Tag Archives: Elton John

September 27th 1975

“Good Day at work. Bought a load of singles. Went up Holly’s in the evening (awutrws)”

How many people can say they’ve had a “good day at work”?

I wonder if my “good day” was the result of a fun time behind the counter or that I spent my hard-earned wages on a handful of singles?

Naturally I can remember each and every one of 45s I bought that day.

No I can’t. Of course I can’t.

However, let us browse the singles I own that were released in 1975 and indulge in a little bit of wild speculation shall we?…

10cc – “I’m Not in Love”
To say that this song catapulted 10cc’s career into the stratosphere is something of an understatement. It was one of THE massive hit singles of 1975, ubiquitous on every radio station and at every party you ever went to. DJs would use it as a cornerstone of their slow dance ‘erection section’ where the lights dimmed and hormonal teen couples would clutch onto one another on the dancefloor and gently rock from side to side whilst simultaneously trying to ‘cop a feel’ of…, well, whatever they could cop a feel of.

Oh, was that just me?

The Stylistics – “Can’t Give You Anything (But My Love)”
Just one of the soul bands which emerged from Philadelphia in the 1970’s, The Stylistics enjoyed a somewhat lopsided career path. Whilst they were working with famed Philly Sound producer Thom Bell they enjoyed several huge transatlantic hits (including “Betcha by Golly, Wow” and “You Make Me Feel Brand New“) Then, in 1974, Bell stopped working with the group, a move which almost completely devastated their US career. The group decided to instead play to their European strengths, teamed up with Van (“The Hustle”) McCoy and started releasing ‘poppier’ dance tracks, the first of which was this engaging classic which reached #1 on the UK singles chart.

The Sound of Philadelphia along with various borrowed Motown Chartbusters compilations became solely responsible for opening my musical ears to a whole slew of music which I had previously – and, I admit, somewhat snobbishly – ignored.

Elton John – “Philadelphia Freedom”
…. and we’re back to Philadelphia once again!

Legend has it that this track was written specifically as an homage to female tennis player Billie Jean King and that Elton asked his lyricist, Bernie Taupin, to scribble something about her hometown.

What started off as a tribute to his favourite tennis player ended up as another #1 hit single in Elton’s vast canon whilst also managing to honour Philadelphia in its production, owing much to the sound and soulful arrangements of Gamble/Huff and/or the aforementioned Thom Bell.

Supertramp – “Dreamer”
Supertramp’s wonderful album “Crime of the Century” had emerged in 1974 and although I already had a copy of it committed to tape I must have thought I could not live without this single release, containing a pair of the cuts.

“Dreamer” is as classic a pop song now as it was back in the mid-70’s, that electric piano hook relentlessly catchy.

The b-side “Bloody Well Right” is almost as good, Roger Hodgson & Co coming up with another slice of perfect pop. Infectious enough to have been a hit single in its own right… or, if you will, bloody well right.

Jasper Carrott – “Funky Moped”
Jasper was a folk singer turned stand-up comedian from Birmingham who hit the peak of his popularity in the middle-to-late 70’s, helped along by the success of this hit single, wherein he sings the praises of the low-rent pedal motorcycle. (For the record I owned one a few years later, a lovely little black Raleigh Runabout, similar to the one in the photo on right).

However, no-one was buying the single for that appalling A-side. It was being bought in its thousands for the comedy sketch Jasper offered up on the B-side, a rib-tickling behind the scenes ‘adult’ story featuring the cast of children’s TV favourite “The Magic Roundabout“, wherein not only is the sexuality of Florence brought into question but Zebedee’s trademark “Boinngggg” is used to evil effect.

Like all other tracks listed here, click on the links to hear/see the videos on You Tube.

Jasper’s ‘claim to fame’ continued well into his 50’s. Not only was he one of the founding investors in the concept of hit TV quiz show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” (later selling his shares for a reputed £10m) but he is also the father of popular actress Lucy Davis, most recognised for playing ‘Dawn’ in the original UK version of Ricky Gervais’ “The Office”

Ace – “How Long?”
Formed in Sheffield in 1972 “Ace Flash & the Dynamos” shortened their name to just Ace, and enjoyed moderate success in the seventies which culminated in this superb slice of pop history, as perfect an example of ‘hit single’ as there’s ever been.

Ace frontman Paul Carrack went on to find success with a solo career and is a sought-after session musician, playing keyboards with such artists as Eric Clapton, Roxy Music and Squeeze.

I LOVE the sound of this single, that slightly funked up R&B/Soul influence never failing to help me get my own little personal groove on over the years.

