Imaginary Albums – Lost 70s Volume 14

And as predicted, enough Seventies songs have teased their way out of the shadow of memory to fill another CD. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Lost 70s Volume 14.

Streets of London –  Ralph McTell

Technically, the opening track on this latest volume is another of those 1969 songs, though I first made my acquaintance with it in the early weeks of 1970, and in its re-recorded form, Ralph McTell came within a place of scoring the Xmas no. 1 in 1974, defeated only by Mud. But this is the original, the voice and the guitar, even and controlled, simple as they come, allowing us to focus on the gentle, almost ambling song and, most of all, upon the lyrics. The importance of this song has only grown over the decades, since the Tories returned under Thatcher, and the homeless became ever more visible, and ever less important. McTell sings of a time when prosperity was in the air but there were still people who had fallen between the cracks, the unseen whose plight far outweighed our petty concerns about temporary unhappiness. It may still be relevant today, but it’s a relic in another sense, from a time when we still tried to close the cracks, and help people out of them, rather than shoveling more and more people towards the gaping fissures they’ve now become. A thing of beauty made on the backs of pain.

Dancing in the Moonlight – King Harvest

When the Toploader cover was such a success in 1999, I knew it was instantly familiar but I didn’t know from where. It slipped so quickly into my memory that for a long time I thought that I already knew it, knew it in that arrangement. Loose, slippery, sweeping into that chorus with consummate ease. Because of the title, everybody assumed it was a cover of the 1979 Thin Lizzy hit, but as that had been a favourite of mine at the time, I knew that wasn’t right. I had to have my memory prompted about it being King Harvest, and when I found it on YouTube, and realised that Toploader wasn’t such an exact duplicate as I’d misled myself about, I wondered about exactly how this record had so firmly slipped out of my memory, not to be recalled. You’ll notice it comes from 1971, and what do I keep saying about that year? It must have just been squeezed out by the crush.

Miss me in the Morning –  Manfred Mann

This is the Manfred Mann version of the song. Compare it to the Mike d’Abo version on volume 13. Different, but the arrangements are close enough. I still can’t remember which one of these two I remember, but this way I have all the bases covered.

Lady Love-Bug – Clodagh Rogers

I didn’t particularly like this song at the time, but I’ve come to appreciate the brief but sparkling pop career of the lovely, long-legged Irish singer, with her sweet clear voice, and her light, sunny pop. Disregarding her Eurovision song, which was of course execrable but which demanded through its bounciness that she performed it wearing hot pants (1971 had so many things going for it), this was the low-key end.

Love the one you’re with –  Stephen Stills

Back in the Seventies, as I may have observed before, we had the phenomenon known as a ‘Turntable Hit’. This indicated a single that won the collective favour of the Radio 1 DJs of the period, leading them to champion it furiously, play it incessantly and, in due course, moan that the Great British Record Buying Public refused to but the record in sufficient amounts at any given time to raise it higher than no 35 in the Top Thirty. This record by Stephen Stills, an energetic but extremely self-centred paean to fucking anybody you can get your cock near when you’re on the road, is a perfect example, though even at the advanced age of 61, I have still not yet worked out what sexual perversion is represented by the Rose in the Fisted Glove.

Stoney End –  Barbra Streisand

There was a time when, despite being a big international star as both a singer and an actress, Barbra Streisand couldn’t buy a hit in Britain. She’d reached the top 20 in the mid-Sixties with ‘Second Hand Rose’, one of the few Sixties singles I remember hearing on the radio since it was all over the Light Programme (ask your Granny). But this vigorous version of a Laura Nyro song was a minor exception in those early weeks of opening my ears to pop music, enjoying a single week at no 27. The quality of the song carried over any reservations about Streisand’s overbearing manner, and the cabaret arrangement is minimised enough to allow the momentum of the song to carry the ear through, and forty-six years later, like all of Nyro’s music, it holds up really well.

