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The MMs Bar Recording

CATALOGUE NUMBER JBH040

Slowly rolling into Trunk is the brand new and rather unusual release. It’s known as the MMs Bar Recording and here is the story behind it…

Spelt “MMs” and pronounced the “Em’s Bar”, this small hive of buffet activity used to live in Coach F on the Midland Mainline trains (hence the “MM”) running between Leicester and London. At the beginning of each train journey, the staff at the MMs Bar would announce that it was, or in some cases was not, open for business. Business meant hot food, light snacks and a dazzling array of hot drinks.

Making the journey weekly between 2006 and 2007 was Sandra Cross. An artist working on an ongoing project exploring food, she recorded the MMs bar announcements whenever she got on the train. There was no consistency as to when the announcements would start, sometimes at the beginning of a journey, sometimes they pipe up several minutes after the train had started. You’ll hear that recordings have a wide fluctuation in quality based on a wide variety of voice, tone and delivery. Simply shunted together like old rail yard stock, these basic recordings represent a strangely engaging set of monologues all based on the same exciting menus and occasional “safety information”.

On a 6am drive to Tonbridge on my way to the Audio Jumble last year, I was tuned into Resonance 104.4 FM and heard the MMs Bar recording. It lasted about 30 minutes and I found myself strangely hypnotised by the way it sounded, the mundane nature of the announcements and the almost infinite number of variations possible within each one. I found myself laughing out loud as each announcer mentioned the phrase “bottle of pop”, and decided to find out more about the recording. I did, and then decided the best thing to do was put it on very limited vinyl. There are only 250 of these (actually I think it’s about 286 or something). I figured there must be that many people out there who will find this as entertaining as I still do.

Sadly the MMs bar is no more, and has been replaced by the far less attractive trolley system. Apparently the bar is still there, but the shutters remain permanently shut. I know this as I was on the exact train line the other evening. There it was, Coach F, closed and miserable. The announcements for the trolley service are quite unpleasant, as is the trolly service. What I also noticed is the use of brand new and invented phrasing, for example the “next station” or “the next stop” has been changed to “the next stopping point will be Leicester”. How horrid is that.

The LP will be available shortly. Or maybe it’s ready right now. There will also be a limited CD in a slipcase too, but have a look in ye olde trunk shoppe right now. Thanks for listening.

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