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 Volume 16


Hello again. Volume 16 of my first personal compilation series has been in CD format for a few months already without my providing a commentary/ reminiscence upon it, but the time has come at last. This compilation feels a little more tendentious than usual, with no less than five of its 23 tracks being ones that I suspect I never heard at the time. As is now almost traditional, there are five songs that were actual hits, three of then top ten successes, though I would still class them as ‘lost’, their time overlooked, their influence negligible. One of them I couldn’t stand at the time. Join me as once again I dip my tow in that most lost of decades.

Apache Drop-out      The Edgar Broughton Band

1970 was the year I started listening to Radio 1. Back then, the nation’s premier pop channel was still heavily restricted in air-time, and even more so in needle-time. Radio 1 only had independent existence between 7.00 – 9.00am, 12.00 – 2.00pm, 4.15 – 7.00pm. The rest of the time, it merged with Radio Two, broadcasting their programmes simultaneously. Things only marginally improved when the new Sounds of the Seventies strand was detached from the end of the day’s programming and expanded to two hours, 10.00pm – 12.00, to avoid contaminating the rest of the airwaves. Probably I could have heard this single, a near Top 30 success from a band of open Anarchists and Satanists (their other near-miss was with ‘Out Demons Out’), on Sounds of the Seventies, but I was still at the point where I liked Herman’s Hermits’ last top 10 hit (thankfully, I grew out of that within a year) so there was a bit of cultural dissonance in the way. Instead, with the year collapsing in the first of the early Seventies’ Miners’ Strikes, and powercuts, we would gather round a candle in the breakfast room, my battery-powered transistor radio the only source of entertainment, though my mother would have begged to doubt that. Crackling, popping, hissing, fading in and out, I discovered Radio Luxembourg, Fabulous 208. I first heard Lindisfarne, ‘Clear White Light (Part 2)’ gliding in and out of the static through them. I also heard ‘Apache Dropout’, a raucous, raw, croaky thumper of a rock song, punctuated by bright, sparkling, shiny intrusions of the riff from The Shadows’ ‘Apache’, picked out with contrasting clarity that bore no relation to the rest of the song, for whatever purpose it was chosen. It’s too late to question now, and my ears have finally learned to cope with the Broughtons being the Broughtons, but those almost hallucinatory moments of salute (?) to Hank Marvin are still as pellucid as ever and I cannot hear them without imagining that huddle round the table, just the three of us, where so recently there had been four.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCRCwBwXG7Y

Rainy Day       Susan Christie

At the beginning of the Seventies, Susan Christie seemed ready to make it. On the evidence of this single, she had the voice to do so. If I ever did hear it then, it was not enough times for it to register with me, and I probably lacked the sophistication to have appreciated it then. But it didn’t happen for her, then or since. A sweet, sad song, the fact that I didn’t discover it for over forty years should not, I think, disqualify it from exclusion. It was from the Seventies. It, and Ms Christie, were lost. One for what should, in a better musical universe, have been a memory.

Sweet Inspiration           Johnny Johnson and The Bandwagon

This, on the other hand, was not lost, but rather was the first of the top ten hits in this volume. The Bandwagon had had a rollicking hit in early 1969 with a Northern Soul charger, ‘Breaking down the Walls of Heartache’, not that I was then aware of such a thing. By the time of this late 1970 follow-up, singer Johnny Johnson had taken the Motown step of promoting his name before that of the band, though this, I am led to believe, was due to the fact that, by this point, the Bandwagon was whatever collection of session musicians and live players Mr Johnson chose to muster around him. Not having really attuned to soul – though I was well into Jimmy Ruffin that first year, thanks to three consecutive hit reissues, and generally well-disposed towards most of the Motown I heard – I hated this record at the time, but thoroughly enjoyed Mr J’s third and last hit, ‘Blame it on the Pony Express’, in 1971. Now, my opinions are reversed. Johnny’s singing, though still carrying the ragged edge of the soul/blues shouter, is smoother here, more restrained, in this tribute to a woman who, though not offering him the love he seeks, nevertheless inspires him to making music. It’s a combination he wants to change, but for the moment he’ll take what he has. And if gaining means losing, well, you know he’ll live with it. Some prizes mean more than others.

