Lost 70s: Volume 19


I know I promised Volume 19 would follow shortly on Volume 18, which was because the two compilations were recorded practically back to back. It’s just that I forgot. Sorry. But better late than not at all. This collection offers 23 tracks, with a fair bit of leaping around in time, a handful of chart hits but mostly low-lyers. I hope there’s a few memories to be evoked here.

Cracking Up            Nick Lowe

Because the New Musical Express espoused punk enthusiastically, at a time when the rest of the country’s press, music or otherwise, was hounding it in the same way they do Jeremy Corbyn these days, there were a lot of people I heard a lot about without hearing anything by. Brinsley Schwarz had never crossed my musical path in the Seventies, though I’d heard of the great 1970 PR Disaster without having a single idea what had happened. But Lowe, or ‘Basher’ as he was nick-named from his Production habits, was taken up by the NME with great gusto, especially for ‘Heart of the City’ (a truly great song and only a b-side). The paper created its own nick-name for Lowe, which he took for the title of his first solo album, Jesus of Cool. It’s sub-title also came from the NME, if my memory is working properly: ‘Pure Pop for Now People’. And Lowe was on a hot streak in those years, turning out pop songs with strength and steel in them, as well as compelling melodies. By the time ‘Cracking Up’ came out as a single, in 1979, Lowe was working as one-fourth (bass) of Rockpile, in partnership with Dave Edmunds. Since the two were tied to contracts with different labels, most of Rockpile’s stuff was released as solo records by Lowe or Edmunds, according to who wrote and sung songs. ‘Cracking Up’ plays with a deliberate flat melody, Lowe half-talking the words, and that’s Edmunds you hear on the chorus. It’s downbeat, smooth on the surface but jagged in more than the lyrics, and Lowe hits the right note of disturbance. Unfortunately, differences between Lowe and Edmunds broke up the Rockpile experiment prematurely, but before they left, they recorded this minor classic that spelled out the seeds of its own demise within. I don’t think it’s funny no more. And when it stops being funny…

Baby Blue              Badfinger

Another cameo for my original naivete. Sometime in late 1969/early 1970, I first read about Badfinger. They were being billed as the ‘new’ or ‘next’ Beatles, from their place on the roster at Apple, and I took it seriously. Nobody else seemed to. The band weren’t all that prolific: ‘Come and Get It’ in 1970, ‘No Matter What’ in 1971, ‘Day After Day’ in 1972. I liked the first two and seriously loved the third. And I waited for 1973 to come round and Badfinger’s annual single. This was it. I didn’t hear it until this year, on YouTube, which makes it one of the Lost Lost 70s. Radio 1 didn’t play it, probably for no better reason than that the band had gone out of fashion. Nothing worse than last year’s model. But it’s brilliant. Archetypal Badfinger, strong song, fluent and melodic playing, a rock underpinning balancing out the pop tune and the harmonies. Archetypal Todd Rundgren production. It reached no 14 in America. Then Apple collapsed and destroyed the band through legal snarls. Pete Ham, who wrote and sang this, committed suicide in 1975. Not hearing ‘Baby Blue’ when I should have done was a waste and a loss, but it pales beside what was done to the band members. That special love I have for you. The horror.

Lido Shuffle           Boz Scaggs

In contrast, we shuffle into 1976, and the end of that very brief period when Boz Scaggs was hitting the commercial heights in the UK. ‘Lido Shuffle’ reached no 13 in early 1977, but it’s still a 1976 song, coming from Scaggs’ most successful album, Silk Degrees. It couldn’t have come from anything but that anteroom of a year, American and polished, rhythmic but not quite disco, but blessed with an uptempo verve and just enough touch of rawness to that chorus to make it worth remembering. This is fun! Woah-oah-aoh-oh-oh-oh.

Groupie Girl                  Tony Joe White

Back to the beginnings, back to basics: and they used to call Creedence Clearwater Revival ‘swamp music’. Tony Joe White crept into the British Charts only once, and this was it, a no. 22 hit of sorts that was sung and played in a low rumble over a minimal tune, about a phenomenon that I didn’t understand and that people who did understand what Tony Joe was singing about didn’t like him singing about it, even when he wasn’t actually endorsing sweet young girls collecting long-haired rockers’ dicks. And they really didn’t like that line about passing her around like a joint. Must we fling this filth at our pop kids? Well, at least one of them didn’t know what you meant and it’s take him nearly fifty years to learn to understand the music, but I got there.

Elizabethan Reggae         Boris Gardiner

I’m a little bit surprised it took me as long as it did, but I didn’t start writing down the Top Thirty every week until the end of May 1970. Once I did, I start to understand and remember things, but that left those first five months as a bit of an anomalous zone, without my ever getting a handle on what was around when, and for how long, and in relation to what. ‘Young, Gifted and Black’ was big, my first real exposure to reggae, but there was also this little oddball, a tune I was familiar with – it’s Ronald Binge’s ‘Elizabethan Serenade’, which only dates from 1951. I’m trumpeting my ignorance yet again, because I knew the melody and thought it was classical music, and I liked this version, even though I was barely able to tell this was different, and couldn’t understand why it wasn’t being played as often as I liked on Radio 1. Of course, it had originally been released as being by Byron Lee and The Dragonaires and I even got a cheap Shudehill Record Stalls copy with them on the label. Now I understand why, but I still like the melody.

The Man Who Sold The World                  Lulu

In 1974, five years after her last hit single, that atrocious piece of Sixties Eurovision, you’d have struggled to find a Bookie who would give you any odds whatsoever on Lulu turning into David Bowie. Hey, the next year, she tried to be George McCrae: can’t fault the wee Scots lassie from trying. Bowie obviously didn’t mind, he produced the Lulu version, arranging the song for a less dark and swirling guitar, decorating the melody with saxaphones and even adding very distinct backing vocals on the chorus. Needless to say, the very idea was considered blasphemy, but if it didn’t bother Mr Jones, who were we to object? Of course, it lacks a tenth of the dimension of the original, but I wasn’t familiar with the original back in 1974 and I was happy with this then. The CD’s only bona fide big hit, but if only she hadn’t covered up that lovely red hair with that panama hat…

Spinnin’ and Spinnin’            Syreeta

Soul just wasn’t my thing in the Seventies, but this beautiful rush of sweetness, written and performed by Stevie Wonder’s ex-wife Syreeta Wright and issued under just her first name was a glorious exception. It’s a heartfelt paean to love and being swept off your feet, matched a musical confection masterminded by Stevie at his most generous and rich. Ain’t never come down yet.

Don’t Touch Me There           The Tubes

For once, I’m including a B-side here, or to use early Seventies parlance that was out of date long before 1977, when The Tubes made their only brief excursion into the British singles chart, a maxi-single. Maxi-singles were hybrid 7”ers. EPs, or Extended Plays for the under twenty-fives here, were 7” vynil with four tracks, two on each side. They had their own, irrelevant charts but some sold well enough to have taken Top Ten places in the singles chart if they’d been included, as indeed they were in the New Musical Express Top Thirty. Maxi-singles came along in 1970, the biggest of them being Mungo Jerry’s ‘In the Summertime’. The difference was that whilst you got an A-side, you got two, count them, two tracks on the B-side, and a hike in price. ‘Don’t Touch Me There’, a massively over-produced, gigantically melodramatic rock’n’roll spoof about masturbating your lady-friend, was one of two tracks backing up the equally spoof-titious ‘White Punks on Dope’, and was to my ears an extravanganza a million times as much fun. The Tubes were a satire on music, a great good, and this is a blast of disdainful energy wrapped in a disdainful wink. And there’s precedent for me elevating this track above it’s A-side, for Family’s classic ‘The Weaver’s Answer’ was just one of the three tracks on their ‘Strange Band’ maxi-single: ‘Strange Band’ was the A-side, but for once Radio 1 played the best track. Pity they didn’t do that for ‘Don’t Touch Me There’ but if you listen to what they’re singing…

Motor-Bikin’          Chris Spedding

Chris Spedding was a musician of high repute in the Seventies, a session guitarist in constant demand. In 1975, he decided to briefly front up with this modest Top Twenty single, a slightly out-dated rocker about exactly what the title says, motor-biking. The lyrics are a bit naff, and Spedding’s voice isn’t much better than average, but it’s a bit of fun, an injection of energy when energy was badly-needed, and a necessary reminder that there were some moments when a signpost to the future placed itself before you.

I Knew The Bride (When She Used to Rock’n’Roll)          Dave Edmunds

Then again, this is the real deal. It might be every bit as backwards-looking, to the days of rock’n’roll, as the Chris Spedding track is, but this Dave Edmunds single, the fourth to be released from his 1977 Get It album, came out in the summer of 1978, when Punk was being heard a lot more openly, instead of being only known through its vicious opposition. But ‘I Knew the Bride’, telling a regretful tale of a once-rebel-rousing young woman marrying a pillar of the community, looked both ways, being a bridge between the simplicity and power of what had once been and the rising tide that took that simplicity as its goal. It’s Rockpile again, just like the Nick Lowe song that heads this compilation. There wasn’t a punk band that could have recorded this song but there wasn’t a punk band that couldn’t take it as their own.

Kinnell Tommy             Ed Banger

You have to allow me my quirks sometimes. Ed Banger and The Nosebleeds sounds like a cheap Benny Hill parody but they were one of the earliest and crudest Manchester punk bands, producing the single ‘Ain’t Been to no Music School’ (by all accounts, no-one needed to be told that). Ed (Ed Garrity) then left the band and resurfaced in 1978 with this single, on Rabid Records, who had first hosted Jilted John. It’s a mainly piano and drums song, (if you stretch the word far enough) with some roughish guitar sweeps and an odd burst of synthesized sound over the extended coda. In front of this performance Ed shouts like an excitable football fan at a Sunday morning pub team game, which is what the silly but weirdly endearing thing is: Tommy is a useless centre forward who’s being encouraged along by the eternally optimistic Ed (we all know what he means by Kinnell) until the useless Tommy leathers a penalty over the bar at which point Ed turns on him with a torrent of inventive and clean abuse into the fade-out. It has to be heard to be believed, and you will most likely not want to ever listen to it again, but until you do, your imagination can’t ever say it’s been stretched! Incidentally, EMI picked this up just as they did ‘Jilted John’ but this one didn’t happen. Pity, I would have given a great deal for a clip of Ed doing this on Top of the Pops

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do             Neil Sedaka

For a while there, Neil Sedaka was back in the Seventies, in Britain at least. Aided and abetted by members of 10cc, producing at Strawberry Studios, he recorded a short string of Top Twenty singles, sophisticated, grown-up MOR Pop. This didn’t chart: despite the false start using the intro to the original, this is a complete deconstruction of the song and its reinvention as a slow, gentle, nightclub smoother. Lots of people hated it, clinging to the original. I had no such attachments, and liked it as it had become, though what it had become was outside the normal parameters of what I liked. On re-discovery, it’s no longer so appealing, but it stands as a marker in time of where I stood as I was coming out of my teens.

Shoes                 Reparata

A story of how sometimes obvious, massive hits-to-be become flops. Britain and I knew Reparata and The Delrons, a three-girl singing group, from their somewhat goofy 1968 hit ‘Captain of your Ship’ and nothing else, though Wikipedia confirms them as providing backing vocals on ‘Honky Tonk Women’. Actually, Reparata, lead singer Mary Aiese, left the group in 1970, when she married and became Mary O’Leary. She encouraged the two Delrons, the stone-cold gorgeous Nanette Licari and Lorraine Mazzola too carry on, with Mazzola becoming ‘Reparata’. Then, in late 1974, Reparata surfaced with this song. It lacks any conventional song structure, there are no choruses, and there’s a strong Greco-Italian-Turkish blend to it, especially in its fade, with balalaikas and handclaps and fades. The lyrics are about a big family wedding and the whole thing is a joyous romp. You imagine yourself doing one of those big step dances that precede line dances, as everyone gets happily drunk and the couple are in the middle. The radio loved it, everybody loved it, it was a sure-fire hit. And it peaked at no 43 and vanished. Long years later, I learned that it didn’t sell in the colossal numbers it deserved, not because I was once again out of step with the Great British Record-Buying Public but because there were no bloody copies to buy. Reparata was Mary O’Leary, but so too now was Lorraine Mazzola, whilst Reparata-Mary had recorded this whilst signed to one record company but released it under her new contract with another company. The twin legal actions forced a halt to pressings: by the time you could go out and buy it, time and the audience had moved on. A bloody shame. It still sounds perky, and more mature, a very long time after.

