Imaginary Albums: Lost 70s Volume 10


Lost 70s Volume 10 consists of 22 tracks again. As I said last time, these later volumes were compiled from whatever I’d collected since the last one, then sorted into whatever order felt best. There’s a couple of mini-themes but the unusual aspect of Volume 10 is that it has no less than three bands represented by two tracks. The point of this kind of compilation is that each track should be by a different artist, a convention to be broken occasionally if a band has two tracks that slot together. But here I had a couple of duplicated artists and it had been a very long time since I’d added to the series, so here we are. This and the relatively rapidly following Volume are both inspired by the rediscovery of tons of music on my MiniDisc collection.

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.

Serenade – The Steve Miller Band

The Steve Miller Band were always bigger at home than in the UK. Johnnie Walker massively championed ‘The Joker’ when it first appeared, but had to wait nearly twenty years to see the fruits of his patronage, when the song unexpectedly went to number 1. ‘The Joker’ excepted, the Band were still fairly bland, meat and potatoes rockers, with the occasional flash of something better. One of those was ‘Rock’n’Me’, which saw them into the top 20 in 1976. ‘Serenade’ was among its follow-ups, a slower, quieter, less distinctive song, but one with a quiet, undervalued quality of its own. It has a mournfulness that I still respond to all these years later, and a suggestion of depth that the band’s ordinary material can’t come near.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkrLmeeCrhY

Gerdundula – Status Quo

Ger-what? This spindly, twiddly, thin-sounding song represents a crossing-point for the band formerly known as The Spectres. It’s a bridge between the Quo’s early, feedback-drenched, poppy material and the boogie they were wedded to in their hearts. There’s a hint of the Irish jig in there, but this is the start of the band’s true career. All that was needed was for the production to be beefed up about, oh, a thousand percent, and this would be the Quo we knew for the rest of time immemorial.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjlJwSoomDo

Love’s Made A Fool Of You –     Cochise

I know nothing whatsoever about Cochise, but I remember this rocked-up version of Buddy Holly’s song from a few plays on the radio in early 1971. It took over thirty years to get hold of it and refresh those memories because it didn’t appear on YouTube until relatively recently. As I’ve had occasion to observe, 1971 was a very prolific year for obscurities that caught my ear in the most fleeting of passes.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVbN21f3EuU

I Guess the Lord must be in New York City – Nilsson

Until I checked for the purpose of these ‘sleeve-notes’, I was convinced this (and another song on this compilation) was from the 1970s. I mean, I kept hearing it on the radio, and I wasn’t listening to that before December 21 1969. But this and the other Nilsson track on this compilation are both from the same Summer album, and this track was also from the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack, and until ‘Everybody’s Talkin”, it was going to be the title song for the film, and it would have been as good a choice as Fred Neil’s song, with the same superficial lightness and sweetness conveyed by Nilsson’s voice, and the same melancholy, hinting at deeper, darker issues, caught within the song.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQRHUp5_tyE

Soldier Blue – Buffy Sainte-Marie

I hated this song in 1971, absolutely loathed it. It was a straining, quavering, drawn-out wail, with minimal tune, and I was too young by far to understand what it was about, and far from understanding how personal and meaningful the song was to Buffy Sainte-Marie, a pureblood Native American (not that we called them by such terms then, no, she was still a Red Indian). And there was no way, at 15, that I was going to be let out to see the major Hollywood film of which this was the title song. So it took me another forty years, during which I became far more familiar with the history of America than I had been in the summer of 1971, to see that what Sainte-Marie sings is of the bond between the Native Americans and their land, the rapine of the white soldiers, the commitment to the country and the ways in which it sustains its children, and the plea for the White-Eyes to see as the Amerinds saw and still see. Yes, this is my country, and it is wide, rolling and beautiful. Soldier Blue, can’t you see that there’s another way to love her? But no, they couldn’t, and I have taken over half my life to understand some part of that myself, and to be moved almost to tears by the passion of this song.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlrOaJFf6tg

