Retro Music 66

Anyone who has known me all my life will tell you that I am not a great fan of Elton John. I don’t like to watch him perform, as he always seems rather creepy to me.

However, there was a time when I liked him quite a lot, a time before he was as hugely popular as he is now. Prior to his second album release in 1970, it was going to be distributed by the record company my dad was working for at the time. He brought home a sample copy of the single that was taken from the album, and I listened to it carefully. After a few days my dad asked me what I thought of this ‘new singer’, and I told him he was going to be huge.

The single released from the album was this one. It wasn’t a huge worldwide hit, far from it. But definitely a taste of things to come.
(And it is not an Aretha Franklin song, she recorded a cover version.)

Holy Moses I have been removed
I have seen the spectre he has been here too
Distant cousin from down the line
Brand of people who ain’t my kind
Holy Moses I have been removed

Holy Moses I have been deceived
Now the wind has changed direction and I’ll have to leave
Won’t you please excuse my frankness but it’s not my cup of tea
Holy Moses I have been deceived

I’m going back to the border
Where my affairs, my affairs ain’t abused
I can’t take any more bad water
Been poisoned from my head down to my shoes

Holy Moses I have been deceived
Holy Moses let us live in peace
Let us strive to find a way to make all hatred cease
There’s a man over there
What’s his colour I don’t care
He’s my brother let us live in peace
He’s my brother let us live in peace
He’s my brother let us live in peace

Written by: Bernie Taupin, Elton John
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind

Four years later, he released a single that I really liked. In 53 years, these are the only two records of his I ever owned.

Guest Post: Gavin Marriott On London Songs And Music

London music

When I went to school in NZ, we had no TV, and so we played games like Monopoly. We were a musical family and on Saturday nights we had a talent quest or one of us organised a show. From the other side of the world I had certainly heard of the “British invasion” – the term for the pop groups of the day. I got into a band myself and learning their songs was expected.

So when I went to London in 1980 it all proved real. Getting dispatched to jobs from Ambulance Control was like they were using a Monopoly board.

Then our Chelsea station did a social trip to Dagenham to a pub where a band called The Tremeloes were playing. “How dare some local lads call themselves the same name as one of my favourite bands” I said to our organiser. I was persuaded to be sociable and so I went.
Well this band poked into the pub corner started off with a Tremeloes hit and sounded and looked like them. Gobsmacked I yelled at my workmates “This is The Tremeloes”. They all laughed saying “how come you have heard of them?” The band heard this and said “You sound like a Kiwi. We are number 1 over there. Would you like a request?” So I rattled off all their hits and my workmates were speechless.

There are so many things I loved about London. I have London pictures etc in my house. When Pete puts his nostalgic posts on here, my tears raise the Thames each time.

But there’s another part of London that’s unique and that’s its music.

A good question to ask is how many songs there are? Thousands. I will rattle off some and you can look them up yourselves or comment on your own favourites – and there will be many of all genres.

A Foggy Day in London Town by Gershwin, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square by Vera Lynn, Any Old Iron by Harry Champion, Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty, Burlington Bertie from Bow by Herbie Flowers, Carry On London by Billy Cotton, Changing the Guards at Buckingham Palace, Dark Streets of London by The Pogues, Dedicated Follower of Fashion by The Kinks, Donald Where’s Your troosers by Andy Stewart (“I went down to London Town I had some fun in the underground”), England Swings by Roger Miller, Finchley Central by New Vaudeville Band, In A Golden Coach by Billy Cotton, Itchycoo Park (Little Ilford Park) by Small Faces, It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, Kew Gardens by Ralph McTell, Knees Up Mother Brown, Knocked ’em in the Old Kent Rd by Albert Chevalier, The Lambeth Walk, Last Night in Soho by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, Last Train to London by ELO, London Bridge is Falling Down, London‘s Burning, London Pride by Noël Coward, Maybe It’s Because I’m a Londoner by Hubert Gregg, Old Father Thames, Paddington Bear by Bernard Cribbins, Petticoat Lane by Stanley Holloway, Puttin’ on The Ritz by Irving Berlin, Rainy Night in Soho by The Pogues, Streets of London by Ralph McTell, Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks, Werewolves of London, West End Girls by Pet Shop Boys, When the Lights Go Up in London by Hubert Gregg, The Wombles, (lots of songs about Piccadilly & Soho)

Then there are military band items like London Calling by Eric Coates, Birdcage Walk, Down the Mall, Knightsbridge and the Yeoman of the Guard by Gilbert & Sullivan.

