Lost 70s: Volume 19

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

Cracking Up            Nick Lowe

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

Baby Blue              Badfinger

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

Lido Shuffle           Boz Scaggs

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

Groupie Girl                  Tony Joe White

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

Elizabethan Reggae         Boris Gardiner

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

The Man Who Sold The World                  Lulu

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

Spinnin’ and Spinnin’            Syreeta

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

Don’t Touch Me There           The Tubes

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

Motor-Bikin’          Chris Spedding

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

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

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

Kinnell Tommy             Ed Banger

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

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do             Neil Sedaka

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

Shoes                 Reparata

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

Quit this Town            Eddie and The Hot Rods

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

Yes I Understand           The Flying Machine

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

Magic Man             Heart

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

White Lies, Blue Eyes         Silver Bullit

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

If you can’t give me love            Suzi Quatro

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

The Six Teens         The Sweet

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

I don’t need to tell her               The Lurkers

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

Language School               The Tours

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

Map Reference 41°N 93°W            Wire

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

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

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

Lost 70s Volume 18

It’s been almost a year since my last Lost 70s compilation, an elapse created in equal shares by the slowing down of discovery of appropriate tracks and a fault developing in my laptop’s CD burner, forcing me to improvise with an older laptop. There’s 22 tracks again, arranged once more in chronological order, nine of which were top 30 hits or better. And after my stating that there would no longer being any token punk/new wave tracks, I’ve managed to find a very long tail from that particular era after all. Read and enjoy: Volume 19 will be here almost before you know it.

Bordeaux Rose                           Fairfield Parlour

As I have mentioned before, more than once, I only started to listen to ‘pop music’ on 22 December 1969. This is not, however, another reference to learning about Sixties music from Radio 1’s Golden Oldies policy in the Seventies but rather that my learning curve covered the changeover to that later decade, which was the most self-conscious of decade changes I remember in my life.
I was a pop music novice, lacking not only knowledge but taste and appreciation. I had to learn ‘on the job’, so to speak, what was good and bad, and a lot of my early favourites, including one top 10 single I never speak of, were musically moronic.
Not all of them were, however. Fairfield Parlour’s ‘Bordeaux Rose’ was an early favourite, with its distinctively English vocals, it’s crisp production and the contrast between its whimsical verses and its compelling chorus. I’d never heard of them before, and certainly wasn’t aware until the 2000s that they had already had a decent career for a few years under the name of Kaleidoscope.
The name had been changed, ‘Bordeaux Rose’ was popular among the Radio 1 DJs, and I believe that, despite the single never breaching the Top 50, they appeared on Top of the Pops, though of course the tape was wiped (oh for a Beat Club producer). But in the first of many, many such records, I’d put my nascent musical love into something the Great British Record Buying Public would reject. And they rejected it again on reissue in 1976, when Radio 1 didn’t back it, but at least I finally got the chance to buy the single.
And by the time of the reissue, I’d finally learned what the hell Bordeaux Rose was: at the age of 14 I was not knowledgeable as to the ways of the grape and the grain.
So that’s ‘Bordeaux Rose’s significance. It was the first musical loser I backed, the first time I set my developing tastes against those of everybody else and found out I was on my own. It was to be a place I grew to know well, but then listening to what the public wanted to hear in the Seventies, I would rather be with me than them.

No no, you don’t know                         Bennett and Evans

Speaking of the musically moronic, this antiquated piece of middle of the road pop also dates from that learning year of 1970, not that you can set it against Fairfield Parlour and have anyone believe they came out at the same time. It’s here as an example of the kind of very simple pop that appealed to me, and because it stuck oddly in my memory from the one and only time I heard it. Radio 1 had a late afternoon/early evening record review programme, and this was reviewed one night, with a rather amusing piece of record company promotion preceding it. I never heard it, or of Bennet and Evans again, but they lodged in my memory, and only a short time ago, I discovered the song was available on YouTube. That’s enough of a synchronicity for me, frankly.

