TEN FROM 77

I’ve been struck down by virus this week so haven’t prepared a post.
Luckily vinylconnection has produced this eloquent look at 1977 through 10 albums. Yep it wasn’t all punk there was no stopping Genesis or Jethro Tull. Little Feet had hit the end of the road and o thought Low was 1976 but haven’t really got the energy to check that. Thanks Vinyl you’ve save my bacon

VINYL CONNECTION

1977.

Forty years ago.

Punk sprouted, prog continued, pop morphed; great albums littered the highways of contemporary music…

This is the first post of a possible series, presenting albums worthy of acclaim four decades after release.

I’ve excluded albums previously covered at Vinyl Connection. So to read about the following gold-plated favourites, just click on the link.

Steely Dan — Aja

Genesis — Wind & Wuthering

Radio Birdman — Radios Appear

Steve Winwood — Steve Winwood

Tangerine Dream — Sorcerer

The Vibrators — Pure Mania

Ramones — Rocket To Russia

Plus a whole lotta jazz funk and some John Sangster.

The biggest challenge was limiting this pop/rock list to just ten. Leaving out The Idiot by Iggy Pop was painful, while overlooking faux-Essex poet Ian Dury (New Boots & Panties) was an outrage. But enough equivocating.

Let the countdown begin.

10  Santana — Moonflower

Given its unusual combination…

View original post 1,022 more words

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Tom Petty 1977

It is quite apparent that the mythical holy grail of ‘making it’ in music is only partially reliant on talent. The people who rise to the top are clearly not the most talented in their particular field. You could see better musicians and songwriters down the pub on open mike night. There are astonishing talents, Prince being a notable example but the Dave Gilmour’s, Mark Knopflers and JJ Cales of this world (to name three that sprung to mind) are generally OK players singers and writers who produce entertaining work that falls short of genius.

The overriding factor in success is luck, you can increase or decrease your chances but luck is a huge factor. Linked to this is being in the right place at the right time. Starting a shit hot country rock band in Doncaster in 1977 would never had led to fame and fortune although strangely enough, forming a heavy metal band in the same place and time would have yielded far better results.

Charisma can play a huge part although it’s not enough. Just go on YouTube and look up surviving footage of Vince Taylor. The man who wrote ‘Brand New Cadillac’ and not much else was a phenomenal performer who ended up working at an airport. In London Jesse Hector was a well-respected dynamic performer in the mid 70’s .who in theory could have been as big as Ian Dury..but he isn’t.

The thing that’s really underestimated in the star artiste is the work ethic. The ability to go on stage with a temperature of 100 and still deliver the goods knowing that the next day will be spent travelling and doing the same thing. The ability to do yet another world tour even though you’ve already done six. The ability to be bored senseless waiting around for things to happen, to sit on a tour bus for 18 hours listening to the same old shit from your band mates. The ability to do the same interview 20 times a day. The ability to leave your children behind while you disappear for another nine months.The ability to keep on going when your record company fucks you over.

It’s this grunt work that gets overlooked but for me it’s far more remarkable than talent, I wouldn’t last a month in that lifestyle and it takes an extraordinary person to weather that storm.

Which brings us to the loss of Tom Petty at the tender age of 66. The most tragic deaths for me are when someone takes their own life but the next in rank is when a performer is snatched from us at a time when we could expect them to make another album or release more tour dates, the sense of loss is all the keener for the sense of a loss of more music, songs that we might have heard but now never will. For me it’s always Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.

To be honest I never really got Tom Petty. The Travelling Wilburys for me are inextricably linked with the 80’s, a time of mullets and rolled up jacket sleeves. His solo career was too tainted by the hand of Jeff Lynne to raise any interest from me. On the other hand having played in roots type Americana bands for a few years it’s fairly inevitable that someone will come up with the idea of trying a Petty number so I have soaked up a fair number of his songs through osmosis.

