50 Tunes For 50 Years: Average White Band

This one is for my little sister Joanne. The lass I rarely see, the lass life has kept from me but the lass who will always be. Chalk and cheese, we never saw eye to eye on much, mine an awkward life not suited to her confident Essex ways. She was the sweet, I the sour, she the popular, me the acquired, her 70s brash, me the dark and moody. We were our mother’s daughters, her many attributes and faults divided between us as we found our own ways surviving those early childhood days in a broken family. We fought over listening rights to the Binatone, we argued over bunk beds and divvied up the Wagon Wheels. But we had that connection. And on days when the Average White Band’s 7” of Pick Up the Pieces hit the Wharfdale record player, our battles were forgotten as we picked up the nearest “instrument” and played. Together. Mine a plastic clothes hanger, hers the never used tennis racket, ready for us to mime our way through an instrumental we knew all the words to.

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One of the repeated phrases of our childhood days was the endless “mum I’m booooooooooooooored”. Shops shut (actually when were they ever open?), three daytime TV channels churning nowt more exciting than test cards and cricket matches, no money for day trips or decent diversions, rain endlessly pouring down the windows, our Big Book of Boredom for Girls thumbed to near extinction. And yet with one nod of permission from Mum and a flick of the amp switch it was gone, all gone. Records we knew off by heart spinning us away from the hues of brown drudgery of those 70s Essex days. Day’s I’ll never forget, in outfits I’ve been permanently scarred by (seriously have you seen what polyester can do an imaginary pop stars skin?), with a sister I’ll always cherish. A sister I wish was a close to me as this slice of AWB vinyl is right now. A sister I still think of when I see a plastic yellow coat hanger in the corner of my eye, check for nosey neighbours behind their nets, fire up my amp and think, fuck it, this one is for Joanne. I may not be able to be there for you, but I’ll always have a dance for you. 

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