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An Aside – My “History of Music” Project: Part X

A 70-odd page “History of Music” would not be complete without a closing reference to Welsh rock giants, Man, would it?

However, I do think the comment about Pink Floyd’s new concept album “Dark Side of the Moon” – considering the subsequent success and ubiquity of their 1975 opus – makes me appear to be something of a musical visionary.

The teacher’s mark and comment seem to somehow undermine the page. How come I can write neatly on the lined paper, but Trotter seems unable to do the same?

As I said at the start of this wee posting ‘marathon’, this project was an important turning point in my teenage life, opening my mind – and ears – to all kinds of different music. I did learn a lot – especially (as I recall) the origins of Rock’n’Roll (Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, etc) – all of which would put me in good stead for my later career. In the meantime however, I suspect I became something of a smug git for getting full marks (“10“) in return for all the hard work I did.

We will now return you to your regular schedule of programming.

(Hard luck!)


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January 31st 1973

Pete lent me In Search of Space” / “Dun another Martin silly tape” / “Had an ‘aircut” / “Got Pictures at an Exhibition back from Dave”

There it is again – a reference to “a silly tape” for Martin. Whoever the hell Martin was. There’s obviously something ‘artistic’ going on, but nothing so memorable to….well, allow the 50-year-old me to bloomin’ well remember what I am banging on about!

However, the most important mention in this somewhat dysfunctional diary entry is the one that tells me that Pete loaned me Hawkwind’s ‘tour de force’ album “In Search of Space

I have spoken of Hawkwind in these diary corridors before, as well as as applauded their 1972 hit single “Silver Machine“.

“In Search of Space” was Hawkwind’s second album, first released in 1971. It contains just 6 tracks, fifteen minutes of side one swallowed up by the hypnotic rhythms and cosmic repetitiveness of “You Shouldn’t Do That” (fyi, link goes to vastly inferior live – and curtailed – version), where bass, drums and fuzzy guitar are punctured by sax breaks and Dave Brock mumbling “should do that, shouldn’t do that” over and over. I LOVE this cut so much that it almost overwhelms the rest of the album for me.

As if by complete contrast “You Know You’re Only Dreaming” has an almost traditional blues feel to it, albeit one with a psychedelic bent.

Side Two’s opener, “Master of the Universe” is a permanent fan favourite, representing for many the true sound of 70’s-era Hawkwind, starting off silently before slowly building to its mind-numbing dope-enhanced riff. (People always said that Hawkwind sounded much better if you were on drugs – really?)

We Took the Wrong Step Years Long Ago” is a so-so chugs-along acoustic effort, whilst “Adjust Me” sounds like the band are merely improvising a spacey electronic ‘nothing’ song that includes unnecessary chipmunk-style vocals.

Children of the Sun“, the album’s closer, builds to its climax and contains a riff that sounds suspiciously like a slowed-down version of T.Rex’s “Children of the Revolution” and you do have to wonder if Marc Bolan (consciously or unconsciously) co-opted it.

However – and I think this will become a repeated theme as this diary blog continues – it is the LP’s sleeve that drew me to the album as much as the contents.

The 12″ album cover offered a perfect canvas for artists and designers to flourish. Something that is almost impossible to achieve with CD sleeves (too small) and impossible with MP3 downloads. Us kids of the seventies used to pore over each and every element of the record sleeves, soaking up even the smallest printed details

“In Search of Space” was designed by the ‘infamous’ Barney Bubbles, a graphic designer (real name Colin Fulcher) who became – for many years – Hawkwind’s permanent ‘artistic collaborator’. Not only did he design the band’s album sleeves, he was also responsible for their logo, posters, stage sets, stage lighting and special effects.

Bubbles later went on to design iconic sleeves for the likes of The Damned, Elvis Costello, Carlene Carter & Ian Dury, as well as becoming a music video director (his finest moment being The Specials’ “Ghost Town“). He was also responsible for creating the logos for the NME and Strongbow Cider.

The world lost him -sadly to suicide – in 1983, but his influence over record art & design will stick around forever. There is a book of his work entitled “Reasons to be Cheerful” (itself an Ian Dury song title) for anyone interested in this art form.

For “In Search of Space” he produced a striking die-cut interlocking fold-out sleeve (inside, opened, shown on right) which contained not only the vinyl in a straightforward white inner sleeve but also a 24-page book entitled “The Hawkwind Log“, supposedly telling the story of the spacecraft “Hawkwind”, found abandoned at the South Pole. It’s a pamphlet style compilation of pictures, spacey quotes and sci-fi data, written by Bubbles in collaboration with Hawkwind’s ‘space poet’ Robert Calvert.

Here’s an example of the writings…. Space/time supply indicators near to zero. Our thoughts are losing depth, soon they will fold intro each other, into flatness, into nothing but surface. Our ship will fold like a cardboard file and the noises of our minds compress into a disc of shining black, spinning in eternity…..


Good job I had a haircut today or someone may have mistaken me for a drug-fuelled hippy when I walked around mumbling “should do this, shouldn’t do that“!

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September 28th 1972

“Bought Melody Maker. ELP win 7 sections in poll. Another addition to concert – Argent”

I probably would’ve purchased Melody Maker anyway – along with Sounds and NME it represented “required reading” each Thursday – but I suspect this particular issue was sought and read cover to cover with a little more glee and excitement?!!

The Melody Maker poll winners for 1972?….

Best British Male Singer : Rod Stewart
Best British Female Singer: Maggie Bell
Best British Group: Emerson, Lake & Palmer (win #1)
Best British Single: Lindisfarne – Lady Eleanor
Best British Album: Wishbone Ash – Argus
Best TV Show: Old Grey Whistle Test
Best Radio Show: Sounds of the Seventies
Best Disc Jockey: John Peel
Best British Brightest Hope: Roxy Music

… and in the International Sections…..