Quit this Town            Eddie and The Hot Rods

When I added ‘Do Anything You Wanna Do’ to the last compilation, I pointed out that people credit it to Eddie and The Hot Rods, which was the band’s permanent name, instead of The Rods, the name they took for that single only. For its follow-up, they reverted to their full name, and commercial obscurity. Which is a shame, because ‘Quit this Town’ was a cracking little bit of powerpop itself. Not quite as purely commercial a melody, the guitars not quite so ringing, and a crappily rough Top of the Pops live performance did the band no favours. The song peaked at no 36 in the Top Thirty era. It would have been more fun on the radio with this in heavy rotation.

Yes I Understand           The Flying Machine

The Flying Machine are a more than usual example of the Lost. The band formed in 1969 out of the ashes of Pinkerton’s, formerly Pinkerton’s Magic Colours, of ‘Mirror, Mirror’ fame, and had an American top 5 hit single, ‘Smile a Little Smile For Me’, that I don’t even remember hearing on the radio over here. Indeed, it’s only within the last decade I have heard of the band at all. ‘Yes I Understand’ was the last of their six singles. But I know the song very well indeed, and loved it tremendously in the only form I ever met it, adapted for a well-played TV commercial in 1971 as ‘Esso Understands’. It used to amaze me that a song like that wasn’t properly recorded as a single. Well, now I know.

Magic Man             Heart

This was the first single from the Wilson sister’s band’s debut album, Dreamboat Annie. I didn’t hear it until the follow up, ‘Crazy on You’ came out and I fell for its crazy rush of acoustic and electrics, it’s pace and power. I heard about ‘Magic Man but didn’t hear it until I bought the album, and I cursed not having known about it before, with its near-funk wriggle, its sinuous melody and its lyrics that, for me at that still-immature age, weren’t quite open enough for me to recognise that Ann Wilson was explaining to her critical mother why she’d had to hop into bed with this Magic Man. The chicks looked hot, even through the layers of midi-length dresses and knee-length boots that were the prevailing fashions in 1977, but though the cover of the second album was gorgeous, the music had lost any spark that Dreamboat Annie possessed. Ten years later, when ‘Alone’ was big, I read a profile that gave Nancy Wilson’s age as 23. I then came across a copy of that first album, and couldn’t help but think how well-developed Nancy was… as a guitarist, I mean… for a supposed 13 year old.

White Lies, Blue Eyes         Silver Bullit

There wasn’t really a band called Silver Bullit. In America they were Bullitt, but in England there was Bullet so for this slice of strident blue-eyed soul-pop, the band needed a new name. The song leads with its chorus, no intro, which made it hard to tape off the radio and necessitated me buying the single, on special order from the local shop. Springy bass, a raucous lead, brass and a slicing guitar solo, it hit me where it hit, but there was a narrowness to the production that I think worked against the strong. Nevertheless, on minimal airplay it got to no 41 over here. An inferior follow up called ‘Willpower Weak, Temptation Strong’ suggested a penchant for four word, commaed titles, but I heard nothing more of the band. This is still a decent legacy for a one-off, though.

If you can’t give me love            Suzi Quatro

Truthfully, I never liked Suzi Quatro, except for one unexpected bikini photo in the Sun. She and her band were the arse-end of the Chinnichap era (if you ask your grandparents, they’ll most likely box your ears) and dire stuff it was by then, but this laconic, semi-acoustic 1978 flop caught some of us off-guard by featuring a melody and some husky-voiced singing as opposed to shrieking. Admittedly, it sounds like a foretaste of Smokie at this remove, which piles up even more minus points, but I liked it then and that buys it a place here.

The Six Teens         The Sweet

Speaking of Chinnichap…
Nowadays, we cower at the words Stock, Aitkin and especially Pete Waterman, most often when they, or rather he, compare themselves to Motown. The more accurate comparison was to the early-Seventies team of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, writers and producers of the likes of Mud, Suzi Quatro, Smokie and New World (you don’t remember New World? Stay that way). But their first and biggest success was with The Sweet, starting with ultra lightweight stuff like ‘Funny Funny’ and ‘Co-Co’. But, and it’s funny to think of this, The Sweet had their own mind, even if it was only one between them. They wanted to be taken seriously, play heavier music. Chinnichap let them start to orient their sound more towards fuzzbox guitars, then gave their head – within limits – with a genuinely raucous sound on massive hits like ‘Blackbuster’, ‘Ballroom Blitz’ and ‘Teenage Rampage’. I hated them all, of course, though I’ve softened a great deal towards ‘Ballroom Blitz’. That wasn’t enough for the boys and there came a parting of the ways, allowing the band to write their own material. ‘The Six Teens’ was the first demonstration of that. In sound, it’s no different, and it’s typical of the mid-Seventies in that any notion of a simple, straightforward melody is abandoned consciously. It’s herky jerky and awkward and comes complete with an egregious change of speed for the last verse chorus, throws in some quasi-operatic stuff from bassist Steve Priest and teenage angst lyrics of stunning obscurity.
In all, it’s an object lesson in how not to establish yourself, but back then I liked it for its conspicuous effort, and when Chinnichap ruled the world, or the British bit of it anyway, you learned to enjoy anything that consciously rejected it.

I don’t need to tell her               The Lurkers

…or, Dumb Punk with a decent melody. Plonking good stuff.

Language School               The Tours

In that long ago conversation down the pub that I referenced in relation to ‘Get Over You‘, this was the record I was thinking of when I said that some bands have only got three minutes of genius in them. ‘Language School’ was the title track on an EP by The Tours, but if Peely played any of the other tracks, I don’t remember them. Hell, I bought the record, and if I played any of the other tracks, I still don’t remember them. But this track is good enough for me, a straightforward, punchy song, delivered over a booming bassline and no complexity whatsoever. You could ask for more, but in the summer of 1978 I wanted no more than this.

Map Reference 41°N 93°W            Wire

Wire were, and still are, Wire, a law unto themselves, the deliberately strange, too weird to be called offbeat, though in another generation that would have been the first thought in anyone’s head. But though they deliberately ignored the conventions of song-structure most of the time, when they chose to work within them, they could come up with something seriously brilliant, like this. I’ve no more idea what this song is about, and you can be sure that it’s title appears nowhere within the lyrics, but there’s a rhythm pulsing at the right rate and the chorus insinuates itself into your ears with gorgeous harmonies until you can’t help yourself joining in. And even when you read the lyrics you’re no wiser, but that chorus pins you to the map once again.

The Day The World Turned Day-Glo                   X-Ray Spex

Lastly, we have X-Ray Spex again. The same words apply, this time to a fantastic vision of plastic colours and products. The degree of restraint, or rather the channelling of fantasies into a less lubricious direction permitted Radio 1 to play this enough for the band to get into the Top Thirty and onto Top of the Pops. Such days, now gone, but forever missed.

Imaginary Albums: Lost 70s Volume 17


When I recorded the first Lost 70s CD, over a decade and a half ago, I had no idea that it could, let alone would stretch into a seventeenth volume, and when I look at some of the tracks included in this latest set, I find it even harder to imagine that I could have gone so long in time and digital recording without having placed such songs. There’s more than the usual number of songs that did chart and a record of of numbers that made the top 10, but as ever the definition is down to me and I doubt too many people would argue that these songs aren’t lost in one way or another. On with the motley!

Carey      Joni Mitchell

I didn’t really like “Big Yellow Taxi”, and it’s not really grown on me that much down the years. I didn’t like Joni Mitchell’s breathiness, nor the seemingly uncontrolled way her voice would shoot up and down the scale, and the frantic guitar strumming didn’t suit me at all. It was all over Radio 1, all the time, and I was musically naïve and still tied to simple, pop melodies. But I was surprised to find how much I liked its follow-up, “Carey”, much more straightforward, sung in a narrower range, but contained and constrained, but the mixture of the guitar, the sweeter melody and the misty romanticism of the lyrics about a relationship coming to an end, with regret mingled into the need to go home. There was a last-nightedness to it that even then I responded to. For years, I had to rely upon a taped version in which I’d managed to cut off almost the last minute of the song and despite decades of the full version I still marvel that the sound does not abruptly cut-out. Some habits are buried deep.

Liar      Three Dog Night

The most recent piece in this jigsaw puzzle, I caught up with this song via a YouTube sidebar that instantly released a chunk of memory. The song was exactly as I remembered it, or hadn’t remembered it for almost fifty years. That said, I don’t actually remember anything about this song except that I remembered it. Like so many Three Dog Night songs, it’s a cover, the original being by Argent and the arrangements being pretty much identical, leading me to wonder whether I’m remembering this or Argent. It was their first single, released in 1970, but then I’m convinced I never heard of Argent before “Hold Your Head Up” (which is never likely to be appearing in any future compilation, so don’t worry: if that one’s lost, it can stay there!) score one for the song, not the singer then.

Which way You Goin’, Billy      The Poppy Family

Strictly speaking, this is a 1969 song, and given that the band was led by Terry Jacks, he of the incredibly nauseating “Seasons in the Sun” number 1 hit in 1974, “Which way you going, Billy” starts with two strikes against it. As to the first objection, this wasn’t a hit in Britain, where it reached no. 9, until late 1970, placing it firmly in my wheelhouse, and as to the second, it’s not Terry singing but Susan Jacks, his then-wife, who has a superb, smooth voice, and who I’ve recently discovered was a total blonde babe (The Poppy Family never visited Britain to promote their success and certainly didn’t do Top of the Pops). This is yet another one that I didn’t like at the time, finding it a bit dull and slow, but which has forced me to rethink it after years of experience. I’ll no doubt be burnt at the stake for even suggesting this but, whilst the two voices aren’t actually similar, I find Susan Jacks has many of the same qualities as Karen Carpenter, except that in this story of a husband confused, rootless and leaving to find himself, Susan conveys much more emotion than Karen ever could.

More than a Lover      Bonnie Tyler

This is an odd inclusion. I loved the song at the time, but the course Bonnie Tyler’s music has taken since this minor 1976 hit has left me with an incurable prejudice against her husky tones. Yet I still love the sound of this song, with it’s carefully layered acoustic guitars, it’s precise, understated drumming and the overall restraint of Ms Tyler’s histrionics, which you’ll never hear again after “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. It’s here despite Bonnie Tyler, because of her. And because I recall a mild argument with my Grannie over this song, in the last year of her life, because she thought it was disgusting, and I tried to defend it as being about being more than a lover, meaning a partner and, by implication, a wife, but she wouldn’t go beyond being a lover when not a wife. And Bonnie Tyler’s real name is Gaynor Hopkins, a curious coincidence because at Primary School I had a crush on a girl in the year above of the same name. But it’s not Bonnie: the years of birth don’t match up and besides, ‘my’ Gaynor was definitely Mancunian. Still, and all…

It’s Raining      Darts

I’d forgotten Darts until not long ago. And it took me until 2018 to realise that that pulsing, dum, dum-dum bass rhythm that introduces the song is a direct rip-off from “My Girl”, as is the spindly guitar that cues up the medley. Darts, for those who don’t remember the Seventies, were a doo-wop revival/rock’n’roll group, four vocalists, led by bass-voice-and-loud-suits arranger Den Hegarty, a tight rhythm section led by drummer John Dummer. “It’s Raining”, which reached no 4, for the last of four hits in 1978 with Hegarty. They had further success after he left the group to look after his father. The new bass voice was much more laid-back and the group suffered for the lack of Hegarty’s intensity. This was a down-tempo ballad, lyrically in the rain-hides-my-tears mode, lit up by some gorgeous solo and ensemble singing. This is the extended version, because you can’t have enough of this good thing. It takes me back, and I’m happy to be there.