Sugar Me – Lynsey de Paul

And in complete contrast… Lynsey de Paul appeared on the scene in 1972 as a tiny long-haired, big-eyed blonde with a sexy twinkle in her eye. ‘Sugar Me’ was a simple, piano-pounded pop song, with a bouncy, commercial melody, and it was a top 10 hit. Based on her gift for commercial pop, and her looks, de Paul was obviously going to be a major hit artist for years to come. But she wasn’t. In later years, she was heavily into female self-defence. And heavily Conservative views. Still a fun pop song, and she looked hot all the rest of her life. One for the memories.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htBfNPyKKoI

It’s Natural – Medicine Head

When I look back, the early Seventies sometimes seems unbelievable. You look at the bands who scored actual hits, listen to the songs and, more than in any other era, there’s an underlying sense of WTF? I mean, how the hell did something like this sell so much that it reached number x in the chart? You could call this a testament to a time when the country’s ears were wider open to possibilities than they’ve ever been, before or since, or you could decide that we collectively went mad. I lived through it and even I’m not sure. Medicine Head were one of the more improbable hit-makers. You could understand a fluke visit into the top 30, as they did in 1971, when they were a two-piece mustering between them a guitar, a bass drum and a jew’s harp, but it still beggars belief that their simple, almost droney music could go seriously top 5. ‘It’s Natural’ was their last release, was a complete flop and the duo split shortly afterwards. There is no realistic way to differentiate between this and the ones that sold.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEcoGQ96f2I

I’ve Been Hurt – Guy Darrell

First of a couple of Northern Soul charters, re-released and hitting the airwaves at a time when even I had become aware of Northern Soul. Guy Darrell had originally released this single in 1966, which had been an American success for the Tams, and reached the top 10 in South Africa. Its crashing beat and its twanging guitar supported a straining, pleading vocal, but it was the tempo that made it popular at Wigan Casino, and which made it sell, and I remember it now more vividly than when it was around, when it used to annoy me intensely.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SR0m2RUZAU

Goodbye, Nothing to Say – The Javells, ftg. Nosmo King

Some of us were old enough, even at the age of eighteen, to know that the name Nosmo King (run it together) had been ripped off a successful Music Hall act from long ago (thank you Peter Tinniswood). The guy’s real name was Stephen Jameson, and he recorded under his own name and the Nosmo one. The song was originally a b-side to a 1966 single, which was then sped up, given a Northern Soul friendly beat and reissued with Nosmo singing over it. Hellooooo Wigan!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=delIK9hz8_Q

How Long – Ace

And the first in a little triptych of songs whose air and sound have always been linked in my mind, though they were (minor) hits across three successive years. Ace were an early example of pub rock and were very highly rated. ‘How Long’ got brilliant reviews and tons of airplay, but then spoilt the expected outcome by freezing at no 20, and the band disappeared without trace. It’s still a brilliant, slow-moving rocker, built upon a slow, almost plodding bassline and some cool guitar, it’s still recognised and played nowadays, which is more than you can say for a lot of much bigger hits, then and since.

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

Why Did You Do It? – Stretch

If you didn’t know the background to this single, you would probably hear it as an embittered love song, a guy hurt by what his lady has done to shaft him, sung in a gravelly voice to a walking blues-rock background. But that’s not what this is about. The context is that, in 1974, Fleetwood Mac were in a fallow period, neither recording nor touring. Former manager Clifford Davies decided to cash in by claiming he owned the rights to the name and putting together a touring band – no Fleetwoods, no Macs, in fact no-one ever previously connected with the band – to play under the name. The real band promptly went to law to stop him, thus demonstrating that, in addition to the complete lack of moral rights, Davies had no legal rights either. So he renamed his band Stretch, and wrote this epic whiney complaint about it being he – the would-be thief – who was the one who had been shafted and why had they treated him this way, and who put them up to it. Given that background, it’s a minor miracle that the song is even worth listening to at all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7SloVbbzZc

