Category Archives: Music

My First Gig – King Crimson

Russ Stewart: London, November 2021

Fifty years ago, October 11th 1971, I attended my first proper gig, at Glasgow’s Green’s Playhouse. 
Oddly, as I am not really a prog rock fan, it was in the court of prog royalty – King Crimson.

Half a century on, I still retain a soft spot for the band, though not soft enough to have paid 100 quid to see them play live in London a couple of years ago.

Featured below is the actual ticket for the gig courtesy of Roger Brown who found it attached to a King Crimson album he purchased from me many moons ago….

King Crimson’s support act that evening was a solo acoustic guitar/singer called Keith Christmas.
Due to alliteration, I was suspicious as to whether this was his real name.
Still gigging today Christmas played guitar on Bowie’s Space Oddity album.

My erstwhile near neighbour, Alan Doig was the one who introduced me to King Crimson and he was part of the group who attended this gig.

Alan’s father had been a provost of Bearsden and had a symbolic single blue provost street light outside his house indicating the holding of such past office.  I believe that this entitled him to kill a swan with a crossbow on Kilmardinny Loch each eve of Michaelmas.

Alan had a great sound system which did help influence the appeal of the new Crimson album at that time, ‘Lizard’. In particular it projected the fantastic, bombastic synth riff in the middle of the track Cirkus

Aged 14 I was impressed with Peter Sinfield’s lyrics on the Lizard album, particularly as I strove to find the deeper meanings embedded in his ditties. 
I now realise they are incoherent nonsense.

The gig: after Mr Christmas’ plaintive noodling the lights dimmed and a mellotron chord rang out.  C sharp minor 7th flattened 5th, though I could be mistaken ( ……or bullshitting).   


The band: Robert Fripp sitting down playing guitar and mellotron.  Boz Burrelll on bass and vocals, Mel Collins on sax and a drummer dude. 

Most of that line up later deserted the prog camp.  Boz Burrell left to form Bad Company, Mel Collins played with the Average White Band and Kokomo whilst Lyricist Sinfield went on to write for the likes of Buck’s Fizz and Leo Sayer.

Fripp now makes YouTube videos of himself accompanying the terpsichorean insanity of his fruity little wife, Toyah.

Beware, once you see it you can’t unsee it

I have continued to dabble in prog listening and I’m grateful for the school friends who dragged me along to selected prog gigs in those early days. The likes of Graeme Butler, Simon Brader and Ralph Jessop helped me to open my ears somewhat, to Genesis, Greenslade and Magma.  

Glasgow City Halls usually accommodated the lesser known prog bands in those days and one could easily wander backstage to chat with the musicians post gig. 
I recall a schoolboy French conversation with the blue chinned caveman, Christian Vander, who led Magma. 

Magna’s bassist played a Fender bass covered in  baby oil ( …. the bass that is).  They talked about the philosophic works of Ouspensky, which meant as much to me as King Crimson’s lyrics.   

As I write I notice that Van Der Graaf Generator are touring the UK soon… maybe worth a punt. 

Talking about gigs, my own band is playing the Three Kings Pub in Twickenham on New Years Eve. 
There will be no prog rock, or baby oil… though there will be some Steely Dan, Todd Rundgren, Michael McDonald and Doors covers in the set.

Old Grey Whistle Test (OGWT) 72-79: TV Hall of Fame Induction.

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, November 2021.

Back in the early seventies there was only one provider of contemporary music to the masses – The BBC.

Radio One ruled the airwaves unchallenged from 1967 until the commercial radio stations came along in the mid 70s, although to be fair if you could get a decent signal, Radio Luxembourg was a reasonable late night alternative… until you got fed up listening to adverts for Timotei Shampoo and Aqua Manda cologne.

In terms of TV, the Beeb had it all sewn up with its weekly chart show aimed at the teenage market – Top of the Pops, which launched in 1964.
Seven years later the OGWT came along and focused on the more discerning album buying audience.

TOTP had its moments of course, but epiphany’s like Starman or Virginia Plain were rare and for every ‘Jeepster” there was a ‘Long Haired Lover from Liverpool’

The OGWT on the other hand, was a voyage of discovery, it wasn’t always great but it was always watchable.
The truth is that we rarely knew who was going to be on the show, but it mattered not, we just tuned in and went along for the ride, building our musical knowledge and refining our tastes as we went along.

The OGWT became a weekly ‘event’ and a post-mortem of each episode was mandatory.
I can still remember an attempt to describe the debut performance of Focus to a mate at school who’d missed the show.


“They’re a Dutch quartet with an amazing drummer, an unbelievable guitarist and a guy who looks like Archie Gemmill on keyboards…. who yodels a lot”

I’m not sure he rushed out to buy the album based on my summary.