Vahevela       Kenny Loggins & Jim Messina

Another one glimpsed on a YouTube sidebar, flicking a switch onto a half-heard memory. A jaunty, clean-written song, an open sea chant. When you check the date, it’s 1971. There are other years of my life I’d choose to relive first, but something powerful is obviously calling me back here.

China Grove      The Doobie Brothers

This is just another memorable, rockier, Doobie Brothers track, belying my lazy assumptions that they never amounted to anything but ‘Long Train Running’ and ‘Listen to the Music’. This kind of mid-Seventies American rock is forever bound to sitting up till 2,00am, listening to James Stannage’s late night show on Piccadilly Records, when that was still showing Radio 1 how to present different types of pop and rock. Nothing lasts.

I wanna stay with you      Gallagher & Lyle

I remembered that Gallagher & Lyle had had two mid-Seventies top 10 singles but I wasn’t sure if this was one of them. I had the vague feeling that it had been a flop, a turntable hit, either just before or just after their brief spell in the spotlight, but I was wrong: it was their second and last biggie, a no. 6 in 1976, just before punk delivered a kick to the head to quite a lot of things, soft, folk-oriented rock by well-mannered duos being one of them. Whether you think that a good thing or not depends on your age and temperament, but I was definitely one of those yearning for more energy and crudeness in music. This came back to me of its own accord, the way old songs seem to float across the corner of your mind when you’re thinking of other things, when nothing has reminded you, and I went looking for it. It’s sweet, and I like its gentleness now more than I ever did. Though, mind you, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t still slip on a bit of ‘Janie Jones’…

Spiral Staircase      Ralph McTell

Like when I included the original version of ‘Streets of London’ in an earlier compilation, this Ralph McTell song and performance from the same debut album is technically a 1969 song, but it qualifies for inclusion here because I make the rules and I didn’t hear it until I started to listen to the radio, and that makes it 1970. This is Ralph in a more upbeat mood, the title track, though it’s really a song about frustration. Ralph’s running up and down a spiral staircase but as fast as he runs upwards, the staircase screws itself into the ground, like the screw-fronted Mole in Thunderbirds. The staircase is a metaphor for something you can’t ever beat. Probably it’s Society. No-one’s yet found a reliable method of beating City Hall yet, though we keep hoping, in growing desperation. Ralph’s jaunty little tune is perhaps not quite appropriate for his theme, but I see it as an unconscious appropriation of the future: the optimism of the Sixties, the decade of possibilities remains in the music, but the words are starting to filter through what’s coming. It wasn’t going to be pretty.

Cruel to be Kind      Nick Lowe

Once upon a time, Nick Lowe was hot. From ‘Heart of the City’ onwards, the guy couldn’t write a bad song. Great pop just tumbled out of him, and it was only a matter of time before the rest of the country woke up to the man the NME called the ‘Jesus of Cool’. The man was so cool, he took that as the title of his debut solo album. So he went top 10 for the only time in 1978 with the least typical and cool-sounding song he’d got, ‘I love the sound of Breaking Glass’, and then this track the following year, a re-recording of a track off ‘Jesus of Cool’, reached only no. 12 and that was it. This is a fine, straight, pop rock track, given a bigger, boomier, roomier production, with a kicking beat, plenty of acoustic guitar upfront, and a chorus you’d kill your Grannie to have written. In an alternate universe (yes, alright, Earth-2 again), we live in a Nick Lowe world and dammit, yes, it is a far finer place to be.

Delilah      The Sensational Alex Harvey Band

Really, you need to see this as well as just hear it. The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (that’s Alex singing, by the way) used to give this a good kicking on stage, so the record company took a live performance, put it out as a single and it smashed into the charts. Top of the Pops didn’t know what had hit it, the last time I saw that much consternation was when Robert Wyatt insisted on singing ‘I’m a Believer’ from his wheelchair. Of course, Tom Jones has got nothing to worry about but, hell’s bells, this really put a rocket into 1975. How on earth could I have forgotten this for so long?

I’d Really Love To See You Tonight      England Dan and John Ford Coley

This one is really a mystery. I know that I underwent a complete musical conversion practically as soon as this smooth piece of California harmony-pop ballad left its brief chart run, but I loved this to bits in 1976 and I still believe it deserved far better than a lowly no. 26. It’s true that Dan (Seals – brother to the other Seals, who teamed up with Croft and produced the original ‘Summer Breeze’) and John were as West Coast American as they come, lush production, smooth sound, sweet harmonies, all the things that I shudder to look back on, but this had control of my ears, with its tale of being reminded of an old girl friend and calling her up to see if she can spend some time with you. Yeah, maybe it’s a bit too casual, even cynical, hoping to arrange a quick booty call, but I was innocent then, and I’m still hearing the call of memory, and better days, and the wish to have even an echo of them that makes this a slice of perfection for me. How could I have gone so long without remember this?

At Seventeen       Janis Ian

And if that one got through the net for so long, how the hell do I account for the fact that it’s taken me seventeen compilations before I caught up with myself and this song? There is too much to say about this song, and you will have to read about it over at the Infinite Jukebox. I let this elude me for a decade and a half? How? Why?

Our Last Song Together      Neil Sedaka

Of all the songs on all the Lost 70s compilations I have curated, this is probably the nearest to home for me. Literally, that is. It was recorded at Strawberry Studios in Stockport under the aegis of Lol Creme and Kevin Godley, then still of 10cc, during the years of the early Seventies Neil Sedaka revival. I remember an interview with Godley, I think, when he was talking about their intention to get Sedaka away from his insistent double-tracking of his voice, and to rely upon it as a solo voice. That’s certainly shown here in this warm, regretful, loving song about things coming to an end, in which the title is completely literal; it’s not about the end of an affair, but a partnership, Sedaka’s long-standing writing partnership with Howie Greenfield. Of course, that’s only the literal meaning. Endings happen all the time, but few are so well celebrated.

Close to You      Phil Cordell

An unsung genius at his most elaborate. Someone should have played this to me during the Seventies instead of leaving me to discover it by accident four decades later. The very definition of Lost.

You are the Woman      Firefall

Firefall, who have featured here before with their soft, immaculately harmonised “It Doesn’t Matter”, were one of the later appearances of California-style soft rock that got such exposure on late-night Piccadilly Radio. It’s gone, they’re gone, the style is mostly something I avoid. This isn’t another “It Doesn’t Matter”, just a pleasant, mid-tempo love song that takes me back to those distant times before I was a working man. If there was a comparable show now, going on until 2.00am, I couldn’t listen to it. I’d be asleep, long before then.

Free Man in Paris      Joni Mitchell

I usually try to avoid having two tracks by the same singer or band on one of these compilations, but the difference in sound between this and “Carey”, travelled in a bit less than four years, is like two different singers. Mitchell’s vocal swoop and glide seems much more suited to this free-form, jazzy, hazy song that borders on being a love song about leaving and regret – much the same territory as “Carey” then – but differs in being about a place, a life, a time. Mitchell’s narrator finds living in Paris intoxicating, but his job – stoking the star-maker machinery behind the popular song, as unlikely as that sounds – drags him back to New York. Mitchell was rapidly outgrowing, had already outgrown, the popular song. This song makes it easy to imagine eating rolls, sipping coffee, casually drawing on a cigarette in some pavement cafe on the Champs Elysee, even before I went to Paris to see for myself. On the other hand, I never have smoked…

Rainbow      The Marmalade

I don’t think I’ve ever previously tried to define as Lost a single that got to no. 3 in the Chart, but this is nevertheless a persuasive example. Like some of the other late Sixties pop bands, The Marmalade have a bit more behind them than their commercial songs. The Marmalade had a string of unsuccessful, yet fascinating and appealing singles before they were threatened with being dropped by their label if they didn’t come up with something that would be a hit. They turned down “Everlasting Love”, giving The Love Affair their big chance, in favour of the similarly-arranged “Lovin’ Things”, which started a burst of four hit songs, including the traditional small-time identical follow-up and a no. 1 – first Scottish band to top the Charts – with an identikit Beatles cover. This, and a change of label, bought them the chance to direct their own career and write their own songs again, leading to a phase of mainly acoustic, reflective, music until a change of personnel shifted their direction yet again. The first fruits of that period was the band’s other no. 1, the justly well-remembered “Reflections of my Life”. It was almost a year later when this song followed it: musically gentle, mid-tempo, low-key, decorated by harmonica, a fluttering acoustic guitar and keen harmonies. “Rainbow” has a minimal tune and minimal lyrics, yet buoyant and confident ones, about love and joining. Whether the rainbow of the song is the rainbow in the sky, or a symbol of harmony, or just another of those girls of weird names, like Windy, who decorate rock’s storied history is for you to decide. The song’s softness, almost unassertiveness, has slid it into the absence of memory, and maybe it is, after all, only a minor track, for all its success, but it is worth taking time to listen to, and to escape into its laid-back milieu.

I’ve Still Got My Heart, Jo      Tony Burrows

Once upon a late 1970 morning, making breakfast before going to school, I had Radio 1 on my transistor radio, Tony Blackburn’s Breakfast Show, as was my wont. In the first half hour of the show, he played the new solo single by Tony Burrows, he of the lead voice of Edison Lighthouse, White Plains, Brotherhood of Man and The Pipkins. It was an up-tempo jaunty, professional song, with a commercial chorus, typical of the times, and well-suited to my slowly-developing tastes. Almost immediately, Blackburn played the b-side, a slow, sentimental ballad that didn’t appeal to me anything like as much, and gave his opinion that this was a much better song, and should have been the a-side. About forty minutes later, to my consternation, he announced that he’d received a call from the record company, who’d said that they were going to take his advice and flip the record, so that the ballad would now be the a-side. I liked the other song andresented that I now wouldn’t get to hear it again, and would never have the chance to tape it off the radio. This sudden emergence on a YouTube sidebar, bringing it all back to me, is the ballad. It didn’t sell. I still prefer “Every Little Move She Makes”.

Carolina’s Coming Home      Vanity Fare

Another from that first year of learning about music, another simple, melodic pop song that was already outdated before I had the chance to get to grips with it. I have versions of this song from Vanity Fare and White Plains and no way of knowing which it is I know, but I’ve gone with Vanity Fare because this was never a single from White Plains. I’m still square in that year that changed everything too much, either way.

Wade in the Water      The Ramsey Lewis Trio

When it comes to my tastes in music, jazz trios playing instrumental music with nothing more than a piano, drums and an upright bass don’t usually count. And tracks from 1966 don’t usually count for compilations like this. But “Wade in the Water” was reissued in 1973 as a single, and despite it mainly being used as an excuse for Radio 1 DJs to talk over (and these boys didn’t need an excuse, I never even heard an intro unless I bought the single), it nearly reached the Top 30. Those introductory horns, blowing their cool descending phrases, then retreating to add nothing but little flashes of musical colour gave way to Lewis’s expert fingers, rippling up and down and across and around the melody. It was never a sound of the Seventies, but then it wasn’t really a sound of any time. It’s a palette all of its own.

It’s True      The Meanies

This is the last time for the token punk endings. I can’t see there being any more, because there’s nothing left now of that time that I can justifiably call Lost, and even this is only Lost in the sense that I don’t remember hearing it way back then. I still regard those last few years, turning the Seventies into the Eighties as the most fun time I had out of music whilst it was still being made up for me. Not just Punk, nor New Wave, but all the forms of music that seemed to be inspired by that wave of energy, that demand to seize music back from those who seemed to want to be worshipped for knowing more chords than you did, or playing in odd time-signatures. It was the only time I really felt in tune, and even then I was nothing but a rebel, kicking back at those who owned us. Didn’t look or sound or live like one: it was only ever in the music. This is a bit too smooth, too polished, a bit too Powerpop perhaps, but I’ll allow that as an exit-line.

What will volume 18 contain? Is there still more?

