I was driving back home from Birmingham with a badly aching knee this evening and had disc 2 of the very fine Sandy Denny compilation, No More Sad Refrains, going round and round from the beginning to the end of the journey. There's nothing like Sandy's voice to make a drive a pleasurable experience. Anyway, just as I leave the M5 and hit the M50, along comes the amazing 'All Our Days' again and very welcome it is too. The sun is just beginning to set and I can see the Malvern Hills in the distance as Sandy's homage to the great twentieth century English composers, in particular Ralph Vaughan Williams, rests in my aural senses once again; at that moment this beautiful song had never made more sense to me. So, so lovely; so moving. It's from Sandy's final album, Rendezvous (1977) and this one, amazing, tune alone shows how much more she could have achieved. Really looking forward to reading the new biography when the opportunity arises. A lost talent beyond compare.
As requested a few weeks ago, here's our Youth Club Disco Suzi Quatro night for your delectation and edification; so get yourselves in order, leave the fags and the chewing gum outside please and put on your dancing shoes. That first one is a cover of the C. Richard hit and you'll find it on her second LP, Quatro (1974).
Next up is a tune from her first, eponymous, album. It's a Chinn-Chapman groover that was also covered by Alexis Korner's CCS.
Primitive Love (1973)
Finally, we'll send you all home with Suzi's first big hit. Was never sure what it all meant but it sounded pretty good to me. Remember to not make a load of noise on your way out and don't hang around the chip shop.
Bonnie Dobson is a greatly underrated singer-songwriter who made a clutch of albums in the mid 60's and early 70's. Most famously wrote 'Morning Dew', covered by many from Tim Rose to Robert Plant and more.
Winter's Going (1969)
On the theme of Winter fading out, here's British Sea Power (yeah, I know - any f****** excuse). Happy St. David's Day, by the way.
As I type these words it is just after 7pm and it's Saturday, so time for another Saturday Night Blast to either send you on your way out the door to somewhere more interesting or, perhaps, give you the chance to let your hair down at home before watching the telly or doing the ironing.
They tell me there's an election on the horizon, so here's a bit of 'Politics' from The Damned's second album, Music For Pleasure (1977), which was not very well received at the time but sounds fine and dandy today. It's said they wanted Syd Barrett to produce it and somehow ended up with Nick Mason. Oh well.
From the same year, we now turn to Australia's The Saints with one of my favourite tracks of the entire punk era, 'Demolition Girl', from their double disc 45 on Harvest Records, One Two Three Four (1977).
Finally, we'll stay in '77 but leave punk behind us for a moment to enjoy the delights of Ram Jam and their big hit version of a song most often associated with Lead Belly, 'Black Betty'. Bam-a-lam! Enjoy the rest of Saturday night.
I started thinking about this yesterday as I chose a fresh blast of blues rock from Free to accompany some rather labourious rubbing down of old paint work in preparation for a new coat. About half an hour into the job and up pops 'Little Bit of Love', Free's rather excellent 1972 'hit' (peaked at no. 13) single on the classic Island label.
That pink paper sleeve is, for me, utterly Proustian.
On hearing this corking rock 'number' again for the first time in ages, I recalled buying the single from Boots record department when I was 11 years old and how, that moment, probably more than any other, was a turning point, a 'road less travelled', from which it was nigh-on impossible to return.
I went into town with my mate, Mark; I had paper round money in my pocket and an urge to splurge - well, up to about 45p. This would have been June 1972 and I'd been buying singles regularly for about a year. It was a strangle phase; everything I heard came at me via the radio - especially the Radio 1 Breakfast Show as I prepared for school in the morning - or by way of TV shows like Lift Off and most obviously, Top of The Pops, so, it would be T. Rex but there was also Chicory Tip, Don McLean, Freda Payne, Sweet or The New Seekers. Indeed, I'd even already bought at least one record by Deep Purple by this time but this wouldn't necessarily stop me from considering (whisper it) Gary Glitter or (shout it out loud) the soon-come Suzi Quatro or The Faces. Taste was forming but it was still very open to everything coming from all directions.
On that particular Saturday I knew I'd be getting one of two current chart singles, the aforementioned 'Little Bit of Love', which had been bugging my musical soul for a while or (ahem) Michael Jackson's take on the old doo-wop hit, 'Rockin' Robin'. This perfectly illustrates the awkwardness of that time: blues rock from Pauls Rodgers and Kossoff or Motown pop by the (then) littlest Jackson.
As I approached the record counter (upstairs, next to the stationary dept. where we'd regularly nick marker pens for our amateur vandalism) I still wasn't sure which way it was going to go. Mark was pushing for 'Rockin' Robin' - he was strictly pop. I had an urge to plunge further into darker fields. In the end I think it was the girl behind the counter that swung it for me. She must have been at least 16 or 17, so a lot older than us mere boys, and looked like, outside of her time behind the counter at Boots, she was probably quite an, er, 'groovy chick'. She heard our deliberations and commented on the seeming disparity in the possible choices. I saw a twinkle in her eye for which my small boy hormones fell immediately and knew I had to cast off all this little Michael nonsense immediately and forever. As I asked her for 'Little Bit of Love' (if only) she gave me a lovely smile as if to say, 'You chose well, young man'. Confusion would still continue occasionally over the next year or so but this was the moment I set the controls for planet rock. No turning back. Actually, thinking about it. perhaps I'm now, all the these many years later, back in that land of confusion, as I listen to anything providing it moves me, but my sojourn with 'serious' music stood me in good stead - I think.
Little Bit of Love (featuring Pan' People!) (1972)
Waterson brother, Mike, who died in 2011, recorded just one solo album, titled simply, Mike Waterson. Released in 1977, the album is a tour de force of unaccompanied folk singing, the most amazing song being his take on the ancient balled, 'Tamlyn'.
One of my other favourites from the album is this tale of sheep rustling, ' The Brisk Lad'. I'll own up and admit I no longer have a copy of Mike Waterson, my cassette of the album being chewed up may years ago - must put this right soon as I can.