The show was famous for its live studio performances, but in the early days tracks that couldn’t be performed live were usually accompanied by old black & white film footage, compiled by film archivist Philip Jenkinson.
A couple of those home-made videos left a lasting impression.

The first time I heard Queen was on the OGWT in 1973.
A rendition of ‘Keep Yourself Alive’ soundtracked over a vintage black & white movie clip.

My favourite though was the footage that accompanied Led Zeppelin’s – Trampled Underfoot. I’ve no idea how they synch’d a 1920’s silent movie clip so seamlessly with Zep’s homage to Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, but they pulled it off.

I have too many great memories of the show to mention and have spent many an hour disappearing down OGWT, YouTube rabbit holes but when I reflect on what made the show special, there are a few elements that spring to mind….

1) The OGWT excelled at introducing us to new artists:
Putting aside the broadcasting monopoly that the Beeb enjoyed I still have to credit the show for introducing me to – Neil Young, Queen, Robin Trower, John Martyn, Bill Withers, Joan Armatrading, Talking Heads, Lynyrd Skynyrd, New York Dolls, The Wailers and many more.

2) The show wasn’t just electric, it was eclectic:
If you happened to tune in when – Dr Hook, Rick Wakeman, John Martyn and Mike Oldfield were all featured you could have been forgiven for thinking that the majority of the acts mirrored the presenter, i.e. white men with beards and long hair…. but the show was actually a lot more diverse than that.

Nice!

For instance, it was perfectly normal to have Bill Withers on the same show as Tangerine Dream or Curtis Mayfield with Captain Beefheart.
BB King would feature alongside Kris Kristofferson and Joni Mitchell could be on the same bill as Roxy Music.
It’s fair to say that every musical genre was given a fair crack of the whip on a show where the only criteria was quality.


3) The show produced seminal performances that live on forever:
At the end of the day it was the live studio performances that we all talked about and they remain the iconic moments of the show.
It’s difficult to cherry-pick as there were so many classic OGWT moments, but a few favourites that spring to mind are….

Bowie – Queen Bitch
Little Feat – Rock ‘n’ Roll Doctor
Sensational Alex Harvey Band – The Faith Healer
Roxy Music – In Every Dream Home a Heartache
Gil Scott-Heron – Johannesburg


The OGWT of course was synonymous with whispering Bob Harris and his reign as the main presenter from 1972-79 covered the golden-age of the show.
Nothing lasts forever though, and as the punk movement gained momentum Bob started getting a bit grouchy and wasn’t handling the change of the guard very well…..

Bob and his ‘mock rock’ quip at 4:42

Bob had ‘previous’ of course, labelling Roxy Music as a triumph of ‘style over substance‘. And goofily described The New York Dolls as “mock rock” at the conclusion of a blistering rendition of ‘Jet Boy’….

Harris, subsequently became a target for New Wavers and Punks and narrowly escaped serious injury when Sid Vicious tried to ‘glass’ him in a London nightclub.
Rescued ironically by a team of Procol Harum roadies, Bob escaped relatively unscathed, but suffered cuts, bruises and a damaged ego.

Worn down by the abuse and feeling that he was swimming against the cultural tide, Bob would step down from his OGWT duties soon-after.

The show ploughed on for another 9 years post Bob, with a revolving door of presenters but by then there was bona fide competition from other channels and shows, like C4’s The Tube.

Gone but certainly not forgotten…. Fortunately we can still relive some of the shows iconic moments via clips from the vaults, many of which have millions of views.

So it’s this prime-time OGWT – the ‘Bob Harris years 72-79’, that helped to shape my musical tastes as a teenager that I would propose for the TV Hall of Fame….

A pre-Ziggy Bowie on the cusp of greatness

Led Zeppelin IV – An Album by Led Zeppelin: Hall of Fame Induction

Mark Arbuckle: Glasgow, November 8th.

I would like to nominate Led Zeppelin IV, The Runes Album, 4 Symbols, Zoso whatever you want to call it as the greatest rock album of all time! 

Its 50 years old today and still sounds as fresh and exciting as it did in 1971!! 

It also has the distinction of having the only guest vocalist that Zep ever used in the ethereal Sandy Denny on the wonderful ‘Battle of Evermore’.

Originally Plant was going to sing both parts of the call and answer vocals but it didn’t sound right so he invited Sandy.
Thank God!

Obviously it includes the magical Stairway to Heaven, as well as Zep classics… Rock n Roll, and Black Dog, to be fair, every song on the record is an absolute gem, no wonder it has sold over 23 million copies to date and is the bands most successful album!  

Happy Birthday Led Zeppelin IV🎸

tom scott (musician, producer, arranger) – hall of fame induction.

