Tag Archives: john lennon

May 16th 1975 (III)

“John, Paul, George Ringo… and Bert” programme continued…

Recognise any names from the acting or music establishment there? (The Beatles’ excluded, obviously)

More stuff about them later.

Meanwhile…

Rumour has it that George Harrison went to the opening night of “John, Paul, George, Ringo… and Bert” in Liverpool, and was so appalled by it he refused permission for his beautiful “Here Comes the Sun” to be used in the play, forcing the producers to use “Good Day Sunshine” instead

I’m not sure I ever want to know what “Oo-ee Bopper” or “Oo-ee Whacker” sound like. Seems pretty evident to me that it’s Willy Russell’s attempt to nurture royalties from that RSO Original Cast Recording mentioned at the bottom of that second scanned page. But who wouldn’t want to rub shoulders with Lennon & McCartney eh?

More tomorrow….

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Cockney Rebel 1975 Tour Programme (VII)

Page 10

Things I did not know (rather, forgotten) about the Rebel band members…

Stuart Elliot used to play drums for Adam Faith.

Jim Cregan played with Cat Stevens.

George Ford was amongst the backing vocals on John Lennon’s “Power to the People“. How cool is that?

More tomorrow…

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Number One Singles of 1973 (Part 4)

[… “Number One Singles of 1973” continued from Part III]

October to December

David CassidyDaydreamer/The Puppy Song
Released as a Double A-side to (somewhat cynically I feel) extend its shelf life and radio play, this was teen idol Cassidy’s 6th UK hit.

It would prove to be his last Number 1 in Britain and spent three weeks atop the chart.

“Puppy Song” was written by Harry Nilsson. It was composed at Paul McCartney’s request in 1969. The Beatles’ new Apple Records’  label had just signed teenfolk sensation Mary Hopkin and Paul needed a song for her debut album “Postcard”. Presumably talk of dreams being nothing more than wishes and a dog that would never bite him fitted the bill?

Gary GlitterI Love You Love Me Love
This was Glitter’s second Number One of 1973 and another that appears ironic in light of the revelations surrounding his later lifestyle choices.

It was written by respected seventies songwriter – and Glitter’s producer – Mike Leander, who had already worked with such pop luminaries as Billy Fury, Van Morrison, The Small Faces and Marianne Faithfull,  The Drifters and Ben E King.

Trivia nuts may care to know that in addition to four Top 10 hits by Gary Glitter, Mike Leander also wrote “Privilege (Set Me Free)”, the Patti Smith Group’s follow-up single to “Because the Night”

Slade – Merry Xmas Everybody
They say that cream always rises to the top. The end of 1973 saw Slade nab the Christmas Number One with a song that sounds as fresh today as it did back then.

OK, so I have to declare early – and extreme – bias in these words of mine. For me “Merry Christmas Everybody” is THE ultimate Christmas song. I love it so very VERY dearly. Yes, I have a fondness for Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime“, Wham’s “Last Christmas“, Bing’s “White Christmas” and I’ll even hum along to Wizzard’s “I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day“, but Slade’s “Merry Christmas Everybody” is the one which, without, Christmas is dead to me.

Case in point…. several winters ago my wife and I spent a relentlessly-marvellous time in my (other) “old home town” of Copenhagen in Denmark. Although we had coped quite nicely for food most of the time we had been there, we found ourselves a little short on choice come Christmas Day itself. We discovered that the Hard Rock Café – situated on the outskirts of the Tivoli Gardens – was open most of the day. So, that’s where we went. We ate like kings, celebrated with several imbibements, wore paper hats and listened to the groovy seasonal music coming over the speakers.

After an hour or so, I became depressed. We’d heard all the ‘likelys’ in terms of Christmas songs – the Elvis numbers, the endless “Sleigh Rides” and “Frosty the Snowmen”s and the fact that, yes, Santa Claus IS bloody well coming to town. I’d even endured the damned Pogues and that turgid John Lennon song. Can you guess what we hadn’t heard?

I remarked to my totally understanding and sympathetic wife that we hadn’t heard Slade’s classic. She patted my hand in a way that only wives sarcastically can and told me she was sorry.

I continued to complain. Outwardly I was being jokey about it all, inside I felt empty as could be. (Only emotionally you understand, I think a man can only eat so many multi-topped Hard Rock burgers washed down with Danish lager?)

It came time to leave. Still no Slade. I went to the till and paid. Still no Slade. Then, in what still seems like one of the most magical moments of my life, just as we were putting our coats back on to protect us from the Copenhagen snow outside “Merry Christmas Everybody” came over the PA system.