Up the ladder to the roof – The Supremes

The original idea for this series was genuinely ‘lost’ music, music of the Seventies that had made little or no public impression, and had since disappeared without any real trace. It would be music that had impressed itself upon me at the time, and the objective was to compile this wonderful, obscure, extremely personal stuff for my nostalgia and my present enjoyment. Over the series, I’ve veered away from that ideal more than once, though my excuse has always been that all the songs here have been lost to the general run of musical history. This Supremes song was a big hit in 1970, and I remember it jumping in one week from no 30. to no 6. It meant little to me then and it’s been invoked in my memory by Mark Evanier’s blog-site, he having recently had a month of embedding clips of everybody under the sun singing this song. It reminded me that the original was pretty good. It qualifies as lost because it was the girls’ first hit after Diana Ross left, and it was an effortless success in a year where I remember everyone being desperate to get Ross a solo chart hit. She was never even the second best voice in the group so this ticks even more boxes for me.

When you’re hot, you’re hot – Jerry Reed

In contrast, this is all my own memories, and where this came from, only a few weeks ago, is anybody’s guess, because there was nothing to prompt it. It’s another one of those that I absolutely loathed when it was around, and it’s yet another from that year of years, 1971. The song is funky, aggressive, raucous and rough and my ears were simply not attuned to anything so excessive, but once again, the years have shifted my tastes around to where it is not nostalgia for times long gone, and a long, hot summer between O-levels and A-levels that has me record it now.

Pasadena – John Young

Interestingly enough, the John Young of this polite vaguely country pop song from, oh yes, you’ve guessed it again, 1971, is the John Paul Young of the rather more famous ‘Love is in the Air’. This is a case of the song not the singer, because I’m pretty sure this is not the version that still rings out from time to time in my memories. Other than that, I have nothing interesting to say about this track. Chalk this one up solely to nostalgia.

Morning, Please Don’t Come – Dusty and Tom Springfield

Now this is an entirely different piece of memory. I found this clicking around YouTube, the title instantly sparking the faintest of recollections, justified by clicking the link. I can probably only have heard this song a handful of times in those earliest of days, yet its wistful melody, and its gentle plea for more time with the loved one obviously sunk a long way into my memory. It’s a beautiful song and it hardly seems incongruous that it was being sung by a brother and sister combination. It’s at times like this that I truly appreciate why people loved Dusty Springfield.

Silver Coin – Hunter Muskett

There are circles in which this song, and this version, are far from lost, but the refusal of the world to recognise the beauty of this track marks it for inclusion. For most of the back half of the Seventies, one of my groups of friends were regular visitors to various folk clubs in and around Manchester, but especially one Sunday night club down in Woodford, at an isolated hotel. I heard this song on enough occasions to recognise its quality, the more so for the line near the end that provides the song with it’s title, that ‘it rings like a silver coin, thrown down on stone’ and the hairs on my neck never failed to arise to the concluding line, ‘though I’m lost in a crowd, I just she’s around me, somehow’. Love that pure: I so wanted to find that. The first version I owned was on a rare Bridget St John LP, where she reversed the genders, but this is the original, sung by Terry Hiscock, the writer. It rings like a silver coin.

Linda – The Wake

To be truthful, this piece of lost bubblegum pop is both naff and seriously out-dated when it was released at Xmas 1971. I only heard it the once. It comes in because I grew up in an East Manchester working class backstreet alongside a girl called Linda. After my family moved to South Manchester, I had no contact with any of my old friends for five years, until I received a surprise letter from Linda, who’d been reminded of me by a chance encounter with an old classmate who hadn’t recognised her. We arranged to meet (she had turned into a tall, long blonde-haired, slim, long-legged fifteen year old of a kind I never got to meet ) and thanks to her, I was reacquainted with other old friends, and some new, who have been lifelong mates. In the December, she asked for some ideas about a single to buy herself for Xmas. Naturally, I overreacted and supplied a list of over a dozen, with brief descriptions (which presciently included The Chi-Lites’ ‘Have you seen her?’ when they were completely unknown). At the last minute, I heard this track and scribbled it in sideways. Not long after this, we lost contact for another decade. I’d hate to think this was responsible.

