Tears For Fears – An Eighties pop band I
quite liked. Just got the Greatest Hits
with songs such as ‘Sowing thee Seeds of Love’, ‘Everybody Wants to Rule The
World’ and ‘Mad World’. Got to admit
they were good in their day.
10 CC – Now, this was some band; 4 great musicians and songwriters who made great pop records with witty lyrics aplenty. Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart wrote mostly pop stuff while Kevin Godley and Lol Crème were more experimental. They had played together for about 4 years under various names but hit the big time with their first album, simply called 10 CC released in 1973. It included 3 brilliant singles; ‘Donna’, ‘Rubber Bullets’ and my fave ‘The Dean and I’ – all charted; the first reaching numbers 2 and 1 respectively. Each song was so different that you could pin their sound down to any particular genre. The album also included ‘Ships Don’t Disappear In The Night’ which I loved. Their second album ‘Sheet Music’ I had on vinyl but not (so far) on CD (so not included here). Their third was the wonderful, and possibly my favourite The Original Soundtrack – 1975. The album feels like a film soundtrack, especially the opener ‘Une Nuit A Paris’ a mini opera in itself. Two great singles – the classic ‘I’m Not In Love’ and ‘Life Is A Minestrone’ – but I really love the dreamy ‘The Film Of My Life’ and ‘Second Sitting For The Last Supper’. A Masterpeice. As was their next – How Dare You – 1976. Another very good album; an instrumental written by Godley and Crème which featured their new sound (they would soon leave 10cc as a duo), two hit singles – the sublime ‘I’m Mandy, Fly me’ and ‘Art For Arts Sake’ and my favourites ‘Lazy Ways’ and ‘Don’t Hang Up’. Godley and Creme left shortly after recording (see G) and Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman continued with a few session players and eventually a new band – but in my mind they were never as good as the original line-up. Two more original albums in my collection; Deceptive Bends (1977) – was actually a very successful album, big hit singles ‘Good Morning Judge’ and ‘The Things We Do For Love’ and a handful of other excellent songs – best of which was ‘Feel The Benefit’. My last studio album was 1978’s Bloody Tourists. A quite respectable album, but I got the feeling they were trying a bit too hard. Excellent single – the cod-reggae – ‘Dreadlock Holiday’, and a couple of nice ballads; ‘For You And I’ and ‘Lifeline’ and ‘Tokyo’ is quite good too – but it seemed they threw everything at it, and still it didn’t quite measure up. Besides the duo Godly and Creme were making really exciting records at the same time. 10CC, with various line-ups continued, but I stopped buying them, except for a very good live album Live And Let Live (1977). I must admit I bought this partly because Duncan Mackay had joined the band, and he used to be in Cockney Rebel. A good album but nothing new. Best are ‘Honeymoon For B. Troop’ and ‘Second Sitting For The Last Supper’. I also have the obligatory Greatest Hits, and full of hits and great it is too – best was ‘I’m Not In Love’. An often overlooked band, full of creativity and great songs.
James Taylor – Well, what a guy. He seemed to spring fully formed in the early Seventies – the perfect singer songwriter. He had even recorded his debut album (which I don’t now have on CD) for Apple when The Beatles were still together. A very good friend of theirs Peter Asher became his manager and sometime producer. He moved to Warner and made 6 albums. First was Sweet Baby James (1970) – a great album, half so it ballads and half mid-tempo bluesy rockers. Best songs are the title track, ‘Sunny Skies’ and ‘Fire and Rain’. The latter being really his first classic track. The following year he released what I consider to be probably his best album Mud Slide Slim And The Blue Horizon. This contained the big hit song ‘You’ve Got A Friend’, which Carole King recorded also. But it doesn’t have a weak song on it. My favourites are ‘You Can Close Your Eyes’, ‘Long Ago And Far Away’ and ‘Hey Mister, That’s Me Up On The Jukebox’. I played this one to death back in the day. His next was 1972’s One Man Dog. This was I feel a bit of an experiment, or a rushed exercise; there are 18 songs, some of which are mere snippets, a few instrumentals and only a very few real quality songs – best of which is ‘Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight’. Despite a stellar cast of session players the record feels disjointed, and is probably my least favourite of James’s releases. Much better was 1974’s Walking Man, although it sold relatively poorly. Best songs are ‘Me and My Guitar’, ‘Promised Land’ (the Chuck