Imaginary Albums: Lost 70s Volume 7


Lost 70s Volume 7 consists of 22 tracks. There was no pattern to the track order: this deep into the series, I had recaptured most of the songs I remembered specifically, save those which had yet to be uploaded to YouTube. A new Volume would come along after I’d downloaded enough chance recollections and discoveries to fit as close to 80 minutes as I could go, and thereafter it was a case of how the songs before me best fell into sequence.

This is not the original version of the compilation. After getting very sloppy in curation and including a number of tracks several times on different volumes, not to mention including too many tracks by the same artist that would be better grouped, I re-burnt the entire series, filling in spaces with tracks that had not been available when the original compilation was created.

The Green Manalishi (with the two-pronged crown): Fleetwood Mac

For once we begin with a palpable hit. Although I did go through a spell of fascination with the Buckingham-Nicks Fleetwood Mac between 1977-8, my longer term opinion has been that it’s the Peter Green band that counts. Commercially, 1969 was their year, with two number 1s and a number 2, and after that there was only one more commercial success, this late year blues-rocker that stuck at number 10 for a bizarre four weeks. I’ve no idea what a Manalishi is, and whether it being green is of any significance, but this is built around a throbbing riff, interspersed with verses with Green’s voice way out in front, spinning a tale of a girl who teases and tantalises him. The brief story ends with her slipping away, leaving Green here just trying to keep myself from following you, and the band return at a roar, as Green wails in voice and guitar until the whole, incredible experience fades, like the nightmare it must be.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTvKaLW5bu8

Skyline Pigeon: Deep Feeling

A second run-out for the song, this time in the version with which I became familiar in 1970. Deep Feeling were a British soft-rock band, a bit like a slightly tougher Bread, without a distinctive voice or a songwriter of David Gates’ quality. So this version is built on guitars, gentle, soothing and pleasant, and entirely lacking in the edge of Elton John’s original. And it’s also a perfect example of how British bands of the era, when doing cover versions, clearly didn’t have access to any sheet music of the song, and sing the lyrics they hear from the original. Elton’s ‘Most of all please free me from this aching metal ring’ in the original becomes a plea to free the Pigeon from an aching ‘memory’. Pigeons with memories? Just who did they think they were singing about?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZhoqbQLdl8

Andy Warhol: Dana Gillespie

It just goes to show that memory is not entirely reliable. I seem to remember some controversy about Dana Gillespie covering this David Bowie song, as if she were not a legitimate singer and just a pretty girl with big breasts. Well, she was all that, but the record shows her to be an already experienced and recognised actress and singer in 1974, so where that memory comes from, I haven’t a clue. This is a lighter, more structured, poppier version when set against Bowie’s original, and Gillespie’s voice is clear and reasonably strong. I liked it at the time, but then it was some time yet before I started to appreciate the Thin White Duke’s charms.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b11Jw8ddigI

Prisencolinensinaincuisol: Adriano Celentano

Oh blimey, what a mouthful! And what on earth language is this being sung in? Rediscovering this was an absolute mental breakthrough. I recognise it from what I can only imagine was Junior Choice but did Junior Choice extend into 1972, and was I still listening to it then? But thirty years and more passed without my having the slightest recollection of this, this.. well, what do you call it? Novelty, for a start. Abomination might be the word for others to choose. It’s by the well-known Italian comedian Adriano Celentano, it pounds along on a simple rhythm, with horns riffing away, and its lyrics sound like the words of someone who doesn’t speak or understand English making up the sounds as he goes along. I personally think it’s quite brilliant, but I can well understand that being a minority opinion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_g6YxkSqL20

