Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Tony 'TS' McPhee

Just as I start banging on about expanding the scope of this here place, along comes what? Yes, friends, a classic tune from the '70s! I know - but I've been playing the album from whence this comes a fair bit of late and I just could not resist sharing. As this has to come in two parts, I'll shut up and let the music do the talking.


The Hunt Pt.1 (1973)

Tony McPhee was, of course, the head fellow of fabulous psychedelic blues-rock band, The Groundhogs but this electro experimental blast comes from his solo LP, Two Sides of Tony McPhee (1973), which, back in the old days, obviously really did come on 'two sides' of vinyl but also presented two aspects McPhee's creative spirit, with a side of wonderfully primitive country blues in the style of Fred McDowell and then the madness of 'The Hunt' on Side 2. This anti-hunting piece took its place alongside The Groundhogs' 'Sad Is The Hunter', which you'll find on Hogwash (1972). Good man, Tony.


The Hunt Pt.2 (1973)

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Public Announcement

As I Please (rave on George Orwell)
I needed some kick to get started on the blog again but I'm already thinking that the '70s theme is too limiting as far as music and the message is concerned; so, if you'll excuse me, I'm opening it up to whatever takes my fancy. Hope you'll stick around.

Nina Simone - for France.

On the day of the first round of voting in the French presidential elections, here's the truly great Nina Simone with 'My Father, a song written by Judy Collins,' from her 1978 LP, Baltimore. 

The '70's were a difficult decade for Dr. Simone, with some patchy releases by her standards, but everyone of her albums always had 'something' that touched the transcendent. Baltimore is certainly her strongest studio effort off the period and 'My Father', for me, is that moment of transcendence.


My Father (1978)

Nina found a welcoming audience among the French and she spent her last years living in there, though it may be questionable whether she'd want to be there now.

In '65 she recorded this stunning version of Brel's 'Ne Me Quitte Pas' for her album, I Put a Spell On You. Bon voyage, La France!


Ne Me Quitte Pas (1965)

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Curtis Mayfield

Not sure if you've noticed but there are a lot of warmongers around these days. Every time I turn the telly on I'm half expecting to hear that WW3 is about to kick off. So, just in case Mr. Trump, Mr. Kim or any of the other twats out there are tuning in, instead of blowing us all to smithereens, how about trying a little Curtis Mayfield instead? You know it makes sense. You'll find this on his second solo record album, Roots (1971). Bloody good it is, too.


We Got to Have Peace (1971)

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Oh, we do like to be beside the b-side: T.Rex

Golden Dust's first series looks at the host of beautiful b-sides that often graced excellent a-sides back in the '70s. When I first started buying singles on a regular basis they were generally priced around 45p to 50p, which, at just out of weekly pocket money range, was a bit of a stretch but a couple of weeks of delayed gratification made it possible. The bonus was that one would very often play the flip side as often as the main feature.


The King of the Mountain Cometh (1971)

T.Rex were my first pop obsession, the first group which meant so much to me I'd buy their records without hearing them first. Happily, Marc Bolan very regularly provided killer b-sides and, in the early days, often gifted us two tracks to love on the back of hits like 'Hot Love', 'Metal Guru' and 'Children of the Revolution'. The latter had this gem tucked away on the rear alongside 'Jitterbug Love'.


Sunken Rags (1972)

More b-side greatness soon.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Rod Stewart


There must be thousands of us; the ones who hold fast to the time when Rod Stewart was genuinely great, in those handful of years in the early to mid-70's. We all know how it ended, don't we? Yes, with that fateful Atlantic crossing to make Atlantic Crossing in '75. Of course, this could have been a peak moment: recorded at Muscle Shoals with Tom Dowd in the chair and both The Memphis Horns and the MG's backing Rod up, what couldn't be right about that? Well, if you consider the genesis of this move west was a tax dodge, that says much. I know this was all too common back in those days but those gaudy lights of Beverly Hills weren't too far from the man's mind and Britt Ekland was on the horizon. Farewell, Rod the Mod.

Let's go back a bit. Between '69 and '74, Rod Stewart made five spanking LPs, the very best being Every Picture Tells a Story (1971), which just happened to be the very first long playing record I ever owned. He'd hit the big time with 'Maggie May', which started life as the B-side to his version of Tim Hardin's 'Reason To Believe'. The record was soon flipped and Rod and The Faces lit up Top of The Pops for many weeks that Autumn, telling us how our man had escaped the clutches of an older woman who was visibly aging in the broad light of day and had the temerity to not only wreck Rod's bed but also kick him in the head. Ah, sweet love. I'd not heard anything like it before. My Mum did not approve. Come Christmas, the 11 year old me had enough cash and a record token to shell out for a whole album. Boots were offering it for £1.99, so there I was with my first grown up record constantly turning on the radiogram. I'm rather proud of that young lad, who, at what now seems a shockingly young age, was drawn to such great music. Then again, it meant so much more to us then, didn't it and what else, apart from football and generally messing about, did we have to do?

