Roadrunner Once, Roadrunner Twice

roadrunner

Marquee Moon’ is an exquisite piece of music. The Bier Keller in Wigan introduced me to it, Smiths in Wigan sold me the twelve-inch single and ten minutes of magic has been in my life ever since. This was no “1234 let’s go” slice of punk. It was the unique guitar sound of Tom Verlaine. A sound that he had been honing to perfection in the band Television since 1971. There has only been one better American song played at the Bier Keller before or since. That is ‘Roadrunner’ by Jonathan Richman or confusingly the flipside ‘Roadrunner Twice’ by The Modern Lovers. United Artists originally released the song in 1975 while Richman actually wrote it in 1969! Us Johnny Come Lately’s picked it up in June 1977 when Berkeley released the album ‘Rock ‘n Roll With The Modern Lovers’ and the double ‘a’ side single of ‘Roadrunner’.The picture sleeve has a quote from a euphoric Nick Horne of Capital Radio claiming that it is “The Best record ever made…” while Ian Birch from Time Out magazine claims that it is “A near definitive cruisin’ anthem for the seventies.”There is not much ‘cruisin’’ in cars or otherwise in Wigan but when the track hits the decks in the Keller and Richman states “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Roadrunner, Roadrunner” Nicky Horne might just be right.

The dance floor in the Keller is around eighteen-foot by fifteen foot and while ‘Neat, Neat, Neat’ and ‘White Riot’ gets the boys pogoing about it is the ‘Roadrunners’ and ‘Kimberleys’ that get the girls onto the floor. And there are some girls in the Keller. Spiky-haired, high cheek-boned statuesque beauties. There are bin liners and holy sweaters. Naked flesh and thigh high boots. School uniforms customised to within an inch of their lives. And if the girls are getting up and getting down to ‘Cocaine’ by Dillinger then you can be assured that the boys will not be far behind them…

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