Hero and Heroine – The Strawbs

Another from that period when The Strawbs, having ceased to be a modestly respectable folk-rock band, were attempting to be a kind of pomp-pop-rock band, with heavily overproduced singles sung in an overly mannered voice. Why is it here? If I mention that this was 1971, you probably won’t need any more explanation. Don’t worry, there aren’t any more of these.

Sin City Girls – East of Eden

I’ve already featured East of Eden’s surprise top 3 single, ‘Jig-a-Jig’, which scored in the summer of 1971. Surprisingly, despite the attention (and presumably money) the hit brought the band, they were more embarrassed than glad. The instrumental no longer represented where they were at, and people expected to hear it when they gigged. Apparently, they used to rush it out first, just to get rid of it, so they could get on with ‘their’ music. Which I assume is better represented by this 1974 single: rocky, quasi-heavy, but still possessing a discernible tune. I liked it then, though it didn’t get much airplay, but it’s taken all this time for it to appear on YouTube and become accessible.

This track has already vanished from YouTube

If you could read my mind – Gordon Lightfoot

The Seventies, and in particular the first half of the decade, was the great era for the singer-songwriter, though with a few notable exceptions such as Cat Stevens, that kind of lad had their successes with albums, to be played in half-lit bedsits: mournful, acoustic music for students. There’s a case for putting Canadian Gordon Lightfoot in that category, and he was always much more successful on his own side of the Atlantic, but in 1974, this wistful, gentle, beautiful love song crept into the UK Top 30 on the lowest rung. What appears to be a sweet, simple song, inviting Lightfoot’s love to read his mind turns into a lush, romantic odyssey involving a metaphorical film about a ghost from a wishing well, full of onscreen burns and heartbreak, none of which you would expect from the song’s lush arrangement. But the music seduces and even if she found his fantasies weird, you just know she succumbed, and she’s there still, constantly fascinated.

I’m a believer – Robert Wyatt

We’ve had the Peel Session version, this is the original single that reached no 29 and got Robert Wyatt banned from Top of the Pops for having the bad taste to be confined to a wheelchair in front of a family audience. It was a lovely decade.

And Now for something completely different… –  Spontaneous Combustion

And we’ve had the Spontaneous Combustion version of ‘Sabre Dance’ by Aram Khatchaturian, via Dave Edmonds and this is the b-side I mentioned at the time. See what I mean?

Heads Down No Nonsense Mindless Boogie – Alberto y los Trios Paranoias

First of a pair of ‘comedy’ records, this is Alberto y los Trios Paranoias. For those of you whose memories do not extend back to the Seventies, there used to be a handful of comedy folk troupes, combining songs with Industrial Strength Monty Python silliness, to varying degrees of effect. The Albertos, for short, were a Manchester-based punk version of that kind of thing and this is a parody of a Status Quo twelve-bar boogie with lyrics to match. It wasn’t all fun back then. The gang behind the classic Hee Bee Gee Bees’ ‘Meaningless Songs in Very High Voices’ tried the same thing with ‘Boring Song’, supposedly by Status Quid. This one has the edge, but the knife is bloody blunt.

Stretford Enders – Burke and Jerk

And this is the other one. Burke and Jerk were a folk duo, who I actually saw at Woodford in 1977, when they played this song. They were another of those who leaned on comedy, Jerk (as you might expect from the title of this track) dressing as a Manchester United hoolie. The song’s as cliched as you might expect for its time, but far less irritating than most comedy songs (though the synthesizer is annoying and intrusive). But that’s not why it’s here. The duo’s next single, in April 1978, was an altogether serious, indeed sentimental song that didn’t seem suited to the Burke & Jerk name, so the boys went with their first names, Brian & Michael. I’d just gone to live in Nottingham for two years, and this Salford-based song followed me there and was number 1 before I’d even settled in. I’m sure you remember that song. You’ll never have heard of this one before, though.

