Category Archives: 1974 Diary Entries

December 9th 1974

“Started to write in Dairy again. Occasional Holiday from School. Went to Southampton and bought Xmas Cards Pressies. Wrote some Xmas Cards to people”


Somewhat ironically given the content of this entry, this would prove to be my last scribblings in the 1974 diary.

Annoyingly, the dearth of entries over the summer, autumn and winter periods means that I am unable to properly express my reaction to starting sixth form college following the “ahem* successes of my O-Level results.

I can tell you that I opted to continue at Barton Peveril, which was still in its transition stage from being a Secondary School into a full Sixth Form College.

The new school year meant that I joined the “1st year 6th”, bringing with it both freedom from any kind of school uniform and a whole influx of new friends (and some foes). The college brought 16 or 17 year-old kids in from the surrounding secondary schools and with some of those people a new set of influences and distractions arrived. (The distractions were generally housed in a female form)

I chose a peculiar triumvirate of ‘A’ (Advanced) Level subjects to study. The first was Technical Drawing, something I vaguely enjoyed at Ordinary Level and one of the few subjects I successfully passed. The second was Art, not because I was in any way talented in the subject (I wasn’t) but because I felt it would be a subject in which I could express myself as well as gather with people who, like me, were interested in music and films. (I was also eager to become a “graphic artist”, my head doubtless swayed by the works of record sleeve designers such as Roger Dean or photographers like Mick Rock)

My third subject was an undoubted mistake. I took English Literature. I think I stuck with it one term (semester) before dumping it off my schedule (the 1975 diary may prove enlightening in this respect). I quickly realised that none of the literature we were exploring in the classes was material I was even vaguely interested in reading, let alone discussing.

The (eventual) lack of all those English lessons meant I had many mornings and afternoons free to spend around other like-minded ‘slackers’ in the college’s “common room” a space put aside where people congregated to drink tea/coffee, play records and generally do very little other than lounge about on vinyl-upholstered chairs and sofas.

I do believe that this “common room” – somewhere I shall probably refer to regularly during 1975 and early 1976 – was more of a place of ‘education’ for me than any of the classrooms. Here, I listened to more music than I could ever imagine and was introduced to lots of new (to me) stuff like R&B, Soul and early German electronica. I interacted with not only my own ‘lower sixth’ classmates but also those students who were a year older in the ‘upper sixth’. I started to come out of my shell more and was able to express myself without feeling reserved or withdrawn. In short, I guess my time in the 6th Form helped me to “grow up”?!

In terms of this project I can’t help feeling – as you may – disappointed that my 1974 diary yielded so little. However, I hope what I have managed to share has been fun to read and that you’ve found my meanderings a satisfactory and entertaining distraction.

On then… to 1975…

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(1974 Albums) Various Taped Recordings

I have reported in some detail all the records I bought during 1974.

The back pages of the diary also shows a selection of taped recordings I owned – many of which have already been discussed in my 1972 and 1973 entries.

However, there is a tiny handful of other albums I apparently recorded to C-90’s in 1974 that certainly seem worthy of a mention or two….

Clouds – Scrapbooking
Clouds were a Scottish Prog Rock band, unique in not having a lead guitarist amongst its line-up. They signed to Chrysalis Management around the same time as Jethro Tull but never enjoyed the support or public acclaim that Ian Anderson’s one-legged flute antics nurtured.

“The Clouds Scrapbook” was a concept album marketed as being some kind of a companion piece to The Beatles’ “Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”. I think we all know how that marketing idea went?

I’m pretty certain I borrowed this album from Tim B who I worked with at Lancaster & Crook. Years later I believe I also bought the LP for 69p from Woolworth’s clearance racks. I never hung onto it and would/could not recognise one single track from it these days.

Leo Sayer – Silverbird
Leo Sayer’s first claim to pop fame was as co-writer of Roger Daltrey’s debut solo single, “Giving It All Away“.

His own career was launched by 60’s pop idol turned actor, Adam Faith. Sayer’s second single “The Show Must Go On” – which Leo performed (strangely) in a Pierrot clown costume – reached Number 2 on the UK chart, a feat which then kickstarted a run of no less than seven consecutive Top 10 singles, including the worldwide #1 smash “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing

“Silverbird” was his debut album and it reached Number 2 on the UK Album Chart. It remains a fixture in my collection and a track or two occasionally pops up on shuffle. The songs are a little bit dated but still well composed and performed. “Oh Wot a Life” is a favourite of mine.