Stone Cross         Springwater

Springwater, as those who care about such things already know, was one of a number of pseudonyms for the late Sheffield-born singer/musician/songwriter, Phil Cordell, one of those quirky talents for whom the music business, or maybe even the Universe, ought to be rewritten to ensure them the prominence they deserve. Springwater gave Cordell his only commercial success, with ‘I Will Return’ (elsewhere in this series), a hazy, dreamy instrumental, self-recorded for £25 (which included the reel-to-reel tape recorder) in a Sheffield flat, which went top 10 in the late summer of 1971. It led to an album of instrumentals, from which a rather more guitar-driven version of ‘Jerusalem’ (also elsewhere in this series) as an unsuccessful single that caught my ear in 1972 and has stayed a favourite ever since. In the 2000’s, I used Auction Sniper for the only time ever to snaffle the CD version of the album off eBay, enabling me to do a digital rip of ‘Jerusalem’ and its awesome b-side, ‘Amazing Grace’. There was nothing else on the album sufficiently distinctive for me then, so I sold it, for a profit. But in the years since, I’ve heard more of Cordell (his single, ‘Red Lady’ is justifiably highly-rated) and become more impressed. ‘Stone Cross’ was ‘I Will Return’s b-side and, as such, stretches the increasingly elastic definitions for Lost 70s near to breaking point, but at times it feels like I’m compiling albums from an alternate universe where things were better than ours (no Osmonds, no David Cassidy, no Gary Glitter: that’s my idea of a Lost 70s). Call it Earth-2, if you like.

Just an Old-Fashioned Lovesong    Paul Williams

Another obscure memory delivered to me by the brilliant Marmalade Rainbow website, which sadly has not been updated for years). Their entry put me in a quandary: as well as the original by composer Williams, they reminded me of the successful (in America) cover by Three Dog Night, which was sufficiently close in arrangement, and vocal texture, as to defeat my attempt to recall which version I most recalled. Certainly I heard both in that amazing summer of 1971 – yes, that year again – when it seems Radio 1 must have played more wonderful but unsuccessful curiosities than in the whole of the rest of the Seventies put together. ‘Just an Old-Fashioned Love Song’ obeys its own rules, a fragile voice over a back slowly gathering in strength, an oddly compulsive hook that ultimately chose to eschew the Carpenters-like sweetness that might have brought sales but which would have condemned the song to being ordinary. Either way, it’s long forgotten now, except in the minds of those of us wondering just what the hell was in the water that year, but it arrives here because it took the artistically more daring choice.

Caroline Goodbye      Colin Blunstone

And speaking of 1971… ‘Caroline Goodbye’ was criminally underplayed. It marked the reappearance of Colin Blunstone after the disintegration of the Zombies, after the Neil McArthur episode. It was the lead single off the One Year album, a cycle of songs about Blunstone’s recent life, and told of the breakdown of his relationship with the shortly to be massively-in-demand model, Caroline Munro. This brought down condemnation of his temerity from Dan Hamilton of Hamilton, Joe Franks & Reynolds (whose ‘Don’t pull your love’ single, previously featured in this series, shortly followed ‘Caroline Goodbye’) who was Munro’s new bloke and who seemed to think that only he was now entitled to write about her. Well, he didn’t come up with anything that had the quiet beauty and dignity of this song. Over a plain, strummed acoustic guitar intro (talked over to its last chord) Blunstone’s high, breathy voice entered, wistfully acknowledging the fact of Munro’s increasing public profile and success, before lamenting his own blindness to the end of things between them. A drum and piano provide sturdy backing as he deals with his loss with austere regret: No use pretending, I’ve known for a long time your love was ending. Caroline Goodbye. The British stiff upper lip in loss of someone you still love, made musical heaven for being so free of (apparent) pain. But listen to Blunstone’s voice, not his words. That torch was far from being extinguished. Even I could hear it. But not the Great British Record Buying Public.

Gonna Miss Her, Mississippi      White Plains

What’s the year again? 1971? I would never have guessed. This was another flop. White Plains, who’d begun as one of the many Tony Burrows vehicles in early 1970, had originally been The Flowerpot Men and later mutated into First Class (see below). Their personnel and their musical style was constantly changing. In 1971, they scored a top 20hit with the curiously sophisticated ‘When you are a King’, climbing to no 13. ‘Gonna Miss Her, Mississippi’ took the same approach but didn’t get any backing from Radio 1, so that was the end of that vein: the band’s fifth and final top 30 single was a remake of a TV Butlins’ commercial soundtrack, in a wildly different vein. Not too much blood in this vein, but I still like the effort.