Goin’ to the Zoo                       Julie Felix

And if we’re going to go through some of my most formative (and embarrassing) musical experiences, we might as well have this. Julie Felix was an American lady, a folk singer who was pursuing her career in Britain. She was dark-haired, slim and suited short skirts, which you pretty much had to do in the late Sixties, unless you were Judith Durham (who did suit short skirts but didn’t believe it) and she had her own BBC2 show, clips from which you can still find.
Felix did have two minor UK hits, a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘El Condor Paso’, which gave her her highest placing at no 19, and a Top Thirty placing for it’s follow up, ‘Heaven is Here’. But everyone of my generation will probably remember her for this silly kiddie song, a Junior Choice favourite, that I’d forgotten for decades but which remains fixed inside my head.
It probably doesn’t do her justice, but it’s her legacy for me.

All the Way from Memphis                      Mott the Hoople

Ah, some real rock!
In all the years since 1972, I still don’t think I’ve ever heard anything by Mott the Hoople from before David Bowie gifted them ‘All the Young Dudes’. The single’s success thrilled the heart of a schoolmate who was already heavily into the band, but it was this In Hunter-penned, storming little rocker that got me on board the following year.
‘All the way from Memphis’ started in true rock’n’roll style, with a pounded piano riff into the beat, before Hunter and the rest of the band joined in for a first, lip-curling verse that bears the shade of Elvis.
And then it puts on the burners and screams into that zinger chorus that tries to bind within it the history of rock and if it fails, it’s only by a whisker, but there’s honking saxes, and the most vibrant energy of any Mott the Hoople track I ever heard, and in the end the band sinks into a series of repeats of that chorus because it’s so compelling you don’t want to hear its energy diffused.
‘All the way from Memphis’ was the third of four follow up hit singles, only two of which reached the top 10. Staggeringly, this one peaked at no 10 when it should have been threatening the top slot, so much of a rush it is, which just goes to show that when it came to me and the rest of you, I was very clearly right. In forty-six years, this track hasn’t lost an ounce of energy. And it’s a mighty long way down rock’n’roll…

Robert’s Box                  Procol Harum

After the big success of ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’, and its tedious follow-up, ‘Homburg’, Procol Harum didn’t do all that much in terms of singles. No doubt they weren’t phased: after all, in the early Seventies, a lot of bands were album bands, arguing that how could you say anything worth saying in less than a side of an album?
No doubt Procol Harum felt that way, but it didn’t stop them releasing singles every now and then. There was the orchestrated ‘Conquistador’, with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, that got them into the top 30, and which was tons better than the original, and the almost poppy ‘Pandora’s Box’ that got them into the top 20, and on Top of the Pops for the last time in 1975.
In between, if Procol did release singles, they didn’t get played on Radio 1, or Piccadilly Radio, when they arrived in 1974. ‘Robert’s Box’, a title that seems to have no relation to the lyrics in the way that Keith Reid’s lyrics have no relation to comprehensibility, was the only exception I remember, a 1973 single with more of a blues underpinning than most Procol tracks then or since, that scraped a handful of plays and sold nothing.
Listening to it again, after all this time, it fits perfectly into that spectrum of early to mid-Seventies singles by progressive or underground bands in which a potentially commercial or melodic single is given a jerky, unsettled arrangement in order to disguise that it has pop elements to it. It wouldn’t have taken much for Procol to have turned this into something that would have demanded more airtime and with that maybe another hit, but that would have embarrassed them among their contemporaries and suggested they were shallow, so we got this disjointed affair that isn’t quite clunky enough to conceal its potential.
You had to be there, and when you were, you mostly approved of it.