Ian Hunter – “Once Bitten Twice Shy”
“ULLO!!”

Mott the Hoople’s frontman has had quite the successful solo career since he quit the band back in the late 70’s. He learned a lot from David Bowie’s writing style, conjuring up a handful of infectious singles as well as employing David sidekick, Mick Ronson, as his producer of choice.

The “Ian Hunter” solo album – which includes this cut – remains one of rock music’s unsung little masterpieces. I always have a hard time comprehending just why it is not better recognised by either critics or rock fans.

“Once Bitten, Twice Shy” was also a US #5 hit single for the rock band Great White. However, the less said about that, the better, eh?

I wonder how many of these singles I played to Holly in the evening? I do know that my own diary slang, “awutrws” – later crossed out to protect me from potential prying parental eyes – suggested I was something of a privileged and lucky young chap that night. Yes, of course I remember what it relates to, but I am far too much of a gentleman to share the acronym’s meaning with you. Some things have to be kept private, y’know?!!

Advertisement

Leave a comment

Filed under 1975 Diary Entries

August 11th 1975

“Work. In evening went to see Tommy with Debbie, Nig and Kim. Film was absolutely incredible”

I loved, loved, LOVED this movie!

Truth be told I STILL love this movie.

It’s an exercise in excess, Director Ken Russell assulting the senses from start to finish with his adaptation of The Who’s classic rock opera about that deaf, dumb and blind kind (who played a mean pinball).

The casting of the various roles are as bizarre as they are perfect. A manic Tina Turner as The Acid Queen, Jack Nicholson as the Doctor, Eric Clapton as the Preacher, Robert Powell as Tommy’s Dad and Elton John as the wannabe pinball wizard. The lead roles are saved for Roger Daltrey, Oliver Reed – whose singing is, let’s just say, an ‘acquired taste’ – and the rather scrumptious Ann-Margret as Tommy’s unhinged mother.

I have never been able to look a baked bean squarely in the eye since first seeing this in 1975…

Rumour has it the the above scene was Russell’s not so discreet method of ‘revenge’ against the various detergent and bean commercials he was forced to direct at the start of his (eventually long and illustrious) career.

When I got my first VCR, “Tommy” was one of the first films I recorded and then later bought. I likewise snapped it up on DVDs when they hit the scene. Even now, and despite owning the disc and being able to watch it whenever, I will still watch “Tommy” whenever it appears on our TV listings.

Despite all this I still haven’t watched it as many times as The Who’s other movie ‘opus’, the magnficient “Quadrophenia”, but it was easier for me to relate to a scooter-riding mod than it was a would-be religious cult leader!

Some of the magnificent scenes from “Tommy”…

2 Comments

Filed under 1975 Diary Entries

January 11th 1975

‘Started new Job – GREAT!”

Seems as if I was a little more excited to be at Francis Records than I was on ANY day I ventured to Lancaster & Crook supermarket, doesn’t it?

I really did fall into the new job very quickly too, revelling in the fact that I was now one of ‘those guys’ behind the counter who I admired and envied so much. Suddenly my opinion on music – for whatever it was worth – held some sway. (“Yes sir, have you ever heard Aphrodite’s Child?“)

Do I remember my first ever sale? Somewhat weirdly in what has otherwise been an utter desert of memories, I do. Elton John’s double opus “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road“. Do I remember the price. Reverting to type… nope!

Mrs Francis was a quirky old stick to work for. I guess in time – and certainly when I ended up with my own store – I eventually understood just why she only ever wanted things done her way. Because, ostensibly, her way worked. She was adamant about how every sale had to be processed, but when you’re 17 years old it just seemed ‘petty’.

This was before the days of big (even small) fancy tills. Every sale was written in a simple duplicate book, the top page of every ‘paired twin” duly rubber stamped with Francis Records’ address and phone number. The pages in these books weren’t even self-copying, thus requiring a succession of little sheets of carbon paper.

As well as handwriting the customer’s receipt, Derek and I had to ensure we also wrote the details of any transaction down on a “daily sales sheet”, basically the top page of a writing pad sitting somewhere in the near vicinity. Whilst we were able to conduct cash sales ourselves, any cheque or credit/debit card sale HAD to be handled – at least initially – by Mrs Francis… awkward if she happened not to be around at that very moment. In these circumstances we had to run downstairs and see John in the classical department and ask him to handle the sale. Bizarre, but true. However, cash WAS king so the incidents of credit or cheque sales were (perhaps surprisingly nowadays) admittedly rare.

