guide to what the AAA bands have been up to in honour of their new overlords in mini-skirts:
The Spice Boys: Their latest album ‘Fifty-Six Big ‘Uns’ features re-makes of such delightful songs as ‘I wish they all could be Spice Girls’ and ‘Wouldn’t It Be Spice?’
The Beatle Spices: The current deluxe deluxe deluxe deluxe deluxe deluxe edition of ‘Spicy Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ features such as songs as ‘With A Little Help From Grrrrl Power’ and ‘Lovely Rita’s Daughter Is A Spice Girl!’
Buffalo Spicefield: We celebrate their new single ‘Nowadays Even Posh Spice Can Sing!’
The Byrd-Spices: did you all love their new single ‘So You Want To Be Rock and Roll Feminists?’ No? Then you need more spice in your life!!!
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Spice: Those ‘Wooden Ships’ now don’t escape Armageddon but just keep travelling onwards – to our new headquarters in The Spice Islands!
Dire Straits: Our new theme tune ‘The Sultans Of Spice’ is doing very well, although we resent the first song Mark Knopfler wrote for us ‘Money For Nothing!’
The Grateful Spices: The new re-mastered edition of ‘Aoxomospiceoxoa’ includes ‘Spice Magnolia’ and ‘A Touch Of Spice’
Spice Airplane: Spice Rabbit now reads: ‘One spice comes in ginger, and one is very baby ish and small, and there’s a Posh one at the back who doesn’t do anything at all…’
Janis Joplin, Lulu and Grace Slick have now been banned – we don’t want any of our listeners thinking that there were feminist icons around before our male manager invented girl power!!!
The Kinky Spices: ‘Waterloo Spice-set is fine’ and so is ‘Spice My Friends’ but who is this Lola? She sounds like she might have pre-empted our special brand of grrrl power too – we want a word!
The Moody Spices: ‘Spice In White Satin’ has been approved under our new look regime – we are less sure about ‘Ride My Spice Girl’ though!
Pink Floyd Spices: ‘Dark Spice Of The Moon’ is going down a treat, though my favourite of the re-recordings is ‘A Saucerful Of Spice Girls’
The Rolling Spices: ‘Jumpin’ Jackie Spice’ has just taken over the band – the rest of them are currently holding out in exile on Main Street!
Spice and Garfunkel: Like a Bridge over Troubled Spice Girls, we put this duo back together on the condition that from now on they can only record ‘the sounds of Spice Girls’!
Cat Spice: ‘Tea for the tillerman, spice for the girls, as our new leaders take over the world, how we pray and pray for that happy day, zig-a-zig-ah!’
The Spice Who?: ‘I’m a boy!’ now reads ‘I’m a girl, yeeha! Spice up your life!’ while ‘Tommy’ has been re-named ‘Molly’. We call that a bargain – the best you’ll ever have!
Neil Babyspice: We are pleased to announce that Neil and Crazy Horse have been forced to re-record ‘Everybody Knows This Is Spiceworld’ for the title of our new movie coming now. All of you have to watch it every week by law by the way – twice! Spice up your life!!!
Suddenly everyone wants to be a Spice Girl, like its 1996 all over again! Such a marvellous era for music – and grrrl power! I wonder what it is that makes our fanbase so adoring? Is it our wonderful erudite songs full of such meaning like ‘zig-a-zig-ah!’ or ‘I wanna huh I wanna huh I wanna huh?!’ We wrote them all ourselves of course, or at any rate we appeared on the front covers of the records, that’s the same thing isn’t it? Or is it our very wonderful fashion sense – we invented the mini-skirt after all! Or maybe it’s the wonderful feminism we stand for, which is why we’ve worked with such leading women as…erm…err…well anyway, our manager Simon is very pleased with inventing it for us so little girls can look up to us as important role-models in later life, learning how to do what their middle-aged male managers tell them. Or maybe it’s our liberal values, such as when we told you to all make a lot of money and vote conservative or kung-fu kicked a tramp in one of our videos for having no money and not trying hard enough! Or maybe it’s because we forced you all to audition at gunpoint? Gee I’m not sure…Anyway, what are we looking for in a new spice girl? An ability to follow orders, an ability to look good in a mini-skirt and a vocal that’s good enough to auto-tune! So let’s meet the very lucky girls who have passed the first auditions to become new look spice girls for the 21st century. Role models all of them!!! How exciting!!!!! There are more to come so get your zig-a-zig-ahs in line now and go to the auditions being held in your town!
Sorry about that failed auditionees! Better luck next time girls! It’s a lifetime of drudgery for you – till next time! Spice up your life! Spice up your life! Spice up your life! Zig-a-zig-ah! Spice up your life! Spice up your life! Zig-a-zig-ah! Spice up your life! Spice up your life! Zig-a-zig-ah! Spchsvfdhdjhjg yasciusahd hqydhiqw qywyqwye 10ehsdhfoih ahfkhn nsddvsfsdwtrhbdvwkh[[9ovyrivyiruoaYURTAWIBUT7IER[079BSTBEIUUITRIYBROIABVT8WTR87wruhgdfxXBL\V[9IE'[2LHd[ps6v5ioh''g
Phew! We can’t cope with any more of that can we dear readers? This is Max The Singing Dog here interrupting this spiel using something called a webface interbrowser now that Dr Zeus has reversed the polarity of the nexus flow (and turning the internet off and on again in the process to make it work). It was a real shock when we woke up this morning to find that all the big internet and music labels had merged together and that The Spice Girls were the evil masterminds behind it all! Now it’s the new law that all music except Spice Girls music is banned and all dress codes except miniskirts are outlawed too! It’s a very scary world we live in (and posh and sporty and ginger and baby of course) and humble dogs like me can be put down for not being spicy enough! We’re going to do our best to overthrow this evil regime across the course of this newsletter – the we being me and Bingo whose along for the ride (hic!)- and we’ve hatched a plan. We need to find out the person behind the mini-skirt signing themselves off as ‘Scheming Spice’. She’s clearly the mastermind here we need to track down. Where is she likely to be? Well, we know that there is a big audition where people from each region can go through to the headquarters in Spice Island and meet her. So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to give you a running commentary of what we’re up to on these pages so stay tuned! Here we are in the Ormskirk audition booth and…wait, here’s a Spice Girl wannabe right now! (What good timing!)
