Imaginary Albums: Lost 70s Volume 11

Lost 70s Volume 11 consists of 18 tracks, making it the shortest in the series.

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.

Reggae Tune – Andy Fairweather-Low

Andy Fairweather-Low’s career had a bit of a familiar trajectory in the Seventies. He started out as a pretty-boy singer in a late-Sixties pop band, albeit one with a bit more respect due to them, Amen Corner’s roots being firmly in the blues. Then, like so many in 1970, Fairweather-Low wanted more musical freedom so left the pop band to form a ‘heavy’ outfit called Fair Weather (one hit). When that didn’t go any further, Fairweather-Low went solo. He’s best known for his biggest hit, the anthem to drunkenness, ‘Wide-Eyed and Legless’ but this gently jogging number was his first solo hit. The song is what it says on the can, though it lacks the tightness of most contemporary reggae, but it still offers one of the best ‘ooh, shala, ooh, shala-ay’s in the business.

Lean on Me – Bill Withers

Bill Withers first came to British attention as the writer of ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’, as sung by Michael Jackson when he was still a sweet little kid with an angelic voice, though Bill’s version was far superior, because Bill had lived the emotions he caught in the song. The same went for ‘Lean on Me’, the only time he cracked the UK charts, a slow, sparse song about supporting one another, about offering and giving love when it hurt the most. It wasn’t light, bright, sunny or angelic. It was serious and heartfelt. We didn’t like that in the Seventies.

Lazy Afternoon – Lea Nicholson

This was a odd, vaguely folky, accordian-themed little song that I first heard of Anne Nightingale’s Request Show one Sunday afternoon, and fell into awkward, embarrassed love with. I don’t remember it ever being played again, but it’s cheerful, shamateurish music and it’s unpolished but unforced singing made it a minor gem that I still get a warm glow out of.

You Are – Philip Goodhand-Tait

In the late Sixties, Philip Goodhand-Tait was a successful professional songwriter, supplying Love Affair with their last two top 10 hits. In the Seventies, he went into writing for himself. I remember a run of three widely differing but equally excellent singles that went down the usual route of good airplay and no sales. Same old, same old for Lost 70s tracks. ‘You Are’ was the first of these, a fine, well-orchestrated ballad switching from soft to loud sections. It’s also the only one of the trio I can find through YouTube, which is why it’s here.

Mike Oldfield’s Single – Mike Oldfield

The story so far: Shy, teenage multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield creates two twenty-five minute pieces of music thanks to millions of overdubs. Richard Branson releases these as Tubular Bells, the first release by his new Virgin Records. The Bells goes mega-massive. In America, a single in released by simply detaching a section, without authorisation, to tie into the music’s appearance in The Exorcist. Given that the piece really doesn’t have anything you could turn into an honest single, Oldfield takes one of the most melodic sections, slows it down and runs it through a few variations on different instruments, to serve as a UK single. Lacking a decent title for the music, they call it ‘Mike Oldfield’s Single’. It doesn’t sell, and is promptly forgotten. But how can you say anything worthwhile in just three minutes, maaan?

Silver Springs – Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac’s ‘White’ album spawned several singles for the new Buckingham/Nicks enhanced line-up. Rumours was even bigger and better, though none of its singles could get decent airplay for love nor money. I was heavily into Fleetwood Mac from about 1976/7, though nowadays I give preference to the Peter Green years. ‘Silver Spring’ was a gorgeous Stevie Nicks song that was b-side to the first single and is the equivalent of a 12th track to the album, especially when it came to copying it onto a C90 cassette. It’s essentially the whole of Rumours boiled down to four minutes, and still the only Fleetwood Mac track from this era that I can listen to regularly.

Time Fo’ Us – The Cate Brothers

For several years in the early to mid-Seventies, Johnnie Walker’s lunchtime Radio 1 show was the only one worth listening to for the music lover (this is on the basis that I was not going to listen to Sounds of the Seventies with any regularity). Walker was the only DJ to be in it for the music, as opposed to Light Entertainment and Self-Promotion, and he was particularly into a lot of US bands that no-one else was keen on playing yet, such as The Eagles. The Cate Brothers were another band he championed, especially this wistful, gentle, yet funky song about breaking up now, but keeping the doors open for another time. On his last show before heading off to America, this was his final choice for his listeners. A great choice. Then we had Paul Burnette inflicted on us.

Sultana – Titanic

The number of funk-rock fusion instrumental singles by Swedish progressive groups to reach the UK Top 10? One. Good thing it was a good one then, eh?

Fairytale – Dana

In Imaginary Albums, you are free, nay, it is incumbent upon you to be honest. It’s not like creating a mixtape/disc for that new lady in your life (or at least you hope will be in your life) where you’re out to impress with the breadth and superiority of your musical tastes, and you therefore have to make sure that guilty secrets are suppressed until she’s so into you that the revelation that, instead of merely fancying Dana in her prime, you actually enjoy listening to a couple of her songs doesn’t make her run away shrieking. Like this nice, bright, uptempo pop song. There’s no hiding from yourself in Imaginary Albums.

