Once Upon a Time in The ’70s was introduced to the blogging world at the start of 2021 … just twenty-six months ago.
Since then, there have been over three hundred posts published. Forty percent are music related, but the bulk cover ALL other aspects of growing up / living through the late ’60s and 1970s.
We are confident there is no other blog / website quite like it.
When we started work on it, both Paul and myself were adamant that we wanted the blog to be fun, light-hearted and most importantly, advert free; we wanted to create a ‘clean’ and clutter free reading experience for our visitors.
This remains our commitment.
However, the downside is that our means of promoting the site are severely restricted.
With over 66,000 hits so far, we know the site is pretty well received by those who come across it. However, there is a HUGE potential readership out there, completely unaware of our existence …. just look at the numbers on some of the ’70s related Facebook pages.
Once Upon a Time in The ’70s offers something different to all other pages and blogs we have seen, We just need to find a means of letting The World know we are here!
And this is where you, dear reader, can help, simply at the press of a button …. and maybe the odd wee word or two. 😉
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This can be done by clicking on the Social Media icon(s) of your choice that appears at the bottom of each post.
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The last few days have seen a big surge in readers visiting the site for the first time.
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In tribute to our lovely friend Andrea, who sadly passed away yesterday following a sudden and short illness, we re-post this piece from May 2021.
Andrea had a very individual style of writing and a wonderfully gentle sense of humour. You can read all her posts on Once Upon a Time in The ’70s by using the Search button and keying Andrea Grace Burn.
Having spent a good deal of my teens frequenting pubs around West Birmingham during the mid 1970s, itseemed perfectly natural to progress to working in them.My ambitions were to go on the stage but a girl has to make a living, right?
As soon as I left school in 1978, and with no particular place to go, I headed for an interview with a new wine bar that hadjust opened in the city centre – very upmarket! Harpersoccupied a large corner site near the police station and Accident and Emergency Hospital, so I figured I’d be safe walking late at night to catch the bus from outside the ‘Back ofRackham’s’.
(Rackham’s was an elegant department store occupying a whole city block on Corporation Street in Birmingham. Rumours abounded that ladies of a certain type frequented the pavements outside…
Forty-six years ago I tuned in to the Old Grey Whistle Test to catch a piece on Led Zeppelin and their long-awaited movie – The Song Remains the Same.
After his chat with Robert Plant, Bob Harris introduced Armatrading who played two songs – the ubiquitous “Love and Affection” and my favourite Armatrading track – “Down to Zero”.
As teenagers in the 70s we were prone to making assumptions based on our limited awareness, so when Bob introduced Armatrading and I saw a black female with an afro and an acoustic guitar I wasn’t sure what to expect. The female troubadours of the day tended to look like Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt or Carly Simon.
As she played the opening chords to “Down to Zero” any preconceptions evaporated and were replaced with… ‘wow, where’s she been hiding?’
It was one of those eureka moments which had maximum impact as she was an artist that not many people knew anything about. In fact it seemed like everyone who saw her OGWT performance that evening rushed out to buy the album, (which had already been on the record shop shelves for several months), so, overnight you had 100,000 people all claiming to have ‘discovered’ her.
Of course, we would later learn that Armatrading had already done the hard yards, paying her musical dues for ten years before the OGWT ‘breakthrough’.
The album was beautifully produced with Armatrading’s vocals and guitar at the front of the mix, however at the time I don’t remember it registering with me that the man on production duties was the prolific Glyn Johns.
Johns’ resume includes production & engineering chores on landmark albums for The Who, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Faces, The Rolling Stones, The Eagles and Eric Clapton. So, it was quite a compliment when he said that the Joan Armatrading album is “the best he’s ever been associated with”.
Armatrading’s second song that evening would become her signature tune, the classic “Love and Affection”, with the killer opening line…
“I’m not in love, but I’m open to persuasion”
The haunting saxophone solo on the track was provided by Gallagher & Lyle sideman Jimmy Jewell and the baritone backing vocal was provided by Clarke Peters, better known to some as Detective Lester Freamon from The Wire.
