Tag Archives: Steve Howe

(1974 Albums) Various Taped Recordings

I have reported in some detail all the records I bought during 1974.

The back pages of the diary also shows a selection of taped recordings I owned – many of which have already been discussed in my 1972 and 1973 entries.

However, there is a tiny handful of other albums I apparently recorded to C-90’s in 1974 that certainly seem worthy of a mention or two….

Clouds – Scrapbooking
Clouds were a Scottish Prog Rock band, unique in not having a lead guitarist amongst its line-up. They signed to Chrysalis Management around the same time as Jethro Tull but never enjoyed the support or public acclaim that Ian Anderson’s one-legged flute antics nurtured.

“The Clouds Scrapbook” was a concept album marketed as being some kind of a companion piece to The Beatles’ “Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”. I think we all know how that marketing idea went?

I’m pretty certain I borrowed this album from Tim B who I worked with at Lancaster & Crook. Years later I believe I also bought the LP for 69p from Woolworth’s clearance racks. I never hung onto it and would/could not recognise one single track from it these days.

Leo Sayer – Silverbird
Leo Sayer’s first claim to pop fame was as co-writer of Roger Daltrey’s debut solo single, “Giving It All Away“.

His own career was launched by 60’s pop idol turned actor, Adam Faith. Sayer’s second single “The Show Must Go On” – which Leo performed (strangely) in a Pierrot clown costume – reached Number 2 on the UK chart, a feat which then kickstarted a run of no less than seven consecutive Top 10 singles, including the worldwide #1 smash “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing

“Silverbird” was his debut album and it reached Number 2 on the UK Album Chart. It remains a fixture in my collection and a track or two occasionally pops up on shuffle. The songs are a little bit dated but still well composed and performed. “Oh Wot a Life” is a favourite of mine.

Two bits of Leo Sayer trivia… The first is that Leo now lives in Australia and became a fully fledged Australian citizen in 2009. The second is that “Leo Sayer” is cockney rhyming slang for “all dayer”… an all day drinking session. No wonder he feels like dancing!

Alan Hull – Pipedream
Straight off the bat I will state that “Pipedream” remains one of my favourite albums of all time.

Alan Hull was a member of Newcastle-based folk rock band Lindisfarne who, in the early seventies, enjoyed a run of singalong hits including “Lady Eleanor“, “Meet Me on the Corner” and “Fog on the Tyne

Ructions amongst the band around 1973 resulted in the band breaking up. Three members went off to form Jack the Lad, whilst Alan Hull recorded and released “Pipedream” before eventually agreeing to be part of an “all-new” Lindisfarne. (It didn’t last long, he disbanded the group again in 1975)

“Pipedream” is an album chock-full of lovely gentle little songs all featuring Hull’s pretty unique and pleasing vocal style. Personally, I don’t think there is a bad tune on it and I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who likes singer/songwriters. I think my favourites are “I Hate to See you Cry“, “Justanothersadsong”, “Country Gentleman’s Wife” and the opener, “Breakfast”

Hull died suddenly at the age of just 50 – of a heart thrombosis – in 1995. A real loss to the musical firmament.

Funnily enough, as much I like this album I have never even been vaguely tempted to investigate his other solo work. Perhaps it’s about time I did?

Yes – The Yes Album
Although “Fragile” will always remain my favourite Yes album, I’ll admit that (and despite the whole ELP vs Yes rivalry that existed back then) I have also frequently dabbled in their others… “The Yes Album” being a case in point.

For a start it kicks off with “Yours Is No Disgrace“, perhaps one of the best prog-rock album openings of all time. I love the way the Hammond slips in round the back of the drum and guitar intro… it almost gives me goosebumps.

Then there’s the almost hillbilly-esque Steve Howe guitar solo “Clap“, and I suppose “Starship Trooper” can’t be considered too shabby can it?.. even if I personally feel it’s a little too rambling for its own good.

Side Two offers the earworm of “I’ve Seen All Good People” and… well, precious little else as far as I am concerned.  (I’m sure there will be die-hard Yes fans who will disagree with me.)

