Number 50. Ned Doheny – ‘Get It Up For Love’

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Several months ago, I was recommended a ‘mix’ (available on soundcloud for those that are interested) that was played at the closure of some festival or other in West Virginia. As I’m always up for a recommendation, I played the two-hour mix from start to finish and naturally spent the rest of the day sourcing and obtaining all of the tracks. The DJ was an incredibly young chap called Geoffrey LaRue as I was astonished by the quality and breadth of the music that was played. No ‘house’ music, just very lovely chill out tunes – perfect for sitting around the pool (in your speedos).
What is even more remarkable is that Geoffrey is such a young pup.
Amongst the gems on display was this particular track.
Ned was the first act to be signed to Asylum Records in 1972 so has impeccable Tiffany Twisted credibility. Ned (which is a great name anyway) was born at The Good Samaritan Hospital in LA in March 1948. He learnt to play the guitar, was briefly in a trio with Cass Ellliot & Dave Mason and released his debut LP in 1972. During his time at Asylum he played on many of his contemporaries records: Linda Ronstadt, JD Souther, Eagles and Jackson Browne – all staple TT’ed fare.

He moved labels to Columbia where his sound became looser, funkier, less introverted. Both ‘Hard Candy’ (from which this track came from) and the follow up ‘Prone’, were produced by the great Steve Cropper. It is, then, a little flabbergasting as to why he was never huge. He certainly looked the part – exceptionally handsome (although no beard which might have helped). Of course, I tracked the two LP’s down on Amazon and bought as a twofer package (it’s what I do). ‘Get It Up For Love’ you may have heard elsewhere – it was a reasonably sized Disco hit record by Tata Vega in 1978 reaching the US Top 20 and was a double A-side for David Cassidy’s version of ‘I Write The Songs’. Ned was also responsible for writing ‘What You Gonna Do For Me’ by Chaka Khan which is just a brilliant record. Part Boz Scaggs (but a much better singer), part Steely Dan (but far prettier) with a peppering of the Eagles – I cannot recommend him higher and makes sense to me that he kicks off this edition of TT’ed.

So. In addition to the Geoffrey LaRue mix, I discovered another series of records compiled by Marcus Liesenfeld or DJ Supermarkt. His actual CD’s are called ‘Too Slow To Disco’ – and there have been three so far – I read about ‘The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco’ in the Guardian (who raved) and invested. Again, the tracks on offer were (mostly) a revelation. Many I had not heard before and some of which will be included in this list.

Tiffany Twisted reaches it’s Sixth edition. Sixth. That’s bonkers. I’ve been suffering a little from some kind of writer’s block for a couple of months so this will be an interesting diversion to see if I’m still able to say anything constructive. But for now, at least, ENJOY.

Number 49. Joni Mitchell – ‘The Tenth World/Dreamland’

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1977 and the UK was deep in the Punk/New Wave movement. Joni released the sprawling, hugely experimental ‘Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter’. By this point in her career, she was approaching the end of her contract with Asylum records and, as this LP illustrates, was moving into a Jazz/World Music direction.

I do think that Don Juan was the first double studio LP which I owned – no Lamb Lies Down On Broadway or Songs In The Key Of Life or White Album. Owning a double LP was especially exciting for a budding music buck – so much more to get your teeth into. However, I don’t think I played it much – some of the tracks were just too out there.

I also don’t remember World Music being a thing (although of course, it was). During the eighties, World Music DID become a thing. I never embraced the idea. Whilst working at Virgin, I was often irritated by customers enquiring about the whereabouts of the World Music section – I imagined that the majority of them were only buying it to appear cool and trendy when they invited people over to their flats for a vegetarian nut roast and a cup of herbal tea. Rubbish hippies, I thought. Maybe I was right, maybe not. Also, CD’s made World Music much much easier to obtain – and most of the major record companies pounced on the bandwagon. There was even a World Music Distributor called Sterns.

However, this year I finally got it. Back in March, I made some Facebook enquiries as to where to start with African music and was bombarded by suggestions and recommendations – most of which I ended up listening to and owning. Most of it was incredible (and thank you). This led me to appreciate music from Brazil and South America and Portugal and India. The world is such an extraordinary place, filled with creative people making fantastic music on a daily basis.

‘The Tenth World/Dreamland’ appeared on Side 3 of 4 and it’s a stormer. I still cannot listen to one without the other. Bongo drums, extraordinary rhythms, the odd African chant – the likes of which we didn’t really hear from a Western Artist until Gracelands which came about some 10 years later.

I do have a little problem with the sleeve where she has a ‘blackface’ and is appearing as her alter-ego ‘Art Nouveau’. I’m not quite sure why she did that – maybe she got a little overexcited or smoked a few too many jazz cigarettes – had she suggested the idea in 2016, she’d have been laughed out of the marketing meeting. In 2015 she suffered a life-threatening brain aneurysm and, for a while, it was touch and go – I’m so glad to hear that she has recovered and, perhaps, 2017 will see her own Blackstar (although not dying after the release).

Number 48. Dave Mason – ‘We Just Disagree’

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Dave was a founder member of Traffic, producers of the most wonderful, drug-induced quirky pop songs. Alongside Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood, Traffic were the cornerstones of the psychedelic rock movement. He appeared as a backing vocalist on ‘Crosstown Traffic’, played guitar on ‘Electric Ladyland’and ‘Beggars Banquet’, was mooted to be the guitarist for Derek & the Dominos and released an LP with Mama Cass Elliott.

In 1992, he joined Fleetwood Mac for the ‘Time’ LP. By this point, the Mac were unrecognisable. Bekka Bramlett taking on the vocal duties alongside Mick Fleetwood. Lindsey did pop up as a backing vocalist for one track and Christine played the keyboard. But no Stevie and this was reflected in the sales of the album.

I’m guessing that at some point in the 70’s he decamped to the States as ‘We Just Disagree’ is a perfect example of Californian pop.

The perfect break up song with some wonderful harmonies.

Number 47. Delaney & Bonnie – ‘Groupie (Superstar)’

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Groupie. That quintessentially 70’s term for a female (and possibly male) music fans. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Watched a group (or soloist) and dreamed of meeting the drummer (usually) and of being whisked away in the battered old tour van for a life of beans out of a can and warm beer from a tin. So tip your hats, if you please, to some of the greatest groupies: Nancy Spungeon, Cleo Odzer, ‘Sweet Connie’ Hamzy, Cheery Vanilla, Dee Dee Kehl, Margaret Moser, Pleasant Gehman, Patti D’Arbanville, Cassandra Peterson, Patti Johnsen, Lexa Vonn, Tura Satana, Pleather, Cynthia Plaster Caster (who must have had the best fun EVER), Bebe Buell and Pamela Des Barres & The GTO’s (featuring Des Barres). Without THEM – the rock & roll landscape of the 70’s would look entirely different, less sexy.

Of course, it wasn’t a new concept – I imagine that Elvis, Sinatra, The Shadows, The Dave Clark 5 also had ‘offers’ – the term was first coined back in 1942 by Maria McCarthy in her book ‘The Company You Keep’. And the Rolling Stones, the centre-point of all Groupie activity, used the term as a code word for women on tour.
Of course, there is a dark side to all of this. Many of the girls (and boys) were underage and were probably massively exploited and used by older men who really should have known better (and I’m looking at you Wyman and Paige and Bowie). But there seemed to be a real sense of community that is lacking nowadays (although I’m sure Clean Bandit have their own groupies as we cannot help ourselves can we).

One of my favourite films EVER is ‘Almost Famous’ – a semi-biographical account of the 70’s rock scene written by Cameron Crowe – Kate Hudson plays Penny Lane – the beautiful, a rather dreamy groupie who takes William under her wing, introduces him to pot and possibly de-flowers him. It’s a brilliant film if you’ve never seen it (more of that later in the list).

‘Groupie (Superstar)’ was written by Bonnie Bramlett and Leon Russell. Of course, the best-known version is by the Carpenters BUT they changed the lyrics and renamed the song to avoid controversy. It’s been recorded by a variety of musicians – both male and female (Luther Vandross does a great version) but no-one has come quite as close to capturing the patchouli essence of the groupie quite like Delaney & Bonnie.

Bonnie was the first white woman to sing with Ike Turner as one of the Ikettes (and yes she did have to black up). She met and married Delaney Bramlett in 1967 in a Bowling Alley. They produced a daughter, Bekka, who is now a successful singer but their relationship was tumultuous and they divorced in 1973.

Bonnie is still performing and turned to acting appearing in Rosanne. Delaney died in 2008.

Number 46. Sufjan Stevens – ‘Coventry Carol’

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There is just something incredibly cuddly and warm about Sufjan. He is also something of an enigma. In the few shortish years between the release of his debut LP in 2000 he has treated us to less than a dozen records – all different in tone. His second album contained songs based on the Chinese Zodiac, he released two LPs about different US States even suggesting that he was going to dedicate an album for each of the 52 States – but that was merely a promotional gimmick, even a ballet. And he has recorded two boxed sets entirely devoted to Christmas songs – that’s 10 CDs and 100 songs in all. Prolific. The CD’s consist of traditional Christmas Carols and self-penned material and some odd ambient, experimental electronica. They are all here. ‘Once In Royal David’s City’, ‘Away In A Manger’, ‘Silent Night’ ‘Where Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night’ – all of them. His self-penned songs are equally charming, Titles such as ‘Did I Make You Cry On Christmas Day?’, ‘That Was The Worst Christmas Ever’ ‘Let’s Boogie To The Elf Dance’ & ‘Christmas In The Room’. In fact, I doubt you’ll need another Christmas LP apart from Phil Spector and Now TWICC.

Artists such as he should be applauded and supported – he’s highly unlikely to appear on the Christmas edition of TOTP’s in his angel’s wings nor to appear on the Hootenanny – he just lounges about composing and releasing quality music. His last LP tackled the death of his Mum, Carrie in 2012 and his relationship with his stepfather, Lionel. Positively received, it was a return to his folkier roots and although, at times, not the happiest of listens, did reach the UK Top 10.

