Tag Archives: 1974

Rocks In The Attic #692: Elton John – ‘Caribou’ (1974)

RITA#692One of the highlights of last weekend’s royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – aside from watching Idris Elba accompany Oprah Winfrey through the doors of the chapel – was Elton John’s fabulous pink glasses. I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I think he might be one of those homosexuals that we’ve been hearing so much about.

You can always rely on Elton to look fabulous. The pink spectacles reminded me of his portrait on the inner sleeve to this, his eighth studio album. Coming off the back of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a step down after such a big seller, but there’s still a lot to love here. Opener The Bitch Is Back sounds like the tag-team partner of Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting, and Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me would be a moderate hit (#16 UK, #2 US) before being recorded as a duet with George Michael in 1991, topping the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.

I just love the outrageousness of Elton singing a love letter to Grimsby – Take me back you rustic town / I miss your magic charm / Just to smell your candy floss / Or drink in the Skinners Arms.

Hit: Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me

Hidden Gem: Grimsby

RITA#692a

Advertisements

Rocks In The Attic #655: Richard Hayman & His Orchestra – ‘Marlon Brando’s Great Movie Themes’ (1974)

RITA#655Hey, STELLA!!! I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it. Someday – and that day may never come – I’ll call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, accept this justice as a gift on my daughter’s wedding day. Get the butter!

Hit: Love Theme From The Godfather

Hidden Gem: Last Tango In Paris

Rocks In The Attic #526: Tony Hancock – ‘Golden Hour Of Tony Hancock’ (1974)

rita526Anything from the pen of Ray Galton and Alan Simpson is always worth a listen, and while I prefer the boiled-down pathos of Steptoe & Son over the broader comedy of Tony Hancock, I still love listening to this.

It’s also nice to hear Sid James, Kenneth Williams and Hattie Jacques plying their trade in radio comedy before they became household names in the ubiquitous Carry On films.

Galton and Simpson’s liner notes from this record describe Hancock perfectly:

Mr. Hancock’s performance has been described by some critics as the epitomisation of the struggles, frustrations and disillusionments of a romantic in a materialistic society. It has been described by other critics as the epitomisation of the struggles, frustrations and disillusionments of a materialist in a romantic society. Mr. Sidney James, on the other hand, describes him as ‘a bit of a twit’ which is as good a definition as any.

A nice touch for this record is the reappearance of Hancock’s voice at the end of the first side. After the credits for The Wild Man Of The Woods, he reappears to say:

“Well, that’s it for this side. You’d better take the needle off now; otherwise it’ll hit that metal bit that sticks up through the hole in the middle.  We never used to have that trouble with the cylinders. Never had to turn them over either; all on the same side. Progress? Cor, dear. Well go on, turn it over.”

At the start of the second side, he appears again:

Done it? Good. Well hang on, they’re not ready to start yet. Otherwise we finish too far away from the label and it looks bad, you know. Well, you can’t charge these prices and finish up halfway across the record. I told them to put a bigger label on but they wouldn’t listen. I wonder if they had labels on the cylinders? No, I expect they used to put a little note inside them, like you do in milk bottles. Right, well I think we’re ready to go. We’ll just hang on for a few seconds for those who were a bit slow in turning it over. All ready? Right…

And then finally at the end of side two:

Well, there it is. Could have happened to anybody. Anyway, I’d just like to say thank you for buying the record. Or if you’re listening to it in a record shop, don’t mess about, buy it. Not for me, but think of the bloke who owns the shop, the poor devil. He’s got a living to make, the same as the rest of us. Well, thank you again, that’s all. When I count three, take the needle off.  1…2…3……………………There’s no more.

Hit: The Wild Man Of The Woods

Hidden Gem: A Sunday Afternoon At Home

Rocks In The Attic #497: Andrew Lloyd Webber – ‘The Odessa File (O.S.T.)’ (1974)

RITA#497I haven’t seen The Odessa File. The wife found me the soundtrack in the local charity shop, and I’m a sucker for soundtracks, so it was very much appreciated. Composed by a pre-world famous Andrew Lloyd Webber, it’s a mixed bag of material – a Perry Como Christmas tune, some rousing German choral marches and some very listenable instrumental incidental music.

Some of the instrumental music is so good in fact, it almost seems a shame that Lloyd Webber concentrated on musical theatre for the majority of his career. He might have been an outstanding soundtrack artist had he continued down this route instead.