Customers would come to the counter with their LP requirements sleeved in plastic covers which we would then fill from the masterbags in the racks behind us. People would have to ASK for singles (45’s) as there were scant few ‘picture sleeves’ in those days for customers to browse through. Cassettes were a little more problematical as the racks required a key to open them.. and Mrs Francis had the key. Again, if she wasn’t around John had to be summoned from downstairs.

Customers’ purchases would be placed in a 13″ or 8″ square paper bag advertising the Francis Records name. If we sold a poster we would wrap & tape a bag around it by way of some strange ‘proof of purchase’.

Mrs Francis DID teach me – from this early age – the ‘right and proper’ way to answer a telephone call in a manner that made the caller feel respected. It’s something I never forgot and I used pretty much the same style of greeting 11 years later when I opened my own shop.

One thing that I did of my accord – maybe at my Dad’s suggestion? – was wearing a tie to work. Whilst Mrs Francis would have been quite happy for me to wear more casual clothes, I actually spivved myself up a little each week, preferring decent trousers, a crisply ironed shirt (thanks Mum!) and, yes (the ultimate establishment icon), a tie.

Little did I know that this day in 1975 would represent the very beginning what eventually turned out to be an almost 22 year ‘romance’ with the music (and/or video) industry.

So, a belated THANK YOU Mrs Francis for giving me this early opportunity. Not just for kick-starting my eventual career but for handing me that inate ability that all record shop workers have for being somewhat dismissive and sneering of other people’s music collections!

Leave a comment

Filed under 1975 Diary Entries

Number Ones of 1972 (Part 5)

…[continued from Part 4]

You know when you write about a year in these terms – all the number ones – you wonder whether it gives a realistic representation of the music everyone listened to.

In terms of sheer public popularity I guess it does, but in my own personal world I feel there were many different songs – which didn’t reach Number 1 – that I would play over and over again from my weekly tape recordings of the Top 30 show.

So along with the likes of “School’s Out”, “Claire”, T.Rex, Slade, “Son of my Father”,  Lieutenant Pigeon, plus all the Prog rock and pop already mentioned in my 1972 diary entries, would the following songs also stand up and take bow for providing a suitable distraction to the arguments going on at our house…

• America – “A Horse with No Name
• Argent – “Hold Your Head Up
• Blackfoot Sue – “Standing in the Road
• David Bowie –  “John I’m Only Dancing
• David Bowie –  “Jean Genie” 
• David Bowie –  “Starman
• Alice Cooper – “Elected
• Dr Hook – “Sylvia’s Mother
• Electric Light Orchestra – “10538 Overture
• Family – “Burlesque
• Roberta Flack – “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
• Gary Glitter – “Rock & Roll Part II
• Hawkwind – “Silver Machine
• The Hollies “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress
• Hot Butter – “Popcorn
• Elton John – “Rocket Man
• John Lennon & Yoko – “Happy Xmas (War is Over)
• Lindisfarne – “Lady Eleanor
• Melanie – “Brand New Key
• Mott the Hoople – “All the Young Dudes
• Johnny Nash – “I Can See Clearly Now
• Redbone – “Witch Queen of New Orleans
• Lou Reed – “Walk on the Wild Side
• Rolling Stones – “Tumbing Dice
• Roxy Music – “Virginia Plain
• Paul Simon – “Me & Julio Down By the Schoolyard
• Ringo Starr – “Back Off Boogaloo
• Status Quo – “Paper Plane
• Stealers Wheel – “Stuck in the Middle
• Cat Stevens – “Can’t Keep it In
• Temptations – “Papa Was a Rolling Stone
• 10cc – “Donna
• The Who – “Join Together
• Stevie Wonder – “Superstition

1972 was therefore a year that had me listening to all kinds of music, creating a varied love for it that would not only supply me with an eventual career (of sorts) but a lifetime of many happy memories.

Meanwhile, (I love a good “meanwhile”) 4000 miles away, my future wife who had started her own musical education early was finding that Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” was proving to be an awkward choice for her classroom’s show and tell session.

Both of us can now only hope that the 8 and 14-year-old kids of today carry forward the same kind of interest, love and enthusiasm for music into their middle and old age as we have.

1 Comment

Filed under 1972 Diary Entries, an aside, Asides on the 1970's

Number Ones of 1972 (Part 4)

… [continued from Part 3]

With 1972 already seeing the likes of Donny Osmond and Marc Bolan at Number 1, it was shaping up to be “the year of the teen idol”

As if to cement the notion, along comes David Cassidy and the (IMHO) awfully turgid “How Can I be Sure

The son of actress Shirley Jones, Cassidy had already appeared on TV shows like “Bonanza” and “Ironside” before landing the part of Keith Partridge in “The Partridge Family“.