Grammy nominated, Armatrading, in her own quiet way has gone on to cultivate a long and fruitful career, doing things her way, still successfully touring and recording with a newly released live album and book of selected lyrics.
The miscreant in the 70s Bearsden Academy registration class refused to own up to the supervising teacher’s enquiry. Possibly unaware of Jimmy Shand’s greatest hit and hence confused by the question.
Inappropriate whistling should be a capital offence.
It has its place…. Indicating occupancy in an unlocked public toilet cubicle. Encouraging your pit bull to relax it’s hold on a newborn’s throat during lambing season. Or As an expression of innocence as you stand, catapult in hand, next to a broken window.
It is never appropriate in a musical context. Lennon, Ferry, Presley, Rod Stewart, Peter Gabriel, and Whistling Jack Smith…. WTF?
Inability to write a lyric? Age shrunk vocal range? Can’t afford a sax player? (I can recommend a talented Western Australia resident who may have spare time when not dagging sheep in his hobby farm)
Picture Sir Rod in front of his bathroom mirror, engaged in some nasal hair husbandry. The tiling lends a supportive echo as he whistles a jaunty air. His rock and roll mojo has long since departed. He thinks : ‘got a potential hit here for my desiccated fans’.
Thankfully none of my musical heroes have yet sunk to whistling.
Todd Rundgren gets close.
On the otherwise excellent “Useless Begging” track he uses two coins to mimic a tap dance routine.
Real tap dancing is cool.
Executing a paradiddle in a puddle whilst rapping about one’s romantic attachments to “hoes”, and one’s dislike of law enforcement, would get my attention.
The act of whistling looks ridiculous. Undignified puckering of the embouchure. Budgie trills.
Thankfully Roger Whittaker’s beard masked some of his facial contortions.
A bearded Rolf Harris even indulged in a spot of whistling when not Waltzing Matilda (or whatever he was doing with the young maiden)
Alas, the Bearsden Academy whistler remains at large.
It was on an overnight coach journey from Glasgow to Blackpool for the September weekend in 1974. The lights on the coach were dimmed and the sax solo and wah-wah guitar seeped into my consciousness as I was entering that transitional stage from wakefulness to sleep
I went to buy the single as soon as I could but on the advice of the record store I ended up buying the album, ‘Abandoned Luncheonette,’ as it featured an unedited version of the song.
That turned out to be one of my smarter decision as it’s still a favourite to this day.
Despite high hopes the single and album sank without trace and Hall & Oates disappeared from the scene. You can’t keep a good duo down however, and they came storming back in 76 with a stunning blue-eyed soul classic called ‘Sara Smile’ which would become a mega hit for them in the US.
On the back of this new found success, ‘She’s Gone’ was dusted down and re-released, and started to get the airplay and credit it deserved, becoming their next big hit.
The song, co-written by the duo was inspired by a New Years Eve date that never happened when John Oates got stood up and returned to his New York apartment alone and despondent, but with an idea for a song.
The resultant track and album was produced by the legendary Atlantic producer, Arif Mardin who’s credits include Aretha Franklyn, The Average White Band, George Benson, Chaka Khan, Carly Simon, Donny Hathaway and The Bee Gees.
If the song deserves high praise then it’s fair to say that the home-made promotional clip they made to support it in 1973 is not in the same league.
To put it in context the video was the duo’s two-finger response to their home town Philadelphia’s version of Top Of The Pops, and a request by them to lip-synch to the song during a live studio performance.
Aggrieved at the thought, Hall & Oates made their excuses, cut the home made video in an afternoon and sent the clip to the show.
On viewing the video the show refused to play it and were so offended by its content that they banned Philly natives, Hall & Oates from ever appearing on the show again, whilst also trying their damnedest to get the song banned from every radio station in Philly.