berry song) and ‘Fading Away. Gorilla came out the following year. Another very good album, if a little predictable and drifting to the middle of the road. Best songs – the title track, ‘How Sweet It Is To be Loved By You’ and ‘Sarah Maria’. In The Pocket came out in ’76 and a slight upbeat feel on some tracks – but James was a master of those slow love songs too. He was settling down- one of the tracks is ‘Family Man’. But I like ‘Money Machine’ and ‘Golden Moments’ too. After 6 albums, some successful, some not so – with Warner Brothers, James signd with Columbia and in 1977 released JT. In my mind a much better album; it contained the 2 singles – ‘You Smiling Face’ and ‘Handy Man’ – but my favourites are ‘Terra Nova’ and ‘Traffic Jam’ – which seem a departure from his usual songs. He followed this sublime album with Flag in 1979. Well, not an overwhelmingly great album. Two covers which add nothing to the originals, even adding a bizarre falsetto to ‘Day Tripper’ cannot rescue it from mundanity. A couple of songs hold a smidgeon of promise – ‘Millworker, ‘I Would Not Lie To You’ and BSUR (Be As You Are). The spaces between albums started to drift in the Eighties, a common phenomenon I have found, new recording techniques, synths and maybe just a tiredness – another album, what a bore. In 1985 he released That’s Why I’m Here; a pleasant enough record (I had somehow missed an album in 1981 – no desire to buy it) but I felt he was almost coasting – covers of ‘Everyday’ by Buddy Holly and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’ by Bacharach and David – both uninspiring versions. Best are ‘Song For You Far Away’ and ‘Only One’. Next up is Never Die Young (1988); boring really – the Eighties only produced 2 albums, still he plodded on. Apart from ‘Sun On The Moon’ a pretty uninspiring bunch of songs. I almost gave up on James but was glad I bought 1997’s Houglass; a really good record; maybe not as good as his first few but still pretty good. A longer album – 13 songs in all, the best of which may be ‘Little More Time With You’, ‘Yellow and Rose’ and ‘Gaia.’ Only one other album, the somewhat muted October Road (2002). Not a bad album, but quite unspectacular too. Oh well, best are ‘Cary Me On My Way’ and ‘Caroline I see You’. Like quite a few, his reputation lies in the handful of brilliant albums form the Seventies – still, am old favourite I wouldn’t want to revisit occasionally.
Talking Heads – A very influential American band, formed in ’76. I only have 3 CDs, but have liked everything
I have heard and really must look out for some more. 1978’s, and the bands second album, was More
Songs About Buildings and Food – a very individual sound; the lyrics are
superb and yet at time very ordinary, but the band really know how to play. Best songs are ‘Thankyou For Sending Me An
Angel’, ‘The Big Country’ and ‘Take me To The River’. I also have a great live album ‘Stop
Making Sense’ – I saw the band at Hammersmith Appollo on this tour and it
was a great concert, famous for lead singer Davis Byrne wearing a huge suit
about twice as big as he was. Hard to
pick out best tracks – but ‘Psycho Killer’, ‘Heaven’ and ‘Slippery People’ stand
out. But this was a very long album – and
the band tend to be sounding very samey towards the end. I also have a Greatest Hits – pretty good, though as usual I tend to like
the songs I really like. Best are ‘Once
In A lifetime’, ‘Road To Nowhere’ and ‘And
She Was’. I must keep my eye out for any
bargains, especially of their later stuff.
Tangerine Dream – a German band from the Seventies. The Germans seem to have been heavily into electronic music long before synthesisers and drum machines and all things digital. In fact, this whole genre became known as Krautrock after a while. I am not sure if Tangerine Dream were the first, but they were maybe the best known. I saw them, or rather banks of huge electric organs and tape machines and speakers which mostly hid the band from view in the mid-Seventies. I have 3 albums on CD but a couple more somewhere on cassette. Phaedra was 1974’s effort. A very relaxing, almost soporific record. Not something to really listen to, but as it plays in the background it is gentle and pretty harmonic. I can’t really determine one track from another, but it still brings back post-hippy memories where we explored and enjoyed many different forms of music. Rubycon followed a year later and is much the same, if slightly slowly. Again a lovely listen, even if at times a bit repetitive. I also have Greatest Hits. This must have been about mid-eighties and includes some film music; best is ‘Tyger Tyger’. More vocals and variation now. But still really only for enthusiasts