As far as us Brits were concerned Petty struck it lucky from the start. In 1977 Petty and the Heartbreakers were a popular act in the UK. Not everyone wanted punk but Petty was untainted by any past associations, he was a new act. The Heartbreakers were accomplished musicians but they weren’t really old farts, a bit like with Dire Straits enough new wave energy rubbed off on them to make them a bit more acceptable, and as far as I remember they never wore flared jeans either.

Petty and his band had been supporting pre E Street Band Nils Lofgren and had themselves been supported by faux Irish punksters The Boomtown Rats. The bands UK debut was ‘American Girl’, to this day the only track I really love by the band and one of the few that they failed to write themselves (it’s a Roger Mcguin tune). Listen to The Strokes ‘Last Night’ and compare and contrast.

Unfortunately for me there were too many minor key bluesy dirges on their early records to encourage me to part with my money, but the weirdest thing happened. Unlike most bands The Heartbreakers actually got better. As they relaxed and mellowed some of the rather overwrought early songs were replaced with more thoughtful musical contributions. If you were sit me down and suggest forcefully that I listen to some Tom Petty I wouldn’t go straight to the early records, to be honest I would quite happily listen to his latest, whatever that is.

And how many artists could you say that about?

There was a journalist on Channel 4 a couple of nights back who said that Petty had spent all his life trying to write the Byrds ‘Feel a Whole Lot Better’. I thought that was a bit unfair although if he had stuck a bit more to the Byrd’s jingle jangle rather than the bluesy rock I might have liked him more in the early days. I’ve recently been watching one of his recent stadium gigs live from Gainsville and jolly good stuff it is too, an impressive set of songs played by a cracking band with Stevie Nicks thrown in for good measure. I know at no point am I going to break into tears or want to get up and dance but I am going to be entertained and really that’s what the rock business is about.

Here for me is the best of Tom Petty from 1978.


PS last night I watched a ‘classic albums programme about ‘Damm the Torpedos’ and realised that I had missed some great music. Truth be told, there was so much going on musically late 70’s that it was possible to miss complete artistic careers, by the mid 80’s I had lost interest in contemporary music for a while and I just missed Petty almost completely. His music falls short of genius but in retrospect he possessed the rare ability to communicate. Like Dylan any basic singer/ guitarist could cover his songs but only Petty could write them .

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Pirates !

Throughout the 1970’s radio featured large in the lives of myself and just about every teenager in Britain. Our live centred around starting the day with Tony Blackburn through Jimmy Young and Johnnie Walker ending around midnight with ‘Sounds of the Seventies’ or John Peel.

When I mention Radio of course it is Radio 1 I am referring to, I have no idea what music Radio 2 played apart from a terrible moment on Sunday evenings when it combined with Radio 1 after the chart show. Just the intro to ‘Sing Something Simple’ the easy listening show that followed the rundown of the top 20 can still send me into a mild depression.

Radio 1 had a monopoly, there was no legal competition, there were no independent stations. Luckily John Peel was an independent thinker who would play what he liked but you had to stay up until 10pm just to hear him (as a footnote one of my favourite Radio moment was in the 90’s when DJ smarmpot Simon Bates actually played a track Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica on his mid-morning show-it really did happen). I listened to a lot of Radio 1, after all I didn’t have a huge record collection but inevitably the playlist was limited during daylight hours and there were plenty of records that you didn’t really want to hear more than once.

One of the benefits of living on the East Coast was the possibility of receiving a signal from a Pirate station. I had inherited a huge radio which my parents had initially purchased in Germany and as well as AM it had shortwave which meant I could listen to crackly shows from Bulgaria when the mood took me.

A more reliable source was either Radio North Sea International or Radio Caroline. I can’t remember much about them as they tended to come and go depending on tides, atmospheric conditions and legal and financial constraints. I think that Radio North Sea International disappeared and was replaced at some point by Radio Caroline.To further complicate matters, at one point, Radio Mi Amigo appeared which was also the name of the ship which Radio Caroline operated from.

