“Caught F.Oak coach home illegally. Borrd Billion Dollar Babies off of Jackie S. Went up Gra’s in the evng. saw his new addition – Garrard SP25 III (G800). Borrowd Gemini Suite & Book of Tailisyn, lent him Focus 3,”
Good lord, there’s so much going on – and to write about – in today’s diary entry…
Let’s tackle it in order shall we?
By a matter of living just a few hundred yards outside a government-prescribed zone – I am not making this up – I was denied the opportunity of catching a scheduled coach home from school each day. Instead – and as if to somehow verify my ‘prolitariat’ status – I was forced to wait with the hoi-polloi for a regular bus service each day.
By contrast, friend who lived just a few blocks away from me in , were ferried home in a clean air-conditioned coach. Bastards.
However, every so often I either just sneaked onto the coach (prepared to claim ‘ignorance’ if I was caught out) or was able to borrow somebody’s coach pass. (In those days, I.D.’s rarely came included photos). Seems as if today was one of those days.
Alice Cooper’s “Billion Dollar Babies” is not an album that has really sat with me over the ensuing years.
Indeed, it only has 4 tracks that I continue to adore.
The title track, Billion Dollar Babies – duet between Alice and Donovan – sounds far more ethereal on record than it does in this live performance, but – like a lot of Alice’s stuff – is guitar-riff laden.
“No More Mr Nice Guy” is a Stones-esque basic rocker which proves that Alice is not adept at maintaining a falsetto voice.
“Hello, Hooray” sounds like it may have been recorded for his School’s Out album sharing lots of the same style and feel – maybe no accident it is the opener?
Best of them all, however, and only marginally below “School’s Out” as my favourite Alice track ever, is “Elected“. Written, probably, as some kind of rock’n’roll response to the whole Nixon/Watergate debacle, it simply screams along with utter hairbrush in mirror mime-ability…. not that I am saying I ever….. OK, yes I admit it. (It would be years until I caught that promo video for the song, and I remember laughing so hard the first time I saw the chimpanzee walk in with the wheelbarrow full of money)
Like so many albums of the era however, it is my memories of the sleeve that has remained with me the longest. The fold out cover was designed to look like a snakeskin billfold wallet – it even had rounded-off corners. When you open the cover out there was a loose 12″x24” “billion dollar bill” clipped inside that featured a photo of the band and irreverent cartoons.
I’ll say it again – the advent of Compact Disc RUINED album artwork.
The Garrard SP25 Mk IIIwas – in 1973 – my hi-fi Holy Grail.
Especially when twinned with a Goldring G800 stylus. The exact package friend Graham apparently managed to acquire. Bastard.
More about this piece of kit when – as must happen somewhen – my diary tells me I bought my own.
I have talked about Deep Purple’s atrocious “Book of Taliesyn” before – indeed 26 years later I can’t imagine exactly why I would have borrowed it again? – but this is first mention of Purple’s equally dodgy “Gemini Suite”
So dodgy in fact that “Gemini Suite” has not flitted across my personal radar AT ALL in the interim years… years which include over 22 years of actually working in the music industry, and being asked for stuff!
I’ll admit I had to look the album up online to nudge any kind of even vague memory about it. Consequently, my research *ahem* ‘reminded me’ it was a piece of Jon Lord-composed music (performed by Deep Purple and an orchestra) which was commissioned by the BBC for a TV show highlighting the association between rock music and traditional classical material.
Yes, that sounds like it was some kind of train wreck. Finding this excerpt online however, suggest a train wreck may have sounded better?!
Somewhen in the past few months, it would appear that I bought Focus’ “Focus 3” album, a rambling double concept album. I threatened to buy it back in January, but opted for “Moving Waves” instead.
How weird that my diary never made mention of its subsequent purchase?
So as to save this post from falling off the edge of the planet due its length, please expect an incoming EFA70’sTRO “aside’ to talk about it.
For which I duly apologise in advance.