Every Picture Tells a Story is an album that had it all: excellent songwriting, fine singing and playing and some great covers, including my own introduction to the work of Bob Dylan with the best ever cover of 'Tomorrow Is a Long Time'. Here, however, Mr. Stewart takes on The Temptations and I have to pronounce a score draw after extra time.




(I Know) I'm Losing You (1971)

Monday, 10 April 2017

Peter Skellern

I was really saddened recently to hear of the passing of Peter Skellern, a fine singer-songwriter who is, perhaps, best known for his hits, 'You're a Lady' (1972) and 'Hold On To Love' (1975).


You're a Lady (1972)

Peter was a fine tunesmith who also knew the value of a brass band and choir. 'You're a Lady' featured The Congregation, a hip crew of choral merchants who had their own hit with 'Softly Whispering I Love You' in 1971. The famous Grimethorpe Colliery Brass Band were regular musical partners on a number of projects, most notably his lovely album, Astaire (1979), which featured his quite idiosyncratic and rather spiffing interpretations of songs much associated with the great Fred. Whilst the hits dried up in later years, Peter Skellern remained busy with TV, radio and film projects before being ordained as a Church of England priest in 2016.

Here's one of my personal favourites from Astaire - his wonderful version of 'The Way You Look Tonight'.


The Way You Look Tonight (1979)

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Ian Hunter's Overnight Angels



England Rocks (1977)

Mott The Hoople are, unarguably, one the most iconic bands of the '70's; they were, of course, also one of the best. Their sound embraced both ragged and raw Stones style swagger and Glam space-age fantasy with pop-hooks whilst at the same time pointing the way to the mid-decade explosion of Punk's wild energy. Simply, they had the best of nearly everything. On top of all that, in Ian Hunter, they had a supreme writer and front-man who came on like a Dylan of the back streets of Britain, with poetry and football hooliganism high in the mix. It's shocking to think that the original, Hunter led, line-up had dissolved by 1974, leaving behind some glorious music that we'll definitely be featuring here in the future. Inevitably, a solo career beckoned for Hunter, with his first solo hit, the excellent 'Once Bitten Twice Shy', taken from his eponymous debut LP, charting in 1975. I did consider kicking this space off with that stonking slice of rock and roll but my thoughts were then drawn to a song from a couple of years later. 'England Rocks', credited to Ian Hunter's Overnight Angels was the man's response to the UK Punk movement: a phenomenon that he played some part in creating in his Mott days.

Energy calling me back where I came from!

I actually won my copy of 'England Rocks' in a package of 45's courtesy of Al Read's Rock Show, which went out on Sunday afternoons on BBC Radio Bristol. Can't remember what I had to do to receive the stuff but I believe I was quite a regular recipient of Al's vinyl gifts. Al was the resident DJ at Bristol's Granary Club and a man with impeccable rock taste. Hunter was to re-record 'England Rocks' for his album, the tragically titled, You're Never Alone With A Schizophrenic (1979). Sadly, he renamed it 'Cleveland Rocks' to curry favour with the his US audience. Bad move, Ian and a much inferior version all round.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Introductory


The 1960's were all well and good, full of frolics and revolution, fine music and sartorial challenge; I can look back now and take great pleasure in having entered the world at the dawning of that seminal decade. However, as I had to wait until the 1970's to reach double figures, my heart resides forever in the era of flared trousers, the feather cut, football hooliganism, frothy Cresta and Glam Rock. I spent my entire teenage years in an age that is now generally viewed as politically chaotic, environmentally drab, slightly dangerous, economically hazardous and aesthetically questionable. Did any of this bother me? I don't think so. As long as I had football, comics, the pop papers and, above all, music, I was as happy as the proverbial sand boy or, maybe, pig in shit. Of course, I had plenty of teenage type 'problems' such as acne, annoying levels of parental interference, uncool clobber, even less cool glasses and love that seemed to remain forever unrequited but that all goes with the territory, doesn't it? There was, fundamentally, nothing that couldn't be overcome with a Saturday morning trip to town to buy a 45 RPM single or, as the decade progressed, album by one of my favourite singers or bands. Seemingly every week, there would be a new release that just had to be got hold of by fair means or foul. Thankfully, a constant supply of paper-rounds kept the cash flow going and the vinyl growing.

Since those halcyon days, my love of music has never waned and I continue, to this day, to listen out for new sounds, though I admit that those that grip me become rarer as the years pass. Perhaps I'm not in the demographic. I do know that whilst there are plenty of things I continue to treasure that came out of later decades and also find joy in plenty of pre-70's music, there is nothing I loved in the 70's that I still don't love today, whether it's the purest pop, Glam or Prog Rock, Punk, Reggae or Soul, I still embrace it all. Basically, for good or ill, it made me who I am. So, this is what this is going to be about - a celebration of the sights, the smells, the tastes and, above all, the sounds of the 70's. Posts will be pretty random, somewhat like the contents of a Lucky Bag or Woolworth's PickNMix. Please dig in!