Tag Archives: David Bowie

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….

Golden Years

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, May 2021

Every generation tends to think there era was best.

And why wouldn’t they… typically, every era has access to more ‘stuff’ and better lifestyle choices than the previous one.

For our generation (late Baby-Boomers born between 1954-1964), I think we hit the sweet spot culturally…. particularly when it comes to music.

My musical awareness began around 1968, just in time to catch the Beatles, and all the brilliant 70s artists that followed.
I look back now and realise that the 70s wouldn’t have been so prolific without the 60s…. with The Beatles, Dylan, Hendrix, Motown, Stax and the Laurel Canyon scene inspiring what was to follow.

And what was to follow was pretty special…….

The Rolling Stones, The Who, Steely Dan, David Bowie, Marvin Gaye, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, The Eagles, Earth Wind & Fire, James Brown, The Doobie Brothers, Roxy Music, T-Rex, Little Feat, Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklyn, Carole King, Carly Simon, Bob Marley, Parliament/Funkadelic, Bobby Womack, Pink Floyd, Al Green, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Queen, McCartney, Lennon, Harrison , Yes, Genesis, AWB, The Bee Gees, Deep Purple, Linda Ronstadt, Curtis Mayfield, George Benson, Rory Gallagher, John Martyn, Todd Rundgren…. and many more

Whether you were a fan of some of these acts or not, the one thing they all shared was a prolificacy of output…. amazingly they all managed to release multiple albums of exceptional quality, whilst still finding time to compose, record, tour, collaborate and live a 70s rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, with all the excesses that entailed.

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I’m with the band – On the road with Zep

Indeed, there was so much quality being produced in the 70s that for the first five or six years of the decade it seemed like there was a landmark release every other week.

Take 1971 as an example.

  • The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers
  • Carole King – Tapestry
  • Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV
  • David Bowie – Hunky Dory
  • Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
  • Rod Stewart – Every Picture Tells a Story
  • John Lennon – Imagine
  • Joni Mitchell – Blue
  • The Who – Who’s Next
  • T Rex – Electric Warrior
  • Cat Stevens – Teaser and the Firecat
  • The Doors – LA Woman
  • Sly and the Family Stone – There’s a Riot Goin’ On
  • The Faces – A Nods as Good as a Wink to a Blind Horse
  • James Brown – Sex Machine
  • Don McLean – American Pie
  • Gil Scott Heron – Pieces of a Man
  • Jethro Tull – Aqualung
  • Pink Floyd – Meddle 
  • James Taylor – Mud Slide Slim 
  • Isaac Hayes – Shaft 
  • Yes – Fragile
  • Paul McCartney – Ram 
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71 A Classic Year

Included in this list from 71 are two of the top three albums of all time, according to Rolling Stone magazine….
Marvin Gaye’s – What’s Going On and Joni Mitchell’s – Blue.
Both seminal and often cited as landmark recordings by other artists and critics, but in truth just two excellent albums from a catalogue of exquisite releases.
There is a neat book about the quality of the music released in 1971 by David Hepworth who describes the year as ‘the most creative in popular music’

Anther remarkable thing about the 70s was the diversity of the music.

Rock, pop, soul, reggae, jazz, punk, folk, glam, funk….. it was one big melting pot where you could find Benny Hill rubbing shoulders at the top of the charts with Jimi Hendrix, Abba with Pink Floyd, and The Wombles with Stevie Wonder.

The 70s record buying public represented a ‘broad church’ of musical styles and tastes and they were all represented in the weekly top 30.

There was also a constant flow of talent breaking through in the 70s.
Take the chart below from July 1972 and you will see the emergence of a few acts making their chart debuts that month, who went on to do pretty well….
Roxy Music, Mott the Hoople, Alice Cooper, ELO

Another barometer of how good an era is, can be measured I think, by the interest in it from future generations.

Based on my own anecdotal evidence, I have a daughter who loves Gladys Knight and Marvin Gaye as much as she loves Beyonce or John Mayer and I have sons who dig Steely Dan, The Rolling Stones and Stevie Wonder as much as they dig Kings of Leon, Foo Fighters or Kanye West.

That only happens when the music is timeless…..

Talking of timeless music, the updated 70s Jukebox links are below.
There are 250 songs on the master playlist now, with the common thread being that they are all singles that would almost certainly have been playing on a jukebox somewhere in the 70s.

Thanks to everyone who contributed, it’s a playlist that’s been curated by you and not surprisingly our choices have proved to be a microcosm of the record buying public with a wide range of tastes and musical styles covered.

It was clear from the song choices coming through at the start that there were two distinctive threads –
Soul/Disco
Classic Pop/Rock

Therefore I’ve prepared two playlists….

1) The Ultimate Playlist which is the master playlist and features all 250 songs, tracks 1-150 are classic pop/rock songs and tracks 151-250 are soul/disco tracks…. select shuffle and it will churn out 17 hours of hit after hit, just like a great jukebox should.

2) The Boogie Nights Playlist features the 100 soul/disco tracks taken from the master playlist which you can boogie or smooch to….. just like a night up Joannas or your favourite 70s nightclub of choice!

