Should we be worried about the guy in the Jethro Tull t-shirt?

I seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time watching prog rock bands when I was a reviewer at Music Week. Jethro Tull, The Nice, King Crimson, Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer.

People stabbing Hammond Organs, men wearing long flowing dresses, drum solos that went on for days. You’d have to pay me to go.

Unfortunately, Music Week did pay me, so I went.

One review in particular got me into terrible trouble. I described Greenslade as “music to throw yourself off the balcony to”. The press officer at their record company had specifically leaned on me to see the band. But she hadn’t told me she was carrying on a torrid love affair with one of them.

She cried real tears when she read my review. I know she did, because she marched down to the Music Week offices and cried, right in front of me.

Her bosses weren’t best pleased either. Nor was her lover. Ah well.

The thing was, still is, I’m about songs, and prog was never about the songs. It was about young music students showing off their cleverness in tattered jeans and flowery scarves.

(A propos of nothing, Ian Anderson, flautist and singer of Tull, was reputed to wear his jeans 24 hours a day until they just fell off. That raises a lot of hygiene-related questions. Bathing? Sex? Toilet? Sleep? I do hope it was just a rumour.)

I did, though, discover something quite interesting during this period. The sheer volume of a band you’re not enjoying will put you to sleep. So that was handy.

There is no chance of going to sleep watching Wojtek Godzisz.

Who?

Oh, did I not say? I went to a gig recently.

I know! Still going out at my age.

It was local, and the pop star who lives in my house was performing. So no gold star for me.

There were three other acts on the bill and one of them was wearing a Jethro Tull t-shirt. My friend Alison pointed it out and said, “Do you think we should be worried about that?”

Unequivocally, with hindsight, the answer is a resounding, “No!”

The minute Wojtek Godzisz (I don’t know; probably as it reads?) opened his mouth I was hooked. Which is surprising. I was never much of a Tull fan. But then Wojtek Godzisz is not Jethro Tull.

At one point, as he held a glass-shattering note for about 20 seconds, Alison turned around and said, “That boy’s got no fillings”. And indeed you could – such is his full-bodied commitment to performance – see the entire inside of Wojtek’s mouth. At times like that a lack of fillings is a definite plus.

Alison’s husband Arnaldo is from Cuba. Given my devotion to The Buena Vista Social Club and its various offshoots, it’s a bit of a surprise to meet an actual Cuban who dismisses them as “old music”.

Arnaldo, in fact, grew up with Led Zeppelin and heavy metal. Of course, this was decadent western culture, and therefore not really allowed. But that’s what happens when you ban stuff. People want it.

It’s always funny to see the look on grownup faces when Arnaldo gets down with the fourteen year olds on Spotify, rocking out to AC/DC or Metallica.

And he was definitely rocking out to Wojtek Godzisz. Wojtek is some sort of cross between Led Zeppelin, Fairport Convention and any combination of heavy metal bands you could think of. Not my usual cuppa at all.

But the guy is such a consummate performer, accomplished musician and take-no-prisoners singer, it would be rude not to enjoy him as he so obviously enjoys himself.

In case you’ve ever heard of them, he was previously in a band called Symposium, referred to as ‘punk pop’. I think I get that.

But Wojtek’s solo stuff seems to be rooted in Olde England paganism.

Honestly, if you asked me to go and see a heavy metal folkie singing about wassailing and magic, I’d probably tell you I was busy that night. Got to wash my hair; or lard the cat’s boils.

But I’m telling you, if you see the name Wojtek Godzisz (forget the pronunciation, just remember the letters) at a music venue near you, go. Just go. All your prejudices will fall away as mine did, and you will almost certainly hand over a tenner at the end of the night to take home a cd.

I did. And I bought one for Arnaldo as well. Rock on, Arnaldo!

Sometimes I have to remind myself to breathe

For almost a year, I have been working on a book (which isn’t a book, it’s an app) about making music in the digital age.

A couple of weeks ago, late on a Friday, I wrote what I later realised was the last sentence in the book that isn’t a book.

Sometime during the following day I realised that I had missed my own deadline – not for the book, but for my weekly post to this blog. Well, it’s coming up to Easter, I consoled myself. Everyone’s busy. No-one will miss it for one week.

The following week went by in a rush as I gathered together an army of statistics that will be turned into graphs, bar charts and illustrations for the book that isn’t a book.

And then on Easter Saturday morning, I realised that I’d missed the deadline for this blog – again. Two weeks in a row seems like bad manners. Sorry.

Honestly, sometimes I have to tell myself to breathe.

It’s true. I get so involved in what I’m doing, that I frequently become aware that I haven’t taken a breath for quite some time, at the very least not a deep breath.

So this week, just for fun, I set myself a target that would challenge my focus and my breathing patterns.

This is the challenge – start from scratch with a new song, and build a track in time for the blog.

And then – just to keep it exciting – I gave myself just two hours in which to write this post. (Usually, I write it across three days).

It helped me that I have been studying the pop star who lives in my house for the past few months. She has a technique for writing her songs that I find fascinating.

Most of the time, she is a gobby and frequently scatological teenager, supremely irritating to her mother and to me. Sometimes, though, she’s sweet and charming, and you think, “Oh, yes, that’s why I put up with the rest of you”.

And then she writes these songs that tear at your heartstrings, and seep into your brain. I can’t help but think of Mozart as portrayed in Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus.

There’s an unforgettable scene in the film version where his arch rival Salieri finds a newly written Mozart piece. No mistakes. No rewriting. Just a perfect and sublime piece of music straight from the brain and the pristine pen of the pranking, irritating, rude, scatological boy whose behaviour torments the formal and mature Salieri.

Now, confronted by such precocious genius, he is doubly tormented.

I am not Salieri. I am not tormented by the pop star who lives in my house. But I am fascinated by her process and progress. Doubly fascinated, because when she is not in the process of recording her darkest thoughts and forming the musical framework around them, it’s like living with Tigger.

Except, this version of Tigger swears like a trooper, drinks vodka (occasionally) and is an unending source of appalling tales of the weirdos who follow or stare at her (on buses, in Waitrose, on the street, at college).

A teenager, in other words.

So, as I said, she has this writing technique. She’s had absolutely no formal training. She knows the back of a stamp’s worth of music theory. But somehow she has intuited – from learning to sing and play her own favourite pop songs of the moment – the current way of writing commercial pop and r’n’b.