I stood, in my coat, hat and scarf, in the middle of the Hard Rock Café and just listened. I’ll even admit to shedding a tear. My Christmas with the wife in my favourite country in the whole wide world had just turned “perfect”.

Now of course, and to my wife’s utter chagrin, whenever Christmas morning unveils itself I tend to play “Merry Christmas Everybody” over and over again on what must feel to her like an endless loop.

I never, ever, tire of hearing it. Even if it shuffles up on my iPod on the hottest day of summer I will never skip it, Noddy Holder’s screeched “It’s Chriiiiiiiiiiiiiiistmaaaaaaaaaaaaaas!!!” as satisfying now as it was 36 years ago.

Holder admits he wrote the song to deliberately be joyful and as complete contrast to what the UK was going through in 1973. There were power cuts, the 3-day working week was about to be introduced and much of the population was depressed as it could be. He took a melody he had originally written 6 years earlier, kicked the rhythm up a bit, changed a few lyrics about with the aid of band member Jim Lea and tried to intentionally make it a ‘working class Christmas anthem’ – which is what it undoubtedly became.

It was released on December 7th. By December 15th it had already sold a million copies, and was the surefire Number One, a position it held far into 1974. It stayed in the Top 30 until the end of February, an almost unheard of result for a seasonal single.

As if to further highlight its never-ending appeal in the UK it has been reissued almost every year since 1973 and has reached the Top 40 no less than FIVE further times; 1981, 1983, 2006, 2007 and 2008. I have no doubt it will be there or thereabouts again in just a few months time.

I often say that I would LOVE to be Noddy Holder at “quarterly residuals” time in March every year.

However, I’d settle for shaking his hand and saying “Thank You”

Are you hanging up a stocking on your wall?
It’s the time that every Santa has a ball
Does he ride a red-nosed reindeer?
Does a ‘ton up’ on his sleigh
Do the fairies keep him sober for a day?

So here it is merry Christmas
Everybody’s having fun
Look to the future now
It’s only just begun

Are you waiting for the family to arrive?
Are you sure you got the room to spare inside?
Does your granny always tell ya that the old songs are the best?
Then she’s up and rock ‘n’ rollin’ with the rest

So here it is merry Christmas
Everybody’s having fun
Look to the future now
It’s only just begun

What will your daddy do
When he sees your Mama kissin’ Santa Claus?
Ah ah
Are you hanging up a stocking on your wall?
Are you hoping that the snow will start to fall?
Do you ride on down the hillside in a buggy you have made?
When you land upon your head then you’ve been slayed

So here it is merry Christmas
Everybody’s having fun
Look to the future now
It’s only just begun…..

(© 1973 N.Holder/J.Lea)

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May 17th 1973

“Borrowed Imagine off of Gina K – Quite good really”

Would it be sacrilegious of me to state that, over the years, my opinion of John Lennon’s second solo album, Imagine, has altered dramatically?

Instead of “quite good” I now react to hearing cuts from this album with a series of customary swear words.

Especially that bloody title track. Even despite it representing some kind of musical “standard” for (unattainable) world peace. In 1973 I may have liked it because I knew no better, but in the interim it has evolved – for me personally – into a dreadfully maudlin and tuneless piece of work.

Maybe my distaste is as a result of simply OVER-hearing it since its release in 1971? It was of course dredged to the max when John was shot down outside his NY apartment in 1980, and has featured in every single Lennon tribute since. It also seems as if a documentary maker cannot produce something about Lennon without resorting to using this damn song?!

The rest of the album does not improve things for me, save (but only barely) the three stabs Lennon makes at real retro rock’n’roll with “Gimme Some Truth“, “Crippled Inside” and “It’s So Hard

Jealous Guy” may well have stood the test of time and turned itself into another ‘classic’, but I’m afraid I always equate the song with Bryan Ferry’s AWFUL cash-in version, released just a month or two after Lennon was gunned down. It signalled the end of my ongoing love affair with Roxy Music.

I Don’t Want to be a Soldier” is a sloppy cacophony (as if, somehow he didn’t care what it sounded like)

Oh My Love” and “How?” are somnambulistic bore fests, whilst “How Do You Sleep?” (Lennon thinly veiled attack on Paul McCartney) shows itself as no more than angry nonsense.

The least said about “Oh Yoko” the better. I think the whole world knew you loved her John, no need to rub it in.