Within each playlist I have tried to group the songs in a running order that makes sense but if you’re like me you’ll probably just hit ‘shuffle’, pour out your beverage of choice and boogie round the kitchen like it’s 1975…

To save the playlist to your Spotify library….. press the Spotify icon in the top right hand corner of the playlists above and when you’ve been transferred to the playlist on your own Spotify account, click the Heart icon to save the playlist to your library.

The Jean Genius

If you’re a Bowie fan you probably have a selection of his albums, tapes, cd’s and downloads in your music collection…. hit-after-hit stretching across six decades from 1969’s Space Oddity to 2016’s Blackstar.

For a few years though, until his WOW moment on TOTP in 1972, as implausible as it sounds, Bowie was on course to be a one-hit-wonder…. just like Thunderclap Newman with ‘Something in the Air’ or Norman Greenbaum with ‘Spirit in the Sky’

Then along came Ziggy Stardust and the rest as they say is history.
Bowie went on to become arguably the most influential artist of the 70s….. continually reinventing his sound and persona and influencing the tastes of a generation along the way.

As an example of the latter, on October 1974 David Live was released, it was a decent album showcasing Bowie’s transition from Glam to Soul with a great version of Eddie Floyd’s ‘Knock on Wood‘, but what captured my attention as much as the music was the DB suit DB wore on the cover.

Up until this point Bowie’s wardrobe had consisted of elaborate Japanese jumpsuits, kimonos and leotards.

Distinctive, perhaps, but not the kind of thing you could buy in Krazy House and wear to Shuffles on a dreich Saturday night in Glasgow!


A cool, smart suit on the other hand was something we could relate to, so on our next pay-day, a few of us went up to Glasgow to Jackson the tailors on Union St to order our own made to measure* version of the double-breasted tin-flute Bowie sported on the record sleeve.
*Mark Arbuckle covered the made to measure process brilliantly in this piece.
https://onceuponatimeinthe70s.com/2021/04/21/customers-incontinence-and-conga-lines/

After a few weeks the suits were ready and when we went up the town that Saturday night we all felt pretty ‘gallus’ in our high-waisted, loose-fitting trousers, and shorter-length, double breasted jackets, as did half the male population of Glasgow, who all had the same idea!

I was pretty much hooked from the minute I saw Bowie perform Starman on TOTP in 72 and stayed a fan all the way through his career.
I loved his 70s personas and in particular the Thin White Duke period which frustratingly he never talked about much… owing to the fact that he had absolutely no recall of recording the Station to Station album!

In fact he was so bonkers and strung out during this period (75-76) that he reportedly kept his own urine in a fridge.
This in part was due to a falling out with Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page….. Bowie became paranoid that Page (well known for dabbling in the occult) would engage some form of black-magic against him if he got hold of his bodily fluids.

Based in LA and weighing in at a meagre 7 stone, his diet at the time consisted of milk, peppers and heaps of Colombian marching powder.
It’s well documented that Bowie fled this life of excess to regain health and sanity in Europe, specifically Berlin, and by the release of Heroes in 1977 he was in a much better place, both physically and mentally

Bowie 75
Bowie 77

I actually came into The Starman’s orbit very briefly in 1983.

I was working at Levis and we were developing a campaign to promote our 501 Jeans, which at the time, we couldn’t give away in the UK, in fact the only European country who sold them in any volume was Sweden.

UK retailers didn’t want to stock them as they were more expensive than our regular jeans and they reasoned that consumers didn’t like the American fit (low waist, straight leg).

Nonetheless, our chiefs in San Francisco had planned a global strategy around the 501, it was the original jean, which was the main point of difference for the brand in the US, where Levis was coming under threat from designer brands like Calvin Klein…. so we had no choice but to try and make it work.

I was part of a team tasked with coming up with innovative ideas to support the 501 campaign in Europe and as a first step we came up with the simple, but not so innovative idea of getting contemporary icons to wear 501’s the way James Dean & Brando used to, back in the day.

It was a classic ‘seeding’ strategy which more or less consisted of giving product away…. to opinion leaders (musicians, actors, sportsmen, models, etc), in order to get the product seen on the right people.

It’s a concept that can work pretty well if all the planets align.
As an example…

In early 1983 we sent some Levis denim jackets to an up and coming band coming out of Dublin called U2, Bono cut the sleeves off his jacket and wore it relentlessly.
The band released the albums War and Under a Blood Red Sky in 83 and it became U2’s big breakout year, Bono was everywhere… wearing his self-customised, sleeveless Levis jacket

To show how this filters down…
I met Charlie Nicholas in the Holiday Inn Glasgow around this time as we had a mutual friend, as soon as Charlie heard I worked for Levis he asked me if I could get him a Levis denim jacket “to cut the sleeves off… just like Bono”.

Within months, retailers started selling out of our denim jackets, sales tripled and we eventually had to increase our jacket production and develop our own sleeveless version.

The other avenue we explored was official sponsorship… ‘let’s get the coolest rock stars and bands to wear and promote Levis by sponsoring their tours’.
Everyone does this now but it was a new concept back then.

This was trickier than you’d think… some people in the room actually thought it would be a good idea to approach the gods of double-denim, Status Quo and there were a couple of Gary Numan fans in there as well… however to most of us it was clear we needed someone with gravitas, credibility and a wide appeal.

