Whatever happened to all those records tucked away lofts up and down the country, stored in carboard boxes since the record deck was unceremoniously chucked in the skip, never to see the light of day again?   Records stored away, out of sight in a loft space was for me an unthinkable proposition, though many took that route when the music industry decided on our behalf, to consider the LP record old hat and the new shiny compact disc to be the new thing, which was then duly forced upon us.  My records were never boxed away in the loft, they remained on the shelves, originally upstairs in an adolescent’s scruffy bed space, then in an even more untidy teenager’s bed space, then bulging from slightly warped shelves in the living space of a newly weds’ first abode, and finally alphabetically arranged in a dedicated music room/den/man cave/whatever you choose to call it.  I never put them in the loft, nor did I stop searching for, drooling over, inspecting and purchasing them.  Many of those aforementioned discarded and unloved items would become available once again after being shipped out to second hand record shops, charity shops and car boot sales, all for affordable prices.  It’s rare for me to be more than a few metres away from records, something that hasn’t changed in a good five decades.  I used to visit record shops even before I was suitably funded to buy records, certainly the few shops scattered around my home town (Doncaster), if only to browse, inspect the sleeves and occasionally ask the owners if they wouldn’t mind popping the needle on one or two of them as I headed towards the sound proofed booth screwed to the wall.  This was commonplace back in 1968, and something I would regularly do until I was suitably equipped to buy my first 45rpm single, with no money involved.  My first record was obtained with a record voucher I won on a children’s TV show, Whistle Stop, back in 1968, where I competed with an 11-year-old urchin from another school, racing Scalextric cars around a track.  I won the race and I immediately swapped my well-earned prize for “Alternate Title”, a single by The Monkees, upon my return home.  I also bought a record for my mum and one for my dad, because I owed them rather a lot.  Most of the records that I subsequently bought, usually from Fox’s Records on the first floor of the Arndale Centre (now Frenchgate Centre), can still be found on my shelves, though space has become increasingly limited.  I made a good home for quite a few of those records, the unwanted and discarded items from those lofts, many of which still come out to play today.  Those LP records (I refuse to refer to them as ‘vinyls’), are popular once again and therefore most of those once affordable gems are now much sought after, therefore quite expensive.  As a record shop owner and friend recently explained though, this works both ways for people who already have a decent record collection.  I suppose he has a point.  My only concern is that when I shuffle off, I fear my wife will sell the records for the price I told her I paid for them!  I choose to share my enjoyment of collecting records with the masses via this website, regularly featuring tracks on the My Northern Friday radio show/podcast, including a track from a random LP from a few decades ago, a 45rpm single also from around the same time, and an LP celebrating its 50th year, together with tracks from a featured new album, and a handful of tracks from other new releases.  A summary of those chosen records, some of which just may have resided in your loft at some point, is also featured on the front page.  It’s a labour of love of course, something I would do for pleasure even if no one ever popped by to read or listen.  Obviously, it’s always tons better if someone does.


There’s something immediately uplifting about the opening song on Keturah’s eponymous debut album.  “Ku Nyumba”, is basically six minutes of summer magic, a seasonal sound perhaps reflected in the cover shot, which features this confident looking 27-year-old Monza-born Malawian singer.  Recorded at Hen House Studios in Venice, California, by Harlan Steinberger, Keturah features ten songs, each of which is a treat for the listener, an inviting mix of Afro-folk-funk, with shimmering guitar licks and intoxicating driving rhythms, together with Keturah’s distinctively fresh and confident voice.  Like the opening track, “All the Way from Africa” is drenched in summer warmth, Jason Tamba’s tantalising guitar licks skittering throughout like a swarm of lake flies.  It’s taken Keturah well over a decade to make her mark in music, from her formative years in Monza, her journey on foot to Blantyre where she found her voice, taking the nickname ‘Naliyela, Local Girl’, to her most recent adventures on the west coast of California, resulting in this fine debut.  Hearing the children sing on “Samala” will bring a smile to even the most hardened listener. 

Choice Tracks | All the Way from Africa, Sukulu


Wrapped in a grainy gatefold sleeve, showing a gangly 23-year-old Young leaning against a tree with his dog Winnipeg at his feet, Everyone Knows This is Here is the Canadian’s second solo album, albeit his first with Crazy Horse, a band made up of key players, Danny Whitten on guitar, Billy Talbot on bass and Ralph Molina on drums.  The album appeared in quick succession to his debut self-titled album, released just six months after its release, yet it showed great potential, assisted in no small part by at least three signature songs that would feature in Young’s live set for many years to come, those being the driving “Cinnamon Girl”, the country inflected title song, the almost anthemic “Down by the River” and the sprawling ten minute opus “Cowgirl in the Sand”, all allegedly written in a single day.  The gypsy violin on “Running Dry (Requiem for the Rockets)”, courtesy Bobby Notkoff, was echoed seven years later, when Bob Dylan invited Scarlet Rivera to add embellishment to the songs on Desire.  It’s interesting to find that Young’s vocal on the title song was actually a low quality test take, which the musician liked enough to keep for the finished product.

Choice Track | Cinnamon Girl


Thunderclap Newman was the brainchild of one Pete Townshend, he of The Who fame, a trio made up of John ‘Speedy’ Keen, Jimmy McCulloch and namesake Andy ‘Thunderclap’ Newman.  The band achieved much success with their single “Something’s in the Air”, a huge hit for the band in 1969, reaching the top of the singles charts in the spring of that year.  Though not quite as successful as its predecessor, “Accidents” remains an achievement in itself, simply due to its lavish arrangement, especially its almost ten-minute expanded version, which closed the first side of the band’s one and only studio album Hollywood Dream.  Like the title suggests, “Accidents”, is a slightly morbid song that tells of the shuffling off of one or two kids, having met their respective demise, one by drowning and one by a speeding car.  Despite the enormous popularity of “Something in the Air”, this is perhaps their superior recording, certainly their most inventive, even in its shortened for single release version.


A favourite band from the era, Wishbone Ash’s appeal was still intact by the time of the band’s imaginatively titled fourth album, though its predecessor Argus was a hard act to follow.  The original line-up was still there, despite tensions within the ranks.  The familiar twin guitars of Ted Turner and Andy Powell, plus the rhythm section of Martin Turner on bass and Steve Upton on drums, maintained some of the band’s familiar sound, which was first revealed four years earlier, though in places, the band leaned towards a more acoustic feel, certainly on “Ballad of the Beacon”.   Wishbone Four was to be the last album with Ted Turner in the band, who would be replaced by Laurie Wisefield for their next few albums.  Though the album stands up to scrutiny fifty years on, it has to be said that there’s no “Phoenix”, no “The King Will Come” or even “Vas Dis” here.

Choice Track | Ballad of the Beacon











My Northern Skies originally began as a review page, though some prefer the term ‘blog’, way back in the days of My Space, which then morphed into an online journal and eventually into Northern Sky, a review site dedicated to a broad range of music, with contributions from various friends and acquaintances involved in music.  Recently, the website has become more of a personal diary, a place where I can chronicle precisely what I’m listening to currently, some of my ongoing musical obsessions, one or two records from my own personal collection and a selection of new records that have either been released recently or are due for imminent  release.