If you are bored this Christmas, you could get yourself onto Youtube and download the whole Stevens Christmas LP’s for NEXT Christmas. This year, as with all other years I’m hunkering down with Fred for a day of Christmas dinner, TOTP’s, Corrie, Enders, Strictly and my traditional Christmas playlist. I might even order a microwave in the online sales.

Happy Christmas to you and yours.

Number 45. George Michael – ‘Amazing’

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And here were go again. This year has been bookended by the deaths of two musical legends – with some horrendous chapters squashed in between its pages.

George first popped up on my radar when Wham! lit up the TOTPs studio in 1982 with an electrifying performance of Young Guns (Go For It). At a time when his contemporaries were not really saying anything – see the other George and his Chameleons and cod-reggae – Wham! sang about stuff that mattered to us all growing up in Thatcherite Britain – signing on the dole, claiming benefits, getting girls pregnant but ultimately having a blast whilst doing it. They seemed more left wing and more sincere that Bronski Beat or the Style Council. Was George shagging Andrew? Impossible. He was straight. He was proper phwoarsome and was undoubtedly a superstar in the waiting.

Every single release unfolded a more mature George as a songwriter and musician – some silly old nonsense (Wake Me Up Before Toy Go-Go) yes, but all are ridiculously catchy and memorable and the definition of great pop music. Who can forget those footsteps on the gravel at the beginning of Club Tropicana or the astonishing feeling on first hearing Everything She Wants.

Of course, Wham! couldn’t last. ‘Careless Whisper’ came as something of a shock – sensitive, very sensitive, too sensitive even? His world exploded with the release of ‘Faith’ catapulting him into the uppermost echelon of global superstardom. He cut his hair, grew that designer stubble – de-rigueur for any man straight or gay at the end of the 80’s – the sleeve is a-typical S&M imagery (is he sniffing his armpit?). Good for him. ‘Faith’ and even more so ‘Listen Without Prejudice’ were jammed packed with songs of pure class. He could sing anything and could do no wrong. He lit up any stage he appeared on – whether it be with Elton John, stepping into Freddie Mercury’s shoes, the Mandela Tribute Show – he was always compelling to watch. And he couldn’t half sing (I’ve tried a number of George songs at karaoke and just cannot manage them!)

His stellar career continued. He publicly came out aged 35 (not really that old). He was outed – I think he’d rather have done things differently but instead of crying and moaning he came out and back with ‘Outside’ – dressed as a leather cop in a toilet with spinning urinals – it’s still one of the funniest, most confrontational videos ever made. But he was out, on record anyway, a long time before that – witness ‘Fast Love’ – a song about cruising around in his car looking for sex (‘I do believe that we are practising the same religion’) for example. His videos too were stylish works of art – who can forget the amazing ‘banned’ video by Thierry Mugler – full of more drag queens than RuPaul could shake a stick at.

A brilliant singer and a brilliant songwriter. You could just tell that he loved his music – dropping samples of Love Action and Forget Me Nots willy-nilly, covering Flawless, Killer, Stevie Wonder – even extending his love to an album of covers as diverse as Roxanne and I Remember You.

Anecdotally, he was also an excellent DJ – popping round to Elton’s 40th Birthday party to quietly spin a selection of Disco hits. He has served me well too – I remember one of my sets for someone’s wedding at the Sussex Arts Club – on vinyl if you please, and in a state of panic(or alcohol) reached for I’m Your Man and the room exploded with joy. Similarly, playing Young Guns during the Battle at the Almanac sometime this Summer. Dom & I were, for the duration, Dee C Lee and Shirley – finishing the record exhausted but happy – I’m not entirely sure what our lot thought.

He loved his Divas too. You can bet your life that he’s trilling along with Whitney and has a careful eye on Aretha and, God forbid, Mutye..

And I reckon he was a really nice, normal bloke. Still ridiculously handsome, stylish, sexy it must have been quite the thrill to have bumped into him cruising on Hampstead Heath. He’s been a little quiet lately and I’ve been thinking about him a lot. I cannot say I’m surprised at his death. He always seemed like an old soul.

He obviously had his demons and struggles with his phenomenal success. When he was last ‘publicly’ ill in 2011 – Christmas 5 years ago, I remember watching the news and hoping and praying that he was going to pull through. Anonymous sex, falling out of cars, crashing through shop windows, the indeterminable amounts of drugs especially cannabis, his poorly health – who knows why it happened – but it has.

Watching ‘Amazing’ today, it strikes me as to how happy, relaxed and healthy he was. ‘Patience’ was his last proper LP. He’d finished with Sony and from then on any new stuff was to come as downloads or added to his newest Greatest Hits compilation. ‘Amazing’ reached number 4 in the UK charts and was dedicated to his then partner, Kenny Goss. There was so much more to come I feel. At 53 he’d only just begun.

He so DESERVES his place here too – in fact, I was planning to – George has never been that far off my radar anyway. RIP you amazing, beautiful boy.

Number 44. Bernie Leadon & Michael Georgiades Band – ‘You’re The Singer’

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Firstly, Bernie as we know much more about him. A veteran of the California music scene, he had played with Dillard & Clark and the Flying Burrito Brothers before beginning his tenure with the Eagles. Famously, he was moonlighting as part of Linda Ronstadt’s backing band with Don Henley and Glenn Frey, they formed the aforesaid Eagles.
Bernie lasted for the first four LP’s, leaving at the end of ’75 when One Of These Nights was released. Although he had written three of the nine songs on offer, he decided that his beloved group were heading in a direction that he didn’t want to go. Too many drugs, too much touring, too much time in the recording studio – Bernie poured a pint of beer over Glenn Frey’s head and walked out. A shame as I think that he added an element to the Eagles which Joe Walsh couldn’t quite replace.
One of his main aims was to become healthier. Recent interviews show a remarkably healthy, fit, toned 69 year old – he’s lost his trademark shaggy, curly perm and moustache. He was in a relationship with Ronald Regan’s daughter and together they wrote ‘I Wish You Peace’ for the ‘One Of These Nights’ LP. He’s been rather quiet since his departure – I think he likes it that way – he pops up to appear with his old bandmates, lives in Nashville and works as a session musician.
Michael is simply Bernie’s best mate. Research reveals nothing about him – he has appeared on LP#s by Johnny River and Colin Hay from Men At Work. That’s it. He does though, rather peculiarly, share George Michael’s name backwards. Sort of.
I discovered ‘You’re The Singer’ whilst working at Tracks – I had a habit of going in on the half day closing (when I should have been revising), reorganising the filing system and taping records that I had not heard before. I was initially attracted by the name – I’d heard of Bernie of course, and the sleeve from the LP ‘Natural Progressions’ (would love to hear the Soggy Disco Biscuit version) – that scintillating photo of the two of them looking relaxed, happy and free (and a bit giggly) on a veranda. ‘You’re The Singer’ minor US hit and was played on Paul Gambaccini and I probably voted for it on the Capital Hitline. It’s all quite life-affirming and suits TT’ed like a glove.

Number 43. Greg Kihn Band – ‘Jeopardy’

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JEOPARDY [jep-er-dee]* and BESERK [ber-surk, -zurk]* are two of my favourite, underused words. I got quite excited when we reached double jeopardy in the Criminal Law section but was even more excited to discover Beserkley Records back in the 70’s. Not only did they have the coolest yellow and black record label, Beserkley were an independent record operation based in California. Sort of a sunkissed Stiff.

Several great acts were on their roster – Jonathan Richman, The Rubinoos, Earth Quake and of course Greg Kihn. By the time the label folded in 1984, Kihn was the only artist left. Between 1976 and the release of this record he released an album a year – not uncommon for the productive 70’s and 80’s. Frat boy handsome with the best line in shirts, I discovered him initially by reading about ‘Kihn Again’ in NME – they raved – he was part of the emerging power pop scene from America and punk had not quite yet got a stranglehold – plus he covered Bruce so he had to be good. And he was (and probably still is). His first major success came with ‘The Break Up Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em)’ in 1981 reaching number 5 in America.

But it was with Jeopardy which he will be best remembered. Stalling just behind ‘Beat It’ in the US, it even scraped the lower rungs of the UK chart. With a typical, of its time, Thriller type video – zombies, skeletons, monsters – it was filmed in the Mission District of San Francisco.

And it still sounds brilliant. I’d forgotten how dancey it is (must investigate the 6.45 Dance Mix right now. Never again did he achieve the same level of success (but I’m secretly pleased that he didn’t take the soundtrack route – the fate of many a Tiffany Twister).
He seems happy enough though – always grinning that handsome grin – he is even a Grandfather which make me feel VERY old.

*JEOPARDY [jep-er-dee] (noun, plural jeopardies. 1. hazard or risk of or exposure to loss, harm, death, or injury: For a moment his life was in jeopardy. 2. peril or danger: The spy was in constant jeopardy of being discovered. 3.Law. the danger or hazard of being found guilty, and of consequent punishment, undergone by criminal defendants on trial.)
BESERK [ber-surk, -zurk] (adjective 1. violently or destructively frenzied; wild; crazed; deranged: He suddenly went berserk. Noun 2. (sometimes initial capital letter) Scandinavian Legend. See Also, berserker. an ancient Norse warrior who fought with frenzied rage in battle (possibly induced by eating hallucinogenic mushrooms.)

Number 42. Michael Sembello – ‘Maniac’

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I guess you can probably blame Saturday Night Fever for the rise of the soundtrack LP. That behemoth of a record sparked a host of imitators. Seemingly, every film that came in its wake had to have its own soundtrack LP and by the time that 80’s kicked in, they were omnipresent. Top Gun, Cocktail, Pretty Woman, Footloose, Days Of Thunder etc etc. All featured contributions from the great and the good. Flashdance, briefly, was the story of a female steel welder who dreamed of joining the Pittsburg Conservatory of Dance & Repertory. Of course, she eventually does but not without having to perform in a strip club and continue her extensive training in her factory. And she gets her man in the end too.

