Flick the Dust Off | Shirley Collins and Davy Graham – Folk Roots New Routes | Decca LK4652 | 1964
There’s something a little bit odd about the cover of this classic folk LP from 1965. There’s an unusually large gap between the singer and the guitar player, a gap that turns into a chasm on the black and white studio picture on the reverse. You get the feeling these two are not close, and by a good margin. Strangely enough, the music also seems worlds apart; the quintessentially English female folk voice on the one hand and the super cool jazz inflected guitar on the other. So why does it work so well? Despite the LP eluding any notable success in sales upon its initial release, Folk Roots, New Routes soon became an enormous influence upon all the notable singers and musicians that followed, Collins being a major influence on Sandy Denny, Maddy Prior and Jacqui McShee, while Graham assumed God-like status for all the guitarists that followed, including Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and Jimmy Page just to name a few.
Singled Out | Mike Heron – Call Me Diamond | Island WIP6101 | 1971
“Call Me Diamond” is the opening song on Mike Heron’s debut solo LP Smiling Men with Bad Reputations, released in 1971. Still with the Incredible String Band at the time, Heron appears to stretch out musically once again, this time to explore a more rockier edge, with one or two soul-drenched moments. The saxophone takes a hold from the start on “Call Me Diamond”, courtesy of South Africa’s Dudu Pukwana, which is enhanced further by one or two Fairporters, Dave Pegg on bass and Simon Nicol on guitar and Mike Kowalski on drums. Heron delivers a surprisingly soulful Wilson Pickett vocal, revealing yet another side to Heron’s by then very familiar singing voice. Some of this influence would appear in later Incredible String Band material as the Seventies wore on.
Fifty Years Ago | Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street | Rolling Stones Records COC 69100 | May 1972
For the recording sessions of the Rolling Stones tenth album release, the band relocated to France, renting a villa in Nellcôte, while living abroad as tax exiles. Exile on Main Street was released as a double LP set in 1972 and featured an array of musician friends such as Nicky Hopkins, Bobby Keys, Jim Price and Jimmy Miller with guest appearances by the likes of Billy Preston, Dr John, Al Perkins and Gram Parsons. Despite lukewarm reviews at the time, the album has subsequently been regarded as one of the best albums the band has produced in its six decade existence. At the time of its release, the NME put out a free flexidisc promoting some of the material on the album, with a specially recorded blues intro by Mick Jagger, which despite the poor quality of the sound, as was the case with cheaply produced flexi discs, I found myself playing it over and over at the time and it still resonates today.