Two bits of Leo Sayer trivia… The first is that Leo now lives in Australia and became a fully fledged Australian citizen in 2009. The second is that “Leo Sayer” is cockney rhyming slang for “all dayer”… an all day drinking session. No wonder he feels like dancing!

Alan Hull – Pipedream
Straight off the bat I will state that “Pipedream” remains one of my favourite albums of all time.

Alan Hull was a member of Newcastle-based folk rock band Lindisfarne who, in the early seventies, enjoyed a run of singalong hits including “Lady Eleanor“, “Meet Me on the Corner” and “Fog on the Tyne

Ructions amongst the band around 1973 resulted in the band breaking up. Three members went off to form Jack the Lad, whilst Alan Hull recorded and released “Pipedream” before eventually agreeing to be part of an “all-new” Lindisfarne. (It didn’t last long, he disbanded the group again in 1975)

“Pipedream” is an album chock-full of lovely gentle little songs all featuring Hull’s pretty unique and pleasing vocal style. Personally, I don’t think there is a bad tune on it and I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who likes singer/songwriters. I think my favourites are “I Hate to See you Cry“, “Justanothersadsong”, “Country Gentleman’s Wife” and the opener, “Breakfast”

Hull died suddenly at the age of just 50 – of a heart thrombosis – in 1995. A real loss to the musical firmament.

Funnily enough, as much I like this album I have never even been vaguely tempted to investigate his other solo work. Perhaps it’s about time I did?

Yes – The Yes Album
Although “Fragile” will always remain my favourite Yes album, I’ll admit that (and despite the whole ELP vs Yes rivalry that existed back then) I have also frequently dabbled in their others… “The Yes Album” being a case in point.

For a start it kicks off with “Yours Is No Disgrace“, perhaps one of the best prog-rock album openings of all time. I love the way the Hammond slips in round the back of the drum and guitar intro… it almost gives me goosebumps.

Then there’s the almost hillbilly-esque Steve Howe guitar solo “Clap“, and I suppose “Starship Trooper” can’t be considered too shabby can it?.. even if I personally feel it’s a little too rambling for its own good.

Side Two offers the earworm of “I’ve Seen All Good People” and… well, precious little else as far as I am concerned.  (I’m sure there will be die-hard Yes fans who will disagree with me.)

I’ve never actually owned “The Yes Album” on any format (other than the recording I made in 1974… that counts, right?) although when my wife and I merged our transatlantic CD collections I was happy to see it amongst hers and duly ripped the songs mentioned above across to my i-tunes

Bryan Ferry – These Foolish Things
If we ever wanted to know what kind of singing route Bryan Ferry – and thus Roxy Music – would eventually take, we only have to listen to this 1973 solo album of ‘classic standards’ crooned by the man himself.

It’s as eclectic a choice as it is good. There are certain songs that I heard for the very first time when Ferry sang them (“It’s my Party“, “Don’t Ever Change”, “Loving You is Sweeter than Ever” & “River of Salt”) whilst there are others (“Sympathy for the Devil“, “Don’t Worry Baby” & “Piece of my Heart“) which I actually prefer over the originals!

His cover of Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” was and remains peculiar, whilst the magnificently crooned title track, “These Foolish Things“, cemented Ferry’s by-then reputation as a “lounge lizard”

What’s amazing about this album is that the concept – covering old standards – is as succesful today as it was in 1974. Hell, Rod Stewart’s entire post 1999 career has been founded on doing just that with, and I hope Rod won’t mind saying this, pretty lacklustre results.

Do I still like this album? Yes I do. My caveat is that I think Ferry honed the idea to perfection with the second set of solo covers, “Another Time, Another Place” a year later… an album which I am sure will turn up amongst these diary pages in due course.

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August 21st – December 8th 1974

nothin’

Another remarkably and lengthy set of completely blank diary pages.

Sorry folks.

The 1974 diary is already drawing to a close….

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August 20th 1974

“Got 5 ‘O’s including Spok. English”


Let’s review these results shall we?…..

