Tag Archives: John Barry

THE OiNK! 45: THE VINYL FRONTIER

Back in 1987 a unique piece of merchandise for a comic was announced in the pages of OiNK. In issue #37 we were treated to this full page advertisement featuring Marc Riley as petty thief Snatcher Sam and Chris Sievey in his role as celebrity superstar Frank Sidebottom. They’d come together to record The OiNK 45, a single-sized vinyl record available only through mail order in the comic.

Back in the premiere issue OiNK had launched itself on to the unsuspecting public with a free flexidisc, a floppy piece of pink see-through plastic containing two songs, namely the imaginatively titled The OiNK Song and The OiNK Rap. Marc produced and performed both and they proved a hit with the kids and an annoyance to the parents of said kids, which I’m pretty sure was the idea. Now they’d been rerecorded at Drone Studios by Marc and Frank with engineer Paul Roberts alongside a brand new song.

When I saw the advert for the first time I immediately begged my parents to write a cheque for the record. I remember the agonisingly long wait for it to arrive and then my mum and dad wished it hadn’t. I played it almost non-stop for a few days, being told several times to turn it down. Let’s just say it wasn’t to everyone’s taste. As I said, annoying readers’ parents may have been the idea behind the songs in the first place.

I’d missed out on the original flexidisc first time around so had no idea two of these were new versions of previous songs. I remember loving The OiNK Psycho Rap (as it was now called) as a kid on The OiNK 45, written by Tony Husband and Marc, and when I finally got my hands on #1 decades later for the blog with a mint condition flexidisc I’ll admit I was confused as to why I’d liked it so much! The answer is that the version here is completely different and a whole lotta fun. The words are almost the same but it’s more professionally put together. While I’m still not going to blast it at get togethers with friends, it may find its way on to my HomePod.

Fortunately for my parents, but heartbreakingly for me, just a few weeks after it arrived back in 1987 I ended up playing it for the very last time. I’d taken the record out of the hifi in my room and placed it on my bed without its sleeve while I listened to something else. It ended up being a nice, warm and sunny October day so off I went outside to play with friends for the afternoon. When I came back I found out to my horror what happens when a vinyl record sits under a skylight on a day like that.

It was badly warped, looking like a disused napkin someone had tossed aside. I was crushed. My parents refused to buy me another, telling me it was a lesson to learn (in reality it had brought peace to the house once more) and, having not yet made a cassette recording so I could take the songs outside with me, that was the last I heard it. Only now have I been able to hear these versions (and the third song) for the first time since then.

This past summer I was finally able to track down a copy of the record and I’ve waited until now to listen to it as a special festive treat for pig pads. This should be interesting with my now-adult ears! First up, the cover art was compiled by Marc Riley and the photographs on the back and on the adverts were taken by OiNK’s resident photographer John Barry under co-creator/co-editor and co-designer for the project (alongside Marc) Patrick Gallagher’s direction.

There’s a reference to Mike Gallagher brewing the tea, this was Patrick’s brother who played sax at the studio sessions (he was also in Frank’s Oh Blimey Big Band) as well as making the refreshments. Patrick tells me altogether they recorded roughly 50 takes of each track but ended up using the first of each! All that remains now is to place the vinyl carefully into my record player and crank the volume up. We’ll start with the new versions of The OiNK Psycho Rap and The OiNK Song (written by Mark Rodgers and Marc). You’ll be glad to hear the latter is still sung by high-pitched pigs.

The OiNK! Psycho Rap written by Tony Husband and Marc Riley
The OiNK! Song written by Mark Rodgers and Marc Riley

Unfortunately there were no lyrics sheets with the record so young me had a hell of a time understanding those piggies but the lyrics were printed in the first issue. Only a few words have been changed here and there for the rap, so feel free to use that photo above to follow along.

Apologies that I have no fancy equipment to record the songs in lossless quality (or whatever it’s called), you’ll have to make do with my video recording it with an ever-tiring outstretched arm.


“What the heck you think you’re doing, you?”

Frank Sidebottom, The OiNK Get-Together Song

On the B-side is the brand new song, The OiNK Get-Together Song. Chris sings along with Marc in the previous songs and Frank even makes a small guest appearance in The OiNK Song when he realises he’s on the wrong track and asks the listener to turn the record over. This next song is twice as long and sees him in his usual place as the lead singer, with Little Frank constantly asking when he’ll get to contribute. It’s billed as a song starring characters from the comic, however the reality is much different (and funnier) than you might expect.

