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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”.