Economics: Grade F FAIL
E.Lit. Syll.B: Grade E PASS (English Literature Syllabus B)
Physics: Grade F FAIL
Eng. Language: Grade E PASS (English Language)
Geography: Grade F FAIL
Rel.Studies: F FAIL (Religious Studies)
Spok. English: C PASS (Spoken English)
History: E PASS
Tech. Drawing: E PASS (Technical Drawing)

The back of the actual certificate (shown below) states “Attainment in an Ordinary level subject is indicated by a Grade A, B, C, D, or E of which Grade A is the highest and Grade E the lowest……. Grade E is the lowest level of attainment judged by the University to be of sufficient standard to be recorded

I think it’s fair to admit I was…. a somewhat less than an average student who somehow managed to barely SQUEAK by in some of these important examinations. It feels astonishing to me now that I could apply myself quite admirably the year earlier and take/pass Mathematics quite easily (albeit also with an “E PASS” grade) but then when the rest came around I was phenomenally sloppy and without any personal application.

I’m surprised in retrospect that I failed Economics (it being something I dealt with quite successfully later in my career) and amazed that I completely stumbled in Physics when, just 2 years earlier, I was flying high in the subject and was first in my class.

No surprises regarding Geography (my wife is nodding her head as I type) or Religious Studies. I don’t think the *ahem* things I was ‘studying’ during my church retreats were necessarily likely to turn up on the exam paper?

I’m afraid I can only be flippant about all of this 36 years after the event. I can’t be convinced that passing more of these O-Levels would have changed my life that much so there’s no point in being regretful after the event is there?

In a nutshell I seemed to adopt ‘slackerdom’ at an early age?!

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(1974 Albums) Free – The Free Story / At Last

 

There was a time when I would have enjoyed writing a HUGE piece about Free. 

However they’ve now become one of those acts who, since moving to and living in America, I have just heard FAR too much of on the (excuse for) radio over here. Subsequently I’ve grown a little sick of them. 

It seems like every time I tune into one of our pathetic “classic rock” stations it’s either Bob Seger or Free blaring out of the car speakers. 

Paul Rodgers - or as I now refer to him "Freddie Lite"

Plus – and this might seem strange to some – I’ll admit that whilst I still consider Paul Rodgers to be one of the finest blues/rock vocalists of all-time, his decision to join Brian May and Roger Taylor in some ugly bastardised reformation of Queen put me right off him. 

None of this is to say “The Free Story” is a bad album. Far from it. 

It is a double album compilation that came at the end of a brief (for a band of their stature) career which had begun in 1968. For me the high spots are undoubtedly “I’m a Mover“, “Fire & Water“, “The Stealer“, “Mr Big” and “My Brother Jake“, but there really isn’t a bad cut on it, regardless of my personal feelings about the band now. 

For all the compilations of Free material there’s ever been (and since 1972 there’s ludicrously been about a dozen more) I think this remains the VERY best primer for anyone interesting in ‘getting into’ the band. 

It got me into them enough to then go and buy their penultimate studio album, “Free at Last“, the last to feature troubled guitarist Paul Kossoff. 

It too has high spots, “Catch a Train” especially, but like “The Free Story”, I have a hard time listening to it these days … perhaps for all the WRONG reasons? 

I guess in my own little 2010 world Free are FAR from all right now. 

See what I did there? 

Yes, I apologise.

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July 30th – August 19th 1974

Nothin’

Once again “Excerpts from a 70’s Teenage Rock Opera” comes up empty-handed, this 1974 diary proving extremely poor value for money indeed.

So I can do little more than ask you to hum quietly whilst staring at the image below…..

(Non-Brits may like to read this for an explanation of the above)

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Number One Singles of 1974 (Part 4)

[…”Number One Singles of 1974″ continued from Part 3]

Country singer John Denver ‘s first marriage was to Annie Martell from Minnesota.

In 1974 he purloined the main theme from the 2nd Movement of Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 5“, and wrote a set of words to go with it, the sum expressing his love for his wife. 

The subsequent “Annie’s Song” became a Number One hit single on both sides of the Atlantic. It is now regarded as a classic love song, and doubtless the scourge of many a wedding DJ.

John Denver’s popularity in the 70’s should never be underestimated, certainly in America where he is a considered more than just a pop culture icon. His song “Rocky Mountain High” is now one of the two official state songs of Colorado, whilst there are moves afoot to try to bestow “Take Me Home, Country Roads” with a similar honour for the state of West Virginia.

I’m not sure I was really ever aware of this song back in 1974. I think my first proper exposure to John Denver would have been his appearances on “The Muppet Show” which used to air on British TV at Sunday tea-time. Much later I was one of few who critically praised his performance as the ‘chosen one’ in Director Carl Reiner’s religious comedy “Oh God!“, even if he was acted off the screen by the superb George Burns!

Denver died in 1997, crashing his self-piloted (home-built, and experimentally-designed) plane on the Californian coast. In a rare tribute to a singer, the then Colorado governor ordered all state flags be half-staffed in Denver’s honour.

