Tag Archives: memories

turntable talk: out of the blue.

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson of Glasgow – July 2022)

Paul and I were, last week, again invited to join the TURNTABLE TALK chat on Dave Ruch’s blog, ‘A Sound Day.‘ This is an excellent site to visit and satisfy your musical curiosity on all genres of music, mainly focused on the 60s, 70s and 80s. Dave is a prolific writer and the articles are filled with fascinating facts and trivia.

This time around, we were looking at “out of the blue”… debuts that came out of nowhere and really took listeners by surprise. Albums, or singles, that made us turn our head and say “that’s great! Who is that!?”

What impact did this band or artist have on us, and how did their debut stack up against future work?

OUT OF THE BLUE

I’ll happily confess to being a bit of a grumpy old cynic. Not just when it comes to music, but to Life in general. Hey! I’m from the West of Scotland, that’s just how we’re built round these parts.

It means though, that as I grow older, very little actually surprises me now. If not exactly ‘wise’ I am at least an old man. I’ve seen it all. I’ve heard it all before. Give or take.

So my nomination for a song (and it is just a song – well, two if you count the B-side) comes from my youth.

I would have just turned thirteen when this song was released in the UK. My parents weren’t into the Beatles or Rolling Stones or anything like that – they listened to the soundtracks of ‘My Fair Lady’ and ‘South Pacific, or the military marching band sounds of The Royal Marines. I suppose it could be argued then that any ‘modern’ music came ‘out of the blue,’ to me.

At that age, I was becoming musically aware, though deprived the sounds of psychedelia and emerging heavy rock, my taste was, let’s say, a little on the innocent side. If I tell you the first three singles I bought were:

  1. The Sweet: ‘Coco.’ (June 1971)
  2. The New Seekers: ‘Never Ending Song of Love.’ (July 1971)
  3. Ken Dodd: ‘When Love Comes Around Again.’ (July 1971)

then perhaps you’ll understand how this particular track hit me like a bolt from the blue.

The fourth single I bought was ‘Sultana’ by Titanic.

Titanic were formed in 1969, and as I recall were billed as being from Norway. In fact, vocalist and main lyricist, Roy Robinson was from England. Not that there was much in the way of lyrics on this particular track.

They presented themselves, it appeared, as very ramshackle and espoused a laid back, hippie attitude. And I loved it!  This was a bit of a musical awakening for a fresh, new teenager. Here was an exotic sounding ‘foreign’ band, who didn’t conform to that clean-cut, wholesome image of the bands I was more familiar with. In fact, they looked downright skanky!

I was mesmerised by the tribal and rhythmic percussion. And that organ! It was all new to me back then, but I’d soon be searching out more music along these lines. Atomic Rooster would later become a firm favourite.

My copy of ‘Sultana’ shows it released as the ‘B-side’ to ‘Sing Fool Sing’ on the flip, though I think from reading other articles and books, the two tracks were effectively ‘Double A.’

Titanic: ‘Sultana.’

National radio chose ‘Sultana’ as being more favourable for daytime airplay, and it resultantly spent twelve weeks in UK charts, peaking at #5 on 24th October 1971.

There was nothing around as far I could hear, that was anything like this. It still passes the ‘originality’ test to this day. It was Titanic’s debut 7” release in UK, though curiously, both tracks were lifted from their second album ‘Sea Wolf,’ while the follow-up, ‘Santa Fé’ came from their eponymous debut LP of 1970.

Sadly, Titanicoh crap, I’m just gonna say it – sank without much trace after this early highlight in their career. In addition to those mentioned above, the band released a further four albums in the ‘70s and one in 1993 during a short-lived reunion.

These LPs don’t attract much attention by way of the second-hand market. They are not particularly sought after, which is great, because they are available to buy at vary reasonable rates. Personally, I love them – good, solid, early heavy rock with strong vocals, powerful drumming and of course that distinctive organ.

Several singles were lifted from those albums, none of which made any real impact either. So yes, Titanic were your archetypal ‘one hit wonders.’

The next 7” I bought as a thirteen year old was, ‘Tokoloshe Man’ by John Kongos, followed by releases from Slade / Alice Cooper / Free. My life-long journey into the love of Rock music had begun.

So yes, like the ocean liner Titanic had only one hit. But boy! What an impact!

Titanic

________________

look who’s talking.

(Post by John Allan from Bridgetown, Western Australia – June 2022.)

On many a suburban sixties afternoon mother and I would retire to the dining room. Let’s face it, the library was too stuffy, the conservatory too draughty and the billiards room reeked of cigar smoke and brandy. Well maybe not quite. The dining room was where mother could set up her sewing machine or the ironing board.

Laundry

While Papa toiled away tirelessly on the golf course, Mama would spend her time on such frivolous activities as clothes alterations and laundry. The dining room was also where the wireless lived. Not one of those newfangled transistor thingummies it was a proper hard plastic lime green radio with a circular dial and glowing valves at the back. Sometimes we would listen to plays which were a bit boring and would put me off my colouring in, other times it would be just music.

Radio

One such afternoon mother stopped her ironing/sewing and turned up the radio.

“You’ll enjoy this”. On came the tale of Sparky’s Magic Piano, the story of a reluctant piano student and his magical piano. After a couple of minutes of annoyingly whining  child’s dialogue the piano spoke.

WHAT WAS THAT ?

It was the freakiest thing I’d ever heard in my entire 6 years ! I thought Mum had slipped some hallucinogenics into my cordial or I’d accidentally supped on her early afternoon gin and orange (Mummy’s little secret !) I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It was quite a wonderful sonic surprise but a bit disconcerting. Mickey Mouse on acid !

