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.


Peter Gabriel: Don’t Give Up (1986)

Don’t Give Up (Version 1)

Don’t Give Up (version 2)

Don’t Give Up (Secret World Live with Paula Cole)

Peter GabrielReturn with us now to the thrilling days of yesteryear, a time before music had turned to crap, a time when people who made music could actually sing and play instruments.

Peter Gabriel’s tenure as lead singer of Genesis marked the band’s creative heyday. After his departure, Genesis went on to become a hugh commercial success (emphisis on the word commercial), while Gabriel eventually became a megastar in his own right. No cause-related benefit concert of the 1980s was complete without Gabriel performing Red Rain and Biko.

I was at Gabriel’s first-ever solo show at the legendary Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ on March 5, 1977. The opening act was Television. Unfortunately, the suburban prog-rock audience wasn’t ready for Television’s New York new wave sound, and the band was literally booed off the stage.

But I digress. The reason that I chose to highlight this particular song isn’t because it’s Gabriel’s best or even my favorite. I selected it because it’s topical.

Don’t Give Up, a duet with Kate Bush, tells the story of an unemployed man who’s at the end of his rope because he can’t find a job during hard economic times.

We’re living in that time now. The current American president cares more about nationalizing the private sector and listening to the sound of his own voice than doing anything effective to stimulate the economy so people can get back to work.

There are three videos this time. The two studio versions were directed by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme. The first features Peter and Kate embracing and revolving while the sun slowly goes into and out of an eclipse. The second shows Gabriel superimposed over a town with people in hard times. The last video is a live version filmed at the Secret World Live concert in Italy and features Paula Cole as the other singer in the duet.

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.

Died Pretty: True Fools Fall (1990)

died-prettyWhen I interviewed Paul Kelly in Adelaide, Australia in 1992, I asked him what bands he was listening to. In his response, he mentioned Died Pretty, along with The Go-Betweens and The Triffids. When I got back to the U.S., I made an effort to check them out. I’m glad I did, because it exposed me to a musical avenue that I barely knew existed at the time.

I fully understand that Died Pretty is an acquired taste. They were Australia’s answer to R.E.M., if you mutated them and transferred them to the Bizarro universe (indeed, Died Pretty opened for R.E.M. on the Australian leg of their 1994 tour). Moving right along…

Siinger Ron Peno and guitarist Brett Myers formed the band in Sydney in early 1984. During their career, which lasted until 2002, they released nine albums and four EPs. True Fools Fall is off the album Every Brilliant Eye.

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 for Steve Harley.

Sinéad Lohan: Whatever It Takes (1998)

Sinéad LohanSinéad Lohan is one of music’s enigmatic figures. She appeared on the international scene with her second album, No Mermaid, had a couple of minor hits, had a baby, and then vanished.

Lohan is Irish. Her first album, Who Do You Think I Am (1995), was a hit in her native Ireland. No Mermaid was released in 1998 and garnered some critical acclaim, as well as producing a couple of minor hits. The title track from No Mermaid was used in the movie Message In a Bottle.

“Nobody knows what I write about exactly. Nobody knows why I write and nobody ever sees me write. If I lived in a different century, they might have burned me as a witch for expressing myself the way I do. The funny thing is, I don’t understand most of the songs when I write them and then they become obviously relevant to what I’m going through a few months or a year later. They’re like predictions and then like comforts.”

Sinéad Lohan

Lohan had a baby in 2001 and stopped recording. A new album that was supposed to have been released in 2007 has never materialized. Lohan’s website hasn’t been updated since 2001.

Whatever It Takes comes from the album No Mermaid. Listen to how good this song is. It’s catchy and poppy without being treacly, and you can hear a Celtic influence.

Message to Sinéad Lohan: Please come back.