A couple of years ago folks were having such a good time posting their Seven Songs in Seven Days on social media that I wanted to join in with the nostalgia of it all. For that is what it is, a trip down memory lane and by the end of the journey one has arrived at their destination; the result of all the coins in jukeboxes, the hours of late-night-transistor-radio-under-the-pillow-listening and going through your sibling’s records to settle on one’s own chosen music.
If you click on the links beneath each entry it will take you to my original Facebook posts and a video for each of the songs.
“Thunderbirds Are GO!” by Cliff Richard and The Shadows 1966:
I was besotted with Thunderbirds as a boy (there were no strings, just the suspension of my disbelief!), leaving my fellow football-playing friends (win, lose or draw) at the same time every Friday evening to rush home to watch International Rescue’s adventures on TV. On my eighth birthday I received my first vinyl record in the form of this 7” single. Having already seen the film, I immediately related to the picture sleeve and was thrilled… but it was not the original Barry Gray orchestral version that I always listened out for on a Saturday morning radio request show through my transistor radio beneath my pillow. “Puff the Magic Dragon” was another favourite.
But this early exposure to the instruments of a pop group spawned my later interest in popular music. It may also have influenced my taste for instrumental compositions. However, in the next couple of years my listening was eclectic, taking in anything from Holst’s Planets Suite, The Black Dyke Mills Band, the soundtracks to Born Free, Grand Prix and Dr Zhivago and Simon and Garfunkel. My purchase of the latter, though, was in error, having not realised that it was a “Strings for Pleasure Play…” release.
So here, for your delectation, is my rough–around-the-edges video to accompany Cliff and his mates.
“Back Home” by The England World Cup Squad 1970:
This was the first 7” vinyl record I purchased and with my own pocket money. I had started to take a real interest in football following our return to the UK in 1967 after a little over two years in Singapore. Settling back in Edinburgh there were two options open to me; Heart of (Mid)lothian or Hibernian, Tynecastle Park or (Easter) Road. There’s an early nod to the progressive rock that would provide my future musical milestones right there with two Marillion references…
I opted for Hearts and have worn mine on my sleeve ever since. I only saw the Jam Tarts play at home a handful of times but watched Scotsport with Arthur Montford and Sportscene with Archie McPherson to get my weekly fix of Donald Ford, Jim Cruickshank, Allan Anderson, the exotic René Møller et al. Watching with dad one Saturday night he lamented the poor coverage of action from south of the border. This prompted me to ask him whom he had supported as a lad. Leeds United was the response. I counted four Leeds players in the England Squad heading Mexico way. They must be quite good, I thought and I continue to follow The Peacocks through thick and thin to this day…
I only saw Leeds United play once on August 4th, 1971 when they travelled north to play Morton at Cappielow Park in a testimonial match for former Leeds great Bobby Collins. In Edinburgh it was fair stoatin’ doon (it was raining) and on my dad’s return from work he said that we would not be going. I may have had a tantrum. The next thing I knew, we were on a train and as we approached Morton’s ground, out came the sun. Leeds brought a full strength team and I witnessed my hero Allan “Sniffer” Clarke score the last Leeds goal in its 1-4 win. I understand it was a spiteful game but the only incident I recall with any clarity was when Clarke was fouled and a very concerned Les Cocker and Don Revie raced on to the pitch to check on his welfare.
But to the music – a brass section, a cracking snare drum, quality harmonies, Gelderd End-like clap-alongs and crowd noise, all a full seven years before Genesis released “Match of the Day” – and the nostalgia. What’s not to like? Check out the B-side “Cinnamon Stick”, too.
“It’s Too Late” by Carole King 1971:
I went to the pictures to see Puppet on a Chain, Alistair McLean being my favourite novelist at the time. I loved the book, I loved the film and for some strange reason I cannot watch the film without thinking of this Carole King song, “It’s Too Late”. Similarly, I hear the song and I see the boat chase through the canals of Amsterdam or the scene with amplified clock-ticking and chimes. Both were released in 1971 so it’s clear I was either reading and listening or watching and listening. And daydreaming…
Female singers have never really featured in my record collection other than the inimitable Ms. Bush (oh, and Karen Carpenter. And Toni Basil is represented because I liked “Mickey” and a good while later, The Poozies) but Carole’s voice was sublime and honest and real. A little known fact, she was actually breaking up with me; this lanky introvert was not confident around girls, yet here I was breaking up with an international superstar. The short guitar solo that segues in to a shorter sax solo and Carole’s by turns pounding and tinkling ivories, the fondant icing holding the whole three minute and fifty-four second bittersweet confection together.
“Daniel” by Elton John 1973:
A couple of years later progressive rock again tried to gain custody of my ears. I was in Bill’s Olympia Café, Penicuik (Google it – The Hill of The Cuckoo and The Paper Making Town) where an older friend used to hang out. Unusually, I was there with him one day. My clothing and my hair parting were sufficient for him to want to disown me as a friend. I drank a lime spider. He got up to select a song in the jukebox and returned asking me if I had heard this really weird song about a guy who thought he was a lawnmower. I had not, because I did not yet know that I liked what was in that particular wardrobe.