(Post by John Allan, Bridgetown Western Australia – November 2021)

My nominee for the Once Upon a Time in the ’70s Hall of Fame is Tom Scott.

I can hear the collective ‘WHO ?’ like a stoner party of tripping owls. Take it from someone who is well aware of the illicit pharmacy in ornithology. In my quest to introduce recreational drugs to sea birds, I have left no tern un-stoned !

Thomas Wright Scott was born 19th May 1948, the son of film and television composer, Bernard Scott, who wrote and arranged the music for the TV show Lassie so you could say he has good pedigree. A musician of good standing – sitting, fetching and staying as well.

Oor Tam was equally proficient on all of the saxophone and woodwind families as well as much in demand as a composer and arranger. Look hard enough in your 70s collection and I’ll bet his name pops up more than once. His session work is vast.

These are a just a few of my favourites and a mere smidgen of Scott’s output.

“Gotcha” (Starsky & Hutch theme tune) Who hasn’t run down the drive way and tried to slide over the bonnet of your Dad’s Hillman Avenger when this funky theme started up. I think he plays this on the lyricon, one of the earliest electronic wind instruments.

“Listen To What The Man Said” by Wings from 1975. That was our Tommy boy playing some jaunty soprano sax on this Macca track.

The solo alto sax in “I Still Can’t Sleep” in Martin Scorcese’s film Taxi Driver – Tom ‘Are you looking at me ?’ Scott !

Tom was a Blues Brother and played with Jake and Elwood on most of their albums. He didn’t appear in any of the films though.

“Spindrift” is a beautiful tune I use to attempt to play from his time with the LA Express in the mid 70s.

(Album cover for Tom Scott an The L.A. Express eponymous album from 1974.)

Tom solos on tenor and arranges the horns on Steely Dan’sBlack Cow” from the seminal 1978 album “Aja”. And before you go all woke, black cow is a cocktail !

Although encroaching into the 80s, his work on Blondie’s “Rapture” takes this rap tune to new levels.

But my favourite collaboration of his is on Joni Mitchell’sCourt and Spark”. This 1974 release was Mitchell’s first foray away from folk and into rock and jazz. Scott’s subtle playing and sensitive arrangements greatly compliment Joni’s singing and songwriting.

Having his band the LA Express and the Crusaders to hand was none too shabby. Apparently drummer John Guerin and Joni had a wee thing going on. I guess they were courting and presumably sparking until they split up. Joni wrote about him in “Refuge of the Road” (Hejira)

Tom Scott went on to form house bands for two short lived US late talk shows (including Chevy Chase) and continued writing music for TV (Cybill) and film (Conquest of the Planet of The Apes). He remains much in demand as a session player and can now add educator and radio/pod presenter to his CV.

Good boy Scotty. Good boy.

American Pie – A Single by Don McLean: Hall of Fame Induction

Alan Fairley: Edinburgh, November 2021

No song in history has ever managed to re-create the effect on me than that which was generated by American Pie, Don McLean’s anthemic eight minute chronology of the 1960s.
It was the first song that made me want to study its lyrics, to find out the hidden meanings behind the words and to interpret the message which this hitherto unknown musician, with a distinctly Scottish name, was trying to project.
I’d only started taking an interest in music a couple of years earlier and my tastes revolved largely around the mainstream rock bands of the time, ie Cream, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath etc and I was aware that such behemoths of the musical world paid scant attention to the lyrical content of their offerings which were based mainly on instrumental virtuosity.
Jack Bruce, in a Cream documentary, made it clear that the message behind the songs he played along with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker was largely irrelevant in comparison with the actual music while Ian Gillan of Deep Purple acknowledged that the lyrics to the band’s flagship single Black Night were merely a collection of random words to supplement the main feature of the song, ie Ritchie Blackmore’s blistering  and unforgettable guitar riff.

When I first heard American Pie on the radio in early 1972, I was mildly intrigued by the lyrical content but the radio version was merely a heavily edited three minute sampler of the 8 min 33 sec album track, a teaser with a catchy chorus about chevies and levees designed to catch the listener’s attention but it was sufficient to have me jumping on the no 13 bus to Cambridge Street and hand over my hard earned two pounds 25p (sorry no pound sign on this Korean keyboard) before walking away with the actual album tucked into an iconic Listen Records ‘Cheap’n Nasty’ carrier bag.

When I finally got home and listened to the title track, it was night and day in comparison with the radio taster. A beautifully constructed song… four verses and choruses bookended by a passionate and emotional prologue and epilogue, telling the story of the 1960s from the tragic plane crash death of Buddy Holly in 1959 to the horrific killing of a black man at the hands of a gang of Hell’s Angels during a Rolling Stones concert in Altamont, California ten years later.

