Tag Archives: The Small Faces

(1974 Albums) Various Artists – The House That Track Built

I believe I bought this Track Records budget compilation from Woolworths’ music department in Eastleigh.

In terms of a budget compilation it certainly had a LOT going for it. Here’s the track listing….
• The Who – Magic Bus
• Jimi Hendrix Experience – All along the Watchtower
• The Sandpebbles – Love Power
• The Who – Young Man Blues
• The Precisions – If this is Love
• Thunderclap Newman – Wilhemina
• John’s Children – Desdemona
• The Crazy World of Arthur Brown – Fire
• Jimi Hendrix Experience – Purple Haze
• The Parliaments – (I Wanna) Testify
• Fairport Convention – If I had a Ribbon Bow
• The Crazy World of Arthur Brown – Devil’s Grip
• The Who – A Quick One While He’s Away

Track Records was a label set up by The Who’s managers, Chris Stamp &  Kit Lambert, so it’s no wonder that their boys get the lion’s share of cuts, and “Magic Bus” has always been one of my favourite Townshend & Co cuts (outside of the “Quadrophenia” album… more about that in a later post).

For the unaware, John’s Children was an early incarnation of T.Rex’s Marc Bolan. The cut here, “Desdemona“, was actually banned by the BBC when it came out, the lyric “Lift up your skirt and fly” evidently corrupting the youth of Britain. There’s really no doubting Bolan’s distinctive warble in the background is there?

Fire” is, as this blog has mentioned before, a psychedelic prog rock classic of the very highest order. We tip our (probably flaming) hat to Arthur Brown for that one!

The Sandpebbles “Love Power” was their one and only R&B hit (at least, in the USA), whilst The Precisions – another R&B offering by Track – were probably the only Motown-sounding band from Detroit who weren’t actually signed to Motown!

Let’s face it, Fairport Convention are never worth talking about. 

The Parliaments - that's George Clinton on the right!

However, The Parliaments are hugely notable for being the precursor to Funkadelic & Parliament, all featuring the one and only P-funkmeister; Mr George Clinton. (Many of The Parliaments songs were later re-recorded by both bands after a label dispute was settled in the early 70’s)

Thunderclap Newman had one hit single during their brief career, the sublime “Something in the Air“. Newman himself was a Dixieland jazz pianist, whilst the band featured not only an uncredited Pete Townshend on guitar, but a 15-year-old axe virtuoso, Jimmy McCullogh, who later went on to play in Stone the Crows, Paul McCartney’s Wings and an ill-advised 1977 reformation of The Small Faces. (McCullogh died of a heroin overdose in 1979, aged just 26)

You do have to say though that for the Hendrix and Who tracks alone this album was worth every penny of its entrance fee. Surprisingly, it wasn’t an album I held on to… which in retrospect is one hell of a shame as original UK copies regularly fetch three figure sums on the likes of eBay. (Mainly because it’s the only album where that studio version of The Who’s “Young Man Blues” appears)

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Just to let you know, EFA70sTRO posts will continue to appear a little sporadically for a week or so. This is due to the necessary ‘catch up’ following my battle with the flu. Once again, apologies to all the regular readers out there.

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Number One Singles of 1973 (Part 4)

[… “Number One Singles of 1973” continued from Part III]

October to December

David CassidyDaydreamer/The Puppy Song
Released as a Double A-side to (somewhat cynically I feel) extend its shelf life and radio play, this was teen idol Cassidy’s 6th UK hit.

It would prove to be his last Number 1 in Britain and spent three weeks atop the chart.

“Puppy Song” was written by Harry Nilsson. It was composed at Paul McCartney’s request in 1969. The Beatles’ new Apple Records’  label had just signed teenfolk sensation Mary Hopkin and Paul needed a song for her debut album “Postcard”. Presumably talk of dreams being nothing more than wishes and a dog that would never bite him fitted the bill?

Gary GlitterI Love You Love Me Love
This was Glitter’s second Number One of 1973 and another that appears ironic in light of the revelations surrounding his later lifestyle choices.

It was written by respected seventies songwriter – and Glitter’s producer – Mike Leander, who had already worked with such pop luminaries as Billy Fury, Van Morrison, The Small Faces and Marianne Faithfull,  The Drifters and Ben E King.

Trivia nuts may care to know that in addition to four Top 10 hits by Gary Glitter, Mike Leander also wrote “Privilege (Set Me Free)”, the Patti Smith Group’s follow-up single to “Because the Night”

Slade – Merry Xmas Everybody
They say that cream always rises to the top. The end of 1973 saw Slade nab the Christmas Number One with a song that sounds as fresh today as it did back then.

