Vinyl Memories | 101-125

101 | 17 JUNE 2022

Flick the Dust Off | Joe Egan | Out of Nowhere | Ariola AARL5021 | 1979

After playing in a series of bands, the singer songwriter Joe Egan teamed up with former school pal Gerry Rafferty to form Stealers Wheel, the band going on to have one or two hit records in the early 1970s, notably “Stuck in the Middle With You”, which Egan co-wrote with Rafferty. After Stealers Wheel folded in the mid-Seventies, the two musicians were contractually obliged not to release any recordings for three years, but eventually Egan was able to resume his recording career by releasing a couple of solo albums, this being the first of them and which featured the minor hit single “Back on the Road”.  After Egan’s second album failed to impress, he left the music industry to work in publishing.  Like Rafferty, Egan is a much missed presence on the music scene.

Singled Out | The Doors | Riders on the Storm | Elektra K12021 | 1971

“Riders on the Storm” is a significant single in that it was the last song recorded by the original four members of The Doors and also the last song to be released in Jim Morrison’s lifetime.  According to guitarist Robby Krieger, the song was inspired by the song “Ghost Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend” but with a darker edge.  In the wake of the 1969 Manson murders, Los Angeles was still pretty much living in fear, though it has been suggested that ‘killer on the road’ reference in the song refers in fact to the earlier spree murderer Billy Cook, who killed six people, including a young family, while hitchhiking to California in the 1950s.  Despite the song’s iconic status and instantly recognisable keyboard flurries, the song was only ever performed live by the band twice, Morrison leaving the planet shortly afterwards.

Fifty Years Ago | Free | Free at Last | Island ILPS 9192 | June 1972

Like the contemporary bands of the time, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and The Who for example, Free stuck to the essential rock band format of a significantly reliable drummer, an excellent bassist, a guitar player extraordinaire and a frontman whose highly distinctive voice would keep the band’s name at the top of the billboard.  Having four such members in a band really seemed enough at the time and everything seemed possible.  Free at Last is the band’s fifth studio album recorded between January and March in 1972 and released in May that year.  Having broken up in April 1971, over musical differences, mainly between singer Paul Rodgers and bassist Andy Fraser, the band reformed in January 1972 and released this eagerly anticipated album, most fans believing the previous live album to be their last.  Despite each song being written by individual members of the band, they are all credited jointly to the band as Fraser / Rodgers / Kossoff / Kirke.  The album also features the band’s tenth single release “Little Bit of Love”, which almost bothered the UK top ten.

102 | 24 JUNE 2022

Flick the Dust Off | Rab Noakes | Red Pump Special | Warner Bros K46284 | 1973

Red Pump Special captures a youthful Rab Noakes at his melodic best, with an album of memorable songs.  For the most part regarded as a songwriter’s songwriter, Rab injects a sense of the everyman into his songs, whether riding on the top deck of a bus or getting out walking, for a bit of peace and quiet.  With his association with such bands as Lindisfarne and Stealers Wheel, Rab has enjoyed a fruitful solo career with collaborations with both Rod Clements and Barbara Dickson, and the release of several albums between 1970’s debut Do You See the Lights? and the more recent Welcome to Anniversaryville, with several re-issues along the way.  The lapels on the jacket worn for the cover shot gives away this LP’s vintage, the music however is timeless.  The optimistic “Clear Day” reminds us of Rab’s penchant for writing a good pop song, while “Frisco Depot” has a more melancholy feel, ‘when you’re alone, there’s nothing that’s slower than passing time’ – wisdom at an early age.  Recorded in Nashville, the album includes contributions by the Memphis Horns, including “Tomorrow is Another Day” and the bluesy “Diamond Ring”, with other contributions by Ray Jackson on harmonica, Kenny Buttrey on drums and old Stealers Wheel muckers Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan providing backing vocals on a couple of songs.

Singled Out | Genesis | I Know What I Like In Your Wardrobe | Charisma CB 224 | 1973

I wasn’t really on board the Genesis bandwagon until well after the release of the band’s fourth album Foxtrot sometime in early 1973 and I distinctly recall eagerly waiting around for their next instalment, which came in the form of Selling England By The Pound in the same year.  Strange lyrics appealed to me back then as a school kid growing up in the working class environment of Doncaster; the weirder the better in fact.  The Peter Gabriel-period Genesis provided all the strangeness a fifteen year-old just out of school could possibly need. Although essentially an albums band, Genesis did release a handful of singles before this, none of which charted.  Reaching number 21 in the charts, this Beatles-influenced song opened the door for a series of successful singles released subsequently, albeit without Gabriel at the helm.  This is precisely the moment I got off the wagon for good, with each subsequent album confirming it was the right decision.

Fifty Years Ago | Leon Russell | Carney | A&M 68911 | June 1972

By 1972, Leon Russell had made his presence felt on the rock music scene having appeared as the musical director of Joe Cocker’s legendary Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour (and album) and then with George Harrison at the Concert for BangladeshCarney is Russell’s third solo album and as the title suggests, there’s something of the carnival about the album, notably on the opening “Tight Rope”, a death-defying feature of any travelling circus of the time, its wurlitzer flurries adding to the atmosphere.  There are one or two tender moments on the album, “Me and Baby Jane” for instance, a thoughtful meditation on lost love, immediately followed by a rain-soaked “Manhattan Island Serenade”, its minor key staccato piano and relentless thunderstorm adding to the pain.  The title interlude, which comes in at well under a minute long, returns momentarily to the fairground theme, kicking off a rather disjointed, almost experimental second side, which includes the tongue-in-cheek “If the Shoe Fits”, a wry look at the rock press of the 1970s, and Don Preston’s eerie “Acid Annapolis”, which could easily have been an outtake from Trout Mask Replica, or perhaps even the White Album.

103 | 1 JULY 2022

Flick the Dust Off | Emitt Rhodes | Emitt Rhodes | Dunhill DS50089 | 1970

This is actually the second album release by singer songwriter Emitt Rhodes, essentially a homemade album with Rhodes playing all of the instruments, which Dunhill released after Rhodes agreed to re-record the vocals to adhere to strict music union rules, that albums released on major labels must be recorded in proper studios.  Well of course these songs were recorded at home and Rhodes was pretty determined to make sure the listener was well aware of this, inscribing in decorative banners on the runout groove the words ‘Recorded at Home’.  Rhodes had also originally pencilled in Homecooking as the album title.  However, the record label changed this to just the singer’s name before the album’s release.  On the inner gatefold sleeve, Rhodes is quoted to say ‘I have to say the things I feel, I have to feel the things I say.’  The album is chock full of highly melodic McCartney-like songs, notably “Somebody Made for Me” and “She’s Such a Beauty”, among others.  Rhodes released just four solo albums in the early 1970s, plus one initial release with The Merry-Go-Round before disappearing off the scene altogether, a casualty of internal record company wrangling.  He made a brief comeback in 2016 with the album Rainbow Ends, before dying in his sleep in the summer of 2020.  

Singled Out | Arizona Smoke Revue | Don’t Look Back | Rola Records R010 | 1981

There’s at least a couple of videos of the Arizona Smoke Revue in action on YouTube, each clip featuring the band filmed from around this period, and each appearing to demonstrate just how fascinating this band was as a live act.  The popular Anglo-American outfit once straddled the borders of folk and country with a vibrant sound, certainly on such numbers as “Last Day of July”, “Border Song” and “Further Along”, revealing their musical chops for all to see.  Yet, the band was also known to sprinkle a splash of humour among the songs in the band’s repertoire, including Steve Knightley’s lilting Noel Coward-like ditty, a song so retro, it feels more akin to the New Vaudeville Band than his later Show of Hands exploits.

Fifty Years Ago | Doobie Brothers | Toulouse Street | Warner Bros K46183 | July 1972

I found the Doobie Brothers’ second LP Toulouse Street in a junk shop in Doncaster in 1972, the year of the album’s release.  I don’t know why it found itself in a junk shop so soon after its release, maybe the cover shot of a bunch of hippies looking out at whoever first bought the LP, seemed too tempting to leave in the shop and then the funky country rock music didn’t necessarily go with the look of the band.  Maybe it was that same bunch of hippies featured on the inner gatefold sleeve, this time in a state of undress surrounded by equally naked women that may have been just too much to take, therefore immediately finding itself on the junk pile.  Who knows? I was just pleased to find it going for a song. The cover photos were actually taken in a New Orleans establishment that was once a brothel, hence the pictures.  No matter, either way, Toulouse Street appealed to this fifteen year-old and was soon going round on my bedroom turntable.  The album opens with perhaps the band’s most famous song “Listen to the Music”.

104 | 8 JULY 2022

Flick the Dust Off | Free | Free | Island ILPS 9104 | 1969

By the time Free had played the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970, which showcased the band’s current hit “All Right Now”, the young band had already released three albums, Tons of Sobs recorded in 1968 but released the following year, the band’s most popular album Fire and Water in 1970 and somewhere in between, their eponymous LP, you know, the one with the leaping lady.  The thing that was unusual about the band at the time, was that all the members were so young, Andy Fraser being only fifteen when the band formed, while Paul Kossoff was seventeen, and both lead singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke were eighteen.  The band’s very distinctive sound was becoming more evident by the time this LP arrived, produced by the head of Island Records himself, Chris Blackwell.  The songwriting partnership of Rodgers and Fraser had begun to blossom around this time, though the band’s demise just a few years later was largely due to tensions between the two, with the added problems arising from Kossoff’s ongoing drug related problems.  Then there’s that cover, designed by Ron Rafaelli, his model silhouetted against stars, leaping through the air, with the band’s name almost too tiny to read at the top.