Trivia fans may wish to hang onto the notion that Denver was a fully trained astronaut. In 1986 he was lined up to become “the first civilian in space” on the Space Shuttle Challenger, a twist of fate keeping him out of the eventual crew of that tragic flight.

Sweet Sensation were an 8-piece British soul group from Manchester who first caught the public’s eye on the ITV talent show “New Faces“.

Their first single flopped but the follow-up, “Sad Sweet Dreamer“, reached Number 1 in the UK and Number 14 in the USA.

The band enjoyed one more minor hit single – “Purely by Coincidence” – in 1975 before disappearing into obscurity.

Somewhat bizarrely, lead singer Marcel King attempted a belated solo career – in 1985 – with the help of New Order‘s Bernie Sumner and A Certain Ratio‘s Donald Johnson. The resultant “Reach for Love” was a failure.

Ken Boothe ‘s “Everything I Own” was British reggae label Trojan‘s second Number One hit single. (The first was the superb “Double Barrel” by Dave & Ansel Collins)

Boothe had already enjoyed success in his home country of Jamaica, working with such reggae luminaries as Clement “Coxsone” Dodd, the Wailers, Keith Hudson and Alton Ellis, as well as releasing songs on the legendary Studio One label.

Everything I Own” was a shift away from his regular sound, and far more poppier and mainstream than he was known for. The song itself had already been a minor hit in the UK – in 1972 – for its writer David Gates who released it with his band, Bread.

Trivia fans may care to note that
a) Boothe sings the lyrics incorrectly throughout, crooning “Anything I Own” instead of “Everything I Own“, and
b) he is namechecked in the Clash song “(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais

Given his popularity in the 70’s its a little surprising to realise that this is only the first mention of David Essex in this diary blog.

Gonna Make You a Star” was his first Number One, but he had already enjoyed chart success with “America“, “Lamplight” and the (yes, it’s another secret guilty pleasure) surreal but stunning “Rock On

With his boyish good looks, Essex was also enjoying stardom as a film actor, “That’ll be the Day” proving to have been a cinema hit in 1973, with “Stardust” – reprising his role as troubled rock star Jim Maclain – also becoming box office gold in 1974.

His apparent laid back and affable nature has continued to serve him well and, unlike many of his seventies peers, he has remained successful to the present day, still acting and recording albums for an appreciative and demographically diverse fan base.

Barry White (aka “The Sultan of Soul”, or rather less generously “The Walrus of Love”) was born in Texas but grew up in crime-ridden South L.A.

After a brief flirtation with crime, he got into songwriting, penning tunes for acts as diverse as Bobby Fuller and TV’s comedy act The Banana Splits

In 1963, he helped arranged Bob & Earl’s classic R&B hit “Harlem Shuffle” then worked as an A&R manager for Mustang/Bronco Records, to whom he signed (eventual) disco act Viola Wills.

1972 saw his first big commercial success, writing and producing the sexy soul classic “Walking in the Rain (With the One I Love)” for a girl group he had discovered called Love Unlimited. It would prove to be the first of many hits for the band and really kickstarted White’s career.

Whilst working on some demos White was persuaded to sing some vocals himself. The rest, as they say, is history. “I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby” was a debut smash hit, quickly followed by many others, establishing him as a crossover soul artist and ‘housewives favourite’ for years after. He would go on to sell over 100 million records worldwide. He died from complications following a stroke in 2003.

You’re the First, the Last, My Everything” was his pre-Christmas 1974 Number 1 hit. Somewhat astonishingly it was written some 21 years earlier as a country tune before Barry White souled it up with his distinctive deep voice and orchestral arrangement.

Back in Part 1 of this 4-piece diatribe I mentioned that although Mud had the biggest-selling UK single of 1974, they would have a much “bigger” single.  

Lonely this Christmas” would end up being their primary long-term contribution to British culture… mainly because it is trotted out every December for a whole new set of unwilling fans to enjoy. It has become, like a handful of other songs, an “annual fixture” of the pop firmament.

It’s OK, but I’ve never really cared for it that much if truth be told. It’s a terrible Elvis pastiche and WAY too maudlin for my liking.

All in all I think 1974 was a good year for songwriters Nicky Chinn & Mike Chapman.  Three Number 1 hit singles (bringing their total to five) plus seven other high charting songs probably made them FAR from lonely at Christmas. If I sound jealous, it’s because I am.

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