It’s a Battle of the Bands between Hawkwind and The James Last Orchestra.
Psychedelic Prog-Metal is hardly my cup of tea but London-based Purson sweeten their long-haired riffing with some solid tunes and have a hell of a lead singer in Rosie Cunningham. They would make the ideal soundtrack for an old Hammer film involving witchcraft and virgins being sacrificed on pentangles.
Is this going to be the next big thing? Time to break out the velvet flares and Dennis Wheatley novels.
My old man was quite the cool dude in his youth, wearing sharp suits and listening to Frank Sinatra, Dave Brubeck, and the Modern Jazz Quartet. But just as his marriage didn’t survive the social and cultural upheaval of the 1960s, his old taste in music didn’t either, by the 1970s he’d dropped all that square stuff and was listening to adult-oriented soft rock like James Taylor, Paul Simon, and The Eagles. He’d also grown a beard and wore his hair longer so he looked like a mellow Californian soft-rocker too.
As an opinionated young man into The Jam and Joy Division I was very disdainful of the “hippie rubbish” my Dad liked and knew that the older stuff he liked was far cooler. He used to have a party at his house every summer and at one of them I put his old Getz/Gilberto album on the stereo only to come back into the room a little while later to find that he’d taken it off and put on Hotel California instead. I was appalled and tried to explain to him just how naff he was being but I suppose it’s the job of your parents to embarrass you.
The record that reminds me most of my old man is Steve Winwood’s 1980 album Arc of a Diver which he played all the time, especially the opening track “While You See a Chance” which would set him off grooving around his living room in a very Dad-like way (I dance like that myself now). That synth intro always washes over me like a Proustian wave bringing back memories of parties at his house in my 20s, thinking I was very grown-up drinking Scotch and Ginger Ale, talking about movies with my Dad, and smoking joints with my Uncle Peter.
I can’t say I loved the album at the time but I didn’t leave the room muttering snottily when he put it on either because Winwood had one of the best white-soul voices the UK has ever produced and the synths on it made it sound fairly modern. The title track is very good too in a jazzy-soul way with lyrics by the great English eccentric Viv Stanshall.
My Dad was in his 40s around this time which is younger than I am now, and I must admit that I do enjoy the occasional Paul Simon or Fleetwood Mac record myself these days, a lot more than I ever play Joy Division. I still think Stan Getz is cooler than The Eagles though.
When I was kid I thought these two were shagging as I’d twigged that was what the song was sort of about. Maybe they were.
No way would you get away with the line “Mix with yellow Chinky” now, but back then it was all groovy, man.
What a beautiful, beautiful song this is. An extra ration of Grog for the Procol Harum boys.
Would you believe that Rumours came out a whopping 35 years ago? Of course you would, that’s what this blog is all about: reminding you (and me) that we’re all getting very, very old.
Video quality isn’t that brilliant but this is a terrific performance and Stevie Nicks looks fab. Play loud, if your geriatric ears can take it.
I didn’t deliberately set out to write a long post about Fleetwood Mac that didn’t mention Stevie Nicks it just turned out that way. This was probably a little remiss of me as she was obviously the most visible member of the group by virtue of being the prettiest one and having the most distinctive voice, but she also had this Mystic Meg persona that made me think she’d sniffed way too much incense so I was never quite sure what I thought about her. Like Kate Bush you wouldn’t mind her being your girlfriend for a while but you’d soon get tired of spending all your time sitting in dark rooms reading tarot cards.
I have always loved this song though and she really belts it out in this clip. Love her Farah Fawcett hairdo too.
The biggest-selling album in 1977 was Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours which shifted so many copies (40 million!) it went way beyond being merely a successful record into the stratosphere inhabited by cultural juggernauts like Saturday Night Fever and Thriller — before those two came along it was the best-selling album of all-time (it’s now the 8th). I bought a copy too even though I don’t remember particularly being a fan of the group or any of the singles from it (none of which even cracked the Top 20 in England) because I thought an album that had become such a monster was something I should buy as a 15-year-old with growing pretensions to being a “serious” music fan (though I still didn’t “get” punk.) I bought the mega-selling Dark Side of The Moon for the same reason — “you have to buy it!” a schoolfriend had said to me — but that turned out to be a dull snoozer of an album (God, what a bore Roger Waters is) that I only played a few times while Rumours was actually a decent record, though I’m still puzzled why it sold the cartloads it did — it’s good but not that good. I didn’t particularly care for their more folky, mandolin-y leanings but I did love the bright AM pop songs of Christine McVie who is still my favourite voice in the group.
Download: You Make Loving Fun (alternate outtake) – Fleetwood Mac (mp3)
Buy: “Rumours” (Expanded Edition)” (album)
Obviously there were other, more radical, things happening in 1977 and I imagine that a lot of people who didn’t buy Rumours bought the first Clash album instead and saw rich, long-haired soft-rockers like Fleetwood Mac as representatives of the rock ruling class who would be among the first up against the wall after the punk revolution. So by the time they followed it up over two years later (an eternity back then) the musical landscape had completely changed, supposedly making the group and their brand of sunny Californian AOR irrelevant, at least in England — I’d had my own musical epiphany too during that time and was now firmly on the side of the revolutionaries.
But surprisingly, the Tusk album didn’t sound like they had just spent the previous two years lounging by swimming pools and smugly counting their royalties but were actually very aware that there had been a musical earthquake while they’d been gone and were open to it. Instead of Rumours: Part Deux it was a sprawling, often “difficult” record full of banging primitive beats and nervy jerky rhythms that sounded like Lindsey Buckingham (in particular) been listening to a lot of Talking Heads and probably The Fall and Gang of Four too (I vaguely remember him name-checking them in interviews), it was startling to hear these laid-back hippies making a noise like this:
Download: The Ledge – Fleetwood Mac (mp3)
Download: What Makes You Think You’re The One – Fleetwood Mac (mp3)
Buy: “Tusk” (album)
Too startling for some people I guess as the album “only” sold four million copies (boo hoo), though the bizarre Tusk single was a bigger hit than anything off Rumours had been in England. It must have been a nightmare trying to follow up the biggest selling album ever so they decided to not even bother and do the “interesting” thing instead. So I ended up buying that album too but not because I felt any obligation to either, turns out these oldsters weren’t that bad after all and maybe didn’t deserve to get shot.