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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Imaginary Albums: Lost 70s Volume 2

Lost 70s Volume 2 consisted of 21 tracks, mostly out of the mid-70s, with only the final track from as late as 1977. Volume 2 has as many as three hits on it, two of them reaching top 10. The run of tracks from 2 – 9 represent a suite of tracks that I associate with Piccadilly Radio, bound together by the common characteristic that they were records by American bands that were being played regularly between 1974 and 1976 which were being ignored by Radio 1. It was a time when there seemed to be an unending stream of new American bands producing great one-off singles that never sold, but which were highlights of evening and late night listening.

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.

Processions: Family

This track from Family’s Family Entertainment album did not come to my attention via the radio, and I didn’t hear it until 1976. The boyfriend of a friend from Law College had had his flat burgled and was petrified of a return visit that would snaffle up his extensive album collection. I volunteered to shelter these in return for rights to play them (the guy had a Brunswick label copy of The Who’s My Generation which was deleted and unavailable in those days). I can’t remember the extent of his choices, but I’d had an occasional soft spot for Family since ‘The Weaver’s Answer’ was an entirely improbable top 20 hit in late 1970. ‘Processions’ is a lovely, rolling, rippling fantasia seen through the eyes of a small boy building a sandcastle on the beach which leads him to dream of glory and processions in honour of his achievements. The dream is ended by the tide washing the castle away, but whilst it lasts, Roger Chapman sings with great compassion and wonder. Lyrically, it’s a similar theme to ‘Weaver’s Answer’ but more uplifting and delightful. There’s a line in here that it took me half a dozen years to hear properly, the words sliding into sense one drive home from work, where the boy dreams of being captain of a great sailing ship, ‘something majestic, sailing on wide seas’. A lovely opening track. Of course, the album was recorded and released in 1969, but the song is forever a Seventies experience.

Dance with me: Orleans

This gem of a song is one of those late night, Piccadilly Radio highlights, a mixture of soft acoustic guitars and lovely harmonies and a wonderful innocence in seeing the beginning of a romance as the beginning of an evening’s dancing. It’s smooth and sweet and in forty years hasn’t tired yet. Orleans were the one band from this bunch to have a second single played on Piccadilly in those days, 1976’s ‘Still the One’, but ‘Dance with me’ is still the one my ears go back to.

Moonlight feels right: Starbuck

In contrast, there’s an undertone of jazz to this smooth, shuffling number. Starbuck are more open about it being about sex, without ever toppling into distastefulness or being over-explicit. If you need to know what’s in mind, you need only listen to the chuckle before the chorus and you’re instantly clear what moonlight feels right for. But the track is saved from sleaziness by the air of complicity that hoots through it, the recognition that both parties are playing the same game, and the beautifully buoyant vibraphone solo is the perfect touch of atmosphere to remind us that it’s all about fun.

Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You: Sugarloaf, ft Jerry Corbetta

I sometimes wonder if any of these bands did anything like as distinctive, but that surely can’t be the case with Sugarloaf, Jerry Corbetta or not. This is a funky little tune, with solid riffs and chops, shot through with a cheerful cynicism about making it in the rock business. Jerry and the boys are hustling to get an audition with an agent who doesn’t want to know, until the band make it big anyway, by when it’s their turn to tell him ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’. The song’s jerky rhythm knots together the cute moments and keeps them fresh as paint all this time later. There’s an exquisite moment when the agent says we’ve heard it all before and, hesitantly adds that ‘it sounds like, uh, John, Paul and George…’ to which the band responds by cutting into the riff from ‘I feel fine’ but the best line comes after the first chorus of the title line: ‘You got my number?’ ‘Yeah, I got it when you walked through the door’.

It Doesn’t Matter: Firefall

A late entry to this list, late 1976, a very Eaglish song of acoustic guitars, fine harmonies and sweet electric lines composed into a mid-tempo love song that’s as insubstantial as a breath of air, yet still drawing you in. It was the times, and it was typical of the times, but for all its familiarity, it was still a lovely moment.

More than a Feeling: Boston

Later yet. It was early 1977. I was in to Fleetwood Mac for that brief year, even saw them live at the Appollo, recently renamed. Music was about to change, and my attitude to it for the rest of the decade. Boston were one band too many along this theme, a kind of identikit American rock/country band, immaculately produced, immaculately becoiffeured, their music comprised of all the familiar elements. ‘More than a Feeling’, with its mixture of acoustic and electric, it’s stop-go riffs, its overproduction, was designed to blare out at stadium gigs. It was the end of the line, a pointer to the fact that music and me needed something with a bit more energy, roughness, crudity to it, not fretboard virtuosity. But it was still a bloody good song.

