She takes money
She gives change
She sells records
And that's special
Continuing our tribute to the music of Manchester, we take a more light-hearted example to capture the wit and humour of the city. The Freshies were a pop-punk band fronted by Chris Sievey, who later became the big-eyed, nasal-voiced large head-wearing musical comedy character known as Frank Sidebottom and he would also take visitors on amusing of his south Manchester suburb of Timperley. But in the early 1970s Sievey was something of a pioneer, one of the first punk independents to set up his own record label, Razz, in 1975.
Releasing EPs in cassette form in 1975 he then set up The Freshies, with various other musicians involved including Martin Jackson, Billy Duffy and former Nosebleeds bassist Rick Sarko, and Sievey was also associated with Jilted John's Graham Fellows, previously highlighted on Song of the Day. Sievey also claimed to have turned down the offer to join the band by a 14-year-old Johnny Marr, because he was too young.
This song though, musically influenced the Buzzcocks and the Ramones, was there biggest success, originally released independently, it later became a minor hit in 1980 when it was reissued by the US giant MCA Records with a slightly different title ("I'm in Love with the Girl on a Certain Manchester Megastore Checkout Desk") as there were objections by BBC's Radio 1 about using the Virgin brand name. The shop itself, on Manchester's Market Street was one of the very first belonging to the chain, and, as a teenager, I remember the excitement of going there and the amusement of every cool record-buyer walking around with a bag that said "Virgin" on it.
The song, with its humorously absurdly uncatchy long title, sentimentally captures adolescent yearning love and the passion for records, with many classic lines, wistfully looking at girls, and wishing to be part of the music industry but not quite making it. But of course, in a minor way, it succeeded, and remains a beloved part of Manchester's history. That is indeed special.
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