Lost 70s Volume 13 is the most recent addition to this series, the first to be curated in 2016. With this volume, I have come some fifteen years since I first burnt the original CD, intended as a one-off. And there are still more songs, including those still buried in my memory, that will one day form Volume 14. I’m not done yet.
Day after Day – Badfinger
Practically the only thing I knew about Badfinger was that they had been heralded as ‘the new Beatles’, and I was too new to have any idea how many times that accolade had been handed out before. Still, they fit the bill, superficially, four Liverpool guys, guitars and drummer, and a very-Beatle-esque debut. ‘Come and Get It’ came and went in a blur, an unused Paul McCartney song recorded in the identical arrangement to his demo, a hit and disappeared in that shadowy five months before I started listening to pop and then started writing down the top 30 every week, formalising my relationship with music. There was another, heavier hit in 1971, and this was the third, in 1972, a clean, strong pop song with rock elements: I had the fixed idea that Badfinger came along once a year. But ‘Day after Day’ was the last of it, a song of yearning and need, a sweet, singing guitar line, a production so crisp that you could break bricks on it. It was the same year that Nilsson had so big a smash with a Badfinger song that went into immortality, and took with it the band’s future. I had no idea, just no idea.
Yesterday Man – Robert Wyatt
About the time ‘I’m a Believer’ gave Robert Wyatt his short taste of pop life, the NME reported that he was going to follow it up with another cover, a version of Chris Andrew’s bouncy bouncy ‘Yesterday Man’. This was cancelled, and the record remained in the vaults. Then, in 1977, during my year of unemployment and no foreseeable future, it got played on Piccadilly Records, once, and I was fast enough to get to the tape recorder, losing maybe only ten seconds off the intro. Wyatt re-defined the song according to its lyrics. Andrews had written a song about being dumped by his girl and sang it as if it was the greatest thing that had ever happened to him. Wyatt turned it into the mournful, heartbroken epic it had always been, and the result was magnificent. Do you know that most people still prefer the original? Crazy.
Miss me in the Morning – Mike d’Abo
I owe this track, and the next, to the wonderful Marmalade Rainbow web-site, and their ‘Do You Remember? 2’ section, listing singles released month by month from 1971 to 1975. ‘Miss me in the Morning’ was been hidden in my memories for decades, a cheerful, bright, charming hangover-from-1969 pop single by former Manfred Mann vocalist, Mike d’Abo, cut loose when Manfred and Mike Hugg went into their jazz-rock Chapter Three phase. This single came from the early part of 1970, the hazy months I’ve already mentioned once, when I was trying to find out what I actually liked, and I liked this. Or did I like the group version, which is similar in sound, especially on that compulsive chorus, yet a little more elaborate musically? I honestly don’t know, I can’t fine tune my memory to distinguish between the two versions, to recall which got Radio 1 airplay in those indistinct months. Mike d’Abo has it here, out of logic, not knowledge. My memories still jangle whenever it plays.
Clowns – Ed Welch
OMG! When I read the listing for this on Marmalade Rainbow, I couldn’t understand why it had remained shielded among my memories, and never surfaced of its own accord. This singer-songwriter ballad, this mournful musing was another that I now recall so bright and clear from the radio-soaked summer days of 1971, but it was a goner, vanished clean from any hope of recovery until I saw the line, and it blew through my mind. 1971 was one heck of a year.
Love is hard to rearrange – The Marmalade
There is a tale behind this song, which I never heard in the Seventies. It’s off the b-side of The Marmalade’s 1971 top 10 success, ‘Back on the Road Again’, and it’s gentle, sweet, acoustic and thin: nice in itself but deserving of nothing better than a b-side. I include it here because, in the summer of 1971, I sat my O-levels and went on into the Sixth Form, where the alphabetically-formed forms of the past years were split along arts and sciences lines and I gained new form-mates that I’d not really known that well until then. One of them, a very flamboyant, extroverted guy, claimed to me and my mate Alan that he’d co-written a hit single, a song called ‘Love is hard to rearrange’. We didn’t believe him for a second, but a few weeks later, after a lengthy browse in the racks of the record stalls at Shudehill, I came across this particular Marmalade single, and next Monday at work duly reported to Alan that if nothing else the song did exist. It didn’t impress either of us. Our ex-schoolmate’s name isn’t anywhere near the credits of this song, which gives it to Hughie Nicholson alone. Probably he wouldn’t have been impressed by Biff’s claims either. So I thought I’d better listen to the song after all this time, and it’s made its way here.