Thing: Edwina Biglet and The Miglets

Speaking of novelty… You have to understand that, over the first three years or so of the Seventies, there were plenty of one-off singles around that could be classed as eccentric. Far too many of them were actually Jonathan King, under a wild variety of names. Usually, but not exclusively, King’s weedy voice gave the game away but the assumption was that if you heard something outlandish, King would be behind it somewhere. So, when this oddity first appeared, with writing and production credited to Jonathan Hodge, everybody’s immediate assumption was that King had taken pseudonyms to another level. But Jonathan Hodge was a real person, and ‘Thing’ was a novelty of genius. I can’t remember if it came out before or after Chicory Tip introduced the charts to the sound of the novelty synthesizer via ‘Son of my Father’, but this was a better record on all levels, a very early example of electronica, built around faux naif vocals, silly voices and silly sounds, produced by a thing that went (quick twiddle) and proved to be both popular and versatile without ever being identifiable. Deserved to be massive! This song could have changed the face of popular music forever!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLSlwZ8pImk

I never see the sun: Baskin and Copperfield

Even now, there are Seventies songs hidden away in my memories awaiting to be released. All they await is the trigger, some form of trigger, and then it floods out. I loved this slow ballad in 1970, though I don’t remember seeing it on TOTP, and then it vanished without trace. The lift of recollection was astonishing. My spur for this track, as it as been for many others, was a website called Marmalade Skies (http://www.marmalade-skies.co.uk/) which is devoted to British psychedelia and music in and around that. There are hundreds of reference to obscure singles, one of which was to Baskin and Copperfield who, not that I realised it, who did achieve big success a few years later as lead singers with the Rubettes. This is a lovely, slow, doomy ballad, one of the first sophisticated sounds I got into, and it takes me so far back every time I play it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VggcRYq-C9w

Poor Old Horse: The Albion Band

This was practically the last incarnation of, and release by the great old folk band, a great, rolling, fiddle and acoustic guitar singalong, whose words make no sense but whose chorus invites you to stick your finger in your ear, whether it makes a difference or not, and sonorously sing it up. Which makes it all the more the improbable that I learned this song from John Peel’s late night shows, in Nottingham, to which I tuned in religiously for Punk and New Wave music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNEgaXbQAGw

Seven Deadly Finns: Eno

If you created a map of Brian Eno’s career, from Roxy Music to ambient music, you’d be hard pressed to place this precursor of punk single that was his first solo venture. It’s surprisingly primitive, with hints of Bowie and a story-line that could have come out of Jacques Brel, and its got a galloping energy that no-one was expecting from the fox-furred dandy of Roxy, and there’s a giddy singalong yodelling outro that completes the picture of a complete but vigorous enigma. Eno never did anything like that again, and we are poorer for it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyPgb1WkDSA

Fish Ain’t Biting: Lamont Dozier

You’ll have noticed by now that there has, to date, been no soul music of any kind in the Lost 70s series. I’m not a soul boy. That doesn’t mean I’m not alive to the thrills of certain aspects of soul, though it took me an unconscionably long time to cotton on to the magic of Motown, and I am basically ignorant of but can appreciate the life force of Northern Soul. But despite a brief spell of delight for Jimmy Ruffin singles, when it came to the Seventies, Soul and I had taken seats on different trains. But there are always exceptions, and this slice of lazy groove, with a sunshine sound and a contemporaneous political theme (Tricky Dick, stop your sh*t) was a gem and still deserves wider fame than it ever got. In case you weren’t sure, Lamont Dozier is the Dozier that goes between the two Hollands, so you know this is going to be classy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZmaTah38Ng

Love and a Molotov Cocktail: The Flys

I have been known to go in for unlikely juxtapositions and musical contrasts that would be rejected out of hand by compilers with a better idea of blending tracks. Besides, there’s not a great deal you could segue this with, the big moment for the short-lived punk band, The Flys, which started as a ninety second Peel track and which wasn’t stretched out much further in single form. This raucous song was punk in energy and attitude rather than the scratched out guitar but it exploded into a lusty chorus that got everything it wanted to say into a very short space and left you very much wanting to play it again. And that’s enough for me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdooKC_vyDM