I’ve never actually owned “The Yes Album” on any format (other than the recording I made in 1974… that counts, right?) although when my wife and I merged our transatlantic CD collections I was happy to see it amongst hers and duly ripped the songs mentioned above across to my i-tunes

Bryan Ferry – These Foolish Things
If we ever wanted to know what kind of singing route Bryan Ferry – and thus Roxy Music – would eventually take, we only have to listen to this 1973 solo album of ‘classic standards’ crooned by the man himself.

It’s as eclectic a choice as it is good. There are certain songs that I heard for the very first time when Ferry sang them (“It’s my Party“, “Don’t Ever Change”, “Loving You is Sweeter than Ever” & “River of Salt”) whilst there are others (“Sympathy for the Devil“, “Don’t Worry Baby” & “Piece of my Heart“) which I actually prefer over the originals!

His cover of Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” was and remains peculiar, whilst the magnificently crooned title track, “These Foolish Things“, cemented Ferry’s by-then reputation as a “lounge lizard”

What’s amazing about this album is that the concept – covering old standards – is as succesful today as it was in 1974. Hell, Rod Stewart’s entire post 1999 career has been founded on doing just that with, and I hope Rod won’t mind saying this, pretty lacklustre results.

Do I still like this album? Yes I do. My caveat is that I think Ferry honed the idea to perfection with the second set of solo covers, “Another Time, Another Place” a year later… an album which I am sure will turn up amongst these diary pages in due course.

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(1974 Album) Yes – Tales from Topographic Oceans

We move from one the finest ever rock operas in “Quadrophenia” to one of the dodgiest concept albums in existence. However, as dodgy as the concept of “Tales from Topographic Oceans” undoubtedly is (based on no more than a footnote from ancient Shastric scriptures) it remains – somewhat bizarrely – my favourite ever Yes album.

I’ll be honest and say that my attraction to this album was enhanced by the terrific cover art by Roger Dean. Although he had been working with the band for some time and had produced other beautiful covers for them, “…Topographic..” was the first time I REALLY noticed his artistic skills.

Skills which I openly admit I tried to emulate. Skills and ideas which – at least from the previews I have seen – James Cameron appears to be ripping off wholesale for the general appearance of vistas in his new movie “Avatar

The album itself is a four-part opus split over two slabs of vinyl. The four cuts are as eccentrically named as the album itself…

“The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn)” (Part One / Part Two)
“The Remembering (High the Memory)” (Part One / Part Two)
“The Ancient (Giants under the Sun)” (Part One / Part Two)
“Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil)” (Part One / Part Two)

… and none can be strictly described as ‘songs’. They’re more like noodly compositions that go off an a million-and-one flights of fancy. They were all written by singer Jon Anderson and guitarist Steve Howe and it has often been suggested that the only reason fellow band members Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman and Alan White are credited is because they complained so loudly about their lack of involvement in the process.

It’s certainly not an album for everyone. I remember one of the best reviews of it (and there were lots of negative vibes about it in the music press at the time) said something along the lines of it having ‘no warmth’ and that’s about the best way I can describe it too.

You can’t sing along to it, you can’t dance to it and about the best you can do is mime along to the finger cymbals that make an appearance from time to time. If truth be told I can’t really explain why I like it, but I do. It and “Fragile” are the only two Yes albums I have listened to and stuck with over the years… so it must have something going for it?

It feels haphazard, several pieces sounding as if they’re just made up on the spot, almost freeform. Undermining this though are Anderson’s later public remarks about the recording, saying it was done with meticulous precision. Rick Wakeman has subsequently been VERY critical about it, saying that for much of the time they spent in the studio supposedly laying down tracks he was in a room next door drinking and playing darts. (He left the band following the “Tales from…” tour)

Despite gaining an unfair reputation that this album represented all that was excessive and bad about Prog Rock, it shot to Number 1 on the UK album chart and spent over six months on the American album chart, topping out there at Number 6.

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