‘Maniac’ is the scene where she (or the body double actress) vigorously trains in her converted warehouse. Urgent, thrusting and enthusiastically performed this reached the top of the American charts and the Top 75 over here.

Michael was credited as the guitarist on both Fulfillingness First Finale and Songs In The Key Of Life and throughout the 70’s contributed to an array of stuff – from Michael Jackson to Diana Ross and Barbra Streisand. Quite how he ended up on Flashdance is down to his wife, who accidentally sent a tape of Maniac to Paramount Pictures who were looking for songs to use. I’m glad she did, otherwise we would not have been able to hear this great record from Michael’s first solo LP. The rest of his output is pretty horrible and as the 80’s progressed he looked more ridiculous – longer hair, peculiar waistcoats, ever changing facial furniture so I’ll just remember him for this single performance where he looks like the bloke who tried to pick me up last time I was in the Coleherne.

Number 41. Jellyfish – ‘I Wanna Stay Home’

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If ever a record captured the essence of working for Virgin Retail, it’s ‘Bellybutton’. It was on in every stockroom, every store manager’s office HiFi, in every shop sound system. And it was on Virgin Records which made the whole thing even more perfect. 10 perfect tracks of fully realised pop songs presented in an eye-poppingly gorgeous psychedelic sleeve, 4 singles were released – none of which made that much of an impact in the outside world. The cult of Jellyfish continued with the second and final LP called ‘Spilt Milk’. I was fortunate enough to catch them on one of their rare appearances at The Astoria which has now been completely. They were wonderful – all of my favourite elements complete in a band on one stage. They released a boxed set in 2002 which drew together material that had been previously unavailable and is now worth a staggering £140.

Jellyfish hailed from San Francisco (as if they would come from anywhere else) but I would not recognise a member of Jellyfish were they to stagger into college for a haircut. Jellyfish imploded after constant touring and creative differences between Andy Sturmer and Roger Manning. Manning became a member of The Moog Cookbook duo who released a number of records where they covered classic pop singles on vintage synthesizers (I became slightly obsessed by them for about a week). You can buy ‘Bellybutton’ for just £1.04 on amazon and that might just be the best £1.04 you’ll ever spend.

Number 40. Matthews Southern Comfort – ‘Woodstock’

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Incredible. I’m 54 and 11/12ths yet have never, ever, spent the night in a tent. I’m not sure that I would like it – lying in the dirt, wandering around in the dark in search of a toilet, shivering. For this reason, I have baulked at the idea of going to a music festival also. The idea of standing in a crowded field unable to make a quick exit or to sit down on a chair does not hold any appeal.

Would I have gone to Woodstock though? Maybe. It must have been a very liberating experience and very good value for money $24 for three days of top notch entertainment – free if you were one of the hundred of thousand who decided to just turn up. And there was much nudity and free sex.

There had been other festivals – the Isle of Wight, Monterey, the Newport Jazz Festival and our own Glastonbury was just a year away. Nowadays, a festival has become a different beast altogether – one can go glamping (which I don’t understand), attend a festival of World Music or a boutique festival (whatever that is), eat a vast selection of wholefood, dress as a cowboy, spend about £400 – far away from the concept in place at Max Yasgur’s Farm – it’s all quite exciting but daunting. You do though, have to sleep in a tent. I might though have to go to one before I die.

Written by Joni Mitchell who was invited to play at Woodstock but declined the offer, it’s all very idyllic – Woodstock is compared to the Garden of Eden, the participants are described as stardust golden butterflies. There is no mention of the appalling sanitary conditions.
Iain Matthews was from Lincolnshire and formerly sang with Fairport Convention. He recorded his debut LP as Matthews’ Southern Comfort with the crème de la crème of the UK Folk scene – Richard Thompson, Simon Nichol, Ashley Hutchings, Dolly Collins. He added Woodstock to his Radio 1 ‘Live In Concert’ special in the Summer of 1970. His version became ‘viral’ and he recorded it and released it as a single trumping both Joni Mitchell’s and Crosby Stills & Nash’s version when it reached Number 1. It still sounds enchanting and pretty though. Perfect tent music in fact.

Number 39. Tom Jones – ‘She’s A Lady’

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Tom was born in Pontypridd some 76 years ago into a proper working class Welsh mining family. He began his musical career way back in 1963 and became one of greatest voices and cosmopolitan jet-setters – along the way he had affair with Miss World’s (Marjorie Williams who is my all-time favourite Miss World) and Elvira and reportedly shagged upwards of 250 ‘groupies’. He married Linda, though, when he had just left school – that woman must have had some patience.

He’s tried his hand at most styles of music – to a greater or lesser degree – but what stands out is that extraordinary roar of soulful vocal which he still possesses. Even when it came to The Voice, he’s been nothing less than charming, telling us all tales of when he met Elvis Presley or worked with Raquel Welch.

On top of all that, he is a walking sex machine. Was there ever a more handsome, sexual, sexy performer? It’s no wonder he was inundated with knickers. Those dimples on their own would be enough but if you couple that with his chest hair, his pert buttocks and width of his back and I’d certainly be at the front of the audience throwing MY knickers. It’s quite a surprise that he didn’t move into film (perhaps he couldn’t act) and become the replacement for Sean Connery’s James Bond instead of Roger Moore.

Less of this smut. ‘She’s A Lady’ was written by Paul Anka and was the B Side to ‘My Way’. By this point, Tom toured and recorded constantly – again none of the three gaps between album we get nowadays. ‘She’s A Lady’ peaked at Number 2 in the American charts in 1971 and number 13 in this country.
Here he is on TOTP’s – just look at him go.

Number 38. Shirley Bassey – ‘Never Never Never’

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Today should have been Bowie’s 70th Birthday. I spent yesterday evening totally immersed in ‘The Last Five Years’ and watched, maybe for the first time, The Man Who Fell To Earth from beginning to end. The documentary, if you’ve yet to see it, was full of unseen footage – zipping and zig zagging from the Berlin years to Where Are We Now and back to Space Oddity, tying together loose ends and providing us to an insight of his final five years. All the contributors were incredibly respectful and they were the right people – refreshing to see a music programme totally free of contributions from Pete Waterman or Beverley Knight or Mica Paris. I only cried twice too – in the last 10 minutes when he contacted people to tell them that this was it and when Tony Visconti turned everything down on the mixing desk save for Bowie’s vocal where you could hear him literally catching his breath between lines.
Today would also have been Elvis’ 82nd birthday – it’s a lovely thought that he and Bowie might be enthusiastically working on material as we speak.

But there is also a third member of the January 8th Birthday Club – and that member is Shirley Bassey.

Bassey will be 80 today. She released her first single in 1956 – 61 years ago – and has continued to pop up in our consciousness in the rather unexpected placed. For example, she appeared with Bruce Springsteen, collaborating with Chris Rea, The Propellerheads and Yello, and headlining the main stage at Glastonbury on a Sunday – in diamond encrusted wellies if you please – where she glittered.
That voice and that pair of Bond songs, in particular, are benchmarks – no other Bond song comes close. And she loves the Royal Family – I don’t necessarily share her passion but there is something quite wonderful about a multi-ethnic, working-class lass from Tiger Bay hobnobbing it with Prince Charles and The Queen. No wonder she is a Dame. The cover shot for the Never Never Never LP was even taken by Lord Snowdon.

But why is she here? This song has always been one of my favourites. The backing group inhabit classic Tiffany Twisted territory. And the song, an English version of an Italian record called Grande Grande Grande, could have been performed by any of the Tiffany Twisted line up should they chose to make a cover versions LP. Here is to many many more Bassey years.

Number 37. Paul Anka – ‘(You’re) Having My Baby’

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Controversy Alert. I was completely unaware of sexual politics when this was released in 1974 – I was only 12 and so any suggestion of sexism completely flew over my little head. It caused quite a controversy amongst the feminist contingency. What, on the surface, is a simple love song from a husband to an expectant wife became embroiled in criticism and furore. How dare he say that he is having HIS baby? Surely he is having OUR baby? They said. And as abortion had recently been entirely legalised in the US which added fuel to the fire. Paul, rather red-faced presumably, defended his decision to record the lyrics that was stating that it was simply a love song, that he was pro-choice – he often changed the lyrics in the song from ‘my’ to ‘our’ even though he thought the former sounded better. It has often been voted as the worst song ever recorded, he has been awarded the ‘Keep Her In Her Place’ award by the National Organisation For Women’ and ‘Male Chauvinist {ig Award’ by Ms magazine.

What lifts this, for me, is the beautiful response vocals by Odia Coates – it was that which pricked my young ears. She recorded two further duets with Paul and released a single solo record where she covered ‘Showdown’ by the ELO rather fabulously. It’s such a shame that she has been left out of this video clip – although she did appear on the Midnight Special Show with Paul the same year.

Paul has had a lengthy career. Famous in the 50’s and 60’s for records such as Diana and Put Your Head On My Shoulder, he also wrote the English lyrics to ‘My Way’. He has been married three times and has fathered six children.

Number 36. Cyndi Lauper – ‘Time After Time’

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Never been the biggest fan of ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ – it’s a record aimed at hen-parties or Eighties theme do’s. I’m sure that wasn’t her intention but, for me, it stands alongside Tainted Love, Come On Eileen, Red Red Wine and Karma Chameleon as practically unlistenable, archetypal 80’s records. Then she released this which revealed itself to be a fine example of singer-songwriting. She’s not put a foot wrong since – even surviving Celebrity Apprentice reaching Week 9 before being fired by the dreadful Donald Trump (bet he enjoyed doing that).

