B-Side Beauty


Petite, beauty-spotted singer-songwriter Lynsey de Paul originally wrote this song for the vocal trio Thunder Thighs who were famous for their backing vocals on “Walk On The Wild Side” and “Roll Away The Stone.” It was only a small hit for them in 1974, but the same year Lynsey put out her own version on the flipside of her theme song for the TV sitcom No Honestly which made the Top Ten.

She shouldn’t have hidden it away like that because this is a terrific record. Not only is it miles better than the a-side, it’s better than Thunder Thighs’ version too: sophisticated, glittery pop you can imagine Sarah Cracknell singing. Despite its shiny surface the song itself is a strange, dark affair about a policewoman shooting a stranger in Central Park at night. Shame Lynsey didn’t do more idiosyncratic songs like this and fewer themes for naff sitcoms — and made them a-sides.

Download: Central Park Arrest – Lynsey de Paul (mp3)

Something for the Weekend



Love this. A great Supersonic intro and one of the most sublime singles of the 70s.

My Sister’s Records


Smokie (originally spelled “Smokey” until they were threatened with a lawsuit by a certain Motown legend) were a band from Bradford who had had been kicking around for years without any success before coming under the wing of the songwriting and production team of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman in the mid-70s. Though “Chinnichap” were famous for the Bubble-Glam hits they penned for Suzi Quatro, Mud, and The Sweet, they showed their versatility (and smarts) by not forcing the denim-clad Smokie into this mould and instead wrote some laid-back, country-rock songs for them that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on an American FM radio station.

There must have been a gap in the market for a Northern English version of The Eagles — grey Yorkshire houses on the album cover instead of California hotels — because they were very successful. Their second album Changing All The Time was a big seller in 1975 down to the presence of the Chinnichap hits “If You Think You Know How To Love Me” and “Don’t Play Your Rock & Roll To Me.” They also wrote the title track which is a really lovely song, hard to believe it’s by the same guys who wrote “Blockbuster” and “Tiger Feet”.

Because of those hits my sister got the album for Christmas 1975 as a present from our Gran. She was 14 at the time and up until then had only owned Bay City Rollers and Osmonds albums so this might have been her first non-“teenybopper” record. Two years later she was into The Clash, but I don’t think Smokie were directly responsible for that. These days she really likes The Eagles which you probably can blame them for.

Download: Changing All The Time – Smokie (mp3)
Download: Don’t Play Your Rock & Roll To Me – Smokie (mp3)

I’ve always loved the cover of this album, a nicely evocative bit of pre-Photoshop collage and hand-tinting.

Something for the Weekend



Another good thing Leo Sayer did was write this song. Think that’s about it though.

Something for the Weekend



Gilbert O’Sullivan did some naff things (like dressing in that outfit) but this is a beautiful song. I think Morrissey should cover it.

People still dress like that up North, right?

Something for the Weekend



One of the best things about the pop charts in the 1970s is that records like this which owe more to Jazz and Edith Piaf could become hits, as this did in 1977 when it got to #1. Most of the “novelty” hits that decade were terrible but this was classier than most and I still have a soft spot for it. Surprised to see them on Whistle Test though.

I had a little crush on their lead singer at the time and she does look rather sexy here.

Something for the Weekend



Take a break with some lovely music from Steeleye Span.

Maddy Prior looks like the mousey librarian who’s had a bit too much sherry at the staff Xmas party.

Something for the Weekend



This was one of my mum’s favourite records and I love it too. The audience in this clip don’t seem too bothered about it though, especially the bloke with the beard who seems more interested in drinking beer and having a fag.

What’s it all about?

The sentimental musings of an ageing expat in words, music, and pictures. Mp3 files are up for a limited time so drink them while they're hot. Contact me: lee at londonlee dot com

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