However, I had started to enjoy a bit of the ubiquitous glam rock. Top of the Pops provided the usual weekly line –up of suspects – The Sweet, Mud, Gary Glitter, T-Rex and the rest but it was Elton John that attracted my interest. I simply loved the melody of Daniel and at the time knew nothing of Taupin’s inspiration for the lyric. It was just a sweet song and in time it would lead me to “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and the revelation that was/is “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding”. It was prog but I still didn’t know it. They were a writing team blessed to have found one another. Another revelation – I preferred higher quality and longer form composition and more meaningful lyrics than “Tiger Feet” or “I’m the Leader of the Gang (I am)” provided.
“Goodbye to Love” by The Carpenters 1972:
Let’s get this straight – I liked this song and several others by The Carpenters at the time “The Singles 1969-1973” was released. I am not one of those cool folks who, thirty-odd years later, cite Richard and Karen as inspirational influences. Everyone knows that Karen was blessed with the voice of an angel. And as for that guitar solo! I admit to having been slow on the uptake. I recall vividly listening to Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile” with a friend and really loving the opening minute before the song really kicked in. I probably ruined his copy of the single by repeatedly raising and lowering the needle to hear just those first sixty seconds or so. To my ears, The Carpenters won that duel despite being played on a Dansette-type portable player.
Elton John beat Cream; Mike Oldfield, when the time came, single-handedly routed Led Zeppelin; Tangerine Dream similarly defeated Black Sabbath and Deep Purple wilted under the onslaught that was Genesis – all of this was due to happen in the ensuing three years. But at this point in time, that heavenly voice, that great guitar solo and those wonderful closing vocal harmonies together with the guitar reprise meant the world to me…
“Tubular Bells” by Mike Oldfield 1973:
Now I’m starting to find my preferred music despite the word “progressive” not having yet been uttered. This was the release that switched on my ears and gave my imagination free reign. Had Mike’s debut solo been released while I still lived in Penicuik or, as it was, after my family had moved 200 miles further north to Fochabers, is of no consequence. Both townships offered rural settings and pursuits perfectly in harmony with the composition. This was to continue with Hergest Ridge and Ommadawn.
TB was like nothing I had heard before and it was the first recording I heard in stereo. Neighbours had gone on holiday and left their home under our watchful eyes. They had a stereo system. Each night I went to check the house. Each night that strange album cover with waves breaking on a shore littered with bones and fur or feathers was tucked under my arm. The cover images in my head evoked the Piltdown Man and feelings of loneliness, fear and an inability to communicate effectively to convey emotions.
It pretty much summed me up at age fifteen.
A friend, Val, cut out little photos of Mike from the music press, as I did not know what he looked like. He looked like the archetypal rock musician. I still have those little photos stapled to a Scottish Arts Council With Compliments slip…
I loved the album from start to finish, the loud parts and the soft, the stately and the ludicrous, the violent and the romantic. I have the original on vinyl, the orchestral, the remixed Boxed, the picture disc, several live, TB2, and surround sound versions.
It was one of my all time favourite records as it struck a chord and set me on a course for Planet Prog. It reminds me of sun through trees; water coursing over rocks, birdsong and the smell of grass and earth. I have no sense of unease as I have never watched The Exorcist.
Thank you, Mike.
Ripples by Genesis 1976:
Mission accomplished – watching The Old Grey Whistle Test one evening I see a video of Genesis performing Ripples. In one neat package I hear and see all that I had been searching for in the preceding three years encapsulated in one song, by one band. The intertwining twelve string guitars, a lovely voice, enigmatic lyric, a lengthy instrumental section and a rousing, emotional chorus. Even the way the studio lights played on Phil’s hair and beard… (I’m a red-blooded male and the book said I could not fail).
My dear mum went on a day trip to Aberdeen not long after I heard this song and I asked her to find a record shop and, not having heard the title of the song, ask for this latest release called “Sail Away”. She returned with an album called A Trick of the Tail and, on looking at the track listing, I believed she had bought the wrong album. It was only after I had searched through the lyrics and come upon the words “Sail away, away, ripples never come back…” that I knew my mum had struck gold on my behalf.
I played and played and played this treasure trove of songs endlessly, intrigued by the lyrics and the characters of the songs depicted on the cover. I wished I could sing like Phil. I started to grow a beard. Eventually I became curious about their earlier recordings, knowing nothing about Peter having so recently left the band. I bought a copy of Foxtrot. I didn’t get it, thought the keyboard, bass and drums call-and-answer section of Watcher of the Skies was awful. Genesis Live was next and my admiration for this music grew keener…
Genesis, with or without Peter Gabriel, with or without Steve Hackett (but perhaps not without Phil Collins) – my all-time favourite band.
Mum, this one’s for you x
One thought on “Seven Songs in Seven Days…”
Harry, love your choices, although being a wee bit older I agree! Elton John; One night in the Ship Inn, Musselburgh while playing pool I had put on ‘Crocodile Rock’ and ‘Saturday Night’ pretty continuously for a bout an hour when the manager, Danny Ferguson, used to play for ‘Hearts! Hearts! Glorious Hearts’!! Sorry about that!! Came through and switched off the Juke Box saying he was fed up listening to that rubbish!!! The rest, well I think I liked them all at one time, Well Done!
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