Singled Out | Bad Company | Feel Like Making Love | WIP6242 | 1975

Although many retained something of a soft spot for Free, a good few fans willingly jumped in with Paul Rodgers’ next venture Bad Company, a band the singer formed with fellow Free bandmate Simon Kirke and ex-Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs, together with ex-King Crimson bassist Boz Burrell.  “Feel Like Makin’ Love” was released as a single in August 1975 and was lifted from the band’s second album Straight Shooter, released earlier in the same year.  Though the single did okay in the UK charts, reaching number 20 at the time, it was something of a noticable step down from the success of the earlier “Can’t Get Enough” from the band’s 1974 self-titled debut.

Fifty Years Ago | David Ackles | American Gothic | Elektra K42112 | July 1972

There’s something immediately theatrical about the American singer songwriter David Ackles’ third album release, an album recorded in London with fellow songwriter Bernie Taupin at the helm.  The title song, which kicks off the album, could be a mixture of a dark Brechtian theatrical piece with a Grant Wood backdrop, as the title might suggest.  Once the drama subsides though, “Love’s Enough” soothes the senses like anything you might imagine from the pen of Burt Bacharach.   Robert Kirby offers some lush arrangements, as he did for many an obscure artist at the time, not least on albums by Nick Drake, Vashti Bunyan, Shelagh McDonald and Keith Christmas.  The eleven original songs here are all written by Ackles, half of them first rate ballads and half potential show tunes that unfortunately miss their mark.  American Gothic seems to look like a fifty year-old artefact still searching for its audience, while David Ackles sounds like a serious artist bogged down by the lure of the footlights.

105 | 15 JULY 2022

Flick the Dust Off | The Byrds | Sweetheart of the Rodeo | Columbia CS9670 | 1968

Once the American band The Byrds had upset almost the entire folk community with their jangly treatment of Bob Dylan songs and traditional folk ballads, by August 1968 the Byrds had begun to move on, turning their attention to Country music, releasing their sixth album Sweetheart of the Rodeo with more than a little help from Gram Parsons, whose influence was crucial to this transition.  The album was recorded in both Nashville and Hollywood and is widely regarded as a forerunner of Country Rock.  Although never considered a fully paid up member of The Byrds, Parsons joined original members Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman, together with drummer Kevin Kelley, in order to pull off this venture, contributing a couple of his own songs to boot, “Hickory Wind” and “One Hundred Years From Now”, and also taking the lead vocal on a couple of others, Merle Haggard’s “Life in Prison” and Luke McDaniels’ “You’re Still on My Mind”.  The world was probably not quite ready for what Sweetheart of the Rodeo had to offer,  but it is now considered an influential album, paving the way for some of the bands that would follow shortly afterwards, chief among them the Flying Burrito Bros and possibly even The Band.

Singled Out | Kate Bush | The Man With the Child in His Eyes | EMI 2806 | 1978

Written when Kate Bush was only thirteen years-old and recorded at sixteen, “The Man With the Child in His Eyes”, was the singer’s follow up single to her breakthrough chart topper “Wuthering Heights”, both from her debut album The Kick Inside.  Recorded at AIR Studios with David Gilmour at the helm, the song was initially presumed to be about the Pink Floyd guitarist, a notion now in doubt, though Bush has never declared who the subject of the song might be.  With full orchestration, the piano-led song remains one of Bush’s most beautiful melodies.  The lyric of the Ivor Novello Award-winning song is said to reflect on the notion that most men have an inner child, ‘more or less just grown up kids’, Bush is said to have later remarked.

Fifty Years Ago | Emerson Lake and Palmer | Trilogy | Island ILPS 9186 | July 1972

Although considered a ‘supergroup’ at the time of the trio’s initial formation in 1970, Emerson, Lake and Palmer soon became the stick to bash all Progressive Rock bands with, mainly due to their penchant for showing off, over indulgence and excessive tour shenanigans.  Who could forget the three articulated trucks with each of the individual musicians’ surnames painted on top, purposefully transporting far too much equipment, including Persian carpets and gongs?  Trilogy, the band’s third studio album, sandwiched between Tarkus and Brain Salad Surgery, with a live album Pictures at an Exhibition also released around the same time, became a firm favourite with both fans and the trio alike.  The former King Crimson singer, Greg Lake, considered the album his favourite amongst the band’s ten albums, all released between 1970 and 1994.  Once again the trio’s Classical influence can be found in such pieces as “Hoedown”, based on an Aaron Copeland ballet and “Abaddon’s Bolero”, a nod towards Ravel no doubt.  “From the Beginning” is possibly the album’s most straightforward soft rock composition, an acoustic guitar-led song, with a fine Lake guitar solo and interesting synthesiser solo, courtesy of Emerson, so commercial in fact, as to be released as a single from the album.  Salvador Dalí was apparently approached to design the sleeve, though the famed artist’s fee turned the band’s attention to the more affordable Hipgnosis, who came up with a somewhat half-hearted end result.  More interesting is the inner gatefold photograph, which shows a multitude of Emersons, Lakes and Palmers posing deep within Epping Forest on a fine autumn day.  It sounds fifty years old.

106 | 22 JULY 2022

Flick the Dust Off |  Jerry Jeff Walker | Mr Bojangles | Atco 288 006 | 1968

Jerry Jeff Walker’s third LP release is named for perhaps the New York-born singer songwriter’s most famous song, for which he enlisted the assistance of David Bromberg, photographed with the singer on the back cover, who added possibly more noodling than necessary, most notably on the rambling Dylan-like “The Ballad of The Hulk”.  Not a single opportunity is missed to take advantage of the sonic spotlight with one guitar run after the other throughout, making the old adage ‘less is more’ hardly redundant on this occasion.  Released in 1968, Mr Bojangles features this much covered song, which was not only a hit for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, but would become the signature song of Rat Pack crooner Sammy Davis Jr.  Recorded in New York with Tom Dowd at the helm, Mr Bojangles remains one of Walker’s most memorable albums.

Singled Out | Deep Purple | Black Night | Harvest HARG 1503 | 1970

Although known pretty much as an album band, Deep Purple was not shy at releasing singles, from their debut hit of 1968 “Hush”, through to “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” with over fifty releases in between.  “Black Night” was the band’s seventh single release in June 1970 and features the classic line up of Ian Gillan, Richie Blackmore, Roger Glover, Ian Paice and the late Jon Lord.  Backed by the frantic “Speed King”, the single reached number two in the UK charts, and featured on later re-issues of Deep Purple’s fourth album Deep Purple in Rock, though not included on it’s initial release around the same time.  The bass line was apparently borrowed from Ricky Nelson’s version of the old Gershwin classic “Summertime”.

Fifty Years Ago | Curtis Mayfield | Super Fly | RSO RSS5 | July 1972

Released a year after the film Shaft, Super Fly is likewise memorable for its excellent soundtrack, the former by Isaac Hayes and the latter by Curtis Mayfield, two undisputed Soul giants.  Mayfield’s soundtrack possibly feels less sprawling than Shaft, possibly due to it being just a single album rather than the double LP set released by Hayes.   Similar in places, the two soundtracks are remembered for the music rather than the rather flawed movies the music was written for.  The language can be slightly jarring, certainly for these times, notably on “Pusherman”, though the vocal performances are pretty much spot on throughout, certainly on “Freddie’s Dead” and “Give Me Your Love (Love Song)”, both featuring Mayfield’s instantly recognisable trademark falsetto.

107 | 29 JULY 2022

Flick the Dust Off | Sutherland Brothers | Lifeboat | Island ILPS 9212 | 1972

The Sutherland Brothers would later find their place in music once they teamed up with the rock band Quiver in the mid-1970s, whose guitarist Tim Renwick would help the siblings find their distinctive soft rock sound, a sound that would become familiar throughout the decade, most notably with their hit single “Arms of Mary”.  A little earlier though, Gavin and Iain Sutherland would enjoy some success with their first couple of albums The Sutherland Brothers Band and Lifeboat, both of which would highlight their writing credentials, especially “Sailing”, which became a huge hit for Rod Stewart.  Lifeboat featured the single “(I Don’t Want to Love You But) You Got Me Anyway” but is now probably more famous for the Rod Stewart hit, though the song pales here, a little like the difference between Little Feat’s debut version of “Willing” on their first album, to the much superior reworking of the song on their second.  The LP is also notable for its fabulous sleeve design, a reproduction of Bernard Gribble’s Pride of Our Isles painting, from the collection of the Royal National Lifeboat Institute.

Singled Out | Bob Dylan | Tangled Up in Blue | CBS 3160 | 1974

For all those who rushed home with a copy of Dylan’s fifteenth LP Blood on the Tracks under their arms “Tangled Up in Blue” would have been the first sound to hit them once the needle dropped onto the grooves.  To many, this was a Dylan comeback par excellence, an album loaded with top drawer songs, and possibly none more immediately memorable than the opening song.  Released as a single around the same time, “Tangled Up in Blue” did nothing to hinder Dylan’s return to form and aided the song writer’s continued respectability.  Though not credited, the single was produced by Dylan’s brother, David Zimmerman, going on to become a top 40 hit. It has been said that the song may have been a result of Dylan listening to Joni Mitchell’s seminal album Blue on repeat, hence the title.