Sit Yourself Down      Stephen Stills

Guess the year. Go on. Yes, you’re right. ‘Sit yourself down’, a downtempo song, rich in sound, with a yearning chorus, was the follow-up to Stills’ almost-hit, ‘Love the one you’re with’. Less immediate in its appeal, I’m not sure it isn’t the better of the two, though I lost it in my head for a very long time, only to recognise it in an instant when it appear d on a YouTube sidebar. Lyrically, its the complete opposite: Stills is alone and needs love and a fellow-heart, not sex whilst he’s out of town on his old lady. It’s an older, braver song, with a gospel tinge to its compelling chorus, which the choir, not Steve sings, and a contemplative heart that looks outwards to the future. There are no roses in fisted gloves here, though there is a debatable bit of companionship with an otherwise unmentioned raven, but by then you’re grooving quietly and hoping for the song not to end.

The Free Electric Band      Albert Hammond

The next batch of songs come from 1973, starting with this vigorous shout out to music, free love and living from Albert Hammond that gave him his only UK hit, a single top 20 week. He’s still better known for the previous year’s ‘It never rains in Southern California’ which got airplay but no sales. At this distance, and given that commitment and fidelity has always been the underpinning of relationships for me, not to mention the knowledge that Hammond was a commercial songwriter jointly responsible for the majority of the songs in the ‘Oliver in the Underworld’ serial in Freddie Garrity’s Little Big Time on children’s ITV in 1970, I have my doubts about this song. Over strident acoustic guitar and a smattering of synthesizer, Hammond bellows out a raucous song with a jerky melody about rebelling against bourgeois American parents and their attempts to pigeonhole him in safe, conventional careers, when all he wants is bread, water and the free electric band. So far I’m with him, in theory if not in practice, but when he gets onto the girl from Berkeley that he’s shagging without ever getting into her head, and leaving her the moment he realises she wants something so square as a home and a life with him, my appreciation of the free spirit takes a turn down a different road. The song’s still got a joyous bounce to it that I appreciate both in memory as well as today and, yeah, it should have done better. You poor, benighted fools.

Afterglow      Flo & Eddie

‘Afterglow’ the original is one of my favourite Small Faces songs but I heard it first here in this 1973 cover by Flo & Eddie (aka The Phlorescent Leech & Eddia, aka Howard Kaylan and MarkVolman of The Turtles, whose work I love). It didn’t get much airplay, I never had the chance to record it until it swam out of the YouTube depths this year, and it doesn’t do too much radical to the original other than transplant Flo & Eddie’s falsetto register vocals in for Steve Marriott’s white-boy’s blues voice, but it introduced me to a song that I still burst to sing along to, anthemically. Thanks, guys!

Skywriter      The Jackson Five

I never liked The Jackson Five. By now, you ought to know that I believe any such general statement comes with the automatic caveat ‘except for the ones I do like’. I’ll happily admit that their fourth single, ‘I’ll Be There’, is a glorious, early exception to that rule. But the Jackson Five I was first introduced to was that of those first three, virtually identikit singles, starting with ‘I want you Back’. Let other argue their merits, in a year of Motown re-releases almost all of which I liked to one degree or another, these were a noisy, shapeless intrusion beyond my comprehension, and bearable today only through the mesh of nostalgia. ‘Skywriter’, which came out in 1972, was a minor hit that never even got to be a single in America, was a minor miracle of a strong, almost strident song, driven by a melody focussed through the clavinet – an instrument that fascinated me then and now – and phase-tinged harmonies. Michael’s solo lines were far less interesting but there was enough closely-focussed and punchy, pacey ensemble lines to put them in the minority. In the end, it’s the instrumentation and the arrangement, out of character for the band, that sold me on ‘Skywriter’. But where I liked it, the public didn’t. ‘Twas pretty much ever thus in that decade.

Hello, it’s me      Todd Rundgren

In 1972, and again in 1973, Radio 1 deservedly bust a gut trying to play ‘I Saw the Light’ past no 35 in the top 30. They didn’t make anything like the effort for this mid-tempo song about carefully establishing a difference between the singer and his girl, even though this was Rundgren’s biggest American hit by far. It’s a delicate, contemplative melody whose lyrics I have never really listened too closely too, having been seduced by the sound and Rundgren”s plangent voice. Having given myself time to look closely at these, I find myself unable to decide whether this is a song eschewing possessiveness and over-influencing the person you’re with, committing to their freedom, or whether this as cynical a case of ‘have your cake and eat it’ as ‘Love the one you’re with’. Rundgren sings that he ‘never wants to make (her) change for me’ but that’s bullshit: we change the people we become close to by being close to them, just as they change us, whether we want to or not. That’s the heart of any successful relationship. Is this the times speaking, or is it conscious bullshit? That’s for Rungren to know and us to speculate. Don’t let the beauty of the music cloud your mind whilst you decide.

