groovies

The San Francisco proto-punks, were among many great bands which were swept aside – unfairly – by the clear-out of the alleged revolution they helped musically to create. (Although they owed as much to The Byrds as to any of their garage band predecessors). I loved the Groovies. They should have had an honorary mention in my book, and I forgot. So, here they are with – I believe, but correct me if I’m wrong – the original 1971 version of Shake Some Action, produced by Dave Edmunds (we’ll come back to him!) at his Rockfield Studios in Wales. Click on the link. Gerrit up loud!

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I called one of the chapters in the book, dealing with my arrival at Leeds University and subsequent (ahem) academic activities, Life Coaching With Albert Hammond. Albert very kindly gave me permission to quote a couple of lines from this song in that chapter – “My parents and my lecturers could never understand, why I gave it up for music and a free electric band.”

And as I pointed out to him on the phone last year, he imagined the scenario and, around it, wrote a cracking song. I, however, took it as solemn careers advice. Thanks, Albert.

Video  —  Posted: April 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

Where to start with Rory? His was the first live band I saw, and my first proper gig. (Manchester Free Trade Hall in the autumn of 1974). There was no turning back, after that night. He – along with Bob Dylan – pointed me towards pre war country blues, which I have loved ever since. With fellow stylists Neil Young and The Ramones, Rory shaped my dress sense. And, once I was booking and running the gigs at Leeds University, I was to learn first-hand that he was the nicest, most humble, least pretentious rock star ever to walk on a stage – which he did almost apologetically. A true pro and a trouper. And a ridiculously talented guitarist.

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Here he is, on the Whistle Test in 1973, in a clip which starts with a most amusing appreciation by my old friend and Whistle Test colleague, Mark Ellen. Click on the link below.

The photo shows me interviewing Rory, about country blues, for The Whistle Test, at Dingwall’s in Camden Town in 1985.

 

Joni and I became hitched the instant I saw some concert footage of her – it must have been on Whistle Test – when I was about 13, and we’ve been together ever since. Ridiculously talented and imaginative, she’s always been her own girl, impossible to categorise or to pin down, and spinning off on experimental musical tangents with each new album. She was working with overseas musicians years before the gormless label “world music” was conceived. And she’s an unrepentant smoker.

She’s never made a duff record. (I remember doing most of my A Level revision to rotation plays of Ladies Of The Canyon). This track is from her 1972 masterpiece, For The Roses.

Oddly – as with Little Feat and The Band – I never saw her perform live.

It actually scares me to consider the course my life might have taken had I not heard Dylan’s 1965 LP, Highway ’61 Revisited, around 1974 when I was 14. (Sensible law degree? A respectable career and a lifetime of house conveyancing in the Rochdale area?) I explain in the book why Dylan, and particularly this album, were truly life-changing. Thanks Bob.

Here’s a track from Highway ’61 which I have always adored but seldom gets any attention, and never gets any radio airplay. And I love the pace at which Dylan and this fabulous studio band take this. Click on the link. Let’s stroll!

(The photo shows Dylan with Highway ’61 producer, Tom Wilson, in the studio, during the recording, in NYC, spring 1965).

As I say in my book, for some of us working on the concerts at Leeds University in the early 1980s, The Blues Brothers was more than a cinema (and music) classic, it was a way of life. Indeed, alongside one or two of those on my Stage Crew, Jake and Elwood looked like dilettantes and amateurs.

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I never tire of this film. And the music is just outstanding, helped by the band having Steve Cropper and other soul and r&b maestros in its number. And this cover of a Taj Mahal song is one of those rare examples of an improvement on the original. It also provided the soundtrack for the unforgettable opening to the film. A lesser band would have played this much faster.

The Katy was the affectionate name given to the Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad. (Long gone).

 

Of course, I’d been aware of Neil Young for a while. (Everyone had a copy of Harvest, didn’t they?) But the point at which it became unconditional love, and a life-long relationship, came when I was at a Christmas or New Year party, in the mid 1970s, at the home of my great friend, Jonny Barnes. In one of the living rooms at Jonny’s house, one of those Whistle Test all-nighters was on the television, playing to no one when I walked into the room. Whispering Bob was introducing this very footage. Within seconds – to use Neil’s own words – I was gettin’ blown away. I stood transfixed, and quite alone. That bloke who sang those nice songs, with an acoustic guitar, on the albums I’d heard, was now whipping up an electric gale, with some inspired but always melodic astral guitar. And I’ll never forget his hair flying and standing on end as the passion and romance of this intensified. (And he dressed like me!) Forever after, in school assembly, I could never again hear the line of that hymn, “Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire – oh, still small voice of calm,” without thinking of this. Do I get in Pseuds’ Corner?