Sparky’s Magic Piano was first released back in October, 1947. The effect used for the talking piano was a Sonovox invented by Gilbert Wright in 1939. It was a microphone attached to the throat probably similar to the devices used by people who have undergone laryngectomies.

It was a precursor to the talk box highlighted in Peter Frampton’s Show Me The Way back in 1975. I remember we had one in the music shop where I worked and had hours of fun with it. It’s basically a gizmo that channels the sound of your guitar/keyboard back into your mouth via plastic tubing. I think we ran out of tubing as everyone and their dog was chewing on that thing and we had to continuously chop bits off it.

Talk Box

Some people said your teeth would fall out but Frampton still seems to have all his pearly whites.

A better example of the magic piano sound is ELO’s 1978 hit Mr Blue Sky. In among the Bee Gees like vocals and the Beatlesque arrangement you’ll hear the title through a vocoder – a category of speech coding that analyses and synthesises the human voice signal for audio data compression, multiplexing, voice encryption or voice transformation – but you knew all that !

My personal favourite though is Herbie Hancock’s I Thought It Was You released in late 1978 reaching number 15 and spending 9 weeks in the charts. He ‘sings’ using a Sennheiser VSM-201 (what else) vocoder.

Great tune from a highly innovative performer from his very underrated album Sunlight. The only problem is, I have these Pavlovian sensations of the whirring of the Singer and the fragrance of freshly ironed laundry.

Singer Sewing Machine

framed

(Post by John Allan from Bridgetown, Western Australia – June 2022.)

When I was young my mother would knit various items of clothing for me. Mainly jumpers, beanies (woollen hats) gloves and scarfs. Unfortunately many of the items on completion would be a bit on the small side as Mummy hadn’t anticipated my growth spurts nor the time taken to create the garments. The lack of a comprehensive time, motion and cost analysis greatly impeded productivity – but mothers didn’t talk like that in the 60s as they weren’t pretentious middle manager wankers in competitive industry.

In my middle primary school years she got it just right. She produced a perfectly fitted royal blue sweater with a tiny silvery white speck through it. Most kids moped about in grey jumpers or navy blue cardigans. This was a thing of beauty. Leave that technicolour coat back on the peg Joseph. There I was in my shimmering azure outfit looking absolutely gorgeous. It was the bees knees. The dogs bollocks (as they say in these parts). I was pleased as punch. Happy as Larry (where do we get these phrases from ?) Mum had really come up with the goods this time. How was I to know it would lead to my downfall.

One day I was taken aside by Mrs. Cullen who was not my classroom teacher at the time. She (wrongfully) claimed that I had been observed (by a cleaner I think) rifling through the desks of another classroom after school hours. The culprit had a distinctive blue jumper. She accused and berated me for some time and dismissed my pleas of innocence through trembling bottom lip. “It wasn’t me, Miss !”

When I got home I burst into inconsolable sobbing at the injustice of it all. I knew there was a lad a few years my senior that had a similar styled and coloured jumper (not as fabulous as mine of course) who was a bit shifty. My mother comforted me as mothers do but she didn’t storm down to the school and demand an apology for the wrongful accusation. Was there a seed of doubt that her youngest and dearest could be a petty thief ? This was too much for an 8 year old to bare. I stripped off the bespoke jumper and threw it into the bottom drawer with all the other discarded woollens never to see the light of day again.

I will wear grey from this day forth. I will not stand out from the crowd.

(Fast forward five years and I’m wearing a mauve floppy collared shirt and a multi-coloured tank top !)

Did you know that they call a jersey a ‘Guernsey’ in Australia ? No, I don’t know why either !

I don’t know if this incident shaped my views of fighting for the underdog. Righting the wrongs. Standing up for the dispossessed.

When I was a student nurse in the 80s doing my placement at Drumchapel Hospital I was stopped by a solitary picket at the gates. Most people walked straight by him but I heard him out. He was an Orderly striking for a reasonable wage. He was from the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) as was I so I didn’t cross his line. I was summoned by my lecturers and told I was the first ever student to go on strike. ‘AND ?’ I replied. Stony silence. Chalk that one up for the little guy.

I became a job representative for the Australian Nurses Federation and took industrial action for over a week along with thousands of others for better pay and conditions in the early nineties.

I have led a relatively blameless existence in the eyes of the law bar a few traffic infringements including a fine for not having lights on my bicycle in which an aggressive young officer screamed in my face. “Where’s your f**king drivers licence ?” His colleague had to restrain him when I pointed out you don’t need a licence for a bike. The bastard still gave me a $200 fine.

A few late library books and that’s it. My wrongful primary school accusation has not led me into a life of spiraling crime – YET !

I do miss that jumper though !

1972 – All The Young Dudes

Paul Fitzpatrick: June 2022, London

My good mate Jim Martin (of this parish), sent me the above graphic, listing a selection of albums released 50 years ago in 1972.

Looking at the list we joked that our musical tastes haven’t progressed much as we continue to binge on a daily diet of much the same content.

I expect it will be a similar story next year when we reflect on the top albums from 1973 and no doubt for a few more years to come, probably until 1978, or should I say, 2028.

As far as music critics are concerned it’s well chronicled that 1971 is seen as being the most prolific/creative year for popular music.

Seminal albums like Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’, Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue’ and ‘Led Zeppelin IV’ are all lauded as being among the best and most inspirational albums of their type.