The theme of death reverberates throughout the song as McLean ends each stanza with the line ‘The Day the Music Died.’

I’m not going to offer my interpretation of the song here – plenty others have done so before me but, other than those already mentioned, there are reasonably clear references to The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Janis Joplin, James Dean and other more cryptic nods to religion, politics, teenage romance and the American youth culture of the time.

Fifty years on, I never get tired of listening to the song and I still pore over the lyrics, searching for some hidden meaning that no-one else has yet found. When I’m performing at open mic sessions, if I feel the mood is too quiet, I’ll play it and inevitably get the crowd singing along.

Irrespective of age or any other social demographic, its a song, or at least a chorus, which everybody knows word for word. One man who refuses to offer his interpretation of the song is McLean himself. 

When asked “What does American Pie mean?” His standard response is “It means I never have to work again.”

‘You’re So Vain’ A Single By Carly Simon: Hall Of Fame Induction


Paul Fitzpatrick: London, October 2021

If I was to transport myself back to December 1972, and look around my bedroom wall I would be surrounded by posters of Led Zeppelin, The Faces, The Who, The Stones, Bowie, etc…. a sea of white men with long hair brandishing shiny Stratocaster’s or menacing Les Paul’s.

Ashamedly, women at this point just didn’t figure in my record collection and whilst I grew to love Tapestry by Carole King, No Secrets by Carly Simon and the glorious Court & Spark by Joni Mitchell, the first step to those feminine treasures was a 45 rpm Single – Carly Simon’s self penned classic, ‘You’re So Vain’.

I first heard this tour de force in December 1972 at a point when the airwaves were awash with Glam Rock, Xmas singles and Novelty songs, one of which, ‘My Ding-A-ling’ by Chuck Berry was the nations current number one single.

I fell in love with ‘You’re So Vain’ the first time I heard it… Carly’s voice, the lyrics, the playing, the production and of course the ringing endorsement that was Mick Jagger on backing vocals.
Mick didn’t do guest vocals for anyone, he was Mick bleedin’ Jagger, the guvnor, but here he was singing his little heart out as an uncredited backing vocalist for this unknown hippy chick with the luscious lips.

It was 4 mins 19 secs of perfection as far as I was concerned.


I remember going Xmas shopping that year and having just enough money left to buy myself a single… the contenders were Bowie’s ‘Jean Genie’, Free’s ‘Wishing Well’ or ‘You’re so Vain’… all great songs and all newly released.

I plumped for Carly that day, probably as I was on my own, if I’d been with my pals I’d almost certainly have bought one of the others for fear of being mocked.
Sad I know, but such was the way of the world back then – how do you think Status Quo sold more records than Aretha Franklin in the UK??

In a similar vein, I can remember subsequent shopping trips where ‘Midnight at the Oasis’ by Maria Muldaur and Roberta Flack’s ‘Killing me Softly’ were covertly purchased.

Aged 14 I was used to deciphering songs about Norse Gods and ‘Deaf, Dumb & Blind kids’ but I instantly ‘got’ Carly’s lyrics and how they were aimed at a self-absorbed partner who loved himself so much that he assumed that the song could only be about him.

What I didn’t quite appreciate at the time was just how autobiographical the song was, until years later when all the speculation surfaced about who the song was actually about.

You can take your pick from – Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Kris Kristofferson, David Bowie, David Cassidy or Mick Jagger, to name but a few.
You see, our Carly was a bit of a free spirit before settling down with Sweet Baby James.

Jack or Warren, who was so vain?

Reflecting on her list of suitors I remember thinking… it would be bizarre for Jagger to perform on a song that’s basically highlighting a major character flaw… until I realised that it was such an on-brand thing for Mick to do – he probably is that vain and as such was just doubling-down on the sentiment!

The songs protagonist was always a big secret (bit weird, as the album was called No Secrets!). However, in 2015 Simon confessed that the song is actually about three men (told you she was a bit of a gadabout!) and admitted publicly for the first time, that the second verse is about the Hollywood lothario Warren Beatty… who’s no doubt a bit pissed off that he’s having to share the honour.

I worry sometimes, probably unnecessarily, that all the speculation and noise about the songs muse (or muses) detracts from what a brilliant piece of music it is, but perhaps it helps to keep it relevant and that’s why current artists like Taylor Swift have adopted it as an anthem.


Consistently featured in most ‘Greatest Songs of all Time’ lists ‘You’re so Vain’ catapulted Simon into the public eye in 1972 and she went on to have a fantastic career on the back of her first big hit.

Looking back, in 1972 as a 14 year old with raging hormones another great attraction about Carly Simon was exactly that… the attraction of Carly Simon.