After some debate and research we discovered that Bowie was scheduled to tour (Serious Moonlight tour) in support of his new album – Let’s Dance, so he became the prime candidate.

To be honest we weren’t very optimistic that he’d go for it but he liked the brand and a few zero’s on a cheque later… the mighty DB was on board.

The concept worked so well that we repeated it over the next few years with tours and one-off events, but the tipping point for the brand in Europe came when we launched the famous 501 Laundrette ad with Nick Kamen in 1985, which also propelled ‘I Heard it Through the Grapevine’ to number one in the charts.

Ironically, the same retailers who claimed they couldn’t sell 501’s in 1983 were now begging for as much stock as they could get their hands on….

Bruce Springsteen and the E street band – Wembley 4th July 1985

Sting’s first solo tour 1985

Ultravox’s Lament tour 1984

Of course, guys like Bowie and The Boss were never going to do meet and greets no matter how much money they were paid, but Sting and the Ultravox guys were contracted to come and meet customers and prize winners after the gigs, which they mostly did although Sting’s face was usually tripping him, unlike Midge Ure who was always accommodating.

My brief Bowie moment came when he popped into our London office, he looked incredibly healthy and was extremely friendly and charming, he happily signed a few bits and pieces for some of us including a tour programme and the Let’s Dance album sleeve (pics of both below ) and before we knew it he was whisked away.

In truth, I struggled a bit with the 90’s Bowie, particularly the Tin Machine period but I got back on board in the noughties…. a return to form, spring-boarded by his stellar Glastonbury performance in 2000 when he decided to give the people what they wanted…. a set-list made up of his best songs.

Although I’d been a big fan in the 70s I had never seen Bowie live and the first time I saw him perform was when we took some customers to see his Serious Moonlight gig at Murrayfield in Edinburgh in June 83.

The next time I saw him perform live was the most memorable.
It was at the Hammersmith Odeon in October 2002, his first return to that venue since the shock July 1974 retirement announcement when he ‘broke up the band’ live on stage…. to their complete bemusement.

“Not only is it the last show of the tour, but it’s the last show that we’ll ever do. Thank you.”

It helped that we had fantastic tickets for that show, centre stage, six rows from the front.
I’ve no idea how long Bowie performed for but it must have been close to 3 hours… he played 33 songs starting with Life on Mars, finishing with Ziggy Stardust and included a song he’d only ever played live once before… the majestic Bewlay Brothers from Hunky Dory.

I also saw Bowie the following year at Wembley arena on his last live date in London.
He seemed so fit and healthy at 56 but six months later whilst still on the same gruelling ‘Reality’ tour he had a heart attack on stage in Hamburg and that proved to be his last ever gig.

He released an album in 2013, The Last Day, which raised hopes that he was fit and well but it all went quiet again, and then out of nowhere a new album – Blackstar dropped 3 years later on his 69th birthday, this was the encouraging news we’d all been waiting for… maybe we would even see him play live again?

He died two days after its release on the 10th of January.

There was much outpouring of grief when the news broke, he meant so much to so many people and it’s probably the only celebrity that I’ve ever felt sustained grief over.
I had grown up with Bowie from age 13, my kids had grown up listening to him, he’d been a fixture in my life for 45 years, and suddenly he wasn’t there any more.

But even in the end Bowie did the most Bowie thing ever, bowing out on his own terms with an innovative, out-of-the-blue, jazz-based album that nobody knew anything about until the day of its release.

If you listen to the lyrics it’s an album made by a man who wasn’t ready to leave us but knew he wasn’t going to be with us for long.
To this day I still find it hard to listen to that album…….

‘Something happened on the day he died
Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside
Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried’
“I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar”

All hail the Starman…..

My top 12 Bowie songs change all the time, this weeks selection is….

Dedicated Follower of Fashion

John Allan: Bridgetown, Western Australia, April 2021

It must be over 20 years since I came to the realisation that it’s function over fashion, comfort over couture.

There are basically two seasons in this part of the world.
Summer… where I adorn fabulous floral Hawaiian shirts and shorts.
Winter…. when I rug up in sweatshirts and trackie dacks (tracksuit trousers).

My major dilemma is whether to have the elasticated waist below or above the beer gut.
Shitty nappy look versus camel toe look.

Thong (flip flop),
Croc,
Ugg,
Blundies (Blundstone or it’s competitor Rossi elastic sided boot)
and you’ve covered all known Australian footwear.

I haven’t laced up a shoe for over 5 years.

Our early ‘look’ was of course solely in the hands of our parents.

Any baby photos I’ve seen of myself, I seem to be wearing a dress.
More than that, there are layers upon layers of petticoats underneath.
Now there could be various reasons for this….

It could have been a christening or some other type of formal ceremony.
Or, perhaps after two boys, my Mum had prepared for a daughter.

Or lastly…. my parents were just taking the piss.

If I breathe in, I can just about squeeze into them today!

I can’t ever remember my parents holidaying in the Black Forest or being visited by any Tyrolean travellers but for some reason at an early and vulnerable age I was presented with a pair of lederhosen.

I was paraded in front of many a coffee morning to the oohs and aahs of neighbouring mothers.
Certainly they were hard wearing and tough and with the bib removed and a long t-shirt, nearly inconspicuous until one of your mates clocked them.
“What are you wearing ?”