1971 RELEASES

Whilst there’s an argument to be made that 1971 was music’s high point, surely it’s also a moot point, for when it comes to music, or for that matter any art-form, there’s no right or wrong…

One man’s Elvis can be another man’s Shakin’ Stevens, because beauty, as we know, is in the eye, or in this case, the ear, of the beholder.

Despite what highbrow critics will lead you to believe, music isn’t measurable… just because a critic in The Guardian awards 5 stars to the latest ‘Let’s Eat Grandma’ album, it doesn’t mean you’ve got to love it too, or there’s something wrong with your tastes if you don’t.

Music is about opinions, personal taste and the emotions certain songs invoke, particularly tunes from your formative years.

Take 1971 – there’s no doubt it was a classic year, but in truth as an early teen who was just getting into music, it passed me by.

I caught up of course, and looking at my vinyl collection today, Joni, Marvin & Zep are all well represented but in 71 I’d no idea who Joni Mitchell was and the first Zep album I listened to in full was Zeppelin III in 1973.

Cut forward 12 months and things were different, I feel I was present for a lot of the marquee releases in 72 and remember them well, particularly those by Roxy Music, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, Mott The Hoople, Rod Stewart, Neil Young, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple and of course the baptism of fire that was Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, which still sounds great today.

Maybe I wasn’t as switched on as I thought I was though, two of my all-time favourite bands, Steely Dan and Little Feat, also released albums in 1972 that I’d no idea about at the time.

Steely Dan – Can’t Buy A Thrill
Little Feat – Sailin Shoes

So why should 12 months make such a difference?
I think I figured it out…

In the summer of 1971, I was adjusting to the evolution of becoming a teen as well as navigating & negotiating the ensuing boundaries.
I was into music but my inputs were basically restricted to two sources – Radio One and Top Of The Pops.

Fast forward to the summer 72, I was heading into my 3rd Year at school, edging ever closer to the coveted back row of seats on the school bus (and the cinema!), I’d experienced my first kiss, had my first beer and there was a new found confidence that on reflection came from nowhere.

Looking back, I relate this embolden sense of self to the scene in Young Frankenstein where Gene Wilder introduces the Creature on stage –

“From what was once a mass of inarticulate lifeless tissues, may I now present a cultured, sophisticated man about town”

Of course the Creature fell on his arse as we all do when we get a bit cocky.

In terms of musical awareness though, the difference between 71 to 72 was enormous and it was primarily down to access.

The incremental freedom I enjoyed in 72 vs 71, enabled me to access a lot more music via….

The Youth Club – where the older girls had great tastes and dominated the record player.
Record shops – I was now allowed to go into town unchaperoned.
Late night listening – Old Grey Whistle Test & Radio Luxembourg.
Gigs – my first gig was at the Greens Playhouse in 72 to see Humble Pie, supported by Peter Frampton.

So, thank’s Jim for triggering some great memories although we both know there’s a glaring omission from the list of albums.
That album being The Temptations ‘All Directions’ which features a 12 minute version of ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’.

A track that Jim & I used to listen to open mouthed, in 23rd Precinct’s listening booth on a Saturday afternoon, when there was no football.

I look forward to receiving the 1973 list of albums next year.


*Inspired by this trip down memory lane I’ve cobbled together a playlist of tracks released in 1972. A mishmash of singles and less obvious album tracks for your listening pleasure….

free-range kids.

(Post by Andrea Grace Burn of East Yorkshire – June 2022)

(Header image from ‘Stuff Dutch People Like’ website.)

(Image from the Global Influences website.)

Growing up throughout the 1960s and ’70s my brothers and I were free-range children, unencumbered by the pressures of an adult world. There were only two grown-up rules: don’t talk to strangers and be home in time for tea.

Running barefoot through seemingly endless hot Virginia summers, climbing trees with skinned knees, riding our bikes and make-believe, we played-out our childhoods in the limitless landscape of our imaginations. We were free to negotiate and establish our own play rules with our friends. Through the liberty of play we took risks, established our own boundaries, solved problems and developed social, emotional and physical skills: life skills. We didn’t know it at the time but we were the lucky ones. 

(Andrea doing a handstand in her Virginia back yard, 1970)

On rainy days, Mom would tell me to ‘go play’ which opened up countless possibilities: making paper dolls from old magazines; dressing-up; playing make-believe as I flew into space inside an upturned kitchen stool (this was, after-all, the Space Age of  Apollo 11). After school clubs and activities didn’t exist and the notion of ‘quality time’ hadn’t been invented yet:  my brothers and I were rich in our parents love and our family life. We ate dinner together and talked to each other.

My parents read, told stories and sang to us but pretty much left us alone to play.  If I said, “I’m bored!” Mom would say, “Good! Children should be bored at least once a day. Use your imagination.”  Without a PC, tablet, mobile phone or social media, I had to look inside myself for adventures.

(Mmnnn! Mud pies for dolly!)

I made mud pies for my dolls; sat on the driveway and burst tar bubbles in the searing heat with a stick and watched the tar ooze; made a jewellery box for my mother with matchsticks; sailed the high seas from a sail boat in the dining-room with two chairs and an old sheet. I did cart-wheels, handstands and backflips; played ‘tag’ with my friends; looked for fairies in the pine glades and inhabited the Magic Faraway Tree.  I was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, clicking my heels together three times before rolling down a grass bank to go ‘home’ to Kansas.