Best Male Singer: Neil Young
Best Female Singer: Joni Mitchell
Best Drummer: Carl Palmer (win #2)
Best Bass: Jack Bruce
Best Album: Neil Young – Harvest
Best Keyboards: Keith Emerson (win #3)
Best Guitarist: Rory Gallagher
Best Producer: Greg Lake (win #4)
Best Single: Don McLean – American Pie (nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!)
Best Arranger(s): Emerson, Lake & Palmer (win #5)
Best Brightest Hope: Focus
Best Composers: Keith Emerson & Greg Lake (win #6)
Best Group: Emerson, Lake & Palmer (win #7)
Best Miscellaneous Instrument: Ian Anderson – Flute

How do I know all this? (I SWEAR I never used Google!) ….. All will be (somewhat sadly) revealed in upcoming blog posts!

Meanwhile…. Argent eh? Hold Your Head Up!……

Hold on just a minute………………….. Best Miscellaneous Instrument????

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June 6th 1972

“Gave in Career booklets” / “Sent away for LP – ‘Old Songs, New Songs’ Family £1.05” / “bought singles 20p”

No idea what career booklets were, but I’ll hazard they were booklets intended to help us schoolkids pick a career. I’ll warrant none of them featured the careers many of my closest friends, or I, eventually followed.

sent away for LP – ‘Old Songs, New Songs’ Family £1.05” meant that this was likely my first purchase from the ‘back pages’ of Sounds. Many, MANY mail order companies advertised albums for sale at discounted prices, amongst them (eventually) the incarnation of what was destined to become the mighty (Sir) Richard Branson-owned Virgin corporation. (As you will discover later dear reader, Branson owes a some of his success to l’il ol’ me)

Business was obviously so brisk for discounted vinyl, one company – I can’t remember it’s name – used to regularly advertise (basically what was just a list of titles with prices) on the entire back page of Sounds and NME, and I wouldn’t bet against the notion it was from them I ordered Raft Records’ compilation of Family tracks called “Old Songs, New Songs“.

The Roaring Sixties (formerly the Farinas) were a simple bar band from Leicester, signed in the late 60’s by the ‘happening’ Liberty Records, and given their more distinctive “Family” name (originally “The Family” – eat your heart out Prince!) by none other than legendary American producer Kim Fowley.

Several band changes and record labels later they ended up at Raft (an offshoot of Reprise) with the core group of Rob Townsend, Ric Grech, Jim King, Charlie Whitney and vocalist Roger Chapman. Chapman arguably gave the band their distinctive sound, his gravely cries perfectly off-setting the well-structured jazz/folk/rock fusion. I guess they could be considered “Prog Rock”, but their name never appears when that genre comes up in conversation… and certainly not from me.

Chapman’s delivery isn’t for everybody. My wife HATES his voice, and to be fair it is an acquired taste. In a nutshell – “a little bit bleaty, a little bit goat’n’roll!

I’ll always have a soft spot for Family though. Mainly because I’m pretty certain the first 7″ single I ever bought with my own pocket money was their hit “In My Own Time” the previous year. I continued to buy the material they released in subsequent years, and enjoyed seeing them on Top of the Pops doing their other “hit” singles like “Burlesque” and “My Friend the Sun“. I don’t think – or, at least recall if – I ever saw them perform live, but my future diaries may tell a different tale that will shock me and regret the later intake of memory-thieving herbs.

As for “bought singles 20p“, oh how I WISH I’d written what I’d bought and where I’d bought them from. Your guess is as good as mine, as long as your guess isn’t the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards version of “Amazing Grace”, which had just been a Number 1 hit in the UK. People who know me will know how I feel about bagpipes.


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June 3rd 1972

“Went up Trev’s + took back records. Got some more Makers”

If it was 36 years later, the second part of that entry would mean that I had stopped off on the way home for a bottle – or two – of one of Kentucky’s finest bourbons, Maker’s Mark!

In 1972 however I was most definitely referring to Melody Maker, regarded as the UK’s (kinda) “third” stalwart weekly music paper, after New Musical Express (NME) and Sounds. (Can you even begin to believe now there was a time when there were, with these 3 plus Record Mirror and Disc, five weekly newspapers dedicated to music in the UK?)

 Whilst the NME and Sounds (which I also read, believe me) covered the music scene with an attitude of some ‘irreverance’ (maybe even where I get my own healthy cynicism from?), and Record Mirror and Disc were for the poppier end of the market, the Melody Maker was a far more serious and sombre-in-tone affair.

It had some great writers and editors over the years (Chris Welsh and Richard Williams to name but two) and seemed to concentrate more on the ‘muso’ aspects of the ‘grown-up’ stuff kicking around at the time. How the music was influenced, how it was recorded, on what machinery, and where and by whom. Pretty intricate details. (In fact, thinking about it, modern day music magazines like “Q“, “Mojo” and “Word” probably emulate the old school Melody Maker – with their in-depth profiles and the suchlike)

The jazzier-influenced progressive rock (PROG!!) was Melody Maker’s mainstay – and it’s eventual downfall, the paper’s refusal to abandon its love for the genre in the punkier late 70’s the start of its slow and sad demise.

Stephen, Trev’s older brother – and consistent buyer of Melody Maker – was a big Prog rock fan and doubtless influenced what Trev listened to. And by association, what I was exposed to whenever I went to Trev’s and spent the day.

I do often wonder how different my musical ‘growth’ would have been without the likes of Stephen and Trev getting me to hear stuff and loaning me albums to pirate record. As well as allowing me to borrow their Melody Makers. I know I feel as if I owe them a lot in retrospect.

Apart from that whole King Crimson thing.


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