Was this a continuation of the parental piss take ?

Ahead of their time, my parents would bundle 3 boys and assorted camping equipment into the family Cortina and head abroad.
The check list must have read like :- tent, ground sheet, sleeping bags, lilos, calor gas stove, 3 kilts and brylcreem.

National Lampoons European Vacation – Allan style…

There are numerous photographs of my two brothers and I standing in front of the famous buildings and monuments of Copenhagen with shirt, tie, matching v-neck jerseys, slicked back hair and kilts.

Even complete strangers queued up to take pictures of us.

We were pimped out like Caledonian Kardashians.
In fact as I write this there may be some demented Dane ogling at us on his mantelpiece as we pose in front of the Little Mermaid….

Photo opportunity or piss take ?

It wasn’t until the 70s that you were allowed to take charge of your own wardrobe…..No more man at C & A’s for  me!

The groovy mauve (rounded collared) shirt, with the red, yellow and black tank top.
Think Fair Isle Partick Thistle.

Loon pants so tight around the crutch that it lowered your sperm count. Indeed, most of the material was utilised around your ankles billowing atop of baseball boots.

For a jacket I had my Dad’s old RAF tunic sans original buttons (disrespectful otherwise).

Mum would give me a good look up and down.

“Are you taking the piss ?”

Most of my working life I was spared the noose of shirt and tie and wore uniform.
As a student nurse I had to endure the itchy starchy collars of the dentist shirt…. a straitjacket like garment that buttoned up over you right shoulder.

One day I had to accompany a District Nurse into the community, so adorned jumper and jacket. I noticed one client being very reverential to me and calling me Father.
I of course absolved her of her sins, told her to recite five Hail Marys and promised to christen her grandchild.

As a ‘Nurse Educator’ I had to supervise male medical students on several ‘work experience’ days.
First lesson was to secure their ties, although it was always amusing to watch some gormless would be Doctor with his tie traipsing in a full bedpan like a thirsty puppy.
A literal piss take.

Thankfully, common sense prevailed and nurses went about their business in scrubs.
Like wearing pyjamas in the daytime………………….which I’m doing now.

Call the fashion police. It’s an emergency !

Fashion! Turn to the left
Fashion! Turn to the right
Oooh, fashion!
We are the goon squad
And we’re coming to town
Beep-beep
Beep-beep

School Bands and Laughing in the Face of Danger

Ray Norris: Helensburgh, April 2021

Silas Wood – Original Line-up

Ah yes…. perhaps it was the unbridled enthusiasm of youth, or merely the relentless pursuit of musical mediocrity that kept us going in those school band days.

None of yer fancy guitar tuners or modelling amps back then … no sir, it was cheap transistor amps, Jedson guitars (£19.99 from Cuthbertsons) and home-made speaker cabinets sporting unconvincing “Marshall” logos.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll limit my insight into life on the road (mainly Milngavie Road) to two anecdotes united by the thin and fraying thread of danger and scant regard for life and limb when transporting musical equipment.

Probably the stupidest example was when Ronnie Taylor and I borrowed a speaker cabinet from David Gillespie (Ges), who lived at the top of Boclair Hill.

“Do you have transport?” says Ges.  “Mm…hm” was our reply. 
This speaker cabinet was a monster, made from a solid door, lined with carpet, it weighed a ton.
Our task was to get it back to Ronnie’s house in the Switchback. 

Fortunately, it had been snowing heavily, and Ronnie had a sledge. Sorted!

I have no idea how we got it down that hill without speeding towards the busy Milngavie Road at a rate of knots.

who needs strings??

The band that I played in was called Silas Wood, with Ian “T” Thomson, on keyboards, Hubert Kelly, on drums, Russ Stewart (of this parish) on bass, and myself on guitar…

In case you’re wondering about the band’s name – my brother came up with it on a bus journey along the Great Western Rd one day whilst passing “St Silas Church” and “Woodland Drive”…. it could have been worse I suppose!

Our set-list was a mix of covers, from Humble Pie’s (Stone Cold Fever) to Bowie’s (Moonage Daydream), as well as some original material – “Free Fall” by Russ, and the inspirationally titled “The Wah-Wah” (a song written by me after I had just bought a wah-wah pedal …. hmmm).

You can check out some of the songs we covered on the Spotify playlist below…

Selection of Silas Wood covers…

The band’s regular rehearsal venue was the “Tenants Hall” in Castlehill – very handy as we kept our equipment in Hubert’s flat a short walk away. 

It may have been that we were double booked or that the hall was finally condemned (I once fell into a hole in the floor, mid-solo, didn’t miss a note!) but I digress…. on this day we were due to rehearse at a different venue – Kessington Hall. 

Kessington Hall – Bearsden

There was nae transport in them days, it was too far to walk with amps, drum kit, etc and there was no convenient sledge (or snowfall)…. so the obvious solution was to take the good old bus. 

This seemed like a logical solution until we worked out that it would take several bus journeys to schlep our entire kit from one side of Bearsden to the other. 

Gearing up for our multiple journeys, we packed ourselves and as much kit as we could into the limited space at the open entrance to the old style blue bus… generously leaving a small gap for people to get on and off.