Couldn’t Get It Right – The Climax Blues Band

Throughout the early Seventies, the Climax Chicago Blues Band, a pretty intense British blues-rock band who had named themselves after a particularly avant-garde form of Chicago jazz, proudly went about their business in experimental form. According to Wikipedia, they shortened their name in 1972 under pressure from Chicago, who didn’t want any confusion going on, through my own memory from 1976 was of hearing that they’d shortened the name because they’d come up with a gloriously commercial piece of straightforward music, which took them to no 11. It completes the triptych begun with Ace on this CD because of the musical similarity between these three tracks, with their low-key, blues-oriented stylings and three in a row classic choruses. Everybody’s got a great song in them, whether they like it or not.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwnC_8_ZeYE

Howzat – Sherbet

I first became aware of this single when it penetrated the top 50. As a cricket-lover, the name caught my eye, but it suggested a horrible, twee and twinky novelty single. Instead, when I heard it, it was a piece of smooth-rolling white soul-funk, delivered by an Australian group with superb harmonies, and whilst the lyrics were a touch on the dodgy side, you could have said the same for Pete Wingfield’s classic ‘Eighteen with a Bullet’. The song itself was straight, it’s appeal immediate. But the band went back to Australia after their moment in the English sun, never to return, unlike the Test team.  That’s why such a big hit counts as a lost song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvtyc8CIqKQ

Who? – Allan Clarke

Allan Clarke left the Hollies in 1972 to start a solo career that reached an early peak, musically-speaking, with this 1973 single. ‘Who?’ is an ethereal ballad, lifted by Clarke’s distinctive strained singing, as he appeals to his girl to stay with him, because he needs her and because who is it who has treated her so well? It’s a definite Sixties throwback, lyrically, the girl isn’t allowed to have a mind and feelings of her own, not if the guy treats her right. The main reason it didn’t succeed is that the sound is too ethereal to make an impression on the radio, and at the end of the day there’s too little tune for it to ever have been a successful single, but I remember it lightly and drift with it in a pleasant haze.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdaD-H-xIDM

For Your Love – Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac meet the Yardbirds via a pleasant but relatively indistinctive version of the Graham Gouldman classic song. This was one of the songs that got rotational airplay the first two weeks when Piccadilly Radio, Manchester’s first commercial station, went on the air in April 1974. It doesn’t really represent the (somewhat feeble) best of the Mac in that shadow period between Peter Green and Lyndsey Buckingham/Stevie Nicks, but the guitar solo is a decided pleasure.

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

The Puppy Song – Nilsson

Another Nilsson, another misremembered 1969 track. I thought this too twee and silly for consideration when I was younger, though Nilsson’s original took on gravity and depth when David Cassidy covered this as the back half of a double A-side no. 1. I still prefer cats by a long chalk.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBbT40H74sc

Dawn – Flintlock

These days, Flintlock would have been a boy band. Five pretty faces, one of whom was already a teen heartthrob from his starring role in a popular, and reputable kids adventure series, and it would have been forget that shit about playing your own instruments and writing your own songs, get waxing. But Flintlock could sing, and thanks to drummer/singer Mike Holoway being one of the stars of the incredibly popular ‘The Tomorrow People’ (which I used to watch), not to mention the number of times he appeared in teenage girl’s magazines (and wet dreams), they got loads of TV appearances in kids programmes and their own series. They were the kind of band that, in those Bay City Rollers days, I instinctively knew to loathe, but their third single, ‘Dawn’, which reached no 30, showcased stylish harmonies, a strong, rocking chorus and a sax break from lead vocalist Derek Pascoe that you had to love.

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

Jesus is just alright – The Doobie Brothers

In an age when religion was still held in more esteem, enforced though it might have been, this Doobie Brothers track didn’t get heard over here, though it was top 40 in America. Given the band’s early popularity among bikers and Hell’s Angels, not to mention that their name was a pretty overt reference to recreational drug taking, Radio 1 was not going to start promoting a song with our Lord and Saviour’s name in the title. Even though it was an authentic gospel song, written in earnest and the band’s version was heavily based on an earlier cover by the Byrds. None of the Doobies were particularly religious so their interest in the song lay in its fast, rock style and their characteristic rough harmonies, forcing the song along. It’s not here for the sake of my immortal soul either.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEvy8mROAj0