‘Spice up your life! (Snore) Zig a zig ah! (Yawn)’
What is your name oh weakened one?
‘My name is Spoonie Spice. I suffer from an illness that uses up a lot of my spoons, I mean energy, during the day. But there’s a two minute slot in every day when I can fulfil my dream of being a real Spice Girl! And I can sing! And dance…whoops, I think I’d better sit down’
‘Wait, stop, don’t do it! Put down that union jack outfit, go rest and listen to something decent!’ cried a German looking male, who looked very odd in the standard miniskirts everybody seemed to wear in this new Spiced up era.
‘That’s my boyfriend Hans: now renamed Bootleg Spice’ she says. ‘He’s a really big Hollies fan.’
‘I have all the bootlegs twice over! In better sound than anything mentioned on your website too, dog!’… he added, peering at me behind his mac and sunglasses.
Wow, another collector! It’s such a great feeling isn’t it? The knowledge that you have tracked down everything there is to know about an artist – you feel as if you have really got to know them, that you can appreciate their oeuvre as a whole and that the music gives you a healthy passion that makes you feel alive, less lonely and helps teach you about the world, I reply.
‘No I do it to own something rare that one else has and I can feel smug! I do have a life though’ he added, after some thought. ‘Not like you writing about music all day. It’s important to have a life, remember that!’
Together we helped his girlfriend Spoonie Spice sit down.
‘But I want to be a Spice Girl!’ she cried.
Hans looked at me and whispered. ‘It’s a sad case. Me and our friend Musical Anorak Spice hoped we could bring Spoonie here and show her the futility of being a Spice Girl. They would never pick her, even if she does look good in a mini-skirt – they want someone young, healthy and easy to control. They only pick a certain number of people from every audition to go through to the big competition inside their headquarters on the Spice Islands in Maluku!’
‘Ooh this is a rare mix of this Spice Girls song!’ adds Musical Anorak Spice, nodding along to what is playing. ‘It’s playing at 7/8ths the wrong speed so it will last approximately four seconds longer. Plus it’s now in E flat not E sharp. And there’s an added drum part that lasts an extra two seconds in the drum solo. There may even’ he adds with authority, pulling down his glasses, ‘be an extra zig-ah!’ in this version!’
I don’t have time to listen to this gibberish though. I realised that I needed to get into that headquarters and would have to put on the show of my life right here, hopefully with my new friends helping me. And an old one, hang on a minute where was Bingo?...
‘Hic! One day I’m going to be president of the united states ohyesiamhonestreally! What’s your name?’
‘I’m – hic! – Boozy Spice!’
‘I’m – hic! – Bingospice and I’m in love!’
No time for that now, I said crossly as I marched everyone to the main audition room. Spoonie, Hans, Bingo, Boozy and Musical Anorak Spice, it’s up to us to put on the show of our lives and get picked for that audition.
And we did! After waiting in line for our big chance we zigged and we zag-ahed and we wannahuhed and we proved that we had the X factor (The Max Factor!) We spiced up our lives like we’d never spiced anything in our live before! By the end of the dance we were exhausted – poor Spoonie Spice was keeled over, Hans and anorak spice had dropped their records, my top hat was all askew and Bingo and Boozy Spice were left gasping. We were very nervous when the official auditioner Mean Spice came over to give us the verdict. But they marked us up for our dancing (my cane and top hat came in useful!) and for random arm-waving (actually Bingo trying to stay upright!) and we were through to the next round. Yippee!
...Only we have to pause for an interruption from our sponsor…
The scene: Scaro at nightfall. Crimson stars fall across the sky. Suddenly a hole in the side of a wall opens and Mrs Dalek walks out. EXTERMI-SPICE! HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT DAVROS? she says to her companion HE LOOKS REALLY GOOD IN THAT SKIRT!’
‘Tell me about it!’ says Cyberwoman, ‘I think our glorious cybercontroller wears it best though! What do you say Ice Lady?’
HE LOOKS SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSILLY!’
‘Ooh you may be the scourge of the galaxy but you’re not allowed to say that you know!’ said Mrs Sontaron, standing with her hands on her hips. ‘We may only be a clone race who still believe in using vid-phones for no reason, but we know our manners!’
‘Well I think he looks very odd!’ said Mrs Ood.
‘NO! RO JO KO VO DO, KOPPAPETTALOVODO!’ said a passing female Judoon.
‘What did he say?’ said a passing Gelth, before burping and saying ‘sorry about the gas!’
‘Rhinobonce Judoon said that we are not allowed to make fun of somebody’s gender or looks anymore or he’ll arrest us all under the shadow proclamation!’ said a friendly zygon.
Mrs Auton giggled unconvincingly and at just the wrong moment – the Nestene Consiousness was very annoyed at how the skype controlling the robot was turning out.
