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Reelin’ In the Years 151: Don’t Let it Die

An odd one this; record producer Norman Smith taking the mike (yes that’s the abbreviation for microphone used back in the day) himself apparently as a demo for John Lennon to consider but fellow record producer Mickie Most said he should release it as he’d recorded it.

A plea for wildlife conservation sadly still appropriate nigh on fifty years later.

For all its rough and ready qualities there’s something oddly haunting about Smith’s singing voice.

Hurricane Smith: Don’t Let It Die

Reelin’ In the Years 150: Hell Raiser

Well, it’s the only one of The Sweet’s big hits I’ve not yet featured here.

This is from a performance on German TV.

The Sweet: Hell Raiser

Reelin’ In the Years 149: Dragonfly

Earlier this week I learned of the death of Danny Kirwan, guitarist with Fleetwood Mac from 1968 to 1972. His Guardian obituary is here.

Much overlooked in comparison to Peter Green, Kirwan was an important part of the band’s sound during the transition after Green’s departure. The song I’ve chosen, Dragonfly, is the only Kirwan composition (he wrote the tune to set the words of a poem by Welsh poet W H Davies) to make it onto the first Fleetwood Mac “Greatest Hits” compilation.

A less harsh, more melodic touch than Green’s (Man of the World notwithstanding.)

Fleetwood Mac: Dragonfly

Daniel David Kirwan: 13/5/1950 – 8/6/2018. So it goes.

Reelin’ In the Years 148: Lonely Days

Another outing for the word nonchalant in a lyric; except here its inclusion is a little more forced.

The harmonies on the verse of this are sublime.

The Bee Gees: Lonely Days

Reelin’ In the Years 147: Wherewithal

Clifford T Ward was an unusual pop star. Who else would have based a popular song around a Robert Browning poem in Home Thoughts from Abroad? (See here track 7.)

Not only did Ward use the word wherewithal in this song, he made it the title.

And I doubt you’ll find non-pareil in any other song lyric. (Granted, nonchalant is less rare.)

Clifford T Ward: Wherewithal

Reelin’ In the Years 146: Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone – RIP Dennis Edwards

Dennis Edwards died earlier this week. He replaced David Ruffin in the line-up of The Temptations and was an important part of the new grittier sound which had more chart success in the UK than the band’s earlier incarnation.

An example of one of those less romance-leaning songs is Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone from 1972.

The Temptations: Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone

Dennis Edwards: 3/2/1943 – 1/2/2018. So it goes

Reelin’ In the Years 144: Sixty Years On/Have Mercy on the Criminal. RIP Paul Buckmaster

Master musical arranger Paul Buckmaster died last month. I only got to know about it when his obituary appeared in the Guardian. I first knowingly encountered Buckmaster’s work on Elton John’s second album Elton John but I had heard it before on David Bowie’s Space Oddity.

Buckmaster’s importance to the overall sound of that eponymous album is most to the fore on Sixty Years On. I hadn’t heard anything like that on a pop record before (not even from The Beatles) except possibly for the orchestral backing to Simon and Garfunkel’s Old Friends on the Bookends album.

Elton John: Sixty Years On

Elton’s next two studio albums Tumbleweed Connection and Madman Across the Water also used Buckmaster’s arrangements to great effect as did his film score for Friends but his presence was missing on Honky Chateau. Elton turned to Buckmaster again with the stunning Have Mercy on the Criminal from Don’t Shoot me I’m Only the Piano Player.

Elton John: Have Mercy on the Criminal

Paul John Buckmaster: 13/6/1946 – 7/11/2017. So it goes.

Reelin’ In the Years 143: I Think I Love You. RIP David Cassidy

By complete contrast with AC/DC (previous “Reelin’ in the Years” post,) a more bubblegum sound.

Before embarking on his solo career David Cassidy, the 70s teen idol (many of the good lady’s schoolfriends were fans) who died this week, was a member of the TV singing group The Partridge Family. The show wasn’t that much of a success in the UK but still made a star – and heart-throb – of Cassidy.

I prefer this Partridge Family hit to his solo stuff.

The Partridge Family: I Think I Love You

David Bruce Cassidy: 12/4/1950-21/11/2017. So it goes.

Reelin’ In the Years 142: Highway to Hell. RIP Malcolm Young

I had of course heard of AC/DC but their oeuvre wasn’t really my bag (as people used to say in the long ago.) The group’s driving force seems to have been Malcolm Young who died during the week.

I chose this song as representative because one of the entertainers on the cruise to Norway we were on earlier this year played the song as part of his (eclectic) set – along with Nessun Dorma no less.

It was only when the “Highway to Hell” chorus was belted out by a large proportion of the people in the room I realised how much it had penetrated the consciousness.


Malcolm Mitchell Young: 6/1/1953-18/11/2017. So it goes.

Reelin’ In the Years 141: Haitian Divorce – RIP Walter Becker

It turns out that while I was away one of the authors of the song which gives this category its title died.

Steely Dan was one of those acts which seem to stand apart from the general run of their musical contemporaries. In their time but not of their time.

I’ve already posted Reelin’ In the Years of course, but also Do it Again, Rikki Don’t Lose That Number and Daddy Don’t Live In That New York City No More.

This is one of their UK hits from 1976 that doesn’t seem to have charted in the US, perhaps not released as a single there.

Steely Dan: Haitian Divorce

Walter Carl Becker: 20/2/1950 – 3/9/2017. So it goes.

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