Hello Hurray      Alice Cooper

We all remember ‘School’s Out’, practically the most perfect pop/rock single on 1972. I still remember ‘Alice’ and the schoolgirl at the end of the Top of the Pops performance, he in his make-up and leathers and she, in multi-layered, twee, maxi-length stuff, a world away, giggling at his mock menace, grabbing and pulling up her hair. If there was ever any suggestion that Alice Cooper meant what he stood for, or was the threat to us pop-kids the tabloids wanted to believe he was, it was dispelled then. Alice was a joke, and we were in on it. The problem was that the joke only had so much momentum, and it died from that point on. The band had five UK hits in eighteen months, each one peaking at a lower point, enjoying a shorter run, sliding away. ‘Hello Hurray’ was the middle one,an attempt at a classy sound, Spector-esque at its thinnest, at ballad pace without any balladic aspects, unless you counted the contrast to the first two, pure, raucous showpieces. It was still theatre, Alice the ringmaster coming out as host. I like it still, though it means nothing when placed against ‘School’s Out’. Alice had the depth of a puddle, but we all dived in and splashed until we were soaked.

Skylab      The Ventures

I was still picking my Single of the Week, and this was one of them. It was the modern day equivalent to The Tornados’ ‘Telstar’, though Skylab was no match for Telstar and became more famous for crashing to Earth nine years later, though thankfully not in any populated area. I never heard this more than once, and picked it more because I loved ‘Telstar’ than loved ‘Skylab’. The next time I heard it again was on YouTube this year, and I can’t believe it’s by the Ventures, or that this was the one I heard so long ago, but nobody’s uploaded a different version yet. The ones that were hardest to hear back then still deserve a place when they become easier to access.

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

Tell Me What You Want      Jimmy Ruffin

I mentioned Jimmy Ruffin above, and those three differing re-issues from 1970, reaching successively no 8, no 7 and no 6. For no apparent reason, other than that Radio 1 didn’t seem interested in playing it, his next single did nothing. In 1974, a re-issued ‘What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted’ became his most successful British hit, reaching no 4, and dragging a re-re-issued ‘Farewell is a Lonely Sound’, my first and favourite of his songs, back as far as no 30. Ruffin was no longer with Motown by this time, and tried to get back into the act with this shuffling little smoothie of a love song, that I remember as a big, top 10 hit, but that was just my imagination: in real life, it spent one week at no 39, the week after ‘Farewell is a Lonely Sound’ peaked. It’s a song on the edge of disco, with its feet firmly in a deeper kind of soul than you got from Motown, and I listen to this and think this is a guy who should have been absolutely bloody massive. Is it me? Am I the kiss of death, with my out of the way preferences? I have to wonder.

Help Me       Joni Mitchell

On the other hand, there was simply no chance of this charting. With the exception of ‘Big Yellow Taxi’, which owes its hit status to 1970 being a transitional year where nobody had any real idea what was happening in music, Joni Mitchell has never come over on pop radio over here (though I had a loving fondness for ‘Carey’), and by 1974, when she was beginning to slide into an increasing sophistication, and blurring lines with jazz, there was nothing in this song that could pin itself to British ears. Nevertheless, the new Manchester Commercial Radio Station, Piccadilly Radio, was smarter and hipper than Radio 1 by a street mile (in 1974, the year Woolworth’s record sales became part of the pool for chart returns, there were three-toed sloths in the jungle that were smarter and hipper than Radio 1). This isn’t my kind of music, too jazz, Mitchell’s vocal slidings too removed from the kind of straight singing I still favoured. But this loose, leggy song about the perils of loving someone so not good for you worked its way into my head, though I didn’t understand a note of it, and I loved its freedom.

Sundown      Gordon Lightfoot

I’ve included Gordon Lightfoot twice before in this series. He’s been a long-standing success, first as songwriter then as singer himself, in Canada and America, but has made very little impact in the UK. ‘Sundown’ was the second of only four singles to show in the top 40, and was his biggest American hit, reaching no 1. It’s perhaps the simplest of those songs of his to take a place oin my memories. Sundown is one of those women with improbable names that occur all over rock and pop and folk music, in the places where this forms meet, merge and take from one another. She’s in the great tradition of temptresses, one that Lightfoot wants to keep at arm’s length whilst simultaneously drawn to her. He signs the opening couplet to each verse alone, but the rest of the song is swamped in voices., lifting and supporting. ‘If I could read your mind’ was a song about his marriage disintegrating marriage, fuelled by infidelity on the road. ‘Sundown’ comes from the road, when you get feelin’ better when you’re feelin’ no pain. With a song like this, it’s easy to understand why.