Imaginary Albums – Lost 70s 13


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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XonFZjuyc6E

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhEeM5rBxJI

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.

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

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nrOC4JDiCU

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lOP03BP270

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPFEi2bIoy0

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgF_ycCmF18

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVNqdfAs5gQ

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’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyH7jx8fHWM

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aG0pG4W-NI

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!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Doi_uhG4nA0

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fa2xq_LQzI

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEuKkcX1uKA

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkNi8AJEAR4

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNIV1E1WwUQ

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.

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

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6hPJQ5kfLs&spfreload=10

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-enIN21BWWI

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAzd5uqNoD4

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01PSf4Bokic

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUGEzTGhzu8

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.

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

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okWNg2pZkVI

Imaginary Albums: Lost 70s Volume 12


Lost 70s Volume 12 consists of 20 tracks. There’s nothing especial to say about this volume, except that I never expected the series to go on so long or there to be so many tracks from the Seventies that would fall within my subjective but still definable categorisation as ‘Lost’.

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.

Just a Smile – Pilot

I lived through the entire Seventies, musically (which is kind of the point of this series of albums). This meant that I lived through every teenage musical trend the decade threw up, which only seemed to get worse as we moved from fad to fad. By the time we got to the Bay City Rollers, it was pretty hard to imagine just how bad the next one was going to be (it was Boney M. Arrggghhhh!). Which makes the presence of Pilot here rather hard to defend. ‘Just a Smile’ was their deeply unsuccessful second single and also their ultimately unsuccessful fifth single. In between, their third, ‘It’s Magic’, took them into the top 20 (memorialised in modern times at Old Trafford by the much slowed-down chant of “It’s Carrick you know/Hard to Believe it’s not Scholes”. But ‘January’ (in January 1975, naturally) surprised everybody by going to no 1 for three weeks. Having thus established themselves, so smoothly and quickly, Pilot never troubled the top 30 again, though the re-issue of this track got as near as dammit, peaking at 31. That I liked all three songs, bright, poppy, immensely clear sounds with great harmonies is a great surprise given that Pilot’s two core members were ex-Rollers, had indeed charted with the band on their isolated 1971 hit (produced by Jonathan King). I can’t help but think that if Davey Paton and Billy Lyall had stuck with their first band, the whole of pop history might have been radically changed, or at least the 1974/5 part of it have been a bit more tolerable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzb0Mb3RgOc

Stand on your own two feet – Harmony Grass

It’s rarely referenced as such, but the late Sixties saw a wave of harmony-driven, highly orchestrated cabaret-pop, built around big, booming choruses, many of which put together by professional songwriters such as McCauley and McLeod. The Love Affair, the early Marmalade, the Casuals’ ‘Jesamine’ were prime examples, and there was also Harmony Grass (formerly Tony Rivers and the Castaways), who charted in 1969 with ‘Move in a little closer baby’. It was a regular golden oldie in the early Seventies, to the extent that I assumed it had been a massive hit, and was truly shocked to learn it had only reached no. 25! ‘Stand on your own two feet’ was released in 1970, and a Top of the Pops appearance was insufficient to make up the fact that the band were getting more plays for their oldie. It’s another example of the trend for bands to become ‘heavy’: the song pitches itself on a pulsing rock beat, with lyrics about self-reliance, not sunshine pop love, but it betrays its own uncertainty with a traditional, horn-backed middle eight in which the singer offers a shoulder to the girl he’s been encouraging to stick up for herself. Some people really hadn’t got it. I was among them at the time, and had a lot to learn.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sH5a0bnPlRY

Ships in the Night –  Be Bop deLuxe
I really only know the two Be Bop deLuxe songs, ‘Maid in Heaven’ and this 1976 single that gave the band their only taste of a hit, peaking at no 23. They’re recognisably by the same band, but whereas the earlier single was built on slashing electric guitar and considerable energy, ‘Ships’ relies on its organ sound and was considerably more laid-back. It bubbles along pleasingly, straining a little at the leash to escape from being a pleasant, melodic pop-song, but never quite succeeding in leaving that territory. It’s another example of the tension that, as late as 1976, manifested itself in bands that wanted to be taken seriously as musicians, whenever they accidentally wrote something commercial.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQF6KuqeCu4

Sandman –  America
In the wake of ‘A Horse with no Name’, I bought the first America album, which later became the first album I moved on, giving it to a friend who liked it more than I did by that point. ‘Sandman’ is eminently reflective of the proto-Neil Young sound of ‘Horse’ that dominated that album, before the band took a softer, more West Coast line. It’s stark, austere, single voice and acoustic guitar building into close harmony chorus, with lyrics that echo with unresolved tension. Years later, I can come back and appreciate it far more than when I was in my mid-teens, and wanted more warmth in my music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZN2-n_BIKI

The Man from Nazareth –  John Paul Joans
Oh, but this is an oddity. Though it’s often been plugged as an obscure side-project by Led Zeppellin basist John Paul Jones, it has nothing to do with him or the band. John Paul Joans was the stage name of a north country stand-up comedian, and the song was co-written by Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, then of Hotlegs and later to be of 10cc, and recorded at the infant Strawberry studios in Stockport. As you may be able to guess, it’s a Christian song, about Jesus, and it intrigued and fascinated me at the end of 1970 for its gravelly, almost amateurish sound. Joans intones rather than sings most of the song, for reasons that are immediately comprehensible when you hear the bits where he does try to sing. The song crept into the chart in January 1971, reaching no 25. Joans recorded an extremely obscure follow-up, ‘Ten Lost Tribes’, which I distinctly hearing twice but which appears to have vanished beyond even the Internet’s reach, which, due to action by his more famous nickname, had to be attributed to J P Joans, but that was the end of it.

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

Love is Life –  Hot Chocolate
When I first started listening to pop music, at the very end of 1969, the oldest rock’n’roll records were fifteen years old. The big stars were the old rock’n’rollers, icons like Berry, Holly and, of course, Presley. Then there were the Sixties superstars, like the Stones, the Who, the Kinks and, above all, the Beatles, who’d penetrated even my shielded consciousness long long ago. I don’t know if anyone else has experienced this phenomenon, but I found myself absorbing these people as a kind of indelible pantheon. Everyone else who came around, no matter how big they became, no matter how famous, no matter that their career may have gone on twice as long as the distance between me and ‘Rock Around the Clock’ in 1970, I can’t escape the knowledge of being there when they were nobodies, newbies with no track record, discarded and disregarded. ‘Love is Life’, the second Hot Chocolate single, came out in 1970 and reached the top 10. It’s cold and austere, almost glacial, it has none of the funk that people associate with Errol Brown and co, and when their follow-up failed to chart, they remained nobodies. Look at what they became. This is where it started from.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYQF8i7cIL0

My Lady d’Arbanville –  Cat Stevens
Another from 1970, another that was the first hit in a career that went much further. Cat Stevens might have had a track record from the Sixties, the insanely commercial ‘Matthew and Son’, but fame drove him bonkers and he’d retreated, and this was the new Cat Stevens, the maker of heartfelt, personal music, of sensitive, emotional songs, downplayed and quiet. ‘My Lady d’Arbanville’, which relied on Stevens’ acoustic guitar and very very sparse additional instrumentation, was a perfect example of this, being about his break-up with actress and model Patty d’Arbanville. Cat Stevens mark 2 started here, the archetype of the singer-songwriter era.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZP54bClDRw

Don’t Throw it All Away – Gary Benson
Back in 1976, I was pretty embarrassed to admit that I liked this song. Benson was a gentle writer of soft, acoustic pop ballads, and this song was originally entered for the competition to find Britain’s ‘Song for Europe’, which just goes to show how fast the impact of Abba’s game-changing win with ‘Waterloo’, two years earlier had sunk in. It was still a very good, sweet love song, and Benson has exactly the right voice to sell it, at least as far as no 20 in the charts. I even went out and bought the album. Nowadays, I couldn’t care less what people think, but it’s different when you’re twenty and already as far removed from your mates’ tastes as I was without this!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7pa6kE5FHs

I’m Your Puppet – James and Bobby Purify
James and Bobby Purify – who weren’t brothers, despite their billing – had recorded this gentle, soul love song in the Sixties, and I was already familiar with the song from the occasional golden-oldie play. Then they re-issued it, Johnnie Walker championed it, in those last few months before he took himself off to break into American radio, and it went top 20. It’s sweet and gorgeous, old-style soul without the by then ubiquitous disco beat and it settled into my heart with its confessions of love so complete that the singer was wholly at the mercy of the woman he loved. I was to get there myself, though it took longer than I would have liked. But this was no re-issue, but rather a re-recording and, against the usual expectations, a better version, deeper, richer, fuller in sound. Had there been more like this around in the mid-Seventies, I might not have taken such a time to develop an appreciation of soul, and life would have been better.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9uvmca5WF4

You put something better inside me –  Stealer’s Wheel
Now there’s a song with a title that would mean something completely different if sung by a woman. Stealer’s Wheel, Gerry Rafferty’s band after the Humblebums, at the outset, would hit the top 10 with their next release, ‘Stuck in the Middle with you’, but I’d forgotten this gentle, yearning ballad which preceded it. It’s about the less-recognised aspect of love, that it transforms you inside, changes who you are. Love grows you, both up and outward. Love puts something better inside all of us, not just women in crude jokes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8c-zn_Y7EPY

Rose of Cimarron –  Poco
In the Sixties, Buffalo Springfield made a big splash over three albums, before going their own ways. Steve Stills ended up in Crosby, Still and Nash, Neil Young became Neil Young with every sort of vengeance, and Richie Furay sorta got overlooked with competition like that. But Furay did alright for himself, in a much less famous manner, forming the country rock band Poco. They never achieved the heights of his former band-mates, but they were solid achievers. ‘Rose of Cimmaron’ was released at least twice as a single, though it was far too country for British tastes. That ought to make it far too country for me, but its smoothness and warmth outweighed my natural prejudices, and Furay doesn’t sound anything remotely like Garth Brooks and that ilk of male country singers, so we got along just fine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiDNlCyHp0I

Desiree –  Curved Air
By 1976, Curved Air were past their peak, and only Sonja Kristina remained of the classic line-up. There was this guy on drums called Stewart Copeland, and whatever happened to him, eh? But they were playing at the UMIST Student Union one Saturday night in that dry, airless Drought Summer, and my mate Alan and I went to see them, or rather to see Sonja Kristina. Apart from the queuing down the twin set of steps into the courtyard outside, I remember nothing of this gig, but ‘Desiree’ is a better song than I’d expected from those long ago years. I’d still rather have a video of it than just the audio.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBoNof3DUWo

Geneve – John Otway
Oh ho! What I knew of Otway was a couple of maniac singles with Wild Willy Barrett, all guitar slashing and primitive energy. I don’t think anyone expected this high string-laden, orchestral ballad, with just Otway’s voice alone in the midst of the music, singing in a clumsy, yet patently sincere tone about a woman who was leaving him, leaving his life. She’s moving to Geneva (no, the song title is not a mis-spelling, or at least not mine), she’s going to live there, it’ll be without him, and he will miss her terribly, but he sings to the city, entreating it to be kind to her, to be safe for her, to shelter and protect her in the way he’s no longer going to be able to do. He’s made his choice and he pretends that he was right. Love and sacrifice. Sometimes you have to let them go. I know what he meant. I wish I didn’t.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dth0qiEisRo

I’m doing fine now – New York City
Another mini-hit, a piece of old-fashioned soul, with fine harmonies, a song of abnegation. Why this and not countless others? Sometimes there’s an explanation. This time there isn’t.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIVDaw5QQsk

The Dreadful Ballad of Willie Hurricane –  Southern Comfort
By the time they got to an unexpected number 1 with a cover of Joni Mitchell’s paean to Woodstock, Matthews Southern Comfort no longer existed (they appeared on TOTP for three weeks in a piece of pre-shot film). Despite losing their leading man and focal point, Southern Comfort stayed together and made some respectable country-rock music for a couple of years. ‘Willie Hurricane’ was their follow-up to ‘Woodstock’. It got minimal airplay, and didn’t really deserve more, but I hear the echo of the times, of adjusting to life without a father, in this as in so many other songs that maybe don’t merit inclusion in this series, if music was the only criterion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AFwqLi58WM