Cyndi gave Madonna a bit of a run for her money. ‘She’s So Unusual’ selling 16 million copies worldwide, giving birth to 7 singles, covering a Prince song and setting her up for life. New York through and through, Cyndi began her musical career in the 70’s where she performed in a band singing rock cover versions. She formed Blue Angel who released their only album through Polydor and features one of the worst sleeves in history. Releasing ‘She’s So Unusual’ in 1983 and has subsequently released 10 further albums covering a range of styles – Jazz, blues etc.

She has developed into a fine singer-songwriter and has her heart exactly in the right place.
‘Time After Time’ was the second single from She’s So Unusual’ – the clock ticks along as percussion and she sings plainly and simply of love and devotion – the video even has an appearance of the HMV dog. Covered by Miles Davis too, this has become something of a modern standard and could be recorded by anyone, anywhere and would still sound great.

Number 35. Genesis – ‘Follow You, Follow Me’

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There are two sides to Phil Collins.

On one hand: tax dodging, moaning, rubbish drummer in rubbish band – ‘they were never any good once Gabriel left’, incredibly rich, Tory supporter, announced by fax his separation from his first wife, boring, omnipresent, hated by his peers, ugly squat little runt, responsible for the rise of the mullet etc etc…
OR
On the other hand: sensitive, funny, a great drummer in a great band – they were much better once Gabriel had left, and I love him (it did both of them a favour), beloved of the Hip Hop scene, the best pair of forearms in pop, supporter of PETA and the South African HIV/AIDS charity The Topsy Foundation, deaf in his left year, really sexy, beefy and a hot, singing, model railway supporting, non OBE holding, left-handed drumming sex machine etc etc..

I’m inclined to lean towards the second opinion. I adored listening to Trick Of The Tail far more than I ever did listening to Trespass. Wind And Wuthering is one of my favourite records of the entire 70’s. ‘Follow You Follow Me’ was the launch single from ‘…And Then There Were Three’. Steve Hackett had retired from the band and Genesis moved towards a more mainstream commercial sound – Collins had firmly established himself as the frontman and took a much greater role in composing the songs. Follow You Follow Me became their first global top ten hit and set the scene for what was to come.

A couple of years away from ‘Face Value’ – the record which cemented his solo career (remember he was still in Genesis too and the two rubbed alongside for most of the Eighties) – it allowed him to appear in film (Buster where he was and equal match to Julie Walters) and to jet from London to Philadelphia for a double Live Aid appearance. Let’s give a guy a break.

Number 34. The Cars – ‘Drive’

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‘It’s twelve noon in London, seven AM in Philadelphia, and around the world it’s time for Live Aid!’ was the famous announcement made by Richard Skinner at the beginning of the biggest ‘global jukebox’ the world had ever witnessed.

July 13th 1985, and I was one of 172,000 fans at Wembley Stadium excitedly watching the Coldstream Guards take the stage before the mighty Quo played ‘Rockin All Over The World’. It was a beautiful Saturday, I had moved to Brighton in the previous week, I can’t even remember how I got the ticket – pre internet so by cheque in the post? Or postal order? I remember eating crisps on the train journey there – the old-fashioned slam door trains with luggage racks and before the mayhem that blights the service nowadays. So many memories of the day, mostly god but all a little blurry with time.

Queen were the standouts – they had been hiding away for a couple of years but exploded and shone and understood EXACTLY what to do and precisely what the crowd wanted. U2 too – Bono (who I understood Freddie Mercury tried to pull) played a 14 minute version of ‘Bad’ which saw Bono pluck a young girl fan from the audience for a dance and a snog. Bowie also – full of grace, enthralling, beautiful, he played ‘Heroes’ and announced this video live on stage. Adam Ant disappointed massively, Dire Straits bored me to tears, the finale was a bit of a mess, Paul McCartney lost the sound on his mike, we all cheered & whooped when the Americans joined in, giggled at the sight of the Dancing In The Street video, spotted helicopters flying overhead, waved at the Royal Box (‘oh look it’s Nick Kershaw!’) and ate the Wembley Stadium burgers and drank their watery beer.

There was a real sense of community too – I’ve met half a dozen entirely unconnected who were there too and we all feel oddly connected. Back at home or in the streets of suburban Britain, I understand that the roads were deserted. Everyone was watching it, everyone can remember what they were doing. I’m not sure there has been such a unifying event since? (Diana’s Funeral maybe?).
Raising millions of pounds, of course, it did.

However, it felt like the end of something rather than the beginning. Going to a concert felt different. The Compact Disc was on the rise and exploded shortly afterwards – the excitement was no longer quite the same when browsing for a record. There was an annual charity concert seemingly for one charity or organisation or other – all worth watching, some incredible performances – the Nelson Mandela concert, the Freddie Mercury one, the Princess Diana one, Live 8 and also the never-ending television-a-things – Children In Need, Red Nose Day etc etc.. I think I have a touch of charity fatigue.

The video for ‘Drive’ (the Live Aid version) was introduced by David Bowie at the end of his set – he had cut Five Years out in order for it to be shown. It was upsetting viewing. It was intended to be. We cried and hugged communally, the phones went beserk, Billy Connolly sore at us and Geldof to a further step towards sainthood.

‘Drive’ was immediately re-released and reached Number 4 in this country – and momentarily re-ignited the interest in The Cars. I’m rather fond of the first couple of singles (Just What I Needed especially), they were the first band to release a picture disc single (probably). This is classic radio fodder and could be covered by anyone and would still sound great. Benjamin Orr – the pretty blonde haired singer sadly died in 2000 aged 53 from pancreatic cancer. Rik Ocasek, whose future wife features in this video and he still wears his trademark sunglasses.

Number 33. Tori Amos – ‘Silent All These Years’

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Odd. I never think about Tori and never have thought about Tori. She wafts about, keeps herself to herself, eats muesli, cycles to the studio, practises Pilates and natural health – she is the Miss Haversham of pop.

The alert amongst you will have spotted her fronting a rock band called Y Kant Tori Read in the 1980’s where they released an album on Atlantic – all backcombed hair and plenty of hairspray. The real interest began with Little Earthquakes which was released in 1992. The lead-off single was Silent All These Years b/w Me & A Gun. In fact Me & A Gun was initially promoted as the A-side – however, the brave, dark lyrical content did not engage the record-buying content.
The video for Silent All These Years, sees Tori inside a box which echoes the sleeve to Little Earthquakes. Highly sexual imagery has peppered her artwork – particularly the sleeve for Boys For Pele where she can be seen suckling a piglet whilst topless. She is a beautiful woman who moved to Europe where she divides her time between Ireland and Cornwall with her husband and daughter.
‘Professional Widow’ is the one for which she will be most remembered I think. That remix by Armand Van Helden sounded utterly different to anything she had done before (or since) and we wondered collectively whether she would plunge into a new dance direction. It still sounds great.

Her most recent work has seen her moving in a classical music direction signing to Deutsche Gramophone – not heard any of these but would be interested to know what you think?

Number 32. Stillwater – ‘Fever Dog’

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I initially saw ‘Almost Famous’ in the first flush of DVD’s. Back in the year 2000, it was still all about video then along came these shiny discs, which looked like CD’s but played actual films. They were, I remember, quite expensive to buy, there was no streaming, some of them even had secret clips known as Easter Eggs and I spent many an evening on my dial-up internet discovering which Easter Eggs were included on the DVD’s I owned. How times have changed in a short period of time eh?

‘Almost Famous’ is the semi-autobiographical story of a 13 year old Cameron Crowe and his commission as a writer for Rolling Stone magazine. He was, whilst touring with the band, introduced to the rock & roll lifestyle – drink, drugs (plenty of those), standing stage side in vast arenas and the life of a groupie. Kate Hudson played Penny Laine and alongside Anna Paquin, Zoe DeSchanel, Fairuza Balk and Bijou Phillips were the films equivalent of The Flying Garter Girls Group. Gulping handfuls of Quaaludes, watching their boyfriends plunge into swimming pools, cosying up to the guitarist or the bassist or the lighting engineer, they had the best time ever. In spite of the unnecessary plane incident – which was too much like Spinal Tap for my liking, the film is a lovely exploration of life on the road. The film also stars the much missed Phillip Hoffman-Howard as Lester Bangs and the ever-reliable Frances McDormand as William’s (or Cameron’s) Mum.

‘Stillwater’ (in inverted commas as they are not a real band, were, on screen, Jason Lee, Billy Crudup, John Fedevich and Mark Kozelek. The guitar was provided by Mike McCready on all of the ‘Stillwater’ songs. Great attention to detail – it’s still quite difficult to differentiate this performance from the real thing – I’m thinking Bad Company especially but also traces of the Eagles and Led Zeppelin.
The soundtrack is brilliant – and the use of music is exemplary – all the Tiffany Twisted suspects are there – Paul Simon, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Todd Rundgren, Cat Stevens. Little Feat, Joni Mitchell and even Fleetwood Mac and Elton John – the use of Tiny Dancer on the tour bus is amongst my Top Ten moments in film, FACT.

Of course, ‘Stillwater’ were just a group of fiction – but you can get this song if you buy the aforementioned soundtrack LP. Written by Nancy Wilson, guitarist from Heart and the wife of Cameron Crowe, during a break from the darlings of Tiffany Twisted.

You can smell the patchouli coming from the screen.

Number 31. Paul McCrane – ‘Is It Okay If I Call You Mine’

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Us Gays have had a really difficult time being represented properly in the movies. Either portrayed as deviant sexual creatures, prowling dingy clubs, shagging everything that moves, or the butt of all the jokes, or as a murderer, or an extremely camp old queen, or as a sad, lonely, desperate figure. It’s not really changed either – much of Hollywood is still in the closet, actors still marry beards in order to protect their public image (from what?) – out in the real world, no one cares. Watching that brilliant documentary on Marlon Brando and reading about his exploits subsequently, – it strikes me that both he and Errol Flynn, for example, looked at sex as just that. They would – they were good enough as actors to be able to sleep with both men and women, enjoy it and only worry about the Hollywood press – I’m not sure that any actor nowadays (especially in Hollywood) – is quite so ‘devil may care’.

