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.
I love the Small Faces but I’d forgotten that they reformed for a few years in the 1970s. The quality of this video is pretty bad but it’s still well worth watching. Steve Marriott is in fine voice and is such a cool dude he even looks good with that hair and mustache.
This is an old photo that belonged to my Dad of him working with the great Beryl Reid. I had to do some internet detective work to find out when it was taken, and best I can tell it’s from rehearsals of either the Italian comedy Il Campiello or Edward Albee’s Counting The Ways, both of which she starred in at the National Theatre in 1976 where my old man was a Stage Manager. I’ve a feeling it’s the latter.
As you can see she’s written something on the photo but, like the note my Dad got from John Osborne, it was hard to decipher what it was. So I did some Photoshop jiggery-pokery on the blue pen and figured out that it says “To John, I’m not the tallest partner but you’re lovely – Beryl Reid” which I assume has something to do with the rehearsals. But who knows, apparently Beryl was quite the saucy old bird.
Of course none of this would be a mystery if I’d asked him about it when he was alive, but he never told me any stories about Beryl either so I’ve nothing there I’m afraid.
I had a hard time thinking of a song to go with this post so here’s a track from a favourite album of my Dad’s that came out the year before the photo was taken. I don’t hate The Eagles anymore — don’t love them either — but this is rather nice Country-Rock.
Though this made the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic in 1970 I still think it’s something of an unknown gem. Written and produced by Smokey Robinson and Frank Wilson, it’s more laid back than The Tops’ usual shouty passion and is utterly gorgeous.