As Times Go By – Dooley Wilson
I’ve joked about learning all about Sixties music from having it played as Oldies on Radio 1 in the Seventies, but that’s one of those jokes that contains a whole granary of truth. The Seventies as a whole were a decade of reissues and re-chartings. Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’, five years after reaching number 1, had another complete chart life, reaching number 2 on this occasion. The entire Beatles’ singles collection was re-issued (actually, re-promoted: they’d never been deleted) in picture sleeves, and four of them got into the Top 30 again. Free’s ‘All Right Now’ scored again (and again. And again.). Hell’s Bells, Laurel and Hardy got to number 2 with ‘The Trail of the Lonesome Pine’, from their film ‘Way out West’. The Glenn Miller Orchestra charted with ‘Moonlight Serenade’. This was probably the strangest of the lot. This isn’t even the version that got released, which was shot through with ‘Casablanca’ dialogue, all the classic lines (but not ‘Play it again, Sam’, ‘cos Bogey never said that). Just think for a while what that said about music in the winter of 1976.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIEjIQOD2lc

Moonlight Shadow – Mike Oldfield, featuring Maggie Reilley
In the Seventies, the NME‘s T-zers column used to host bogus end-of-the-year awards, commenting on various things in music. One regular was the Maggie Bell Award, which was awarded to Maggie Bell for being Maggie Bell . The other great Scottish female Maggie singer of the Seventies was Maggie Reilly, formerly of Cado Belle. This collaboration with Mike Oldfield, where she provided sweet, pure vocals to a lilting acoustic song, was her only commercial success. What a world we live in when voices like this can be rejected.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e80qhyovOnA

You Ain’t got the right –  Olivia Newton-John
I’ve mentioned before my mate Alan, who exposed me to more ELP, Yes, Pink Floyd and Rick Wakeman than a sensitive mind should ever experience. His other obsession was Olivia Newton-John, and by that I don’t mean in the obvious sense. He loved the music, deeply and truly. So that’s another one in the column of stuff I had to endure in our Saturday night outings. To be honest, I’ve no great objection to Livvy’s Seventies music, but it’s still pretty pallid, quasi-country pop. This louder, brassier song off one of the mid-Seventies albums always stood out for both of us, though listening to it right now, with enlightened ears, I find myself very dubious about the chorus about ‘he had every right to do the wrong that he done to me’. Not exactly feminism-friendly, even if Livvy admits to have cheated on him just as often as he cheated on her. A morally dubious song in all respects. ‘Physical’ shouldn’t have come as so much of a surprise then.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pbsqT7aVtk

It’s time for love – The Chi-Lites
A real, cool, smooth soul-hit with some beautifully minimal synthesizer. I picked ‘Have you seen her?’ out as a hit the first time I heard it, but this was a personal favourite that should be far more warmly remembered than it is.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le0w_7lP094

(The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether – The  Alan Parsons Project

We finish on the Alan Parsons Project. This proudly processional track was the first single off the first album, a concept album about Edgar Allan Poe (!), and it got a lot more airplay than ‘To One in Paradise’. It did no better. Parsons was primarily a converted Recording Engineer, using session musicians to fill out his ideas. It has the feel of a pre-Trevor Horn production: not quite the same polish and high power sheen, but something that was a few years ahead of its time. It’s a lost Seventies track, but in another world, it was an Eighties smash.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHNxBheFAt4

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.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsIc_Z99gB8

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

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

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.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIOsDfB754Q

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?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMJ1SzupsMI

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.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVsy717Ej7U

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.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZwl2g4etfc

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?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmsnD70BW6Y

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

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.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2w8VsvJ40sM

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.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRXUIJcE95s

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.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CCf7gvmDEU

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.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hsGct_tva0

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.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiRUOzJ-FrE

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5B4kw4oYI8k

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.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zx5ZzNEUc38

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

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.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMvO6yVfPtY

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

Imaginary Albums: Lost 70s Volume 9


Lost 70s Volume 9 consists of 22 tracks. There’s no overall theme or structure to this latest compilation. It was put together by adding appropriate tracks to a folder until I had enough for a full CD. Some songs are here because I couldn’t get hold of them earlier, some because I discovered them by chance whilst tripping from YouTube video to sidebar, others because I simply remembered them at long last. There’s only one hit single in this volume, which only got added on a third edition, but it was a big, albeit mysterious from our modern viewpoint, success.

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.

It’s For You – Three Dog Night

Three Dog Night were massive in America but never really cut it in Britain, with one big and one minor hit. This pre-dated both of them, a cover of a song Paul McCartney wrote for Cilla Black, rocked up. It’s primarily an a capella track, utilising Three Dog Night’s three frontmen, singers all, over a low-mixed rhythm track, the song switching from harmony to a complex but effective arrangement where the singers are so much in tune that they’re rotating individual words. By the time the band comes in, about ninety seconds along, the work’s been done and the track fades fast, but by then the instruments are redundant.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zr7NOTYbPeU

Here Comes the Sun    – Richie Havens

I’d completely forgotten this flat, rhythmic version of George Harrison’s late song, which was given plenty of airplay in the summer of 1971, but which passed unnoticed. Where Harrison’s original emphasised the sun aspect, embracing fully the summer that comes after cold and darkness, Havens’ hard-strummed guitar and his low, growling tones belong to what has passed. Havens knows that what is coming is better, but he has yet to emerge fully from his cocoon. The sun awaits, like the future.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NV_IRGzIBS0

Lucinda – Howard Werth and The Moonbeams

Howard Werth had been well-known as the lead singer and songwriter in Audience, a mainly progressive, blues-oriented band in the early Seventies who nevertheless managed a string of forceful, melodic singles that always appealed but never sold. The band’s sound was distinguished by Werth’s throaty, half-strangled vocals, equally effective on uptempo rockers and delicate ballads. When the band broke up, Werth went solo with a backing band and released this excellent love song as a first single. It was the same old story: airplay, especially from Johnnie Walker, and no success. In the words of the album this ended up on, King Brilliant.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XBQ6rqOFNY

Cruel to Fool – String Driven Thing

Put this funky little 1976 single alongside 1973’s ‘It’s a Game’ and you’d hardly believe it was the same band. No fiddle, no female voice, a drummer with a drumkit and a slinky, clavinet based sound. It’s a brilliant song, a pained, you’re-cheating-on-me wail, and it’s long forgotten. YouTube doesn’t even have it, which is a damned shame since you could do with hearing it.

Do you wanna dance? – Deep Feeling

This is an old and usually raucous song given the Deep Feeling languid, soft-rock treatment, all relaxed vocals and sweet harmonies, easy tempo and gentle, unthreatening arrangement. It’s completely different from any other version of this song which is what makes it such a quiet pleasure, but the formula is essentially limited, and a little of this is enough. This is a very peaceful little.

This track is not currently available on YouTube

Hooked on a Feeling – Blue Swede

Nowadays, thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy, this is no longer a forgotten treatment of an old B J Thomas country pop late Sixties song. Now, it’s back with a bang, and a full-throated howl of pop energy. Fans of the original still loathe the ‘hooga-chukka’ chant that leads in the song and is repeated partway through. Jonathan King isn’t too happy with it either: he introduced the chant for his 1971 single, which Blue Swede – a Swedish band, you’ll be surprised to hear – copied to great effect in 1974. King’s version may have been original but it suffers from the same defect as all Jonathan King fare in the early Seventies, production that’s as thin and weedy as his voice. It took Blue Swede to put some much-needed oomph into it and transform the song into the pop classic it has been ever since, but since you can’t copyright arrangements, King gets nothing for it. It has to be said that sometimes there is a modicum of justice in the world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrI-UBIB8Jk

Stone’s Throw from Nowhere – Cado Belle

In the early Seventies, the full throated, bluesy Maggie Bell was a perennially celebrated vocalist. She wasn’t the only impressively voiced Scottish singer called Maggie, however, as this long-forgotten single by the long-forgotten Cado Belle demonstrated. The band were part of the Seventies tradition of Scottish soul bands, led by the Average White Band, though the Average Whites never had a singer remotely as distinctive and powerful as Maggie Reilly. This is slow, slinky, underpinned by a degree of blues-rock that never interrupts the song’s roots in passion and despair, and it should have been played every hour on the hour until people actually realised how good it is and started buying it in massive amounts. Instead, Maggie Reilly’s only commercial success ended up being vocals on a Mike Oldfield single. Mike Oldfield, I mean, come on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMPBRL817EM

White Lies, Blue Eyes – Silver Bullet

A tight, taut, blue-eyed soul pop rock song by a band who had to be renamed for the UK market, there already being a different Bullet operating over here. It was an American success, and got into the lower areas of our Top 50, with the right credentials to go higher if it had had more airplay. Tight, urgent harmonies, accusing the seemingly innocent object of the singer’s affections of being a serial cheat, a clipped, spiralling guitar solo, and some infectious rhythms. I even bought this at the time, having to specially order it to my local shop, but to no avail.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ua4sWxKKE-I

Couldn’t Believe a Word – The 45s

I usually leave the late Seventies songs to the end of these compilations, but though this single came out on Stiff, and couldn’t have existed without the punk era having upset the normal rules of the industry, the sound is too much Sixties pop clarity to be representative of the era. It’s a rush of guitar and organ, overlaid with vocals celebrating the best aspects of a relationship that, before even we hit the first chorus, we know is a thing of the past, ended by her, without warning, to the singer’s total disbelief. Whatever spurred her to it, it caught him completely blind-sided and he doesn’t even have an explanation to take into his desperate mourning. Meanwhile, the band play on as if nothing has ever happened, as if it’s alright, as if it’s still a sunny day.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofcHJw1spG8

Understand – Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel

Most of the tracks on the Lost 70s series are either singles, or else album tracks that became famous and much-played in their own right. This is neither. It’s a long, slow, reflective number played one day by Johnnie Walker, and taped by me on some impulse that proved to be very right indeed. Over an initial piano melody, Harley muses about spilling his secrets, telling ‘everything’. He’s thinking of, singing to a lover, trying to convince himself to spill what is on his mind. Something’s there, something has caused a rift between him and his lover. It has an explanation, but Harley doesn’t know whether to reveal it, or how to. The piano plays arpeggios as Harley works his way through the confusion in his mind over what is better. If I could put the words together, he decides, if I could only put the words together, you’d understand. Then a synthesizer slides in, bubbling and low, noodling sound as Harley’s thoughts spin and whirl. When he returns, Hamlet-like he is still no further forward, convinced that he can resolve this problem if only he chooses the right words, aware that the wrong words will have a disastrous effect, unable to go ahead or back. He’s there yet, where the beauty of the music is his only relief from the torment.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Kl4sa0Ky8o

Thomas the Rhymer – Steeleye Span

This is the one that went in between ‘Gaudete’ and ‘All Around My Hat’. You can tell why it got neither airplay nor sales, being a heavily rocked up version of a traditional tune, without either the novelty appeal of the one before it or the clear cut chorus of the one that followed, but it has a stop-go charm of its own. It’s uncharacteristic of the normal run of Steeleye Span music, and borrows more of Fairport Convention than Steeleye’s fans might have been comfortable with but it suited me admirably. I always was perverse in my music choices of the Seventies.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fo3VxbJ0RJ4

Water in my Wine – Fogg

Fogg came and went in my consciousness via this one-off single in 1973. A bit of daytime airplay on Radio 1, especially from Johnnie Walker, then nothing. The song is heavily influenced by Lindisfarne – Fogg were also Geordies, as is evidenced by the reference in the chorus to the ever-popular River Tyne – with acoustic guitar to the fore, and prominent, folk-oriented harmonies bursting out in the chorus, though the electric guitar solo bespeaks a more rock-oriented stance that was apparently the band’s usual style. The lyrics are incomprehensible, but its all very geordie in atmosphere and feel, and Lindisfarne weren’t being Lindisfarne at this point, so my ears latched onto it and refused to let go, and the soar into the chorus still lifts me up all these many years later.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1C3y9xDZ8I

Time – Taggett

There was no connection I was aware of between Taggett and Fogg, but my mind has always linked these two tracks together. Both have a strong, recurring chorus, with powerful harmonies emphasising a commercial tune, though Taggett (no relation to any Glasgow based detective series) display rockier roots than Fogg, and their single is sprightly where Fogg were stately. But that’s why they sit together on this compilation, because somewhere my musical soul hears these as twins.

