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lady gaggia.

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.
(R.I.P. Andrea)

Once Upon a Time in The '70s

(Post by Andrea Grace Burn of East Yorkshire )

Hawkins Wine Bar.

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…

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Love and Affection – Joan Armatrading

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.

Lester ‘all the pieces matter’ Freamon

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.

Whistling in Music

Russ Stewart: London, October 2022

“Who’s the whistling Rufus?”

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?

Why? 

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. 

18 With A Bullet – She’s Gone by Hall & Oates

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, April 2022

Selected 70s hits from across the pond

She’s Gone by Daryl Hall & John Oates

I can remember the first time I heard this song….

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.

It’s So Nice To Be Insane – No One Asks You To Explain

By Alan Fairley: Edinburgh, March 2022

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.’

Maybe it worked out ok for the lad after all.

nashville usa blog hosts once upon a time in the ’70s

Today, Max Gower from Nashville, USA, has selected one of Once Upon a Time in The ’70s articles to feature on his excellent PowerPop – An Eclectic Collection of Pop Culture blog

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?

Thanks again Max!

welcome to our new readers from the united states.

USA TODAY – map of United States of America.

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?)

Wink emoji

Joking aside, life was different on opposing sides of the water. Regular contributor Andrea moved 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.

JACKIE & PAUL
(March 2022)

It Must Be Love, Love, Love…

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, February 2022

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 remember what you actually 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.

Truth be told we all know that Valentines Day has become a commercial juggernaut and whilst the tradition should have every reason to grind to a halt in todays age of instant messaging, it’s still chugging along just fine…

In the UK alone, just under half the population spend money on their Valentine beau’s and around £1.3 billion is spent on cards, flowers, chocolates, etc, with an estimated 25 million Valentine cards being sent.

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, attacking her like the creature from Alien and 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”

Or

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 to him, an ex-girlfriend who wasn’t best pleased with him 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.

It’s a great story, but it’s his to tell, so I’ll see if I can entice him to share it in all its glory on the blog sometime.

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)
The – ‘it’s a scam and a waste of money, and I refuse to be ripped-off ’ brigade.
This guy is normally single!

Camp 2)
The – ‘I’m a hopeless romantic, and it’s a special day’ brigade.
This guy is normally single!

And perhaps the most popular….

Camp 3)
The – ‘I better make an effort or else I’ll be in the shit’ brigade.

To which I am a fully paid-up member!!

Happy Valentines Day to all, when it comes….

members can now post directly onto our facebook group.

GOOD NEWS!
When Paul and I started the blog around ten months ago, we took some time to gauge what would work, how best present the memories and how to organically grow the readership.

The intention has always been, and so remains, for the blog to be the focal point of sharing stories from The Seventies. However, there is also a case to offer ‘quick hit’ conversations centred around what we regard as the ‘Greatest Decade’ so the Facebook Group has now been reconfigured, allowing members to post nostalgia and memories direct.

We are keen to stay clear of the usual social media nonsense on politics and conspiracy theories etc, so we would ask everyone please to respect each other, keep posts light, fun, friendly, ’70s related and abide by the Group Rules which can be found on the page.

The Group remains ‘Private’ in that members are still required to be approved by the Administrators before joining, and of course only members are able to post.

Links to new blog posts will continue to be posted on the Facebook Group and of course, if anyone would like to expand on any conversation seen within the Group, then please don’t hesitate to message Paul or myself – details can be found on the Contact page.

As Buzby said: it’s good to talk.’

The Host of Christmas Past (Part Two)

George Ho Ho Ho Cheyne: Glasgow, Xmas 2021

As domestic goddesses go, my mum was up there with the best of them. No task too big, no task too small.

And like a lot of women of her generation, Christmas seemed to bring out her A game as she wrestled with a heavy workload, complicated logistics and four largely unhelpful sons.

Nothing could faze her.