I wonder if any of my readers also despise any supposed “classic albums”?

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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.

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Number Ones of 1972 (Part 2)

… [continued from Part 1]

When the UK had ‘suffered’ enough Chicory Tip at Number One, it then propelled a peculiar love song to the top of the charts. 

Without You” was written and originally recorded by Badfinger, a band from Wales who were (somewhat inexplicably IMHO) signed to The BeatlesApple Records

The song was heard by John Lennon’s pal Harry Nilsson – who had already enjoyed chart success with “Everybody’s Talkin” in 1969 – who gave it a new lonely starkness to produce what some people might describe as a “timeless wedding day classic”.

I liked the song a lot more then than I do now. In between it seemed to feature in all my relationship woes of the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s, so perhaps it has just soured on me? I do know that I was horrified by this version by Mariah Carey, but I’ll admit she’s a lot better to look at than poor old Harry.

OK, now when I said I liked most of the Number 1’s of 1972 – or at least suggested I had an inkling of affection for them – there is one that is most definitely NOT included in that comment.

Now, I’m not a fan of the turgid religious yawn known as “Amazing Grace” at the best of times, but when it played by bagpipes I usually look for the nearest gun to shoot myself with.

I HATE bagpipes.

So for 5 weeks in 1972 I doubtless cut my recording of the Top 30 chart short whilst The Drums & Pipes & Military Band of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards‘ hideous interpretation of the song was Number 1. (I even feel as if I should apologise for including the link?!)

What do you have if you have the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards up to their neck in sand? Yep, not enough sand.

The wailing octopi were followed by yet another Number One hit for T.Rex, this time the magnificent “Metal Guru“, Bolan’s tribute to (in his words) “a god of no specific nature”.

Presumably one who sits in an armour plated chair and doesn’t have a telephone?

(The whole glam rock thing with Bolan, Bowie, The Sweet, Slade and… yes, even The Rubettes, deserves several posts all to itself… so anticipate my thoughts about it all sometime in the next few months)

With Chicory Tip having beaten his classic “American Pie” to Number 1, (despite my personal attempts to ensure everyone knew the lyrics) Don McLean followed it up with his strange ode to painter Van Gogh.

Vincent (Starry Starry Night)” is a lightweight fluffy pop song which contains the dubious refrain “This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you“… to which the painter could only have replied “PARDON?”

Trivia fact: Roberta Flack‘s 1974 hit “Killing me Softly with His Song” was written about Don McLean, specifically about a concert he played in LA in 1971. (If any readers win pub quizzes with this kind of material I expect my cut!)

We go from dreary old Don to screamy young Noddy.

Slade‘s “Take me Bak ‘Ome” – quite aside from sharing my own penchant for deliberate speling errors – was the second of Slade’s six number one singles in the UK. I’ve written about Slade before (an example here) and I guess I always had something of a soft spot for them.

Not as much as other people I went to school with though. It’s weird the things I can remember from my youth…..

In 1973, Slade’s drummer Don Powell was involved in a serious car crash in which his 20-year-old girlfriend was killed. Powell ended up with broken ribs, smashed ankles and other injuries including skull damage. He did eventually recover from the accident – for a few months he had to be lifted onto his drumkit for performances  – but it left him with no sense of taste or smell and severe short-term memory issues.

For whatever reason I was somehow amused by the fact that one of my schoolchums – I think his name was Robin? – told me he had sent Powell a “get well” card whilst the drummer was in hospital. Why I would remember that I have absolutely noidea, but whenever I see Slade on TV, video or the internet I am always reminded of it. Weird huh?

[continued in Part 3]….

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An Aside (XI)

Part 4…


Comments:-
1) Once again I say…. “Best Miscellaneous Instrument“????
2) As John Lennon once said of Ringo Starr “He isn’t even the best drummer in the Beatles”…
3) Whatever WAS the attraction of Joe Cocker? I have always thought he was awful.
4) Brightest Hope #10 …… Fanny … the world’s first ever female heavy rock band? Never did a lot… except make a lot of English schoolboys inwardly snicker at their name. (For those not in the know, the word “fanny” holds completely different slang meanings dependent on what side of the Atlantic you grew up on!)
5) “Best Miscellaneous Instrument“???? … Good to see Darryl Way listed. He was violinist with the awesome Curved Air… erm, that “awesomeness” somewhat exaggerated by presence of lead singer, Sonia Kristina

Trivia note: Sonia Kristina was once dated by Stuart Copeland…. later of The Police. Lucky bastard.

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