Fifty Years Ago | Van Morrison | Saint Dominic’s Preview | Warner K46172 | July 1972

Who could possibly erase from their memory the edition of Top of the Pops, when some bright spark projected a picture of the deliriously smiling Scots darts player Jocky Wilson as a backdrop to Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ performance of the band’s then current hit “Jackie Wilson Said”.  The song’s author Van Morrison must’ve been seething, as his song underwent such merciless ridicule on the popular weekly TV show.  “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile)” opens Morrison’s sixth album Saint Dominic’s Preview, with a nod to one of his R&B heroes from a previous era.  Soulful, yet folky at the same time, the song is a superb opener to a particularly eclectic album, considered by many as one of Morrison’s finest.  There’s echoes of the earlier Astral Weeks in the sprawling “Listen to the Lion”, which features one of Morrison’s most primal vocal performances, half lion roar, half soulful moan, with a little of Arthur Janov’s curious therapy thrown in, ala John Lennon.   Saint Dominic’s Preview has one or two memorable performances, not least the title song which opens the second side and the mammoth closer, “Almost Independence Day”.  Fifty years on, the album still stands on its own two feet and Van’s ripped jeans remain for all to see.

108 | 12 AUGUST 2022

Flick the Dust Off | The Butterfield Blues Band | East West | Elektra EKL-315 | 1966

There are several possible routes to my first encounter with the Butterfield Blues Band.  The initial discovery may have had something to do with seeing pictures of Mike Bloomfield on stage with a cool looking Bob Dylan at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, as the Hibbing Bard first ‘went electric’, or perhaps it had something to do with hearing about Joe Boyd’s first encounter with Richard Thompson, performing this album’s title track as a sprawling blues jam at the UFO Club a little later.  It’s more than likely though, that I may very well have first heard the band on Alexis Korner’s iconic radio show one Sunday evening in the late 1970s, sandwiched between something by Sam Chatmon and Sweet Honey in the Rock.  What is undisputed though, in my fading and considerably unreliable memory, is that East-West was the first Butterfield Blues Band LP I ever bought, after finding it languishing in one of the cheap bins at Bradley’s Records in Doncaster around the same time.  The imported copy on the Elektra label was one of the first blues albums I ever bought and it still comes out for a play quite often.  Hearing Butterfield’s sneering harmonica for the first time on the opener “Walking Blues” was quite a revelation at the time, prompting me to buy my first blues harp.  The harmonica riff on “Work Song” could also be found in Bert Jansch’s interpretation of Davy Graham’s guitar workout “Anji” on his eponymous debut released the previous year.  But it’s perhaps the thirteen minute improvisation “East-West” that this album is remembered for, where eastern influences infiltrate this iconic blues instrumental.

Singled Out | Manfred Mann’s Earth Band | Joybringer | Vertigo 6059 083 | 1973

One of those memorable songs that opens without an instrumental intro, a little like the Beatles’ “All My Loving” or Elton John’s “Rocket Man”.  I recall first hearing “Joybringer” on Radio One back in the early 1970s, and immediately recognised the tune, which borrows from Gustav Holst’s The Planets, namely “Jupiter: Bringer of Jollity”.  The song was among many rock and pop singles at the time that tipped its cap to the world of classical music, possibly due to the fact that these older melodies are difficult to top.  With a deep love of classical music, Manfred Mann went on to adapt several pieces including “Questions”, based on Franz Schubert’s “Impromptu in G flat Major”, which appeared on the band’s seventh album The Roaring Silence and “Starbird”, based on Stravinski’s The Firebird, from the same album.  “Joybringer” was the band’s biggest hit at the time, which reached number nine in the UK charts, later succeeded by both “Blinded by the Light” and “Davy’s on the Road Again”, both reaching number six. 

Fifty Year Ago | Danny O’Keefe | O’Keefe | Signpost SG4252 | August 1972

I first heard the opening song to this album, “Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues”, performed by the Rotherham singer Roy Machin at the Rockingham Arms in Wentworth sometime in the early 1980s.  I liked the song so much that I immediately sought out the album it was borrowed from, Danny O’Keefe’s second album O’Keefe. The song was clearly the best song on the album, though there’s also a pretty faithful reading of the old Hank Williams song “Honky Tonkin’” included amongst the originals.  This discovery eventually led to further investigation, with a couple more albums later joining the collection, 1975’s So Long Harry Truman and 1977’s American Roulette.  Fifty years on and “Charlie” still sounds as fresh as it did when O’Keefe recorded it, and having been subsequently recorded many times, most notably by Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, Charlie Rich, Leon Russell, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chet Atkins, Dwight Yoakum, Waylon Jennings, Charlie McCoy and Mel Torme.

109 | 19 AUGUST 2022

Flick the Dust Off | Fotheringay | Fotheringay | Island ILPS 9125 | 1970

In 1970 I sneaked into my older cousin’s bedroom at my aunt’s house in Blackpool, where we were staying for one of our family holidays.  My cousin had long hair and wore what at the time might’ve been referred to as ‘groovy clobber’.  When he was out, curiosity led me to his room to check on what he might be listening to.  I saw a pile of LPs stacked in the corner. On top of the collection was the now iconic screaming Crimson King character, on the cover of the seminal King Crimson LP, In the Court of the Crimson King, designed by Barry Godber. Underneath that was the debut album by Fotheringay, featuring another iconic sleeve design, this time featuring five unfeasibly skinny hippies, who I would later discover to be Trevor Lucas, Gerry Conway, Jerry Donahue, Pat Donaldson and up front, Sandy Denny. The short-lived British folk rock group only stuck around for this one release, Sandy Denny soon to embark on her solo career, while the rest of the band went on to infiltrate the ranks of Fairport Convention, with Donaldson joining Kate and Anna McGarrigle after moving to Canada.  Although the album wasn’t much of a critical success in the year it was released, it’s now remembered for a handful of classic Sandy Denny songs, including “Nothing More”, “The Sea” and “The Pond and the Stream”.

Singled Out | The Moody Blues | Question | Threshold TH 4 | 1970 

I resisted the Moody Blues for many years after the band’s overproduced “Go Now”, which I found unlistenable, and Ray Thomas’s Jason King moustache.  I did however have a soft spot for “Nights in White Satin” and this song, from their fifth Deram album release A Question of Balance.  A maniacally frenzied strummed  acoustic guitar permeates the record from the start, complete with an equally frenzied orchestral arrangement, which is almost as overblown as the sleeve artwork.  A couple of minutes into this veritable opus, the song returns to a more familiar Moody Blues sound, with Mike Pinder’s Mellotron, keeping itself both at the fore but also out of the way at the same time.  Four minutes in and it’s a return to the frenzied acoustic, which had probably been restrung during the slow bit.

Fifty years Ago | Lindisfarne | Dingly Dell | Charisma CAS 1057 | August 1972

I always thought my favourite Lindisfarne album to be the band’s second album Fog on the Tyne, though I always seem to return to their next, 1972’s Dingly Dell, in particular the three song opening sequence “All Fall Down”, “Plankton’s Lament” and “Bring Down the Government”, with some fine and uplifting brass band moments, the three songs going together almost as snuggly as the Beatles’ “Sgt, Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, “I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” (well almost).  The album also includes Alan Hull’s poignant “Poor Old Ireland” and “Court in the Act”, which bears a resemblance in places to George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”, though we should perhaps ignore this, there’s been enough hoo-ha over that chord progression already.  The most throw away of all throw away tracks on any album must be “Dingle Regatta”, which thankfully comes in at just a little over a minute.  Wrapped in a plain grey sleeve with just the album title and band name on both sides, the credits appearing on the inner sleeve, Dingly Dell, though pretty much dismissed upon its initial release, remains an often played LP around here, fifty years on.

110 | 26 AUGUST 2022

Flick the Dust Off | Home Service | Alright Jack | Making Waves | Spin 119 | 1986

The British folk rock outfit Home Service was formed just as I was beginning to take a closer look at folk music in 1980.  Growing tired of the 1970s rock scene, a point refusal to embrace Punk and recovering after a three year tunnel-visioned dalliance with all things Blues related, not to mention the eventual wearing out of my copy of Zappa’s Sheik Yerbouti, I was seeking something more fulfilling, which I found in folk music.  The voice of John Tams, mixed in with the nifty finger work of Graeme Taylor, made sense to me, and despite Alright Jack coming out towards the end of the band’s first incarnation, shortly before Tams’ departure, to be replaced by John Kirkpatrick, it was the album that the band is most remembered for.  Predominantly made up of clever reworkings of traditional folk songs collected by Percy Grainger, the album also features four classic Tams originals, each of which provide the album with its heart, including the superb title track and the rousing closer “Scarecrow”, which bookend the release.  The band continues to pop up every now and then, but Alright Jack remains a tough act to follow.