She was an absolute stunner, so whilst 14 year old girls had Donny or David or Marc up on their walls, a few of us had the album sleeve of No Secrets above our bed… of course, that was until our mates came round – then we had to get the Zep & Stones posters back up sharpish!

Isolated vocals of Simon & Jagger

‘tapestry’ (lp by carole king) – hall of fame induction.

(Post by John Allan, Bridgetown Western Australia – October 2021)

It was 1971 and I had just become an adult. I had turned 13 after all. My parents didn’t seem to agree and used words like ‘adolescent’,’teenager’ and phrases like ‘while your living under our roof’ and ‘these are the rules’.

Oh well, there was always the world of popular music to explore. School chums were opening up my mind with their various recent purchases. LPs were in and singles or 45s now a bit passé. Jethro Tull, Yes and Genesis were on my sonic radar but until I had enough spondulix, rifling through my brothers’ record collection would have to do.

What have we here then ? Blues, blues, more blues. A cover with a blue lady on it called ‘Blue’ by Joni MitchellI might come back to that one. This is a new one. A comely young lady sitting in the light of a window with a cat (called Telemachus incidentally) at her feet.

Tapestry” by Carole King.

This album is so much more than an anthem of love and lovers, lost, ended, distanced and discarded. Not simple piano ballads but a complex mix of rock, blues and gospel styles.

It opens with the tumbling bar blues of  “I Feel The Earth Move” which AllMusic critic Stewart Mason describes as “the ultimate in hippie-chick eroticism” and “sounds like the unleashing of an entire generation of soft-spoken college girls’ collective libido”. I’ll have what he’s having !

So Far Away” introduces Laurel Canyon alumni James Taylor on acoustic guitar.

Lyricist Toni Stern wrote the words for “It’s Too Late” in one afternoon after breaking up with the aforementioned Mr Taylor. I probably would have gone with ‘ you’re a pig James and I hate you. PS. I faked my orgasms !’ But then I’m not a lyricist or been dumped by James Taylor. (or faked an orgasm !!)

“Way Over Yonder” would not be out of place among the congregation of a deep south Gospel church (praise be).

Who hasn’t, after the shittiest of days, sat themselves down in a darkened room and dripped a tear into their tumbler of malt whisky/can of special brew/advocaat and babycham/mug of chamomile tea (select appropriate beverage) listening to “You’ve Got a Friend” whether King’s or JT’s version.

The Shirelles had a pop hit in 1961 with “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”. Composer Carole slows it down to an achingly soulful ballad with backing vocals from James Taylor and Joni Mitchell (where have I seen that name before ?)

And who can forget Aretha’s 1967 empowering rendition of  “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” tastefully performed here by it’s creator.

I’ve skipped over a few tracks but there are no dull moments to be found on “Tapestry” every song a gem of an anthem.

So everybody, get your child or grandchild, male, female or non-binary, rip out their earbuds, nail their feet to the floor, put the record on the turntable (Yep, I’m talking vinyl, baby) crank it up and say ‘THIS IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT !!’

Sorry, might of got a wee bit carried away there !

My life has been a tapestry
Of rich and royal hue
An everlasting vision
Of the ever-changing view

You’ve got that right CK. 50 years on and you’ve got that right.

‘live in europe’ (lp by rory gallagher) – hall of fame induction.

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson of Glasgow –October 2021)

(Click for the dedicated page, and all items inducted to the Hall of Fame.)

The first item to be inducted into the Once Upon a Time in The ‘70s Hall of Fame is my copy of the ‘Live In Europe,’ LP by Rory Gallagher. (I’m nothing if not predictable.)

I don’t know why, but I bought this for the going rate of around £2.25 (in postal orders) via some mail order record store advertised in Sounds magazine. I can vividly remember the excitement I felt whenever I came home from school. For about ten days, I was disappointed, but then it arrived  … with a note stating my remittance was (I think) about 25p short. Yet the nice, ever so trusting people at the record store just asked I send another postal order with my next order.

However, by the time I‘d saved enough from my paper round to buy my next LP, I’d discovered Listen Records and Virgin Records in Glasgow. I never did order from the MO store again.A few months later, I read in Sounds, the company had gone bust! Was it my 25p that sent them over the edge?

I’ve carried that burden of guilt now for forty-nine years!

(LP cover – back.)

The record itself, though: this was ‘big boys’’ music!

A mix of self-penned and rearranged standards, the seven tracks blew me away with their intensity. Driven by the furious bass playing of Gerry McAvoy, and crashing drums of Wilgar Campbell, Rory’s searing Stratocaster playing cuts through like a knife. His playing has everything – little flecks of jazz inspired backing to his quieter vocal moments; big, chunky heavy riffs, like in his own composition, ‘Laundromat,’ and of course, the blues! Whether it be fast and loud as in the opening’ ‘Messin’ With The Kid’ or the slower, almost metronomic ‘I Could Have Had A Religion,’ Rory pre-empted, and answered, the query posed by Deacon Blue, seventeen years later: yes – not only can a white man sing the blues, he can damn well play them too!

