Hit: The Young Ones
Hidden Gem: The Savage
Hit: The Young Ones
Hidden Gem: The Savage
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the band America was from that side of the Atlantic. Aside from their name, they also sound a lot like an American proposition; not a million miles away from the soft-rock and smooth harmonies of the Eagles.
Formed in 1970, the trio (one British-born, two American-born) met each other while studying in London where their respective fathers were stationed in the U.S. Air Force. They wisely named themselves America to avoid people thinking they were a British band trying to sound American.
Unfortunately they’re the type of band that is now relegated to charity shops. Future singles A Horse With No Name (later added to this album upon its release as a single) and Ventura Highway are both fantastic and still sound great today.
Produced by Ian Samwell, the man who wrote Cliff Richard’s Move It, the band’s self-titled debut is a nice slice of somewhat melancholic folk pop. More than anything, they follow the template set down by Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young) – in fact, the lead single on this record, I Need You, bears more than a passing resemblance to CSNY’s Our House from their Déjà Vu album.
As an aside, surely Neil Young’s sometime-membership of that band should compel us to refer to them as Crosby, Stills, Nash Or Young…
Hit: I Need You
Hidden Gem: Riverside
Last year I read Mark Lewisohn’s first volume of his Beatles super biography, The Beatles: All These Years. One of the many, many nuggets of information I gleaned from it was that while the Beatles were over in Germany for their first shambolic Hamburg trip, the Shadows came out with Apache. Due to their absence, John, Paul, George and Pete missed out on the craze that would soon sweep the nation – beat groups with synchronised dance manoeuvres, and guitars heavily drenched in reverb.
It’s a blessing that they were out of the country for this. I don’t think I could handle Love Me Do with some twangy guitar lines over the top of it, or John, Paul and George doing some corny dance steps. The Shadows can keep that nonsense – Cliff Richard is welcome to them. I’ll happily take some of these tunes though – what a bunch of great melodies in such a short, three year period.
One of my Dad’s favourite jokes from the ‘60s goes something along the lines of ‘Have you heard that rumour about Cliff Richard? After his concerts, he likes to slip quietly into the shadows.’
Hidden Gem: 36-24-36
As far as records signed by famous dead drummers go, this one’s a beaut. I found this in a record store in Manchester, with ‘To Lesley, Best Wishes, Cozy Powell’ scrawled on it in biro. My Mum’s name is Lesley, so if she developed a love for late 1970s rock, I could always present this to her as a gift. Given her predilection for Cliff Richard records, I think this one will stay safely in my collection.
Back in 1994, when I was too young to go to music festivals, I remember I had a video that I had taped off MTV. To promote Donington’s Monsters of Rock festival in 1994 – the one headlined by Aerosmith and featuring a great supporting bill of up-and-coming bands like The Wildhearts, Terrorvision and Therapy? – they had put together a show of bands who had played Donington in the past.
It was that video that got me into a lot of bands – at that point I had developed a love for Aerosmith, but I hadn’t been exposed to much else. Most importantly the show closed with a performance of For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) from the AC/DC Live At Donington film from 1991. I’d never seen the mighty ‘DC before, and that performance – the sheer bombast of it all – turned me on to the band big time.
One of the other videos they played to represent past Donington highlights was Rainbow’s Since You’ve Been Gone. The band had headlined the very first Donington back in 1980, and without any footage from that appearance to show, they opted to show the cheesy music video for the song instead. It’s such a fantastic song, hardly the most representative song to showcase Ritchie Blackmore’s band – it’s essentially a pop single – but it’s something that always gets me reaching to turn the volume up.
Hit: Since You’ve Been Gone
Hidden Gem: All Night Long