This Flight Tonight                   Nazareth

Slade are usually referred to as being part of Glam Rock although their music always sounded too hard and too raucous for that category, and despite Dave Hill clowning around, they lacked that effeminate edge. They were screaming pop on the edge of hard rock and they were bloody effective.
Nobody in glam was quite like Slade: by the time The Sweet went heavy they were too tainted to ever be truly believed. But the Wolverhampton wonders did have a couple of junior league aspirers whose music worked the same side of the same street. Geordie were the Newcastle-based version, and Nazareth the Scottish ones.
Nazareth had more of an edge to them, granted by singer Dan McCafferty’s voice. After a couple of raucous, heavy-edged hits, kick-started by the juicily stomping ‘Broken-Down Angel’, the band’s third effort was a controversial cover of a Joni Mitchell song. I say cover, it was a wholesale translation of the drifty acoustic track into a sheet of sliding and oozing rock.
But though ‘This Flight Tonight’ could be nothing like any version of the song Ms Mitchell could have imagined, it’s not as heavy as you think. The song is taken at a controlled and measured tempo, a chugging rhythm to which the guitar is decoration rather than structure, it’s solo is played backwards, and this is maintained throughout the song except for a few brief seconds when the rhythm breaks and the band sound as if they’re about to break, and then back again, sliding into their almost hypnotic groove. For a band with a hard rock image, this version is almpsr a foreshadowing of the bass rhythms of dance music.
McCafferty makes the chorus into a near eldritch croon, summoning ‘Star light, star bright’ as in the old wishing rhyme, celebrating that (she’s) got the loving that he likes, wishing to turn the bird around, and ruing that he got on this flight tonight.
The song ends without resolution, the band in flight, away from where they want to be. Nazareth never hit that kind of peak again, and they were never again so subtle.

Midnight at the Oasis                          Maria Muldaur

Increasingly, tracks on these compilations are appearing as exercises in nostalgia and nothing else. ‘Midnight at the Oasis’ was one of those tracks, floaty and jazzy, that Radio 1 fell upon like Dracula on a particularly creamy neck, and played to death. I hated it, but it sounded to me as a record that would be as massive here as it had already been in America. It wasn’t, and Maria Muldaur never troubled our airwaves again, much to my relief.
Nowadays, I find it bearable, and a reminder of times that were otherwise and, despite my despair in living through them – I was depressed the whole year in which this appeared – seem like better times when compared to now. I’ve changed, my palate is broader than it was, and these days, I can even make friends with a cactus if I need to.

Almost Killed a Man                        Philip Goodhand-Tait

I’ve been waiting a very long time and a lot of these compilations to be able to include this track. Philip Goodhand-Tait first made his mark as a professional songwriter who wrote both of the Love Affair’s last two top 10 hits, two fine orchestral pop songs that I love, but who went on to record his own music.
I remember Noel Edmonds taking up one particular album of his, from which three singles were taken. I’ve managed to include two of these in previous compilations, but the middle one, ‘Almost Killed a Man’, the slow, contemplative, middle track of the three, has long been accessible only in my memory.
Now I can hear it again, I’m less enamoured of it than before, but I still like it enough to want to have it in this series for more than just the memory. The song’s arrangement is just a little too cluttered for my liking in 2019, but its message of heartbreak is still one that resonates. There are very few happy love songs that have infiltrated my life: I incline to the melancholic, as does this song. It still fills that corner of my soul the way it did a lifetime ago.