Singled Out | Gerry Rafferty | Mary Skeffington | Logo GO 314 | 1978

When Gerry Rafferty died in 2011, I expected a rush to place his name and his work on a similar pedestal to some of his departed contemporaries, but of course the difference is that Rafferty had the good sense to stay around until middle age, a little longer than some, whose legend continues to shine.  Rafferty was spared this sort of adulation and aside from a few minor hits, notably “Baker Street”, he seems to have faded into the background.  Gerry Rafferty was a superb singer, song writer and musician, whose songs should be played much more.  “Mary Skeffington” first appeared on Rafferty’s debut solo album, Can I Have My Money Back? in 1971, an album remembered also for its original artwork, designed by John Patrick Byrne, who would go on to have a lasting relationship with Rafferty for years to come, notably on the first couple of Stealers Wheel records.  Skeffington was also Rafferty’s mother’s maiden name, which suggests a homage to a woman who might have lived through tough times in Paisley, Rafferty’s home town, presented as a gentle lullaby.  Hopefully there will come a time when radio deejays will mention Rafferty’s name without following it up with an iconic saxophone riff; there are others out there.

Fifty Years Ago | Dan Fogelberg | Home Free | Colombia KC31751 | August 1972

In the early 1970s, I often came across the striking cover of Dan Fogelberg’s debut album Home Free, nestling alongside the James Taylors and Carole Kings, or for those outlets that adhered to strict alphabetical order, smack bang in the middle between the Focus and Foghat records. A charcoal sketch of the singer resembling one of George Catlin’s Native American sketches, a drawing that could be mistaken for Fogelberg’s contemporary, Jackson Browne, dominates the sleeve.  Arriving on the scene as a similar sort of singer songwriter to Browne, Fogelberg’s gentle delivery could also be likened to that of Crosby Stills Nash (“Stars”), The Eagles (“More Than Ever”), America (“Wysteria”) and most notably Neil Young (“The River”).  There is however a sense that Fogelberg is trying to find his own style on Home Free, despite the tendency to emulate others.  “Looking for a Lady” may have echoes of Shawn Phillips, another forgotten talent of the time, while “Anyway I Love You” could be an early example of the country rock that would prevail throughout the decade. Subsequent albums by Fogelberg show an entirely different beast, with little to write home about.

111 | 2 SEPTEMBER 2022

Flick the Dust Off | Gram Parsons | Grievous Angel | Reprise Records K 54018 | 1974

I can’t actually claim to have been a Gram Parsons fan when this album was first recorded back in the Summer of 1973, despite being very much aware of the singer through his work with both the Flying Burrito Brothers and The Byrds. It would be shortly after Parsons’ untimely death that the name began to have some resonance, mainly due to a greater awareness of Emmylou Harris throughout the 1970s, a singer very much associated with Parsons.  Gram sadly didn’t get to see the release of this album in early 1974 having died of a morphine and alcohol overdose in the Summer of ‘73, becoming yet another in a growing list of rock and roll casualties.  Parsons wasn’t in good shape when he recorded this album and much of the material was made up of hastily put together odds and ends, but despite this, the album showcased some highly memorable moments, such as the heartfelt duet between Parsons and Harris on Boudleaux Bryant’s tender “Love Hurts”, a song made famous by the Everly Brothers over a decade before.

Singled Out | Linda Ronstadt | You’re No Good | Asylum CL15804 | 1974

The song “You’re No Good” was first released by Dee Dee Warwick and was produced by the highly successful team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.  Written by Clint Ballard Jr, the song soon found fame with contemporary versions by Betty Everett in 1963 and The Swinging Blue Jeans a year later, while Linda Ronstadt opened her fifth studio album Heart Like a Wheel with a spirited version, which she would often close her shows with, leading up to the decision to release the track as a single at the same time.  Produced by Peter Asher in 1974, Ronstadt’s version of “You’re No Good” became the song’s most successful cover, reaching number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1975.

Fifty Years Ago | Mott the Hoople | All the Young Dudes | Colombia PC31750 | September 1972

It was roughly fifty years ago when I found myself squeezed in at the front of the stage at the Top Rank in Doncaster, when Ian Hunter casually declared ‘There’s only two rock and roll bands in the world..’, to which the now quietened standing-only audience awaited further information with somewhat bated breath, until the band’s charismatic leader concluded, ‘..the Rolling Stones and us!  By the time David Bowie inadvertently rescued Mott the Hoople from imminent extinction, the newly adopted glam giants had already begun to demonstrate a sort of cockiness, with silver suits to go with it.  Already established as a cult rock band, with four albums already under their leather belts, together with strange looking guitars and equally strange haircuts, Mott the Hoople changed direction almost overnight, embracing the new glam aesthetic that could rival that of Marc Bolan, Sweet and their new mentor David Bowie himself.  “All the Young Dudes” would become a massive hit for them and effectively save the band from disappearing up their own backsides, while gathering a new audience that would probably not even bother checking out the band’s back catalogue, which had become very much out of date by the time this album arrived.  The album was named for the Bowie-penned smash hit, yet it was Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane” that provided the album with its memorable opener, a finer opener difficult to find.  All the Young Dudes also marked the band’s new relationship with CBS after leaving Island Records, for which their first four albums were released.

112 | 9 SEPTEMBER 2022

Flick the Dust Off | Lyle Lovett | Pontiac | MCA Curb 42028 | 1987

In 1987 Lyle Lovett appeared from out of nowhere, or at least that’s how it felt.  No one sounded quite like him, no one was writing songs like him and no one looked quite like him.  Everything about him seemed a little bit exaggerated, from his lavish productions, his highly quirky songs and his unfeasible quaffed mullet.  If his self-titled debut heralded in a new sort of country, then his second release sealed his reputation and established him as one of the leading lights in the New Country genre, along with fellow Texan Nanci Griffith, both of whom appeared at the 25th Anniversary Cambridge Folk Festival a couple of years later.  If we didn’t quite see Lyle Lovett coming at the time, then we certainly didn’t see his high profile marriage to the Hollywood actress Julia Roberts coming, which was just around the corner, but there again, presumably neither did he.  Pontiac kicks off the bizarre but brilliant “If I Had a Boat” and also features the hilarious “She’s No Lady”.

Singled Out | Bob Seger | We’ve Got Tonite | Capitol CL16028 | 1978

Bob Seger had already had several bands before the release of this single in 1978, including Bob Seger and the Last Heard, The Bob Seger System and his most recent at the time, the Silver Bullet Band.  Emerging from the fertile Detroit music scene, Seger took his roots rock sensibilities to Muscle Shoals in 1976 to record five tracks, this one included.  The song was originally planned for the highly successful album Night Moves, but was deemed out of place, later emerging on the second side of its follow up, and more successful album, Stranger in Town.  The single features the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and a handful of choice backing singers, notably Venetta Fields, Clydie King and Sherlie Matthews.  The song has also been recorded and released as duets by Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton and Ronan Keating and Lulu.

Fifty Years Ago | Family | Bandstand | Reprise K54006  | September 1972

The penultimate Family album, before the band eventually called it a day with the following year’s It’s Only a Movie, Bandstand is the sixth album release by the Leicester-based band, presented in a lavish sleeve in the style of a Bush TV22 television set, with a photo of the band in the studio behind the ‘window’.  The album is possibly the band’s most accessible album, opening with “Burlesque”, one of the band’s best remembered songs.  The song was released as a single and went on to reach number 13 in the UK charts, the flip side being “The Rocking Rs”, which fared better than it’s follow up single, “My Friend the Sun”, the McCartney-like song that opens side two of the album, later covered by Linda Lewis, who also appears on Bandstand as a backing singer.   John Wetton, who had contributed much to the band, especially on their previous album Fearless, left the band shortly after to join King Crimson.

113 | 16 SEPTEMBER 2022

Flick the Dust Of | Peter Rowan | Peter Rowan | Flying Fish 071 | 1978

Having already had some success in such bands as Earth Opera with David Grisman, Seatrain with Richard Greene and Muleskinner with both Grisman and Greene, together with Bill Keith and Clarence White, as well as his own family band The Rowans, with brothers Chris and Lorin, Peter Rowan set out on his solo career in 1978 with this fine self-titled debut.  The LP showcases some of the songs that are still requested at his gigs today, including “Free Mexican Airforce”, “Panama Red” and the haunting “Land of the Navajo”.  The guest musicians who feature on this LP are fellow Seatrain stalwart Richard Greene on fiddle, Rowan’s brother Lorin on piano and Tex-Mex giant Flaco Jimenez on accordion.  Most of the songs on the LP are composed by Rowan with the exception of “When I Was a Cowboy”, an old Leadbelly song.  Since the release of this LP, Rowan has gone on to record dozens of albums both as a solo performer and in collaboration with some of the finest bluegrass musicians around, including Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas and Don Edwards.

Singled Out | Squeeze | Up the Junction | A&M AMS7444 | 1979

After first hearing “Up the Junction” by Squeeze, a veritable musical homage to the Kitchen Sink genre, with its tale of boredom, romance, pregnancy, a two up two down and a family break up, I picked up the guitar and tried to work it out.  This song is complicated on so many levels, the work of two true musical craftsmen, Chris Difford and Glen Tilbrook, who presented this mini movie in just over three minutes, yet the story spans a few short months.  The John Wood produced single has not one single second of filler, each word and note precisely placed, with humour and melancholy creating pathos.  Though possibly intended as wry comedy, “Up the Junction” is strangely moving.  Who can still listen to this song without a short spine tingle at the key change directly after ‘little kicks inside her’?     