The history of pirate radio is quite fascinating and exciting. From the mid-sixties radio stations operated from ships in the North Sea or even, at one point, an abandoned fort off the coast of Kent. The Labour government sought to ban them and would block their signals. The man in charge of this was ironically Tony Benn avuncular darling of the left wing. Caroline actually ran a campaign to get young people to vote conservative as they thought they would be more sympathetic to free speech…different times.

Anyway, as night came so did Radio Caroline (I don’t know why but there seemed to be no signal in the day) but at 10 O’clock it had to compete with John Peel in my bedroom.

To be fair the golden days of pirate radio were now over and soon commercial radio would make them redundant. Radio Caroline was still a bit of a hippie station. It was run and owned by an Irish businessman Ronan O’ Rahily who had espoused a philosophy of love and would use the station to promote this.

‘Loving Awareness’ was the philosophy that O’Rahily was to promote and every now and then there would be an advert for his project inserted between track by Family or The Stones or the Doors. At some point this included the possibility of purchasing an Album called Loving Awareness by a band called, believe it or not, The Loving Awareness Band.

By 1976 this was all a little passé but credit due to O’Rahily for pursuing something more than making money. I think you could only buy the album by sending off a cheque (or postal order!) and sure enough a few weeks later the postie would deliver your copy. It was a bit like the record that smiley people would try and sell you in the street which promoted transcendental meditation and allegedly had George Harrison on it except it took more effort to purchase and consequently very few people did.

And that should be the end of a not particularly story except for a twist in the tale.

The Loving Awareness Band had been recruited from a bunch of jobbing musicians, John Turnbull and Mick Gallagher on guitar and keyboards respectively had played together with Skip Bifferty which were one of many third division bands in the 70’s. Charlie Charles on drums and bassist Norman Watt Roy had played in various bands and were all living the hand to mouth existence of working musos without a recording contract.

After the inevitable demise of The Loving Awareness Band. The Rhythm section gravitated to Stiff Records. It was apparent that Watt Roy was a phenomenally good bassist and Charles was an experienced drummer. The pair were set to work with writer Chaz Jankel to try and knock the ex Kilburn and the High Roads singer into shape as a recording artist. The resulting product was Ian Dury’s ‘New Boots and Panties’, probably one of the best records to come out of the punk/new wave era.

When Dury wanted to upscale his live band Turnbull and Gallagher were also recruited and The Blockheads were born. Fame and hit records awaited. This was pre Twitter, no one really knew that Dury’s no shit kickass band had been singing about Loving Awareness just a couple of years previously.

The Blockheads still exist today, long after the death of Dury and are widely acknowledged as one of the tightest live bands ever.

Thanks to YouTube it’s possible to hear more of The Loving Awareness Band than it was in 1975 unless you actually went to the trouble to purchase the record. It’s actually a lot better than I anticipated if you can ignore the lyrics, it’s certainly not ‘Hit me with your Rhythm Stick’ but there’s a certain warm Abbey Road vibe going on. It is certainly amusing to think the band that recorded this would cranking out ‘Plaistow Patricia’ on stage just a couple of years later.

 

 

If you want a proper review of The Loving Awareness Band there’s one here

http://www.popgeekheaven.com/music-discovery/lost-treasures-loving-awareness

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It was 40 Years Ago Today…Heroes

Summer 1977 and London was the place to be. It was the summer of punk and there was a sense of creative energy, virtually every week there was a new record out which was essential listening.

David Bowie was possibly the only artist who had existed pre 1976 who no one had a bad word to say about. Things had got a bit rocky in America, he was taking a lot of cocaine and on his triumphant return to blighty had appeared to be flirting with fascism but that was a couple of years in the past.

Bowie had recovered by absconding to Berlin with Brian Eno,Iggy Pop and producer Tony Visconti, the outcome of this alliance was the album Low, if push comes to shove I would name this as my favourite Bowie LP, it still amazes me to this day there are sounds on it that don’t belong in 1977, or any other year.

Truth be told, in 1977 we weren’t really that bothered about the next Bowie product, there were plenty of shiny new things to distract us but Bowie and his team were working on more of the same which in some ways would prove to be even greater.

