Imaginary Albums – Lost 70s Volume 14


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

Streets of London –  Ralph McTell

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2r97Fo_HWE

Dancing in the Moonlight – King Harvest

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sR47TZdJg64

Miss me in the Morning –  Manfred Mann

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUKvS0sm7-w

Lady Love-Bug – Clodagh Rogers

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7H8GgO486o&spfreload=10

Love the one you’re with –  Stephen Stills

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5IVuN1N6-Y

Stoney End –  Barbra Streisand

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXsF9zrtDS4

Up the ladder to the roof – The Supremes

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9v1S-ypz5a4

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

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rdF7o08KXw

Pasadena – John Young

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1qhNINHq7k

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

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8OVKAo-C9Y

Silver Coin – Hunter Muskett

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H10ttoZeURY

Linda – The Wake

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

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

Hero and Heroine – The Strawbs

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrvGZy3MGDs

Sin City Girls – East of Eden

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

This track has already vanished from YouTube

If you could read my mind – Gordon Lightfoot

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqMG3VR5PP4

I’m a believer – Robert Wyatt

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

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

And Now for something completely different… –  Spontaneous Combustion

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPruin-K-dw

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

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

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

Stretford Enders – Burke and Jerk

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oamQZ2SXvfE

Real Man – Todd Rundgren

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llz1pIcHbQY

I don’t care – Klark Kent

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

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

Go all the way – The Raspberries

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULL7apmAJTE

Rio – Michael Nesmith

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F2yhaQhJrk

Imaginary Albums: Lost 70s Volume 1


Lost 70s Volume 1 ran to 23 tracks, mostly from the early to mid-70s. There’s only two post-1975 tracks on it, both from 1978, though neither of them sound in the least like songs from that year. And the second of them is the only top 30 hit single in the compilation! All but one of these tracks can be found on YouTube and there are links to each of these.

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 later selections.

Loving You Ain’t Easy    : Pagliaro

Michel Pagliaro was a French-Canadian singer-songwriter who recorded primarily in French. This, and its less-appealing follow-up, ‘Some Sing, Some Dance’ were the only tracks of his I heard. ‘Loving You Ain’t Easy’ was a bright, breezy, guitar-driven song that got lots of airplay in the hot summer of 1971. After several weeks, it actually climbed to no 35 and Pagliaro scored a TOTP appearance. But the track was thinly produced and lacked the single’s verve, which killed it’s chances of breaking through. Still a great piece of guitar pop.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHi3nwKTEzM
Gotta Find You: Rescue Company Number 1

A weird, doomy string draped 1970 pop song with a mid-tempo sound that got enough airplay to intrigue but which I never got hold of until well into the 2000s. The band had more airtime for their very commercial second single, ‘Life’s too short’, in 1971. The song’s credited to professional songwriting team Arnold, Martin and Morrow, and the similarities in tempo and vocals to their top 20 hit ‘Don’t You Know’ as Butterscotch lead me to think that this was a studio creation, with the writers doing the singing, and the band only put together to pick up the name for the folow-up. This one’s got a bit of a stalker-vibe to it that would be much-multiplied when we got to ‘Every Breath You Take’.

Love and Rainy Weather: Tony Christie

Christie’s commercial peak had already passed by the time this song appeared in 1973. It was the theme song to the film of the Jack Rosenthal TV sitcom, The Lovers and it’s semi-relaxed atmosphere brings memories of a film I loved, and its co-star, Paula Wilcox, who I always seriously fancied.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7I17I70cyAk

Gypsy Woman: Brian Hyland

This 1970 song was another turntable hit, Tony Blackburn in particular plugging it for months until it briefly troubled the charts at no 40. I had no idea who Hyland was at the time, nor his big early Sixties’ hits, I just loved the rolling warmth of the electric piano intro, and the leap towards the falsetto that Hyland’s voice took – rather artificially to my more-practiced ears – when he went into the chorus of this old Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions song. This is part of the soundtrack to the months of adjusting to life in the aftermath of my Dad’s death.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StC5lwA2snM