Fifty Years Ago | Mike and Lal Waterson | Bright Phoebus | Trailer LES2076 | September 1972

Slade’s “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” would have been riding high at the top of the UK charts when Bright Phoebus was first released in the late summer of ’72, while Gilbert O’Sullivan’s brilliant “Alone Again (Naturally)” was at the top of the Billboard charts way across the pond.  Lal and Mike Waterson demonstrated their song writing skills on this curio of an album, released on Bill Leader’s Trailer label.  Thought to have originally been written as poems then later set to music, the album contains some of siblings Lal and Mike Waterson’s best known songs.  Such outstanding songs as “The Scarecrow” and “Fine Horseman”, are memorable not only for their lyrics but also their timeless melodies.  Though Lal and Mike feature prominently throughout the album’s dozen songs, the LP is also memorable for its guest musicians, not least Richard Thompson and Martin Carthy, whose highly distinctive guitars compliment one another on many of the songs.  Other singers and musicians making their own contributions include Ashley Hutchings, Dave Mattacks, Tim Hart, Maddy Prior and the late Norma Waterson among others.

114 | 23 SEPTEMBER 2022

Flick the Dust Off | Blind Faith | Blind Faith | Polydor 583 059 | 1969

The late 1960s had no apparent shortage of super groups, defined as any band made up of musicians from other previously successful groups.  Cream’s Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and the late Jack Bruce formed a trio that possibly defined the term, each musician having already played in successful bands, namely The Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, The Graham Bond Organisation and Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated.  After the break-up of the band in 1968, Clapton and Baker reconvened in the short lived Blind Faith, along with Steve Winwood from The Spencer Davis Group and Traffic, together with Ric Gretch who was also the bassist with Family.  The only problem with super groups, is the fact that they’re usually made up of several leading players, strong personalities with giant egos, therefore they are usually short lived ventures.  Blind Faith came to an end virtually as soon as they formed, after recording just the one LP, the one with the controversial cover shot of a naked girl holding a metal airplane, which featured at least two classic performances, Winwood’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” and Clapton’s “Presence of the Lord”.

Singled Out | Traffic | Paper Sun | Island WIP-6002 | 1967

It’s difficult now to recall the reaction to the debut single by the newly formed Traffic back in the so-called Summer of Love.  Steve Winwood’s uncanny voice was already known after his breakthrough with the Spencer Davis Group, notably on the number one hit singles “Keep on Running” and “Somebody Help Me” and later, “Gimme Some Lovin’”, which was kept off the number one position by the Beach Boys’ superb “Good Vibrations” in November 1966.  “Paper Sun” was released six months ahead of the band’s debut album Mr Fantasy, yet didn’t make its appearance on the UK version of the album, appearing only on the US pressing.  “Paper Sun” very much belongs to the psychedelic genre, notable for Dave Mason’s sitar noodling and Winwood’s unmistakable voice.   The song opened the band’s first compilation album The Best of Traffic in 1969 and the single remains a memorable piece of 1960s British psychedelia, ranking alongside the Small Faces’ “Itchycoo Park” and Pink Floyd’s “See Emily Play”.

Fifty Years Ago | Bonnie Raitt | Give it Up | Warner Bros K46189 | September 1972

From the opening few bars of “Give It Up or Let It Go”, we instinctively know that Memphis Minnie’s baton has been passed on.  The bottleneck guitar prelude soon opens into a rip-roaring New Orleans knees-up, with some soaring soprano sax courtesy of John Payne, who is also remembered for his work on Van Morrison’s seminal album Astral Weeks.  With a collection of musicians mainly from the Woodstock area, Raitt’s second studio album is rootsy, vibrant and well put together, despite its twee cover, which could be a Twiggy album or one of the New Seekers going solo.  Like the Band’s second album, the inner gatefold black and whites show musicians at work, both at the console or on the studio floor with their respective instruments, which suggests there’s something good going down.  With just three Raitt originals, “You Told Me Baby”, “Nothing Seems to Matter” and the aforementioned opener “Give It Up or Let Me Go”, the rest of the album is made up of covers, including Chris Smither’s superb “Love Me Like a Man”, Jackson Browne’s harmonica-driven “Under a Falling Sky” and a soulful take on Rudy Clarke’s “If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody”.

115 | 30 SEPTEMBER 2022

Flick the Dust Off | Canned Heat | Boogie With Canned Heat | Liberty LBS83103 | 1968

Named after Tommy Johnson’s “Canned Heat Blues”, this Los Angeles blues band enjoyed some success in the late Sixties and early Seventies with a handful of albums and a list of singles between 1967 and 1974, including “Going Up the Country”, “Let’s Work Together” and from this album, “On the Road Again”.  Boogie With Canned Heat is the band’s second album release and features mostly original material.  Guitarist Al Wilson, who was the featured singer on “On the Road Again”, committed suicide in 1970, his death being overshadowed by those of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, all three at the age of 27.  One of the featured numbers on the album is the twelve minute “Fried Hockey Boogie”, which would be the first of many such boogie numbers, becoming the band’s signature sound.

Singled Out | Simon & Garfunkel | Mrs Robinson | CBS 3443 | 1968

Mrs. Robinson” first appeared on Bookends, Simon & Garfunkel’s fourth studio album released in 1968, having been memorably used in the Mike Nichols film The Graduate the year before.  Two other versions of the song were used in the film, though the single version is the one most people remember, despite the title always including the line ‘from The Graduate’.  Based around two distinctive acoustic guitars, the song has an immediately memorable melody and is packed with references, including the mention of Joe DiMaggio, the legendary baseball player who was married to Marilyn Monroe.  The song became the duo’s second chart topper in the US, though it was only able to reach number 4 in the UK.  The song was also released as an EP, along with “April Come She Will”, “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” and “The Sound of Silence”, which may be another reason for keeping the song from the top in the UK.  It remains one of the duo’s most memorable songs.

Fifty Years Ago | Sandy Denny | Sandy | Island ILPS 9207 | September 1972

I first became aware of Sandy Denny purely by accident when I came across a non-fiction book in the school library, which featured the only picture in the entire school of Led Zeppelin.  Sitting against a stone monument on what looked like a hot sunny day, I recognised the familiar faces of John Bonham, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, but surely this other figure in the middle of the group wasn’t bassist John Paul Jones, but rather a woman.  I was curious enough to visit the library at regular intervals, just to confirm how feminine John Paul Jones appeared.  I had no one to confirm either way, me being the only Led Zeppelin fan in the school.  It was some time afterwards that I discovered that the woman was in fact the folk singer Sandy Denny, who was about to appear on the band’s next album.  This led me to investigate the folk singer further and I soon discovered that she was the former singer with Fairport Convention, Fotheringay and for a brief stint The Strawbs.  With an iconic cover shot by David Bailey, Sandy Denny’s second LP release confirmed her credentials as one of the most outstanding singer/songwriters of her generation.  Produced by husband Trevor Lucas, the album features mainly self-penned songs together with a couple of non-original songs by Bob Dylan and Richard Farina, many of the songs loved as much today as they were back in 1972.

116 | 7 OCTOBER 2022

Flick the Dust Off | Dick Gaughan and Andy Irvine | Parallel Lines | FolkFreak FF4007 | 1982

Although my own personal relationship with folk music started way back in the 1970s with the likes of Bob Dylan in the US and Fairport Convention here in the UK , my relationship with the folk club circuit started in the early to mid-1980s.  Like most enthusiasts to be bitten by the folk bug, there’s always the initial rush to find out more, who everyone is, their relationship to one another, what they sing, where the songs come from and where everyone fits into the big jigsaw puzzle of folk.  There’s also the desire to find out more about this special music on the airwaves, which at the time was somewhat limited.  I did however, discover a weekly radio show on BBC Radio Sheffield, presented by one Bob Hazelwood, who played a song called “The Lads of the Fair”, which immediately changed the way I thought about folk music.  This came at a time when things were rapidly changing on the scene, when young musicians began collaborating to bring new ideas to the music.  I’d already heard Dick Gaughan’s A Handful of Earth, which was a revelation in itself and I’d also been aware of the Irish band Planxty in the 1970s but didn’t take much notice of it.  When Planxty’s Andy Irvine joined Gaughan to record this 1982 LP, something clicked and I was henceforth well and truly hooked.  Folk music wasn’t just about The Dubliners and The Corries after all.

Singled Out | Bobby Bloom | Montego Bay | Polydor 2058-051 | 1970

The Brooklyn-born singer Bobby Bloom was one of those performers we referred to as a ‘one hit wonder’, which seems to be a good enough description in Bloom’s case.  “Montego Bay”, co-written by Bloom and producer Jeff Barry, refers to the Jamaican town, enriched by a Caribbean feel throughout, not so much Ska or Reggae, but Calypso perhaps.  Bobby was destined to escape a follow up to the success of this single, meeting his fate just over three years later, while accidentally shooting himself while cleaning a gun, or so the story goes. A tragic end to a short career, leaving us with one memorable and cheerful song.