In the distance a female Quark fell over its unconvincing skirt and got fed to the female Drashigs. Nobody noticed.
‘It’s a nice idea chan-tho though I do feel chan-tho as if it’s just not practical-tho and will make everyone’s speech-tho a bit convulted and hard to follow though-tho’ said a Malmooth.
‘Yes it’s all getting a bit out of hand and silly this pc brigade’ said Mrs Face of Bo, largely. ‘I mean I understand political correctness and all, but why apply it to races who are trying to conquer the galaxy? I think that’s the least of their worries or their crimes’
‘Data...Input…Mecchanoid…Silly!’ said Mrs Mecchanoid in agreement, nearly knocking over everyone in the room as he nodded his equally big head.
‘Well I think everyone who isn’t equal with the genders deserves to gets locked up and force-fed marsh minnows, so every alien in dr who will be female from now on. Flflflflflflflflflflf!’ laughed Su, Sil’s sister
HEY ISN’T THAT AN INCARNATION OF THE MASTER OVER THERE IN THAT SKIRT?’ said the dalek
‘No that would be silly!’ replied Cyberwoman
‘Oy! What about me? I was a pretty decent female baddy, why not invent some new female characters to be strong instead of just re-casting male ones?’ said the Rani from behind a rock. But nobody heard her and she got eaten by a female Slither. How sad.
An aside: I’m fine with strong female casting in Dr Who. I’m fine if they want to cast a new female figure who is equal to the Dr in terms of importance and brilliance. But why change an existing character instead of inventing a new one? And why is history being re-written to say that girls watching the show should only identify with the timelord with two hearts rather than the wide range of quite brilliant female role-model companions in the series. Romana was far more educated and heroic than the dr ever was. So was River Song in the new series. And Zoe was far brainier. Leela was far tougher. So was Ace. Vicki was pretty feisty. Barbara was astonishing for anyone, never mind a History teacher from 1963. Sarah Jane stood up to every human. Tegan stood up to every species. Polly killed more cyberman than the other companions put together! We looked at every single companion in the Dr who’s history to see who was the weak and feeble woman the critics kept mentioning and you know what we got? The Dr’s fifteen year old granddaughter who still risks her life to save her grandfather and (a real sacrifice) her sodding teachers from the Thals she thinks are out to kill her! Then there’s Victoria, who considering her sheltered Victorian upbringing was the bravest heroine of her age, peri turned being sarcastic to monsters an art form and even flipping Bonnie Langford did a lot more than screaming and being rescued! And that’s not all: wasn’t the Rani treated as being superior to The Master? Wasn’t Missy treated the same way? Come to think of it, hasn’t every female figure in Dr Who been more likeable, sassy, brave and intelligent than the blokes? You got Leela and Ace and Romana and Rose and Donna and Martha. We got Adric and Turlough and flipping Mickey! There’s a case, to, I think that boys who aren’t macho or traditionally heroic yet still want a good kind moral character to identify with have been robbed. There are no other great male role-models supporting cleverness and kindness and brains over brawn out there. Batman, Superman, James Bond – they’re all bland and unappealing for boys who want to think rather than fight. By taking the male role-models away whilst simultaneously telling girls their previous ones weren’t as important as a lead role, everybody gets hurt. I’m all for equality in Dr Who but this isn’t equality. Instead the gender swapping has largely come out of nowhere (and was a joke back when Tom Baker first started it back in 1981) and it sickens me that people are doing it because there are no decent female role models in the series when the creators have been doing nothing else except show emboldened, bright, heroic female characters since day one! We say make a whole new series with one of the members of the cast (we say Leela or Romana or River) with the budget of the main series and then we’ll see what equality is truly like. I rest my case…
Now where we? Oh yes, here we are, the fearsome fivesome, through to the next round of Spice Girls auditions and getting our tickets to the headquarters of the North West UK auditions in Carlisle. We’re ushered in to the rehearsal room where I see a sea of legs in mini-skirts and skimpy tops dancing and chanting ‘spice up your life!’ Poor Spoonie Spice is worn out, carried over Hans’ shoulders, while Musical Anorak Spice gets into a discussion about the use of punctuation on different pressings of early Beatles albums and Bingo just gets drunk! We’re set to perform again in a national final. Will we get through? Not ‘arf pop fans! We’re a well drilled team by now, my top hat flying, Bingo clinking bottles with Boozy Spice, Hans rapping about Hollies bootleg serial numbers and Spoonie Spice lying down while shouting ‘spice up your life!’ feebly. We really needed to make this version swing, so I’ve been busy re-arranging it and putting my AAA knowledge into good use in an effort to save the world: the song now comes with a Beach Boys harmony chorus, a Beatles backbeat, a Mark Knopfler style guitar solo, a Grateful Dead manner double drum duet, a Jefferson Airplane style improvisation, a Kinks melancholy middle eight, a Lindisfarne style political edge, a Monkee-ish cuteness, Oasis-style thunder, Pink Floyd-like mystery, 10cc type humour and the sort of big ending that rounds off many a Who recording. The judges have never seen anything like at as we huh wanna huh wanna huh wanna huh our way into the judges’ hearts.