Grasping to bass drums and high-hats for dear life, we were entirely at the mercy of the driver’s brake foot.
What could possibly go wrong?

Rock and Roll! 

Led Zeppelin had an aeroplane
Kiss had a customised truck
Silas Wood had an Alexanders bus
Or a sledge….!!

A bit about Silas Wood ….

As you can see from the material we covered, we loved a 3-4 minute rocker but we also had a melodic side as well.

We played a few gigs at Kilmardinny House with other bands from the area as well as gigging locally (nae transport, you see!). 

One such gig was at our school – Bearsden Academy, where I happened to hear some loud banging in the afternoon when we were setting up. 

The source of this was Hubert nailing a piece of wood to the stage floor to prevent his drums from sliding forward….Drummers!!

Cue assistant Headmaster and perpetually angry man…. Deuchars!

In the words of David Crosby, “it’s all coming back to me now”

Paul Fitzpatrick (Ed)
Ray is too modest to blow his own trumpet but he is still playing and composing 48 years on (as is Russ), and he’s still sounding pretty good to these old ears.
For anyone interested in hearing the 2021 version, here’s a link to Ray’s Spotify page that he’s kindly given us permission to share.

Teenage kicks – Ian Hutchison

There appears to be a Courthill theme developing here!

Name: Ian Hutchison

Where were you brought up: Courthill/ Mosshead Estate, Bearsden

Secondary school: Bearsden Academy

Best mates at school: Ian Gilmour, Ian McIntyre, Allan Neill, Alan Cruikshank

Funniest memory from school: During school dance/disco vomiting in Mr Crossley’s (Chemistry) coat pocket in the staff cloakroom. An appropriate addition to his nickname “Chunky.”

First holiday with your mates in UK: Long weekend in Oban, 1976 with Dave Bell and Tim Cumming. Slept in a Simca 100, failed miserably chatting up girls in Mactavishes Kitchen.

That old ‘pull my finger’ routine was big back in the day!

First holiday with your mates abroad: Excluding the school cruise that is, sorry Colin! 1979, Inter Rail card for a month’s travel across Europe with Dave and Tim. Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France and Spain.


Took £130 spending money for the month spent every penny.
So many memories… in the Hague being introduced to a film director, he asked if we wanted to see his gun. Ahh run for the hills!
Teaming up with Angus Mackinlay in Geneva for a few days bevying, I mean sight seeing, but that’s another story….

What was your first job: Apprentice Mechanical Engineer in Hope St, Glasgow from 1975-1977.

Who was your musical hero in 70s: Hendrix, Steely Dan, Jan Akkerman, Hatfield and the North so many….


What was your favourite single: American Pie – Don Maclean

Favourite album: Hunky Dory, Close to the Edge, L. Zep II & IV

First gig: ELP, Greens Playhouse, 1971’ish, was bloody awful. Keith’s organ kept breaking down (Ooh Missus!)

Emmerson stabbing his keyboard – no wonder the bleedin’ thing wasn’t working!

Favourite movie in 70s: Young Frankenstein @ the La Scala,               Sauchiehall St, with Mackie, Gilly and Jabes.
Few pints of Tartan Special in the Director’s Box, Hope St, first.

Who was your inspiration in 70s: Was going to say Deputy Head Deuchars, maybe not, let’s say Les Kellet.

We’re all Les Kellet…

Posters on your wall: Footballers, Hendrix, Easy Rider, Tennis lassie scratching her erse.

On many a boys wall in the 70s

What do you miss most from the 70s: All the gorgeous girls and probably a pint @ c. £0.20 (or 4/- in real money!)

Farrah Fawcett AND beer – You’re Welcome!

What advice would you give your 14yr old self: Don’t worry too much about the future it’s going to be a blast! Get out there and make every minute count.

70s pub session: Can only be the Brae bar of the Stakis Burnbrae hotel – Keith Moon for the laughs, Howlin’ Wolf, Janis Joplin and Lowell George for the jam session.

The late, great Lowell George
Hutch – still crazy after all these years!

Teenage kicks- Pauline Allan

Pauline Nuremberg 1974

Name: Pauline (O’Rourke) Allan

Where were you brought up: Dalmuir/Clydebank

Secondary school: St Columba’s Clydebank/Notre Dame Dumbarton

Best mates at school: Being the school captain at St C’s  who sang, played clarinet, piano and classical guitar, not many.

Funniest memory from school: On prefect duty at lunchtime found some girls smoking in the toilets. One came towards me pushing her face into mine “You’re claimed! ” To which I replied “ Do you know you have skelly eyes?”

First holiday with your mates in UK: 1972  summer music trip to Pirniehall, Croftamie with Mae, Eunice and many others including a certain Mr Allan. Played Mozart and Vaughan Williams by day, listened to Rod Stewart and the Beatles by night while watching Brian Lynch doing his Thunderbird puppet impressions. 

Pauline in blue suit and John draped over another lass during their early swinging phase
Pauline, Eunice & Mae before they formed Bananarama…

First holiday with your mates abroad: 1974 music trip to Nuremberg, Germany on a chartered coach from Glasgow, with the best of Abba and The Byrds serenading us all the way because our driver was a mad fan. Our German host in Nuremberg welcomed us with “ I hope you are all feeling yourselves at home” as we settled into two weeks of rehearsals and concerts.