There is a single gay character in ‘Fame’ the film. Odd that, as it was set in the NY High School For The Performing Arts, that he was the only gay there. Montgomery MacNeil was played by Paul McCrane, who went on to star in Robocop and ER, A shock of ginger curly hair he befriended Doris, became infatuated with Ralph, and composed this whilst in his studio flat looking over the New York skyline. He never did find happiness or love but ended the film ‘graduating’ with the rest. He was completely dropped from the TV series and his character disappeared into oblivion.

The most memorable moments from Fame came courtesy of Leroy played by Gene Anthony Ray – who can forget his incredible, thrusting audition piece, Gene sadly died in 2003 from complications following a stroke – he was HIV positive.

This sounds a bit like James Taylor – it’s the only thing McCrane ever published and I really love it.

Number 30. Flash & The Pan – ‘Waiting For A Train’

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Not your typical TT’ed fare, but the artists behind this have the credentials. The singer in the video is not the singer on the song. Here we see George Young of Vanda & Young lip-synching to the record. Vanda and Young were in the Easybeats whose first hit single was ‘Friday On My Mind’ a song, by the way, which has seen me through many a working week. A 5 piece band consisting of migrants to Sydney, Australia they were together for 5 tears and split up in 1969. Part of the 70’s were spent by Vanda & Young writing hit songs for other people – their biggest success being ‘Love Is The Air’ and as George Young was the brother to the AC/DC Young’s he was on hand to produce the majority of their early LP’s. Harry Vanda migrated to Australia in 1963 from Holland (his real name is Johannes Hendrikus Jacob van den Berg) and he has been in a songwriting partnership since the formation of The Easybeats and turn 71 years young this year (which suddenly doesn’t seem that old).

The actual singer of the song is Stevie Wright. Stevie was the lead singer of the Easybeats. Cheeky, handsome – the world was at his feet, and he was hailed as Australia’s first pop star. He became addicted to heroin in 1976 and his life became a wretched tragedy. He was in the Australian production of Jesus Christ Superstar – which was huge news and released a couple of solo records before 1976 when the heroin took hold – he was arrested for breaking into someone’s house and resorted to singing whilst sitting on a chair due to injuring his ankle – he died from pneumonia in 2015 – and the final photos of him bloated and toothless are quite tragic. He linked up again with Vanda & Young when the put together the studio-based band Flash & The Pan becoming their occasional vocalist.

Modern sounding and huge in Europe, they had a minor hit with ‘Hey, St Peter’ but this was their biggest hit. They also composed and recorded ‘Walking In The Rain’ which Grace Jones took and made it into yet another brilliant record – something which she is adept at. Disappointed, however, that this clip is merely the French edit of the single rather than a version sung in French – what IS Waiting For A Train in French?

Number 29. Men At Work – ‘Overkill’

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I could lie to you all and say that I was there for the final Ziggy Stardust concert at Hammersmith Odeon or that I jumped over the fence and saw Bowie free of charge at Glastonbury but I did not. I only saw him twice – once at Live Aid and once at Milton Keynes Bowl during the Serious Moonlight Tour. I’d been to Milton Keynes once before but had never, been to a concert as large as this – nor had I been to a concert without a seat. A blistering hot Sunday afternoon, I remember, the supporting line up was: Icehouse and The Beat. Odd that as I’d have waged good money that Icehouse was Men At Work) – I did a similar thing when I confused U2 with The Alarm). So ever since then, I have confused Men At Work with Icehouse – they do both come from Australia after all.

Men At Work had a huge Number 1 hit with ‘Down Under’ didn’t they? What a terrible record that was. Despite a strong start with ‘Who Can It Be Now’ – I’d given up on them entirely. Then, they released this deeply paranoid beaut.

Written by Colin Hay who was the main driving force behind the Men At Work. Colin has popped up as an actor in Scrubs and has released 23 solo records to date. Ronald “Ron” Graham Strykert who played the other guitar with the band, left the group in 1985 just a year before the group separated – he did not return for the nineties reunion and once issued a death threat to Hay. Alongside Jerry Speiser on drums and John Rees on bass was Greg Ham who played the flute, the sax and the synth. He never really recovered from the lawsuit that the writers of Men At Work lost for plagiarism involving that old Aussie song the Kookaburra and he died from a heart attack in 2012.

That moment bit where he ups the ante at 2:41 is sublime.

Number 28. The Black Crowes – ‘Remedy’

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Can you believe that this record is practically 25 years old? Oddly, it sounds much fresher and recent than much of the Brit-pop stuff which followed. Maybe it’s because it’s so retro and hence could have been recorded at any time between 1970 and 2017.

Did the world need a new ‘The Faces’ or ‘the Stones’ though? Well, it seems that for a while it had found it with the Black Crowes.
‘Southern Harmony and Musical Companion’ was the second LP by the Black Crowes. It was released in May 1992. They burst onto the rock scene with their previous LP and scored a hit with the old Otis Redding song ‘Hard To Handle’. To these ears they sounded a million times better than Guns N Roses – I’ve never understood their appeal – and yes the Crowes were my favourite US Rock act of 1992.

Chris Robinson & Rich Robinson are brothers of course – but unlike many brothers in rock managed to survive without fall-out. Chris, the eldest of the two, was born in Atlanta and they began playing together in High School. Changing their name from Mr Crowes Garden to the Black Crowes, they sign to Def American which was Rick Rubin’s post-Def Jam label. Chris & Kate Hudson were married for much of the noughties. And he is a brilliant frontman – with touches of Jagger, Stewart and Bobby Gillespie.

‘Remedy’ was the lead of single from the album (of four released). Incidentally, the two mamma’s on vocals are Barbara Mitchell of the Gospel Motown sign trio High Inergy from the 70’s. The other lass is simply known as Joy. Their contribution acts to push the song onwards and upwards. Incredible.

Despite being my favourite rock group of 1992, I didn’t hear anything else by them again. I suppose I too moved onto Brit-pop and Primal Scream and I saw the Crowes as a pale US Scream imitator, which is a little unfair. Time to revisit them I think.

Number 27. The Verve – ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’

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Who has been watching ‘The Crown’ on Netflix? A drama about the Queen and the Royal Family, it, so far, concentrates upon her early years of her Queen-dom. On paper, it should make one baulk – however, it brilliant. Not only does it look fantastic, but there are also some exceptional performances – Matt Smith as the Duke of Edinburgh, Clare Foy as the Queen and Jared Harris as King George VI and John Lithgow as Winston Churchill. It’s driven me onto the internet to read about the history of that period. The Great London fog, which I’d known nothing about, Edward and the abdication crisis, the politics of the day, some little details such as the Queen reading through the dispatch boxes. All fascinating stuff.

It also made me think about Princess Diana, for some reason. I guess we’ll never really know why or how her car crashed that night in Paris. The conspiracy theories behind the event are endless, even 20 years later.

The following week, is, perhaps, one of the most peculiar weeks of my life. The whole country was in mourning it seemed. We watched the telly avidly for views of the coffin, news of the funeral, the book of condolence. I was in Bristol in the morning doing a training session on ‘Diversity’ with Mark Wood for a group of Virgin/Our Price managers. Mark bought a copy of this at lunchtime and when the session had finished we both retired to his hotel room and played it several times and shed a few tears. We arrived back in London on Tuesday and visited Kensington Palace where we were both knocked out by the scent of the flowers, the sight of the hundreds of teddy and lit candles and the quietness of the place. I don’t think I’ve experienced anything similar since (not even at the Bowie Brixton shrine).

The funeral came and went – I’ve never seen the streets of Brighton as deserted as that Saturday – our collective grief abated but from that moment on celebrity death was marked differently.

The Verve were formed in Wigan in 1990. They only released four albums, of which ‘Urban Hymns’ was by far the most successful. You may query what this song is doing here. To these ears, it fits in perfectly. You can imagine it being covered by Neil Diamond or Johnny Cash or Glen Campbell – a little bit country, a little bit soul – Brit pop it most certainly isn’t. It’s beautiful and intriguing reaching Number One where it remained until Candle In The Wind ’97 began its reign.

Number 26. Art Garfunkel – ‘Bright Eyes’

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It’s two years ago to the day that I put Rascal to sleep. Not a day has passed without me thinking about her, calling Fred by her name, saying hello to her when I walk through the door. Those last few days, it’s safe to say, were a nightmare. I barely slept or ate or went out. It’s hard that the death of one’s pet, especially if it is the hands of another, is so difficult to cope with and understand. I still carry around an element of guilt – could I have done more, should I have got a second, third or fourth opinion. But I also remember the good times. The unconditional love that she gave me, her patience whilst I slept or went out, our walks to Rottingdean and back, trips to Cornwall where she lay patiently in the back of the car, her pulling me around or trotting behind me- whatever the mood she happened to be in and that shadow of her profile on the pavement when the sun was shining. God bless her and her little ways.

I’m going to tell you a bit about Fred. He replaced Rascal in my house some two months following her death. I decided that I needed a dog in order to get through – the gap she left was insurmountable. So, he came back for a week on trial and I decided, with some doubts, to keep him. Those doubts were that he was very nervous and wary (he growled at his keepers when I collected him) – in fact, he bit me on the cheek on the second night. I discovered when I signed him over to me that I was his third owner. His first owner had a teenage son who actually tried to strangle him and he bit back and caused furore with the neighbourhood demanding that he was got rid of and baying for blood – so was rescued by Raystede. His second home was going well until a baby arrived and he became unsure of his place and they decided to give him back. He’d been in Raystede and no one really wanted him – it might be because he looked a little bit peculiar with his fatty lump above his tail. I really liked his name and the way he cocks his head at the slightest sound.