(Recording from The Marquee Club, London, 6th April 1972.)

Yet, though heavily blues influenced, ‘Live In Europe’ has such a variation in sounds that it remains fresh and exciting from start to finish – even after almost fifty years of regular play!.

Pistol Slapper Blues’ is an acoustic cover of Blind Boy Fuller’s song from ‘nineteen twenty something or other,’ as Rory himself says; ‘Going To My Home Town’ is one of Rory’s own compositions – a real stomper of a track, the famous Strat being swapped for a mandolin. ‘In Your Own Town’ is another of Rory’s, this time almost ten minutes of heavy blues and spectacular guitar playing. Album closer is ‘Bullfrog Blues,’ another ‘traditional’ blues song written the Twenties and re-arranged by Rory. It’s a truly explosive ending, with terrific bass and drum solos thrown in for good measure.

The production and sound quality is top notch, something that can’t be said for many ‘Live’ albums and I can attest the album truly replicates the sound and atmosphere of a Rory concert.

Not only was ‘Live In Europe’ my proper introduction to heavy rock, it also took me down the rabbit hole of blues music – a tunnel I am still exploring. It’s influenced my music of choice from a spotty fourteen year old to grumpy old git, and remains the most treasured record in my collection.

It unequivocally deserves a place in the Hall of Fame.

You Can’t Judge A Song By Its Cover….

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, July 2021

From the Beatles to Bowie every great artist has recorded a cover version of someone else’s songs.

In many cases you won’t even know it’s a cover, it usually depends on your musical knowledge and whether you’ve heard the original before.

For instance, until recently I had no idea that Adele’s ‘Make You Feel My Love’ was a Bob Dylan track and had previously been released by Billy Joel and Garth Brooks, well before Adele’s version attained over 200 million hits on streaming services.

Dylan’s song is now deemed to be a ‘Modern Standard’ and has been recorded by over 460 different artists, and all the while I thought it was an Adele original.

Nowadays of course I want to know every detail about the music I’m invested in, but when I was younger I couldn’t tell you if a song was a cover version or an original and to be honest it didn’t matter.
I loved Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da by the Marmalade and cared not that it was a cover and the Beatles version had come before it.

In the early 70s, Bowie with Pinups and Bryan Ferry with Those Foolish Things brought credibility to the concept of ‘cover albums’, sharing their musical influences and displaying their penchant for covers like a badge of honour.

The topic of cover versions came into my mind recently when I was listening to ‘California Dreaming’ by Bobby Womack.
I wondered how many people knew about this version and it got me thinking about my favourite ‘cover versions’ and how I categorise them.

So here’s a ‘not so deep-dive’ into the concept….

When you think the cover is the original:

I think the first time I was caught out like this was with Rod Stewart’s ‘Reason to Believe’, the B side to Maggie May.

It was one of those singles where the B side got almost as much needle-time as the A side (in fact as you can see from the image, it was the original A side, and Maggie May was the B side), but I had no idea that it was a cover version that had been released previously by Tim Hardin.

Rod went on to become quite the cover specialist…. Cat Steven’s ‘The First Cut is the Deepest’, Hendrix’s ‘Angel’ the Sutherland Bros ‘Sailing’ and Carole King’s ‘Oh No not my Baby’ were all big hits for Rod with most of his legion of fans unaware of the original versions.

Similarly, for several years I had no idea that ‘All Along the Watchtower’ by Hendrix was a Dylan song or that ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ was a traditional Irish folk song recorded by The Dubliners before Thin Lizzy made it their own.
Ditto the Isley Bros ‘Summer Breeze’, a Seals & Croft recording and Nilsson’s ‘Without You’, a Badfinger track.

The common thread here is that from Hendrix to Adele there are always tracks that I’m shocked to discover are covers. I’m not suggesting the fact that they’re covers devalues them in any way, indeed, you can argue that there’s a great skill in identifying a ‘hit’ that nobody knows about and making it your own.

When the cover is better than the original:

This is a subjective point and totally in the ear of the beholder.
There’s obviously lots of examples where a cover version is more popular than the original (see Adele above), but I wanted to shine a light on a select band of elite songwriters who are great performers in their own right but for some reason or another there’s a pattern of other artists consistently improving upon some their material….

Bob Dylan: All Along the Watchtower by Hendrix, A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall by Bryan Ferry, George Harrison’s version of ‘If Not For you’ and The Byrds classic, “Mr Tambourine Man’,
just a small selection of tracks that other artists have borrowed and updated from Dylan.