This track is not currently available on YouTube

Chinese Restaurant – The Sarstedt Brothers

The Sarstedt Brothers – Clive, Peter and Robin – got together in 1973 for this vigorous, brash and intelligent single. Clive was a decade past his success as Eden Kane, Peter four years on from his momentary triumph with the much played and much mocked ‘Where do you go to my lovely?’ whilst junior brother Robin would have his brief moment in the sun with a deliberately retro song and performance on ‘My Resistance is Low’, in 1975. Peter being the one with the most contemporary track record, this song was clearly centred on him: its language and his distinctive voice at the front of the mix demonstrate that. The single was heavily backed by Noel Edmonds, who had only recently replaced Tony Blackburn on the Radio 1 Breakfast show, and you can tell how far back this was because Edmonds’ schtick was still an enthusiasm for music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wb3SPUxK-k0

Clear White Light – Wishful Thinking

I apologise in advance for the quality of the link, which is basically a video of the single playing on a record deck whilst the camera mike picks up the sound from the speakers. Wishful Thinking was a band that were around in the background in the early Seventies, occasionally recording a single that got a small amount of airplay. This was one of those. It interested me by being one of only two Lindisfarne covers released in the Seventies (the other, of ‘Lady Eleanor’, is still not available in any digital form). It’s not a bad version, though not a patch on the heavily choral original, and the band have flattened out the song in the process of commercialising it. Think of it as an interesting, if ultimately sterile curiosity.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzraV-XN1wU

Danger Signs    – Penetration

Penetration always occupied an anomalous position alongside punk. Their music echoed the punk ethos, and their sound was analogous to Siouxsie and the Banshees, but Pauline Murray always had more of a singing voice than anyone else in punk, including Siouxsie, and the band had a darker, more musicianly style. Indeed, for their second album, they added a second guitarist whose roots and preferences were in heavy metal! ‘Danger Signs’ was a non-album single that fell between the first and second albums. The NME praised the 12″ version of this for the sonic depth and power it gave the track and I took the chance and bought it. And it rocks!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKnX9-86BYU

Warning Lights – Richard Barnes & Tony Hazzard

Richard Barnes came closest to chart success in 1970/71 with a run of singles that peaked around no 34/36. Two of these, the more famous and memorable of his career, were written by professional writer and occasional singer Tony Hazzard. Barnes and Hazzard were friends as well as professional colleagues, and in 1976 teamed up to record an album together. Their version of Hazzard’s ‘Fox on the Run’, a slightly slower, less poppier version of the Manfred Mann hit, came out as a single, but ‘Warning Lights’ would have a far superior choice. It’s a beautiful song with a glowing melody and some of the duo’s most powerful harmonies, about a lonely lightkeeper seeking love. It sounds stupid but it’s far from it. It’s also the only track off the album available in digital form, which is why it’s on a Lost 70s compilation and not a CD of its own.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyViJJdYZx4

One More Dance – Jack the Lad

When Lindisfarne split in 1974, it was my first experience of having a favourite band break up on me. A version of Lindisfarne carried on, with new members, but never sounded quite right to me ears, whilst Messrs Cowe, Clements and Laidlaw added one member and turned up as Jack the Lad. They immediately came out with this jaunty but melancholy number, looking back on a relationship that grew out of an impromptu decision to have one more dance, that blew up out of all proportion in a way that caused harm to all. But all it takes is to hear that song again: they’re not free, they never will be entirely free, but the singer would do it all again in a heartbeat. The music isn’t entirely in harmony with the sentiments, lacking entirely of the wistful, but the sentiments are as powerful as they could possibly be.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KL1vXtiEfAc

Don’t Touch Me There – The Tubes

The Tubes were a great big rock’n’roll spoof of a band, overthrowing shibboleths at every turn, disrespecters of conventions and gloriously OTT in the process. ‘Don’t Touch me There’, a rock’n’roll melodrama, with Phil Spector production and great pleading lines about not touching her there, no, never ever there (where there was was never specified but we all took it to be what E. L. James prudishly described as ‘down there’). There was also never any explanation as to what might happen if anyone did touch her there, but the way the Tubes sang it, there wasn’t much doubt. This was only ever a b-side to the Tubes’ only UK hit, the maxi-single ‘White Punks on Dope’ (I said they were a cartoon) but I loved it ten times better than the a-side.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTd3PrTzSPY

Whispering Grass (BBC Session) – Sandy Denny

Sandy Denny covered this old, romantic song, originally a classic by the Inkspots, in 1974, putting it out as a single. I loved it for her cool, precise voice, and the respectfully old-fashioned arrangement. That was almost twelve months before the travesty version by two stars from It Ain’t Half Hot Mum (and I never thought that much of Don Estelle’s voice anyway, which was sweet but wooden, much like his acting). This version is the one Sandy produced for a BBC Session, a slightly less polished version of the original, but a gem all the same. Beautiful.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrxB_9COPUE

Lady Eleanor (single) – Lindisfarne

It was hearing ‘Clear White Light’, rather fuzzily, on Radio Luxembourg, Fabulous 208, that alerted me to Lindisfarne, and this was the cool, collected, slow and hazy sequel, all Edgar Allan Poe and Ray Jackson’s mandolin. It flopped in 1971, but a year later, after ‘Meet me on the Corner’ had jangled its way into the top 5, Lindisfarne re-recorded it, in a louder, rougher sound, and reached no 3. It’s amazing that something like this could get to no 3, even all that time ago. But this is the quieter, more composed, more restrained and more spooky version. It’s all right Lady Eleanor. I’m alright, here in your arms.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zny53R1cJE

To One in Paradise – The Alan Parsons Project

The Alan Parsons Project was a studio ensemble, brought together by Recording Engineer Alan Parsons, to record an album of songs inspired by various Edgar Allan Poe stories. The vigorous and pounding ‘(The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Feather’ followed the same old route as so many in these compilations: airplay but no sales, but I liked it. I also liked its slower, dreamier, floatier follow-up, though I only heard it perhaps half a dozen times. It’s here because when I got access to hear it properly, I didn’t recognise a thing, but I still like to get lost in its drifting sounds.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrMKh2M-qHM

Imaginary Albums: Lost 70s Volume 8


Lost 70s Volume 8 consists of 23 tracks. I’d acquired a few songs that fell into a mental group and which ran together, songs that hadn’t earlier been available (including one that was incredibly difficult to find). There’s a strong acoustic element to this volume and no less than three Top 10 hits, along with the by now familiar nod to punk and post-punk to see the CD out, but there’s still enough jumble to mark this out as a classic piece of Crookall curation.

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.

Pure and Easy    Pete Townsend

This was a song written for the abandoned Lifehouse project, the Who version of which missed the cut when it came time to select tracks for the ‘Who’s Next’ album. Eventually, the band version came out on the much expanded CD version, but long before that was even a glimmer in the music industry’s wallets, Townsend included the track on his first solo album, ‘Who came first’. The song itself is an expansion of the final line of ‘Song is Over’ from ‘Who’s Next’, and I’ve always seen the pair of songs as a segue, despite the fact that Townsend takes a different musical turn with ‘Pure and Easy’, choosing piano as opposed to synthesizer as the dominant instrument. There once was a note, pure and easy, playing so free like a breath rippling by. If the music isn’t as ethereal as the sentiment expressed, the notion of life as music, and as harmony, is a most appealing vision. Sadly, the past tense – ‘there once was a note’ – has only grown more applicable in the years since.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_IT2JqX7jw

Tell the World we’re not in    The Peddlers

I hated this when it was on the air. Hated and loathed it. I couldn’t stand the jazzy organ, couldn’t stand the voice or the phrasing of organist/singer Roy Phillips (ex- of the Tornados), was in total disagreement with the DJs who couldn’t praise the Peddlers highly enough. If they were supposedly good, so supposedly popular, why could I not find any record of them in the top 30 (they had, actually, scored a no.17 with a song called ‘Birth’, in 1969). But who could seriously enjoy that cabaret style sound, that torturing of the organ into producing sounds that barely resembled music? Too jazz, man, too, too much like jazz. And forty years later? Even the things we hated when it came to defining ourselves have their place in our memory. And I  enjoy listening to this now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zH33Q-bAaeY

Montego Bay        Bobby Bloom

Whether it’s correct to describe no 3 hit singles as ‘Lost’ is a debate we’re just going to have to ignore. Bobby Bloom seemed to come out of nowhere with this rich-sounding, reggae-ish paean to luxurious Jamaican holiday resorts which, in the copy I have been able to find on-line, segues deliciously into ‘Oh what a beautiful morning’. This is another one I hated at the time, but towards which I have long since mellowed. Bloom disappeared as abruptly as he appeared: I remember hearing his follow-up, ‘Heavy Makes You Happy’ a couple of times but it never sold. Nowadays, I get the same, open vibe off this record as I did Mary Hopkin’s unjustly overlooked 1970 hit, ‘Temma Harbour’. Both records make me want to be there, if only.

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

I sure like your smile    Southern Comfort

Southern Comfort were Ian Matthews’ backing band for ‘Woodstock’, though the two sides went their separate ways almost before the single had dropped off the number 1 slot. The band stuck together, playing the same kind of hawaiian guitar dominated country rock, with impeccable harmonies. The mainstream press were mildly fascinated with him because of their hawaiian guitar player, Gordon Huntley. Huntley was 45 years old, an utterly unheard of middle-aged rocker, though he was concerned that the band didn’t get into anything heavy. After all, he wasn’t that much of a rocker… ‘I sure like your smile’ was smooth and sweet, and not only got a lot of airplay, but also got itself onto Top Of The Pops, but in that age old story tied to my Seventies’ tastes, it sold buttons. I was a very effective jinx.

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

If I was close to you        Christopher Neal

For a very long time, I doubted whether this single had ever existed. It was invisible, unfindable, no-one else has ever heard of it, despite the many times I heard it played on Radio 1. It was almost as bad as those many years when I found it impossible to find anyone else who believed there had ever been an American sitcom called My Mother the Car (thank you 10,000 Maniacs for obliquely confirming I was not living a Rosehip syrup fuelled drug hallucination). Christopher Neal was a reasonably well-known actor, and this was a sweet, gentle, acoustic ballad of his own composition, perhaps not exceptional in any way, but I loved hearing it, and it would have been on a much earlier CD if I had been able to locate it. It’s still not on YouTube…

All Night Long        Frampton’s Camel

Another that would have featured earlier in this series had I been able to find it at the time. This was a 1973 single from Peter Frampton and his then band, in that hinterland between the failure of Humble Pie and the explosive success Frampton earned in America and here with the vigorous, enthusiastic, but ultimately bland live double album, ‘Frampton Comes Alive’. ‘All Night Long’ could very easily have fitted on Frampton’s big hit if it had come along a couple of years later for, although it still bore a few traces of the British pop traits of the Herd, it was a long way down the line towards that kind of California airbrushed pop that went so big. At least this song has the advantage of a ridiculously compulsive chorus to help it retain the mind.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H75m1MBq4Qs

El Progresso        Ralph McTell

We’re now into that sequence of acoustic songs I mentioned above, into which even Frampton’s Camel fits by feel. McTell’s single was the follow-up to ‘Streets of London’ in its puffed up, brass band commercial version that came so very close to giving him a Xmas No. 1 in 1973 – don’t we all wish now that it hadn’t been Gary bloody Glitter (some of us devoutly wished it back then). ‘El Progresso’ was a complete contrast, an up tempo, jaunty, Spanish-inflected piece about an exotic woman somewhere on an island that sounded like it was going to turn into a volcano any time soon. I had decidedly mixed feelings about the El Progresso of the title turning out to be a cigarette, but I put them behind me.