The OiNK! Get-Together Song written by Frank Sidebottom (Chris Sievey)

In my head this song had included various impressions of characters but instead we’re introduced to them playing instruments or making lots of loud background noise. Of course it would be this! Highlights include it descending into chaos on more than one occasion, especially when Billy Bang and the Street-Hogs get involved, Frank and Little Frank’s arguments getting more and more aggressive and there are cameos from some long forgotten characters such as Billy’s Brain and ‘Ed Banger.

My own personal favourite moment is when Frank messes up and just readily admits it right there in the song!

It’s a genuinely funny record and I’d heartily recommend splashing out the few quid it costs on eBay when it pops up, but let’s just say I think I can understand where my parents were coming from when they refused to buy a replacement once they’d escaped it. Brilliant stuff and very typically ‘OiNK’. No other comic could’ve done this. If you do decide to buy it for yourself just be warned, the sax in The OiNK Get Together Song will be stuck in your head from now until the end of time, whether you want it in there or not.

Above you’ll see Mike Gallagher as part of Frank’s band in a photo Patrick sent me, alongside an image of the original test pressing of the vinyl shared by Tony Husband on the OiNK Facebook Group. The final photo features the children of the studio owner and a very tanned/rosy/burnt Marc Riley and Patrick Gallagher, who may have just come back from holiday according to Patrick himself.

The OiNK 45 and the mug were the only pieces of merchandise I had as a kid so it’s great to own them both again today. This has genuinely been a whole lot of fun to revisit. It was another contributing factor to what I refer to as the Golden Age of my very favourite comic of all time.

OiNK! FREE CRASH EDiTiON

This is a somewhat unique addition to OiNK’s run and one I missed out on at the time, despite it being briefly advertised in #32. I can only blame my young self’s lack of attention span for that one. Given away free with #48 of ZX Spectrum computing magazine Crash, this 16-page freebie (the pages are smaller than usual, made to slide inside the A4 Crash) contained all new material from a variety of OiNK contributors. As a tie-in with the new computer game it was an original idea and a smart move, potentially a great way of bringing new readers over to the comic.

I’ve already covered the magazine’s OiNK article which contained an interview with co-editor Tony Husband and a special Frank Sidebottom page, so let’s take a look inside the comic that came with it. We’ve a superb Ian Jackson cover to begin, with Uncle Pigg playing the game on a Spectrum computer which leads to a strip inside featuring him and Mary Lighthouse (critic) in a take on Max Headroom. But it’s across the page from this that things take a turn for the weird.

Lew and Mark decided the strips would work best if they reflected the gameplay

Lew Stringer’s Pete and his Pimple and Tom Thug strips feel a little off and originally I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. Pete’s strip has a different name and basically his pimple goes on a bouncing spree (complete with dog-like yelping noises), flattening some bullies in the process. It’s a bit tame compared to normal, and in Tom’s strip he’s driving about in a ‘Thugmobile’ shooting bovver boots out of a cannon at invading zombies! It’s a dream of course. He awakes to say he’s doesn’t know why he’d dream that but his bedroom is full of zombie posters and toys, something never mentioned before in OiNK. How bizarre.

Don’t get me wrong, both are enjoyable strips, however there’s a reason they feel very different than normal. Lew and co-editor Mark Rodgers decided they’d work best if they reflected the gameplay in the OiNK game. But since that didn’t really reflect the comic (and instead was made up of mini-games with the characters shoehorned in) their strips in turn don’t really reflect their usual hilarious outings. Pete’s game was a Breakout clone, bouncing a ball (his pimple) to break bricks, for example. I’m also not quite sure why Pete’s pus is suddenly green, although Patrick Gallagher did confirm they did the colour separations instead of Crash.

There are some funny moments here, like the sound effects used in Pete’s strip being classic comics titles such as ‘Pow!’ and ‘Wham!’ and of course the word ‘Crash’ is used as much as possible! David Haldane’s Rubbish Man is the third and final strip of a character featured in the game and unfortunately it’s pretty poor, with Boy Blunder playing the game while our hero dispatches some random vegetable villains in the background. None of his smelly powers (or even his smell) feature at all, so as a pig pal it just feels rather bland.


