Once, when I was only approximately more than a tiny little stick, there was a game. That’s where we’ll start.
This game was one of those wonderful meetings of both the obsessive and the cathartic. I spent time with the thing and there was a process. Somewhere in that process, I remember being very relaxed - the kind of relaxed you only realise actually, physically exists on day two of your HR mandated holiday, in the sunshine with nowhere in particular to be.
I also vaguely recall handing over that game for sale, well cared for in its plastic case and complete with a small, folded list on blue-lined, ring binder paper in ten year old scrawl with codes for every level I had reached. That’s this game. That, is Wario Blast.
Wario Blast was the 1994 western release of Bomberman GB and players could have their druthers betwixt OG Bomberman or the eponymous Wario as a skin change from the start. I don't remember that advert in all its post-watershed deserving glory at all. I think the thing I recall best is the password system which they used in place of a save game function: Despite being a legit way to progress through the game’s levels as opposed to a more illicit cheat (a la the Konami code or that impossible one for Sonic on the Mega Drive), there was still something of the arcane hack about it that made seven/eight year old me feel very clever.
Apart from tight and enjoyable game mechanics that gradually ramp up the further one progresses, the game remains cute as all hell today. Cuter still was the tiny brown parcel with personalised note that arrived after I won a copy on eBay. I definitely didn’t well up and I’m not almost certainly convinced that this is somehow the same copy - my copy - of Wario Blast that I poured over for hours as a child, upside down on the sofa for days.
JJ Cale's ‘Troubadour’ - put out by ATV Music in 1976 - is a really, really solid and uncomplicated affair. Produced by Audie Ashworth, it's an album perfectly befitting of a guy who not only forged that Tulsa sound but did so without any kind of desire for the spotlight, instead preferring to manufacture class A material for the likes of Skynyrd and Mr Clapton. It's perhaps telling that he was similarly not precious about particular songs, those buried in the track-list that were just as likely to be picked up by megalodons (that is the plural, I checked) and raised up high.
This is one of a few albums Mr R bought into the shop yesterday and I can only be grateful that he did so. Track six, ‘Cocaine’ which went on to be recorded by Clapton became synonymous with the player and iconic Jukebox material in its own right. I swear there used to be a button for that track on the machine at Bradley's and I have worn it off over the years but I had never heard the original version by Cale and never guessed just how close it would be; Clapton just played it with a ton of swagger. Meanwhile, track six on the B, ‘You Got Me So Bad’ is what what Keith Richards would call “Bad Stuff” and he'd be right. And I love it.
Finally, while I'm on the subject of Bradley's, the Spanish bar is absolutely fine for the next ten years at least. I stopped by for a congratulatory drink a week or so ago and spoke with Yan - he of the viking hugs - who assured me that it's all very good and they're all very happy. I suggested that they push for the next twenty but I think they're good to sit back and enjoy living, just for a little while anyhow.
JD - TACOCAT