I’m not giving away any secrets. But let’s just say that modern pop music has reduced itself to a chord palate which, in painting terms, might be Piet Mondrian’s.

In order to help me achieve my target of a completely new track in two days, I decided to take the same approach. And – bugger me – it works.

I made it easy on myself. Another thing I’ve noticed about some current pop hits is that lyrics barely matter. In dance music particularly, the ‘song’ is mostly reduced to a simple line of lyric that provides a hook.

So here it is: Breathe, a work in progress, whose only line of lyric is “Sometimes, I have to remind myself to breathe”.

Warning: put on your dancing shoes, and try to play it loud. And let me know what you think, please.

 

The Summer Before The Summer Of Love

Anytime I like, I can close my eyes and transport myself back to the summer of 1966.

The sun is shining and pop is becoming sublime.

Monday Monday, Summer In The City, Sunshine Superman, Paperback Writer, Good Vibrations, Revolver, Pet Sounds – it’s easily the best summer for pop music to date. Possibly ever.

It’s the summer of me, John O’Sullivan, Jenny Cropper and Jenny’s cousin.

John is moping about the cousin. Jenny is moping about John. I’m moping about Jenny.

The cousin isn’t bothered either way.

Talk about (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.

Still, aged 17, everything points to a future of magic, hope and optimism. The next few years were not to disappoint.

Talking about 1966 and classic songwriters, Michael Brown is not a name that would spring to many people’s minds. But he did write one stone cold classic. He was 16 when he wrote Walk Away Renee with two of his bandmates in The Left Banke. It made number 3 in the UK charts, number 14 in America.

It was a nice record, but not a great one.

Given where pop was by 1966, Left Banke were slightly behind the curve. The singing is rigid and uncertain and the production and arrangement are over-elaborate. They’re trying too hard. Phil Spector or George Martin would have sorted it, although they might have struggled with Michael Brown’s vocals.

But George and Phil didn’t get the gig. It fell to Motown’s top production team – Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier – to reveal the true greatness of the song when The Four Tops recorded Walk Away Renee for their phenomenal Reach Out album.

This was an album that included 7 Rooms of Gloom, If I Were A Carpenter, Standing In The Shadows Of Love and Bernadette. Any song would have its work cut out to shine in this company. But Walk Away Renee fearlessly followed the smash hit opener, Reach Out I’ll Be There, and did the job so brilliantly it became a pop standard.

At number 220 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time, it sits just above Walk On The Wild Side, Pretty Woman, Dance To The Music and Good Times.

So Michael Brown has his own little corner of pop eternity.

He died earlier this week. In keeping with the pop fraternity’s efforts not to live into old age and become a burden on society, he was only 65.

In the last month alone Lesley Gore (68), Andy Fraser, bass player with Free (62), Chris Rainbow (68) and Steve Strange (55) have all done their bit to reduce our burden.

I was saddest about Chris Rainbow. Back in the late 70s and early 80s, Chris and my music partner Pete Zorn did a lot of work together. They would frequently end up back at my sister’s in Gipsy Hill for mind altering substances and the best cheesecake on the planet.

Chris spent the last years of his life on the Isle Of Skye.

After I chose Denis Blackham to master my 2012 album, Now That’s What I Call Divorce!!!, it turned out Denis was also living on Skye. (Skye Mastering. Duh!). It stood to reason he would know Chris.

Sadly, he told me, Chris was suffering from dementia. He also had Parkinson’s Disease.

Remembering a young man who had scared the pants off me driving around London in his Rover 2000 (once was enough) and – despite a debilitating stammer – could have you laughing into the early hours of the morning, it seemed a terrible end.

No worse than for anyone else who suffered similarly, I’m sure. But Chris Rainbow was preternaturally talented, and it’s a cruel God who doesn’t allow full rein to such gifts.

Back to that summer of 1966. As it drew to a close, I was on my way to London in a black Humber Hawk estate (‘the hearse’ my mother called it). On the radio Satisfaction was still being played, and Monday Monday.

Listening to music cocooned in a big car was a much better way to experience it than on our Dansette player back home. Everything was enhanced. Most of all from that four hour journey I remember Lee Dorsey’s Working In The Coalmine.

Obsessed as I was with The Beatles, I was unaware that r’n’b and soul music had crept up on me. Hearing Lee Dorsey as if I was inside a hi fi speaker suddenly coalesced my taste for something different – the rougher, tougher descendants of the blues.

As the summer before the summer of love turned into the actual Summer Of Love, you would find me dancing myself dizzy at parties all over London to Arthur Conley’s Sweet Soul Music.

I didn’t need a dance partner. Didn’t want one. I was in what was then the greatest city in the world, at the best time it was possible to be there. I was 18, and I was a dancing fool. Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, Joe Tex, Aretha Franklin, Carla Thomas, Booker T – oh my goodness, were there ever such riches? It’s a wonder Sgt Pepper got a look in.

And the fun didn’t really stop until round about the mid-70s, when the beginning of years of social unrest revealed the fine line that separates civilisation from our more primitive selves.

But even the three day week and the winter of discontent couldn’t take away those memories of 1966.

And, for me at least, there’ll never be another summer like the summer before the summer of love.

Hard to find decent video for Walk Away Renee from that time, but you should watch at least the first 30 seconds of this, if only to see how hard the stylists and the cameraman have worked to make Michael Brown look like Paul McCartney (15 seconds in).

And this will hopefully take you to Spotify for a pristine Four Tops.

Walk Away Renee – Single Version (Mono) – Four Tops

They think it’s All Over. But it’s not. It’s All Over Now.

I was really amused a couple of weeks ago to see Bob Dylan get a writing credit on It’s All Over Now, The Rolling Stones first number one.

I’d always known it as a Bobby Womack song. I’d also always assumed that Shirley Womack, who co-wrote it, was his wife. In fact, she was Bobby’s sister-in-law.

And that’s the trouble with assumptions.

Big rule of journalism: assume makes an ass out of u and me.

Which begs the question: how big can an ass possibly be, since at least 50% of the internet seems to be built on assumptions?

It has to be nearly 10 years since I had my introduction to the internet version of ‘I search, therefore I am’. My son, Remi, 14 or 15 at the time, insisted on playing me this ‘brilliant Eric Clapton track’.

He searched it, brought it up and played it. Eric Clapton my arse.

