Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Time Machine: 1969 #1

12-1-09 Time Machine: 1969 #1

I have been ‘reading’ the Japanese magazine “Strange Days” for all of 2009. A regular feature of this magazine has been “Time Machine – 40 Years Ago” – listing records all released in 1969. “Strange Days” experimented with a larger format magazine for the first few months of 2009, but with the April issue, they began this interesting column.

Well, I was awake and listening to rock music in 1969. Lots of possibilities for a young mind: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix…you could hear this music on the radio with some effort – my brother certainly had albums by these artists in our home.

Strange Days 2009.04 lists “February 1969 Albums” as The Fool – self-titled album (Mercury UK SMLC 20138), Mary Hopkin “Postcard” (Apple UK SAPCOR 5), Gun – self-titled album (CBS UK S 63552), The Beach Boys “20/20” (Capitol US ST-133), Ten Years After “Stonedhenge” (Deram UK SML 1029) and Procol Harum “Shine On Brightly” (Regal Zonophone UK SLRZ 1004).

The Fool were the Dutch hippie artists who famously designed the Apple Boutique in London for The Beatles. I never heard their album, but I remember seeing it – it looked way too hippy-dippy, even in 1969! I do not own this album.

Mary Hopkin became famous because of her association with The Beatles (and Apple Records). It’s true, “Those Were The Days” was a big hit – and it was played on the radio a lot back then. It was so popular that it was not uncommon to hear it being sung by someone unlikely (Andy Williams?) on TV. I always liked her single “Goodbye” a lot better. I own “Postcard” on LP, and I even have the original recording of “Those Were The Days” by Gene & Francesca (on their 1968 LP “Hello Love” on Tetragrammaton) – Gene Raskin was who wrote the song. I wonder how Paul McCartney heard it?

Gun was never on my radar back then. Too obscure! Later on, I was a big fan of Parrish & Gurvitz, but Adrian Gurvitz did not enter my picture at all in 1969! Same thing for The Beach Boys. If one was listening to Country Joe & The Fish or Spirit – a band like The Beach Boys was not required listening – then or now.

Ten Years After was definitely on my radar in ’69 – even before their glorious performance at Woodstock. Either my brother talked about them, or I saw how groovy their first 3 albums looked – but what song would I have heard on the radio back then? This is before TYA’s “Love Like A Man” (and “Cricklewood Green”).

Procol Harum is the big winner here. I love ‘em. “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” was a big hit on the radio; you could hear it anywhere. My brother had their debut album, which remains to this very day one of my all-time favorite albums. “Shine On Brightly” followed a year or so after their debut album. Hey, it’s in stereo! This album helped create new directories in my thinking about music. Serious rock music, this. But I love the sound of the collaboration of these British guys. And one member of the band just wrote lyrics!

- Ron

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