Hello, This is Your Heart: Dennis Linde

Had this been available for the first version of this CD, I would have placed it earlier in this sequence. But by the time I found the track, the running order was a given in my head. Linde was another one-off, represented in my life by a single track, this jaunty, bouncy, bass-propelled slice of country rock, sung in a strained voice by a guy voicing his heart’s need for a break from all the stuff he’s been putting it through. It’s a viewpoint I haven’t heard elsewhere, set to a rousing rhythm and a tub-thumping beat and it really ought to be better known. As it is, Linde’s best known song is ‘Burning Love’, the one that took Elvis Presley back to his rockabilly roots. But it’s not as good as this one.

Stranger in the Blue Suede Shoes:    Kevin Ayers

It took me a long time to like this weird song, more spoken than sung, with its absence of a defined melody. For a long time, the only bit of it I truly like was the immense, rolling, rise-up-the-scale piano riff that separates the song into its two halves. But quality, or oddity, will out. The song has nothing to do with Elvis Presley: it’s about Kevin walking into a bar one day in blue suede shoes, being refused service by a rude barman, hiding behind the rules, though he does sell some cheap food. Kevin offers the man a cigarette, the piano does its thing and suddenly we’re in the barman’s head as it begins to expand and he cuts himself free from the restrictions of his crappy life: the cigarette clearly wasn’t nicotine. Ayers, an eccentric to say the least, speaks/intones the words in a deliberately gravelly voice, which is fed through an effects machine when it’s the barman’s turn. It’s all rather peculiar, really.

Fly like an Eagle: The Steve Miller Band

Before this was ‘The Joker’, which Johnnie Walker loved to bits, but which he couldn’t persuade the British record buying public to adopt until twenty years later. And after this, the Miller Band broke the British top 20 with the enjoyably commercial, but workmanlike ‘Rock’n’Me’. In between was this album title track, a slow, bluesy, smoky song, relaxed and lazy. It’s an untypical sound, with an ethereal aspect to it. But ultimately, the word workmanlike is the one most appropriate to the band, and it can’t be denied that whilst the lyrics to ‘Fly Like an Eagle’ have their heart in the right place, Miller’s means of expression is pretty much pedestrian. ‘Feed the babies’, he asks, ‘who don’t have enough to eat, shoe the children with shoes on their feet’. The working man’s guide to social concern. The music is nice though, proper relaxing.

It’s a Game: String Driven Thing

A perfect, commercial song, with a compelling tune, that got nowhere. Why was this? Radio 1 playlists in the Seventies, which would so often ignore singles with great tunes in favour of crap by someone established. As it ever was. String Driven Thing were a Scottish four-piece with male-female lead singers, the latter of whom played a quite aggressive electric violin. Their thing was that the band didn’t have a drummer, at least not until later in their career, but the absence of percussion doesn’t do anything to hinder the verve and pace of this soaring song. It’s commercial appeal was justified in 1969, when the Bay City Rollers covered it as their last top 30 hit. The Rollers’ version was weak and lifeless in comparison, surprise surprise, but the song was strong enough to still sound pretty good by them.

I’m a Gambler: Red Herring

Red Herring was Pete Dello, he of Honeybus and ‘I can’t Let Maggie Go’ fame. The song was recorded and released initially under the name of Lace in 1969, but subsequently it came out as by Red Herring. I lost count of how many times this was reissued, with the record company swearing to keep putting it out until it was a hit, but in the end they gave up first. It’s a bouncy, yet yearning song, with a clip-clop rhythm and a poignant, sweet violin sound to sustain it and it really should have been a success. Listen to it, just listen.

I will return: Springwater

A hit, a palpable hit. There are a few, here and there, in the Lost 70s series, usually songs that have faded from mind and memory, such as this 1971 Top 5 instrumental. Nowadays, it’s no surprise to hear of people making it big with tracks recorded in their bedroom, but he’s the daddy of them all, Phil Cordell, Sheffield-born and based multi-instrumentalist who cracked it big with a track that reputedly cost £35 to make, recorded in his bedsit with a harmonium, a two-piece drumkit and a guitar with a bent neck, straightened out using a half a crown (ask your Grandad). I preferred the follow-up, to be honest, but as Volume 1 proved, I have a soft spot for the learning music of 1971, and few others remember ‘I will return’.

Conquistador: Procol Harum with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra

Two hits in succession, though this was by far the less successful in chart terms. By this point, I would have known of ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ but probably nothing else by Procol Harum: I certainly didn’t get to hear the tedious and shallow rock original of this until years later when I went on a brief Procol thing. The late Sixties/early Seventies, with the progressive pretensions, had a thing about marrying rock and orchestra, and this is one of the few examples of something that genuinely worked. It’s recorded live and the recording captures a vast spaciousness, bringing the band and the Orchestra into a proper proportion. A smart, fairly straight orchestration substitutes for most of the non-solo musicianship and the song, which is pompous to a fault, breaths freely. It just clipped the top 30, but it’s stood the test of time: a hybrid that worked.