“That’s Classical Gas by Mason Williams,” I said.

“No. It’s Eric Clapton,” he said. “Look, it says so here.”

“Yes, I can see it says it is, but it’s not. When did you ever hear Eric Clapton play like that?”

“Well, that’s the point. It’s so different.”

“Yes. It’s different because it’s not Eric Clapton. It’s Mason Williams.”

Which got me looking ‘under the hood’ as they say and I was shocked at what I found. iTunes meta info rarely includes a songwriter credit. When it does, it’s frequently wrong. Elsewhere on the internet these mistakes are legion, and will probably never be corrected.

I once found You’re My World – Cilla’s number one, famously adapted from an Italian original – attributed to Burt Bacharach and Hal David. This was on a big compilation cd, so of course, the information found its way onto iTunes.

Even funnier, they apparently also wrote Cole Porter’s Anything Goes. The giveaway there is, Cole Porter. He wrote the song in 1934 when Burt Bacharach was six years old. Burt didn’t meet Hal until 1957.

Now you might think, “Does this really matter?”

To which I might reply, “Yes, it fucking matters!”

On reflection: yes, that is how I would reply.

Imagine you’re Harlan Howard, a relatively obscure country music writer and performer. You write a song called Busted. It’s picked up by Ray Charles, who has a massive top 10 hit with it. That’s your pension, right there.

Now imagine you’re Harlan Howard, and years later, you find that some lazy, feckless, ignorant, highly paid jackass has credited your song to Ray Charles as writer – forever to remain so on databases and download sites worldwide. Well, you’d be a little cheesed off, no?

Mind you, it’s a wonder Harlan didn’t get a writing credit on It’s All Over Now, along with Bobby and Shirley Womack and Bob Dylan.

Because the way Bob Dylan got a co-write credit on that song was that he did, in fact, write a song called It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue. And that’s what another feckless jackass had in mind when he put Bobby Dylan’s name alongside Bobby Womack’s. It was in his mind, so he made an assumption.

But, of course, he didn’t know that Harlan Howard had also written a song called It’s All Over. Poor Harlan doesn’t get a look in. Not on his own song; nor on one he didn’t write.

This is how the record industry lets itself down. No attention to detail.

Some years back Virgin released an album called John Lennon’s Jukebox. John used to have a portable jukebox on which he carried 40 singles that had had some influence on him.

At least four of the songs on the album were credited to John Lennon as writer. How lazy do you have to be? You’re working on a project about the influence these songs had on someone. And then you credit that person with writing the songs that influenced him.

Two of these were classic Lovin’ Spoonful – Daydream and Do You Believe In Magic, written by John Sebastian. How come you’re filling in a database that determines where the money goes, and you don’t even know that John Sebastian wrote Daydream? Or at least, that John Lennon didn’t write it?

I write as a victim of the same kind of laziness, but from a different angle.

There are two versions of Car 67, the UK hit and the American version.

On Radio 2’s Pick Of The Pops a few years ago, in the chart rundown for the week when I was in the top 10, they played the American version. The following week’s Feedback on Radio 4 devoted seven minutes to this catastrophic event. (I thought it was quite funny. But I also thought ‘Get a sense of perspective!’)

The next week – that’s right, two weeks after the original broadcast – Feedback devoted another eight minutes. So across just under an hour of broadcast time on the most important consumer show on radio, I had been given 15 minutes of time for outraged fans to vent their spleen.

Some while later, I was given a private glimpse at the database the BBC uses for its music radio. And there it still was, Car 67 (US version). And there it still is eight years later.

All anyone has to do is listen to the competing versions, and delete the wrong ones. But that would require a revolution of attention to detail and pro-action that seems beyond the wit of the lazy jackasses we trust with our precious work.

Net result for me? The record rarely gets played any more because no-one trusts to get the version right. That’s a couple of curries a year I can no longer afford.

When I talked to Phil Swern, producer of Pick Of The Pops, he was more outraged at the level of complaint he had received than embarrassed by the mistake.

“I could have understood it if it had been a Cliff Richard record,” he said. To me. On the phone. “But Driver 67?”

I’m on the phone, Phil. You’re talking to me. I am that Driver….

Anyway, it’s not Phil’s fault. A man more dedicated to exposing the obscure and forgotten would be hard to find. He’s made a 30-year career out of it.

But next time you hear some solid gold artist complaining about royalties and copyright and piracy and streaming, try not to get all up in his face and “Oh you greedy bastard, haven’t you had enough money yet”.

Because what’s happening to the solid gold greedy bastard is also happening to me and Harlan Howard. And, really, aren’t we allowed just a couple of curries a year out of our meagre contributions to popular music?

Meanwhile, for a quick giggle, have a look bottom, centre for the writing credit on this.

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/rollingstones/itsallovernow.html

And if you want to hear Eric Clapton playing Classical Gas, well, you never will. But you’d never know.

 

Cool? Or uncool? Oh, away with ye and get a life.

Do we really listen to certain music because we think the band or the singer is ‘cool’? I do hope not.

We certainly weren’t giving the matter any thought at as we luxuriated in the riches of 60s pop that rained down on us after the success of Love Me Do and Please Please Me.

The whole ‘were you Beatles or were you Stones’ question was a post-rationalisation by NME writers more interested in their own philosophical musings than the music itself.

I was 13 when I heard Love Me Do, 14 when Please Please Me was released three months later.

It was a momentous time for me. Between the release of those two records, just before my fourteenth birthday,  my mother had given my sister and I a carrier bag each – containing underwear and pyjamas – and told us to go to a friend’s house down the road.

And that was the last we saw of the house we had lived in for seven years with a stepfather who had beaten and bullied us. We had been, largely, cowed into submission.

But in my fourteenth year, I had grown five inches and with increased height had come physical strength. I used the height and the strength to fight back. Oddly, it was that – me fighting back – that made my mother decide it was time to go.

Three days later, pathetic carrier bags in hand – all we had left of our previous lives – we were back at my grandfather’s house, where we had lived for six years prior to this disastrous marriage.

Back to me sharing a bed with Uncle Jack; back to one tap, cold water only, in the scullery; back to the toilet out in the back yard; back to bare floorboards and such cold that ice would form on the inside of the windows.

Do you remember that winter? January 1963 was the coldest of the 20th century; the coldest recorded for 150 years. But I was comfortable with my background and the emergence of The Beatles – touted at first as working class lads from Liverpool – could not have been better timed.