Ire Feelings (Skanga)                     Rupie Edwards

The early Seventies was a great period for reggae singles. Jamaican artist after Jamaican artist would chart with bright, bouncy singles that used to be thoroughly despised by my contemporaries at Grammar School, with one exception who was a prototype Rude Boy. Very few of them scored a second hit, mind you, and only Desmond Dekker scored a third or more.
But by 1974, the run seemed to be over. Maybe reggae was just too sunny and poppy for the times, or maybe this was reggae mutating into another of its manifold forms.
By the time Rupie Edwards got into the top 10 with ‘Ire Feelings (Skanga)’, an echo laden, deep sound that bordered so much on dub that dispensed with passport controls, we were a world away from the reggae I’d come to know. It used voice and abstract sound, with echo and depth, and a slower pace than the reggae of Bruce Ruffin or Nicky Thomas, and Radio 1 hated it and didn’t play it even when it reached the top 10. I remember Edwards complaining about that, pointing out that the audience wanted to hear it because they were buying it.
I listen to it now and it still sounds like it’s completely outside time and place. It would be a long time and it would be John Peel before I heard anything like this again. I can tell why his fellow DJs didn’t want it cluttering up their nice, shiny, supermarket promoting programmes, but it wouldn’t half have done them good if they’d bitten the bullet.

The Spirit is Willing                           The Hands of Doctor Teleny ftg Peter Straker

Assemble some wah-wah funk guitar, then being described as ‘Shaft’ type guitar, an orchestral rip-off of Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, Freddie Mercury’s future partner and professional songwriters Ken Howard and Alan Blakely, without whom the chart career of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich would have been non-existent (for which, one day, they may be forgiven, if not by me), and what have you got?
Most people, on reading the above, would anticipate an horrendous mess. A lot of people, who were around in 1972, when this quasi-instrumental provided Radio DJs with another cue to talk over it, would say that that’s exactly what it was. It still got to no 40, albeit in an era of Top 30s.
This truly is a Lost record. It had gone so deep into the black hole of my memories that only the chance spotting of the Doctor Teleny name on a YouTube sidebar a month or so back. Even then, I didn’t have the slightest recollection of what the record sounded like, and playing it awoke only the very faintest recognition.
Yes, it is an horrendous mess, and it’s a pretentious one too. But after nearly fifty years in which I had forgotten its entire existence – unlike Bennett & Evans – it takes its place as a reminder of the times in which I lived. The Lost 70s series started off being a collection of the obscure and overlooked. Now it’s a memory sink, a private nostalgia trip.

Simone                        England Dan and John Ford Coley

Back in the mid-Seventies, a mate and I constructed what would now be called a Shared Universe, based on the concept of a fictitious record company with fictional bands and singers, albums and singles, successes and failures. It was good fun for a few years, and served the purpose of keeping us from meeting girls (not that I needed any artificial aids for that!)
When I think back to the mid-Seventies, and in particular that last couple of years before Punk broke and changed my musical landscape, I remember a ‘press release’ I wrote in 1976, that began by quoting Eric Clapton’s ‘Let it Grow’ (of which I was happily impressed). Standing at the crossroads, trying to read the signs. I was not known for having my finger on the pulse of anything, but by 1976, I was conscious of the feeling that something needed to happen. Things felt and sounded stale. Music had shifted towards the laidback, adult MOR of West Coast ‘rock’, perfectly produced, by musically talented people, and completely sterile.
England Dan and John Ford Coley broke into the UK chart once only, with a song I featured on an earlier Volume. ‘Simone’ was a track they’d recorded and release prior to their ‘hit’. It’s smooth and straightforward, completely lacking in anything that could be described as an edge. I like the slightly awkward melody, but it’s heavily overproduced and there’s no room to breathe. If this had been the musical future, I genuinely believe I would have suffocated. Thank heaven for Malcolm McLaren!

Ebony Eyes                          Bob Welch

And this is more of the same, except with a bit more edge to it. Welsh was one of those members of the interim Fleetwood Mac, the Mac of that underconsidered period between the Peter Green band and the Buckingham/Nicks monsters. Welch was either the first, or one of the first American members the band had, and I remember an interview with him some years alter where he was half philosophical, half bitter about how he could have been Lynsey Buckingham if he’d only had the chance.
How likely that may have been would require me to listen extensively to this version of the Mac, which I’m not about to do. Welch’s ‘Ebony Eyes’ single, in 1976, has to stand for all the evidence, and on that basis it’s an arguable case. ‘Ebony Eyes’ is another of those mid-decade records made in that stasis period when things that were going to happen were waiting for their cue. It’s a bit more steely than ‘Simone’, it uses its drums more forcefully, and it has the advantage of a stronger chorus, which suggests that whatever else Welch brought to Fleetwood Mac, he took some of their virtues away with him.
Ultimately, though, enjoyable as this song is, Welch doesn’t quite have the voice to be a real lead singer. But he leaves an excellent one-off legacy.