I have my own memories of hearing the track ‘Heroes’ for the first time but kind of doubted my own recollection, luckily the internet is there for once to prove I was actually correct.

By 1977 Bowie’s old mate and Visconti’s prodigy Marc Bolan was in the process of making a comeback. Like Bowie, Bolan had been having problems with cocaine. A massive egotist on herbal tea alone, this was the wrong drug for Bolan. Bolan had also continued an impressive alcohol intake where Bowie had become frighteningly skeletal Bolan had bloated out loosing a main selling point which was his pretty boy looks.

Like Bowie he was back from the abyss but being a far lesser talent this meant that he had toured around the provincial circuit with The Dammed as support and then had presented his own TV show. Its pretty obvious that TV has struggled to ‘get’ rock music and ‘Marc’ was no exception, produced by Granada TV about 5,000 from the epicentre of activity in London, ‘Marc’ is pretty corny. The show was enlivened by Bolan’s own irreverent campiness and the fact that it was an opportunity to see some of the new acts such as Generation X and Eddie and the Hot Rods which he had invited on the show to demonstrate that he still had his finger on the pulse.

The last show of the series was the big one with David Bowie making an appearance singing his latest single ‘Heroes’

Over the summer Bowie, Eno and Visconti had been recording at Hansa Studio ‘by the wall’ in West Berlin. Also present were the fantastic musicians who had featured on Low, Carlos Alomar on guitar, George Murray on Bass and Dennis Davis on drums. Ricky Gardener the lead guitarist on Low was missing but in his place was Robert Fripp King Crimson leader and previous Eno collaborator.

I loved Low but for some reason I never felt the need to listed to the album Heroes for at least 25 years. If an artist can produce something really good that’s enough for me, lets face it, how many times does someone produce a great album and follow it up with another great album ? True to form of course, when I finally listened to Heroes all the way through I was disappointed.

But the single is/was/ever will be great, or at least it will be until I catch an X factor contestant ruining it with their horrible show off warbling.

The original is a real wall of noise, Visconti considers it his last great adventure in producing, he would never get the chance to be so bold again. Apparently Eno’s synthesisers are all oscillating slightly differently to create the juddering effect which is enhanced by Fripp’s guitar feedback. It’s kind of the musical equivalent of being in a washing machine. Vocally there were apparently some strange gating effects going on. Gating effects are used to produce those huge 80’s drum sounds and involves only letting certain frequencies through, hence the ‘gate’. In order to get his vocal even on tape Bowie had to really project, hence the intensity of his vocal performance.

It sounds almost as if he is drowning in sound, he is singing defiance, the human spirit struggling to triumph through the adversity of the instrumentation. The track in fact started as an instrumental, using the title Hero from a Neu track and this was to be the overall quality of the music. Adding lyrics Bowie drew on an incident where he saw Visconti, at the time married to singer Mary Hopkin, embracing backing singer Antonia Maass. This back story, not confirmed by Bowie until 2003, enhances the sense of doomed but triumphant failure inherent in the song, yes we can be heroes but ‘just for one day’.

The version I heard for the first time on 20th September 1977 was not quite the same track. This version was recorded with Marc’s backing band, a bunch of top session guys who do a decent job but it’s sorely missing Eno. Allegedly the guitarist on the track is credited Bolan himself although I remain sceptical.

I have written before about the finale to Bolan’s last ever show but it was a remarkable event (for the wrong reasons) so I will retell…..

Bowie and Bolan were due to perform a number together but things were running late. Due to time constraints the Hot Rods were about to be squeezed out,seeing as they had been waiting for two days this was something of a final straw for them. The issue would be that the studio would stop recording at 7pm, there would be no ‘extra mile’ or ‘can do attitude’ from the unionised studio team at 7pm the plugs would be pulled. Bowie and Bolan were recording live and were struggling with equipment problems. They finally got it together on a nondescript blues chug-along when Bolan fell off the stage. It was 7pm, end of show.