My bed served as a covered wagon where I’d sit with my feet hitched on the footboard and “gee-up” my team of horses as I headed west across the great prairies in search of gold. Wearing an imaginary calico dress and bonnet, I fought off wild critters including howling coyotes and Grizzly ‘bahrs’ with my bare hands and sang songs beneath the stars around a campfire in the middle of my bedroom floor. Why – there wasn’t a more feared hunter in all the west!

(Pioneer wagon.)

In 1970 when I was ten, my family left behind my small-town American childhood idyll and moved to Birmingham, West Midlands where I encountered not only a strange new dialogue called Brummie but a wholly new culture to draw from in my playground games: ‘tag’ became ‘tig’; ‘British Bulldog’ replaced ‘King of the Hill’; ‘Red-Light, Green-Light’ became ‘What’s the Time Mr Wolf’ and ‘Conkers’ became a playground favourite. Suddenly I was thrust into a Betjeman-esque land of 1930s suburban streets, cul-de-sacs, alleyways and gulleys to explore with my new best friends Denise and Becky.

(What’s the time, Mr Woolf?)

Mom used to say that ‘if a child isn’t filthy by teatime, they haven’t had a good day’ and we didn’t disappoint; revelling in street games,  making dens, clapping rhymes, ‘Dolly Bobbin’, ‘Cat’s Cradle’, ‘French Skipping’ and  rhymes:

‘George, Paul, Ringo, John

Next-door neighbour follow on…’

as we skipped in and out of a large rope.

‘Mother’s in the kitchen, doing a bit of stitching

In comes a burglar and out she runs

(Girls skipping – pic from British Library)

 We quickly established ‘The Gang’ with neighbourhood kids whose overriding mission was to own our own ponies. I asked my beleaguered dad every day if I could have a pony and scoured the livestock ads of Pony Magazine. I entered the annual WH Smith ‘Win a Pony Competition’ regardless of the fact that we lived in a semi with a small back garden. (I did once win a runner-up mention when I designed a sew-on badge in a competition. It said, “An apple a day keeps the vet away” with a picture of a horse’s head. )  Becky and I both kept grooming kits under our beds “just in case.”

When one of the girls in The Gang, Sam, really did get a pony, we became obsessed with trying to get a free ride. An hour’s riding lesson was £1.50 in 1972 and my pocket money was 25 new pence per week. Sam finally allowed us to sit on her pony Jet – “Just sit, mind!” – and we were thrilled.

(Andrea almost gets her wish, 1972)

Becky and I made horse jumps in my back garden out of old orange crates and bits of wood and held gymkhanas on our space hoppers, which took on the names and personalities of our favourite ponies.

(Space Hopper)

Mine was ‘Fred’ (in real life a bony old grey pony who took a shine to nibbling my jumper) and Becky rode ‘Firefly’ – a strawberry roan mare with a shaggy mane. Becky’s mum made us ribbon rosettes and as we flew over our jumps against the clock, we imagined we heard the roar of the crowd at the Horse of the Year Show. We cantered around the ring for a victory lap before our glory faded as mum hauled me indoors to do my homework and Becky had to go home. I watched through the net curtains as she bounced away down the grass verge, before tackling my History project on Neanderthal Man.

At weekends The Gang would take to the Clent Hills on our bikes; our saddlebags stuffed with cheese spread sandwiches and beakers of orange squash which leaked. We were gone all day without phones (imagine), safety helmets or a care in the world. Our parents had no idea where we were but trusted us to be home in time for tea.

(Clent Hills)

I played with dolls until I was at least twelve or thirteen (imagine kids today taking time out from their devices to play with dolls).  I had a doll house my dad made me which absorbed my imagination for hours-on-end; baby dolls, ‘Barbie’ dolls and a ‘Tressy’ doll whose hair grew out of the top of her head and could be pulled back in a chord on her back. Our dog chewed her hair off on Christmas Eve.

(Tressy)

I even had a go at making a ‘Sindy’ doll settee from a cereal box and sticky-back plastic as seen on Blue Peter; along with an Advent candle holder from two wire coat hangers and a bit of tinsel; neither of which were successful but kept me occupied on those long boring wet weekends.

(I bet there’s not ONE reader whose attempt looked ANYTHING like this!)

Young people today wouldn’t believe it; attached to their virtual worlds and virtual friends, where gratification is instant and the pressure is on to grow up too quickly. I told you we were the lucky ones.

(Copyright Andrea Burn – June 2022)

almost top of the pops – carole bayer sager

(A look at bands / artists, who this day in The ‘70s were ALMOST Top of the Pops.)

13th June 1977

(Carole Bayer Sager)

Perhaps because I was never really ‘big’ on popular chart acts (other than during the Glam period) writing this series of articles on artists / songs that were ‘Almost Top of the Pops’ has provided me with some enlightening and surprising background facts.

None more so though, than Carole Bayer Sager, whose one and only UK chart hit as a solo artist spent nine weeks in the Top 40 at a time when Punk and New Wave music were making their mark.

It was easy to dismiss ‘You’re Moving Out Today,’ as the archetypal, upbeat, fun, ‘novelty’ song. And so I did. I loved the song, for the clever lyrics; the story it told; the hooky chorus; the bounce and sort of twee delivery. But I thought no more of Ms Bayer Sager.

Forty five years later, mention the song title to most people of a certain age, and we’ll instantly recall the performer’s name. No need for Google on this one, I reckon.

However, ask what else she is known for and I’d have been stumped… which is where Google does enter the picture.

In her own right, between 1977 and 1981, Carole released just three albums. There were also nine singles (with ‘You’re Moving Out Today’ being the third) issued from 1977 and 1985.

