Far be it for PetrolBlog to compare Chris Barker to a Leyland National (Britain’s best bus), but it’s great to receive two stories from him in quick succession. Here, he lays down his choice of tracks for CarTunes, which includes a pair of Escorts and something racy from Sunderland. Sounds like a seedy novel based in the North East.
Without further ado, here’s ace wordsmith and freelancer-available-for-hire Chris Barker with some more CarTunes. If you’re travelling by Leyland National, remember to head to the back if you want to smoke.
The West Wirral Rider in a 1989 Nissan Bluebird 2.0-litre DLX Fastback
Before I discovered dance music – and light years before I hit on actual music I can talk about in polite company (i.e. rock music) – I was into late 80s boy bands. From Big Fun’s boogie-blaming antics to Brother Beyond’s continual must-try-harder approach. Don’t judge me. I was young and impressionable. Like a less billious-inducing Gary Barlow. I also had the keys to me mam’s green 1988 Nissan Bluebird 2.0-litre DLX fastback.
So, picture the scene if you will/care.
I’ve just passed my driving test and had a killer pair of curtains (centre-parted fringe-based hairstyle) resting atop my tempestuous bonce. And what was on continual tape loop on the Blaupunkt Benidorm as I swanned around my resolutely middle class ‘hood, driver’s window fully down, arm hanging out? Yup, NKOTB’s third best single ever; namely Cover Girl. Cool as fcuk doesn’t even come close.
Twenty laps of honour around local estates and a handful of promptly aborted handbrake turns later, and I considered myself a driving deity. Nobody else did. They simply stared in disbelief at this pallid-complexioned tool who thought he was the ‘Wirral Wahlberg’.
Blackburn to Burnley in a Ford Escort XR3i
It was a stormy summer’s evening in 1995 and I was driving back to my B&B in Burnley having literally put in a shift at a newly-opening B&Q store in Blackburn. As was my store-fitting remit as part of a recruitment agency crew ‘hand-picked’ for the temporary role after my student days had ended prematurely. Anyway, I was owning/driving a Dagenham-spec Diamond White Escort XR3i at the time. And The Prodigy’s Voodoo People came on the radio just as the aforementioned storm broke.
Cue utterly stupendous claps of thunder, biblical forks of lightning and a general air of impending menace/doom as I blasted down a torrential rain-splattered M65 to this aural backdrop. The windscreen wipers couldn’t cope with this meterological phoenomenon, which seemed to play out in time with the music. As the beat was ramped up faster and more furiously than Vin Diesel in a bit of a hurry, so did the stairrod rain and thunderous applause.
God might not have been a DJ that night, but he was conducting climmatical affairs from his heavenly throne room. Not entirely sure how I made it to my temporary digs that evening, but I do know that I had never felt more alive behind the wheel of a vehicle either before or since.
Warrington to Wirral in a 1991 Ford Escort RS Turbo
A few years later, and I’d moved up in the Ford Escort world. And now owned a Mercury Grey metallic RS Turbo. Complete with a Morette twin headlamp conversion and five-spoke TSW Stealth alloys. Yeah, in yer face, homies. I was also a regular elected driver within my posse, and was making the return journey to my native Wirral homeland from the legendary – and now sadly defunct – Warrington nightspot, Mr Smiths, on the night in question. Semi-permanent home of The Hit Man and Her, no less. When Barnsley’s premier nightclubs weren’t on the rota, that is.
Being the middish-but-nearer-late 90s, we were in the throes of a happy hardcore revolution. Which if you recall, were speeded up dance tunes which eventually paved the way for Scooter et al.
Still, back in 98, DJs’ Hixxy, Dougal and Sharkey, along with fellow double deck procrastinators, Force & Styles were busy taking us all on a trip to discoland. Which was essentially akin to a shite wonderland. There were no signs of a white rabbit. Just plenty of other contrived-named ‘e’-stamped leisure medication doing the rounds at the time. Loading up my Sony face-off tape player en route home that particular night, and it was rapid-fire post-trance tuneage courtesy of the very latest ‘Bonkers’ LP, which would drive a saint to doing himself a mischief that aurally filled my ‘scort turbo.
Which, as excrutiatingly naff as it might sound all these years later, etched mahoosive smiles across the faces of all the passengers. In between impromptu ‘munchie’ stops, obvs.
The CarTunes playlist is up and running on Spotify. As mixtapes go, it’s rather special. Inspired by the tracks laid down by Chris Barker? Get in touch to add some CarTunes of your own.