The video features Hall & Oates, their road manager and Sara Allen, Hall’s girlfriend at the time and the very same Sara from ‘Sara Smile’.
There are a few decent covers of ‘She’s Gone’, including a Lou Rawls version, but the best known is by the American soul/disco band, Tavares who’s version provided them with their big breakthrough hit in 1974.
In fact, when Hall & Oates re-released their original version of ‘She’s Gone’ two years later in 1976, most people complimented them on a great cover of a Tavares song!
Hall and Oates never looked back and would go on to become the most successful duo of all time with six number ones, eclipsing Simon and Garfunkel and the Carpenters.
Latest in the line of One Hit Wonders from the 1970s is the mystical, thought provoking Angie Baby by Australian songstress Helen Reddy which reached Number 5 in the UK charts back in early 1975.
Hold on, I hear you say.
Helen Reddy, a one hit wonder?
What about Delta Dawn? What about I Am Woman?
Then there’s – Ain’t no Way to Treat a Lady, Leave me Alone (Ruby Red Dress), not to mention You and Me Against the World.
One hit wonder? you’re winding me up, pal.
Well, It’s true that Delta Dawn and I Am Woman were number one hits in the USA while the others mentioned reached the top ten both across the pond and, unsurprisingly, in Reddy’s native Oz but the British charts? – not a sniff, leaving Angie Baby as her sole intrusion into our country’s musical psyche.
And what a spectacular intrusion it was.
Angie Baby was written by Alan O’Day who, despite sounding like he was one of Robin Hood’s merry men, was a successful American musician/songwriter and it centred around the unfulfilled life of a teenage girl who was clearly suffering some form of mental illness, as evidenced by the use of the words ‘touched’ and ‘crazy’ within the lyrics.
Throughout the song, O’Day touches on subjects like mental health, sexual deviation and female empowerment, all of which were relatively taboo subjects back then, often swept under the carpet but which are nowadays very much mainstream societal issues.
Angie spends all her spare time shut away in her bedroom, listening to the radio and fantasising about mysterious lovers who come into her room every night and dance with her until her father tells her to switch the music off.
The story takes a sinister twist when a local boy, who had been spying on Angie through her window, takes advantage of the fact that her parents are away by making his way into her room.
Fuelled up with testosterone, its clear that the dirty bugger’s not planning to have a chat with her about the newsworthy events of the day such as the Watergate scandal and the imminent cessation of the Vietnam War.
Nope, Laddo just wants to get his leg over a vulnerable girl but Angie soon cuts him down to size, quite literally as it happens, as she uses the supernatural power of the volume control on the radio to slowly reduce him to virtually nothing before he gets swallowed up by the speaker as Reddy finishes this part of the song with the haunting words ‘never to be found’.
At this stage, the boy’s probably wishing he’d been guided by his head as opposed to any other body part, and whilst everyone else (Angie apart) thinks he’s dead, he’s actually trapped inside her radio and brought out whenever his services are required…. as described in one of the closing lines -‘a crazy girl with a secret lover who keeps her satisfied.’
Being terribly British, we think it would only be polite and proper to check it out( it may be one you have missed, who knows?) by following the link above and perhaps leave a Comment for his regular readers?
A big welcome to all our new readers and blog subscribers from the United States!
Have you ever wondered what it was like in the UK during the 1970s? Did life differ much socially, culturally or even musically? (Well – we ALL know the answer to the last one, right?)
Joking aside, life was different on opposing sides of the water. Regular contributorAndreamoved to the UK with her family as a young girl and spent the ’70s coming to terms with our alien accents and customs! Type ‘Andrea Grace Burn‘ into the ‘Search’ box and hit ‘enter’ to quickly find her hilarious and joyful accounts of surviving the trauma!
Well, dive right in! Our contributors offer personal perspectives on all aspects of living / growing up in the late ’60s and through the ’70s – tales from our school days; family life; music; fashions; play and social life; food; sport; comics ; books; tv and movies …. it’s all here at Once Upon a Time in The ’70s.
