heard on the wire

Pennies from heaven


Just over a year ago, a very clever man called Liam had a very clever idea. He decided to trawl Amazon for CDs available for just 1p and get a friend to write reviews for a new website, the 1p Album Club.

In return, the friend chose 1p CDs for Liam to review and in the subsequent 17 months or so, many new pairs of mutual reviewers have added their musical ponderings to the site, which now boasts some 119 reviews that will convince you that you’ll never pay more than 1p (plus P&P) for a CD again.

Now Liam being a clever chap, as I mentioned, has cleverly assembled a neat web address that searches for all and only the 1p CDs available on Amazon’s UK Marketplace; currently it lists more than 70,000. Top of the list, ordered by popularity, are such chart-busting classics as Back to Black, Amy Winehouse’s dinner party classic, and Robbie Williams’ Swing When You’re Winning. We are, quite literally, spoilt for choice, by the Eurythmics, Take That, Blunt and Gaga.

Go to the second page of results and things improve, if only marginally, with the White Stripes’ Elephant, a fine record tarnished by the ubiquity of Seven Nation Army. On page three it starts to get exciting, with the appearance of Massive Attack’s Mezzanine and the finest moment from the Bristol collective: Liz Fraser at her bewitching best.

Massive Attack :: Teardrop

It’s best to skip page four entirely—two Script CDs—and, unless “best of” and “greatest hits” collections are your thing, it’s not until page seven that things really start to hot up. A penny will buy Portishead’s timeless Dummy, Jeff Buckley’s hit-and-miss Grace or an LP that’s probably the best Carpenters tribute ever recorded and pure Radio 2 fodder. I’d describe it as a guilty pleasure if I felt in the slightest bit guilty.

Rumer :: Am I Forgiven?

Further exploration takes us past Pulp’s self-explanatory Different Class, Massive Attack’s second LP, with Tracey Thorn’s beautiful Protection, and on to page 25 where languishes an LP that I’m slightly ashamed to say I’d forgotten about, despite owning a copy. It’s great when you’re straight, yeah!

Black Grape :: Reverend Black Grape

We skipped Pulp before in expectation that the band’s previous LP would be on the list. Different Class may be the better record, but His ’n’ Hers contains the Sheffield outfit’s finest three and a half minutes. Do you?

Pulp :: Do You Remember the First Time?

And on we go, a nugget here, a jewel there and more than the odd horror—Chris Moyles apparently recorded something called The Parody Album. Surely even 1p is too much to ask for that. At page 84, we rest, clicking finger exhausted, on an LP that was a UK number two for Madonna in 1994. Fans of the pop superstar aside, Bedtime Stories has probably been largely forgotten and in most part probably with good reason. But it does contain this, to my mind the outstanding moment of an otherwise lucratively underwhelming career.

Madonna :: Secret

And if you dig deep enough, 1p will indeed buy you pennies from heaven.

Bing Crosby :: Pennies from Heaven

Start shopping: The Amazon 1p Collection

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