Heavy Heart – Peter Green
Play the link first. Listen to this instrumental, look at the video. That performance is taken from Top of the Pops, one Thursday night in the summer of 1971. The instrumental was barely ever played on Radio 1, and it must be one of the most unlikely, outre and improbable tracks to ever materialise in the middle of the show, without the track being anywhere near the top 50. Look at the faces of the audience, you’d think they’d suddenly been transferred to the surface of the Moon. And you wonder why I keep returning to 1971’s improbable mixes of musics with endless fascination.
Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? – Chicago
Chicago were not so much an American band as an American Institution. They’d had two bluesy, rocky top 10 hits in the UK in 1970, both hard-pounders with sizzling horns. This was the follow-up and it went nowhere, as did Chicago over here until the overly-polished and ballady ‘If You Leave Me Now’. I liked this at the time, and I’m still fond of it after having my memory joggled by, what else, Marmalade Rainbow again, but I can easily see why this went nowhere. It’s a reversion to the jazzy, almost swing side of Chicago. Stan Frieberg would have approved of this. It’s 70% arrangements and 30% pop at best. Still, I remember it well.
Love Song – Olivia Newton-John
I’ve spoken of my mate Alan before, great fan of progressive music, collector of ELP, Yes, Rick Wakeman, and also of Olivia Newton-John. Livvy was a bright, attractive woman with a sweet but not powerful voice who, after years of not making it in Swinging London and its aftermath, turned to a kind of genteel country-pop to start making inroads in the British charts. ‘Banks of the Ohio’, no matter how improbable it sounds now, was her breakthrough, helped no doubt by 1971 being the summer of Hot Pants and the lovely Livvy being exceedingly suited to things that showed off her long and shapely pins. For a follow-up, she covered Lesley Duncan’s beautiful ‘Love Song’, in a fairly conventional and sweet arrangement that surprised many people, myself included, by being her only Seventies single not to chart. It lacks the steel of the original, and is perilously close to twee, but when you compare it to some of the songs she did hit with, the fact that this flopped is exceedingly bizarre.
Kitsch – Barry Ryan
Back in the dim days of pre-history, otherwise known as 1972, Noel Edmonds had a three hour weekly Sunday morning show on Radio 1 in which he was noted for – and you may wish to sit down for this – being into the music. I particularly remember him championing this Barry Ryan single, which came close to hitting the top 30, and I remember him complaining about songs such as this not getting their due. Barry Ryan was then, as now, best known for his everything-and-the-kitchen-sink overblown production hit single, ‘Eloise’ and I remember this as being a much tighter, more rock and piano oriented track, which I didn’t particularly like. Where, in the meantime, it became just as much a big, roaring ballad as its predecessor, I’ve no idea (can’t be my memory at fault, oh no). Again, nostalgia softens my attitude to the song, though it’s still no ‘Eloise’.
Daydream Believer – John Stewart
A case of know the song not the singer. This is another track much-played on Noel Edmonds on Sunday morning, to some controversy from leftover Monkees fans, who were uncomplimentary about it compared to the original hit. But this was the original songwriter, bringing his own, laid-back country style to his own song, and I formed a tremendous affection for it then and am glad to have it so easy to hand again.
I’ll give you the Earth – Keith Michell
By every thing that is good and holy, I should not be including a song like this on a compilation of oddball and overlooked Seventies music. But it is from the Seventies, it is oddball, and it sure as hell is overlooked, though you may argue not by enough of a margin. At the time this record scraped into the top 30 for a single week at the very bottom, Michell was an actor famous for starring as King Henry VIII in The Six Wives of… He was also, it seemed, a pleasant baritone singer, and this emotive ballad got more airplay than you’d expect and, to my shame, I found myself liking it. At least it wasn’t his other hit, with the appalling ‘Captain Beaky’, which got championed by Noel Edmonds, in a later, more nakedly self-serving phase of his career. Now that was shit!