These four guys were like me. If they could do it, so could I.

Love Me Do shone through the dross of pretty young Americans called Frankie and Bobby and Ricky.

Mind you, the name – Beatles; that sounded stupid. But, you know, we got used to it.

And then, as the snow took hold and yesterday’s Daily Sketch made do as toilet paper in the iced up backyard loo, Please Please Me came out like the sun.

But even that was eclipsed nine weeks later by the first album.

The Please Please Me album was a revelation. Now we began to realise – these guys are writing their own songs!

But they were also covering songs by people we’d never heard of.

There was the sophistication of Arthur Alexander’s Anna (my personal favourite), the sweet pop soul of Baby It’s You (part-written by Burt Bacharach), the throat-tearing excitement of Twist And Shout (a Motown classic before we knew about Motown).

And standing alongside these ‘professional songs’ were the McCartney-Lennon songs – every bit as good, making excuses to no-one.

And by the way, if you think I got that wrong, check out the back cover of the album sleeve. McCartney-Lennon was the order and stayed so until She Loves You (where it reverted to Lennon-McCartney, as it had been on Love Me Do).

We were now in a different world, and things started moving at a speed that only 14-year-olds could keep up with. In the middle of 1963, along came The Rolling Stones.

Their cover of Chuck Berry’s Come On didn’t sound like a cover (we barely knew who Chuck Berry was at the time; we found out pretty fast); Come On sounded like The Beatles on speed (we didn’t know what speed was……etc).

Which was not altogether a bad thing, because their follow up single was a Lennon-McCartney cover. Jagger and Richards were in the room and watched John and Paul ‘knock out’ I Wanna Be Your Man in 15 minutes. That, and a lot of pressure from their manager Andrew Loog Oldham, persuaded the two Stones they should give this songwriting lark a crack.

Their first attempt was As Tears Go By, a top 10 hit for Marianne Faithfull in June 1964. The Stones themselves took another seven months to ‘dare’ (according to Keith Richards) to release one of their own songs as a single. The Last Time made the top spot, and even cracked the US top 10 for them.

But look at the speed of all this. Between October 1962 and February 1965 – 29 months – the world had been stood on its head. Apart from The Beatles and The Stones, we had The Hollies, Billy J Kramer, Dusty Springfield, Cilla Black, Sandie Shaw, Lulu, Gerry & The Pacemakers.

Not to mention Bob Dylan.

I was studying Grade 7 piano. I refused to attend any more lessons. I told my mother I wanted a guitar. In early 1964, having learned to play three chords in three different keys, I formed my first band.

So do you think, honestly, we had time to sit around asking ourselves, “Is this cool?”

It just was. Bloody cool. And it kept getting cooler. We weren’t bothered whether The Stones were cooler than The Beatles; whether we should be listening to Sandie Shaw; whether Freddie & The Dreamers were just bloody embarrassing.

We understood quality though. We knew Dusty Springfield was a touch above. And we understood that sooner or later we would have to take Bob Dylan seriously. And that it was all over for Elvis.

But we also knew, and you can’t post-rationalise this, that The Beatles were the vanguard, the leaders and the high water mark.

They went from Beatles For Sale to Rubber Soul to Revolver in barely 18 months. They went from Love Me Do to Tomorrow Never Knows in three and a half years.

Now that is cool.

But it doesn’t take anything away from The Stones, who made live their arena. After following The Beatles down the road to psychedelia – a blind alley for The Stones – they put their heads back on straight, recorded Beggar’s Banquet and slowly established themselves as the world’s biggest concert draw. They also, during the next ten years, recorded seven albums replete with stadium anthems that have kept them going for another 40 years.

Which is also cool.

So – all I’m saying – don’t ask again. We didn’t have to take sides. It was all just bloody wonderful. And it still is.

And if you don’t believe me, believe this – Mick Jagger less than a year from his 70th birthday; The Stones celebrating 50 years, and still delivering.

Mad Dogs, some Englishmen, and Joe Cocker’s road back

When Joe Cocker returned home in 1971 from the madness that was the Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour of America, he went off radar.

Before computers, before mobile phones, before texting and Face-timing, off radar really was off radar. Even having a phone was not the norm in the early 70s.

Alan Spenner, bassist with The Grease Band told me this story. “We had to go up to Sheffield to ask his parents what was up.” They (I don’t recall who Alan said was with him) arrived in the pouring rain. Joe’s mum answered the door.

Without even acknowledging who they were, she pointed away from the front door and said: “He’s in the back yard.” Alan and mate tramped through the house, and out to the yard.

“And he was standing there,” Alan told me, “in the rain, head up to the sky, stark bollock naked.” The concern on Alan’s face and in his voice as he recounted this was palpable. At the time he told me this story (maybe two years after the event) it was by no means clear that Joe had survived his adventures with his wits intact.

In the twelve months after I started writing this blog, 25 music notables died. Joe Cocker was one of them. In a list that includes Johnny Winter, Jimmy Ruffin, Pete Seeger and Bobby Womack, I’d still put Joe at the top of the page.

His first major artistic act was to take the psychedelic singalong of With A Little Help From My Friends and turn it into a heart-rendingly soulful crie de coeur. Then he took it onstage at Woodstock (still with Alan Spenner on bass) and tore the place up.

I had seen Joe live (for the only time that I recall) a few months earlier, at London’s Royal Albert Hall. What a weird old night that was. The Beatles and The Stones were there. But not to see Joe. We had all turned out to witness the phenomenon that was Tiny Tim, complete with symphony-size orchestra, conducted by the producer Richard Perry.

My memory tells me Joe opened the show with the fantastic Grease Band, ripped up the place and then gave way to Peter Sarstedt. Such a contrast is scarcely credible. But at least Sarstedt wasn’t as big a contrast to Tiny Tim as Joe would have been.

Tiny Tim came and went after just two albums. He carried on, but no-one was taking much notice. Peter Sarstedt was a two-hit wonder (one and a half, really. Although it made the Top 10, few people would mention One More Frozen Orange Juice).

We can speculate, of course, how much further Joe Cocker would have gone if it hadn’t been for Woodstock. But it’s a pointless hypothesis. He proved – time and time again – that when the chips were down, he could tear up a stage, and had an ear for a song on a par with Otis Redding’s. (Think of what Otis did with the old chestnut Try A Little Tenderness, and how he ripped up Ticket To Ride and Satisfaction).

The Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour seemed to us, when it happened, the most marvellous thing. You had to be a little bit hippy dippy to buy into the idea that all these fantastic singers and musicians were travelling around America, loving each other’s company, having a great time and putting on the show of their lives every night.

But, flawed as the rest of the scenario was, that last part was absolutely right. The film and the album from the tour are masterclasses in showmanship, commitment and musicianship. Bandleader Leon Russell emerged a star, only slightly tarnished by his opportunistic exploitation of Cocker’s vulnerability.

Joe emerged with a bunch of American hit records and a massively enhanced reputation. But also a nose full of heroin and a head full of problems that threatened to do for him way too early.

But, you know, his home town was a hard place, for hard people. And they were famous for their steel in Sheffield. It’s a convenient simile for Joe’s resilience: the steel in his spine and in his character.

Not only did he overcome his demons, but he would rise again and again on the back of another brilliantly chosen song: You Can Keep Your Hat On, Up Where We Belong, You Are So Beautiful.

A couple of years ago, even his most recent single, Fire It Up, caught my ear in the car. I didn’t realise it was Joe. The video that goes with it shows a bunch of young musicians and singers who seem just thrilled to be there with him.

Joe Cocker and all around him were a massive part of baby boomer culture. And now we are continuously told that our ageing generation will put increased pressure on the NHS and social care.

Well, musicians are certainly doing their share to take the pressure off.

Of the 25 who’ve gone since I started this blog, few made it past 70. The general trend seems to be to peg it sometime shortly after your mid-60s.

Joe made it to 70, which was 43 years after we’d all given up on him. He also seems to have spent his later years fruitfully and settled. Who could hope for more?

And he left us a treasure trove of great music, brilliant and original interpretations of The Beatles, Dylan, Cohen, and other songs we might never have heard had the man from Sheffield not had such a great ear for tunes and lyrics that would resonate with millions.

So, Joe, you can keep your hat on. We raise ours in salute.

 

John Lennon not a genius. Ooh-er missus! But that’s not what I’m saying.

The biggest problem Paul McCartney has with his career is that he lived.

The comparisons with John Lennon are so highly coloured by Lennon’s early death that McCartney is mocked just for surviving.

Here’s the accepted wisdom: Lennon was the soul of The Beatles; the tough rocker; the genius with words; the psychedelic heart of the more experimental days.

Now here’s the truth: Paul McCartney wrote, undoubtedly, some of the greatest songs of the 20th century.

Alongside his more sentimental songs, he wrote songs that made your parents sweat – Why Don’t We Do It In The Road, Helter Skelter.

And it was McCartney who was ‘underground’, who stayed in London and mixed with the cultural avant garde while the other three Beatles retired to their Surrey mansions.

Sgt Pepper was entirely his vision.

He was also the greatest rock ‘n’ roll singer Britain ever produced. Listen to his version of Long Tall Sally, or I’m Down, the b-side of Help.

On the other hand, if you think John Lennon was incapable of sentimental pap, you clearly haven’t registered that he wrote Goodnight, specifically for Ringo to sing. It has to be the single most saccharine song the Beatles ever recorded, with the possible exception of ‘Til There Was You, which they didn’t write, so I’m not counting it.

For every Lennon rocker, I’ll give you a Macca roller. For every Lennon gem, I’ll give you a McCartney diamond. For every genuine Lennon-McCartney classic, I’ll just give thanks.

This whole ‘Lennon the genius’ vs ‘McCartney the crass’ argument is such arrant bollocks. When you say ‘crass’ or ‘sentimental’ or simply ‘rubbish’ are we talking about the same man who wrote Penny Lane, Yesterday, Fool On The Hill, Blackbird, Hey Jude, Let It Be, I’ve Got A Feeling, We Can Work It Out, Drive My Car, Get Back, Here There & Everywhere?

It’s often forgotten that McCartney, having been in the biggest band the world has ever known, followed it up by forming – erm – the biggest band in the world. Again.

Wings were HUGE. For a generation born too late, Wings IS Paul McCartney.

You might say, well John never had the chance. But he did. By the time John was murdered, Wings had been on the road for nearly 10 years.

John Lennon made, for me, two stupendous albums – Plastic Ono Band and Imagine. Which is not to forget the wonderful Rock’n’Roll – an album beset by Phil Spector’s increasing paranoia and John’s legal problems over Come Together. (His early mantra, ‘If you’re gonna steal, steal from the best’, came back to haunt him).

But it was an album of covers, John’s last album until Double Fantasy in 1980. So it seemed, at the time, a last lazy throw of the dice by an artist who had run out of steam.

And it’s forgotten, at this late stage, that Double Fantasy was seen on release as corny, sentimental and just not a fitting comeback for the onetime Picasso of Pop. The first single, Starting Over, struggled to number 8 in the UK top 10. A week later it had dropped down to 21. In America it peaked at number six.

And then John was shot, and all critical and commercial bets were off.

Now Starting Over was a tragic swansong for a cultural hero, and the album – even Yoko’s bits – was seen in hindsight as a post-modern expression of domestic bliss and parental devotion. And history was rewritten in the blink of a bullet.

So let’s remember some other incongruities: There was a brief period post-Beatles when Ringo Starr had the most successful solo career. What! Really?

Yes.

And George Harrison did more, all at once, with All Things Must Pass than the other three combined. He also had the first post-Beatles number one with My Sweet Lord.

None of which, of course, addresses the question of quality. McCartney had the first number one album (in America) post-Beatles with McCartney. Now there’s an underrated piece of work. Maybe I’m Amazed, Every Night, Man We Was Lonely. The final track, Kreen Akrore, is the sound of a man still stretching himself, experimenting, seeing where things will go rather than pushing them. It’s not entirely successful, but that’s not the point.

The follow up, Ram, is still an incredible piece of work. Without even listening carefully, you’ll hear The Beach Boys, rock’n’roll, The Beatles (showing how much McCartney shaped the later sound of the Fabs) and, for those looking for a darker side, a little biting satire. Too Many People is a message to John which is a lot subtler than John’s own How Do You Sleep – where he tells Paul, “The only thing you done was Yesterday”.