O Caroline – Matching Mole

Matching Mole were Robert Wyatt’s band after Soft Machine,and at the time he fell from a bedroom window and broke his back. A shorter version of this song was a single, and is the only other thing by Matching Mole that I’ve ever heard. It’s a slow-moving, piano-led, pragmatic love ballad, written for journalist Caroline Coon, with whom Wyatt had just broken up. The lyrics are ordinary and practical beginning with a reference to the band playing, trying to make the music work, except that Wyatt can’t get his focus right because Caroline’s no longer there with him. The song stays down to earth, realistic about love and making Caroline happy for the best part of her life. Wyatt deliberately avoids romanticism (at one point he half-expects his words to be called ‘sentimental crap’) yet it’s the very lack of lyricism that confirms this as one of the simplest and most heartfelt love songs ever, allowing Wyatt to reclaim true meaning for the hackneyed chorus he sings: I love you still, Caroline.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUFolB3LUpA

Mystery Song – Status Quo

Frankly, I’m one of those for whom a very little Status Quo boogie goes a very long way: as far as Jupiter if I were lucky. Nor have I ever been impressed by Rossi and Parfitt’s schtick about, “well, we were there but we don’t remember anything about it cos we was out of it.” I do have an amused memory of going to a ‘heavy disco’ at Salford University when the word was whispered that ‘Caroline’ was about to be played and, the moment that buzz-saw riff began, a ring of denim-clad, long-haired blokes burst in as if choreographed, placed their hands on their hips and proceeded to wag their hair from side to side like some forerunner of an ‘Iron John’ ritual. Why, in all this horror of dully repetitive boogie I should so like ”The Mystery Song’ is, naturally enough, a mystery, but it is sung by Rick Parfitt, rather than Francis Rossi for once, and it’s more of a song, a fast-paced rock song, than the perennial boogie. Let me repeat: everybody’s capable of something good, even if only by accident.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8cdGQiEtws

Sea of Flames – Flintlock

I said above that Flintlock had their own, 5.15pm, ITV series. It was called ‘Fanfare’ and the band performed on it, as well as presenting other musical guests and talking to them about their music. I only remember watching it once, when their guests included a young but well-established male opera singer whose name I can’t recall, and the superb-voiced June Tabor, a folk singer of a capella music (her version of ‘And the band played Waltzing Matilda’ is an absolute classic). Opera and a capella traditional folk were not obvious choices for teenagers in 1976, but the format of the show seemed to be about Flintlock learning about different styles of music, and I vividly remember the lead singer reading a piece of opera music then throwing himself into a spirited and fairly decent attempt at singing it, to the evident surprise, and respect, of the opera singer. ‘Sea of Flames’, the follow-up to ‘Dawn’, was Flintlock’s current single, a lost-love ballad with some rich harmonies. The single was marred by thin and weak production, rendering the sound paper-thin, but in the studio they sang a version much richer in sound and harmony that made the song memorable enough to remain for life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zl2tJFkqkSo

Carrie – Cliff Richard

It’s by Cliff Richard. It was written by B. A. Robertson. And it’s sung by Cliff Richard. And I’ve still included it here. It’s not here just because of indelible memories of a long ago party that are none of your business. It’s here because it was a song about fear, and death, and horror never to be explained. Carrie doesn’t live here any more. She left no forwarding address. You will never know what happened to her, but you won’t stop imagining it until the day you die. Cliff Richard. B. A. Robertson. The Devil works in mysterious ways.

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

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2 thoughts on “Imaginary Albums: Lost 70s Volume 10

    1. Hi Charlotte. Sorry for the delay in responding but for some reason your post slipped into ‘Spam’ and I’ve only just seen it. No reason you should know any of these: we’re talking about a musical era twenty years before you were born, and the whole idea is to go into the nooks and crannies, the stuff that didn’t make it commercially, or the one-hit wonders who flashed in the pan was the pan was very differently shaped than it is today. I’m guessing you’re not clicking too many of the links?

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