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September 28th 1973

“Borrowed Hawkwind – rubbish”

I do believe that this refers to the Hawks’ debut album from 1970.

Although over time I have grown to appreciate some of the tracks from this release a little better (Hurry On Sundown for one) Hawkwind have – for me personally – only really been about one single, “Silver Machine“, and one album, “In Search of Space“.

My one word review in 1973 was a somewhat unwarranted but doubtless based on the fact I was expecting more of the same as I had already enjoyed. The band, however, had not fully developed that sound, resulting in a resounding “rubbish” from this particular teenager.

Perhaps too I was waiting for Stacia to pop out from the album sleeve?

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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…..

OooooooKaaaaaay?

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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Number Ones of 1972 (Part 3)

… [continued from Part 2]

“…… and they called it Puppy Luuuuuuuuuuuurve” was a Number One call to arms for fresh-faced Mormon superstar teenager Donny Osmond.

1972 really was the year of Osmond-mania in the UK, when the family troupe, The Osmonds (put together as a “white” answer to the Jackson 5)  – especially photogenic teen idol Donny – created abject hysteria amongst young impressionable girls wherever they went. Think “The Jonas Brothers on steroids” and you might get an idea of the screamy-girly public craziness?

Puppy Love” was written in 1960 by Paul Anka for Annette Funicello, an actress/singer he was having an affair with. His own version went to Number 2 in the USA, but it has since been totally eclipsed by Donny’s more populist version.

His plea of “someone help mehelp meplease” was always a moment of cringe-worthiness whenever I heard it. Little did I know then that my future wife was squealing with joy at precisely the same line!

The follow-up Number 1 to Donny was the anarchic School’s Out by Alice Cooper, a song already discussed at some depth (here and here) within this blog.

My good friend Simes, a.k.a “Rockin”, remains a huge fan of Alice Cooper to this day, going to see him live in concert whenever he’s appearing within driving distance of the South of England.

Sometimes Rockin’ takes his eldest daughter with him. Her name is… Alice.

I wonder if the pair of them have ever seen this version of School’s Out with The Muppets? (I wonder also if that clip makes more sense on drugs?)

Taken from his second solo album “Never a Dull MomentRod Stewart‘s “You Wear it Well” was, perhaps, one of the year’s more über-credible Number 1’s.

Most people forget that in the early 70’s Rod Stewart had two musical careers running simultaneously. Not only was he  solo artist in his own right, he was also lead singer for The Faces.

Whilst The Faces material was, by and large, “sloppy rock and roll” (magnificently done I might add), Rod’s own material was carefully crafted, produced and recorded. However, “You Wear it Well” appears to straddle both sensibilities, the keyboards and Rod’s careful lyrics noisily overwhelmed by Ronnie Wood’s fabulous guitar licks.

Rod, by himself, and with the Faces would continue to record and tour until 1975 when the band, citing the time-honoured tradition of “musical differences”, split up and everyone went separate ways. I think it was common knowledge that most members of the Faces held deep resentment for how Rod concentrated on his solo work.

Of all my minor musical “heroes” of the 70’s, Rod is the one who has really let me down the most. Whilst his whole ‘celebrity fixation” era – when he was with Britt Ekland and recorded things like “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?“- merely amused me, I feel he eventually started to waste that great gritty voice he possesses, none moreso than with the recent ” Great American Songbook” series of albums.

Slade had a second 1972 Number 1 single with “Mama Weer All Crazee Now“, taken from their album “Slayed?“, often considered their greatest studio album.

Since 1972 this screamy rocker has been covered by such diverse acts as Quiet Riot, The Runaways and….. The James Last Orchestra!

Last covered it along with “Silver Machine“, “School’s Out“, “(The Theme from) Shaft” and Gary Glitter’s “Rock & Roll, Part 2” on his 1973 album “Non Stop Dancing ’73” which must’ve been the soundtrack to THE worst swinging party EVER?!

… [continued in Part 4]

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August 20th 1972

“took mormor back to london” / “taped all the young dudes, silver machine, seaside shuffle and school’s out” / “coffee evening christine’s house”

My poor, poor Danish grandmother (mormor). She’s been staying with us for the past few weeks and I have mentioned her just the once before now… and that was tell my diary that she was “getting on my wick”. I guess we all should have been grateful she was no more problematic than that? I loved her dearly, but she could really be hard work sometimes!

Christine? Coffee evening? I don’t drink coffee so I’m not quite sure what I was referring to here. I don’t think its one of those cases of “would you like to come in for a coffee” we see in the movies, but I could be wrong?

Looks like I taped a few singles?…

All the Young Dudes – written by David Bowie to specifically give them a hit single – was (like many other people) really my significant introduction to Mott the Hoople.

The song is often referred to as a “glam anthem”, something which it can only be considered as such in retrospect. In 1972, it was ‘just’ another great pop song. Lead singer Ian Hunter is still going these days, his vocal style as distinctive now as it was in 1972. (Let me give a nod to Hunter’s fabulous description of “life on the road”, his biographical “Diary of a Rock & Roll Star“)

I spoke about Hawkwind just a few days ago. I’m still several months away from seeing them play live, but in the meantime their major hit “Silver Machine” would doubtless suffice.

Despite its sci-fi opening and lyrics, writer Robert “Completely Bonkers” Calvert has admitted that the song is something of a send-up of the whole space race stuff that was going on following man’s landing on the moon in 1969. It’s actually about his…. pushbike!

In subsequent years I always found it somewhat amusing to watch people trying to dance to “Silver Machine”. It’s FAR from a song that lends itself to any kind of body rhythms but time after time at “junior discos” at Hiltingbury Pavilion I would stand in one corner and watch people give it their best shot… and invariably fail miserably.

It was years afterwards that I discovered – mainly because the internet had not yet been invented – that this version of Silver Machine was recorded live at the same Greasy Truckers Party gig – and later overdubbed – as the other Hawkwind cuts on that album.

Seaside Shuffle was the solitary chart hit for Terry Dactyl & the Dinosaurs. This was a ‘nom de plume’ for the cult blues band Brett Marvin & the Thunderbolts, the lead singer of which was Southampton-born John Lewis, who (are you reading this, trivia freaks?) later became MUCH better known as Stiff recording artist JonaStop the CavalryLewie

Although very much a throwaway pop song, the lyrics reverberate with me now… “It’s a warm day, the sun is shining, someone says let’s go to Brighton”…… *sigh*, if only Mr Dactyl, if ONLY!

The single reached Number 2 in the UK charts. A year later the fake band’s follow-up scraped Number 45 – ‘Nuff said!

I truly believe “School’s Out” to be one of the best – and anarchic – pop songs of all time, and most certainly Alice Cooper‘s finest contribution to the world of Rock’n’Roll.

The refrain “No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks” is as fierce – at least in my opinion – as anything the much later punk era produced. School’s Out is TRULY an anthem – and one for every subsequent generation it would seem, the song as popular and well-known now as it ever was.

By the way, I would hate for people to think that I only ever taped stuff. As I am sure future diaries will attest, I did get the “vinyl buying bug”, and in a very major way. I do know I subsequently purchased a lot of the singles I first taped, but usually waiting until they had dropped out of the Top 40 and were available cheaply (10-20-30p) from Jack Hobbs, my local music retailer… about whom I shall undoubtedly speak more of in later posts.

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