 

Apparently Bolan was in tears of frustration at this missed opportunity. It would get worse, in few days time his mini driven by his girlfriend Gloria Jones would skid into a tree killing Bolan in the process.

We can be heroes.

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Three from the States

As rock music was fermenting nicely in Britain the real quality was still coming from the States. They had had a couple of years head start on us, they were older, probably cleverer and had better teeth. There’s still a pointless argument to be had as to whether punk was American or British (it was British!) but really the music that was coming over from the east coast was just great rock music.

I’ve written about Television earlier this year

https://thefutureispast.co.uk/2017/02/12/it-was-40-years-ago-today-marquee-moon/

No need to repeat myself, let’s just say they were a great rock band.

Another band that came out of the same scene were Richard Hell and the Voidoids. In keeping with my earlier observations about the American new wave Richard Hell was born in 1949 and was the son of a professor. At school in Delaware he met Tom Miller later Verlaine and eventually moved to New York City to become a poet. As well as poetry he remained friendly with Verlaine and learned to play bass so he could be in a band with his best mate.

Unfortunately two egos in one band wasn’t going to work, Verlaine didn’t really like Hell’s songs and so Hell was out to form his own band and take heroin with Johnny Thunders

Unfortunately two ego’s taking heroin in one band wasn’t going to work and Hell was out of his latest band, The Heartbreakers, and formed his own band with a group of people with lesser egos.

On drums was Marc Bell, later to become Marky the longest living Ramone and Ivan Julian teenage genius guitar player. The secret weapon was other guitarist Robert Quine who set new records for age, baldness and beardedness. But when Quine started playing you forgot you were looking at the college lecturer in humanities. Quine really is one of the all-time great guitarists ever. Never predictable always passionate Quine is all over the band’s first/only/best record Blank Generation. Everything about the record is great from ‘Love Comes in Spurts’ (see even the titles are fantastic) to the spluttering end of ‘All the Way’ where Hell sounds like he is about to be sick.

Hell is often reduced to a footnote in music for being the person to first wear ripped clothes onstage (an idea allegedly nicked by Malcolm McLaren who was in town to manage The New York Dolls) which ignores the fact that he made one of the all-time great rock records. Apart from energy and style its got little to do with punk, the only non-original on the LP is Tom Fogerty’s ‘Walking on the Water’ which fits seamlessly with Hell’s own songs.

If you haven’t ever heard this record listen now please.

The final of the trio of all-time great records is ‘1977’ by Talking Heads. Like Richard Hell the band had been around for a while starting off as the Artistics featuring singer/guitarist David Byrne and drummer Chris Frantz. Unable to find a bass player in the tiny village of New York Frantz’s girlfriend, Tina Weymouth, learned to play the instrument and the band became Talking Heads adding Jerry Harrison from Jonathan Richman’s band The Modern Lovers when things got serious. I had already heard their first single ‘Love goes to a Building on Fire’ and frankly thought it was a mixture if intriguing and irritating. The LP received a patchy review in the NME and I kind of put the band to one side, on the other hand what I did hear sounded great not least the single Psycho Killer.I surrendered to the inevitable, counted up my pennies and made my way to the record shop.

My ears had not deceived me, it’s a great record. Much of its appeal for me is the true love rhythm section (Frantz and Weymouth were married the same year) which is simple but groovy, not unlike the Al Green records of the time. There was guitar but it’s wasn’t the normal rock guitar, this was thin and funky. There was an edgy nervousness in Byrne’s singing which was offset by the groove of the bass and drums. Along with the likes of Psycho Killer and the acceptable funk of ‘Pulled Up’ there was some off the wall stuff like ‘Tentative Decisions’ which fitted in with the vibe of the record without sounding too silly or arty.

The Talking Heads were phenomenally influential, they pointed a way forward to a cooler funkier future away from mainstream rock, within a few years every other band would be using clean Fender Telecasters and funky bass and we would get sick of it.