Made in Japan: Rigor Mortis

Rigor Mortis were a John Entwistle side project. The Ox tended to write songs with a very cynical point of view and with a spot of low comedy in mind. ‘Made in Japan’ starts off with a bit of barrelhouse piano and fits in a razor sharp synthesizer solo, but it’s a bit of a larf on the idea that the singer is a bit flush with cash and wants to buy variously a suit or a car, only to find that these posh and flash things are all made in the Land of the Rising Sun, which was not, at this point, a hallmark for quality. Disillusioned, he opts to marry his girl instead, but on the honeymoon in Miami, she comes out of the bathroom, and guess what’s tattooed just below her belly… The tune makes this better than a one-time joke and it’s fun to slip it back on the turntable and play it all over again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zywkwK8r2C0

Farewell: Ayesha

Ayesha (full name Ayesha Brough) was a full-bodied and attractive young woman who was an actress and a ITV children’s TV presenter, with her own pop show, Lift-Off with Ayesha which I used to watch avidly (for the music) and which was all in all pretty good fun and not too hidebound as to their choice of guests. I remember them as hosting the first television appearance of the Electric Light Orchestra, when it was still Roy Wood’s baby. ‘Farewell’ was a Roy Wood song given an ELO production, shortly after the bearded one left to form Wizzard instead. It got every little airplay, and to be honest it’s not one of Wood’s most tuneful songs, but it was lusty and I would have loved to see – I mean, hear – more of it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60W9J76go68

Diamonds and Rust: Joan Baez

Another that I have spoken of in far greater detail than is available here, under ‘The Infinite Jukebox’ (https://mbc1955.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/the-infinite-jukebox-joan-baezs-diamonds-and-rust/). For the full story, read there. For now just listen, and if you are moved to weep, be sure that somewhere my own eyes are moist as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ST9TZBb9v8

Lady of the Morning: Marvin, Welsh and Farrar

The third and last Marvin, Welch and Farrar track in these compilations, being that it’s the only other song from them that is memorable. A brisk, uptempo, acoustic composition, enlivened by some nifty electric solos from Hank Marvin, and a boisterous chorus. A couple of years after this, the trio split and Hank and Bruce ended up reforming The Shadows, unforgivably prostituting their sound to weak, spineless production and thin, feeble tunes. Had they remembered the sturdiness of their performances on songs such as this, we’d all have been a lot better off.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJesLCfMUDg

Don’t you Know: Butterscotch

I’m still in two minds as to why I’ve included this. Butterscotch was a name for three professional songwriters, Arnold, Martin and Morrow who, amongst other things, were behind the first Rescue Co. No. 1 single, ‘Gotta Find You’. You can tell it’s the same voices just by listening to this single. As far as I’m aware, the trio never recorded anything else under this name, so this stands as a complete record of Butterscotch’s career: a no 17 hit in early 1970. It’s a slice of easy-listening, MOR-pop, with a very simple, indeed bland style and a singalong chorus. But the band’s name and the song was dreadfully out of date when it was released (the song even fades in) and the whole thing is a complete puzzle as to what made it a hit. It’s here more for memory of it being on the radio than any intrinsic qualities of its own: a record of what my infant(ile) taste was rapidly evolving through (there is a contemporaneous Herman’s Hermits hit that I loved then and am now dedicated to never hearing again in my life), so it isn’t only nostalgia, but I’m damned if I know what).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dg3-NEimsOg

Echoes and Rainbows: Black Swan

This is the a-side of that Black Swan track I featured on the previous volume, and the one that got that airplay on Radio Luxembourg in those after seven o’clock hours in early 1971. Though the song’s in English, the accent is clearly stilted, but that adds to the weird charm of the track, which is a stop-start song, decorated by something that sounds like an escalated kazoo. What it’s about is hard to decide: at one point, our guy declares that she doesn’t love him, which seems to be a large part of why he’s surrounded by these echoes and rainbows, but who really cares when you get a hazy sound like this? It’s nothing that England could have produced, and that’s what’s so good about it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gla_N9Ll54Q