Young musicians feeling themselves at home

Thinking we were heading off to perform one day, we found ourselves at the 56,000 capacity Waldstadion stadium in Frankfurt.
The National Wind Band of Scotland once filled Musselborough Town hall to capacity but this would have been a very big ask.

Pauline – an early ringleader in the Tartan Army

We were slightly relieved and very excited to learn we were there to watch the Scotland v Yugoslavia World Cup game, and not to perform.

What was your first job: Instrumental music teacher for Dunbartonshire and Glasgow Schools from 1978 until 1986.

Who was your musical hero in 70s: Lots of musical heroes including Paul Simon, James Taylor, David Bowie, John Martyn.

Rhymin’ Simon
Thin White Duke
The great John Martyn

What was your favourite single: You’ve Got A Friend, James Taylor.

Favourite album: Bookends, Simon & Garfunkel

First gig: Me!! – 1977 at the Ardencaple Folk Club in Helensburgh.
Liam Malone ( honestly! ) an old school friend, invited me to appear at an open mic session. First paying gig.

Favourite movie in 70s: Not exactly my favourite but saw the first Star Wars movie in 1978 at a drive-in, Oakville, Ontario with my Canadian cousins.

Who was your inspiration in 70s: Jimmy Hill my clarinet teacher. Not the pointy chinned sports pundit.

Posters on your wall: Art Nouveau reproduction adverts.

What do you miss most from the 70s: Shopping with mum in Glasgow on Saturday’s. The Danish Food Centre, Epicures, Habitat, Fergusons. Vesta instant meals

What advice would you give your 14yr old self: Don’t be afraid to take up something as uncool as the clarinet because you’ll make a career out of it!

70s pub session: Paul Simon, James Taylor, Carole King and my mum at the Overflow, Yorkhill.

The Overflow – Yorkhill
Pauline today

children of the revolution

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, March 2021

As sub-genre’s go ‘Glam Rock’ has got to be one of the most influential, but for the most part people are usually pretty sniffy about it and it rarely gets the respect it’s due.

Ask people what their favourite 70s music was and they’ll probably say Rock, Disco, Punk, or Reggae but they’ll very rarely say Glam Rock, preferring to say Bowie or Roxy or T-Rex.

Maybe Glam Rock gets a bad rep because for every Roxy Music or T-Rex there was a Chicory Tip or a Kenny.



Maybe it’s because six-inch platform boots, glittery capes, satin loons and feather boas don’t wear quite so well several decades later.

The genesis of Glam Rock is credited to Marc Bolan and his appearance on Top of the Pops (TOTP) in March 1971 with his new single – ‘Hot Love’.

Ex-hippy Marc, bopped along with teardrops of silver glitter under his eyes, gold satin pants, a catchy chorus, and kicked the whole thing off as the unofficial Prince of Glam Rock, with lyrics aimed at his target audience….

Ah she’s my woman of gold
And she’s not very old a Ha Ha

Girls loved him, guys accepted him and parents were a bit confused by him, which as we all know now is the perfect cocktail for pop stardom.

On the back of T-Rex’s impactful TOTP appearance Hot Love went straight to number one and stayed there for 6 weeks.

Get it on (Bang a gong), came hot on its heels, and also made the number one spot its own, ditto the album Electric Warrior and with a sell out tour playing to legions of adoring fans, there was no stopping T-Rex.

‘Jeepster’ was the next release, and the second single I ever bought after ‘Maggie May’.
I remember being particularly impressed with the B side, ‘Life’s a Gas’, and naively thinking that all B sides must be great as Rod’s ‘Reason to Believe’ wasn’t too shabby either.

Frustratingly for T-Rex fans Jeepster would remain at number 2 for six weeks – kept off the top spot firstly by new Glam sensations Slade, and then by of all people – Benny Hill, probably the antithesis of Glam Rock, who reached the coveted Xmas number one spot in 1971, ahead of T-Rex.  

Looking back now it’s quite funny to picture the Bolan devotees huddled around their radios on consecutive Sunday’s, counting down the top 20 and waiting to lip-synch Jeepster’s dreamy lyrics, as it reached the top spot….

You slide so good
With bones so fair
You’ve got the universe
Reclining in your hair

Only to find the slightly less dreamy lyrics of that weeks actual number one, the un-glamest song ever – ‘Ernie the Fastest Milkman in the West’ with the chirpy west country droll of Benny Hill, assaulting their eardrums.

Now Ernie loved a widow, a lady known as Sue,
She lived all alone in Liddley Lane at number 22.
They said she was too good for him, she was haughty, proud and chic,
But Ernie got his cocoa there three times every week

SORRY I COULDN’T RESIST….

When Benny Hill was finally ousted from the number one spot it wasn’t by T-Rex it was by the New Seekers with, ‘I’d like to teach the world to sing’.

It was Glam Rocks first bloody nose – being beaten to the number one spot by upstarts like Slade was one thing but to be kept off the top spot by a roly-poly comedian with a comedy song and then by a TV jingle for coca-cola was an affront to the T Rex acolytes.