Albert Flasher: The Guess Who

The only thing I knew about this Canadian band was their minor UK success with ‘American Woman’ in 1970, which I’d hated. This 1971 single was  rarely played and I never got to hear it properly, but it’s another tie to that hot summer, the summer of hot-pants, Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep and incessant games of Subbuteo with my mate, Steve Callaghan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQ-hdVe0p94

Living without you: Manfred Mann

The original Manfred Mann had turned into the jazzrock oriented Chapter Three in 1969, and this was the first step back towards a more commercial sound in 1971, before the band acquired the Earth Band soubriquet. It’s a smooth, synthesizer laden version of a Randy Newman song. I was listening a lot to Radio Luxemburg this year, and they tended to play it far more than Radio 1, which denied me a proper chance to get this on tape. Next year, they’d record and have a hit with ‘Joybringer’, but this was the first step on that road.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rN3eBsTgDoc

I need you: America

Intro-free, piano-led, unsuccessful follow-up to ‘A Horse with no Name’. I got to know this well from America’s first album, which I had for a time. It’s just a lovely, yearning, beautifully harmonised song that was sweet but too bland to build on the freak success of their first release.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThTplavLL7w

It’s up to you Petula: Edison Lighthouse

Speaking of things not building on first successes… This version of Edison Lighthouse was definitely a put-up band to cash in on the success of ‘Love Grows Where my Rosemary Goes’, five weeks at Number 1 at the start of 1970. That was one of four simultaneous Top 10 hits written by the same group of professional songwriters and recorded by themselves under different names, with session musicians/singers – principally Tony Burroughs, who did lead vocals on all of them. It took nearly a year to put together an Edison Lighthouse to pick up on the hit and this follow-up was far too lightweight, jangly and out of step with the change in music in that twelvemonth to go anywhere. A near Top 30 miss: but I liked it at the time, and the nostalgia’s enough to do it for me still.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpeIsj3vhFw

Curried Soul: Mr Bloe

Speaking of things not building on first successes (part 2)… I loved the original ‘Groovin’ with Mr Bloe’ single. It was my favourite single of 1970, and only my second ever single bought, a purchase I held off making until the week it hovered at no 2, hoping to help push it to the very top, past Mungo Jerry: alas, no. It was an oddball track, originally a loop, irreverent b-side to an American single, mistakenly flipped over here and recorded by a studio band. The original piano track was played by Elton John, but the producer didn’t like it, so arranger Zack Laurence was brought in to re-record it and that ended up being the hit version. Part of is success was the novelty effect of a harmonica instrumental (played by veteran Harry Pitch, also famous for the theme music to Last of the Summer Wine) but I also believe it was popular in the Northern Soul venues. ‘Curried Soul’ did feature Elton John, and the other four musicians went on to perform as Hookfoot, but the novelty had worn off and Radio 1 only played it to talk over. As soon as I could download, I was determined to get this properly at last.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qq5F6VahsT0

Classical Gas: Beggar’s Opera

Another unsuccessful instrumental. I knew very little about Beggar’s Opera, but in 1973 they covered the old Mason Williams hit, ‘Classical Gas’, taking out the acoustic guitar and the orchestra, adding a more progressive touch with electric piano and a pure seventies style synthesizer, with an underlay of electric guitar that borrowed a little of the funkiness of the ‘Shaft’ theme. That synthesizer sound, the sound of pure electronics, music made digital with the rasping, almost frayed edge of the traditional Moog, that’s vanished now, but it was the sound of the Manfred Mann track, it picks up the secondary theme here, and there’s another example of that raw sound, near the end of this compilation. A worthy companion to the original.