The first year was quite difficult – hardly surprising due to his background. He remained wary of strangers – not whilst out for his walks which he loves, but with people who visit or who I take him to visit. I know him better now and do not place him in a position that might make him feel scared or vulnerable (he only makes the odd appearance at the Almanac). He is also hilarious. He always seems to be thinking, is very inquisitive and very nosey. Incredibly nosey. Into everything – shopping bags are his favourite. He quite likes some dogs but not others. He likes some people but not others. He’s difficult to understand sometimes. He will also destroy any toy you care to give him. Where Rascal was gentle with her toys, Fred is a dark destroyer – if a toy has a squeak, he’ll de-squeak it in seconds – I’ve given up buying soft toys as they end up in shreds on the floor.

He loves a ball though and will not come to bed without one – so my bed is, not for the first time I might add, full of balls and has a habit of wishing to play with them at 10.30pm which is the time I want to retire. He makes squeaking noises, grunts, snores, dreams and has taken a shine to my flatmate’s boots which can often be found outside of the bathroom. He’s pushy, attention seeking but I love him. He is a typical terrier – and for those of you who have encountered, one will know what I mean. He’s become my confidante and my naughty, bold companion and snuggles in bed pressed into my back – something which Rascal used to do – it’s taken him a while. He is much more obedient – he’ll actually return back to you if off his lead and will follow instructions. He’s as bright as a button.

So, it’s purely coincidental that this record should appear today in the TT’ed list. It’s a story of the love of animals and their demise. It could be about a dog or a cat but was written, by Mike Batt, as the main tear-jerking theme to Watership Down about ‘Badly Drawn Rabbits’ – specifically about Hazel the Rabbit. At the time that it was number one, I was exclusively listening to Rumours, the latest Banshees LP, all those great British and American pop records – Blondie, The Pretenders etc. I didn’t appreciate the loveliness of Art’s vocals. And they are lovely. He is one of the greatest, most gracious and generous of singers. He could make Gangnam Style sound like a hymn – as much as I love Paul Simon – and as we shall see I do – Simon & anyone else just wouldn’t work. This towered over the wannabes in the UK charts for 6 weeks and ushered in the beginning of the Summer, I hadn’t even realised that it featured Chris Spedding on guitar nor that it featured Ray Cooper on percussion.
I’m having my Penguin tattoo today and would rather like a Rascal/Fred drawing cartoon made for a possible future one if anyone can point me in the right direction. I’d like that – it would feel right. Here’s hoping Fred’s eyes burn brightly for many more years..

Number 25. Terry Jacks – ‘Seasons In The Sun’

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When this record was released I was 12. I had never heard of Jacques Brel and why should I or would I have done? There was no internet, he never featured in ‘Look In’, or on Nationwide – though I suspect that he may have been on Arena which was past my bedtime. I still didn’t know who he really was until I discovered Scott Walker a few years later. When I did see what he looked like, I was immediately struck as to how handsome and gallic he looked. Always seemingly smoking a fag in a slightly crumpled white shirt and black tie or black polo neck – he was my sort of man. He was probably responsible for me smoking Gitanes, He wrote and released ‘Le Moribond (The Dying Man)’ in 1961. It was translated into English by the great Rod McKuen and recorded initially by The King Singers. The problem came in the final verse – in Brel’s version it read thus:

‘Good-bye, my wife, I loved you well
Good-bye, my wife, I loved you well, you know,
But I’m taking the train for the Good Lord,
I’m taking the train before yours
But you take whatever train you can;
Goodbye, my wife, I’m going to die,
It’s hard to die in springtime, you know,
But I’m leaving for the flowers with my eyes closed, my wife,
Because I closed them so often,
I know you will take care of my soul.’

McKuen’s version took a step back from the inference of infidelity and this version was the most popular until Jack’s in 1974.

Terry Jacks had been recording this with the Beach Boys who decided against releasing it. He changed the final verse, making it more sentimental and addressing his daughter, Michelle, rather than his adulterous wife. Which is a shame but us Brits are a sucker for this degree of sentimentality and imagine that it was played at many a father’s funeral at the time? Terry was born in Canada, is still friends with the remaining Beach Boys and only troubled the UK charts on one other occasion: a version of ‘If You Go Away’ – another Brel song.

Probably one of the most hated records of the 70’s (although I can think of at least 10 worse songs), I’m still incredibly fond – I can name the intro within 2 notes. Plus it made Kurt Cobain cry so extra kudos there.

Number 24. Natalie Imbruglia – ‘Torn’

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Natalie played the part of Beth Brennan in the Australian TV Soap Neighbours. Kylie aside, Neighbours has not been especially notable for its musical output. We’ve had hits from Jason Donovan, Stefan Dennis, Craig McLachlan. Things picked up ‘ post-Natalie’ with decent singles by Holly Valance and Delta Goodrem. But, Kylie aside, this is the jewel in the crown.

It suffered the indignity of remaining at Number 2 whilst ‘Barbie Girl’ was at Number 1 but has somehow ended up as the 85th Best Selling UK Single of All Time. ‘Torn’ turned into a massive global hit and catapulted Natalie, briefly, to international stardom. The song, and what a brilliant song, was written by an American alternative act called Ednaswap(?!) for their debut LP (Ednaswap has to be the worst band name EVER) – it quite nice but lacks the pop sensibilities found here.

The video features one Jeremy Sheffield, our very own soap star as he has appeared in Coronation Street (the Becky years), Holby City and Hollyoaks where he played Danny Mac’s biological, was the perpetrator of domestic abuse before succumbing to motor neurone disease.

Can you imagine if Nicks or Ronstadt covering this because I can and it would sound marvellous?

Number 23. Sweet – ‘Love Is Like Oxygen’

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By the time that this record was released in 1978, the Sweet had transformed themselves from the Kings of Glam Rock to a more serious (at least that’s what they thought) proposition. Responsible for a perfect run of singles which began with ‘Funny Funny’ in 1970 and ended with this – any Sweet Greatest Hits CD should be an essential purchase and Blockbuster is the only Number 1 single to start with the wail of police sirens.

‘Love Is Like Oxygen’ saw the turning their back on all things Glam (which to be fair had finished by then anyway). They grew beards, wore double denim and sounded exactly like a US rock band – *thinks* Foreigner. And it really suited them. Queen-like trademark high vocals, monster riffage and educational. The future looked bright indeed. It’s such a shame that Brian decided to leave following the release of ‘Level Headed’ the LP from which this came.

The subsequent years were a bit of a mess. At one point there were THREE Sweet’s on tour – Brian Connolly’s Sweet, The New Sweet & Andy Scott’s Sweet. Sweet fans were confused – which one to see? Can’t they sort it out? We were also ‘worried about beautiful Brian’.
His solo career didn’t ever take off. He’d always been a drinker but the effects of his alcoholism became debilitating. He constantly shook, slurred his speech, he suffered his first heart attack in 1981. Anyone who witnessed the Channel 4 programme recorded in 1994 called ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’ will attest to the state of the poor man. It was one of the most distressing programmes I’d seen. He looked at least twenty years older than his age, was stick thin and was hobbling. He died aged just 51.

Sweet loved their rock. Every single B side represented a rockier sound, few made actual LP’s and all were written by the band instead of Chinni-chap. Even as early as 73 fans of the Sweet were walking out of gigs as the band were not as they expected them to be – Mick Tucker would regularly play an 8-minute drum solo.

‘Love Is Like Oxygen’ clocks in at almost 7 minutes on the LP version but was nicely trimmed to below 4 when released as a single reaching the top ten in New Zealand, the US, the UK and West Germany to name a few.

Number 22. Smokie – ‘Lay Back In The Arms Of Someone’

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Dear Chris Norman,

I am writing to you with a confession. I thought you were ALREADY DEAD. When the news broke that a coach had crashed in Cologne in 1995, killing the lead singer of Smokie, I thought it was you. I’ve been telling people it was you for 22 years – but it seems that I was wrong. The lead singer of Smokie at that time was Alan Barton – ex-member of Black Lace and partially responsible for the awful re-recording of Living Next Door To Alice (some might say he deserved everything coming to him).

Instead, I read, that you have almost retired from the music scene, you tour occasionally but have written stuff for Agnetha Faltskog and, rather bizarrely ‘Head Over Heels In Love’ by Kevin Keegan.
But what a great little band you fronted. From 75 to 78 you staked your claim as the British Eagles. Cheesecloth shirts and cowboy boots combined with you beautiful cracked vocal and a handful of classic singles. If You Think You Know How To Love Me was covered by a TT’ed Princess (Pat Benatar). And wasn’t ‘Lay Back In The Arms Of Someone’ covered by both Tanya Tucker and Juice Newton. I’d like to think that you were more than a cypher – after all those singles were written by Nick Chinn and Mike Chapman – the never stopping, hit-making songwriting duo – your voice sounds perfect and can’t imagine another band doing as good a job.

Next time you speak to them, if you do speak to them still, please send my regards and thanks to Alan, Pete and Terry. Particularly Terry who was a curly-haired, hairy chested God.

I promise you, Chris, that I’ll include that brilliant duet you did with Suzi Quatro in a future Tiffany Twisted. I’m considering writing a book about Smokie – their rise from the factories of Bradford, their time with Chinn-Chap so will contact your agent to arrange a chat.
Thank you for the music and stay well.

Yours sincerely

Chris Goddard – A Smokie Fan.

Number 21. Sniff ‘N’ The Tears – ‘Driver’s Seat’

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Yacht Rock was a term coined for the on-line video TV clips of the same name from 2005. Many of the tracks in this list were, at the time referred to as A.O.R or Adult Orientated Rock. Although I have never seen Yacht Rock, the premise looks amazing. Example – Episode 1 – What a Fool Believes” – In the pilot episode, ‘Kenny Loggins’, under the guidance of Koko Goldstein, reaches out to a struggling ‘Michael McDonald’, who is having trouble writing a smooth hit for his band the Doobie Brothers. That kind of thing. ‘Hosted’ by Steve Huey who is a critic for AllMusic each episode lasts no more than 5 minutes. It’s affectionate and really quite funny – it’s the satirical visual equivalent of Tiffany Twisted with a soundtrack to match.