So I could perhaps be forgiven for thinking she was not exactly a prolific performer. And she wasn’t. It is for her song writing that she made her name. Remember this?

This would be credited as Carole’s first hit, having written the lyrics in 1965, whilst collaborating with Toni Wine who based the music on a classical piece by Muzio Clemente. The song would eventually be offered to the Manchester based band The Mindbenders. (Singer Wayne Fontana had recently left to go solo, his position as lead vocalist being inherited by Eric Stewart – yeah, he of 10CC fame.)

This time around, the song reached #2 in both the UK and USA charts, only to be bettered by Phil Collins taking it to #1 in both countries (and several others) in 1988.

So while we all (well, I speak for myself, perhaps) welcomed Carole Bayer Sager as both a ‘newcomer’ and ‘one hit wonder’ in 1977, we were already incorrect on both scores.

**Toni Wine also wrote hits for Tony Orlando & Dawn, and provided the female vocals for cartoon group, The Archies; think of the line, ‘I’m gonna make your life so sweet.’)**

Over the years, Carole would collaborate with, and write lyrics for Melissa Manchester; she wrote Leo Sayer’s hit, ’When I Need You’; she wrote Broadway musicals with her composer (first) husband Marvin Hamlisch; she received an Oscar nomination with her husband, ‘Nobody Does It Better,’ the theme to the James Bond film, ‘The Spy Who Loved Me,’ sung of course by Carly Simon.

After their marriage ended, Carole would team up with, and later marry, none other than Burt Bacharach, with whom she’d then receive an Academy Award for ‘Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)’ the #1 hit for Christopher Cross.  

Probably their most successful collaboration though, was the composition of ‘That’s What Friends Are For,’ which was revived in 1986 to raise money for Aids Research. The track, sung this time by Dionne Warwick & Friends – including Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight – quickly reached #1 in USA and raised over a million dollars for the charity.

Amongst others, Carole has also worked with Carole King and had songs recorded as hits for likes of Neil Diamond, Patti Labelle and Michael MacDonald, Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli.

Carole Bayer Sager also worked with Bette Midler, back in the ‘70s. It was this collaboration, which also included Bruce Roberts, that actually spawned the song prompting this post: ‘You’re Moving Out Today.’ Interestingly, there were two recordings of the song released.  Ms Midler released the song in USA during February 1977, reaching only #42, with Ms Bayer Sager faring bettter in the UK some three months later, peaking at #6 … almost Top of the Pops.

This may well have been her only UK chart hit in her own name, but Carole Bayer Sager, a ‘one hit wonder?’ – I don’t think so!

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson from Glasgow – June 2022)

daydream believer

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson of Glasgow – June 2022)

(Header artwork by Linda Woods.)

(The lyrics aren’t really pertinent, but any excuse to play The Monkees …)
  • Jardine fires a long, diagonal pass from right to left. The ball flies over the heads of all midfield players and falls at the feet of its intended target. The left winger deftly controls the pass, takes the ball in his stride and he’s off! Hogging the touchline, he pushes the mud spattered white leather ball past the first defender, while he himself races by on the other side.

    The next defender moves forward to block his path, but the tricky forward strokes the ball through his legs (nutmeg!) turns infield and heads towards goal.

    Another opposition player starts to close down space, but the blue shirted danger-man is wise to his intentions, feints inside, turns out, looks up and hits a spectacular curling left-foot shot into the nearside top corner! The goalkeeper stood no chance of reaching that! A peach of a goal!!

    Just listen to that crowd!

    We’ve got Wullie, Wullie Johnston on the wing; on the wing
    We’ve got Wullie, Wullie Johnston on the wing; on the wing


    Hi! My name’s Willie Johnston. It’s 1970, and I play left wing for Glasgow Rangers Football Club.
Willie Johnston
  • The ascent began as planned, the early stages being relatively straight forward. We had practiced on these sections before so knew what to expect.

    As we gained height however, the younger and less experienced in the party questioned their ability and had to be encouraged to carry on. We made an unscheduled stop to regroup, refocus and break open the rations. As the clouds in the sky dissolved to reveal a pristine, blue sky, so too did the clouds of doubt in the party and we ploughed on to the top.

    The wind did create some problems, it has to be said, and we swayed dangerously in its breath. The decision was taken to curtail our time at that altitude, and return to base camp. The tail-enders of the ascent now became the leaders of descent, which in hindsight was not a well thought-out tactic. Being unable to see where to safely place their feet severely undermined their confidence and there were regular hair-raising slips.

    The downward journey took longer than up. But with utmost concentration we eventually reached home, where relieved family and friends joined in great celebration of yet another ‘first.’

Hello! My name is Edmund Hillary. It’s 1970 and just seventeen years ago, I became the first man to conquer Mount Everest.

Sir Edmund Hillary
  • I paced around him and picked my moment. Setting up with a few left jabs, I threw two quick left hooks to his ribs. He gasped as the air seemed to leave his body. He was definitely looking shaky. Now was my time – I went for the knockout punch. Flush on the chin, I got him. This time he rocked; rocked big time. But he was a strong and resilient opponent and just wouldn’t stay down.

    I’d have to settle for a ‘points decision.’ But a win’s a win however it’s achieved.

    I’m Henry Cooper, professional boxer. It’s 1970 and I’ve just beaten Jack Bodell to retain my British and Commonwealth Heavyweight titles.
Henry Cooper

*****

Well, not quite:

I’ll tell ya, it was just my imagination, once again

Running away with me

It was just my imagination

Running away with me.