“He defeated the dreaded Three-headed Politician of Gassbagg!!”

Mark Rodgers, Mutant Space Barbarian Magic Warriors of Doom

Much better is the double-page spread in the middle of the comic drawn by J.T. Dogg. Written by Mark Rodgers the title, Mutant Space Barbarian Magic Warriors of Doom sums up some of the ludicrous names we were subjected to for some of the less-than-great gaming titles back in the 80s. It centres on an arcade machine with somewhat magical powers. Perhaps inspired by Tron from Disney, this would make for a good spoof although it’s a much more colourful affair with Dogg’s excellent artwork.

With its fast-paced humour, daft ending and some 80s satire it’s the best introduction to OiNK possible for Crash readers. That ending in particular had me laughing. With all of that build up, the heroic deeds and all of Mike’s victories, for it all to be torn down in a couple of sentences and the whole world to fall into despair as a punchline is great stuff. Classic Mark, really. Billed as “An Interactive Comic Strip” for the computer mag, in reality it boils down to a competition for the readers to send in suggestions of what poor Mike saw that turned him into a pile of Angel Delight.

The address for this competition is OiNK’s, meaning we may get to see the winning entrant in the comic, so watch out for that at an as yet unspecified date. We’re almost at a simply superb contribution from Frank, but first here’s a quick look at some of the other highlights. Mary Lighthouse (critic) isn’t too happy with Uncle Pigg’s simulation of her in that Max Headroom-inspired strip, you can see part of Tom Thug’s strange dream based on the game, Harry the Head scares a show off on the school computers and this issue was the perfect place for a reader’s Groovy Graphics.

Up next Frank Sidebottom has a text-heavy (which suits the magazine) double-page spread and it contains an extraordinary amount of work on the part of his alter ego, Chris Sievey. From the introduction that pokes some fun at the Sinclair ZX81 (accurate though, so he’s done his research) to his piece about the “fiddly bits inside computers” and his funny facts about the machines (and neighbours) that includes praise for Clive Sinclair’s infamous C5 personal cycle, it’s a delight to read.

It also contains some actual working type-in programs for the ZX Spectrum users. These little gems are not only working programs, they’re funny in their own right. Complete with cut-out cassette covers which hilariously had nothing to do with what was on-screen (but none for Little Frank‘s game, naturally), one ‘game’ would basically select a random point on the screen and you had to use your cursor to find it in a trial-and-error fashion. The other was a linear romantic story where all you’d do is hit a key to read the next line and it’d give you a couple of choices to get slightly different compliments about what a nice young woman you are.

Oh and Little Frank’s program prints “l.f. is better than f.s.” at random points on the screen. Silly and pointless, but that in itself was the whole point.

To round things off for potential new OiNK readers what else could be on the back page but a GBH madvertisement? The 80s was a very exciting time for what would become a multi-billion pound industry worth more than the movie and television markets! Everything was brand new and younger people in particular jumped at the chance to become part of it, creating their own games from home, just like a lot of the mainstream games were back then. GBH clearly saw an opening in the market for ripping people off.

The pictures for this were taken by OiNK’s resident photographer John Barry and that lady at the computer (that contraption is so funny in itself!) is John’s wife at the time, Ike Walton. Thanks to co-editor Patrick Gallagher for the info. Unfortunately the names of the children and that wonderful old man have been lost to the mists of time.

If you’re interested in tracking down this unique little issue of OiNK it also includes Billy Bang, Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins, Mr Big Nose, Burp and Hugo the Hungry Hippo. While I do believe some strips would’ve been a much better introduction for their characters and the comic if they hadn’t tried to tie themselves into the game, I completely understand why they chose to do so. It’s still a funny wee comic and a unique edition that no OiNK collection is complete without.

Quite a few posts make up the blog’s coverage of the OiNK game, beginning with the preview in Zzap!64, an in-depth look at the Crash magazine this comic was bundled with and a Retro Gamer article from 2021 containing an interview with the game’s creator. Still to come on Saturday 9th July 2022 is the Zzap!64 review of the game itself and later in the year a couple of issues of Commodore Format in which they gave the game away free but under a different name, then detailed how to beat it.

But probably most excitedly for established pig pals who picked up this edition at the time were the first actual images of two things coming later in 1987. Stick with the blog, folks.