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Reelin’ In the Years 111: The Combine Harvester

From the sublime (Al Stewart, last two weeks) to the gorblimey.

I’d almost forgotten about this till the good lady said she’d heard it on the radio this week

The Wurzels were a band from Somerset – a traditional rural farming county – who dubbed their style Scrumpy and Western after the name for a type of cider and a USian music genre.

A parody of Melanie (Safka)’s Brand New Key from 1971 with lyrics more appropriate to agriculture this, believe it or not, was actually a number one hit in the UK in 1976. For three weeks!

Bits of it are still funny, though. I especially like the spoken, “I just can’t wait till I get me ‘ands on your laaaaand,” towards the end.

The Wurzels: The Combine Harvester

Another Wurzels parody, this time of Una Paloma Blanca, got to number three in 1976.

The Wurzels: I am a Cider Drinker

There are clips on You Tube of the Wurzels performing this on TV but on one of them they are introduced by a paedophile and the other is incomplete.

Reelin’ In the Years 110: Roads To Moscow

Another example of Al Stewart’s lyrical eclecticism.

This one is about the Great Patriotic War.

Al Stewart : Roads To Moscow

Reelin’ In the Years 109: On The Border

Not the only “pop” song to be about the Spanish Civil War but the subject certainly marks it out as lyrically unusual. But then Al Stewart’s lyrics tended to the eclectic.

This is a live version.

Al Stewart: On the Border

Reelin’ In the Years 84: Year Of The Cat

Al Stewart in his prime.

A live version here of one of his best.

Al Stewart: Year Of The Cat

Reelin’ In The Years 4: Time Passages

Now we’re in the seventies proper.

Al Stewart has one of those distinctive voices. You really couldn’t mistake him for anyone else. He almost doesn’t sing but more or less speaks instead. (Don’t knock it. Johnny Cash made a career out of not singing.)

Time Passages was one of the songs I considered for the title to this category. It was a hit in the US but not the UK. He got a lot of airplay in Britain but not many sales I think. Year Of The Cat was his only hit single over here.

This is a live version, pretty faithful to the record.

Al Stewart: Time Passages

Reelin’ In The Years 1: Reelin’ In The Years

Last year I started my Friday On My Mind ramblings as a result of a competition at my workplace for best song of the Nineteen Sixties. Well, the year has rolled round and this time it was the Nineteen Seventies. The same rules applied – a hit single in either the UK or the USA.

Given the tweeness of last year’s winner, Daydream Believer, there was quite a bit of discussion about what the equivalent 70s song might be. The great fear was it would be Eurovision winner, Save Your Kisses For Me. Thankfully it wasn’t. It turns out the judging panel went for overblown bombast instead. Second place went to Free’s All Right Now and the winner was Bruce Springsteen with Born To Run.

Well, that may have been a hit in the States but it certainly wasn’t in Britain.

It was a second winner in a row from the US, though. So much for British pop!

To try to sum up a whole decade with one song is impossible of course but for most pervasive 1970s song Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody must be up there practically unchallenged.

There is an argument that (much like sexual intercourse) the 60s didn’t begin in musical terms until the arrival of The Beatles. In the same way the musical decade could be said to linger until the advent of glam rock which I would date to Marc Bolan’s selling out and the release of Hot Love in 1971. The musical 70s then only spanned the brief time from 1971 to 1977, when punk came along.

Also, the 70s – certainly in its early years – was actually more the decade of the album than the single (by and large the two were aimed at different markets and barely talked to each other) so that fact alone automatically rules out a lot of good stuff.

Still, to my mind there are many, many better 70s singles than Born To Run to choose from. A lot of them will have been album tracks first I suppose.

I’ve featured elsewhere Albert Hammond’s Free Electric Band, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s Ohio and The Beach Boys’ Student Demonstration Time.

After toying with Al Stewart’s Time Passages, I thought either Do It Again or Reelin’ In The Years, both by Steely Dan, would be a good umbrella term for a selection from the 70s. I settled on Reelin’ In The Years.

So here’s the not overblown and far from bombastic Steely Dan. (They’re still from the US though.)

Steely Dan: Reelin’ In The Years

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