  • It’s 1970. My name is The Pimply Kid. I’m eleven years old and playing football on the grassy area that surrounds the pylon at the top of my street.

The Jardine lad, is in fact pretty useless, and would be pushed to kick a football the length of his shadow.

I struggle to get into my Primary school team, being listed as substitute for the first two fixtures we played, and I’m only better than the other kids simply because they play rugby at their Private school. The real reason I run fast like Willie Johnston, is that I’m shooting down the steep slope we play our games on.

Crowd? The only person watching is the creepy old guy my mum and dad say I’m not to talk to – even though he says he can get me a trial for Queens Park when I turn sixteen!!

In truth the best player amongst us is Rex, the border collie from a nearby house, who, when not chasing cars, dispossesses us with ease (under threat of a nasty bite) and menacingly growls when we try to get the ball back.

Still – a boy can dream, right?

Where the bushes now are, once stood an electricity pylon – a great vantage point from which to watch our daily football matches.
  • It’s 1970. . My name is The Pimply Kid. I’m eleven years old. There is an mature, tall apple tree in our garden. Huge it is!

Having first been helped by my parents onto its lower branches as a three year, I’ve now clambered to the top many, many times now. I’ve grown up with this tree. It’s like a kindly old friend.

Today though, I’m leading an expedition of inexperienced ‘first timers’ from our secret Deepdene Club to the summit. I’m more like Sherpa Tenzing than Edmund Hillary, I suppose.

That’s the plan, anyway. I have my doubts about the little Little lad. He will have to extricate his thumb from his mouth if wants to ensure a sturdy grip.

It’s a struggle, but three of the four make it to the top. There’s tears of fear on the way back down (secret Club rules prohibit this, and disciplinary action will be taken) but we all make it safely back to base, where we celebrate with lashings of ginger beer.

Still – a boy can dream, right?

Not THE apple tree – but AN apple tree all the same.

. It’s 1970. My name is The Pimply Kid. I’m eleven years old and my Grandfather and Great Uncle were professional boxers. Henry Cooper and Muhammad Ali are my heroes.

I’d like to be a boxer when I grow up. But I’d have to be really, really good, because I don’t like being hit! And I have wee short arms and legs and a big nose, none of which would be a great asset in that case.

I need to practice. Practice hard. So I’m training by knocking lumps out of my blow-up Yogi Bear Bop Bag.

Yogi’s pure nails! He just soaks up the punishment. I give him a couple left hooks to the body then and uppercut flush on his chin … but he bounces right back up every time.

Still – a boy can dream, right?

Bop Bags.

Fifty-plus years down the line, and I’ve yet to play professional football; I haven’t even walked up Ben Lomond, never mind climbed Everest, and neither have I stepped into a boxing ring.

Still – a grown man can dream, right?

______________

Karate In Scotland In The Seventies

Russ Stewart: London, June 2002

New hip or new car?  Unfortunately the former. 
Root cause analysis: a phenomenon in Scotland in the 70s. 

Bruce Lee films and the Scottish climate conspired to spawn an explosion in participation of the indoor pastime (not sport) of Karate.  

Further: my general uselessness at any sport involving a ball drew me to the Bearsden Primary located Shotokan Karate club in 1973, thence to the Allander club, Strathclyde University club and a number of dojos in Hong Kong and London. 

Scotland was recognised as the most successful small nation in international  competition karate during the 70s.
The Glasgow Shukokai based Kobe Osaka club produced good competition fighters.
At its peak Glaswegian Tommy Morris’ Kobe Osaka had hundreds of students across the world. 

Tommy Morris, Kobe Osaka Club

Another Scot, Gene Dunnett, a member of the GB team that defeated the Japanese National team in the 70s, took a guest training session at the Allander club fairly soon after his achievement.
A hard session I recall; training was harder in the 70s.  Alumni arthritis a consequence.
Press ups on knuckles, punching wooden boards, over extended stretches to enable high kicks……..

Gene Dunnett was amongst 3 Scots in the 10 man fighting team

However, competition karate is not really karate.

I parlayed modest skill and a limited number of combinations into a couple of silver medals at the Scottish University Championships in 1978.  Later, in 1980, as a member of the Royal Hong Kong Police Tai Kwan Do squad I was beaten by a 16 year old Chinese member of the Police Youth Club team. 

High participation numbers in Scotland drew top Japanese masters, such as Enoeda and Tomita, to give training sessions and grade students in local sport centres. 
Enoeda graded me green belt at an East Kilbride sports centre in 1975.
His eagle eye missed my shoddy round house kick. Perhaps the other 120 students distracted him. 

Glaswegian Dan Docherty died last December aged 67. 
I met him in 1980 in Hong Kong, when he was a Shotokan practitioner.
He switched to Tai Chi and won the 1980 SE Asia full contact knockdown championship, beating the much larger ( 21 stone) Roy Pink by a knockout. 


The Chinese master of the Wudang Tai Chi style made Dan, a fluent Chinese speaker, his successor. Dan had hundreds of  students worldwide and was an influential, controversial figure.
RIP Dan! 

it must be love – an evening with labi siffre.

(Post by Alan MacDonald from Menstrie, Stirlingshire – May 2022.)

‘It Must Be Love.’

The recent post of the Top Twenty hits from 1972 caught my eye. Especially as at # 5 was a song called “It Must Be Love” by Labi Siffre. But why this song, and why an evening with its composer, and where was the location?