I’m guessing a little cult grew up, CD’s started springing up, DJ’s started playing the records, sets started appearing on Soundcloud etc. Maybe ‘my’ music was finally getting the respect which it deserved. As much as loved ALL of the music on both Guilty Pleasure compilation CD’s, I did have a problem with a) the title – no-one should ever feel Guilty or ashamed about ANY of their musical preferences and b) the club nights – I went to one during the Fringe Festival in Brighton 11 years ago – it all started well enough – America, Christopher Cross etc but soon descended into a cheesy festival – Footloose, Total Eclipse of the Heart – and the crowd all wore those horrible fancy dress wigs.

Sniff ‘N’ The Tears are a British band and ‘Driver’s Seat’ is their only minor hit single in 1979 – although they saw a resurgence in 1991 when the song was used for a Pioneer ad campaign and finally topped the Dutch charts. It features on the Yacht Rock 3 CD compilation released through Universal a couple of years back. You still regularly hear this on the radio – it’s been featured in ‘Boogie Nights’ (one of my all-time favourite films) and has been used in a recent series of the Walking Dead (I do suspect and fear that it might be used in one of Jeremy Clarkson’s TV programmes).

I also really like the artwork used by Sniff ‘N’ The Tears which I imagine was painted by Paul Roberts – who IS Sniff ‘N’ The Tears really. Lead singer and guitarist, he is also known as a respected photorealistic painted who graduated from Goldsmiths. He devotes more time to his painting, from his home in Somerset.

Number 20. Lynyrd Skynyrd – ‘Sweet Home Alabama’

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Within 2 months in 1977, the music world suffered a number of crushing deaths. First came Elvis followed by Marc Bolan, Bing Crosby, Maria Callas and three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd. It was 1977’s version of 2016.

Lynyrd Skynyrd were named after Leonard Skinner who was Van Zandt’s old tyrannical PE master and his enforcing the school’s policy of banning boys with long hair.

Best known for Freebird, which was always on The Old Grey Whistle Test and still sounds amazing, Skynyrd were flying from Greenville, South Caroline to Baton Rouge in Louisiana when their plane crashed in Mississippi. The crash ended the life of Ronnie Van Zandt (singer), Steve Gaines (guitarist & vocals), Cassie Gaines (backing vocalist) and the pilot, co-pilot and assistant road manager. Such a tragedy. You felt they were on the brink of greatness and longevity. Ronnie was a great vocalist in his trademark Stetson hat, flowing blond hair and chunky arms. Steve Gaines had only been with the Skynyrd for a matter of a few years but had already proved himself to be an excellent guitar player and a vital member of the band.

In a cruel twist of fate, their final LP – ‘Street Survivors’ had been released just three days previously. The sleeve shot showed a picture of the band engulfed in flames – especially Steve Gaines – it was a chilling prophetic photograph.

‘Sweet Home Alabama’ was released three years earlier from the sophomore records, ‘Second Helping’. It was written in response to two Neil Young songs: ‘Southern Man’ and ‘Alabama’. There Neil criticised the Southern States of America as being racist and supporting slavery. Which is all well and good but the assumption that ALL people of Alabama behaved this way got their goat. In Rolling Stone, Van Zandt said this: “We thought Neil was shooting all the ducks in order to kill one or two.” Neil, who is often putting his size tens where they are not wanted later expressed regret about some of his views even covering ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ in concert.
Further controversy involved the apparent support for the then Governor of Alabama, one George Wallace. His earlier political campaigns used the words “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” to hammer home his racist views – does this remind you of anyone. In fact, Skynyrd were booing him in the verse of the song – incidentally, the backing vocals are provided by Merry Clayton of ‘Gimme Shelter’ fame.

I wonder, if the core of the band HAD survived the plane crash, what they would think of Trump etc – I’m convinced they would fight back. We all must fight back, mustn’t we?

Number 19. Marianne Faithfull – ‘The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan’

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As part of my New Year’s Resolution, I’ve been reading more and am currently engrossed in a Derek Jarman Biography. Such a lovely man – brilliant at gardening and art and filmmaking. I’m only on chapter 10 – he’s currently at Slade – so the proper meat and two veg is still to come – I’m interested in reading about the making of Sebastiane, Caravaggio, Edward II and how he came involved with Marianne Faithfull, Pet Shop Boys and Suede.

He directed a short film for Marianne for the Broken English LP. Iconic sleeve – midnight blue with the hint of a lit fag, it’s one of my go-to records and has been ever seen I heard it blaring out before Bruce came on for the River Tour in 1981. Marianne had been kicking around since the 60’s when she was discovered by Andrew Loog Oldham and dated Mick Jagger. By the end of the 70’s, she was an alcoholic, had become addicted to heroin, was briefly living on the streets of London and was anorexic. ‘Dreamin My Dreams’ later re-issued as ‘Faithless’ was released to little acclaim on a tiny record label in 1976 so ‘Broken English’ was considered to be a major comeback. And what a comeback. Her voice had deepened and cracked after years of smoking and drug abuse. Jarman directed a companion 12-minute film to accompany the release: Broken English, The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan and The Witches Song – filmed in Super 8. All have a distinctive Jarman feel – controversial, hard-hitting in places and even features Marilyn in one segment.
‘The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan’ was written by Shel Silverstein of Dr Hook fame about a 37-year-old, suburban housewife who is never going to ride through Paris with the warm wind in her hair, again. It’s an incredibly accomplished piece of song-writing, which sounds like it was written especially for Faithfull.

A talented actress, she has appeared on film and on TV, carefully selecting her parts to suit her art.

Number 18. Yoko Ono – ‘Walking On Thin Ice’

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A Yoko Dilemma. Is she a marriage wrecker, cougar type, who corrupted our John – tempting him with her Japanese ways, forcing him to stand naked with her on the Two Virgin’s LP sleeve, encouraging to allow him to allow her to appear as a backing ‘vocalist’ and enticing him into her bed? Or is she a bit of an enfant terrible of the artwork, hugely creative, put up with his dreadful behaviour in the 70’s sitting quietly whilst he shagged her best mate, survived the massive shock of the shooting emerging full of dignity and grace. Plus she’ll be 84 in a couple of weeks and was responsible for making knitting a ‘thing’.

‘Walking On Thin Ice’ was released at the end of January in 1981. The world was still in shock over Lennon’s death. For some, it was the day the music died (it wasn’t). It stands as the final recorded piece of music that John worked on – he is playing the guitar on the track. He remarked that she had just recorded her first Number One record – it wasn’t but it was her first chart hit and re-ignited interest in her back catalogue. Lyrically, too, it is prophetic: “throwing the dice in the air” and “when our hearts return to ashes, it will be just a story….”. It seemed to capture the world’s grief in one brilliant six-minute song.

It continues to be feted and remixed by a huge swathe of DJ’s and artists. Elvis Costello has covered it, the Pet Shop Boys have released two remixes of it, there has even been a number of maxi-single and mini-LP released ranging from Danny Tengalia, Felix the Housecat, Superchumbo, Ralphi Rosario and Tedd Patterson. All fantastic stuff.

However, I don’t think I’ve heard anything else by her apart from this record and ‘Kiss Kiss Kiss’ which is the best thing on ‘Double Fantasy’ by a long distance. I’m not sure I want to either but thank Yono solely for this record – particularly the bit where she vomits which is exactly what we need in these times.

Number 17. John Lennon – ‘Whatever Gets You Thru The Night’

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Whatever happened to the stunningly handsome boy who co-fronted the Beatles? He grew his hair, got a pair of Lennon specs, returned his MBE back to the Queen, released several experimental albums with his wife, wore white suits, indulged in primal therapy and became, by several accounts, a bit of a cock.

Early Sixties John was such a spunk monkey that I used to stand in front of our black and white telly, bouncing up and down in my nappies singing ‘I love John’ (I was only 2). With Paul McCartney he wrote some of the greatest songs ever – many of them have become standards and our collective Beatles obsession continues to this day, and quite rightly so. Just one note of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows‘ (which is shockingly under three minutes long) or that run of incredible number one singles (which have never been repeated) is enough to send me dizzy with love. There will never again be a more successful pop band – their success is measured against any new pop sensation be it One Direction or Take That.

By the time the 1970s had rolled in, Lennon had left the Beatles, had moved to New York and was working on Imagine – which has, to this mind, become a bit of an albatross around his neck.

In 1973, he separated from Yoko for a period of 18 months – he described it as his lost weekend and seemed to have a blast. During this time, he drank a lot – mostly with Harry Nilsson, began a relationship with May Pang whose voice can be heard whispering on ‘Number 9 Dream’. He produced ‘Pussy Cats’ for Nilsson as well as working on an unreleased Jagger track, co-wrote ‘Fame’ for Bowie and provided guitar and backing vocals and recorded my favourite 70’s LP of his with ‘Walls & Bridges’.

With Elton John on backing vocals and piano, Whatever Gets You Thru The Night is a marvellous example of white soul – he’d never sounded as great or happy and never did again. He was massively overshadowed by the rest of the Beatles too, Macca produced much of his finest work with Wings and even Ringo produced some great stuff.

Mark Chapman, his murderer, had planned a series of celebrity murders once he’d shot John and reports say that Bowie was next on his list. For a time the world went into a tailspin, Yoko – bless her soul – was devastated and Imagine was at Number One in the charts. Sentenced to twenty years, he is still incarcerated in the Wende Correctional Facility in New York.