Fly Now – Brian Protheroe
I know I said, when writing about ‘Pinball’, that I didn’t remember anything about any other Brian Protheroe songs, but thanks again to Marmalade Rainbow, I have been reminded of this jaunty, piano-dominated follow-up, which was fun but made no waves. It’s a much more orthodox sound from Protheroe, eschewing the atmosphere that hung around his ‘hit’, and more energetic in its performance, but in the end it passes the ear, having entertained without strain.
Feel like makin’ love – Bad Company
Bad Company, eh? The poor man’s Free, if you can apply that label to a four-piece that included only the singer and drummer from the earlier band. I remember ‘All Right Now’ (I remember it five times round in the charts, that record never knew when to quit), which was pure cock-rock, with an unbelievably catchy chorus. Five years on, Paul Rodgers hadn’t learned a thing about interpersonal relationships, since ‘Feel Like Makin’ Love’ is about nothing more complex than having a fuck. Only the music, a lovely, subtle blend of lithely unwinding acoustics and punchy, choppy electrics, has moved forward, so let’s hear it for some kind of sophistication at least.
Shine on Silver Sun – The Strawbs
The Strawbs started out as a folk outfit – the Strawberry Boys – and even had Sandy Denny as singer for a time. Then they followed the likes of Fairport and Steeleye into folk-rock, and ever so quickly out of it again into a weird kind of confined pomp-rock: the big sound, in this case supplemented by expansive choirs and a slightly stiff and stilted vocal, without ever going into the multi-instrumental excesses of the progressive bands like ELP and Yes. ‘Shine on Silver Sun’ was one of a number of unsuccessful attempts at cracking the commercial barrier, before the upbeat and energetic ‘Lay Down’ took them top 20, and Dave Cousins made the atrocious mistake of allowing drummer Richard Hudson and bassist John Ford to foist the execrable novelty song, ‘Part of the Union’, on the band, killing their career on the spot. The Sun loved it, at least.
Clear Day – Rab Noakes
I knew of Rab Noakes through the lately-imploded Lindisfarne, who’d covered his ‘Turn a Deaf Ear’ for their first album (and inserted his name into the lyrics, though they sang Steve McQueen for their Peel Session version, per the original). This single was out in April 1974, when Commercial Radio was unleashed upon the nation outside London, and our local station, Piccadilly Radio, kicking off April 2nd, heavily featured this gentle, harmonious folkie in their first week’s rotation. With airplay making up the statistics, it posted at no 10 in the very first Piccadilly Radio top 40, and no 39 in the second. Why it was even chosen to be play-listed on a station whose musical director, veteran DJ Roger ‘Twiggy’ Day, confessed was just out to play ‘something that sounded nice between the commercials’ is a mystery forty years on, but it was a good call, however doomed it was.
Honky Tonk Train Blues – Keith Emerson
Keith Emerson’s recent suicide, born out of depression and the knowledge of a degenerative finger condition making it increasingly impossible to play as he wished, prompted a recollection of this jazzy little piano instrumental that crept into the top 30 the year before ELP went mega-massive with ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’. It’s a straight performance of a ringing little tune that would have been familiar to anyone around in its pre-War heyday. It reminds me of a few days spent in North to mid-Wales in the early spring of 1977, my mate Alan and I shooting off on the Monday morning immediately after I signed on. You didn’t really get to hear it on Radio 1, whose DJs recognised instrumentals as an excuse to give the listener what they really wanted: more of the over-loquacious bastard’s voice. I remember sitting in the car on a rain-lashed afternoon, just off the beach, with this on the car radio. Precious days.
Reach out for each Other – Philip Goodhand-Tait
This was the third of the three memorable mid-Seventies singles by Philip Goodhand-Tait that I’d enjoyed so much, or rather it was the second of these, flipped. ‘Almost Killed a Man’, which I haven’t yet been able to discover on YouTube or via Amazon mp3s, shows as the b-side to this bigger, beatier, Spector-esque power ballad, but I remember it got a lot of fruitless airplay in its own right, long before I ever heard this track. Wait until I can get that song. Not that this isn’t worth listening to in itself. Reach out for each other folks, every time you can.