Nearly 30 years later, well into phase two of his solo career (post-Wings) he was beset by poor reviews and the burgeoning view that he was nothing without Lennon. Mull Of Kintyre and The Frog Song became emblematic of a man derided as having his eye only on the crass and commercial.

Well, I’ll tell you something about The Frog Song. It’s a very sophisticated piece of work. My guess is that most average musicians couldn’t even pick out the chord sequences. I’m not a fan of the record, but I’m an admirer of the talent it required.

And then, in the middle of this miasma, and nearly 30 years after the Beatles split, he released Flaming Pie – an album my youngest daughter picked up on, unbidden by me, and became in her own right a bona fide Macca fan. She’s 23 this year.

It’s too much to ask that everyone take the time to re-evaluate McCartney’s later career. But I’m telling you now: when he dies, you’ll wish you’d listened to Flaming Pie. Even now, Little Willow – written for Ringo Starr’s first wife, who died of cancer – will make you cry.

And you’ll also realise you should have listened to bits of Chaos & Creation In the Backyard, and to most of Memory Almost Full. Even New, his most recent solo album (2013), has songs to warm the heart of Beatles fans. But it also contains tracks any writer would be proud to have created.

So, can we buck the trend, and appreciate McCartney’s continuing ability while he’s still alive?

Or do we have to wait till he kicks it?

I’m pompous, sanctimonious and ignorant, and I don’t know jack shit about rock’n’roll. Apparently.

I recently came across a YouTube video titled Old Time Rock’n’Roll – Legends in Concert.

I pressed play expecting some Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, maybe even Fats Domino.

But what I got was a melee of early 60s pop singers mixed in with some Motown and a bit of Brill building r’n’b.

Obviously, I left a comment. I thought you might be entertained by the consequences of my folly.

Me: Don’t want to spoil the party, but with the possible exception of The Crickets, no-one here counts as rock’n’roll. Mostly they are pop or r’n’b acts from the early 60s. Rock’n’roll was Little Richard, Bill Haley, earliest Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Del Shannon, Bobby Vee, Troy Shondell, Billy J. Kramer, Brian Hyland were all post-1960 pure pop. Martha Reeves and The Contours were on Motown; Spencer Davis was British r’n’b; The Dovells were a 60s doo-wop throwback; Joey Dee (not Vee) is on the Twist bandwagon here. So, where’s the rock’n’roll? Rock’n’roll was over by 1959.

Jon Emery: If you think that Del Shannon isn’t Rock n Roll, all I can say is you don’t know jack shit about Rock n Roll……

Charles C: Clearly, you didn’t grow up during rock’s early years.  Here’s a FACT for you, my pompous, sanctimonious, ignorant friend: In the dawn and early years of rock and roll, the term “rock and roll” embraced a wide umbrella of all types of music, including what we now categorize as rhythm & blues, folk, country, blue grass, soul, and even country.

So, the next time you tout an ignorant “opinion” as “fact,” I suggest you do your homework.

Me: I was born at the beginning of January, 1949, Charles. Don’t know whether that qualifies me as ‘growing up during rock’s early years’ for you? But also, you make the mistake of confusing rock with rock ‘n’ roll.

Rock ‘n’ roll was over by the time Elvis came out of the army. Rock started when Bob Dylan plugged in.

Soul music is a 60s category for an offshoot of r’n’b, and there was definitely no bluegrass in rock’n’roll. Those early country artists were horrified by rock’n’roll, given that it came out of ‘race’ music. If you want more, I’ll give you more.

Jon Emery: Believe that if you want to, but you can’t make me believe it. I guess CCR didn’t rock either, right? Del Shannon was the first to write Rock n Roll songs in a minor key. I happen to be a big fan of all those other artists that you named, but, in my opinion, Rock n Roll didn’t stop there……

Me: Rock music is very different from Rock ‘n’ Roll. Rock ‘n’ Roll derived from some very specific riffs and beats that developed in the late 40s. The first Rock ‘n’ Roll record is often cited as Rocket 88 by Jackie Brenston (actually Ike Turner). If you listen to collections like The Black & White Roots of Rock & Roll, you’ll see that even Rocket 88 wasn’t the first. But by the time Elvis came out of the army, Rock ‘n’ Roll was over. From then on it was mainly pop or r’n’b, some of it – for sure – with a decent back beat.

Rock music, on the other hand, started the day Bob Dylan plugged in and turned up to 11. That’s when things started to get loud. Just because you don’t agree with what I’m saying doesn’t mean you can rewrite history. Go and listen to some Big Joe Turner, or Ella Mae Morse or Big Mama Thornton, or That’s Alright Mama by Elvis and tell me what they have to do stylistically with Del Shannon or any of the other artists in this video.

Charles C: You state that rock ‘n’ roll was over by the time Elvis came out of the army and that rock started when Bob Dylan plugged in.  I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to call you out:  You’ve made dogmatic statements without supporting them with an iota of evidence, reference, or verification.  My friend, you may be selling, but I’m not buying.  At least, not until you back up your statements with documentation.

Me: First of all, Charles, I’m not ‘selling’ anything that I need you to ‘buy’. But – here goes for a little context.

Rock’n’roll was that wild and exciting music as practised by, among others, Little Richard, Wynonie Harris, Jackie Brenston, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and, of course, Elvis in his Sun days and his early RCA recordings. This was music rooted in r’n’b, although the white boys brought some country (western swing) to the mix. If you listen to House Of Blue Lights by Ella Mae Morse (there are dozens of other examples) you can hear the roots of rock’n’roll going back to the 40s. But this is still r’n’b, and a little bit more polite.

What Little Richard and Chuck Berry did was take that template, rough it up, add a back beat so the rhythm drove really hard. Jerry Lee’s Whole Lotta Shakin’ is a perfect example. The two things that did for rock ‘n’ roll as a commercial enterprise were Elvis going into the army and the payola scandal.

By the time Elvis came out of the army, the record industry had wrested control of the music back and started feeding white bread pretty boys like Frankie Avalon, Bobby Vinton and Pat Boone to the public. Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper were dead, Jerry Lee was in disgrace for marrying his 13-year-old cousin and Elvis found it easier to hit the number one spot with songs like It’s Now Or Never and Are You Lonesome Tonight rather than A Mess Of Blues.

From there on, Tin Pan Alley dominated (with some admittedly pretty great pop music, but also a lot of dross) until The Beatles came along (in the UK at least) at the end of 1962. The quality and excitement levels went up, but this was still pop music.