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

Promised Land: Johnnie Allan

My first introduction to Cajun music. This high-speed take on the Chuck Berry original about heading to California to make your fortune gets ripped up and put back together as a cajun shouter, with Allan’s hoarse, accented vocals whipping through the verses almost as fast as the red-hot accordian solos, whilst the band lay down a flat, solid groove. I did some Cajun dancing lessons once, many years after this, and I can’t now hear if without seeing the couples, bent-knee shuffling, hurtling around a sweaty dance floor as Johnnie Allan drives them on to faster and faster spins. Primitive, high energy stuff, perfect for blaring out of your radio, and only two minutes long. Released in 1978 but could have been recorded any time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyytlU-uS7k

Westbound No. 9: Flaming Ember

Evidence that time and tastes change. Flaming Ember were an American blue-eyed soul band who had a couple of hits over there and did nothing in the UK. I hated this in 1971, couldn’t stand hearing it, which  thankfully wasn’t too often, but I like it now. There’s a lot of 1971 music on this compilation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vO0v8p6rSTU

Water Sign: Gary Wright

Everybody used to go on about Gary Wright being an ex-member of Spooky Tooth, which meant nothing to me. He’d gone off to America where he’d become very successful as a solo artist, with a big hit in ‘Dream Weaver’, which I didn’t like, but this later single, 1976 I think, caught my ears. Whilst everything so far on this compilation is Radio 1 music, Gary Wright was the sort of thing I got through Piccadilly Radio, Manchester’s Commercial Station (April 1974) and particularly the evening/late programmes. There’s a lot more of that on the next compilation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylnWEHLD3ow

Overnight Sensation (Hit Record): The Raspberries

The Raspberries were led by Eric Carmen, he of the utterly loathsome and whiny ‘All By Myself’ (there was some serious self-pitying about in the back half of the Seventies). But the Raspberries were all about pop, big, bright, commercial pop, innocent and fresh. ‘Overnight Sensation’ had it all, great harmonies, a cool tune, slow and up tempo bit, a sax solo, even a neat moment where the sound abruptly fades, turning the song into something heard through a tinny old transistor radio. There’s even a false ending followed by a great, thundering burst of drums. It was fun from start to finish one of those  records where it was impossible to fathom out why Radio 1 didn’t want to play it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFykKccM0wM

Don’t Pull Your Love: Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds

Another 1971 alumnus. One of the band was going out with the gorgeous actress/model Caroline Munro and expressed his displeasure at Colin Blunstone releasing the achingly wonderful ‘Caroline Goodbye’, about the ending of his relationship with the lady. Stupidity like that didn’t prejudice me against this jaunty, brass-propelled, stop-start number, with its richly American sound. Blue-eyed soul is the closest genre for this song. The band went on to be quite successful in the States, but I never heard another thing from them.

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

No Regrets: Tom Rush

Although it was the later Walker Brothers’ cover that sold, taking them into the Top 10 for one final, belated time, I had already fallen in love with Rush’s original, which had been around for months without any prospect of it selling. It’s a beautifully sad, low-key, self-contained acoustic song, with minimal instrumentation. It’s about the end of a relationship, when everything’s been said and done, when the couple have stayed together far too long and it’s time to go. Rush sings in a deliberately dispassionate tone, allowing only hints to creep through about how hard it all is to let go, even with what he knows. This is a great song, obviously built from personal experience, made all the better by its steely determination not to over-emote. Stunning.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKU0S5K5aYE

An American Trilogy: Mickey Newbury

And a second successive original of a song taken up and made successful by a bigger artist. Elvis Presley had the top 10 hit with this medley of American songs, but it was country singer Newbury who conceived of, and arranged, this loving, sincere and thoughtful tune. Newbury sings slow, and simply a medley of ‘Dixie’, the negro spiritual ‘All my trials’ and ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’, all three songs reduced to a slow, lamenting, intense vocal, with minimal instrumentation keep well to the rear. An amazingly simple and deeply effective idea, even to those of us with no nationalistic attachment to the originals.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIagEIdm3lo