Tracks like Solomon Tauber’s Diary or Music At Riga sound like they’ve been lifted off a blaxploitation soundtrack, maybe something from a label like Stax. They’re totally at odds with the rest of the record though, and very interesting especially as they were recorded by what was probably a very white band. A mention should go out to Vic Flick – the guitarist of Monty Norman’s James Bond Theme – who plays guitar on the soundtrack.

I’ll have to check out the film though. I’m a big fan of early Jon Voight, before he turned into a bit of a strange character. He’s probably more famous now for being the estranged father of Angelina Jolie, when he was obviously a very talented – and Oscar-winning – actor back in the day.

Hit: Main Title Music

Hidden Gem: Solomon Tauber’s Diary

Rocks In The Attic #420: Alice Cooper – ‘Alice Cooper’s Greatest Hits’ (1974)

RITA#420I stole this one out of my Dad’s small collection of vinyl when I was about fourteen. At that point, I only knew School’s Out and nothing else, but this whole record quickly became a firm favourite of mine. In fact, I’d say it’s one of my favourite rock compilations.

There’s something about the quality of the Alice Cooper band at this stage – when the band was called Alice Cooper, not the man – that Alice has never managed to recapture during his solo years. I saw him play live in Auckland a few years ago, and just like Ozzy he seems to take the approach that the heavier the band the better. So we got a lot of the songs from this album, but performed by a group of young guys in a band that was closer to metal than rock.

It’s such a shame because you lose a lot of the appeal of classic rock songs when you amp them up to metal. Imagine if Metallica did an album of Doobie Brothers covers – all the subtleties and nuances would fly out the door as soon as they plugged in. You can hear this in Metallica’s cover of Whiskey In The Jar, which just sounds like a metal-by-numbers imitation of the Thin Lizzy version.

I was stoked when Richard Linklater included two songs from Alice Cooper’s Greatest Hits on the soundtrack to Dazed And Confused. Both songs used – School’s Out and No More Mr Nice Guy are used in the scenes with Wiley Wiggins’s character Mitch Kramer. School’s Out, not surprisingly, soundtracks the moment that school finishes; and No More Mr Nice Guy plays over the scene where Mitch gets captured – and paddled – by the seniors.

Years later, while watching Julien Temple’s fantastic Sex Pistols documentary The Filth And The Fury, I found out that John Lydon auditioned for the Pistols by singing Alice Cooper’s I’m Eighteen next to a jukebox.

Hit: School’s Out

Hidden Gem: Hello, Hurray

Rocks In The Attic #415: The Commodores – ‘Machine Gun’ (1974)

RITA#415It’s a shame the Commodores are in black and white on the cover of this. I suspect they’re wearing the same colour skivvies as the Wiggles. Wake up Lionel!

Machine Gun has to be one of my favourite R&B songs – second only to Pick Up The Pieces by the Average White Band. This is the sort of music I was turning to just after I left my DJing gig in the early 2000s. I walked out on that gig after the bar manager asked me to play more Limp Bizkit – I think history deems me the righteous winner in that exchange.

I prefer an alternate timeline, one where Lionel Ritchie doesn’t go solo, one where he stays in the Commodores and they churn out dirty R&B stompers like Brick House and Machine Gun year after year after year. How fabulous. And no Hello or Dancing On The Ceiling

Hit: Machine Gun

Hidden Gem: The Assembly Line

Rocks In The Attic #402: The Rolling Stones – ‘It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll’ (1974)

RITA#402For me, this is the first real duffer by the Stones. I like Goats Head Soup before this, and I like Black And Blue which followed this, but It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll has never really done it for me. It’s a weird transition record – the first one without Jimmy Miller in the producer’s chair, and the last to be recorded with Mick Taylor. Taylor’s playing had really energised the band a couple of years prior, taking them to another level entirely; but here it sounds like his heart’s just not it – bullied out of the band just as Brian Jones was before him.

One of the big problems I have with this album is the title track. Viewed as one of the Stones’ most well known singles – a song that seems to define them as a band – it’s probably one of the laziest singles they released. Essentially, it’s a catchy chorus with no real substance behind it. There’s little in the way of melody in the verses, and when I hear things like that godawful charity single put together a few years ago, it really makes me wonder who thinks of these things.

Not long before this, the UK was similarly blighted by a similar charity single with various artists “interpreting” Lou Reed’s Perfect Day – a love letter to his own heroin addiction. Alongside All Saints’ cover of Under The Bridge – also an ode to heroin addiction – this really is something that you just have to stare in wonder at the BBC for, an institution that once banned I Am The Walrus simply because it mentioned the word ‘knickers’ in the lyrics.

Hit: It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll (But I Like It)

Hidden Gem: Time Waits For No One