A Song In Your Head

You know what it’s like when you get a tune or song in your head? It is usually random, and not because you have just heard it. Sometimes, it is one you really don’t like, or something as obscure as an advertising jingle from your childhood. It can hang around for days, sometimes weeks, and the moment you stop concentrating on what you are doing, there it is, overwhelming your brain.

Last night, I was preparing some vegetables in the kitchen, and this popped into my head.


It’s not that the song is terrible. The film is fun too, and was a big favourite of my mum’s. But it won’t go away now. I lay in bed trying to sleep, and there was Phil Harris singing about Paw Paws and Prickly Pears. This morning, I woke up to the chorus playing in my head, my right foot tapping uncontrollably as I waited for the kettle to boil.

“The bare necessities of life will come to you
They’ll come to you”

Somebody make it stop!

The Blues: Some Songs For Brian

Continuing to celebrate the life of my dear departed friend, I am presenting some of the original versions of songs he loved to listen to and sing.

Smokestack Lightnin’. Howlin’ Wolf.

Still Got The Blues. Gary Moore.

She’s 19 Years Old. Muddy Waters.

Bring It on Home. Sonny Boy Williamson.

Boom Boom. John Lee Hooker.

I am not a religious man. But if there is a Heaven, I like to think that Brian is there now, enjoying a raucous jam session with Howlin’, Gary, Muddy, Sonny Boy, and John Lee.

Friday On My Mind

It only dawned on me a few hours ago that today is Friday.

Are you old enough to remember this song from 1966?

No? What about this one, from 1992?

Both songs are celebrating ‘Friday’. That last day of the working week for most people. The day when school is finished until Monday, and the weekend begins in earnest.

Until I started working shifts in 1979, Friday was always something to look forward to. When I was young, I was allowed to stay up a bit later, as there was no school on Saturday. Then when I was old enough to have a regular girlfriend, it was the night to go for a drink with friends, getting a jump on the weekend activities to come.

Once I was older, and married, it was often the night we would go out to eat. A Friday night Indian meal, or perhaps a Chinese. Something spicy and different, after a week of home-cooked food. Alternatively, it might be a trip to the Cinema, on a night when it wasn’t as busy as it would be on the Saturday.

Whatever we did, it always came with that ‘Friday Feeling’, knowing we had two clear days ahead to do what we wanted, even if we didn’t actually do anything with them.

By the time I was just 26, I was working three out of four Fridays, and the same with Saturdays too. It didn’t take long for Friday to start to feel like any other day for me. But I didn’t forget that good feeling from before, and 42 years later, I can still recall the excitement of a Friday night.

I hope you all have (or already have had) a wonderful Friday!

Curtis Mayfield: A Musical Journey

Curtis Mayfield first came to my attention as part of the vocal group, The Impressions.

I was only twelve years old when I heard their song Talking About My Baby. I was very taken with the distinctive voice on the track, which I later found out belonged to one Curtis Mayfield.

That inspired me to get one of their albums on vinyl, and the following year I became the proud owner of their latest release, ‘People Get Ready’
The title song was about civil rights, and showcased the voice of Curtis Mayfield perfectly.

By 1970, I was 18 years old, and Curtis had left The Impressions to embark on a career as a solo artist. From his first album, he released the excellent ‘Move On Up’, and I was sure from the start that his new venture was going to be a winner.

1971 brought us his second album, ‘Roots’. This also provided a world-wide hit, with the song, ‘We Got To Have Peace’.
That track showed his distinctive voice at its best.

One year later, he created the award-winning soundtrack for the popular Blaxploitation film, ‘Superfly’, starring Ron O’Neal, with a role in the cast for Curtis playing himself. This was Funk music at its best, and became a huge hit both as a single release, and a soundtrack album too.