And then Bob Dylan plugged in and turned it up LOUD and began to play what we can now recognise as rock music. He influenced The Beatles, they influenced him. By 1968, The Stones had gone back to their roots, The Beatles were recording influential and loud rock music like Helter Skelter, Everybody’s Got Something To Hide and I Want You. Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton threw off their blues roots and we were off on the big rock adventure.

I didn’t set out to write a history of the music industry, Charles! I only came on this thread to say that none of the people in the video above – bar, briefly, The Crickets, and only with Buddy Holly – qualify as rock’n’roll. They are all from the pop era that immediately followed the payola scandal and Elvis’s transition to crooner.

Jon Emery: You think you’re the only rock historian? I know about the history of rock music because I’m a musician who has been playing this music for over 50 years. So tell me that I’m rewriting Rock n Roll if you want to, but I know about Rock History because I’ve been a part of it.

Me: Why don’t you Google me?

Jon Emery (several hours later): Well, I’m impressed with your track record—Looks like we’ve both been around the block—I take back the ‘You don’t know Shit” statement with my apology.

Charles C:  I wish to thank you for your most informative information.  It was not only enlightening, but interesting and nostalgic as well.  Indeed, reviewing and researching your information took me on a pleasant stroll down memory lane. I shall, of course move forward, continuing to enjoy rock, pop, & rock ‘n roll music, but now with a broader and deeper understanding of its history.  Take care, my friend.  Cheers.  And, thanks again.

And we all lived happily ever after…..and no reason not to watch this great line-up of pop legends in concert. Just don’t tell me it’s rock’n’roll.

And now we can get into the really geeky arguments with all the people who actually know something. Bring it on Geoff; bang a gong John; rant and rave, Dave. Let’s Have A Party….

 

 

Twelve Months of Wonderful Things

It’s a year since I launched this blog, and this is my 50th post.

I’ve written about The Beatles, Mott The Hoople, Scott Walker, The Wombles, Driver 67 (of course!), Yewtree’s investigations and Simon Cowell.

And which post got the most readers?

I’d give you 50 guesses and you’d finally get there.

Wonderful thing No 1: Kokomo – they were the subject of my most read post. A band most people have never heard of.

Those who have, though, are passionately devoted. As am I. So it was wonderful to get a rush of attention for writing about artists who have never hit the charts, or sold a million.

And it didn’t happen just the once. When, a few weeks later, I recounted an incident that ended with several of the band in A&E, the numbers peaked again. Maybe I should just start a Kokomo blog!

Wonderful thing No 2: Because I wrote about Kokomo, Nick Hornby read my blog. Say no more.

Wonderful thing No 3: If this blog says anything about me, it’s that I have half a foot in the past, but most of me is in the present. Using computer technology and social media to create and promote my own new songs caught the eye of a book publisher.

He wanted a book which would guide young music hopefuls through the maze of the digital age.

So I was commissioned to write that book. Nearly done. Out by Spring, we hope.

Wonderful thing No 4: In my fifth post, I wrote about being backstage at a Bob Dylan concert in 1978 with my friend Heather.

Completely coincidentally – nothing to do with the blog – she contacted me last week. We hadn’t heard from each other for almost 35 years.

She asked if I remembered her. The usual response is, “Of course I do!” whilst searching your mind for some clue. But I was able to point Heather back to my post last February, and there she was.

We’ve since been reminding each other of escapades we got up to, including leaving the fabled Wembley ELO spaceship gig after just two songs. We weren’t much for the grandiose, Heather and I. Although we did go to a party Barry Manilow threw for Bette Midler. That doesn’t count as grandiose, does it?

Wonderful thing No 5: I was invited to join the Illuminati. Yes! I was!

And what had earned me this privilege? Last September I wrote about the ‘Paul Is Dead‘ conspiracy and talked about the current online obsession with the Illuminati.

I had an offer from illuminati.com to get (notice that: ‘get’) $2,500 every three days, and $1,000,000 ‘membership blessing for doing what you love to do best’.

“Change your life for the better, We holds the world.”

Those mistakes are not mine – that is verbatim how the invitation was put. I don’t care how much money is involved. Where grammar and punctuation are concerned, you can’t buy me.

Wonderful thing No 6: In November last year, I wrote about mental health. It was a slightly nervous post – not the happiest of things to admit to, being bipolar, or to talk about.

But the post attracted attention from outside the music sphere, and ended up in my Top 10 posts of the year. That’s pretty wonderful, don’t you think?

Wonderful thing No 7: One of my (very small) band of Twitter followers, @maxkelp tweeted “You are responsible for the Beta Band. Thank you.”

I was baffled. I had never heard of The Beta Band. I had certainly never imagined a one hit wonder inspiring anyone. So I took his ‘Thank you’ to mean, ‘You git’.

I replied: “Sounds like you don’t think that’s a good thing!”

And he replied: “No, they’re good, but they sound like you.”

So of course, I had to check them out. Seems the main guys would have been at primary school when Car 67 was a hit. So I guess it’s possible that Driver 67 became part of their cultural subconscious.

But I’m not claiming it. They remind me more of The Grease Band or Black Rebel Motorcyle Club, and I suggest if you like your music more on the acoustic and interesting side, The Beta Band is well worth a YouTube visit.

Wonderful thing No 8: Did I mention – Nick Hornby read my blog?

Wonderful thing No 9: I sent a box of 40-year-old tapes off to be digitised and received back a treasure trove of memories. Sessions I’d produced in some amazing studios: Apple, Air, CBS (mostly CBS, to be fair – I did work for the company!), Olympic.

As a result, I wrote my Kokomo post, wrote about South African Tony Bird, and about some completely bonkers sessions I did with crooner Vince Hill. Sadly, I haven’t heard from Vince, but Tony called me from New York and we talked for over an hour.

I have to say again, if the wind had been in the right direction, you would not now be needing me to tell you that Tony Bird is one of the greats.

Wonderful thing No 10: A couple of weeks ago, comedian Tim Vine Tweeted: “Hey who likes Car 67 by Driver 67?”

I love Time Vine (my favourite line: ‘Velcro. What a rip off!’). I like him even better now.

His Tweet resulted in a sequence of tweets mostly consisting of lines from Car 67. Even for an old cynic like me, that was heartwarming.