There’s only one person who doesn’t enjoy our variation on The Spice Girls’ monstrosity of music and who sits there with a scowl. I see her name-badge says she is ‘Scheming Spice’. At last, I have come across the person responsible for what has been happening to my beloved country! She hasn’t twigged that I have been looking for her all this time. Playing it cool I get out my cane and nonchalantly lean against it while I ask her what she’s doing there. She replies that she’s checking to see if the stage is ‘strong and stable’. I start to have my suspicions. Didn’t I see this person on the news shortly before the world went spice girls mad? Didn’t I just vote against her in an election? I decide to try asking her about the household chores backstage and who should do them. ‘Oh emptying the bin is a boys job’ she laughs unconvincingly. I go in for the kill and ask her what the naughtiest thing she’s ever done is. ‘I think running through a wheat field!’ she replies even more unconvincingly. Gotcha!
‘You’re not a spice girl, you’re Theresa May!’ I cry, clutching at her face mask as she runs off yelling ‘Spice up your life! Strong and stable!’ over and over. With Bingo’s help (I yell ‘last orders please!’ and that always makes him come running towards me) I manage to trap her and discover to my horror that she’s really a malfunctioning robot. I feel smug at what I’ve discovered and decide that it’s up to me to save the world from Spice Girls. Surely Jeremy Corbyn is here somewhere too, all tied up and forced to be a member of Boyzone for all eternity. What devilry!
‘Don’t look so smug, Dog, I am the real bigly brains behind this outfit! And, look people, I mean…people! I have a whole set of statistics to prove me right! And and and…what about Hillary’s emails! It’s her fault all this phoney girl power, it all started with her. I say lock her up – and let fake feminism we can easily control win over strong female leading characters!’ says a voice. I look up and I see Trumpy Spice standing behind me, pulling on a mask. I recognise that awful hair. It’s…Donald Trump! In an embarrassing combover. Why didn’t I see it before? ‘Lock ‘em up’ he cries, walking away.
But then a funny thing happens. The crowd who really grooved to our music is at our feet, rushing the stage, pleading with the powers that be to let us through, desperate to hear our music again after being force-fed such empty anodyne pop their whole lives. This, I think proudly, is what Alan’s Album Archives is all about. Trump, outnumbered, runs away into the crowd as the organisers promptly usher us through to a waiting boat waiting to take us to the international finals. What will happen next dear readers? I’m not sure and it doesn’t look good. They’ve even *sob* got our old companion Dr Zeus working for them! Join us in the next exciting instalment after these few words…
A REPORT ON MY NEW LIFE AS A SPICE GIRL BY TIME-TRAVEL SPICE (FORMERLY Dr Zeus) (Still no relation)
Dear readers how, erm, exciting it is to be able to talk to you all about
the BoFace developments in time travel wait, no, don’t
point that gun at me, the joys of being a Spice Girl. Why everyday when I wake
up in the morning I no longer think ‘how wonderful it is to be working on
communicating with outer planets and communing with ourselves from our distant
past and remote future’. No, I think how good I look in a union jack miniskirt
waving my arms in the air for no apparent reason. Honest! Anyway, as part of my
community service for resisting arrest I’ve been asked to deliver to you the
following competition: come back with me to 1996 where we can see the birth of
The Spice Girls in action. Wow as Geri makes her first kung-fu kick! Cry as Mel
C and Mel B have a fight but then make it up to become friends! Awww as Emma
does something supposedly cute! Laugh as Posh doesn’t do flipping anything!
Pretend that you didn’t see the marketing meeting where their manager Simon
came up with the whole idea and held auditions to create an artificial band
that’s far more contrived than anything The Monkees ever got up to! All you
need to do is to answer the following simple question: How many Spice Girls
does it take to change a lightbulb? To make it easier for all you Spice Girls
fans I’m even going to give you the answer: erm, none of them because they’re
already so bright on their own! Send your contact details to us at the usual
u-mail (universal mail) address and you could be the first of your species
town to actually see early Spicing in action! (And maybe one of you can explain
what the plot in that godawaful ‘Spiceworld’ film was supposed to be!) Remember
being a Spice Girl is cooler than a clandusprod at Christmas – no I don’t know
what they are either but it seemed to flow from the typewriter – and it’s your
contributions that make the world spicy! That’s all from me now, I’m being
wheeled back to my dungeon mansion now! Goodbye from Dr Zeus…err Spice
up your life!!! (Phew I just got it in before they added to my sentence!)
‘Now then gang’ says an evil voice, which is quickly followed by an evil body and an attached name-tag that reveals her name to be ‘Russian Spice’. ‘I hear that you have been up to no good over in England, a land of pies and beans and scary pastries! I will be looking out for you to check you don’t get up to any funny business during this latest round of auditions!’ So saying, we were ushered into a nearby audition room packed full of Americans all shouting ‘spice up your life!’ (which sounded weird in their cute accents). I have a plan to get through this and have been busy getting it ready with the help of Bootleg Spice and Musical Anorak Spice and their encyclopaedic knowledge of Alan’s Album Archives. But will we be able to get to the equipment I need in time? A lot was resting on me and I was perspiring under my top hat, while my eyes were getting bigger and my voice was getting squeaky with all the excitement.
And then I see her, waiting with the other auditionees. Our eyes meet under our matching top hats. The cutest dog I have ever laid eyes on. Her eyes light up the room. Her ears are so cute – the perfect size for headphones I think. Her cheekbones are the size of my favourite bone. Her frizzy fur sticks up all over her head the way mine does under my top hat. ‘What’s your…’ we start saying before nervously breaking off and saying ‘no youuuu!’ I get in first and ask her name. ‘I’m sweetiepiespice’ she smiles at me. ‘I saw you and Bingospice in a video once. I was hoping you’d make it to New York New York one day, like that funny song you sing’. (in case you hadn’t guessed I would love you to draw yourself as a spice girl for sweetiepiespice!)