Fifty Years Ago | Genesis | Foxtrot | Charisma CAS 1058 | October 1972

I always thought that I might have come a little late to the Genesis party, Foxtrot being the first record by the band to be added to my burgeoning collection back in 1972.  The band’s fourth studio album, recorded by the classic line-up of Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett and Phil Collins,  contained one of the band’s most ambitious pieces, the sprawling twenty-three minute “Supper’s Ready”, which appeared in seven parts on the second side, each part linked with intriguing key changes, sound affects and at one point a station master’s whistle.  All change indeed.  Gabriel was already used to the quick change of costume, yet his most daring and confusing was the red evening dress and a fox head, which is depicted on the front cover of this album, one of Paul Whitehead’s pictorial creations, in fact his last for the band.  The lyrical and musical complexity of this piece alone would have no doubt had student fans writing their dissertations on its meaning had there been such degree courses back then, whereas I was happy to just let the experience flood over me as an impressionable fourteen year-old.  Curiously, despite the extravagance of “Supper’s Ready” or indeed the opening track, “Watcher of the Skies”, for which Gabriel wore a pair of bat wings on his head, I always headed straight for the largely dismissed “Time Table”, a rare Genesis ballad, written by Tony Banks.

117 | 14 OCTOBER 2022

Flick the Dust Off | Bob Dylan | John Wesley Harding | CBS 63252 | 1967

Recorded in October and November 1967 and released just after Christmas in the same year, Dylan’s eighth studio album saw the Hibbing Bard return to his acoustic roots, with an album of new songs, presumably written during the Basement Tapes sessions.  After recuperating from a motorbike accident, which effectively put him out of the public gaze for a period of time, Dylan found himself holed up in a basement with his touring band, which in turn prompted a rethink in his musical direction.  Dylan and the group of musicians who would later be known simply as The Band, worked on a series of songs which would bridge the gap between his previous album Blonde on Blonde and his next studio album.  Having recorded several songs with The Band, most of which wouldn’t be officially released until the mid-1970s, Dylan took an unexpected move and relocated to Nashville with a just a handful of musicians, Charlie McCoy on bass, Lenny Buttrey on drums and Pete Drake on steel guitar on just a couple of tracks, and with Bob Johnson producing, recorded a collection of sparsely arranged new songs, “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight”, “I Pity the Poor Immigrant” and “All Along the Watchtower” among them.  As with much hippy trippy nonsense at the time, the cover soon became the subject of speculation, with The Beatles in the trees etc.   

Singled Out | Robbie Robertson | Somewhere Down the Crazy River | Geffen GEF 40 | 1987

Originally one of the outstanding tracks on Robertson’s superb eponymous debut solo album, produced by Daniel Lanois, “Somewhere Down the Crazy River” was released as a single shortly after the album’s release.  With Robertson on both guitar and keyboards, as well as lead vocal, much of it spoken, the former lead guitar player with The Band is joined by Manu Katché on drums, Bill Dillon on guitars and Tony Levin on bass.  The song is most memorable perhaps for the additional vocal by Sam Llanas, credited as Sammy BoDean (BoDeans), whose simple refrain conjures up the heat of the Arkansas night.  The single was also treated to a sultry video promo, directed by Martin Scorsese, which features appearances by Llanas and also ex-Lone Justice singer Maria McKee, with Robertson living out every man’s fantasy in the closing scene.

Fifty Years Ago | Captain Beefheart | Clear Spot | Reprise MS2115 | October 1972

For Beefheart’s seventh album, the Captain steers his vessel to more commercial horizons, a stark contrast to that of Trout Mask Replica (1969) and Lick My Decals Off, Baby (1970), though some of this hankering for commercial success had already begun with the previous album The Spotlight Kid, released in the same year.  Despite “Too Much Time” sounding like a cross between Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding, that sort of soulful territory, the band was still magic in essence, with each of the band members retaining their bizarre monikers, Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet), Zoot Horn Rollo (Bill Harkleroad), Rockette Morton (Mark Boston), Ed Marimba (Art Tripp) and newcomer to the band Oréjon (Roy Estrada).  This was also the first album by the band not to feature John French (Drumbo), who had played a major part in the band since the beginning, not only as a fine drummer but also as an interpreter and translator of Beefheart’s wild imagination. Likewise, “My Head is My Only House Unless it Rains”, has a curiously subtle approach to soulful balladry, polar opposite to something like “Pina” or “Ella Guru” for example. Clear Spot also features possibly Beefheart’s most memorable song, “Big Eyed Beans from Venus”, which would subsequently be placed at number 53 in Q Magazine’s one hundred greatest ever guitar tracks.

118 | 21 OCTOBER 2022

Flick the Dust Off | Bert Jansch and John Renbourn | Bert and John | Transatlantic TRA144 | 1966

For Bert Jansch’s fourth album in just two years, the guitar player invited friend and fellow guitar player John Renbourn along for a series of duets, predominantly instrumental with one or two songs, which was eventually released as a duo album in 1966.  Bert and John was the beginning of a fruitful partnership, which was fully realised shortly afterwards with the formation of Pentangle, along with the astonishing rhythm section of seasoned jazz session players Danny Thompson and Terry Cox, along with singer Jacqui McShee, who completed the line-up.  Barely half an hour’s worth of music, the LP was later released in the States under the title Stepping Stones, named after one of the instrumental duets, along with a handful of additional tracks.  The LP remains one of the finest examples of the empathetic playing of two of the most revered and much missed guitar players on the British music scene.

Singled Out |  Kirsty MacColl | A New England | Stiff BUY 216 | 1984

Written by Billy Bragg in the early 1980s, “A New England”, don’t forget the definite article,  was treated to a very 1980s production courtesy of Steve Lillywhite for his then wife Kirsty MacColl, who would take it into the UK Top Ten singles chart.  Released on Stiff Records, the song was given an additional verse by the writer, especially for MacColl, which was subsequently included in Bragg’s live performances of the song, out of respect for the late singer.  Kirsty MacColl was tragically killed in a freak accident in 2000, while saving her children in the path of a reckless speedboat in Mexico.  Kirsty is remembered every Christmas for her part in every cool person’s favourite seasonal song by The Pogues, but “A New England” and a few other songs from her repertoire should perhaps be remembered equally.  A much missed artist.

Fifty Years Ago | Tim Buckley | Greetings From LA | Warner Bros K46176 | October 1972

This is the seventh studio album by Tim Buckley in just six years, which would be followed by two more before the singer accidentally overdosed on a cocktail of drink and drugs.  Nobody sounded quite like Buckley, whose music involved a variety of influences, from folk and jazz through to soul and funk, with plenty of rock meandering in between.  Greetings from LA is made up of just seven songs, “Sweet Surrender” perhaps being the best known of them.  Joined by several musicians, most notably Joe Falsia on guitar, it’s Buckley’s voice that takes command throughout, demonstrating an uncanny range, from a gentle whisper to a primal scream.  Wrapped in a sleeve that recognises the ongoing battle with smog in Los Angeles, the front featuring an unappealing picture postcard of the city, which on early releases could be removed by perforations, while the back features the other side of the postcard, with scribbled song titles by Buckley, addressed to label executives Herb Cohen and Mo Ostin.  They are reminded that auto emissions were at the time between 80% and 90% responsible for the city’s smog, clearly featured on the reverse shot.  The album also features an acoustic blues “Hong Kong Bar”, which is little more than a jam between Buckley and Falsia, which includes a snippet of studio chat at the end.

119 | 28 OCTOBER 2022

Flick the Dust Off | Kate Bush | Lionheart | EMI EMA787 | 1978

In 1978, Kate Bush had already astonished music critics and the public alike with her  debut LP The Kick Inside and most notably the surprise hit single “Wuthering Heights”, which came along to startle many, bringing with it and eager anticipation for the release of her follow up album Lionheart, which was released less than a year after her debut.  Much of the material included on this ‘difficult second’ was from a period prior to the release of The Kick Inside, written by a much younger song writer, a child almost, there being such a rush to release the album in time for Christmas 1978.  Although Bush was unhappy with the LP, largely due to the impossible time period that had been allowed to develop it, the singer is on record as saying that the album was okay under such circumstances.  Personally, I find some of the songs as strong as many from her career, “Symphony in Blue”, “Wow” and “Hammer Horror” for instance, as well as the fascinating “Don’t Push Your Foot on the Heartbreak”, which almost slips into Jim Steinman territory, Bat Out of Hell having been released the year before.

Singled Out | Nils Lofgren | No Mercy | A&M AMS7486 | 1979

The opening track from Nils Lofgren’s fifth studio album, simply entitled Nils, “No Mercy” has the noble sport of boxing written all over it, not just in its title and its lyrical content, but also in some of the sound snippets at the beginning, the middle and the end, recorded at Madison Square Garden.  Lofgren had unexpectedly teamed up with Bob Ezrin for the album, the Canadian producer known for his work with Alice Cooper and Kiss, and also Peter Gabriel and Pink Floyd.  It was Ezrin’s suggestion to also bring in Lou Reed for the album, who collaborated on writing three of the songs, one of them being “A Fool Like Me”, which features David Sanborn on saxophone, a song that appeared on the flip side of this single.  Apparently, Reed would often call to dictate lyrics over the phone, while Lofgren would presumably take notes.  I was fortunate enough to catch Lofgren in the same year, when he was added to the line-up of that year’s Reading Festival as an eleventh-hour replacement for The Ramones.