Say it ain’t so, Joe – Murray Head
Murray Head was getting a lot of airplay in early 1970, when ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar’ was hot and he was playing the title role on stage, so I remembered the name when he came out with this somewhat overwrought 1975 ballad about a nearly sixty year old baseball scandal. It was the Boston White Sox (or Red Sox, or Black Sox, whatever, anyway they didn’t know how to spell Socks) who were accused of throwing something (other than a baseball), leading to an anguished and quite possibly apocryphal young fan pleading plaintively ‘Say it ain’t So, Joe’ to chief culprit ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson (you’d have thought he’d place more importance on his socks if he didn’t have any shoes, wouldn’t you?). Overwrought, pleading, and decently melodious. I bet Shoeless Joe would have been impressed.
Slippery Rock 70s – Staveley Makepiece
Students of early 70s pop will know of Staveley Makepiece, who were some kind of unserious band putting out oddball singles with vocals in a very high-pitched register, such as ‘Give Me That Pistol’. This track is an instrumental, which was very much an improvement (I heard ‘Give Me That Pistol’ more than once, you see). It’s a decent enough piece of music, with enough of a slithery feel to it that, had it been covered by John Fogarty, would have seen it immediately christened as swamp rock, but it’s main interest is as a kind of semi-follow up to another instrumental, on which two of the band (and one schoolteacher mother) participated, recording it in the living room and seeing it go to no. 1 for four weeks. Yes, half of this band were half of Lieutenant Pigeon, and if you listen closely to this track, you can hear the sound of ‘Mouldy Old Dough’ in its bones. Creepy, almost.
Undercover Angel – Alan O’Day
A large part of Lost 70s Volume 2 was set aside for songs I used to listen to in the late evening on Piccadilly Records. Had I remembered this earlier, had it been available earlier, it would have been one of that number. ‘Undercover Angel’ was a smash American hit single that once again went nowhere over here. I only ever remember hearing it on Piccadilly, not Radio 1, though it fit perfectly that airless, frictionless period when we were all, unknowingly, waiting for punk to erupt. But then again, if the Buckingham-Nicks Fleetwood Mac couldn’t get Radio 1 airplay, and if the Police were ignored until their year-old singles were smashes in America, what chance had a bouncy, punchy little pop ballad from an unknown got. I used to despair at times. Now I couldn’t give a toss.
The Danger of a Stranger – Stella Parton
Stella Parton was the little sister of Dolly, in both senses of the word. This 1979 single was the only track of hers to get airplay over here, but then Dolly had only made a modest impact on our charts. It’s more country-MOR than country, but it’s still a well-put together little number about chastity and one-night stands and about how those handsome ol’ devils are such a trial to the former. Stella sings it up sharply and doesn’t sound as if she has all that many regrets, no matter what Momma thinks.
Tara Tiger Girl – The Casuals
The Casuals. Yes, The Casuals. Go away and play ‘Jesamine’ (many of you will only need to call it up on your personal Infinite Jukebox to be reminded). Now clink the link below. No, go back and listen to it all the way through. It is the same band, honest. This was five years later, five years of continental success and not a sausage in the UK. Sometimes, bands get desperate. You’d feel more sorry for them if this bore any kind of resemblance to music that might actually have succeeded in 1973.
Theme One – Van der Graaf Generator
Though the late George Martin had written, and recorded this forceful instrumental as theme music for Radio 1 in 1967, when the station opened, my first exposure to it was via this surprisingly straight Van der Graaf Generator 1972 cover, which crept into the very lower reaches of the top 50. Truth to tell, I had no idea about VDG’s music, save that it was plain they were a bit avant-garde, from the tendency to slip into noodling for the latter part of the track, and I doubt I have ever consciously heard anything else by the band. This lacks the sheer sonic crunch of the original, the sense of power that Martin draws out of his orchestra, but it is an honest, respectful version that knows a bloody good tune when it hears it and respects its evident decency.