Imaginary Albums: The ‘Lost 70s’ series


First non-Imaginary Album

It should be obvious to anyone who so much as passes by here that I am behind the times. I read old books, I collect old comics, I still prefer my music and films to have a physical existence, even though I’ve ample memory on the current laptop. I have the extended Hobbit trilogy within this portable artefact, but I’m still buying the boxset for Xmas.
Like anyone who’s had access to CD-burning technology for a dozen years, I have downloaded mp3s and burned a few hundred CDs of my personal curation. Most of them are, in one form or another, compilations. Increasingly, I find myself preferring collections that throw someone different at me with every track.
One of the very first CDs I burnt has gone on to form the basis of a series now stretching to a dozen volumes. I called the first one Lost 70s and that’s the theme.
I grew up musically through the Seventies: first albums, first gigs, first Saturday afternoons spent hunting through the unending racks of singles at the Second-Hand Record Stalls on Shudehill, each one scraped out with what little money on the pocket money allowed by a widowed mother bringing up two kids on a pension and three days a week as a seamstress at two of UMIST’s Halls of Residence.
With the exception of the punk explosion at the end of the decade, I don’t have that many good feelings about the music of the Seventies. I was out of step at nearly every step. I didn’t even start to listen to pop or rock until literally days before the end of the Sixties, so I was taking baby steps with very simple tastes whilst everybody around me at school was going progressive (except Malcolm Eddlestone, who was into reggae, which at our School was so far beyond the Pale that people beyond the Pale despised it).
And when I got through that particular phase, discovering Lindisfarne as a favourite band, I found myself in between: too individual and idiosyncratic for a pop world dominated by T. Rex and rushing headlong towards GlamRock on the one hand, and frankly bored to a very large degree by the interminable epics of the ProgRock giants like ELP and Yes who were the staple diet of my closest mates.
Nor did I enjoy the music of my best mate’s favourite artist, Olivia Newton-John. Yes, ELP and Livvy: and he did seriously love the music, not just the photos!
Punk’s aggression, raw simplicity and sheer energy was the saving for me, much to the disgust, or at best amused tolerance of my friends, Punk, New Wave and the Ska Revival (I have vivid memories of dropping in for a lunch-time chat with one of my fellow Articled Clerks in 1979, his mentioning this band he’d seen on TOTP the previous night, his cheerful assumption that I would have liked it even though they were absolute rubbish, didn’t know how to play their instruments, would never get anywhere: we eventually worked out that he was referring to the debut of Madness!)
But here and there, in among the over-produced rot, the slick pop, the self-indulgence and the plain shite, there were songs I liked. Sometimes, they were big hits: I was into 10cc for several years, and I went through a Fleetwood Mac spell from the White Album to Rumours, though I was seriously ahead of the curve so far as Britain was concerned, confirming that my taste and that of the record buying public were never in tune.
No, most of the time, the things that I loved were records that Radio 1 either gave short shrift to, forcing me to shift to try to record these tracks off the radio, or which failed to sell: songs that peaked at no 35 or lower, or never troubled the Top 50 at all.
That still begs the question of why not Lost 60s, or Lost 80s? That’s down to age. I missed the Sixties at the time it was going by: all my discoveries there are retrospective. And whilst I didn’t suddenly stop listening to music after 1979, I barely got halfway through the Eighties before setting my own course, and I’d given up on pop radio by that time anyway. No, if I were going to indulge in music that was both nostalgic and obscure, it was going to have to be that real armpit of a decade.
So Lost 70s it was. It was a compilation of those songs I could remember, those oddball, weird tracks, records played a handful of times, which had vanished. Lost music, bound together only by being part of the decade of my education in music, that aroused recollection of my own private musicology.
And the memories kept on coming out, slowly teased from the recesses of my mind, patiently hunted out, most from YouTube but some from sources more obscure. There are now twelve CDS, twelve Imaginary Albums under the Lost 70s rubric and I’m going to throw them open, complete with links for everything that’s locatable.
And if any of the songs that I’ll be listing spark your memories, good for you, and throw back your suggestions please. After all, I’ve currently only got seven tracks for Lost 70s 13.

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