Sebastian: Cockney Rebel

No wonder Radio 1 barely played this: they just couldn’t understand it. Steve Harley announced himself with this over-produced, over-recorded, unbelievably pretentious song ,sung in a haze of something sweet-smelling and definitely not sold over the counter. It’s effete, languid, heavily aesthetic and it carries about it the atmosphere of something ever so faintly rotten: think Oscar Wilde and Dorian Gray. Cockney Rebel are barely present as a band, the orchestration is so lush. Harley sings in his most affected voice, and would sack everyone else in the line-up within a year of this overblown, incomprehensible and utterly magnetic effort to cram together things that could not possibly fir into a four minute song, no matter how epic. It never stood a chance.

Shoeshine Boy: The Humblebums

From the ridiculously sublime to the down home streets of Glasgow. The Humblebums were a Scottish folk due comprising Gerry (Baker Street) Rafferty and Billy Connolly, though I have never been able to hear anything of the Big Yin in this chunky, broad little folk-rocker. I remember it from several plays on Kenny Everett’s Saturday morning Radio 1 show, before he got canned. It’s a sweet little toe-tapper about an unambitious lad who wants nothing more than to make a menial living and live it up on Saturday nights, dancing with his lady till the break of day. With a song this good, he deserves every Saturday night he can move it.

Wintertime: Kayak

Elsewhere in this series, there’s the odd, very early Seventies single from one or other European bands, heard through the fuzz that was Radio Luxembourg, Fabulous 208. Kayak, a Dutch progressive band who weren’t Focus, got this onto Piccadilly Radio’s playlist late in 1974 and it caught my ear and entertained me. It’s just a bubbly, simple song, with slightly dodgy accents, and the kind of frills that a more pop-oriented band would have ironed out but which were still compulsory in 1974, just to show you were serious about not being totally commercial.

Dream Weaver: Gary Wright

I included this as a counterpart to ‘Water Sign’ on Volume 1, though I hated this song at the time for reasons I can no longer understand. The two tracks are cut from the same soulful, yearning cloth, and the only difference is that this one was a big hit in America, and the one on Volume 1 wasn’t.

Sunny Side of Heaven: Fleetwood Mac

Between the end of the Peter Green era and the start of the Buckingham/Nicks years, Fleetwood Mac kept touring and recording with largely forgotten line-ups. ‘Sunny Side of Heaven’ is a lovely, rippling, quasi-bluesy instrumental, a Danny Kirwan-penned track that uses electric guitars throughout, hewing to a brighter, more trebly sound on the ‘chorus’ riffs and a richer, rounder guitar sound in the ‘verses’. No, it’s not a stand-out like ‘Albatross’, but it’s beautiful and its melody haunts the ear and it should be far better known than it is.

A Horse with No Name: America

Another hit single, in fact a big hit single, a no 3 at Xmas1971 for a three piece band of Army brats, strumming acoustic guitars and doing a fair job of ripping off Neil Young’s style. It’s a winter song, dry and slightly drab in sound, and lacking in colours, for all that it takes place in a desert of blazing sun. Even the harmonies are downbeat. And it’s here in this series because of the time it played on the car stereo radio, as we drove along the marina in Palma, Mallorca, between the bright yellow of the sun above and the sparkling blue of the Mediterranean away to our left, seen between the white masts of the yachts, and the incongruity was overwhelming and I can never hear ‘A Horse with No Name’, without being transported to Mallorca and those summers.

A Fool No More: Peter Green

We’ve had Fleetwood Mac, and now it’s time for Peter Green. This is Green at his bluesiest, a track recorded in 1978, with Buckingham/Nicks already establishing themselves as the musical drivers of his former band. And this is Green at his most timeless, Green singing a low blues, lit by the flickering fire of his guitar, whilst bass and drum keep a stately, measured time, unrushed, unruffled. Green aches and bleeds in word and music and it lasts something like seven minutes and you would neither notice nor care if it were doubled, because the music toys with you. I’ve been your fool for so long, I won’t play that fool no more. And no-one believes a word you say.

Beware of the Flowers, ’cause I’m sure they’re gonna get you, yeah: John Otway

Thinking it over, this song doesn’t really belong here. The explosion of punk and all its associated creeds changed the musical landscape for me between 1977-78, and what followed in the rest of the decade was, with very few exceptions, radically different to what had come before. Suddenly, instead of craning to hear those few, rarely played decent songs that cut across the pretty dull, pretty average grain, there was energy and excitement and new stuff all the time. ‘Beware of the Flowers’ was slightly on the early side for that. It was the b-side to Otway and Barrett’s very minor hit, ‘Really Free’ and I don’t suppose I took any real notice of it until Otway’s fans fixed the big public vote by the BBC for the greatest lyrics of the Twentieth Century, lifting this piece of gleeful nonsense to the giddy heights of number 7. Honestly, can you believe it? It’s not the sort of song this compilation was meant for, but it’s there and I won’t take it off. It’s still a 70s song, after all. It’s what I ‘grew up’ to like.