The Show Must Go On       Three Dog Night

One of the reasons I went for Paul Williams above is that I knew I had this in my pocket. Yes, it’s that Leo Sayer that exploded on us in January 1974, with the pierrot costume and make-up and those on-the-spot movements. Absolutely loved it from the moment I first heard it, was fascinated by the movements on Top of the Pops, tried to imitate it. Loathe it now, and all his works, a change of heart that began with one nastily written and delivered line in ‘Moonlighting’. Three Dog Night had the hit in America, turning the arrangement into a more conventional form, adding the cliché of carnival music into the mix and, crucially, changing the key line from ‘Won’t let the show go on’ to ‘Must…’. Yes, in every respect, a much lesser version, and one I barely got to hear a handful of times then. I think it’s because it doesn’t strain so desperately to be ‘quirky’ that I can listen to this now.

Dreams are Ten a Penny       First Class

Whilst The Flowerpot Men more or less mutated into the original White Plains, a change of name being considered necessary, there was no similar transformation between White Plains and First Class, who were more a regathering of old singers, Tony Burrows among them. ‘Beach Baby’ was a nice, retro-sounding, bouncing pop tune that, off the sonic back of the Rubettes’ ‘Sugar Baby Love’, made the top 20 in 1974. It was Burrows’ last hit. ‘Dreams are Ten a Penny’ repeated the formula two singles later. It got no airplay. It’s another of those songs I never heard till this year. You could have swapped it with ‘Beach Baby’ and it would probably have charted at that specific time, which goes to show how much certain things have their moment, and it comes but once. The Sixties were long gone.

So Very Hard To Go      Tower of Power

I know very little of Tower of Power and have never knowingly heard anything else by them but this 1973 single, their biggest American hit. It’s a slow, torchy song, muted and smooth, with beautiful horn-lines underlining the singer’s acceptance that he’s failed his girl, and she no longer wants him, and I heard it maybe a half dozen times, enough to like it, and not enough to get bored with it, or even properly digested then. Such was the way with the non-playlisted tracks, that might be heard maybe once a week, and only if you listened all the time, non-stop would you catch it. This deserved better. We deserved better.

(I Want To See The) Bright Lights       Julie Covington

I’ve always loved this song, from first hearing the sad, deliberately downbeat Richard and Linda Thompson original. The Julie Covington cover is something I’d never heard until this year, and it’s got a good, uptempo, forcefulness to it that’s appealing to the ear, but I include it here mostly as an example of how badly Ms C misinterprets the song. She’s taking its words at face value and singing to the surface, whereas the jollity of the song is a forced jollity, shot through with an underlying exhaustion that the singer’s claims that she wants entertainment, and to play hard on her minimal time off never shakes off. The Thompsons were looking for the bright lights, Julie Covington is dancing under them, and it’s the difference between a classic and an inconsequential romp.

Five O’Clock in the Morning       Godley & Creme

I was heavily into 10cc once upon a time, and the only version of the band I still recognise is the original Creme/Godley/Gouldman/Stewart line-up. Kevin Godley and Lol Creme left the band in 1976, leaving behind their poorest album (until the next one) in order to develop their great new musical invention, the Gizmo. The Gizmo was going to revolutionise music. It was a small box that you clamped over your guitar strings at the bottom of the neck which, by pressing the relevant button, you could apply a turning wheel to your string, creating an unending note, like a bagpipes’ drones. To demonstrate the Gizmo’s potential, they wrote and recorded a triple disc concept album, with dialogue/commentary from Peter Cook, called Consequences. The album flopped, the Gizmo was never taken up by anyone else. ‘Five o’clock in the morning’ was released as a single and the duo got a Top of the Pops live appearance based solely on being Godley & Creme rather than any sign the record was selling. It should have sold. I’d forgotten how beautiful it sounded, now fresh the ‘I’m Not In Love’ style multiple harmonies still sound. If there’s any Gizmo on this track, I can’t hear it. Just a piece of gentle delight.

Baby Baby      The Vibrators

And lastly, the obligatory reminder that punk came in and saved us all before the Seventies slid under the slagheaps. At least, that’s how I saw it then, and those few years, coinciding with my first independence, living in Nottingham, learning the first elements of a much-needed self-confidence, is still the most musically energetic, enthusiastic and sheer bloody fun years of my life. The Vibrators were never a part of that: ‘Baby Baby’, slower, a bit more sophisticated, would have been and gone on Peely’s show before I had the sense to listen to it. Still, it’s nice to know there are still new songs in that time to be drawn out of the Lost ether.

Until the next one (in preparation)…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWHgcBIqdJ8

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