OK, so I have to declare early – and extreme – bias in these words of mine. For me “Merry Christmas Everybody” is THE ultimate Christmas song. I love it so very VERY dearly. Yes, I have a fondness for Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime“, Wham’s “Last Christmas“, Bing’s “White Christmas” and I’ll even hum along to Wizzard’s “I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day“, but Slade’s “Merry Christmas Everybody” is the one which, without, Christmas is dead to me.

Case in point…. several winters ago my wife and I spent a relentlessly-marvellous time in my (other) “old home town” of Copenhagen in Denmark. Although we had coped quite nicely for food most of the time we had been there, we found ourselves a little short on choice come Christmas Day itself. We discovered that the Hard Rock Café – situated on the outskirts of the Tivoli Gardens – was open most of the day. So, that’s where we went. We ate like kings, celebrated with several imbibements, wore paper hats and listened to the groovy seasonal music coming over the speakers.

After an hour or so, I became depressed. We’d heard all the ‘likelys’ in terms of Christmas songs – the Elvis numbers, the endless “Sleigh Rides” and “Frosty the Snowmen”s and the fact that, yes, Santa Claus IS bloody well coming to town. I’d even endured the damned Pogues and that turgid John Lennon song. Can you guess what we hadn’t heard?

I remarked to my totally understanding and sympathetic wife that we hadn’t heard Slade’s classic. She patted my hand in a way that only wives sarcastically can and told me she was sorry.

I continued to complain. Outwardly I was being jokey about it all, inside I felt empty as could be. (Only emotionally you understand, I think a man can only eat so many multi-topped Hard Rock burgers washed down with Danish lager?)

It came time to leave. Still no Slade. I went to the till and paid. Still no Slade. Then, in what still seems like one of the most magical moments of my life, just as we were putting our coats back on to protect us from the Copenhagen snow outside “Merry Christmas Everybody” came over the PA system.

I stood, in my coat, hat and scarf, in the middle of the Hard Rock Café and just listened. I’ll even admit to shedding a tear. My Christmas with the wife in my favourite country in the whole wide world had just turned “perfect”.

Now of course, and to my wife’s utter chagrin, whenever Christmas morning unveils itself I tend to play “Merry Christmas Everybody” over and over again on what must feel to her like an endless loop.

I never, ever, tire of hearing it. Even if it shuffles up on my iPod on the hottest day of summer I will never skip it, Noddy Holder’s screeched “It’s Chriiiiiiiiiiiiiiistmaaaaaaaaaaaaaas!!!” as satisfying now as it was 36 years ago.

Holder admits he wrote the song to deliberately be joyful and as complete contrast to what the UK was going through in 1973. There were power cuts, the 3-day working week was about to be introduced and much of the population was depressed as it could be. He took a melody he had originally written 6 years earlier, kicked the rhythm up a bit, changed a few lyrics about with the aid of band member Jim Lea and tried to intentionally make it a ‘working class Christmas anthem’ – which is what it undoubtedly became.

It was released on December 7th. By December 15th it had already sold a million copies, and was the surefire Number One, a position it held far into 1974. It stayed in the Top 30 until the end of February, an almost unheard of result for a seasonal single.

As if to further highlight its never-ending appeal in the UK it has been reissued almost every year since 1973 and has reached the Top 40 no less than FIVE further times; 1981, 1983, 2006, 2007 and 2008. I have no doubt it will be there or thereabouts again in just a few months time.

I often say that I would LOVE to be Noddy Holder at “quarterly residuals” time in March every year.

However, I’d settle for shaking his hand and saying “Thank You”

Are you hanging up a stocking on your wall?
It’s the time that every Santa has a ball
Does he ride a red-nosed reindeer?
Does a ‘ton up’ on his sleigh
Do the fairies keep him sober for a day?

So here it is merry Christmas
Everybody’s having fun
Look to the future now
It’s only just begun

Are you waiting for the family to arrive?
Are you sure you got the room to spare inside?
Does your granny always tell ya that the old songs are the best?
Then she’s up and rock ‘n’ rollin’ with the rest

So here it is merry Christmas
Everybody’s having fun
Look to the future now
It’s only just begun

What will your daddy do
When he sees your Mama kissin’ Santa Claus?
Ah ah
Are you hanging up a stocking on your wall?
Are you hoping that the snow will start to fall?
Do you ride on down the hillside in a buggy you have made?
When you land upon your head then you’ve been slayed

So here it is merry Christmas
Everybody’s having fun
Look to the future now
It’s only just begun…..

(© 1973 N.Holder/J.Lea)

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