4 dusty gems from the 1970s

I don’t know about you, but one of the most rewarding ways of spending a few idle moments is a good old fussock around YouTube looking for musical gems.

Here’s a few that I’ve bookmarked recently…

10cc…they were always a bit too clever-clever for me, but I seem to have become a real fan of late. ‘Rubber Bullets’ is a great song – witty lyrics, an interesting chord structure and great ensemble playing. This is a live version with a nice jam at the end…note the changed lyrics…

 

Another fantastic 1970s band were Be Bop Deluxe, with the sublime guitar playing of Bill Nelson.  I used to play this tune in a band called ‘Spud and the Fabs’ – and sing it too…

 

The early to mid 1970s were great musically – it was still OK to be able to play your instrument well, as the Edgar Winter Group show in this 10 minute version of ‘Frankenstein’. It was OK to look as if you were actually enjoying yourself, too…

 

I’ve always had a soft spot for Mott, with Ian Hunter’s flawed yet consummate ability to live and breathe rock and the way that the band were so shambolic yet never quite fell apart.  Incidentally, Mrs Shark went to school with two of the band – Buffin and Overend Watts…and yes, he really does sing ‘cock in hole queen’, the rude little monkey…

 

My favourite albums – 41–50

Here’s the next 10…

#50 Warren Zevon – Sentimental Hygiene: Another hard choice as I like all of Warren’s albums without exception. This album features him with REM (minus Stipe) mostly, although Neil Young and Dylan guest. It’s a good cross section of his various styles with rockers, narrative songs and ballads all linked by his dissipated but still rather vulnerable sounding vocals. ‘Reconsider Me’ is a tender ballad whilst ‘Boom Boom Mancini’ is a typical Zevon ‘story’ song. You can’t really go wrong with anything he’s done. It’s just a shame that cancer got him so young.

#49 Oingo Boingo – Boingo: They meant absolutely nothing here in the UK but Danny Elfman’s band produced some stellar albums. This is my favourite with the 8 minute track ‘Insanity’ sounding like nothing ever made before or since. As one reviewer put it, “This is what happens when someone captures “Children of the Damned” and gives them Danny Elfman as choir director.” Highly recommended if you want something totally original. You won’t have heard anything quite like this band.

#48 Faith No More – The Real Thing: Funk metal with a touch of the surreal at times. Their first with the remarkable Mike Patton it also broke them in the UK with ‘Epic’ getting the airplay. Not a duff track on this but unfortunately it was their peak. After this it was downhill all the way with Patton going on to Mr Bungle who were none too shabby in their own right. One of those ‘albums you should own’ and rightly so. It’s what the RHCP wished they sounded like and could if they were a bit more adventurous.

#47 Secret Chiefs 3 – The Book of Horizons: Led by Trey Spruance – ex-Mr Bungle and see the entry right above this one – SC3 are totally uncategorisable, covering surf rock, Persian, Arab, Indian, death metal and electronic music. Eclectic’s the term we need here and it’s one of those albums you need to hear because it’s truly indescribable. You’ll probably hate it!

#46 It Bites – Once Around the World: Prog which appeared at a bad time for prog in general but, by virtue of some snappy tunes, managed to break out fairly successfully. The highlight here, however, is the 14 minute plus title track with leader Francis Dunnery’s vocals and guitars to the fore. This is a long track which never seems long and maintains the listener’s interest throughout. The album also reveals what a great pop band they were, too, with ‘Kiss Like Judas’ being a particularly good example.

#45 Earth Wind and Fire – I Am: I have a soft spot for disco and this album combines that much-maligned genre with great compositions and fine musicianship. ‘Boogie Wonderland’ is my favourite disco track ever with its fantastic arrangement and beautiful chord changes. This is extremely well-crafted music which deserves to be remembered. For another side of the band, check out ‘Rock It!’ which features, I believe, Steve Lukather on very hot lead guitar.

#44 King Crimson – Red: The Crims’ last studio album of the 70s finds Fripp leading a trio of himself, drummer Bill Bruford and bassist/vocalist John Wetton. The title track is a bruising guitar grind with odd time sigs and ‘Providence’ might tell you in 8 minutes why I consider the King Crimson of 1973 and 74 to be the finest improvising rock band ever. ‘Starless’ – not to be confused with the earlier ‘Starless and Bible Black’ – is also prime Crimson.

#43 Mott the Hoople – Mott: Bless ‘im…Ian Hunter can’t sing, but he’s a fabulous vocalist and a great writer and he’s on top form here. Almost the original Mott – Verden Allen had left when this was recorded – the band that rocks out here never sounded so focused and Mick Ralphs really stands out on guitar. The tracks are very self-referential which is typical of Hunter in particular. Not a duff track on the album.

#42 Frank Zappa – Joe’s Garage: The album that turned me back onto Zappa and a fine example of Frank’s more song-orientated albums. The whole thing tells a bizarre story of a totalitarian society and one man’s rather pathetic struggle against it. There are times when there’s an undoubted poignant grandeur to the theme which shows that Frank wasn’t totally cynical. A delight from start to finish and a double disc set which never flags. Not suitable to play to your granny, by the way.

#41 Mountain – Nantucket Sleighride: The title track really should be heard in its 32 minute entirety on the live ‘Twin Peaks’ but my own rules preclude listing that album here. However, even in its original 6 minute version it impresses with driving organ, beautifully gutsy guitar from Leslie West and Felix Pappalardi on vox and bass. The song also tells a story and a quick google will fill you in on it. Not a perfect album, but the title track is just too good to be ignored here!