But for the meantime the band sounded just fine. For the rest of their career I considered The Talking Heads as the punk Wishbone Ash in that I  was never really desperate to buy their records but if I did I knew it would be ok. Buying a Talking Heads record became a default position for times when I had money but no inspiration regarding what record to buy. Sure enough I bought their other records and they were ok but I didn’t have the same love for them as Talking Heads 77.

At this point I had assumed that everything from New York was touched by the hand of God. All that ended when I bought (second hand) the Live at CBGBs album which contains the most terrifying recording I have ever heard ‘Under Over Sideways Down’ by Manster. Hear it before you die, or possibly as you die.

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Letting Go

Autumn is well on its way here in the east midlands, the temperature has dropped, the nights have drawn in and there’s a weekend of rain ahead.

Change is gonna come. I have just finished a job that’s kept me happy and entertained since May last year. Best of all it’s allowed me enough time to finish blog posts while at work, probably the nearest I will ever come to being a professional writer.

letting go

For many years September/October was like the start of a new year to me, that’s because for a lot of my life it was, either starting a new term or a new school or a new university. Even after that came to an end it always felt quite exciting when the weather cooled and the city began to fill up with a new bunch of fresh faced students.

And so 40 years ago I should have been starting on another chapter of my life. For some reason I had decided to apply for an Environmental Studies course at Plymouth Polytechnic. As with a lot of my life decisions in retrospect I have to think what the fuck was I doing? I had a passing interest in the environment but far less than I do now. Also why did I think it was a good idea to go to Plymouth, it’s about as far as you can get from Norwich without leaving England. I think I was living out some Springsteen fantasy about breaking away from the small town but why Plymouth I really don’t know.

So having spent a whole day travelling there, staying overnight and attending an interview and spending all day travelling back I was offered a place conditional on me getting 3 grade Ds at A level.

I can’t remember much about results day, I think I just got a letter informing me, it wasn’t a huge deal, there was no social media, my family had only just bought their first ever telephone (which is still there by the way) so there was not the level of frenzy about the results there is today.

I had gained 3 grade E’s, In the space of a few years I had slipped from being in the top 10% in the school to the bottom 10% in my 6th form, the result was so bad that even I was disappointed with it.

I contacted Plymouth Polytechnic to inform them that I had failed to achieve the grades they wanted. Much to my surprise they wrote (yes wrote!) back to tell me they would accept me anyway.

This posed something of a dilemma. I sat down and made a list of pros and cons of the course. I then listed my core values and made a projection of where I saw myself in 5, 10 and 20 years’ time.

No I didn’t.

I bought a bottle of wine and cycled about the Norfolk countryside drinking as I went. By the time the bottle was empty I had made a decision.

I wrote (yes wrote!) to Plymouth and said thanks but I would not be going.

And there ended my environmental career.

The real deal breaker for me was that all that writing took up several days and there was a real possibility I would now struggle to get accommodation, It was not unusual for students to actually have to sleep on floors initially if they had had a late acceptance before they were placed in some terrible B&B miles away. In the pre social media days this was social suicide.

Little did I know but I was an early adopter of the ‘gap year’, virtually all my school friends would be leaving for further education, some of my older friends would be going back to university. The only person left behind would be my bass playing friend Robbo and me, at least we had a rhythm section!

In retrospect what amazes me is how people just disappeared out of my life at this point, there was no easy way to keep in touch. My friend Chris who had been quite influential in my life over the last few years, who had been in my first ever folk group with me and had introduced me to other people who also played, went to Liverpool to study medicine I think. I never saw him again. There were plenty of people like that, my oldest friend Phil was off to Warwick, Dunc was off to Birmingham, by the time the weather changed it was just me and Robbo left.

Change is one of the few certainties of our lives. The other is death of course and this week we have lost a couple more from my youth. The first was Walter Becker from Steely Dan. They really were the 70’s Beatles without the hits. The musos liked them, Sucho the guitarist in my first rock band lent me The Royal Scam which I listened to fervidly, just seconds of the intro to Kid Charlemagne takes me back to lying on the settee on our front room with the ‘cans’ on, my parents had invested in a new music centre which offered better hi fi possibilities then my basic record player. I still maintain that some of the best rock guitar playing of all time can be heard on the Dan albums.