Firstly the location; well in 1974 this Westerton boy found himself living and working in a hotel in St Helier on the beautiful island of Jersey in the Channel Islands. Formerly this boy had a somewhat secure, and sometimes inebriated, career exporting Scotch whisky from the centre of Glasgow, which had been swapped (in truth I had been made redundant) for a summer of sun, sea and other frolics on this 12 x 6 mile rock in the English Channel, off the coast of Brittany. The frolics were so enjoyable that as the hotel job ended with the fading sun, the thought of returning to the frolics (not) of Westerton faded also and my summer extended into autumn, and my labours transferred from the hotel to employment at a local sawmill.

Mary Ann Bitter beermat.

One evening, as I washed down the sawdust from my day job, with a pint or two of Mary Ann, the local bitter, I spied in the evening paper an advert for: ‘An Evening With Labi Siffre.’ Now Jersey wasn’t blessed with real live acts from the mainland coming over (unless you count a 1974 concert from a tax-dodging band called Led Zeppelin), but what did they ever go on to achieve! So who was Labi Siffre and why did he cause excitement on the rock?

An emerging act in the UK, Labi Siffre released six albums between 1970 and 1975, and his best known composition at the time was “It Must Be Love.” He later went on to write and perform the classic (Something Inside) So Strong’ which became one of the anthems for the release of Nelson Mandela from jail.

But here he was, at the time a one-hit wonder from the UK. I loved “It Must Be Love” and wanted to hear him perform it live.

Persuading some of my mates to accompany me to hear this one-hit wonder wasn’t the easiest of tasks. It was 1974 remember, and down at the jolly old discotheques where we had our frolics it was George McCrae who was “Rocking His Baby,” and the Hues Corporation who were “Rocking Their Boat,” that rocked most people’s boats at the time. Labi Siffre – eh, who he?!  But persuade one mate to come along I did. It took a free ticket and more than a few pints of the afore-mentioned Mary Ann to get (bribe) him there, but off we went.

The venue was “The Deep” night club, one of St Helier’s finest at the time. The decor of the club was of being under the sea hence the name “The Deep”.  Funny thing though, one had to climb UP a couple of flights of stairs to get into “The Deep.”

I think we get the picture of the type of bands / artists who would normally visit the sunny isle.

So UP the stairs we went and joined the sizeable crowd who had gathered inside. Seeing all these people made me feel I had made the right decision. My mate, he was less impressed and directed me to the bar where I filled him up with more Mary Ann.

First impression that night was the stage, which had been set up with just one microphone. Where was Labi’s band going to play we all thought? That question was answered shortly when, after a brief introduction by the promoter, Labi burst on to the stage acoustic guitar in hand. That’s right, he had no band!

“Band? What band …?”

Never mind, Labi was very charming (he was an ex public school boy after all) and welcomed all of us to his performance. He explained that he was in the middle of a tour to introduce his fans to a new set of songs he planned for his next album, and hoped we’d like them. And off he went, singing brightly, in tune, accompanying himself on the guitar. However, it wasn’t long before the crowd started to get restless. Many of them were genuine Labi fans, who had bought his albums and were here to get the real Labi. The, at the time, one-hit wonder Labi that is!

And it wasn’t long before a voice was heard from the crowd, in the interval between songs, asking Labi if he was going to play some of the old stuff.

“Er no,” said the bold Labi, explaining as he had said earlier that tonight would be his new songs. And off he went again, belting out a few more songs and trying to shorten the interval between them to avoid questions. But it didn’t work, and it wasn’t long before a plaintiff cry went up: “Haw Labi, gonnae gee us ‘It Must Be Love?’ That’s right, I wasn’t the only Jock in the room.

“Er no,” said a fast becoming exasperated Labi, “not tonight.” And with that he decided the interval had arrived and shot off stage right.

It did seem an age before he returned. Probably the promoter told him he wasn’t getting paid unless he did. But back he came and picked up where he left off, which was a stream of new songs, none of them resonating with me or the die-hard fans in the room. It wasn’t long before, you guessed it, the plaintiff cry from a Scottish maiden was heard again to exclaim: “Haw Labi! Gonnae gee us ‘It Must Be Love’ just a wee bit …aaw go on pal?”

At this Labi’s face turned from ex public school boy to demented rocker. He lowered his guitar, grabbed it by the frets as if to swing into the crowd and bop the fair Scottish maiden with it, thought better of it, took two steps back, composed himself, found his charming voice and proudly announced that we had been a lovely audience and that was it for tonight. Exit stage right.

Okay I made that last bit up. The circumstances are real, but what he really said that night can’t be printed, except to say it ended in ‘…off,’ and it wasn’t in his charming ex public schoolboy voice either. Suffice to say our Labi was not best pleased with his trip to Jersey, his trek UP to “The Deep,” and a young maiden from Scotland was definitely  crossed off his Christmas card list. As for the rest of us; we’d seen the great man in person, he had a lovely voice, but ‘It Must Be Love’ it wasn’t. Ah well!

There was a ferry for the mainland leaving at 10.00pm that evening, Labi was on it.

**************************

N.B: It didn’t work for him that night in Jersey but Labi did go on to have a stellar career with his great anthem “(Something Inside) So Strong” becoming  influential in the fight for civil rights in 1970s Britain. And the song we all wanted to hear that night “It Must Be Love” was covered by the band Madness. His music has been sampled extensively by US hip-hop artists such as Eminem and Jay-Z. He has published essays; the stage and television play Deathwrite and three volumes of poetry: NiggerBlood on the Page, and Monument. At the age of 76 he is making a bit of a comeback and just recently was the subject of a BBC ‘Imagine’ programme with Alan Yentob, filmed largely at his home in Spain.

copy that!