Fifty Years Ago | Stealers Wheel | Stealers Wheel | A&M 68121 | October 1972

Having spent some time as the third member of the folk outfit The Humblebums, joining Billy Connolly and Tam Harvey, followed by a brief period as a solo artist, recording a well-received debut album Can I Have My Money Back?, which featured a memorable cover courtesy of John Patrick Byrne, Gerry Rafferty teamed up with Joe Egan to form Stealers Wheel.  The Scots band would only record three albums in their time together, their Leiber and Stoller produced self-titled debut, followed by their follow-up Ferguslie Park also produced by the renowned song writing and production team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, noted for their earlier hit successes such as Big Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog”, The Coasters’ “Searchin’” and Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock” among others, and finally their third and last album Right or Wrong, which appeared in 1975.  Stealers Wheel is perhaps best known for “Stuck in the Middle With You”, which became a hit single in April 1973, featuring the slide guitar playing of Spooky Tooth’s Luther Grosvenor, and has subsequently gained notoriety as the song played during one of the most violent scenes in  Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.

120 | 4 NOVEMBER 2022

Flick the Dust Off | Guy Clark | Old No 1 | RCA Victor APL-1303 | 1975

In the days when finances were slim and cassette tapes were so much more affordable and much easier to handle, albums appeared to come in pairs; one album on each side of a C90 compact cassette tape. This is probably why I often get album tracks mixed up.  When you’ve got Amazing Blondel’s Evensong backed with England, Dylan’s Freewheelin’ backed with The Times They Are A-Changing and in this case Guy Clark’s Old No 1 backed with Texas Cookin’, it all becomes slightly difficult to know which song is on whjch album, but we’re not supposed to admit that are we.  Once CDs came along, everything became so much easier, although then we had the problem of identifying which songs were on side one and which on side two.  Did it matter, really? I think like most music collectors, I decided not to bother myself with the details.  Once I’d been introduced to Guy Clark’s debut LP in the mid-1980s, it coincided with hearing one or two songs from the LP performed by friends at my local folk club, such as “Desperados Waiting for a Train”, “LA Freeway” and “She Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”, all three included on this album.  The two aspects came together almost simultaneously and both made a distinct impression on me. Since then, I’ve followed Clark’s career with keen interest, right up to his death in 2016, collecting a further fifteen or so albums and regarding him one of the finest songwriters, not just in Country and Folk music, but in any genre.  

Singled Out |  Joe Walsh | Life’s Been Good | Asylum K13129 | 1978

My first introduction to the guitarist Joe Walsh was on the James Gang’s 1969 LP Yer’ Album, which featured the rock classic “Funk #49”.  That’s not strictly true, I actually first heard the song on the Probe sampler album, Handle With Care, the one with the great big spider on the cover. Walsh stayed with the band for three studio albums and a live album, which was his swansong with that band before forming Barnstorm as well as producing a series of solo albums in the 1970s.  This was followed by the surprise invitation in 1975 to join The Eagles, which catapulted the guitarist into the spotlight with the release of Hotel California.  However, it was with the release of Walsh’s 1978 LP But Seriously Folks, that my interest returned.  The single from that album, the autobiographical “Life’s Been Good” was played relentlessly on BBC Radio 1 by DJs who were reluctant at the time to let punk completely take over their playlists.  The song also features an ARP Odyssey synthesizer riff, or is it a Talkbox, I never quite worked it out, but either way, it complements Walsh’s guitar playing during the middle section.

Fifty Years Ago | James Taylor | One Man Dog | Warner Bros K46185 | 1972

The fourth studio album by James Taylor, which met with some anticipation after the success of the two previous releases Sweet Baby James and Mud Slide Slim and The Blue Horizon, both of which had received much praise.  It really couldn’t have possibly met with the expectations and some might say it didn’t really try.  Why would there have been instrumentals on an album by a performer who defined the term ‘singer-songwriter’?  Though dismissed as a poor follow-up to Mud Slide Slim, the album in a way separates the so-called singer songwriter from the more pop oriented artist that followed, almost drawing a line under the ‘sweet baby’ of yore.  The groove on the opening track “One Man Parade” is almost the same as Eric Burdon’s “Spill the Wine” but devoid of the necessary soul, “Nobody But You” is cocktail bar fodder and the instrumentals are pretty much forgettable.  One Man Dog includes a traditional song “One Morning in May”, which perhaps, in hindsight, the direction in which the album should’ve gone.  The final insult to a James Taylor fan circa 1972, is that he’s wearing a sodding tie with the traditional blues shirt on the cover shot.  What next? A dickie-bow? 

121 | 11 NOVEMBER 2022

Flick the Dust Off | Fairport Convention | Liege and Lief |  Island ILPS 9115 | 1969

I might have been a little too young to witness the beginnings of what we now know as British Folk Rock by just a couple of years.  I climbed aboard the Fairport Convention bus at album number seven, with the band’s bold venture into the realms of concept album territory with the folk opera Babbacombe Lee, which the band was touring at the time, back in 1971.  Two years earlier, the band released what is generally accepted as the very first British Folk Rock album Liege and Lief, though there were already signs of this new development a little earlier on the album Unhalfbricking released in the same year.  After discovering the album, it wouldn’t be long before I was fully immersed in the sheer inventiveness of transforming old and battered English folk songs into rock classics.  Among the old though, there’s one or two brand new contemporary songs, such as the haunting “Crazy Man Michael”, written by key members Richard Thompson and Dave Swarbrick, with the ethereal delivery of singer Sandy Denny, who brings the song to life.  Landmark songs also include “Matty Groves”, “The Deserter” and the sprawling “Tam Lin”.      

Singled Out | Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians | What I Am | Geffen GEF49 | 1988

Written by Dallas-born Edie Brickell and Kenny Withrow, “What I Am” was the single taken from Edie’s debut album with the New Bohemians, Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars.  The song has been featured in both film and on TV.  Best known perhaps for being married Paul Simon, Edie has enjoyed a fruitful career as a solo artist, with Steve Gadd in the Gaddabouts, as an actress, appearing as a folk singer in the Oliver Stone film Born on the Fourth of July singing Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” and for touring with Steve Martin.  The song has been sampled a few times and was also covered by Spice Girl Emma Bunton with the English electronic music duo Tin Tin Out.

Fifty Years Ago |  Ry Cooder | Boomer’s Story | Reprise REP44224 | 1972

Ry Cooder’s third solo album once again covers some ground in terms of his influences, as he searches through the great American songbook, the real American songbook that is, as opposed to the lounge music version subsequently plundered by the likes of Harry Nilsson, Rod Stewart and Bob Dylan.  These are songs from the other side of the tracks, from Skip James and Sleepy John Estes, to Dan Penn and Chips Moman, closing with the traditional “Good Morning Mr Railroad Man”.  The songs are strong, with each treated to good down home arrangements, and Cooder’s guitar and mandolin working their magic throughout.  The highlight is unquestionably the gorgeous reading of the old Bob Russell and Lorenzo Barcelata tune, “Maria Elena”, which features some dreamy acoustic guitar and piano interplay.  “Dark End of the Street” is also presented as an instrumental, with some of Cooder’s trademark bottleneck licks.  Boomer’s Story is one of the few albums where the instrumentals are equally as important as the songs and in the case of “Maria Elena” and “Dark End of the Street”, even more so.  The stark black and white sleeve shows a rare smiling Cooder, though it appears somehow unrepresentative of the music found inside.

122 | 18 NOVEMBER 2022

Flick the Dust Off | Vashti Bunyan | Just Another Diamond Day | Philips 6308 019 | 1970

Just Another Diamond Day is one of those ignored LPs that would clutter the browsers in your local record shop, getting in the way of your Budgies and Buffalo Springfields, yet an original copy fifty years on is more likely to be found in the safe at the back of the shop and would require a second mortgage.  Such items are rare simply because they were by and large unwanted back in their time and therefore the presses stopped to make way for something more popular.  Vashti Bunyan, like Nick Drake before her, has become interesting again and this album is back on the shelves.  Is it a good album or is it a novelty, made up of songs that could easily be considered children’s songs?  There’s a naivety to the album that makes it appealing in an age when young acoustic artists are returning to the woods.  Though Vashti can occasionally be seen on stage again, new fans needn’t bother searching for the cottage shown on the front cover, as it was created exclusively with paint on paper by friend John James.  Produced by Joe Boyd, the album features contributions by Robin Williamson, Dave Swarbrick, Simon Nicol and one or two string arrangements courtesy of Robert Kirby, he of Nick Drake fame. 

Singled Out | Labi Siffre | It Must Be Love | PYE 7N25572 | 1971

In 1971, Labi Siffre provided the British pop scene with a brand new voice, instantly recognisable for its simplicity and feel.  The fresh faced singer, who appeared relaxed on Top of the Pops performing the song, had already released a couple of albums and four singles before “It Must Be Love” took the UK charts by surprise.  The gently strummed nylon strung guitar, which sounds more like a ukulele, provides a playful backdrop to this simple love song, which would later be reworked by Madness, who took the song to number four in the UK charts ten years later, with Siffre himself appearing in the accompanying video promo.  Born Claudius Afolabi Siffre in London at the end of WWII, Siffre went on to write one of the most poignant anti-apartheid anthems with “(Something Inside) So Strong” and his songs have been sampled by the likes of Jay-Z, Eminem and Kanye West.