Despite this setback, in the space of 12 short months Marc Bolan had become the poster boy (quite literally) of Glam Rock, he was front and centre of every teen mag and plastered on the bedroom walls of most teenage girls, and quite a few boys as well.


Bolan’s success had been meteoric and he quickly became the Pied Piper of the Glam movement, inspiring others to follow with varying degrees of success

There were those artists who jumped on the bandwagon and did it well:

Slade were the perfect example, prior to donning top-hats, satin and glitter they were wearing doc martins and braces as a skinhead band, but Bolan had shown them there was another way, and the lads from Wolverhampton went on to carve out a great career using Glam Rock as their platform.

Similarly, The Sweet, changed lanes, initially a bubble-gum pop band covering Archies songs with aspirations to be the new Monkees, they updated their line-up, beefed up their sound and found a commercial niche within Glam Rock.

Other artists who carved out successful Glam Rock careers in this category include Suzi Quatro, Gary Glitter and Wizzard.

Then there were the hustlers – the bands/artists who flirted with Glam Rock to gain a foothold before using their talents to carve sustainable careers.

David Bowie
Roxy Music
Elton John
New York Dolls

Sparks
Alice Cooper
Mott the Hoople
Lou Reed

And finally there were those artists who jumped on the bandwagon and had their 15 minutes of fame before disappearing off into the sunset.

Bands like – Kenny, Chicory Tip, Racey, Geordie and Hello

The Glam Rock movement probably peaked in 1973, but just as acts like Wizzard and The Sweet were topping the charts, T-Rex’s star was beginning to wane and their last big hit was 20th Century Boy.

The chart below offer a snapshot of the top 20 from May 1973 and as you’ll see, Glam Rock was riding high with 4 of the top 10 singles coming from Glam acts.


By 1973 Bowie was the one carrying the torch for Glam Rock as well as influencing others like Lou Reed and Mott the Hoople to follow in his footsteps. We were soon to find out however that Bowie was the master of reinvention and it wan’t long before he had moved on from Glam and was recording a soul album – Young Americans.

BOWIE, RONSON & HUNTER REUNION

Glam Rock at it’s best was a series of well-crafted, well-produced, 3-4 minute pop songs with a bit of theatre, that didn’t pretend to be anything else. It was commercial, accessible and catchy.
(see Glam Rock playlist below)

In terms of Glam Rock’s legacy, we all know how far reaching Bowie’s influence has been and you only need to listen to the first two Oasis albums to hear T-Rex & Slade riffs aplenty.
Bands as diverse as The Sex Pistols and Chic have also credited Roxy Music’s influence on their careers and acts like Alice Cooper, Sparks and Elton John are still going strong today.

Bolan’s activity waned heading into the mid seventies which was understandable given his prolific output and he found domestic bliss to replace the mayhem.
He was on the comeback trail by 1977 and hosted a TV pop show called imaginatively – ‘Marc’, inviting his old buddy David Bowie to perform Heroes in the final episode.

With a successful TV show a newly released album and a planned tour, things were looking up for Marc when he was involved in a fatal car accident at the tender age of 29.

In terms of Glam Rock fashion, I need to declare that it wasn’t very accessible for the majority of us who didn’t have connections with avant garde designers like Bowie, Ferry or Glitter or who wanted to look like scarecrows on acid like Roy Wood.
Platform shoes and broken ankles were probably as Glam as it got for most of us guys.

YOU COULDN’T BUY THIS IN KRAZY HOUSE!

When it came around, Punk was a lot easier all you needed was a pair of scissors and some safety pins.

I’m probably a tad defensive about Glam Rock because the period it represents, 1971-74 holds a lot of great memories and correlates with my peer groups formative years – a period when we started to have a bit of freedom and a social life.

‘Glam-Rock’ anthems like Get It On, Jean Genie, Virginia Plane and This Town Aint Big Enough for Both of Us, made up the soundtrack to much of that youth, and when I hear those songs today they bring back memories of Teen Discos, and gatherings at friends houses when T-Rex devotees like Elaine Neal (nee Currie) would turn up with her copy of Electric Warrior place the needle on the vinyl – first track, side one, Mambo Sun……

Beneath the bebop moon
I want to croon with you

Beneath the mambo sun
I got to be the one with you

summer 1972 – School’s out.

(Post by Paul Fitzpatrick, of London – February 2021)

1972 in Scotland – The Eurovision Song contest is held in Edinburgh (New Seekers, Beg, Steal or Borrow comes 4th); The Average White Band are formed.

I can’t remember what I had for dinner last night, but I can remember watching Top of the Pops nearly 50 years ago in the summer of 1972.

The summer had already got off to a great start when it was announced that the summer school holidays had been extended by two weeks to align the school leaving age in Scotland to 16 with the rest of the UK.

On top of that I had been invited to go on a camping holiday to Ayr by a good mate Alan McGuire and his family, so five of us and a dog made our way down the old A77 to join the other happy campers at Ayr Racecourse in August 1972.

The next 10 days were among the best of my young life.

Ayr racecourse was closed for the summer and being utilised as a camping site that year.

We were a 20-minute walk from the beach & harbour, a 20-minute walk from the town centre and there were great facilities on site.