Over the next decade, he released an album almost every year. Then in 1987, he collaborated with the English band The Blow Monkeys, on the anti-Margaret Thatcher song, ‘(Celebrate) The Day After You’.
You can see and hear his distinctive contribution in this official video.

He continued to release records, and perform live to sell-out audiences. Then in 1990, he was seriously injured when a lighting rig fell on him during a performance. Paralysed from the neck down, he still managed to record his final, album, with all the vocals sung whilst lying on his back.
Seriously ill with Diabetes, he died in 1999.

Curtis Lee Mayfield. 1942-1999

Astaire and Rogers

An old post from 2013, remembering my love of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire films. Most of you have never seen this one.


Even when I was still a small child, the films of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were already thirty years old. Their last film together, after ten years apart, was made some years before I was born, and their earliest collaboration was in 1935. Despite this, I always loved those films. The Art Deco sets, the snappy scripts, and of course, the wonderful music and dancing. Only ten films, nine in black and white, one in colour, yet they achieved an iconic status as an on-screen pairing, and nobody has ever matched their style since. Last week, I discovered that the BBC were showing two of their films, early on a Saturday, and I taped them. Although I have seen them all many times, and as recently as last year, the prospect of watching them always fills me with delight.

I agree that both Fred and Ginger were not the…

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Significant Songs (190)

Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue

I have never been a fan of what is generally called ‘Country Music’. I didn’t identify with that very American experience of road trips, truck-driving, and ‘good ‘ole boys’. I don’t know much about Texas, and I have never eaten in a ‘diner’, treated my wife badly, or left a woman to look after my kids.
I haven’t met any daughters of coal miners, and I don’t believe I ever saw an island in a stream. It has also never been a requirement for me to stand by a man.

But in 1978, I was surprised to actually enjoy a Country song I heard on the radio. With a mellow voice that got my attention immediately, I managed to overlook the syrupy lyrics, and found myself humming it later, after getting out of the car. I was a little concerned though. I was only 26, yet here I was remembering the lyrics to a Country song that would normally never enter my consciousness. It became a top ten hit in Britain, so the performer eventually appeared on TV to promote it.

And she was lovely to look at too. Her name was Crystal Gayle, (a stage name) and I couldn’t help but sing along, as I watched her on the screen. I discovered that she was already a popular singer in the genre, and well known in America, also that she was the same age as I was. Not long after, I found myself in a local record shop, buying a copy of the single. The only Country record I have ever knowingly purchased. I found out a little more over the years. Her real name is Brenda, and she is the sister of another famous Country singer, Loretta Lynn.

Crystal is still recording and performing. But I didn’t buy any of her other records, not even ‘Talking In Your Sleep’, which I tried not to like, but failed. 🙂

Significant Songs (189)


I think of this as a one-hit wonder, as I can never recall if Fairground Attraction had another hit, or if I ever listened to any more of their songs. However, vocalist Eddi Reader gained a large fan base, which she took into a solo career that continues to this day. As well as being a singer songwriter, Eddi branched out into acting, and also became known for her activity on the political scene in Scotland. In 2006 she received the M.B.E., for her services to the arts.

But I digress.

Back in 1988, songs like this one were not my thing at all. It was number one in the charts, and held placings in the top twenty for three months after that. It was also the winner of the Brit Award for Best Single, in 1989. I managed to ignore it for a while, but constant radio plays finally drove it into my head, where it has stayed ever since. When I hear it again now, I actually like it.

Significant Songs (188)

Can’t Take My Eyes Off You

It could be argued that the sign of a great song is how many other artists want to cover it. In 1967, this song was released by The Four Seasons, with Frankie Valli on lead vocal. A big ballad with an old fashioned arrangement, unusual even at that time. Nonetheless, I liked it immediately, and the catchy chorus was an immediate sing-a-long moment.

To say the song has endured for fifty-one years would be an understatement. It has been covered by over 200 other singers, the last one as recently as 2016. Popular on film soundtracks, most notably ‘The Deer Hunter’ (1978), and frequently used whole or in part by the makers of TV commercials, it just keeps going. Here is the original, followed by the same song used in Cimino’s film.

All together now…