‘Pleased to meet you Sweetiepiespice’ spluttering with nerves and wondering whether I could trust her. I know in my heart though I would trust her with anything. So I take a gamble. ‘So….Are the Spice Girls your thing?’ I ask nervously.
She laughs a cute laugh that sounds like the best CSN harmonies singing the sweetest ever Kinks song, with a bit of Belle and Sebastian’s beautiful melancholy and just a dash of Simon and Garfunkel poetry thrown in. ‘Goodness me no, I hate The Spice Girls. They’re awful, though only one hit wonders over here. Is that really what you Brits listen to for music?’
‘Not exactly I splutter, reminding myself to show her Alan’s Album Archives later. ‘So what are you doing here dressed up like that?’ pointing to her miniskirt and gogo boots.
‘I still look better than you!’ she giggles. ‘I’m convinced there’s something strange going on so I’ve decided to sneak in undercover and win all the auditions and find out what’s really going on…’
I decide to take a risk and involve her in our scheme. ‘I’ve got a plan…but to make it work we need to win this competition and go through to meet the person whose really in charge.’
‘How do we do that?’ she asks, pulling on her delightfully curly hair.
‘We need someone to get to the music-player in the room while we are performing. Do you think you could do that?’
‘I’m on it!’ she cries, grabbing a mix-tape out of my hand and before I know what’s happening I hear our Spice Girls team being ushered on to the stage. Instead of the expected zig-a-zig-ahs we get ‘real’ music: a mix tape of some of my favourite moments taken from fifty years and thirty acts across the Alan’s Album Archives back catalogue. The audience are stunned: they haven’t heard music like this for a long time. It’s so good! The bass is so powerful it feels like a sumo-wrestler grabbing you by the waist and dancing with you. The drums sound like an ever-moving conveyer belt filled with the most gorgeous sparkly objects. The pianos breathe hot and cold and every temperature in between, lighting up the sky with their chords. The guitars ring like a bell, socking people to their stomachs in a glorious cascade of riffs and chords and ecstasy. And the harmonies float like a cloud on a summer’s day full of magic. The room is stunned. Of course we win, how could we not?
‘Curses!’ shouts Russian Spice as he tries to run away – only to be floored by Sweetiepiespice who tackles him to the ground. Bootleg Spice sits on him as I reach over to his mask and pull it off.
‘Now we will know who the mastermind crook behind this wicked scheme propping up the UK and US Governments really is!’ I cry, pulling off the mask…It’s Vladimir Putin!
‘And I‘d have gotten away with it too without you pesky Spice Girls!’ he cries. But that’s not all. He suddenly reaches forward and shouts to us ‘I’m not the real mastermind – all my schemes, all my running of the world’s governments and my endless spying, none of it came from me but from a higher being who sit above me. Spice up your life!!!’ And with a final gasp he grabs hold of a bottle and drinks it, before falling down as dead as a dodo opening up a shop in Stafford high street.
‘Not the real mastermind?’ I ask nervously. Who could it be?’ More after the break folks as we return one last time to an old favourite column…
Last week we’d left Nelson heading for the Dakota in New York where he was due to take on perhaps his most important mission of all – his last before returning home at last after a hundred years of time-travelling! He’s looking forward to retirement after his last task sorting out the future (and past) of rock and roll. But the people in charge of his wardrobe have still got this time-travelling lark wrong after centuries of going backwards and forwards in time. And with the Spice Girls taking over the controls has lead to a very different sort of encounter altogether…
‘You don’t see many people dressed like that round here!’ said the nice chap in round glasses grinning, clutching at some master tapes in his hand. ‘I haven’t seen a Teddy Boy since I was eleven. Or was I twenty-two? I could have been twelve actually…’
I look around me in amazement at the beautiful surroundings. I’m standing outside the front steps of a gorgeous old-looking apartment – but realise quickly that I’m in trendy New York (so anything historical here is at most a century or two old – how quaint!) There’s a giant park over to our right. Could it be?...
‘Come on John, we have to go – it’s nearly Sean’s bedtime and we stayed too long at that restaurant’
‘Just a minute, mother!’ he cried, ‘I’m just giving an autograph to this nice chap. You know it amazes me how you lot all camp outside here at all weathers waiting for a glimpse. I’m nothing special you know – just a kid from Liverpool who got very big, that’s all. I mean I’ve only just got round to making me first record in five years, I thought none of you would remember me!’
After scribbling his name on a record I somehow seem to have in my possession, I do a double-take recognising it as The butcher’s sleeve and remind myself to steam it open when I get home (at least it’s better than what happened when the prop department left me getting Roger Waters’ autograph on a David Gilmour album – you’re getting better at this at last guys, just as we reach the final stretch!’)
‘You know you look familiar somehow, as if I know you, as if I keep bumping into you’ John slowly turns round and grins at me. ‘Oh well, I never had a good face for names. Everyone at the record plant East Dakota says ‘hi!’ Goodbye!’
I nod my head, the great man in my company little realising how I have been darting through time after him like a yo-yo, helping wrinkle out the problems in his career as The Beatles are such an important nexus point in time. How I was there telling Brian Epstein about a Beatles record named ‘My Bonnie’. How I put him in touch with Paul by sending an invite to the Woolton Village Fete and spending a month dressed up as his friend Ivan. How I befriended Klaus Voormann and made him visit a Hamburg club after a row with his girlfriend Astrid. How I delayed Ed Sullivan’s plane so he would see the crowds flocking to Liverpool airport to wave on The Beatles. How I was the dentist who slipped LSD into The Beatles’ tea (what else?) Those two months dressed up as The Maharishi to make sure The White Album got written (I never want to see a flower ever again!) How I suggested appearing on the rooftop. Yessiree, I’d been here alright, from first to last, from the beginnings of his career to…oh no!