Every day was an adventure, and we’d literally collapse into our sleeping bags at night exhausted from the day’s events which included nightly footie matches between the Scottish and the English, all ages and abilities welcome. Matches that went on for ever with the cry of ‘next goal the winner’ never being adhered to.

The sun was shining, there were no midges, everybody was really friendly, and the days seemed to last forever, right up until it got dark at what seemed 10pm most nights.

And if that wasn’t enough, there was the most unbelievable soundtrack being played in the background on the radios and on TV.

I usually missed Top of the Pops (TOTP) because it clashed with football training on a Thursday, but I always made an effort to watch it during the holidays, and I was glad I did that summer, as there were so many memorable moments.

Leading up to our holiday, TOTP was getting interesting; first there was Bowie who had come from nowhere, I’d never heard of him, and the song he was playing (Starman) wasn’t one I’d heard before.

I wasn’t even sure what I was watching, he was strange but cool at the same time, the rest of the band were pretty weird as well, apart from the guitarist who looked reasonably normal, (in a ‘glam-rock normal’ sort of way), but there was no mistaking the quality of the music, it was incredible, and I rushed out to buy the single from Woolies the next day.

The following week Alice Cooper exploded onto our screens for the first time, all menacing in black with ghoulish eye makeup and a sword. It was all theatre of course but we didn’t know it at the time, and we were suitably shocked.

During his performance I remember a girl in a pink smock innocently dancing on stage beside him and thinking ‘you need to be careful hen; he could have your eye out with that sword’.

During his performance I remember a girl in a pink smock innocently dancing on stage beside him and thinking ‘you need to be careful darling; he could have your eye out with that sword’.

Once again Woolies duly received my hard-earned paper-round money.

Cooper with his cutlass on TOTP 1972

So, the hits kept on coming and the following week another band I’d never heard of dropped into my orbit. They were called Mott the Hoople and they rocked up with the anthemic All The Young Dudes, another jaw dropper, which we discovered came from the pen of Bowie.

Woolies, here I come!

We arrived in Ayr on a Thursday, settled in and happily realised that watching TOTP was a communal, must-do activity, so a large group of teenagers including my pal’s older sister Elaine gathered round the TV in the racecourse clubhouse to see who would be appearing that week.

It would be fair to say that the majority of the assembled audience were female and were there in anticipation that their current crushes – David Cassidy or Donny Osmond would be making an appearance on screen.

Unfortunately for the girls there would be no Donny or David that week but they weren’t disappointed as it was the evening that You Wear it Well was performed by Rod Stewart with The Faces in tow. Everybody seemed to love Rod back then and he was back on form larking around, presumably bevvied, which was The Faces de-facto state in those days.

I found a record shop in Ayr the next day.

The following Thursday, our last in Ayr, would be no let down in form as we gathered round the TV to watch the unfortunate Jimmy Saville introduce another new band, called Roxy Music, who were like aliens from another planet.

This bunch of misfits had a vocalist who looked like an Elvis impersonator, and an androgynous silver glove wearing character with a Max Wall haircut playing some sort of box/keyboard, that made weird but wonderful sounds.

The rest of the band looked like extras from Star Trek, but like Bowie and Mott, they jumped out of the screen demanding your attention and the music was captivating. As soon as I got home, I was heading to Woolies for sure.

There were so many highlights on that holiday, I even went to my first gig, to see a band called Chicory Tip. Although we only knew one of their songs, their number one hit Son of my Father.

Little did we know at the time that this one hit wonder would be a precursor to Donna Summer’s I feel Love and all her 70’s disco hits, as it was written and produced by the legendary Giorgio Moroder. On reflection the little moog synthesiser hook is a giveaway.

Our days at Ayr Racecourse raced by and sadly the adventure came to a close, but the memories of that holiday didn’t end there.

My pal’s family dropped me off at my house on our return and I rang the doorbell to be met by a perfect stranger, we both stood there looking at each other for a minute, him wondering who the hell I was, me thinking the same, but with a look of panic etched on my face.

The man broke the deadlock by very reasonably asking what it was I wanted and looked confused when I blurted out, “where’s my Mum”?

He replied that he didn’t know where my Mum was, which was a bit disconcerting, and it was at this point that the penny must have dropped for the bemused chap, when he saw my holdall, sleeping bag and crushed look and said “Ah, we just moved in here a few days ago, you must be the son of the people we bought the house from”.

Yep, my family had moved and had forgotten to tell me.

Having moved myself a few times over the years now, I know it’s stressful and I know there’s a long to-do list, but we usually remember to take the kids with us.

I remembered there had been talk of moving as I had been told to keep my room tidy for people viewing the house, but the fine details and timelines had not been important to a 14-year-old who expected to be packed and transported with the Tupperware, plus like I said, I never got the memo!

The new house was only half a mile away and as I made my way there, I got excited about the prospect of my new home and all that that entailed and reflected on the great holiday I had just experienced.

I had spent time away from my loved ones for the first time but with people who had welcomed me into their family with open arms.

I had experienced much independence, went to my first gig, kissed a girl, had an amazing time and on top of all that, I had all these great songs washing around in my head.

Further grown-up adventures obviously lay in wait, but for my 14-year-old self, this was the perfect summer holiday.