Bide Awhile                              Thomas Yates

We’re going seriously off-piste with this choice. Hitherto, the Lost 70s series has dealt with the greater part of my musical enthusiasms, the pop and rock stuff heard most often on the radio or in the albums and singles I bought. But that isn’t all of the story.
Early in 1975, my mate with whom I’d shared the fictional record company brought round the first live album recording Mike Harding’s act. We fell about laughing. Not long after, we discovered he was playing a local folk club, and a bunch of us turned up blithely confident of a great evening, only to find it sold out.
Nothing lost, we got to see him not too long after at the Deanwater, an isolated hotel cum pub in Woodford, outside Wilmslow, which ran a Sunday evening folk club. Harding was great, but we liked the atmosphere, the club organiser had an interesting choice of mainly contemporary folk artists, and we became Sunday night regulars until the organiser moved away and the club closed, over eighteen months later.
The Folk Clubs, for we didn’t just restrict ourselves to the Deanwater, were a world away from the music I listened to six and a half days a week. It was live music, acoustic, natural, varied in style and scope. Some nights were better than others: what possessed me to turn up in a three-piece suit the night they has The Watersons – excellent musically but too many wassails – is lost to posterity.
One of the things Mike Harding used to sing, that wasn’t his own composition, was this friendly, contemplative Tom Yates song. It’s about an evening out, in amiable company, down the pub, in a relaxed, cheerful mode, wrapping yourself in friendly company, and it became a favourite of mine, almost as much as the Hunter Muskett song ‘Silver coin’, which I adored.
Times changed. Punk happened. I completed my courses but couldn’t get Articles. The crew started to drift apart. In the summer of 1977, I discovered Yates was playing a pub between Withington and West Didsbury. I didn’t have much money but could afford to go on my own, with the bus. He was scornful and sneering towards punk, claiming that music never came from the streets, but only from the bars. I found that disappointing, but he was preaching to an audience of the converted so I kept schtum. At least he played ‘Bide a while’.
It was all a very long time ago, a pocket universe that had no real or lasting bearing on my musical history, except that it happened, among friendly company. None of whom I have spoken to in nearly forty years.

Complainte pour Ste Catherine                       Kate & Anna McGarrigle

This is not a Lost track in the sense of others on this compilation, that disappeared in memory and which have only just been recalled. The McGarrigle sisters impressed themselves upon my consciousness in the drought summer of 1976 with this jaunty French-language ditty, the words to which I have never understood in over forty years, and I have been familiar with this song ever since.
It’s lost in the sense that this is another of that seemingly endless list of Seventies singles over which I and the Great British Record Buying Public differed, over which I and the Radio 1 daytime DJs differed, because I would have had this played on the hour, every hour, and because it was this little wierdity with the foreign language, because it was homespun and charmingly amateurish, and because it was good but good beyond their limited parameters of what made a sound for the radio, they sidelined it. My God, I can hear an accordion on it! Quick, play the Starland Vocal Band again, so I can make an off-colour remark about shagging in the afternoon.
Nor were the ladies glamorous or sexily dressed, not like the blonde in the Starland Vocal Band. Kate was married to Loudon Wainwright III, she and Anna were both mothers, they looked and sounded like it. They were real people.
In the summer of 1976, music was in need of a direction. The Sex Pistols provided that for some of us, something to follow and something to violently reject. If not for Malcolm McLaren, some of us may have followed this oddball record in another direction. But Kate and Anna weren’t about trends or influences. They were that rare and wonderful thing: themselves entirely.
And St Catherine’s Lament was and still is a gem that takes me back to that long hot summer whenever I play it.