Bruce Springsteen: Patti Smith’s ‘Because the Night’, Manfred Mann’s ‘Blinded by the Light’ and ‘Fire’ by the Pointer Sisters. Three tracks buried beneath Boss anthems that became defining tracks for the artists who covered them

Leon Russell: Donny Hathaway’s ‘A Song for You’, George Benson’s ‘This Masquerade’, Joe Cocker’s ‘Delta Lady’ and The Carpenter’s ‘Superstar’.
Not one of these tracks charted for Leon but they were huge hits for the acts who covered them.

These are all great songs, written by iconic artists so it’s strange that the definitive versions of all of these classics are by other acts and not the original artist.

In some cases it seems that artists can come along, pick up a gem, give it a polish and make it shine even brighter.

Artists who make covers their own:

When Mick Jagger was asked about his favourite Stones cover he said it was Otis Redding’s version of ‘Satisfaction’, which is not a surprise as artists tend to compliment acts that reinterpret their music with a different take on the original… and this is what Otis Redding did, utilising Booker T and the MG’s and the Memphis Horns to give ‘Satisfaction’ the full Stax treatment.

Otherwise, it’s just karaoke….


It’s logical then to be able to love two divergent versions of the same song, particularly if the act covering does it in a manner that breathes new life into it.

Joe Cocker’s ‘With a Little Help from my Friends’ would be a prime example but to be fair there’s lots of candidates…

For instance, Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ is a classic but Billy Paul’s jazzy, Philly-infused rendition completely updates it and takes it to a different level.
It’s well worth a listen if you haven’t heard it before….

Likewise in the early 70s Isaac Hayes went through a phase of taking middle of the road classics like ‘Walk on by’ and ‘Close to You’ transforming them into big orchestral masterpieces lasting up to 12 minutes long.
His versions weren’t necessarily better than the originals, but they were just as good in their own way and they were unmistakably Isaac Hayes. Listen to them and you’ll see where Barry White got his schtick.

In a similar vein, Wilson Pickett’s version of Hey Jude, featuring Duane Allman’s first recording session on guitar, is also a bit special and worth checking out on the playlist.

Of course, you can also add Clapton’s version of Bob Marley’s ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ and the Hendrix versions of All Along the Watchtower and Hey Joe to this list.

Nowadays of course we’re awash with tribute albums and cover versions and songs with samples that sound like old songs, so it’s hard to sort the wheat from the chaff, but if you dig deep enough there are always some diamonds.

As is my wont, I have made up a playlist of some classic 70s based covers, many of them mentioned in this piece which you’re welcome to dip into.

It would also be good to hear about some of your favourite covers on the FB page….

teen heartthrobs – the page niners.

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson of Glasgow – June 2021)

Views expressed in this article are of the author himself, founded more on observation alone and with no forensic analysis of statistics whatsoever. Please don’t send abusive letters and dog poo through the post, should you be offended by the non-inclusion of your favourite ‘Page Niner’- or indeed by the inclusion of one you consider a Front Pager.


(Other Teen Heartthrobs are – or at least, were – available.)

From what I read in my sister’s copies of Jackie magazine, my sister told me about Jackie magazine, I believe the most popular teen heartthrobs of the early to mid Seventies would have been, in no particular order: Donny Osmond; David Cassidy; David Essex, Marc Bolan, Rod Stewart, David Bowie and each of the individual Bay City Rollers.

A weekly magazine featuring only those stars would still have sold in tens of thousands.

Who, though, were the others? Who were the stars that didn’t make the front, back on centre pages so often? Who were more likely, the Page 9 ‘fillers?’

OK – so we’re almost fifty years too late, but let’s show some love for the Teen Heartthrob ‘also rans.’

You can comment and vote for your favourite from the following list of ‘second division stars’ in the poll which features on the

Once Upon a Time in The ‘70s Facebook Group

DAVID SOUL

Attracting fame for his starring role in the hit Seventies TV series ‘Starsky & Hutch,’ he actually set out to be a musician. He first came to the attention of American TV audiences as ‘The Covered Man’ – a 1966 ‘Masked Singer’ feature on The Merv Griffin Show.

The TV detective series quickly established itself in USA and UK, and his partner in (anti) crime, Paul Michael Glaser also became a bit of a pin-up in girls’ magazines.

However, it’s David Soul’s additional musical output that sees him make our poll.

In total, David Soul spent fifty-six weeks in the UK music charts, hitting Number One in both the UK and US with ‘Don’t Give Up On Us’  and matching that in the UK with ‘Silver Lady.’ Both were released in 1977. In the same year, ‘Going In With My Eyes Open’ reached number two, and ‘Let’s Have a Quiet Night In’ managed number eight. The following year, ’It Sure Brings Out The Love In Your Eyes’ was held up just outside the Top Ten at number twelve.

