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Baker's Dozen

Pitch Perfect: Pat Nevin's Favourite Music
Richard Foster , June 2nd, 2021 08:17

Footballer, DJ and now writer, Pat Nevin talks Richard Foster through his 13 favourite records, including the time he got the fear from Delia Smith being at John Peel's birthday party, and being asked to write lyrics for Vini Reilly


Camera Obscura – Underachievers Please Try Harder
If I have to have a favourite band at the moment it's Camera Obscura. I deeply, deeply love what Tracyanne writes. She's one of the best songwriters I've come across. Again they came to me whilst listening to a Peel show, he was playing a Rabbie Burns special. And they were on it. Halfway through one of their tracks I was like 'OK. I need to know everything about them now.' [Laughs.] I was at their gig two nights later in Glasgow, after driving 200 miles. 

This is exactly what happens to me, all the time. I'd bought their first two albums the very next day. Underachievers Please Try Harder and Biggest Bluest Hi Fi, you can toss a coin over them for me, they are both absolute genius. And the third one with all the poppy singles on it is genius too! Anyway; I'd driven all the way to see this band. I'd phoned up the venue in Glasgow the night before and asked if there were tickets left. Oh yes, there are. Great, right, so save one for me, please. So I get there and they tell me it's sold out. I'm a pretty mild mannered guy right? But this was too much. No-one was stopping me getting in. So I said to the doorman, 'Look, this is a 450 mile round trip for me, pal.' The fella says, 'No I don't care'. Typical doorman. I'm thinking, right, I'm gonna make a fuss, I'm not having this. After I've made this effort I want to speak to the manager! Imagine! Anyway this girl taps me on the shoulder and says to the doorman I was on the list. So I say thanks and walk in and think nothing more about it. And that girl was Traceyanne! I didn't know who they were, I'd just heard them, bought the albums immediately and gone to see them without knowing anything else.

Now, I think Traceyanne's a songwriter of the standard of Benny and Björn from ABBA. They saved my life a wee bit, too, because at that time I'd left football and I was doing my job, but something was missing. And I ended up becoming friends with them and going to the Glasgow clubs where they hung out, these old Working Men's Clubs with a disco in it, real old school stuff. The whole bunch of people around them were beautiful. There was a four, or five year period when I needed friends. Anyway they didn't know that but they provided it. 

There's another story related to them I want to tell. One night, I got a phone call from Sheila Peel and she asked, 'can you come to John's birthday party?' Sure, I'll be there. I'd been to John's parties before, sometimes you missed them, sometimes you went, you know? So I told my wife and she reminded me, 'you're doing a charity event that weekend in Edinburgh. You are playing golf on the Saturday morning, and on the Sunday morning. And you helped organise it, for charity. But you said you'd see John this same weekend in Suffolk!' But I knew I just had to be there. So I moved my tee time forward, found out when the flights were, got a four o'clock flight to Stansted, gave a driver fifty quid or something to take me to Suffolk, and I was there at 8 o'clock at the start of the party when Camera Obscura played, as the house band. John was in the best form I'd ever seen him. He was desperately, desperately shy though he was always brilliant at hiding it. Anyway, at midnight, before I turned into a pumpkin, I got a cab who drove me back, got two hours sleep and I was on the golf course by 8 o'clock the next morning. There are some weird things about that night. Delila Smith was there for one. And Delia has still not forgiven me for scoring the winner against Norwich in the semi final of the FA Cup in 1989…. Anyway, me and John were talking that night about the gig. I think he felt about Camera Obscura the way he felt about The Fall or the Cocteaus. He would have backed them. That night… I'd never done anything like that before, and have never done anything similar since. My wife went mental. But John was dead three weeks later. What made me do it?