The Devil Went Down To Georgia                    The Charlie Daniels Band

Despite being absolutely mammoth with British audiences, Garth Brooks has never had a UK hit single, for which I am profoundly grateful. Pure American country music, with or without the western, rarely raises its head over here. Shania Twain’s probably the most successful country artist, but you wouldn’t call her music all that country, would you?
I did develop a sort of partial, and sideways enjoyment of country music, though it took me until the Nineties to do so, and I was heavily influenced by Shawn Colvin in doing so. But what I enjoyed was almost inevitably sung by female country singers – Nanci Griffiths, Susie Bogguss, Mary-Chapin Carpenter – not the boys. There is something about the male country singing voice that grates in my ears.
So what’s the Charlie Daniels Band doing here? And what were they doing in the Top Twenty in 1978? Especially with so down home a country track, without any rock elements, as this tale of a fiddle duel between the Devil and a country boy called Johnny? I don’t know, any more than I did forty years ago, but the song, its complete self-confidence and its undeniable brio makes it that good ol’ boy that defies borders and boundaries. I was into it then, and I’m into it now, for its energy and it’s refusal to compromise what it sees as the best kind of music around.
And when I hear it, I flash back to the road between Manchester and Nottingham, and a section of it between Matlock Bath and Ambergate, which I travelled regularly in those years I lived in the East Midlands, and many times after, and an occasion when ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’ came on the car radio along that stretch and impressed itself into my memories so that whenever I hear it I’m on that road, like any good ol’ country boy travelling between the only two cities I’ve ever had cause to call home. Fire on the Mountain, run boys run, indeed.

Do Anything you Wanna Do                         The Rods

Nowadays, people tend to credit this vigorous single to Eddie and The Hot Roads, a Manchester punk quartet. After all, it was the band’s regular name, before and after. But ‘Do Anything You Wanna Do’, with its ringing guitars, its vigorous surge and its pure and wonderful chorus was so unlike the band’s usual style that, for this release, they renamed themselves The Rods.
And the song got the airplay it deserved, the single hit the charts and the band played Top of the Pops, which was not an outcome anyone would have predicted in 1976.
People tend to credit the sound as powerpop, an existing musical term that got bandied about a lot in 1978, as plasticene bands tried to marry the energy of punk to the utter triviality of pop (Tonight, I’m looking at you, or I would be if anyone remembered you). But if The Rods were powerpop, they were the real thing, the mixing of energy with the classic elements of pop, and they were a breakthrough with quality, of the only kind that matters, from the inside not the outside. ‘Do Anything You Wanna Do’ graced the airwaves, made the playlist fun for once, and opened up the door for the harder core of punk to be taken a bit more seriously.
It’s also a bloody great record that hasn’t dated more than a minute since then.

Spanish Stroll                           Mink de Ville

Like Maria Muldaur, Mink de Ville, a band built around the talents of Willy de Ville, was going to be big. They appeared out of nowhere with ‘Spanish Stroll’, a song that was neither punk nor the as yet unformed new Wave, but which was clearly a close cousin, on more than kissing terms.
The single was a rolling, crackling account of an evening walk, down the boardwalk, observing the characters out there, girl singers adding gorgeous ooh-wah-oohs to Willy’s half-talking tales of who he saw, the whole thing taken at strolling space. It was going to be massive, and for once I agreed with everybody. And, unlike Maria Muldaur, I would have welcomed that.
But the song peaked at no 20, the follow-up flopped, and Mink de Ville never even breathed success again. Willy fell prey to drugs issues and died young, his talent unfulfilled. I’d forgotten ‘Spanish Stroll’ for many years. It still should have been bigger.