PETE DUEL & BEN MURPHY

Ben Murphy (Kid Curry) (left) and Pete Duel (Hannibal Heyes.)

Pete Duel (Hannibal Heyes) and Ben Murphy (Jedediah ‘Kid’ Curry) were the stars of the hit TV comedy / western, Alias Smith & Jones. The series ran to fifty episodes over three series, though the final seventeen saw the character Hannibal Heyes recast after Pete Dual had sadly taken his own life at the end of 1971.

Merely watching the introduction in the following video reminded how much I loved this programme – I still knew it almost word for word.

Like ‘Starsky & Hutch’ and ‘Happy Days,’ ‘Alias Smith & Jones’ succeeded in harnessing cute looking actors to a dynamic and entertaining story-line, thereby appealing not only to teenage girls but to action focussed boys and adults alike.

Pictures of both actors will have adorned the bedroom wall of many a young girl. I may be wrong here, but my perception was that Ben Murphy slightly edged it in the ‘hot’ stakes?

SCOTT BAIO

Having already played the lead role (alongside Jodie Foster) in the film version of the hit kids’ musical, ‘Bugsy Malone,’ the now sixteen year old Scott was introduced to fans of the fantastic ‘Happy Days’ television series as Chachi Arcola, the young cousin of The Fonz. He then went on to star in the spin-off series, ‘Joanie Loves Chachi,’ in the early 80s.

It’s for the former role that I remember Scott … and why his Jackie or Look-in magazine photo adorned the bedroom wall of many a young girl in the Seventies.

PAUL NICHOLAS

Straight outta left field, this one! Although he had toured with Rocky Horror Show and appeared in ‘Tommy’ as Tommy’s vicious cousin, ‘Cousin Kevin,’ Paul Nicholas was largely unknown in UK … until he set out to conquer the UK music charts in 1976 with three single releases: ‘Reggae Like It Used To Be,’ ‘Dancing With The Captain’ and ‘Grandma’s Party.’

I suspect it was more his smiling, cheeky-boy looks than delivery of cheezy Seventies pop songs that prompted the swooning and cut-out photos stuck onto school jotters. For eight months in 1976 though, Paul Nicholas owned the pre-mid / post-mid pages of Teen magazines everywhere.

(Greater fame was of course to follow though, in the Eighties, when he concentrated on acting, starring first in the short-lived TV sitcom ‘Two Up, Two Down,’ and two years later in the hugely popular ‘Just Good Friends.’ And more recently, of course, ‘Eastenders.’)

BARRY BLUE

It’s very easy to be dismissive of Barry Green (real name) as a bit of a watered down version of ‘he that shall not be named.’ His two biggest hits, ‘(Dancing) On A Saturday Night’ and ‘Do You Wanna Dance’ were both from 1973, his three other lesser successes coming the following year. Resultantly, he would have hovered around Page Nine of Jackie etc, for only a short period of time.

However, prior to that he had co-written ‘Sugar Me’ with Lyndsey de Paul and played bass in the rock band Spice … which later morphed into legends, Uriah Heep! And then, subsequent to all that, he wrote a million seller for Brotherhood of Man and penned hits for artists as diverse as Diana Ross and Andrea Bocelli.

ALVIN STARDUST

He may have been a good deal older than your average Teen Heartthrob of the time (thirty-one, when he scored his debut hit ‘My Coo-Ca-Choo’ in 1973) but as I recall, he was all over the popular magazines throughout 1973 and ’74.

There’s a lot to be said for the leather and studs look, I guess.

SLIK

Formed initially as Salvation in 1970, they played the local clubs and bars of Glasgow, before changing some personnel and name to Slik around four years later.  I’ll bet I’m not the only one reading this who saw them play a least once in the famous Clouds Disco, above The Apollo venue.

Probably more famous now for being Midge Ure’s first band of note, they never-the-less scored a Number One hit with ‘Forever And Ever’ in 1976, followed later in the year by ‘Requiem.’

They were quite obviously targeted for the teenage girls market, but though I didn’t stare longingly and doe-eyed at a poster on my bedroom wall, like many lads of my age, I harboured a grudging admiration for Slik.

And there you have it – the Once Upon a Time in The ‘70s list of Teen Heartthrob also-rans. Is your second, third or even fourth favourite in there?

**JOIN OUR FACEBOOK GROUP TO VOTE IN THE POLL FOR YOUR FAVOURITE, ALMOST-FAVOURITE.**


(POLL CLOSES MIDNIGHT WEDNESDAY 23rd JUNE.)