Real Man – Todd Rundgren

After the record company stopped re-issuing ‘I saw the Light’, I rather lost track of Todd Rundgren. There was one reasonable single about 1974 but that was all until Piccadiily Radio started to give pretty heavy rotation to this multi-layered keyboard effort in the summer of 1976. With lyrics that touch upon scripture, the famous bit about putting away childish things, the song swoops and soars. It’s an enthralling tribute to growing up, facing the world and facing it down. I’m ashamed of myself that I forgot it for so long.

I don’t care – Klark Kent

Ok, so it’s 1978, I’m living in Nottingham where punk/new wave has made little impact, and not in my native Manchester where there’s a well-burgeoned scene already in existence. This brisk and brash little song sneers its way across the airwaves and onto the lower regions of the Top 50, but its snottiness, though real, comes over as a put on. Hardly surprising, since ‘Klark Kent’ is actually an American whose last job was as drummer for Curved Air. Actually, he’s got a sideline in peroxided hair and drums for a white reggae trio led by a peroxided former teacher, because he’s Stewart Copeland. Still, the song gets in and out in far less time than it would take to outlive its charm, and if you don’t like my preserving this, you can suck my socks!

Go all the way – The Raspberries

All I ever knew of the Raspberries was the American single ‘Overnight Sensation’, featured on one of the very earliest albums of this series, and that lead singer Eric Carmen went onto to score a UK top 20 hit with one of the wettest and whiniest songs of the entire decade. At the time, investigating other areas of the band’s catalogue was not really possible, and when YouTube opened up the possibility of hearing nearly everything ever recorded, I didn’t even think of them. ‘Overnight Sensation’ was so clearly a masterpiece that I instinctively shied away from anything  else since it couldn’t possibly be anything like as good. Well, when it comes to Beatle-esque powerpop with guts and harmonies and a chorus you could sharpen knives on, this belies my instincts. This track is so lost in the Seventies, I never even heard it until over forty years later, but I’d have liked it then.

Rio – Michael Nesmith

The Monkees were a good fun pop band, the original manufactured group (not for nothing were they nick-named the Prefab Four). The wonder was that they produced anything worth listening to, but this was the Sixties, where even the plastic pop was still full of art and energy. Most of the Monkees’ best moments came from the best musician among them, Mike Nesmith, and he was the only one to have a serious career after the band fell to pieces. Nesmith carved out a niche for himself as a serious country-rocker, but ‘Rio’ is nothing like that. It’s a gently swaying, airily floating song that suits actions to words over its hazy, swimmy lyrics and it had an impressive video at the time video was only just beginning to be a factor. Nesmith’s having a bit of trouble over whether he’s going to go to Rio, or not. All we know is that he never gets there, but the journey is so relaxing that nobody cares whether they arrive at all.

2 thoughts on “Imaginary Albums – Lost 70s Volume 14

  1. Hi – I wrote ‘Silver Coin’ back in the day and believe it or not Hunter Muskett are back on the road, still the same line up, and singing a few of those old songs. But ‘Silver Coin’ remains a favourite. You’re right – I started with the line: “rings like a silver coin” and the whole song then led in that direction.
    I really appreciate your comments.
    All good wishes,
    Terry Hiscock

    1. Terry, you are most welcome indeed. I knew the band was back together because I found videos of you live on YouTube and I’m keeping my eyes open for any gigs within an easy bus-ride of Stockport. You also do a gorgeous ‘Walk Away Renee’. ‘Silver Coin’ was a favourite around Manchester folk clubs in the mid-Seventies – for audiences at least: singers needed a bit of a run-up to get the fingering right! Thank you for commenting, and thank you for the music.

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