I see him. Out the corner of my eye. I see John move in half-recognition, a grin playing on his face again as he turns to confront a round-faced man wearing Lennonish spectacles. He has a completely blank expression on his face. He starts to raise a gun. John looks a little nervous, the grin quickly fading from his face. Yoko begins to breathe in for what I know will be an almighty scream, rushing towards him to sacrifice herself. I’m nearest and realise what I have to do. What’s more I do it gladly. This man has given so much, to me and countless others. It isn’t much sacrifice, little old me for one of the greatest, bravest, most talented men who ever lived. They would probably never get me back home to where I was meant to be. And I wasn’t fancying the thought of retirement anyway. No, it was better off this way. Maybe he’d even write a song about me for his new album ‘Milk and Honey’? I needed some peace and quiet anyway – all those rock and roll musicians can really talk y’know! I walk forward calmly, my arms outstretched.
And…no. Oh no. Oh dear God no. AAAAAGH! For it was then I felt that familiar feeling as I prepared to go out of time. They’d pulled me too soon! What were those idiots doing back at Alan’s Album Archives headquarters?
I find myself in a sleazy hotel. A lot of middle-aged balding men are puffing on cigars. I slump against the wall. I don’t care.
‘This way for the auditions!’ they cry. I don’t want to look down and am past caring but somehow I know that I am wearing a mini-skirt and go-go boots.
‘Hmm, you don’t look very ‘sweetwise’ says one of the men to me. ‘That’s what we asked for’. There’s a pause as he looks at me funny. ‘You know, in the advert’.
I don’t care, I don’t care, I DON’T CARE!
‘Ok’ says the man, ‘in you go – we’ve put you in two groups of four. We want you to sing Stevie Wonder’s ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours’ with as much gusto and sex appeal as you can. Lift up those legs. Pout those lips! Look sexy!’
They look lustfully on at the scantily clad girls, all so desperate, all so eager to please, all so sure that they have just got the break of a lifetime. They sit back on their chairs, putting down comments like ‘sexy!’ and ‘hot!’ and ‘horny teenage boys will want to fuck ‘em!’ There’s no mention of their voices or their charisma or their (admittedly hidden) talent, just their looks. This is wrong. And not just because I got pulled out of time for this. I don’t quite know what is going on, but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from my thousands of trips backwards and forwards in time it’s that I have to stop it!!!
I still don’t care. But I have a mission to do if I’ve been sent here. I pick up the advert that’s clearly what has brought all the girls here, in a magazine called ‘The Stage’. ‘But what about the musical input you promised us?!?’
The men laugh.
‘Keep your curlers in sister! There’ll be none of that – just keep doing what we tell you to do and keep those pretty lips buttoned and we’ll be making millions in no time – together! I’ve even got you a house to share – there are only three bedrooms though and we want five of you, so you’ll all have to pout much harder than that if you want the good bedrooms!’
I start screaming at the top of my lungs that they can’t do this, that we have talent, that we’re more than caricatures, that given the chance we can write and sing and even act (although I wasn’t too sure about that last bit!) I carry on: has no one learnt from what happened to The Monkees that you’ll only end up killing a band off if you keep them doing the same formula all the time (those days suggesting the idea of the film ‘Head’ to all and sundry for months across various trips really paid off in the end!) Had no one noticed that girls and women deserved better in… (I check the date in the paper) 1995? Did these men not consider that feminism and girl power was the way to go?
And the girls in the room: why do you let yourselves be controlled this way? Why do you have to appeal to what the boys wanted (or thought they wanted) you to be? Why do you have to be controlled by male managers and made to do their bidding? Can you not see how this is demeaning yourselves? Did you not all see that if you didn’t make music from your heart then there was no point in making it at all? Did you not see that without that you were all doomed to be wannabes all their lives?
I think I’m getting through and see a gloat from the man puffing on his cigar. There are a few lightbulbs going off in the eyes of the girl with the scary hair in the front row and the blonde standing behind her. ‘Wannabe…’they whisper.
‘Sorry I’m late’ says a red-haired girl coming through the door. ‘I was visiting my grandmother in Spain. Are the auditions still being held?’
And then suddenly I’m being whisked away through time again, finding myself in a job centre, a clipboard in my hand, as I find myself in Skelmersdale peering at a folder of music reviews and articles from a curious tome called the Runcorn Weekly News and telling a haggard sallow youth that if he can’t find a job the ‘normal’ way he ought to think about making a website.
‘It might take ten years but it will be worth it’. I find myself saying, the text spoken to me automatically through some distant portal scanner. ‘It could even be a book series one day. Lots of books. Say thirty? You’re not going to be doing anything else of interest on this course at the Skills Exchange. You could call it Alan’s Album Archives’.
