I’ve posted some great live clips here over the years and this is one of the best. This is from the 1985 American Music Awards and I think that’s The Revolution playing with her but I’m not 100% sure.
I’ve written before about my mother liking Rod Stewart but sadly preferring his later 1970s output when he seemed to have left his talent and taste in another pair of trousers. Because of that she owned a lot of rubbish by him — I bought her his Blondes Have More Fun album for Xmas in 1978 — but “Farewell” is a terrific single from 1974 when he was right on the cusp of losing it and my favorite of the ones she had. Though it was a Top 10 hit it’s one of his lesser-known ones and doesn’t crop up on compilations which is a shame as I think it’s a great record.
This was from his poorly-received Smiler album which was the last one he made before jetting off to live in Los Angeles tax exile with Britt Ekland. I don’t know if that was on his mind when he wrote a song about leaving home for glamourous foreign cities but, not only is the subject matter somewhat on the nose, it’s also one of his last records to have the mandolin-driven, Celtic sound that made his previous ones so distinctive and brilliant. So it sounds like he’s saying goodbye to the old Rod in more ways than one. It was a long way down from here.
Download: Farewell – Rod Stewart (mp3)
If Sunday was the worst time for television, the best was probably Thursday night because that was when Top of The Pops was on. At 7:20pm the nation’s youth gathered excitedly in front of the set to watch their pop heroes while their parents made snarky comments about them like “Is that a boy or girl?” It was the one show we all watched and talked about at school the next morning.
If you’re roughly the same age as me this record will bring those nights back like a Proustian biscuit because it was the TOTP theme music from 1970 to 1977 and probably still the one most associated with the show.
CCS (short for Collective Consciousness Society — heavy, man) were a group of session musicians led by Alexis Korner and produced by Mickie Most. I’m probably not the only one who knew their instrumental version of “Whole Lotta Love” for years before I ever heard the original.
It may anger the Rock Gods to say it, but I prefer this to the Led Zeppelin version. Having a flute instead of Robert Plant’s tight-trousered moaning helps it be less of a thrusting Cock Rock record. With that riff it can’t help but sound sexy, but with the brass and Hammond organ it sounds more go-go groovy and designed for Pan’s People to shake their hips to while wearing silver hot pants.
Being a child of the Punk years I’m dubious about the idea that rock singers are poets, much less seers and gurus which the Hippies seemed to think about anyone who could string a sentence together. So I can’t tell you if Dylan “deserved” to win the Nobel Prize for Literature or not, but I do know that this is fucking rocking.
Next year’s lifetime achievement Grammy should go to Philip Roth.
It rained all day here this past Sunday which is hasn’t done in a long time. There’s something about weather like that which makes you want to hunker down at home and do bugger all, which is pretty much what I did. It reminded me of the rainy weekends of my childhood (of which there were plenty in England) when you were stuck at home and almost crushed by boredom. The difference this time was that being an adult with a job and responsibilities I was more than happy to be doing nothing.
Having a black and white television with only three channels now seems like deprivation on a par with having an outside toilet, but our suffering was compounded by the lack of much to actually watch on Sundays either. This Radio Times listing for what was probably a wet Sunday in March 1972 is fairly typical for the nanny-like BBC at the time: Asian and Welsh news, programs about learning German and Tennis, a look at Swedish schools, and bloody Farming. (ITV wasn’t much better either). If that wasn’t bad enough, in the early evening we had the Government-mandated “God slot” when both channels showed religious programs and probably turned the whole country off God as a result.
Sometimes the BBC would show a decent old movie in the afternoon — Brief Encounter was one which I still think of as a “rainy Sunday” film — but mostly the day was a Dead Zone and I ended up exiled to my bedroom listening to the radio, reading comics, and drawing. When I got bored with doing that I just stared blankly out of the window at the gloomy sky, the lack of stimulation sending me into an almost dream-like state.
There was no point in braving the elements and going out either because everything was closed on a Sunday and, until the influx of Asian immigrants who took over the businesses in the mid-70s, this included local corner shops too. They’d open in the morning so you could get your Sunday paper but close at 12, so you were literally shit out of luck if you ran out of milk or bread. This might seem like a major inconvenience now, but I am a little nostalgic for Sunday closing because it was society stopping the wheels of capitalism for just one day and saying that commerce wasn’t the most important thing. That’s Communist talk now.
Having nothing to do has gone the way of the dinosaur now and there is stimulation at-hand anytime. When my kids say they’re bored I try to convince them that it’s good for the soul because it forces you to look inside yourself for inspiration and entertainment. But they just look at me like I’m crazy.
Download: The Day It Rained Forever – Nick Heyward (mp3)
I’m getting really fed up of writing obituary posts. The latest sad addition to the death toll of 2016 is former Faith Brothers lead singer Billy Franks.
The Faith Brothers made soulful and political pop-rock that owed something to late-period Jam with a pinch of Springsteen. But despite releasing some excellent records between 1985-87 they weren’t successful and the band broke up after two albums.
They meant more to me because they came from my manor of Fulham and Billy was something of a local hero because of his commitment to the area, playing benefits to raise money for people and causes, and generally being a top bloke. He was also loved for writing a song about the council estate Fulham Court which he lived on as did people that I knew. It was the b-side of their second single and is a beautiful song about a place that had a bad reputation but was the sort of working-class community that has been destroyed in London by the Tories. If Bruce Springsteen ever wrote a song about a council estate it would sound like this.
Download: Fulham Court – The Faith Brothers (mp3)
Sadly the news of his death has only been noted so far by the local West London press which is a real shame.
Another great Rod Temperton song and the title track of Heatwave’s excellent debut album which is well worth a few bob of anyone’s money. Those boys got some moves.
And, from the same album, here’s one for the ladies…
Music can come from the most unlikely places. Take that gawky-looking white guy on the far left who looks like he should be selling dodgy used cars. That’s the great Rod Temperton who died of cancer last week and wrote some of the best dance records ever made.
Temperton grew up in the northern English seaside resort of Cleethorpes which is hardly ranked with Memphis or Detroit as a breeding ground of great black music, but as a member of the Anglo-American band Heatwave he was responsible for such classics as “Boogie Nights”, “Always and Forever”, “The Groove Line”, and “Gangsters Of The Groove” which would be almost enough for anyone to earn a place in the songwriters Hall of Fame. But he also wrote songs for other artists which included Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” and “Off The Wall”, The Brothers Johnson’s “Stomp”, and George Benson’s “Give Me The Night” among many, many, many others. The list is quite ridiculous.
I imagine nearly everyone reading this blog knows who Temperton is, but he always kept a low profile and the average punter wouldn’t know his name from Adam. But you can bet if you’re a certain age you know all the words to several of his songs and he provided the soundtrack to your Saturday nights. For that he will always be remembered and loved.
Download: The Groove Line (12″ version) – Heatwave (mp3)