Wonderful thing No 11: In May last year, I wrote about my friend John Howard, and how the powers that be at Radio 1 deliberately stifled his career in the mid-70s.

I put up a video of John singing My Beautiful Days. It describes a trajectory where today, if you’re attractive enough, being camp is a career move (think Graham Norton, Rufus Wainwright).

But back then, his handlers were trying to make him more ‘butch’. My Beautiful Days is a very affecting song. I’ve seen people reduced to tears by it.

One Very Famous Person emailed me to thank me for introducing him to the song, which he had duly downloaded from iTunes. “What a should-be classic!” is how he put it.

Wonderful thing No 12: The Driver 67 catalogue (all 21 songs!) was reissued (online only) – after 35 years languishing in the vaults – by Cherry Red Records.

This year, I will release the follow up (!) album, called The Return Journey. This old cab still has some fuel in the tank.

I’m going to indulge myself here (it is the blog’s birthday!) and show you a performance by Lisa Hannigan, whose videos kept popping up while I looked for The Beta Band.

Lisa achieved some prominence as part of Damien Rice’s band. But solo, she is a revelation. Not since Joe Cocker have I seen anyone whose movements and facial expressions suggest such total immersion in the music. Except in Lisa’s case, it’s sexy. (Sorry, Joe).

 

 

 

 

Let’s have an argument about Nick Drake. I’ll chuck in Donovan for starters

After last week’s post about the excess of musical talent in my family, my friend Slavena posted on Facebook, “Well Paul, maybe you could excel in writing…..”

She was trying to cheer me up, and also, maybe, tell me that she likes the way I write.

Of course, what she doesn’t know – and neither do you – is that my dad, in addition to being a phenomenal pianist (and holding down a day job at the Southern Electricity Board) also wrote about 70 crime novels that sold millions.

Which is not to mention that my brother Dudley is now trying to get his first novel published.

So, no Slavena, my family won’t even let me have writing to myself!

But at least I have this blog, where I can talk about what I want to.

And this week I want to ask you:

So, where do we stand on Donovan?

Bit of a bore now? A bit full of himself? Talks self-importantly, making frequent references to his influence on The Beatles.

Certainly hasn’t made any music of note for a very long time.

Now, where do we stand on Nick Drake?

Beautiful young man, genius songwriter, brilliant guitarist, left a wonderful legacy. Tragic he died so young. So sad.

Given all that, where do we think we’d stand on Donovan had he died after 1968’s A Gift From A Flower To A Garden?

My guess? We’d all be bewailing a tragic loss.

But no-one listens to Donovan any more. His first two albums were incredibly influential on young starter-guitarists like me, and then, in 1966, Sunshine Superman took it to another level. But after 1970 – well, it’s a long way down.

Which just goes to show, as some mega-cynic once said, that dying young is a great career move.

This all came to mind because my friend John Howard mentioned he was reading Gabrielle Drake’s biography of her brother Nick. I found myself thinking “I’d like to read that”.

But then I asked myself, “Why wouldn’t you want to read a biography of Donovan?” And the answer was: actually, I would.

Just for context, Donovan had released five albums, one of them a double – before Nick Drake started recording his first.

What’s Bin Did And What’s Bin Hid was released in May 65. For emerging folkies like me, it was a revelation. I didn’t want to sing sea shanties, but Bob Dylan was too intimidating. The Times They Are A-Changing held a definite message, but it wasn’t one you could hope to credibly carry at age 16.

Catch The Wind, on the other hand, was beautiful, simple and easy to sing. And the album which that song leads you into had at least five other songs you could incorporate into your set. Car Car was like a child’s nursery rhyme – but it was written by Woody Guthrie, so everyone would happily sing along; no credibility problems back then.

Six months later, Fairytale was released. Apart from the hit single, Colours, it showed – as was common back then – artistic and musical development from the first album.

In particular, Sunny Goodge Street was quite jazzy. It was also lyrically a little oblique for 16-year-olds from Wolverhampton with its references to hash-smokers, Mingus, and ‘smashing into neon streets in their stonedness’.

I would hazard a guess that this song was a touchstone for 17-year-old Nick Drake, still three years away from beginning to record his first album, which was eventually released in 1969.

Not to take anything away from Nick Drake, but back then singer-songwriters were ten-a-penny (as we used to say pre-decimalisation).

At Music Week, I was the only teenage staff writer. So all the folk, progressive, underground and far-out stuff came my way.

Before you even heard their albums, you would have been to see Al Stewart, Roy Harper and Cat Stevens. You could watch James Taylor, Randy Newman, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen. Certainly, after their debut release there would be important showcase gigs.

It’s beyond doubt that at least one of Nick Drake’s albums came across my desk. What I said about it, what I thought about it I can’t possibly remember.

I might well have raved about his first, as I did about Joni Mitchell’s, Leonard Cohen’s, Kris Kristofferson’s, Randy Newman’s – it’s a long list.

But the thing about Nick Drake was, he didn’t follow through. He didn’t gig and he wouldn’t do interviews. In a maelstrom of emerging talent – it was an absolutely extraordinary time – he didn’t get lost; he actively hid.

You might say, “But it should really be about the music”. And I might reply: “Oh, get over yourself”.

Nick Drake’s albums emerged into an overcrowded world of pop, folk and rock music that was exploding in an unprecedented display of talent, the existence of which was previously unimaginable. Who knew?

But my main point today is not to knock poor benighted Nick Drake. Forty years later, we can all see that if he’d gigged, if he’d done the publicity rounds he might well have been a contender.

Or he might not. Many weren’t, for various reasons. But what is clear forty years later is that he made music that survives all fashions, all fads.

And it is also clear – to me at least (and I think John Howard) – that if Donovan Leitch had died after the release of his 1968 double album, A Gift From A Flower To A Garden, today we would all be talking about what a loss Donovan was.

The fact that he’s still around to bore us with his tales of how he taught Lennon and McCartney to fingerpick – resulting in songs like Blackbird, Julia, Dear Prudence and Mother Nature’s Son on the fabled White Album – only goes to say how damaging to your heritage it can be to live too long.

So, to somewhat redress the balance, here’s Donovan and Sunny Goodge Street. Have a listen, and then we can start the arguments about whether Nick Drake might have been influenced by Mr Leitch.

And, for comparison, here’s Nick Drake’s At The Chime Of A City Clock.