Roy Harper: Another Day (1970)

Roy HarperI saw Roy Harper play live at the Half Moon in London on August 19, 1991. Since he rarely played in the United States, I was grateful for the opportunity to finally see him.

The show was kind of a disaster. Roy came onstage in what can only be described as a severely altered state. “I’m not ripped—I’m shredded,” were his first words to the audience. Things went downhill from there. He forgot the words to some of the songs. He changed songs before finishing the one he was playing. He rambled and at one point made chicken noises into the microphone. To make matters worse, there was a drunken heckler at the front of the stage that yelled out nonsense throughout the show, at one point attempting to knock over the speakers at the side of the stage. Apparently, the club didn’t believe in bouncers.

At the end of the set, Roy told the audience that there would be some improvement during the following two nights. That was little consolation to me—I was catching a flight back to the States the next day.

Still, I don’t hold it against him. I heard that he’d had some personal problems that night. Besides, it’s Roy Harper.

If you don’t think you’ve heard Roy Harper, you probably have. He sang the lead vocals on the Pink Floyd song Have a Cigar. In addition to Pink Floyd, he’s worked with a myriad of rock luminaries, including Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Ronnie Lane, Keith Moon, David Gilmour, Paul and Linda McCartney, Keith Emerson, and Kate Bush.

“I was never really a bone fide member of the folk scene. I was too much of a modernist, really. Just too modern for what was going on in the folk clubs. I wanted to modernize music, but more than that to completely modernize people’s attitudes towards life in general. I was involved in trying to bring meat to the folk music, which is a big mistake anyway.”

Roy Harper, October 2008

Roy recorded 21 studio albums, plus a number of live albums and compilations. The featured track, Another Day, is from the 1970 album Flat Baroque and Berserk. The first version is the album track. The second is a video by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, which I added because it complements the Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush video from my last post.

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Bob Dylan: Idiot Wind (1975)

Bob Dylan

Going to a Bob Dylan concert is a bit of a crap shoot—you never know what you’re going to get. It could be great. It could be incoherent. It could be a little of both.

In 1961, Dylan began singing and playing folk music in New York’s Greenwich Village. By 1965, he’d written a number of notable folk songs and protest songs, including Blowin’ in the Wind and The Times They Are a-Changin. March 1965 saw the release of Bringing It All Back Home, Dylan’s first album featuring the use of electric instruments.

The folk music establishment went ballistic. Ewan MacColl, writing in Sing Out!, said:

“Our traditional songs and ballads are the creations of extraordinarily talented artists working inside traditions formulated over time…But what of Bobby Dylan?…a youth of mediocre talent. Only a non-critical audience, nourished on the watery pap of pop music could have fallen for such tenth-rate drivel.”

There are folk music enthusiasts who to this day still haven’t forgiven Dylan for breaking out into the mainstream.

“A lot of people can’t stand touring but to me it’s like breathing. I do it because I’m driven to do it.”
— Bob Dylan

Idiot Wind is one of my favorite Dylan songs. It’s certainly the most angry. Because of copyright issues, I can’t reprint the lyrics here, but fortunately, the lyrics are printed on Dylan’s website. The song comes from the Blood on the Tracks album, released in 1975. The version presented here is from a 1976 concert.

The Outsiders: Time Won’t Let Me (1966)

The Outsiders

Despite having four hit singles and recording four albums, The Outsiders are remembered today for this one song, Time Won’t Let Me, which reached number 5 on the American charts in 1966.

Guitarist Tom King started the band in Cleveland in 1965. When King left the band in 1968, vocalist Sonny Geraci and Walter Nims attempted to continue recording under The Outsiders name. A legal battle ensued. After King finally won the rights to the name in 1970, Geraci and Nims formed a new called Climax. The new band recorded the number 1 hit Precious and Few. Today, Geraci tours under the name Sonny Geraci and the Outsiders.

“I never met Frank Sinatra…never met The Beatles. I did meet The Beach Boys. I would have loved to have met Frank Sinatra.”

Sonny Geraci

Time Won’t Let Me fuses elements of British rock and Motown. The horn arrangement gives the song a blues sound, while the jangly guitars were influenced by the British Invasion bands.

Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel: Star For a Week (1992)

steve_harleyWhat would the seventies have been without Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel?

Steve was born Stephen Malcolm Ronald Nice in Deptford, South London, on February 27, 1951. He first performed with Cockney Rebel, then dissolved that band and started Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel. Steve has also recorded solo projects as Steve Harley.

He’s had many hits throughout his career, including Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me), which reached number one on the UK charts in 1975. Other hits include Judy Teen, Mr. Soft, Mr. Raffles, (Man It Was Mean), Here Comes The Sun, Love’s a Prima Donna, Irresistible, and Phantom of  the  Opera (with Sarah Brightman).

Steve was and is well-known in the UK and Europe but you’d probably be hard-pressed to find people in the U.S. who’ve heard of him. His live shows always feature the audience singing along to Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me).

One of my favorite songs by Steve Harley is Star For a Week, which appeared on the album Yes You Can. The song is based on the actual story of troubled youth in Norfolk who began a crime spree because he wanted to be famous. This video clip comes from a 1989 UK concert.

Search Amazon.com for Steve Harley.

Mott the Hoople – The Golden Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll (1974)

Mott The HoopleFronted by singer Ian Hunter, Mott the Hoople released their self-titled debut album in 1969. Although the album received some recognition, the following two albums sold poorly and the band found themselves on the verge of breaking up.

The band was revitalized after releasing the David Bowie-penned All The Young Dudes. The album of the same name made it to number 21 on the UK charts. Due to their evolving stage costumes, the band became identified with glam rock. The band grew in popularity and their next album, Mott, reached number 10 in the UK.

mth

1974 saw the release of two more albums, The Hoople, and Live. Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson left the band, while the remaining members of the band formed a new band called Mott, who released two forgettable albums before disbanding.

Ian Hunter went on to have a long-lived solo career. In January, he announced three Mott the Hoople reunion concerts in October at the Hammersmith Apollo. When the concert takes place, Ian will be 70-years-old.

The cut presented here, The Golden Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll, is from the album The Hoople. The clip is from an appearance on Top of the Pops. Yeah, they’re lip-synching, but this is a kick-ass rock n’ roll song, so enjoy it.

• Mott the Hoople Website: www.mottthehoople.com
• Ian Hunter Website: www.ianhunter.com

T.Rex – Cosmic Dancer (1971)

Marc Bolan of T.RexT. Rex began in London in 1967 as a short-lived four-piece band known as Tyrannosaurus Rex. After the breakup of the first incarnation of the band, Marc Bolan (real name: Mark Feld) reformed the band as a two-piece acoustic psychedelic folk band, with Marc playing acoustic guitar, and Steve Took on bongos and various percussion instruments.

Musical differences led to Took’s departure from the band and subsequent replacement with percussionist Mickey Finn. Eventually, the band became a four-piece, with Bolan playing electric guitar and embracing a hit-making pop sound.

The release of Electric Warrior in 1971 saw T.Rex with a number 1 album in England and what would be their only hit in the U.S., Bang a Gong (Get It On).

trex

Cosmic Dancer is the second track on the album. The version above, from the film, Born to Boogie, doesn’t compare with the album version, whichfeatures Tony Visconti’s masterful string arrangement. The song was used in the opening of the film Billy Elliot. Listen for backing vocals by Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (The Turtles, Flo & Eddie).

• Official Marc Bolan Fan Club: www.marc-bolan.com
• Marc Bolan/T.Rex Fan Site: www.tilldawn.net
• Marc Bolan Fan Site: marcbolanswiganbop.piczo.com