Green Green Trees: Leapy Lee

Another from those innocent, 1970 days. Leapy Lee had had a top 10 hit in 1968, and a much less successful follow-up the following year, and by 1970, he was passé: I think I heard this about three or four times on the radio, and I responded to the yearning atmosphere I heard. Later, watching the fabulous Freddie Garrity vehicle, Little Big Time, I discovered the song was a part of the extended ‘Oliver in the Overworld’. It took thirty odd years to get hold of a vinyl copy of the track, and my fleeting impressions weren’t quite borne out in reality, but you’ve probably realised by now that this series isn’t about the great stuff that has been lost to memory, but about my personal memory and that’s why a superannuated crooner like this earns a place.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIN_qrcIf0M

After the Goldrush: Prelude

Incredibly, after a capella songs had been pretty conclusively demonstrated as having no place in pop/rock, two such hit the charts together around Xmas 1973. The festive one was Steeleye Span’s ‘Gaudete’, an austere, emotive Latin prayer, and Prelude, a north-east based folk trio, got swept along with the rush on their version of this Neil Young song. The band weren’t too happy with this multi-tracked recording, having preferred the live three-voice version as being more natural, but the artifice of the studio didn’t prevent this being an awesome experience: the final, alien version has always been, to me, far more impressive in Prelude’s cold, austere harmonies than Young’s cracked falsetto.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2Taxuott5s

Charles: The Skids

An early (self-released, if I remember correctly) single by the Skids, making very effective use of limited musicianship. It’s a robotic beat for a robotic song, with a repetitive guitar figure concluding each verse, as Richard Jobson intones the tale of a factory worker whose body is replaced, gradually, by machine parts, until his connection to his family is completely eradicated, and he is then made obsolete. It’s an allegory, and an obvious one, but the busy little track and the persistent beat are enough to mark this lot out as a band worth watching.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfoOclFPyis

Autobahn (7”): Kraftwerk

I don’t really need to introduce this, do I? Kraftwerk were the pioneers of electronic music in this country and ‘Autobahn’ was the break-through single, championed by Johnnie Walker on his lunch-time show (all the Radio 1 daytime DJs had a ‘gimmick’ to make them stand out: Walker’s ‘gimmick’ was that he was genuinely into the music. How the hell did he last?) This is billed as the 7″ but I don’t remember it as the version I heard on the radio: this is a skilful edit of the 21 minute album version, reflecting each of its phases brilliantly, and it sounds strange to me every time I hear it. But then you never hear the radio edit of ‘American Pie’ these days, even though it was the version first released and which broke first into the UK charts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iukUMRlaBBE

Jumping Jehosophat: Mud

I don’t even know if this is the Mud, though the timeline fits. I was exposed to this song exactly once, when the band performed it on Opportunity Knocks in 1970. Of the performance, I remember only that one instrument playing member of the band at one point augmented the percussion by opening his mouth, hollowing his face and slapping his cheeks. If this was the Mud, I personally would have tracked down every copy of this turkey and ensured they were all destroyed. It’s an utterly disposable pop song, obviously written to try to make something of a distinctive title but without any idea what to do to make the song more than an excuse for two and a half minutes thumb-sucking. This band were clearly never going to get anywhere. And maybe they didn’t.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xVd5wH8f3Y

(Yes, the video makes it plain this was the Mud. That doesn’t change a word I said)

The Shepherd’s Song: The Tony Osborne Sound

And finally, a sweet, gentle, summer’s instrumental, taken from, of all things, a TV ad. The song is, I believe, a piece of classical music, but what it was being employed to sell, I no longer remember or care. A singer vocalises what may be lyrics in a French that no-one wants to decipher, and the track was so popular, it was a released as a single and even reached the lower end of the top 50. For a long time, I had to rely upon a very scratchy old record, but at last it was uploaded and I can enjoy it in the peace it brings. It’s the sound and the essence of a late evening walk in the country, as the sun lowers towards the horizon and all colours deepen and richen, and it’s a fitting, still end to this latest collection.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRQ–h2xWeE

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