This song is not currently available on YouTube

Pinball            Brian Protheroe

Brian Protheroe, like Christopher Neal before him, was better known as an actor, but when it came to his music, he was far less mainstream than his colleague. ‘Pinball’ was a sad, slow, ruminative, stream-of-consciousness lyric about living alone in a dingy London bedsit, accompanied by a slow, walking pace acoustic guitar and some lazy, hazy, smoky sax. It got more airplay than sales but it did climb into the Top 30 and threaten to do better. If Protheroe recorded again, I don’t remember hearing it, but this was a minor moment of genius all the same and plenty of people don’t even have that.

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

Journey        Duncan Browne

Duncan Browne’s ‘Journey’ is always bracketed in my head with Brian Protheroe. Both were one-off singles, heavily dependant on acoustic guitar, both were heavily championed on the radio, both just broke into the Top 30 and both disappeared again from commercial ken. But that’s where the similarities end. Protheroe was an actor who sung, but Duncan Browne was a guitarist, who also sang, and ‘Journey’ was a musically technical piece, beautifully played by Browne, both picking and strumming, in which the words and his singing, pleasant as it was, were more an afterthought. You can tell where the focus is and this was definitely in the playing. But Browne was seriously good, and he deserved better reward than this minor, and now all-but-forgotten hit.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8akfBqS8-Ok

The Rusty Hands of Time    Johnny Goodison

And once again, we make a musical leap into a completely different style and direction, for no better reason than that I like doing that. An abrupt and unlikely change of pace, from acoustic seriousness to big-style cabaret pop balladry. John Goodison was mainly known as a session singer, but with a powerful voice, and though there’s nothing to distinguish the song from a hundred others, something in the melody caught my fancy. I’ve never found the original single, though a version by one of the male New Seekers, gone solo, can be had on YouTube, so I have to make do with a Radio 1 session version, recorded to get around needle-time restrictions (remind me to tell you about those one of these days) which has been re-recorded a few times before finally hitting digital on a mini-disc. This came off Johnnie Walker’s lunch-time show, of blessed memory.

This song is not available on YouTube

Festival Time        The San Remo Strings

One unusual aspect of the early Seventies was the sheer profusion of oldies being re-released and turning out to be hits again. The most extreme example of this was probably Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’ which, only four years after reaching no. 1, had a second lease of chart life and got to no. 2 in 1973. Motown took advantage of this phenomenon, but then they had always done so: nearly every one of its big UK hits of the late Sixties were songs that had already been successes in America, sometimes years earlier. ‘Festival Time’ was one of these, originally from 1967. It didn’t chart over here but it was one of those many singles that, seemingly out of nowhere, were hits from artists who never followed up. It took me decades to realise that this is because they were coming from the Northern Soul scene, from the clubs instead of Radio 1. This was a sweet stringed, graceful little mover, with a ready, uptempo beat that deserved to be revived, and still does make me feel like getting up and moving, despite my knackered knees.

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

My Wife        Rigor Mortis

This comes from the same Rigor Mortis album as ‘Made in Japan’. I hadn’t heard this before buying a cheap copy of the album in the Nineties, when I would test out various types of music I’d never heard before via cheapie oldies in the vinyl section of the infamous ‘Sifters’ (yes, I too lived in Burnage, and may some time have rubbed shoulders with a Gallagher whilst working the racks). It’s basically a version of the Entwistle song that was the only non-Townsend song on ‘Who’s Next’, which is given a really muddy and fuzzy production on that album, as opposed to the crisp, clear work done on all the other tracks. This isn’t as good a version, but it’s better produced, and it did seem only fair.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sntkxdot-OI

Slalom            Mike Steiphenson

Another Mike Steiphenson clavinet-funky mid-Seventies instrumental that I never quite got to hear at the time. Much appreciated, YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QISWIoNc8Yg

Love is just a four-letter word        Joan Baez

Joan sings Dylan, as opposed to singing about him. This was a 1973 single, all pure clear voice and a sitar-like spike directing the melody through Dylan’s long chain of words. I loved it, but recognised immediately that there wasn’t a hope in hell of it charting. It seemed as if there ought to be a chart in which records of quality, as opposed to commercial success, could be ranked, so I made up my own, Alternate Chart. At first a Top 20, after three months it had to expand to a top 30 and, later in the decade, even a top 40. I kept it going for ten years, exactly, a personal record of where my tastes went, week in, week out for a decade. All because of this one song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1fpDWXwfso

For You        Greg Kihn

1977 was the year of Berserkely Records. It began with Jonathan Richman and ‘Roadrunner’, and the Modern Lovers, and went on through the Rubinoos and Earth Quake, and even the enigmatic Son of Pete. It was one of the few times where I went looking for music based on the label that issued it. Greg Kihn was the last of these, earnest, energetic, a little bit more grown-up than the rest. This single was an edited version of the track on his first album, a Bruce Springsteen song with the start chopped off, so that it began with the words, ‘I came for you.’ Berserkley ended up existing for Kihn’s sake alone, but nothing he did later equalled this glorious little fireball.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahW-aWBAUK0

Me and the Elephant        Gene Cotton

Another track from those late night, sit up until 2.00am sessions on Piccadilly Radio, another American hit that made no impact in England. It’s a sweet, lost love song, with lyrics that have a bit of a gimmicky twist. It begins with a trip, one sunny afternoon, to the zoo with a girl. A year later, she’s moved on, and he’s missing her something chronic. Everyone says to forget her, to write her out of his life, though he can’t bring himself to get rid of all her photos, or even a few it sounds like. One of them was taken that day at the zoo. So he pays another visit, walking round the cages. All the animals have forgotten her, except for the Elephant. And him. We’ll never forget you. And neither can I.

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

Time in a Bottle        Jim Croce

Jim Croce died in a plane crash in 1974, another premature death from a singer-songwriter who’d already shown himself possessed of a great talent that showed signs of only getting better. He left behind a handful of songs, first amongst which is this wistful, heart-breaking track about preserving memory to relive it again. I loved it from the first time I heard it. Sometimes I wonder if, in this song, I recognised the future that was waiting for me. It had no personal meaning for me back then, but it still brought me to the edge of tears when I tried to join in on this. There never were enough times to do the things I wanted to do once I found them. This song remembered for me before I had the memories.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dO1rMeYnOmM

Gaye            Clifford T. Ward

This record was a hit, a gentle, soft, beautiful ballad that reached the top 10, written and sung by a fragilely beautiful long-haired man who was a schoolteacher by day. I doubt you’ll ever understand just how disorienting it was for me to love a song that everybody else was into at the same time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnn7tIE8Wq4

I’m a Believer (Peel Session)        Robert Wyatt

The idea of Robert Wyatt, avant-garde drummer and singer, veteran of jazz-rockers Soft Machine and his own Matching Mole, covering a Monkees song – and their only UK no. 1 at that – was completely absurd. But he did, and he produced a stunning version of it, and he got into the top 30 and on to Top Of The Pops. Where the fairy tale took a bit of a nasty turn, as the nation who were buying this new version got to see Wyatt rocking backwards and forwards in a wheelchair. Top Of The Pops’s very MOR producer Robin Nash opined that it was all in very bad taste, to which Wyatt retorted that as he was going to be in that wheelchair for the rest of his life, the audience could stand seeing him for three minutes. Now I’m 60, I can understand, if not entirely agree, why the sight of Wyatt in his chair might be off-putting. But it was a great version, and this is the Peel Session version of the single, which is just Wyatt, a piano and some enthusiastic scat singing to boot, which is almost as good.

This version of the song is not currently available on YouTube. Have the actual single – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMtU_cgSifo

Fighting for Strangers        Steeleye Span

Steeleye Span had a brief moment in the commercial sun  from 1973 – 74, with the beautiful ‘Gaudete’ and the deliberately poppy ‘All Around my Hat’ (a heavier, more Fairport-ish version of the traditional song ‘Thomas the Rhymer’ intervened but scored neither plays nor sales). That seemed to be it: not many people were impressed with the direction ‘All Around my Hat’ took – at least one future member agreed to join only if he was never called upon to play that song – and the band immediately rowed back from that excess. ‘Fighting for Strangers’ came along in 1976. It didn’t sell, but it struck the air, with Maddy Prior intoning the chorus line, to a tune strongly reminiscent of the hymn, ‘To be a Pilgrim’ in contrast to the more percussive, dissonant words sung by Tim Hart. It’s still original now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JI3vRaTg0tI

Silver Star            The Four Seasons

Everyone thinks of the Four Seasons as a Sixties band, the New Jersey sound, those great harmonies built around the voice of Frankie Valli. But those of us who were there for the Seventies remember their second life, with such dance-oriented songs as ‘The Night’, ‘Who Loves You’ and the classic no. 1 ‘December 1963 (Oh What a Night)’ This is the one that everyone forgets, the last hit of this brief run, the summer of 1975, acoustic guitars and distant horns, a western in song, with hero and stallion. It could have done without the slow section in the middle, but that’s a minor quibble, because it was a fantasy of a song and it should be more firmly fixed in everyone’s heads.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lK-vHc5sE48

White Mice            The Mo-dettes

So we near the end of another Lost 70s compilation, with the usual couple of late Seventies tracks that are not actually punk but which would not have existed but for the irruption caused by that much-maligned genre, and the explosion of independent labels. The Mo-Dettes were an all-girl group, one of whose members married Mike Barson of Madness, which is the sum total of my knowledge of the band. And ‘White Mice’ is the sum total of my knowledge of the band’s music, a bouncy, jerky, ramshackle, upbeat little number that never rises above the ephemeral, but then again never aimed to be anything but.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0JCoMYpiA0

Money                The Flying Lizards

And we end with the Flying Lizards and their solitary hit single. This was the band’s second single, and it followed the formula of their debut, another cover, this time of ‘Summertime Blues’. Deliberately flat, tinny instrumentation, minimal and flattening out the actual tune until it’s almost negligible. Add to that a flat voice, more speaking than singing, and you have an individual, utterly bizarre approach that, to be honest, couldn’t hold up for longer than two singles. Thankfully, this was the second one, and in its way, it was a work of genius.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUfwoKZaU80

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

Imaginary Albums: Lost 70s Volume 4


Lost 70s Volume 4 consists of 19 tracks, making it the second shortest of the series. I dropped all idea of chronological progression after volume 3, going for a mixture of time and sound and feel that incorporated a number of long tracks and a profusion of instrumentals in the first half of the set. There are two Top 10 and two Top 20 hits in this compilation, and whilst it stretches, like its immediate predecessor, all the way to the end of the decade, the choices from that end of the Seventies aren’t necessarily what you would expect from me.

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.

Hearts in her Eyes: The Searchers

If there’s one record in this whole series that I would put forward as having absolutely everything going right with it, it would be this Searchers song from 1979. It should have been absolutely massive, it should have been on the radio every single day, it should have led to a major new lease of life for the band. It’s a belting tune, performed in the traditional Searchers style, only bigger, brighter, stronger, deeper, richer in every respect, a classic modern pop song with a compelling melody, by a working back of twenty years standing with consummate professionalism. And I have never ever heard this track on the radio, to this day: it came and went in 1979 without me knowing it existed, and I only heard it when I bought it second hand, for a few pence, on a friend’s recommendation. Typical Radio 1: the Shadows reform, prostituting their sound with weak, tinny, feeble productions of inadequate material and get played to death, the Searchers build on their traditional sound with contemporary high grade songs, and even someone like me doesn’t know they exist. If you like this, there’s two whole albums worth of the Searchers in this vein. If you don’t like this, what am I doing talking to you in the first place?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhvYbzg4-OA

Starry Eyes: The Records

‘Hearts in her Eyes’ was written by Will Birch and John Wicks of the Kursall Flyers, who went on to form The Records, the definitive power pop band. This is the real thing. ‘Starry Eyes’, which I heard before the Searchers, came out at the end of 1979: clear-eyed jangling pop, a stream-lined, fluid sound, superb harmonies and a wonderful story-line about a guy being pursued by a celeb who won’t let him say no. A re-recorded version of this track was the lead track on the band’s second album, full of great songs that had the guts ripped out of them by thin, weak, feeble production that has you longing for the Searchers to re-record the whole album. At least the single version plays to the Records’ strengths.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAH1ioLiaHw

Jerusalem: Springwater

Phil Cordell’s long-overdue follow-up to ‘I Will Return’ didn’t appear until mid-1972. The ‘Jerusalem’ of the title is William’s Blake’s classic working-class poem turned anthem and the mixture of instrumentation is the same, except that instead of the guitar being sweet and yearning, here it’s rough and rumbling, a tauter, more attacking style that attracted no-one but people like me. I don’t know if there was a connection, but at the end of the year, Emerson, Lake and Palmer were issuing a vocal version of this track as a single. Yes, that’s right, a single. Compared to Springwater’s gloriously simple version, it was rubbish.

