Tag Archives: old songs new songs

March 4th 1973

“Went up Trevs and got bike wheel” / ” In afternoon took out drawers of bedside cabinet and primed them – gonna paint them red and gold (smart) – Gonna paint chair gold as well” / “In evng (no tibs) recorded In + Out of Focus + Old Songs new Songs – Family”

My word, what a veritable cornucopia of things today eh?

No real idea about the what and the why regarding the bike wheel comment but it appears self-evident on the face of it.

I DO remember (“huzzah” says the crowd) painting my bedside cabinet. It was a six-drawer affair that my Dad had made with his own fair hands a few years earlier, and I was obviously channelling Lawrence-Llewellyn Bowen a few years in advance to spruce  it up a little. It was obviously a well made piece of furniture because my Dad STILL uses it underneath his workbench in his garden shed. Same funky little legs on it and everything.

However, … a gold chair? Blimey, what kick was I on?

I borrowed “In & Out of Focus” back in October 1972, and (even more strangely) I said I sent away money to BUYOld Songs, New Songs” the previous June… so…. erm….. I’m not entirely sure why I was recording either of them again?!

Perhaps I was just copying both to cassette for greater portability?


Leave a comment

Filed under 1973 Diary Entries

February 14th 1973

*valentine* / “Got Bandstand – Family off of Martin S – It jumps as well – must be needle, gonna get a new one” / “carried on wiv jigsaw” / “went up nigs”

The word “valentine” was printed in the diary. I chose to highlight it by making it look as if it was exploding from the page.

Was this to somehow remind me? Crap, I wish I could remember. Did I send Angela a secret card? Did she send me one? Oh brain, why must you continue to taunt me this way!

I’ve already over-pontificated at some length about Family and my love for their compilation album “Old Songs, New Songs“.

Bandstand” – their sixth studio recording – is the only other album from the group that has really stayed with me in the interim 35 years. I think that was because – musically – it was something of a departure for them, being more mellow and mainstream than their prior releases.

The opening track was the hit single, Burlesque, which ranks as one my favourite Family tracks ever. It’s quite a standard rocker about drinking at a bar, but it cranks along at a marvelous pace and includes the fabulous lyric “Well, drinking and sinking, I’m feelin’ alright, right down to my snaky spat shoes

Burlesque reached Number 13 in the UK charts. An acoustic cut “My Friend the Sun” was chosen by the band’s record label as the follow-up single, but it (surprisingly) sunk without trace. A big shame. It’s a beautiful little ballad with Chapman’s usual sheep warble contained.

Coronation” became a fan favourite for years to come – and I can remember it was this track that skipped, as a result of what I was quickly suspecting was a duff needle. We always called it a needle in those days, even though the correct name was a stylus. In fact, years later when my Dad’s CD player started going wrong and he tried to fix it, he called the laser a “needle”.. much to my amusement.

Along with the contents, I was probably equally drawn to the LP because of its magnficent die cut sleeve which was shaped like a a vintage TV set. The photos below give a much better idea of how it was done than any description I could give.

It felt like something very special. Moreso than Alice Cooper’s paper knickers inside School’s Out or even the Rolling Stones’ infamous “Sticky Fingers” cover. 

Bandstand became one of the hundred or so vinyl albums I have kept and moved across the world with me! (So it must be special, right?)

Leave a comment

Filed under 1973 Diary Entries

January 29th 1973 (I)

“Wrote a silly play” / “Borrowed Family Entertainment – Family – Quite Good”

No idea what “wrote a silly play” refers to exactly – maybe the next few days entries will give a little more of a clue?

Entertainment” was Family’s second album – referred to these days as their “sophomore” release – first released in 1969. 

I have written about Family before, so there’s not much I can add to my past comments about the band themselves.

This album features “The Weaver’s Answer” as the opening cut, a track which – as time went on, and despite hit singles – very much became the band’s signature song. It’s a haunting, depressing little number about a dying man revisiting his life, which concludes with Ric Grech’s violin depicting the fellow’s final breaths.

There are 10 other cuts but none that I can recall with any clarity as this album has failed to in any way ‘sit with me’ in the interim 35 years. If I want to hear Family these days I will always gravitate towards their singles or the previously mentioned “Old Songs, New Songs” album.

In keeping with my wife’s feelings about Family’s vocalist, I read this comment about him recently…… “I always thought that sheep would know what Roger Chapman was singing about” – OUCH!

Leave a comment

Filed under 1973 Diary Entries

October 6th 1972

“went up Nigs and borrowed Anyway – Family” / New set batts > 50 days”

Nig – Or Nigel – was a school chum who lived just around the corner from me.

Like Trevor, he also had an older brother (Keith) who was something of a experimental music fan. I feel as indebted to Keith for some of my early musical learning as I do Trev’s brother Stephen.

I was already a fan of Family, having purchased their “Old Songs, New Songs” album back in June.

Anyway was something of a stopgap album for the band, and was actually a half-live, half-studio recording. I already had what I considered the best cuts from it on that purchased compilation, so I was doubtless intrigued by it moreso for the sleeve than the record itself.

For what were, I admit, something of an ‘average’ band, Family did appear to have influential friends in the cover-design department of their record label.

For Anyway, the record was in a simple slip cover, wrapped in a foldover cardboard insert, the whole kaboodle encased inside a thick plastic sleeve with a fold-in flap. Other Family albums featured die-cut book-style covers and one (Bandstand) was even made to look like an old-fashioned TV set.

There is a LOT to be said for the ‘golden days’ of vinyl, and how a well-designed sleeve or some groovy artwork could draw you to a particular album over another in the record racks. I know I was suckered in many a time, deciding to buy an album purely because of the sleeve.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1972 Diary Entries

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.


Filed under 1972 Diary Entries