Before the downtrodden zombie I see before me has the chance to speak I see the ideas flitting through his head like butterflies. And I see the future for Alan’s Album Archives stretching out before me like a fixed point in time :15,000 pages of reviews! A steady neverending weekly stream of news, views and music! April fool’s day editions involving my very own time-travelling column! Youtube videos featuring a dog in a top hat and a cane! The AAA headquarters opening in Sweden! AAA books published on ‘flamingo’ a subsidiary of Puffin! Making music and album covers with Pixie Drainpipe (why the hell is Max the Dog holding a wooden spoon and standing next to a vacuum cleaner?) A space-time museum where nothing sodding worked! Max appearing on Top Gear and The Archers! Wise Greek philosopher Copertotle talking about his musical choices in a world where all time is happening at once. AAA headquarters in Sweden! Finding out that David Cameron and Ian Duncan Smith are evil master criminal sfrom the planet Maggrumph! Breaking the news that the Queen is secretly a Doosbury Giant! James Joyce working for the AAA reviewing Simon and Garfunkel while Eminem raps about the searchers! Charity single ‘We Are All One Galaxy And We Are Only A Few Light Years Apart’. Saving the world with the help of The Clandusprods, Belobrats, Mrasianrts and Hellospheres! Getting death threats for our pun on ‘The Lying, The Rich and The War-Drones’! And I realize that I need a lie down, this spark of gibberish lit so brightly that it brightens up the night sky (and gets three hits on the website).
Is my final mission completed at last? Maybe it was this mission I was meant to take after all with time travel made possible thanks to the sponsorship of out biggest partners At Alan’s Album Archives. Maybe though my destiny was meant to be in New York too and I bitterly wanted to go back. I also wanted to buy one of Yoko’s records and show the people in the 1990s room what grrrrl power really meant! Maybe, thanks to the AAA, everyone would hear it in the ‘real’ time stream anyway. But I doubted it. ‘Wannabe’ was kinda catchy. In the dumbest way possible.
And I find myself being deposited on a floor that I haven’t seen in a hundred years, with the BoFace Time Travel logo worm out on the carpet. I don’t think it had been dusted in all that time either. I stand up woozily, uncomfortable in my old clothes I wore to my first mission all that time ago (a lifetime ago it seems – I gave Steven Georgiou his first cat, told him he has nice eyes and I thought his first name was perfect for a pop star!)
‘Is it over?’
I look at the exhausted face of Dr Zeus. Who seems to be wearing a miniskirt and go-go boots. Is this the fashion now in whatever century it is I wonder?
‘It is. The Spice Girls tried to take over the world – but suddenly something happened and they suddenly disappeared so we were able to send you on to your last destination after all. You’re home, at last, Nelson!’
All those journeys. All those missions. I can only hope that I have done some good. And so, with my feelings of helplessness at being able to help more, especially in my last mission, I sigh with relief and slump into a chair, suddenly feeling weak and feeble. Did I do alright after all? Did I save everyone? Did I find the mission I was meant to solve? I can only hope that I have done some good in all the different timezones I visited. I feel the last breath leaving my body and I leave, a smile on my face, a glow in my ears and a song in my heart as I remember all those wonderful people I spoke to. Then suddenly the lights swirl away into darkness, but it’s a different darkness this time, a less artificial and a more personal one. And as I collapse to the floor my energies spent I am on my way again, though I am truly not sure this time where my destination might be.
Well there we were, dear readers, having won against our evil overlords. But the head Spice Girls were still out there, somewhere – and we still had a world full of citizens brainwashed by Spice Girls music. What could we do? We did what we know best, dear reader, pontificating for hours about ‘proper’ music! We decided to broadcast around the world using the airwaves that had been polluted with Spice Girls music since the takeover. Realising that the world had been fooled into thinking that being mean to each other was the way to be (see the many times the Spice Girls told us to vote Conservative or Republican!) we decided to teach them about brotherhood. So we spoke into the microphone our rallying cry borrowed from the ancient Alan’s Album Archives Minstrels and Musketeers Union: ‘All for one and one for all, except when the Conservatives come to call, when the rich they have a ball, they make outlaws of us all!’ We then played a diet of ‘real’ feminism to unbrainwash all the Spice Girls – real music made by real women that didn’t have a zig-a-zig-ah amongst them! We played Janis Joplin getting real as she sang the blues. We played Grace Slick as she taunted the powers that be. We played Lulu as a fifteen-year-old schoolgirl completely in command of her life without any need to wait for boys to date her. We played Yoko as she dissected patriarchal societies (while orgasming in stereo!) We didn’t play endless variation of Hollies bootlegs with extra ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’, even though Bootleg Spice really really really wanted us to. Eventually everywhere was a spice girl free zone!
Everywhere except one tiny shack in Moldova where, thanks to a series of ‘spy girls’ we sent out around the world, we managed to track down where our true baddies lived. Who were these awful men or women who wanted to take over the world, its political leaders and turn us into spice girls? Our intrepid team of music-lovers, including my new love Sweetiepiespice, set off to find out who could be so evil. We travelled there, staked out their hiding place and listened in silence to see who our cruel captors could be. It was then we heard a ‘zig-a-zig-ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!’ and our blood curdled, even though at least two of us were actually stuffed toys. Could it be?...Yes here was where the illumaniti lived, condemning us poor mere mortals to a dystopian future full of tyranny and terror. Here is where world leaders rose and fell, where all the world’s extra taxes went and where nothing in the world happened without their say so. Here is where it was decided which countries would live in poverty and which should survive. The evil rulers controlling the entire world were…the original Spice Girls! We were shocked!
Clearly we had to do something, so we stormed their hut. As soonas my paw touched the door I knew it was a mistake. Suddenly I was in agony! Suddenly all three years’ worth of Spice Girls, erm, ‘hits’ were playing all at once. The air was a sea of cruel phrases, of ‘zig-a-zig-ahs’, of ‘spice up your lives’, of ‘viva forevers’, of ‘two become ones’, of ‘Who do you think you are?’s, of ‘Wannabes’. We were all rolling around on the ground screaming. And some new songs I didn’t recognise but assumed must be reunion songs began filling up the airwaves too. Suddenly even I was joining in in my head: ‘Please! Stop right there! Thankyou very much!’ Oh no, was our long journey over? Had I zig-a-zig-ahed for nothing?!?