Stratosfear – Tangerine Dream

German electronic music, with its synthesized, repetitive rhythms started to seep into my musical consciousness, slowly and reluctantly, somewhere around and about 1973/74. Kraftwerk made the first breakthrough with me, with ‘Autobahn’, but more so with its instrumental follow-up, ‘Kohmettenmelodie II’. In this vein, I found myself mildly drawn towards Tangerine Dream, and especially this long and pulsing track, a shortened version of which got a lot of airplay on Piccadilly Radio in 1976. It wasn’t an interest I developed very far, nor did it go much further without beginning to merge into disco – and I only started appreciating 70s disco once I started hearing the 90s re-makes – but this is still soothing and hypnotic and one day I’ll explore a bit further.

Too good to be true – The Tom Robinson Band

Here today, gone tomorrow. Tom Robinson and his eponymous Band exploded into the charts on 1977 with the stompy, shouty, football terrace chant ‘2468 Motorway’, which sort of crept beneath the banner of punk because, although it was straight rock, Robinson was a Good Guy, openly gay and a fervent campaigner. The next year, he got a live EP into the top 20, mainly on the strength of his anthem, ‘Sing if You’re Glad to be Gay’. But then the bubble burst, musically at least, and the next two singles, of which ‘Too good to be true’ was the later, went nowhere. It was a plodding, easy-going song with no great distinctions, musically or lyrically, but I liked it, and I’ve selected it here.

Portsmouth – Mike Oldfield

Speaking of Mike Oldfield, as I was above, when it came to singles, he could at least squeeze his talents down to three or four minutes by applying his multi-instrumentalist approach to traditional folk tunes. Everybody remembers his Xmas hit, ‘In Dulce Jubilo’ and rather fewer this jig-cum-Morris Dance, which is far better, if only because it’s trotted out far less often.

Classical Gas – Deep Feeling

We know this track and we know this band. This is an extended version of Mason Williams’ tune, including an extemporised middle eight that departs from the simplicity of the number. Deep Feeling execute the recognisable part of the track on acoustic guitars, in a friendly, slightly shambolic fashion that doesn’t match up to Williams’ buoyancy or Beggars Opera’s synthesized verve, whilst the middle eight sees them segue into a more electric style than we’ve gotten used to in this series. A curio then, surviving more of the strength of the music than the arrangement, but always interesting to hear.

Sub-Rosa Subway – Klaatu

A head-shaking choice here. Canada’s Klaatu came along in 1974 with ‘Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft’ (later covered by the Carpenters, of all people, in the UK), leading to raging rumours that the band were actually the Beatles, reunited and trying to keep their identity secret. Where those rumours sprang from, nobody knew, and how on earth anyone believed them for a second is a total mystery to me as there’s nothing the least bit Beatle-esque about the band’s sound, and especially their voices. ‘Sub-Rosa Subway’, from 1975 has a buoyant melody and some great harmonies on the chorus but the thing is completely insane lyrically, being an account of the digging of the first underground railway in New York by engineer Alfred Beach. Not even George could have come up with lyrics like these.

Benedictus – The Strawbs

In the early Seventies, the Strawbs were in the process of transforming themselves from a folk group into a somewhat pompous electric group, with Dave Cousins taking the leading role in writing and singing. Though they didn’t break into the charts until 1972, with the energetic ‘Way Down’, this 1971 single was the first fruits of the change. From the title on down, it’s pompous and pretentious, with its church choral arrangement and its stilted lyrics, but it was yet another piece in the patchwork of that year and I remember it well.

Hard to Get – The Rubinoos

This was the Rubinoos’ second single, follow-up to the unsuccessful ‘I think we’re alone now’. It did no better. It’s an original song that lacks the debut single’s smoothness and commerciality, being bright and bubbly, but set to a jerky, stop/start rhythm. There’s also a spoken word section in the middle. Described like that, it doesn’t sound particularly appealing, but I enjoyed it immensely, and when you listened to some of the stuff that did sell in the summer of 1977, you would too.

Be Thankful for what you’ve Got – William de Vaughan

This is another of those tracks that, at the time, I couldn’t stand, but whose charms, heavily laden with nostalgia for times long gone, have grown over the years. This was a low-key piece of soul, a long, slow, detached paean to making do with what you have and not yearning for more, made smooth by describing what Mr De Vaughan had got – driving in the back, sun roof top, digging the scene – as something very easy to settle for. Autre temps, autre mores.

Mozart 40 – Waldo de los Rios

We end with another hit single, an arrangement for Mozart’s 40th Symphony, lightly orchestrated and set to a rhythmic beat that was commercial enough to go Top 4. It’s pleasant, it’s bouncy, it probably did nothing to introduce the teens of 1972 to ol’ Amadeus, and who remembers it nowadays? Well, apart from me, of course.


2 thoughts on “Imaginary Albums: Lost 70s Volume 11

  1. Not a band I ever felt like seeing, especially not after ‘Part of the Union’. But there was this handful of singles, and I was still getting my ears sorted out back then…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.