So there are 16 people coming for Christmas dinner now? No problem, I’ll cook some more. Grandma won’t leave her house until after the Queen’s Speech? That’s okay, I can work round that. There’s no present for cousin Alan? Leave it with me, I’ll find something. We’ve run out of mixers for the drinks? Don’t worry, I’ve got a stash in the cupboard. There’s a worldwide shortage of Brussel sprouts? No sweat, I’ll traipse round the shops till I find some.

My stress levels would be sky-high if I’d to cook Christmas dinner for six people, never mind 16.

But there was always a sense of calmness and order in my mum’s kitchen – despite the crazy schedule of the big day and the equipment she was using.

Remember, this was 50 years ago…no fan-assisted ovens or giant fridge-freezers back then.

She was, in part, aided and abetted by my dad – hopeless romantic that he was – and his choice of Christmas presents.

I seem to remember a Kenwood Chef mixer, a Sodastream set, a hostess trolley and a microwave oven being handed over on Christmas mornings.

In fairness, there was a fair amount of collusion with my mum about the gifts she wanted – and these gadgets were game-changers in our house.

*******

Kenwood Chef:

As revealed in the Host of Christmas Past (Part One), my mum used to knock up a Christmas cake, home-made mince pies and a giant Christmas pudding in the build-up to the big day.

I always volunteered to help out with stirring the mixture because I had the ulterior motive of getting to scoop up any leftovers in the large ceramic bowl. The stirring was done with a wooden spoon and some proper elbow grease – until the Kenwood Chef mixer arrived.

What a difference. I may have lost the chance of a budding career as a power lifter as my biceps didn’t develop much after that, but at least I still got to lick the bowl.

Sodastream:

A selection of fizzy drinks at your fingertips. What’s not to like when you’re a kid?

Before the machine arrived in our kitchen, we had to rely on the Alpine lorry coming round on a Friday with our bottles of skoosh. But when they were gone, they were gone – usually within a day or two.

The Sodastream offered up a constant supply of cola, orange, lemonade, limeade and whatever other syrup concentrates we got in. It was a serious upgrade on the soda syphon which basically dispensed soda water and nothing else.

However, no matter how desperate my brothers and I were, we never went near the cherry flavour. That was  an acquired taste best left to the adults.

Hostess trolley:

This was a must-have in the Seventies for any family sitting down to a Christmas dinner for 16 people.

After scrambling about for more chairs and an extra table to stick on the end of ours, the attention swung round to how to cater for so many guests without the food going cold.

The answer, of course, was a hostess trolley. My mum was able to cook half the veg and keep it warm in the trolley’s Pyrex compartments and then do the other half just before dinner was served.

A cunning plan, no doubt, but it didn’t help me much. I was sat at the end of the bottom table and the roast parsnips ran out before they got to me because my aunt forgot to take the other batch out the trolley. Why couldn’t she have forgotten the sprouts instead?

Microwave:

This arrived in our house in time for the 1979 festive season and was one of the early models.

I do remember when it came out the box on Christmas Day that the last word I’d use to describe it was micro…this was a metal beast.

My mum had decided to christen the microwave by cooking the Christmas pudding in it and wandered off to read up on the instructions after we’d finished the main course.

After a while, she joined the rest of us at the table for the traditional quiz when…kaboom!

There had been some sort of explosion in the kitchen so we all rushed through to see a thick pall of smoke, the door of the microwave hanging open and the charred remains of the Christmas pudding smouldering inside.

Turns out my mum, being new to this microwave cooking lark, thought it must have been a mistake when the printed instructions for the pudding said: “Cook on high for 4 minutes.”

This, after all, was an era when you steamed a Christmas pud for anything up to eight hours so she decided it must be a misprint and put it on for 40 minutes.

Oops. But being a domestic goddess she recovered the situation in true Blue Peter style by producing another pudding she’d made earlier – just in case!

Mind you, there were still bits of burnt currants and candied peel finding their way down from the artex ceiling months later…