The Partridge Family was a kind of pseudo-reality sitcom that MTV would kill for these days. It was about a musical family who played together to stay together, touring America whilst trying to maintain a semblance of normal life.

Cassidy, initially happy about the success of The Partridge Family soon grew weary of its constrictions, not least being his requirement to maintain a squeaky-clean lifestyle in keeping with his character in the show.

In May 1972 he gave a revealing interview to Rolling Stone magazine where he expressed his unhappiness at playing Keith Partridge. As if to underline his point he also posed nude for the cover, shocking the show’s producers whilst simultaneously titillating his young fans.

EFA70’sTRO would like to briefly leap out of the Partridge Family closet and openly admit that one of his favourite romantic ditties of all-time is “I Think I Love You“. As fine a pop song as it is, he just wishes it wasn’t by The Partridge Family.

Quiz time….. Name all the bands you can think of whose band members feature a mother and her son playing together. (The Partridge Family don’t count because they were fictional).

I can think of one – Lieutenant Pigeon – and their hit “Mouldy Old Dough“, a ramshackle pub-singalong slice of nonsense that was Number 1 for a staggering 4 weeks.

The song is held together by the ragtime piano of Hilda Woodward, mother of band leader Rob whose vocals consist of throating just three words…. “Mouldy”, “Old” and “Dough”

Somewhat staggeringly, this song was the SECOND biggest selling single of 1972 (after that crappy bagpipe bollocks). I LOVE it and often find myself ‘singing’ it in the shower! (If it was at the local bar’s Karaoke night I would definitely grab the mic!)

Oh, btw, the correct pronunciation of the band’s name is LEF-tenant Pigeon and not LOO-tenant Pigeon. Thought I’d just clear that up for my American readers otherwise ignorant of English *giggle*

Claire was Gilbert O’Sullivan‘s 6th UK hit single in two years, but his first Number 1.

The whistle-infused song was written about his young niece, the lyric “Will you marry me Uncle Ray?” referring to O’Sullivan, whose real first name is Raymond.

It’s sad that Gilbert never gained the worldwide popularity I personally feel he deserved. His lyrics, melodies and vocal style are all as assured as, say Billy Joel’s or Elton John’s, and his notions of ‘whimsy’ and ‘romance’ are always evident.

His relative lack of success compared to his peers can actually be blamed on a massive mid-70’s court case he got embroiled in. He discovered that his contract with MAM Records was skewed heavily in favor of the label’s owner, with Gilbert earning next to no royalties for the hits he had created, including his massive USA Number 1 “Alone Again (Naturally)“. The case rumbled on for over 5 years, during which time he was unable to record a note, so the hits – and his visibility – just fizzled out.

In 1980, he was awarded £7m in damages. A large sum of money, but doubtless FAR less than his earnings otherwise could have been had he remained in the public eye.

I picked up the (terribly-titled) “Berry Vest of Gilbert O’Sullivan” a year or so ago, which obviously contains “Claire” and 19 other songs, most of which are surprisingly recognisable and memorable. A great singer-songwriter.

Chuck Berry is one of the pioneers – if not THE pioneer – of Rock & Roll. It’s even been said that he invented it.

Think of all the classic songs he’s been responsible for… “Johnny B Goode“, “Rock and Roll Music“, “Sweet Little Sixteen“, “Roll Over Beethoven“, “School Days” and so many, many more.

The antithesis of all his classic songs is the horrendous “My Ding-a-Ling“, sadly his ONLY UK Number 1.

Recorded live at a concert in Coventry, “My Ding-a-Ling” is little more than an exercise in Benny Hill-style double entendre, so it’s astonishing in retrospect that many radio stations refused to play it!

I guess because it always forms a backdrop to office parties and family get togethers, the UK Christmas Number 1 has always carried an air of ‘reverence’ about it.

Well, christmas parties in 1972 must have been REALLY scary affairs, with everyone living in fear of having to hear Little Jimmy Osmond with “Long Haired Lover from Liverpool

Younger – and spottier – brother of Donny, this scored a big 10 on the “crap-o-meter” for many people, myself included. Even my aural fondness for a “novelty hit” refuses to acknowledge this as worthy.

[continued in Part 5]….

1 Comment

Filed under 1972 Diary Entries, an aside, Asides on the 1970's