Thursday, December 3, 2009

Time Machine: 1969 #3

12-3-09 Time Machine: 1969 #3

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 2009.07 lists “May 1969 Albums” as John Lennon & Yoko Ono “Unfinished Music No. 2 – Life With The Lions) (Zapple UK 01), George Harrison “Electronic Sound” (Zapple UK 02), Scaffold “L. The P.” (Parlophone UK PCS 7077), The Hollies “Sing Dylan” (Parlophone PCS 7078), Procol Harum “A Salty Dog” (Regal Zonophone UK SLRZ 1009), Tyrannosaurus Rex “Unicorn” (Regal Zonophone SLRZ 1007) and The Who “Tommy” (Track Record UK 613 013/14 double LP).

I loved Procol Harum and The Who. “Tommy” drove us all nuts, making me go back and find inexpensive mono LP’s of “Happy Jack” and “The Who Sell Out”. I actually bought these albums at the time “with my own money”. “A Salty Dog” by Procol Harum has not left my turntable for 40 years now. What are Keith Reid’s lyrics on about? A friend of mine bought these dodgy Beatles’ solo albums, so I stayed away. I didn’t hear Scaffold for another few years, but loved ‘em totally when I did. The Hollies were off my radar by 1969 – relegated to being a UK 60’s ‘singles band’. And I certainly saw the Tyrannosaurus Rex albums – US versions on Blue Thumb, but I did not hear Marc Bolan until “Electric Warrior” (1971) – like nearly everyone else on Earth.

Strange Days 2009.08 lists “June 1969 Albums” as Crosby Stills & Nash – self-titled album (Atlantic US SD 8229), Savoy Brown “Blue Matter” (Decca UK SKL 4994), Amen Corner “The National Welsh Coast Live Explosion Company” (Immediate UK IMSP 023), The Casuals “Hour World (Decca UK SKL-R 5001) and in their footnotes (but not on their list), they mention Pete Brown & The Battered Ornaments “A Meal You Can Shake Hands With In The Dark” (Harvest UK SHVL 752).

You couldn’t not hear Crosby Stills & Nash in 1969! The FM hippie radio was playing them, ‘everybody’ was talking about them in the rock press and hippie record stores – I knew Steve Stills from Buffalo Springfield and David Crosby from The Byrds – oh, and the guy from The Hollies. I definitely heard Savoy Brown on the FM radio – “Train To Nowhere”, without a doubt. I bought a 45 of it! Did not hear Amen Corner or The Casuals (I still don’t know much about The Casuals!). I saw the gorgeous Mal Dean covers of the Pete Brown albums on the innersleeves found in Harvest UK LP’s, so I knew I had to have ‘em – after all, Mr. Brown (who I now count as a friend of 20+ years) wrote lots of lyrics for the much-lamented Cream.

As I write briefly about these 1969 releases, I recognize that these are records still very much in my consciousness, present tense. You must hear The Scaffold! Yes, “Tommy” by The Who is over-rated, but the SACD of it sounds AMAZING. Procol Harum are one my top 5 British artists, and I recommend “A Salty Dog” to you unconditionally. For Pete Brown (& Piblokto!), please try and hear “Things May Come and Things May Go, But The Art School Dance Goes On Forever” (1970).


Brian Ware said...

This is an interesting set of blogs, Ron. 1969 was an important year for me, as I was 14 years old. I also find it amusing at the thought of an 11 year old digging deeply into Soft Machine, but I've always felt that around 14 is the critical year for any young music listener. Reflecting back, it certainly was for me. I'm so glad I was able to experience the 60s in real time.

My daughter is 13 now and I'm seeing a big shift in her taste. I've worked hard to expose her to a wide variety of styles and eras, but I'm not surprised that she's striving to forge her own identity in many ways now. I'm not always on the same page, but I'm mindful not to rag on her listening like my father did.

Anonymous said...

Hrm. Do I even own an album from 1969? Can't think of any. Year Zero for my music appreciation seems to be 1972. I may have 1-2 1970 albums. Wait - I do have the "Space Oddity" album. But albums in earnest from '72 onwards.

Being that I am younger, I really got into albums from 77-78 when I would have been - 14, dammit! I guess Brian's thesis is rock-solid. Plus - buying albums requires more money than 45s. That surely has something to do with it. I didn't have any "income" other than my lunch money during high school. You do the math.

Ron Kane said...

Age 14 would seem to be the year that many of us really get into it. For me, that's the summer of '72 - Dick Heckstall-Smith "A Story Ended" and David Bowie's "ZSATSFM". I did dispense with Bowie rather quickly, however...never made it to "Pin Ups". I didn't get "Space Oddity" until '72 or so. First I ever heard of Mr. Bowie was at the time of "Hunky Dory", must've been "Life On Mars" 45. "Ziggy" just looked good to my 14 year old self.

Jim-san: I'll see if there's any 1970 music that I can unconditionally recommend to you. And, yes I did dig Soft Machine by age 14 - within a year, I had drawn the lines from Egg to Gong etc. '72 - '75 was an intense period for me, still in school - and so many German and French records to buy.