Archives » 1970s

Reelin’ in the Years 174: Burning – RIP Steve Priest

So, farewell then, Steve Priest, bass guitarist with The Sweet.

On one of the band’s Top of the Pops performances Steve managed to outrage my father with his make-up and pouting to the camera. I just thought all of that was an in-joke, a very muted kind of rebellion.

I’ve already featured what I think of as the band’s good hits; the ones that weren’t mere bubblegum fluff.

The Sweet’s B-sides were their attempt to show that they were serious musicians. Some see them as forerunners of and influences on later heavy metal bands. At the time most of my acquiantances thought they were maybe trying a bit too hard.

On this one (the B-side of Hell Raiser) it sounds like they were trying to channel Led Zeppelin, specifically The Immigrant Song.

The Sweet: Burning

Stephen Norman (Steve) Priest, 23/2/1948 – 4/6/2020. So it goes.

Reelin’ in the Years 172: Wuthering Heights

This was the song that introduced Kate Bush to the world.

And over forty years later I finally got round to reading the book which inspired it.

Kate Bush: Wuthering Heights

Reelin’ in the Years 171: Ain’t No Sunshine. RIP Bill Withers

Another 1970s songwriter gone.

Writing a love song, or at least a good love song, is a difficult trick to pull off. That Bill Withers managed to tread the line between enuine feeling and mawkish sentimentality on the right side speaks of his talent.

He had very few hits but the songs for which he’ll be remembered in the UK, Lean on Me, Just the Two of Us, Lovely Day and Ain’t No Sunshine, do just that. Lovely Day is one of the few examples of a feel-good song that is pitch perfect.

The last of those four seems more appropriate to mark his passing though.

Bill Withers: Ain’t No Sunshine

William Harrison (Bill) Withers: July 4/7/1938 – March 30/3/2020. So it goes.

Reelin’ In the Years 170: Match of the Day

“Match of the Day’s the only way to spend your Saturday.”

Not at the moment it isn’t.

A song from simpler times. “We paid four hundred thousand pounds for him. You realise that?” Nowadays that wouldn’t go near buying you a top player’s big toe.

Curiously this isn’t the only football reference in a Genesis song (‘a goal can find you a role on a muddy pitch in Newcastle, where it rains so much, you can’t wait for a touch of sun and sand,’ from Mad Man Moon on the Trick of the Tail album.)

Genesis: Match of the Day

Reelin’ In the Years 169: Samba Pa Ti

This seems to have been Santana’s first hit in the UK though if asked I’d have thought Black Magic Woman or Oye Como Va had got there before it. Memory is a funny thing.

Santana: Samba Pa Ti

Reelin’ In the Years 168: Arms Of Mary

I’ve heard this on the radio several times recently.

It was good to be reminded of it.

The Sutherland Brothers and Quiver: Arms Of Mary

Reelin’ In the Years 167: The Things I Should Have Said

This is a track from Lindisfarne’s first album Nicely Out of Tune, my favourite track on there, but I’ve not been able to feature it before as I couldn’t previously find an embeddable example.

I have a thing about lyrics. You know this. (Maybe I’m a frustrated song-writer.)

I particularly like the rhyming in this one but the overall lyric has some great lines.

Who hasn’t been in the situation, “So we sat and watched each other through the fading firelight
Each one waiting for the silence to be broken”? Those lines just ache for resolution.

“The spittle from his twisted lips ran down to his bow-tie,” (and bow-tie rhymed with ‘eye’ and ‘deny’) is nothing short of inspired as is also in the last verse, “Teachers from whose hallowed mouths great pearls of wisdom crawl,” where the emphasis provided by the internal rhymes in, “The joke is on the bloke who never spoke a word at all,” hammers the song’s point home.

Add in the fact that the last line of each verse is not just foreshadowed but fore-ordained by the word immediately preceding, “And the things I should have said,” and you have a lyrical masterpiece.

Lindisfarne: The Things I Should Have Said

Friday on my Mind 186: Let’s Be Natural – RIP Neil Innes

2019 kept taking away till the very end. Not content with removing Alasdair Gray from us it managed to take Neil Innes on the same day.

It was only four months ago I featured his big hit with The Bonzo DogDoo-Dah Band, I’m the Urban Spaceman.

That was the least of the band’s eccentricities. Innes contributed the most bizarre guitar solo to the utterly indescribable Canyons of Your Mind. Try out this video from the BBC’s Colour Me Pop for size.

The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band: Canyons of Your Mind

Innes’s Beatles parodies for Rutland Weekend Television and subsequent recordings as The Rutles were sublime. The haunting Let’s Be Natural is the perfect example.

The Rutles: Let’s Be Natural

Neil James Innes: 9/12/1944 – 29/12/2019. So it goes.

Reelin’ In the Years 166: Oh, Babe, What Would You Say?

A follow-up to Don’t Let it Die, this song only reached no. 4 in the UK compared to Smith’s previous no. 2, but was a big hit in the US.

Smith’s idiosyncratic “cracked” singing voice was certainly distinctive but his first two singles represent the summit of his recording career.

The writing credit on this is to Hurricane’s wife, Eileen Sylvia Smith (see link above.)

Hurricane Smith: Oh, Babe, What Would You Say?

Reelin’ In the Years 165: Do Anything You Wanna Do

The lead singer of Eddie and the Hot Rods died suddenly earlier this month. The Rods were a kind of precursor punk band more or less superseded by the likes of the Sex Pistols when they came along. Their brief heyday was in 1977 when this song – released under the name The Rods – became their biggest hit.

The Rods: Do Anything You Wanna Do

Barrie Masters: 4/5/1956 – 2/10/2019. So it goes.

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