Anyway a far more eloquent tribute is located here.

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/44778723/posts/1582796340

The other loss is Holger Czukay of Can, a man who resembled a college lecturer rather than the bass player in an innovative German band. Can were a hip name to drop in the 70’s Johnny Rotten was a big fan but there were many many more. I was slightly ambivalent having owned a compilation CD with material such as ‘Spoon’ and ‘Future Days’ which was great but everything else I have heard by them sounds a bit too much like a hippie jam to me.

One thought I have had is, could Can be the first 70’s band to die first? We have lost the guitarist, bass player and drummer there’s only a couple left (matters are slightly complicated by the fact that they had two vocalists at different times). It’s a macabre but interesting thought, there’s always speculation about what bands still have the personnel to reform should they wish to do so but so far I can’t think of any significant bands from the 70’s at least were all the members are no longer with us.

Think on, and let’s hope my new employers allow me a bit of leeway.

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Hey Rock and Roll

 

By the mid 70’s rock was all of twenty years old, it had travelled from Bill Hayley performing ‘Rock around the Clock’ way past Hawkwind and ‘ Silver Machine’. The 60’s had been very forward looking, every few months there would be something new to marvel at, it was as if there was a scorched earth policy with the past being destroyed as the future became the present.

There were period in the 70’s however when it seemed like we had stretched the fabric of time, as if it could stretch no longer and it seemed like we were going to be sucked back into the 1950’s.The 1950’s for us meant America obviously, no one in their right mind wanted to revisit Wee Willie Harris or even Billy Fury. American Graffiti was an amazingly influential film which left the inhabitants of Croydon or Oldham yearning for a soda pop at the drive in. Even more influential was the TV show Happy Days which provided an even more sanitised version of the American dream. For a while it seemed we knew more about America than we did about our own country as so many of the shows were made there. There were only three channels and we had to watch in real time no wonder we have become so Americanised, we were brainwashed for decades.

Surprisingly Glam was partly backwards looking from Marc Bolan’s 50’s imagery to Roxy Music’s adoption of 40’s and 50’s American glamour. When Mud decided to dress as teddy boys (let’s forget the guitarist ok?) it just seemed normal. Let’s not forget that during this time Malcolm Mclaren was flirting with Teddy boy styles and running a shop catering to those tastes, rock and roll really was here to stay.

The apogee of this yearning for the past was encapsulated by the band Showaddywaddy. Sha Na Na without the bad acid. This weirdest of outfits was formed when two Leicester bands simply joined forces in 1973. This meant that Showaddywaddy had two drummers, two bassists and lots of everything else. This would, of course, prove useful when members started to leave but initially they had more people than was strictly necessary but this enabled members to generally mess around and make the band look more interesting than they were. Like so many other entertainers they initially came through the immensely popular ‘New Faces’ Show. From there on it was domination of middle England for the next few years. Showaddywaddy actually had 10 top ten hits though the mid 70’s. It seemed we couldn’t get enough of versions of old hits which were less good than the originals played by men in a collection of lurid Teddy boy outfits. The band was fronted by Dave Bartram whose mid 70’s haircut marked him out as an unlikely Ted despite his drapes and brothel creepers.

This is them at their very best.

Luckily tastes change and post punk there was no place for Showaddywaddy in the charts although, understandably, they remained a huge popular live act round the clubs, Bartram Hung up his drapes in 2013 but naturally the band are still going although with only two original members still remaining.

Punk, of course was aggressively British, we’d had enough of those yanks with their nice teeth and tanned skin showing off their perfect lifestyles. As well as rock and roll the biggest victim was country rock which had to be put into quarantine for a while.

It was a great loss. We survived but the American dream never seemed quite as perfect again.

By way of a footnote..

Showaddywaddy were an unlikely multiracial band. Romeo Challenger must have had the weirdest career of any black drummer having played in occult heavy metal band Black Widow before a lifelong career with Showaddywaddy.

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