Fifty Years Ago | Lou Reed | Transformer | RCA INTS 5061 | November 1972

Perhaps best known for the single “Walk on the Wild Side”, Transformer was by and large a commercially viable album, with plenty of easily accessible songs, such as the Andy Warhol influenced opener “Vicious”, with its familiar Velvet Underground chord riffing and the timeless “Perfect Day”, which would later take on a life of its own, appearing in the first Trainspotting film and later a wildly over the top, almost operatic loved-up BBC promo, featuring everyone from Elton John to Burning Spear, Tammy Wynette to Dr John and even an appearance by Reed himself, which would later be adopted for a charity single in aid of Children in Need.  Reed’s own version here is far less showy, a piano-led ballad, which talks of a perfect, if somewhat ordinary day.  Produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson, Transformer remains one of Reed’s best loved albums, certainly in contrast to the dreadful Metal Machine Music which came along a couple of years later.

123 | 25 NOVEMBER 2022

Flick the Dust Off | The Band | Music From Big Pink | Capitol ST2955 | 1968

I’ve never been able to decide what appeals to me most about The Band, whether it’s the music they made in the late 1960s or the idea of five musicians hanging out together and making music in a pink house in upstate New York.  Music From Big Pink was actually recorded in both Los Angeles and New York studios but the songs themselves are pretty much from that little rural community in upstate New York, written and worked up in that little house, the basement of which was used by Bob Dylan to record the songs that eventually emerged as The Basement Tapes in 1975, though acetates of the songs had been circulating in bootleg form for quite some time earlier.  Music from Big Pink marked the start of the critically acclaimed career of The Band, formerly known as The Hawks, and whose work influenced generations of musicians to come.  The LP is perhaps remembered for such songs as “The Weight”, “This Wheel’s on Fire” and “I Shall Be released”, but the conversation shouldn’t stop there.  “Tears of Rage”, “In a Station” and “Chest Fever” also provide moments of genius.

Singled Out | JoJo Gunne | Run Run Run | Asylum AYM501 | 1972

The Los Angeles-based rock band Jo Jo Gunne was formed in 1971 by ex-members of Randy California’s band Spirit, Jay Ferguson and Mark Andes, the band being named after a Chuck Berry song from the late Fifties.  “Run Run Run” was the band’s most notable hit released in 1972, the opening track to the band’s self-titled debut LP of the same year.  There was always some confusion at the time with Jo Jo Gunne, as the UK had their own band of the same name, a little known British R&B outfit formed in Middlesex in 1965.  I was never quite sure which band we might be getting when posters popped up for the band, memorably at the Top Rank in Doncaster in 1972.  Perhaps I should’ve gone along myself to find out.  The band broke up a couple of years later, reforming briefly in the 1990s.

Fifty Years Ago | Joni Mitchell | For the Roses | Asylum K53007 | November 1972

For the Roses is perhaps best remembered for the song “You Turn Me On I’m a Radio”, a tongue-in-cheek attempt at a commercial single, something Joni hardly needed at the time.  Anyone under the impression that Joni was still a folk singer might have been very much mistaken with the release of this, her fifth solo album, which includes moments of rock and jazz, disparate influences creeping into the mix, certainly on “Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire”, a song that addresses drug addiction, her former boyfriend James Taylor having been a heroin addict.  Once again, Joni writes on a highly personal level, notably on the title song, which looks at the struggles between personal freedom and celebrity.  Despite Joni’s credentials as a fine guitar player, utilising a myriad of open tunings, the piano comes to the fore in places, notably the album closer “Judgement of the Moon and Stars (Ludwig’s Tune)”, a nod to the influence of Beethoven.  Joni is joined by such notable musicians as Tom Scott, Russ Kunkel, James Burton, Graham Nash and Stephen Stills.

124 | 2 DECEMBER 2022

Flick the Dust off | Hunter Muskett | Hunter Muskett | Bradleys 1003 | 1973

Hunter Muskett was formed in 1968 at Avery Hill College in South London by Terry Hiscock and Chris George, who were joined by fellow student guitarist Doug Morter, the band’s name taken from an anecdote about an eccentric Cornishman. After their debut acoustic-based album Every Time You Move, the trio were joined by bass player Roger Trevitt and they soon went out on the road as an electric folk rock outfit. Their self-titled follow up LP was released in 1973 and featured the band’s most noted song “Silver Coin”, which was released as a single with John Blair as the b side.  The album was produced at Island’s No 2 studio by Keith Relf, the ill-fated ex-front man with The Yardbirds.  King Crimson drummer Michael Giles also appears on the album.  “Silver Coin” is not only the band’s most notable song, it has also been widely covered by such artists as Bridget St John, Archie Fisher, Ken Campbell, Derek Brimstone, Alan Taylor and Barbara Dickson.

Singled Out | Atomic Rooster | Tomorrow Night | B&C CB131 | 1970

With the departure of drummer and fellow ex-Crazy World of Arthur Brown member Carl Palmer, who went on to have enormous success in Emerson Lake and Palmer, Vincent Crane reshuffled his Atomic Rooster band to include guitarist John Du Cann and new drummer Paul Hammond, just in time to record the band’s second studio album Death Walks Behind You, the one with the memorable William Blake cover painting of Nebuchanezzer crawling along on hands and knees in a cave.  Progressive Rock was generally considered an album genre, though one or two singles did manage to surface around the time, usually and maybe reluctantly to be performed on Top of the Pops, accompanied by bored teenagers in hot pants, dancing away for the cameras, and looking as if they would rather be somewhere else.  “Tomorrow Night” was one such single.

Fifty Years Ago | Ian Matthews | Tigers Will Survive | Vertigo VEL1010 | December 1972

There’s something slightly frantic about the arrangement of the opening song and title track on this, Ian Matthews’ third solo album, the second one on the iconic Vertigo label.  The changing tempo throughout the song, one minute funky fast the next simmering slow, leaves the listener slightly disoriented.  The album presents questions like what does Tigers Will Survive mean?  What is the significance of the cover shot of a seated White Bear (Sa-tan-ta), the Kiowa chief, holding his bow and arrows, a photo taken around 1870.  Then the burning question of all, why an a cappella cover of the Crystals’ “Da Doo Ron Ron?”   There was never any question though, surrounding Matthews’ appreciation of Richard Farina and on Tigers Will Survive, the singer includes a rousing reading of “House of UnAmerican Blues Activity Blues”, an uncompromising protest song of its time.  Surprisingly, Richard Thompson makes a couple of appearances playing accordion under the pseudonym of Woolfe J Flywheel, a name presumably borrowed from Groucho Marx.

125 | 9 DECEMBER 2022

Flick the Dust Off | Richard Thompson | Strict Tempo | Elixir LP1 | 1981

In 1981, after a decade of releasing such notable albums as Henry the Human Fly, I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight, Hokey Pokey and Pour Down Like Silver, some of the most notable albums of his career, the last three with his then wife Linda, Richard Thompson found himself for the first time without a record deal and so to make ends meet founded his own Elixir label and set about recording a series of instrumentals.  Playing all the instrumentals himself, except for the drums and piano, which were both left in the capable hands of former Fairport band mate Dave Mattacks, Strict Tempo! features a dozen guitar and mandolin workouts of some of Thompson’s favourite tunes, mostly based on traditional airs, together with a Duke Ellington tune which subsequently served as the trusty theme tune to the Northern Sky Vaults radio show for over 400 shows.  The LP also features one of Thompson’s most impressive originals, “The Knife Edge”. 

Singled Out | Supertramp | Dreamer | A&M AMS7132 | 1974

Like most, I first became aware of this London-based band on the Old Grey Whistle Test way back in 1974 performing this song, which was unlike anything I’d heard previously, possibly due to Roger Hodgson’s use of the Wurlitzer electric piano as a lead instrument.  There was a great urgency to this performance, emphasised by Hodgson’s frantic playing, augmented by John Helliwell’s novel playing of the wine glass towards the end of the performance, which kept me occupied for months afterwards, annoying anyone who came within earshot of the irritating ringing sound.  With Progressive Rock origins, the band would later conquer the world with their multi-million selling album Breakfast in America.

Fifty Years Ago | Frank Zappa | The Grand Wazoo | Reprise K44209 | December 1972

Zappa’s eighth studio album The Grand Wazoo comprised just five mainly instrumental tunes, opening with “For Calvin (And His Next Two Hitch Hikers)”, which could be an outtake from the 200 Motels soundtrack.  The thirteen minute title track that follows is more along the lines of what Zappa endeavoured to explore on his three previous albums, Hot Rats, Burnt Weeny Sandwich and Waka/Jawaka, each of which seems to lean heavily toward the direction of big band jazz.  If “Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus” has an almost throw away feel, with Honky Tonk piano motifs in places, then it’s the superb closer “Blessed Relief” that saves the day, a virtuosic piece of Miles Davis-styled cool jazz, featuring a fine Sal Marquez trumpet solo.  Much of the album was recorded during Zappa’s convalescence, after the guitarist was unceremoniously hurled off stage at the Rainbow Theatre in London the previous December at the end of one of his legendary concerts.