This track is not available on YouTube

Maid in Heaven: Bebop de Luxe

I never knew what to make of this bunch. I have a mate who’s a long-term fan of Bill Nelson, but this and the ‘hit’ single ‘Ships in the Night’, also from 1976, were the only tracks I liked. ‘Maid in Heaven’ is, for me, the better track, full of slashing guitar and a sense of attack that propels the song along. It’s a bit of a stop-start effort, with Nelson never liking to settle into a groove for any length of time. That’s a common characteristic among bands that liked to think of themselves as being a bit above pure commerciality. This is a good song, but there’s an even better one inside it, being held back.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTeE_whc7Gg

Lady Samantha: Elton John

Another of those songs from the very early Seventies that I heard a few times, enough to recall some of the tune, but not the singer. It turned out to be Elton John, trying to break through. That would come in January 1971, with ‘Your Song’, which is a whole different order of things. This is a whiplash of a song, with a vicious edge and a scream in Reg’s voice. Lady Samantha prowls alone, no-one comes near her, they live in fear of her. The song never quite makes out why, though the way the good lady is described, you’d be checking her teeth for pointy bits. There’s a drive to this and an individuality that makes me wonder, if Elton had broken through with this, where would it have taken him that his ultra sensitive ballad led him away from? Something’s wrong with the timeline as the single was actually released in January 1969, but I wasn’t listening to pop that far back…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03BHe–r59o

He’s gonna step on you again: John Kongos

It’s maybe pushing it to call this top 4 smash from 1971 a ‘Lost’ track, but ever since Happy Monday ripped the song to pieces and put it back together in an entirely different shape, the John Kongos original has drifted completely out of consciousness. The original is more of a driving sound, percussion heavy, built on a thunderous beat that betrays Kongos’s African origins (it amused me at the time to discover that it was exactly the same beat as my mother’s old-fashioned, churning washing machine). Rhythm and slashing guitars, vocals mixed low, fade in and fade out that suggests a continuum in which the music plays on and in which we’ve just joined in for a few minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ld1vQVoaQIM

Pilgrim’s Progress: Greenslade

I rarely watched ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’ (which, despite its derivation, is still one of the worst names for any programme ever, not just a music show). Mostly, this was down to my mother monopolising her television set, but equal time should be given to my general lack of interest in the bands and artists they featured. So why I was watching the night Greenslade did a couple of numbers from their new album, ‘Bedside Manners were Extra’, I’ve no idea. Greenslade were a four piece progressive outfit, a kind of junior league ELP: two banks of keyboards, bass and drums. They played the title track, preceded by this smooth, swooping, seven minute instrumental, which caught my fancy on the spot. Not long after, I was lucky to tape a ‘Sounds of the Seventies’ session of these two tracks and the other song off side one. I loved it so much, I bought the album – only to discover that the production was awful, the songs sounded screechy and thin and even the melody of this track sounded wrong. Side two was even worse. Thankfully I got the record shop to take it back and allow me to swap it for something better. Sometime during the intervening years, they obviously recorded a better version…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNU0c2v5ZiU

Amazing Grace: Springwater

‘Amazing Grace’ was the b-side of ‘Jerusalem’ and it’s the same formula as the a-side, only with extra drive from the drums. There had already been two very big hit versions of this hymn, one a cappella by Judy Collins, one instrumental (and an unlikely and unwanted five week number 1) from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, but this was better than both of them and made me like the song again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzA9XiKROl0

Burundi Black (Part 2): Tambours Ingoma Tribe of Burundi

You won’t be expecting this. The A-side is the side everybody knows, the single that’s been issued and re-issued half a dozen times (once with additional drums from Rusty Egan, as if it needed that). It’s the sound that Adam and the Ants ripped off so thoroughly and successfully. Its first time round, in late 1970/early 1971, gave the song its biggest chance, a 13 week chart run that spent all its time between 50 and 31. Radio 1’s Chart Show, on Sundays from 5.00 – 7.00, was Alan Freeman’s ‘Pick of the Pops’, in which he’d play the Top Twenty in full from about 5.45 onwards, and before that new entries and songs bubbling under. I used to listen religiously. Over that three months in the charts, he played ‘Burundi Black’ only once: and then he played this side, as if he was trying to torpedo the single’s chances of that final breakthrough. This is the original Burundi drummers, without any of Mike Steiphenson’s array of keyboards on top. It’s incredibly different.

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

Mr Soft: Cockney Rebel

The band’s third single and second hit. It’s a surprisingly simple song, with some plonky plonky piano and wobbly guitar backing Harley’s affected vocals. It was a great favourite of mine at the time, and it’s my pick of all the Cockney Rebel singles. Apart from that, I haven’t really got much to say about it, sorry. Even I slipped up sometimes and liked things that were popular with others.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rPpPi7W8Y4

Can we still be friends?: Todd Rundgren

‘Can we still be friends?’ received nothing like the attention that ‘I saw the Light’ got. It’s a slower, more gentle song, wistful and delicate, about a man who sees his relationship with his girl breaking down but wants to preserve something of that, as friends. It’s a game of logic versus emotion, and you know which is going to win, and so does Rundgren in his heart and his voice, but he’s holding on in the prayer that the Universe can be overturned and they can survive, and hope will for once win out over experience.

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

Is that the way?: Tin Tin

A belated follow up to ‘Toast and Marmalade for Tea’, aping the previous record’s sound successfully enough to get a similar amount of airplay, and a ‘Top of the Pops’ appearance that was a bust because the distorted piano effect couldn’t be duplicated in studio time. It got the same indifference from the public too. After that, the band drifted back into obscurity.

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

Anthem (One Day in every Week): The New Seekers

I have always striven to keep an open mind. No matter how bad a band may be, the possibility remains that they might make a good record, or at least one that appeals to me, and I have risked my musical credibility on a number of occasions by admitting to liking such things. But you’ve got to admit that appreciating a New Seekers song is going out on a serious limb! This isn’t the New Seekers that were such a horror in the early Seventies, neither in personnel or sound. ‘Anthem’ was the last time they troubled chart statisticians, a primarily a capella number, built on a ‘bom-bom’ rhythm. The song is very conservative in topic: a girl from what I always imagine as being a good county family works all week in London, independent and modern, but always returns to Mummy and Daddy, and the rest of the family, on Sundays, to refresh herself. It’s still very good vocals, no matter who it’s by.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWbUce-H0BU

Also Sprach Zarathustra: The Portsmouth Sinfonia

As I understood it, the Portsmouth Sinfonia was a project that put musical instruments into the hands of ordinary, untrained people, and invited them to make classical music. In later years, I have seen them explained as actual classically trained orchestra members playing each other’s instruments without training. Listening to this mercifully short piece of music, the only thing by the Sinfonia I have ever (thankfully) heard, I favour the first explanation. This is recognisable for what it is, that much you can say for it, but it is a discordant row that is physically painful to the ears. Why have I preserved it? Why do I play it? Fucked if I know, but if you gave me a go at this, I surely could not sound worse.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpJ6anurfuw

Sheep: Pink Floyd

To me, there are two Pink Floyds. There’s the Syd Barrett one, ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn’, associated singles, brightness, life, colour and brilliance, and the other one which, despite having three musicians in common, is dull, boring, pompous and pretentious at its best. Courtesy of my former mate Alan, I heard more of the latter than I would have ever subjected myself to had I had a free choice at the time. And yet. ‘Sheep’ was one of the tracks on the 1977 ‘Animals’ album that, wittily and with intellectual rigour, divided us common or garden plebs into Dogs, Pigs and Sheep. The ‘Sheep’ track starts out with very Floydian noodling, but it picks up a modicum of pace as the vocals cut in. Then there’s this extended slow section in the middle, where extensive electronic masking thankfully keeps you from being able to make out the words of a re-written Lord’s Prayer, adapted for sheep in abattoirs and liking it. Then it’s back to a somewhat more up-tempo rerun of the main melodic line, until the band launches into a long, frankly raunchy outro, over this compelling, joyous, energetic guitar riff with a cyclic melody that makes the whole thing worthwhile. Which is why it’s taken this pride-of-out-of-place on this CD.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-oJt_5JvV4

The Poacher: Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance

‘Plonk’ was the original bassist in the Small Faces and then the Faces, until he split to go solo, playing a fresh, folk-oriented kind of rural-pop, too English to be called country, too robust to be folk. He’s remembered mostly for the sprightly ‘How Come?’, but ‘The Poacher’ was his second, and more successful single before he completely disappeared, laid low by MS. This song is less memorable for its relative lack of a strong, pop-oriented melody, but the mix of clarinet and fiddle lends the track a beautifully English air in keeping with the lyrics about an old poacher. It’s four-square in an English tradition that rarely sees expression in American-rooted pop/rock and it’s a breath of fresh air.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqQRphZtv1M

Another Girl, Another Planet: The Only Ones

A token venture into the fringes of punk for this compilation. This is one of those hybrid songs, that didn’t sit comfortably as either punk or new wave. It was played regularly on Peely’s nightly shows, which I was by this time devouring avidly, and it was commercial enough to get played on daytime radio. The Only Ones had the feel of a band that would make it, and there were some very interesting tracks on their Peel session that sounded like they could match the quality of this series, but somehow the recorded versions never matched up to the sinuous strength of the tracks laid down at the Maida Vale studios, and the Only Ones faded away, with ‘Another Girl, Another Planet’ as the main legacy of their time among us. There are worse ways to be remembered.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKuc3faQAEs

Celebration: Premiata, Forneria, Marconi

PFM sound like the Italian version of ELP, and that’s exactly how they were billed when this came out. Many years and much listening later, I can now tell an equal, and more pertinent Focus influence, but the song is still dominated by an Emersonian synthesizer sound. I say song: this is 90% instrumental with a single, slow verse and multiple chants of the title, but a lot more playing than singing going on. I never heard another thing by the band, but on the strength of this number, I’d have been inclined to listen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esHEPt41Sjc

What the world needs now/Abraham Martin and John: Tom Clay

This was never released in the UK. In fact, I doubt if it was played as many as half a dozen times here in 1971, when it chased rapidly up and down the American Hot 100. Clay was a DJ, not a singer or arranger, but what he did was to organise a very slushy, MOR/cabaret style medley of the Dion song ‘Abraham Martin and John’ (a lament for the deaths of Lincoln, King and Kennedy, written in response to Bobby Kennedy’s shooting, and a UK hit for Marvin Gaye the previous year) and the classic oldie ‘What the world needs now is love’. Against this, mostly subdued, background, Clay placed found footage, genuine radio broadcasts. From Dallas in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. Of King, broadcasting, saying that like everyone he wants to live, of Bobby Kennedy’s actual shooting and Teddy Kennedy’s funeral oration. It’s very manipulative, but it goes through the heart every time. The single was topped and tailed by Clay’s only direct contribution, asking very young children to explain the meaning of certain loaded words, words the kids can’t even pronounce back. The last line is the obvious, but still true: ‘What is prejudice?’ ‘I think it’s when somebody’s sick.’

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