I know … this is kinda ironic, isn’t it? (I did try to find a photo credit though, honest!)

The recent unfound case of plagiarism instigated by Grime artist Sami Chokri (Sami Switch) against Ed Sheeran, had me wondering how many times structures, harmonies, beats and particularly guitar riffs have been tweaked,  repeated and basically ripped off through time.

(It was only a cursory thought – I didn’t lose any sleep, it has to be said.)

Bowie / Mercury – pic: Gold radio
Vanilla Ice

One of the most high profile cases in recent times was that of Vanilla Ice –vs – Queen & David Bowie. Reportedly, the American rapper contested he had added a ‘dum’ to the bassline of ‘Under Pressure’ and that he was not complicit in copyright breach with his ‘Ice Ice Baby’ hit. Of course, he eventually acceded to the contest brought by the British acts and paid out a considerable sum (believed to be @ $4m) for the publishing rights so that he could avoid paying royalties.

There have been several more high profile cases in recent years, but this being a ‘70s blog, there’s one contentious case that stands above all else; one that would inevitably rear its head on this blog, what with co-host, Paul,  being a big David Bowie fan and me listing Sweet as one of my favourite bands:

the case of ‘Jean Genie’ –vs – ‘Blockbuster.

The debate has always been who copied who? Bowie, Sweet; or Sweet, Bowie.

Both were signed with RCA when they recorded their respective hits. They shared the same studios and with ‘Jean Genie’ being recorded on 6th October 1972, Sweet have been accused of nicking the riff for the recording of ‘Blockbuster’ a few weeks later, on 1st November.

A counter argument could be that Bowie overheard Sweet rehearsing and subconsciously picked up on the riff.

Plagiarism is everywhere in the music industry, even extending to blogs. At this point I must confess that after hitting on the idea of writing this piece, I found I had been beaten to it by over five years – by the excellent Darren’s Music Blog.

I discovered this when carrying out my own research into the subject. However, the band / riff that prompted me to look into this is not mentioned in Darren’s blog – so like Vanilla Ice, I contend this article is not plagiarised. But, unlike Vanilla Ice, I will not be buying the rights to Darren’s blog article for @ $4m!

Anyway, as it happens, I reckon neither Bowie nor Sweet have a case to answer. But before I present my case for the defence, a word or two on the band that prompted me to look at this whole issue:

HONEYBUS.

Honeybus.

Honeybus are your archetypal ‘one hit wonders.’ Formed in London in 1967, the four-piece were signed to Decca’s Deram label. Their first two singles bombed, though the second, a ballad, ‘(Do I Figure) In Your Life?’ was covered by Joe Cocker, Dave Berry and Dana.

It is for their third single though, that Honeybus are best known. I bet almost all readers (certainly those from UK) will remember this:

(Though this version of the advert is from the early ‘70s, the single, ‘I Can’t Maggie Go,’ which provides the musical accompaniment, was released in 1968. It entered the charts in March of that year, where it spent a total of twelve weeks, peaking at #8.)

Shortly after this though, founder member and co-songwriter Pete Dello quit the band. Ray Cane now assumed the mantle of principal songwriter. His first-penned single, ‘Girl of Independent Means,’ was the driver behind this article, and appears fourth in the timeline that follows.

Unbelievably, in my opinion, the music buying public were not impressed and it failed to capitalise on the success of ‘Maggie.’ When their next effort ‘She Sold Blackpool Rock,’ also tanked, the band folded. Though they would reform in 1971 with the original line-up, mainstream success still eluded them, and an album that had been prepared for Warner Brothers, was cancelled.

An interesting point of note is that drummer and original member, Peter Kircher, would go on to play with Status Quo from 1983 – 86.

Peter Kircher

Anyway – back to the debate.

I stated earlier I didn’t feel either David Bowie or Sweet were guilty of plagiarism with regards to the riff for ‘Jean Genie,’ and ‘Blockbuster.’ My reasoning is simple: unlike ‘samples’ of other artists’ work where short bursts of music are inserted into another song / track (blatant plagiarism in my book) riffs are able to breathe, mature and develop like a fine cheese. Which is maybe why neither Bowie nor Sweet decided to kick up a stink and join the controversy.

Don’t believe me?

THE MORPH OF A RIFF:

(Muddy Waters: ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ – recorded 1954)
(Bo Diddley:  ‘I’m a Man’ – recorded 1955)
(The Yarbirds: ‘Im a Man’ – recorded 1965)
(Honeybus: ‘Girl of Independent Means’ – recorded 1968)
(Iggy & The Stooges: ‘I’m A Man’ – recorded, but not used for the ‘Raw Power’ album of 1973.)
(David Bowie: ‘Jean Genie’ – recorded 1972)
(Sweet: ‘Blockbuster’ – recorded 1972 … but a few weeks after David Bowie’s ‘Jean Genie.’)

What I’m suggesting is a riff can take a natural progression.

I mean – just because a song may sound like one that’s gone before, it does not necessarily mean it is a plagiarised copy. Does ‘Blockbuster’ really sound like Muddy Waters’ ‘Hoochie Coochie Man?’ Does it?

That would be like saying the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a rip-off of Wilbur and Orville’s ‘Wright Flyer.’

I rest my case, M’lud.

________________

(Darren Johnson is a prolific music blogger and writer. He is the author of ‘The Sweet Through the 1970s’ – which I have and can thoroughly recommend – and ‘Suzi Quatro in the 1970s’ – which I have still to get to.)