For those of us a bit longer in the tooth, Valentines day has turned into a bit of a routine if we’re being honest.
Gone is the nervous anxiety we used to experience from dispatching a Valentine card to a teenage crush who’d no clue you’d been admiring them from afar…. or at least from the other side of the playground.
Unfortunately those heady days are in the dim and distant past, and the euphoria has been replaced by a tired and trusted template for most of us….
Step 1) Try to write something witty in said card that’s neither too flippant or too soppy, oh and something different from last year (if you can actually remember what you wrote 12 months ago!).
Step 2) Procure an over-priced bunch of flowers, inflated by 50% for the special day… but never from a petrol station (we’ve all learned that lesson the hard way!)
Step 3) Source a romantic dine-in meal for two from your favourite supermarket complete with customary Prosecco and chocolates.
Whilst we all appreciate, nay expect, a Valentine card from a long-term partner, if we’re being honest, it’s akin to receiving a birthday card.
As we all know, the authentic Valentine experience centres on intrigue, ensuring that all the fun is in the detective work…. looking for clues to uncover the secret admirer.
I’m going back 50 years or so here of course to when we were impressionable teens and such things were deemed important.
I did receive one anonymous Valentine card… when I was 13, but I didn’t dare think about who it was from until I forensically compared the handwriting to my Mum’s in order to rule her out of the equation.
I’ve still no idea who sent it but thank you whoever you were, I should have framed it… although having a 50 year old Valentine card hanging up in your living room wall would be a bit weird.
I also sent one anonymous Valentine… to a girl in Primary 7, I say anonymous but when I walked into class that day with a big chunk of hair missing because someone had convinced me that enclosing a ‘lock of hair’ was a Valentine tradition…. I probably gave the game away.
With no comprehension of how meagre a ‘lock of hair’ should be, I struggled to close the envelope due to the mass of curls I’d tried to wedge into the card. I imagine the curls sprung to life like a jack in the box as soon as the envelope was opened, scarring the poor girl for life.
One thing I remember about Valentines back then was the trend to utilise every inch of space on both the card and the envelope with messages, acronyms and rhymes.
Classics like – “Postie postie don’t be slow, be like Elvis, go man go”
SWALK (Sealed With A Loving Kiss)
The origin of acronyms on envelopes stems from soldiers writing to their sweethearts during the war, using coded initials to convey secret messages. Some acronyms were sweet like HOLLAND (Hope Our Love Lasts And Never Dies) whilst others were a bit more risqué like NORWICH (Nickers Off Ready When I Get Home).
We were normally en-route to school when the postman came a-knocking on the 14th Feb, which gave opportunity for some hopeless romantics to day-dream about an avalanche of mail waiting for them on their doorstep.
For a good mate of mine this scenario actually happened, although it wasn’t on the 14th of February.
Unbeknown, an ex-girlfriend who wasn’t best pleased with my pal sent his picture, a dewy-eyed story about him being lonesome, and a heart-felt request for female pen-pals, to one of the popular teen mags of the day. When he got home from school his Mum greeted him at the door with a sackful of mail and a hearty – “what have you been up to now, you little shit?”.
Of course, at the time he had no idea what was going on, but he still had hours of fun ploughing through his ‘fan-mail’, replying to a selected few.
Coming home to a bagful of fan-mail from strangers who thought you were cute must have been uplifting, but I suspect he, like the rest of us, probably falls into one of three camps when it comes to Valentine’s Day now…
Camp 1) ‘It’s a scam and I refuse to be ripped-off ’, brigade. This guy is normally single, or soon will be!
Camp 2) ‘I’m a hopeless romantic, and it’s a special day’, brigade. This guy is definitely single!
And perhaps the most popular….
Camp 3) ‘I better make an effort or else I’ll be in the shit’, brigade.