Suddenly a bright light appeared out the sky and a whole host of unusual looking alien creatures filled the skies. Some beautiful CSN-like harmonies filled the air like fluffy clouds. It was all so beautiful. A strange looking creature, part giraffe part all the leftovers nobody wanted on the ark, walked up to me, a hoof outstretched. ‘I am a clandusprod’ he told me. My name is Habridan the Seventh. I am here to bring you humans, dogs and other creatures the wisdom, healing and hope of music. To free you from the clutches of these evil beings who have trapped the world and particularly young girls for far too long with their fake feminism and conservative ways.’
And I gasped as the five Spice Girls all floated out their hideout. Ginger was trying to kung-fu kick the beam of light. Sporty was trying to jog her way out. Scary was shouting. Baby was pouting. Posh wasn’t doing flipping anything, as per usual. Another figure stepped forward, looking like an over-sized beetle (noted to copyeditors: not a Beatle!) with a bow in her hair.
‘My name is Catalunia The Third, I am a Belobrat and we make contact with you inhabitants of Planet Earth in the name of everything that is peaceful and humane. You five are tried under the tyrants and dictators intergalactic peace treaty – and worse you have been found guilty and sentenced under the awful music act that is in place across the galaxy. You are to be dissipated and returned to nature’s great spice rack in the sky. What do you have to say for yourselves?’
Ginger opened her mouth and cackled: ‘We wanted world domination! We were tired of being told what to do by middle-aged male managers, so we decided to take over the world piece by piece. First by writing our own songs which were even worse than usual, then by going solo and when that didn’t work we brainwashed all the world leaders into following our every whim!’
‘Of course’ nodded another figure with each of his three round friendly heads. ‘I am Horace a Hellospherian. Hello! Our four species have all been watching planet Earth for some time in despair at how crazy the world has been getting lately what with Brexit and Donald Trump. It’s a wonder none of you humans saw through this evil trick earlier!’
‘It is over now though’ said the final figure, a spiky-looking Mrasianart. ‘We have rid the world of all CDs by The Spice Girls, plus every other boy and girl band on the planet. Yes even Steps has gone – it’s a tragedy!’ she deadpanned. ‘Now you are all free. Every gender can be equal. Every country can be equal. Every race can be equal. Everyone of you can live good long healthy lives without the stresses of modern-day living. We invite you humans to join our inter-galactic peace treaty and spread our good vibrations across the planet!’
‘This was a song we got from you’ said the Clandusprod. ‘We enjoyed many more Earthling songs apart from that Spice Girls rubbish! There were other species prepared to wipe you out for the cruelty and arrogance and zig-ahs your kind displayed to each other and our worry about what might happen if man and womankind was allowed to spread out through the galaxy. But we decided that any planet that could make such beautiful music ought to be spared.’
‘How did you discover us?’ I asked, doffing my top hat.
‘There’s this really entertaining site called Alan’s Album Archives’ said the Belobrat. ‘You should all read it sometime – it gets a bit weird sometimes, especially on April 1st but it has some good stuff too. I hear there will be spin-off books coming out this year. I hope I can download them onto my loganberry pad!’
Raising their right hands/arms/hooves/tentacles, all four creatures then looked at each other and the five Spice Girls in front of us dissolved with a final cry of ‘spice up your life!!!’
‘Now friends’ said the Hellospherian. ‘Go home – you are free. And the world will be safe forever: no more Spice Girls, no more Theresa May, no more Donald Trump! You may remove your go-go boots and mini-skirts and go back to celebrating your individuality. Good luck my friends!’
The four of them dissolved leaving us looking at each other stunned. All of us except Bingo and Boozy Spice, who had nipped off down the pub! And we realised that we felt a glow in our hearts. After all those years of the Coalition, Republicans, Trumpies, Conservatives and awful music the world was finally a happier, kinder place. And as we walked back to our aircraft I realised that there was some really beautiful music playing from the radio: it was a Clandusprod version of a Cat Stevens song (‘Spice Girls Have Broken). Music Anorak Spice checked her radio and discovered they were playing a Belobrat Beatles cover (‘All You Need Ain’t Spice Girls’). Bootleg Spice checked his radio and found a Hellospherian was playing Hollies (‘She Ain’t Heavy She’s No Longer A Spice Girl’). And sweetiepiespice checked hers and heard the Beautiful sounds of the Mrasianart Monkees (I’m not a believer in any Spice Girls!’). And we stayed there for a moment listening to our respective songs and smiling at each other. Sweetiepiespice and I even shared a long passionate smooch. And then we walked off all of us, paw in paw, into the distance, wondering what adventures lay in store for us now that a better, brighter future had been laid ahead of us and knowing that four benevolent species would never ever let evil walk again on this planet. Suddenly I knew what a zig-a-zig-ah meant: it meant a feeling of fulfilment and longing and hope and love and gloriousness. And of course beautiful music. All of this happy ending had been caused by beautiful music – the sort that gave me hope when I was suffering or alone or frightened or set upon by evil villainous creatures. It gave me hope to carry on when all seemed hopeless, it brought us together in our quest to end the cruel Spice Girls tyranny and it enabled our alien benefactors to discover us and free us. And I realised that even though the blogposts and the books might one day end, I would always be filled with the spirit of Alan’s Album Archives all year long, not just for april fool’s day. And I smiled, hoping our readers would feel this too.