Ready Steady Go                          Generation X

Now, let’s be honest about Generation X. Any band that spawns the solo career of Billy Idol and Sigue Sigue Sputnik should be condemned to some cold and lifeless corner of the Universe which the light from this planet will not reach until long after this galaxy has succumbed to the inevitable encroachment of entropy.
The vigour and near-sincerity of this paean to the Sixties’ most exciting pop programme convinces me to allow them one oxygen canister on which to survive. Between them.

Outdoor Miner                            Wire

When it came to categories, there was Punk, New Wave, Post Punk, and Wire. Wire were weird. They were odd. They were unconventional. They were even unconventional in their unconventionality. They rejected verses and choruses and conventional rock time-signatures.
But every now and then, in a short series of commercially overlooked but strangely fascinating singles, they would play with regular structure and actual choruses, as in ‘Dot Dash’, a single sung on Morse Code (my Dad, an ex-Navy man, would have been able to tell me if it spelt out something, if he’d lived that long).
‘Outdoor Miner’, a song inspired by the name of a butterfly, known as a Serpentine Miner, and name-checked in the middle of the song, went even further towards orthodoxy. Unsurprisingly, it was the only Wire single to get real airplay anywhere except on John Peel’s Show, and the only one to show in the charts, getting as high as no 54.
It’s a song of chugging rhythm, obscure lyrics and an impenetrable sound, but there are some background vocals that would do justice to classic singles, and a minor key chorus that inserts itself into your senses the way the titular miner is digging underground, not to mention a tinkling piano break that could have come from Russ Conway but which drops into place like a round peg into a round hole. And you could produce it as a brand new track now, and no-one would know the difference.

Airport                           The Motors

A hit single! A genuine, full-scale, piano and synthesizer pop song with a 24 carat chorus and a fresh and wide sound. And recorded by a band who, at any time before or after this song, you would have described as borderline punk with a degree of slightly lumpen pub-rock to their DNA.
‘Airport’ was even more out of the way of The Motors’ usual fare than ‘Do anything you wanna do’ was of Eddie and the Hot Rods. It was pure commercial pop, gifted with a vigorous beat that pure commercial pop had spent a long time forgetting since the Sixties, but which The Motors reinserted like a rectal thermometer and with pretty much the same response. The nation’s eyes (and ears) sprang open, the band dressed in flight uniforms for Top of the Pops but the song was so immediately cool and good that the cheesiness was overlooked.
And like all the best pop, the upbeat breeziness of the music was a cover for the melancholic lyrics: airport, you took the one I love so far away. To which the only retort can be that if you’d played her the song before she bought her flight ticket, she’d have danced straight back to you.

Warm Leatherette                         The Normal

That this band called themselves The Normal is one of the greatest arguments against Nominative Determination ever. This is not a normal songs. Musically, it’s ahead of its time, built upon machine-like synthesizer sounds that wouldn’t start to become a regular part of pop until the Eighties, and mechanical vocals that have learned their craft from Kraftwerk.
But the fact that The Normal are singing about warm leatherette conveys a sense of perversion that some people don’t want to get too close to. I lost all memory of this song for over forty years, until it thrust itself before my attention on YouTube not long ago, just in time to make this compilation. Its downhome, DIY seediness still has a compelling effect.

Oh Bondage, Up Yours!                     X-Ray Spex

And then there was X-Ray Spex. X-Ray Spex, fronted by the shrill-voiced Poly Styrene, show just how broad a church punk could be. I mean, you listen to this energetic, almost rabid little honker, with Poly’s shriek of defiance and the honking sax, and it doesn’t sound like anyone else on Earth, or anything else of Earth for that matter, but it’s the defiance and anger and rejection of punk wrapped up into three minutes of whatever the hell it is. Some people, Poly says, over the silent introduction, that little girls should be seen and not heard (which they still did). But I say, she goes on, sounding reasonable until the last moment, Oh Bondage! Up Yours!
Only Tory MPs would dare to disagree with her at that point.