Our National Pastime: Rupert Holmes

Rupert Holmes (originally David Goldstein, born in Northwich, Cheshire to USAF parents) is best known over here for 1979’s ‘Pina Colada Song’. He’s one of those witty, slightly over-clever songwriters, that you can’t help feeling are too fond of demonstrating their superior cleverness. It’s shot all the way through this 1974 single, which I heard off Piccadilly Radio, but which I nevertheless like, because its goofiness overrides its underlying smugness. It’s basically a story-song, with spoken word interludes, about a guy who meets a girl at a rained-off baseball game and takes her home, hoping to score. The awkwardness is still entertaining all these years later and the ending is still horribly embarrassing. But in a good way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wma7BH0nkLQ

You keep tightening up on me: The Box-Tops

Everyone knows that the Box Tops were that ultimately enigmatic genius, Alex Chilton. But this 1970 single was recorded without him or any of the old line-up, though you wouldn’t know that from the sound of it, which is just as firm, direct and tuneful as classics like ‘The Letter’ or ‘Soul Deep’. Ok, if you listen closely enough, you can tell that’s not Chilton on lead, but the half dozen times I heard this played, I had no ear for such subtleties nor experience of other songs to tell. All I knew was that this was a great pop song and it should have been played thousands of times. But it wasn’t.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ex6bCJTu9N8

Toast and Marmalade for Tea: Tin Tin

This has nothing to do with Herge and a lot more to do with Maurice Gibb, who supported this Australian band and got them a British album deal. The band released four singles, of which none charted and only two got any airplay, but this got a lot of airplay. It’s distinguished by a vibrato piano effect, created by pissing around with the tape, as the band harmonise a dreamy, eight line rhyme that’s repeated with the addition of extra instrumentation. It was a particular favourite of Ed Stewart, so it got a lot of ‘Junior Choice’ airtime in 1970. The sound stood out, but the public resisted.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mt2u9WNd4Qg

The Ride to Agadir: Mike Batt

Mike Batt’s had a very mixed career. By 1975, when he recorded this crunchy, propulsive, Moorish-influenced pounder, I knew him for The Wombles, which had been his commercial breakthrough. This song, and the album it was taken from, were an attempt to be recognised as a serious musical artist, but you only had to start chanting Remember You’re a Womble to know that that was a complete non-starter. But I always liked the drive of this track, with its lyrics recalling the Riffs and fighters of Morocco of the Desert Song era, it’s strident harmonies and the sheer determination of Batt to be heavy. Despite the presence of very Seventies drums, I think it still stands up very well. If more people had agreed with me, maybe we might have been spared ‘Summertime City’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7_y-F8VtSo

Mr President: D, B, M and T

To be honest, most of this 1970 single, which did get the band on TOTP the week it was nearest to cracking the Top 30 (that’s the performance which is linked below), was not very interesting, just a shuffling acoustic beat, some harmonies on a not-very-distinctive tune, and a rather artificial lyric about suspicion of the President: all very Sixties-pop-group-get-serious-now-its-1970. For D, B, M and T are of course Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, now that Dave Dee had left to go unsuccessfully solo. What made the song, then and now, is its sudden eruption into an out of place synthesizer solo, that ol’ Moog making itself felt. The rest of it was worthy-but-dull. It was 1970, what else is there to say?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-B3Y2MdQOGQ

Loving you has made me Bananas: Guy Marks

Last, but not least, is the only actual hit single on the entire CD, a bona fide, twice upon TOTP, number 26 hit in the summer of 1978, when I was living in Nottingham, instead of Manchester. And the joke is that not a single second of this record sounds as if it could have been recorded any time after about 1938. ‘Loving you has made me bananas’ was a spoof, a gloriously, lovingly created spoof, of a sound and a time and a conception of music that no longer existed, done with immaculate conviction by a guy old enough to be your grandfather. It’s not just a song, it’s a radio broadcast, a live ballroom performance in miniature, that only rises into even the mildest of satires when the medley of standard favourites is performed just the song’s titles as lyrics. It’s one of those real WTF songs that you’re not entirely sure about, but the smile is both taunting and delighted, so lose yourself in its conviction for two and a half minutes, bask in a world so entire, and give yourself up to what it must have been like. There was no way you could follow this, which is why I placed it last on this disc.

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