Number 16. Fleetwood Mac – ‘Silver Springs’

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This week marks the release of ‘Rumours’ in the UK. 40 years ago. 40 fucking years ago. I may have got it for my birthday but certainly got it on the first Saturday at Tracks in Royston. I had already bought ‘Go Your Own Way’ and had been playing it to death. I’d sorted out, by then, that Lindsey was the singer and that Stevie was the singer of Rhiannon – which I’d heard on the Paul Gambaccini US Chart show about 6 months previously whilst playing on the swing in my back garden.
They weren’t supposed to be the sort of band I’d like. Coming from a small provincial town in Hertfordshire was such a long way away from California, the Queen was about to celebrate her Silver Jubilee, Punk was happening and everyone was wearing safety pins. I wore a safety pin and an oversized cricket jumper AND skinny jeans in an attempt to be a punk – but didn’t feel particularly at ease. Surely there were greater things to worry about, to protest about, to sing about than affairs of the heart?

Let us begin with that sleeve. Such a simple yet classic design – a single shot of Mick and those balls, (decided to grow my hair into a ponytail when I’d leave home), a crystal ball and Stevie in ballet shoes and chiffon – had it been produced on white cardboard, it would not have worked. Instead, it was produced on cream cardboard, cream TEXTURED cardboard at that. The reverse of the cover is just a series of band shots – John whispering to Christine, Christine to Lindsey, Lindsey to Stevie etc. Rumours. Inside was the lyric sheet – loads and loads of photos which I poured over, trying to identify the faces and the scenarios – ‘is that Ken Caillat then or Richard Dashut?’ thought I. Having the lyrics and having them in a readable size, unlike nowadays, enabled me to learn the songs by heart (which frankly didn’t take very long as lyrics became one of my go-to pop quiz strengths). And those adorable penguins which became, 40 years later, my fourth ever tattoo (what took me so long).

I seriously listened to nothing else for a good six months, probably more. Every night, I’d get back from school, retreat up to my bedroom and play it from start to finish – I could barely catch my breath. I badgered friends to come and listen to it – Ashley Bowman, Wendy McCulloch, Billy Derbyshire etc. I think they thought I must have gone insane. I also decided that I only wanted to ‘date’ girls who reminded me of Stevie – there were a few that sort of did. I discovered patchouli oil because I thought Stevie wore it and briefly (for a week) dated girl who did wear it. I should have been revising for my school work – reading Cider With Rosie, learning about the Plantagenets, trying and failing to grasp logarithms. Instead, I was listening to Rumours – building my own imaginary stage set with me as the vocalist.

At that time (no internet see), it was impossible to find out more – relying upon interviews in the Melody Maker or the NME or even the Rolling Stone. So, I had no idea about the emotional turmoil which was going on in the band. It did sound like a series of confessions or attacks – but towards who, about what? Of course, I now know exactly what it was about – I’ve read everything you could possibly read and reflected my life in several of the songs. The stories are legendary and now we do have the internet, you can read up on it for yourself. The copious amounts of cocaine, the privately charted independent jets which flew them from gig to gig. The Record Plant in Sausalito where ‘Rumours’ was recorded became my imaginary playground – I envisioned myself sat behind the mixing desk, waving my hands about creatively and pushing the sliders up and down. During my only trip to the West Coast, I actually went through Sausalito on the train and screamed and peered out of the window trying to get a glimpse.

And then there is the music. Here you had three immediately identifiable voices and, more importantly, songwriters, jostling for space. Lindsey contributed ‘Second Hand News’, ‘Never Going Back Again’. You can hear suggestions of what was to come, Lindsey, dominating the proceedings, taking over the reign as producer and general pop genius (which he is).
‘Second Hand News’, rather cheekily nicks it’s rhythm and feel from ‘Jive Talking’ – less than three minutes long – it takes two of them to get to the actual chorus – the tall grass, begging Stevie to allow him to do his stuff – to leave him the fuck alone, maybe, sounds like a cowpunk country record – it draws you in and keeps you hooked. ‘Never Going Back Again’ is the third track on side 1 – it sounds a little like a children’s TV programme – there really aren’t as many lyrics as you think – Lindsey is thinking out loud what he is going to do next – it’s as radical a kiss-off to past times as any song by the Clash or the Pistols. ‘Go Your Own Way’, as previously mentioned, was the leadoff single. Despite my willing it to reach the top ten, it only reached Number 38 in the UK (much higher in the States of course where the Mac were much more established). Lindsey’s guitar playing is both exquisite, yet utterly deranged. No wonder that it has been covered by grunge artists. Fleetwood drums magnificently and quiet John can barely be heard (the sign if an excellent bass guitarist). The tension created is palpable, the instruments clatter and splutter together and then it explodes into that glorious chorus and powers towards the end of the song (I once fell off a spinning roundabout at Duckie, knocking myself out to this and it’s the one record I play if things aren’t going so well DJ wise).

Then we have Christine. ‘Oh Daddy’ could, perhaps should, have been sung by Stevie and was written for Mick as a thank you maybe, for his contributions? You feel safe here and with Christine – she is like your kinder elder sister – reliable, calm, kind. Except on ‘You Make Loving Fun’ – she pisses her ex John off by discussing her new boyfriend, the lighting engineer. ‘Don’t Stop’ could almost have been sung by Lindsey – he is all over it. It’s been used in a Presidential Campaign and is chirpily optimistic about stuff – let’s get on with it and never look back. And ‘Songbird’ is her jewel in this crown. Recorded in a theatre, just her and her piano (with a red rose surely, placed on the top). You can practically hear the breath coming from her mouth – it’s incredibly intimate and touching and, somehow, manages to glue it all back together again.

Finally, Stevie. Oh, Stevie. She writes best when she is unhappy, cross and desperate. I always forget that ‘I Don’t Want To Know’ is one of her songs – it harks back to the much earlier Buckingham Nicks LP (will they EVER release that properly), they sound like they are having fun but they are not – he thinks one thing, she thinks another – they agree to disagree, it’s one big row really. ‘Dreams’ became their first and only US Number One, reaching Number 24 in this country. She wrote it in 10 minutes – imagine her scribbling away in a notepad and thumping away at the keyboards of her piano. It begins with a huge sigh of despondency: Off you go again Lindsey, if you say you want to go, you should go and stop pontificating – I really don’t care (except I do greatly). It’s one of the saddest songs in her cannon – the final note remains as a question mark over the whole thing. ‘Rumours’ finishes with ‘Gold Dust Woman’ – her shamen moment, her ‘The End’ by the Doors, by close of play she is screeching and howling, joined by Lindsey on guitar. It’s a chilling song and inspired Courtney Love surely.

‘The Chain’ is in itself a remarkable piece of work – written by the whole band as a mash-up – an intro from here, a bass part from there. – it was almost hijacked by Formula One – but that thundering bass solo still sends shivers whilst summoning up the ghosts of Fleetwood Mac past (Green Manhilishi especially.

Where does this leave ‘Silver Springs’ though? Lurking away on the B Side to ‘Go Your Own Way’ in fact. For years. Until 1997 when it appeared as a live version on ‘The Dance’. Who knows the internal politics surrounding this – I know that Stevie was very upset about it being left off the record – so much so that Mick had to take her into a carpark to break the news that it was not to be included. It’s one of her most personal, regretful songs. About the end of her relationship with Lindsey, it speaks directly to him – ‘You could be my silver springs’ & ‘I’ll follow you down ‘til the sound of my voice will haunt you’ or ‘I know I could have loved you but you would not let me’ – it goes on – it’s all a bit too much. It is her most honest, naked song on the album. She is finally, reluctantly letting go of him but she warns him, and I’m not sure how kindly, that she’ll always be there ‘somewhere’ – she fades out on one of her trademark roaring vocal. She said, about what was going through her head when she wrote the song: ‘I’m so angry at you. You will listen to my voice on the radio rest of your life, and it will bug you. I hope it bugs you.’ You go girl. Imagine singing that to your lover on stage every night. Perfect. Yet it was a B Side. Shame. Thankfully, the whole situation was rectified and if you buy a modern version of ‘Rumours’, there it is tucked at the end of what would have been side 1, right where it belongs, where it should have been.

The legacy stretches royally before it – sixth best selling record in history in the States, 630 weeks in the UK LP charts – still notching them up occasionally too, approaching 50 million copies sold, 11th best selling LP of all time in the UK, Grammy award winning too.

I own ‘Rumours’ on every single format (well not on 8 track), three LP’s one of which is audiophile direct master thing on very heavy vinyl and three times on CD – the standard version, the double re-issue from the early noughties and the deluxe boxed set from a couple of years ago. It’s the first record I unpack whenever I moved home and the record which is central to my filing system everything else emanates from it. I have a Rumours I-pod playlist and thrill whenever a track come on th shuffle – transported back to my bedroom in The Shires, blasting it out of my window, singing along, annoying the neighbours. It’s remarkably durable too – so glad that it topped the vinyl charts last year and is being discovered by those youngsters. Even ‘Glee’ had a go at it.

It IS my favourite record of all time. No question or doubt. Many have tried to top it – Parallel Lines, Bowie, Beatles, Screamadelica, Dare, Tusk. Born To Run.. none of them have ever quite nudged it. If you took away all of my possessions, I’d be happy as long as I had a copy of this and something to play it on.

Happy Birthday Rumours, I actually love you – you’ve been one of my best friends ever.

Number 15. Joan Osbourne – ‘One Of Us’

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This is a weird one. I can barely remember it charting, I was far more interested by then in Suede, in Blur, in Portishead and Massive Attack to be bothered with it. I’m still not THAT bothered with it if I’m honest. The lyrics are a little bit trite and simple for such a grand subject – however, I did not realise that four lines from the first verse were lifted from an old folk song dated around 1937 entitled The Aeroplane Ride by Alan Lomax. It raises the age-old question as to whether God exists and if so what does he look like and what is he good for. It is a little disconcerting to consider that he or she may be your local Drag Queen or bloke on the train or housewife in Tesco’s – imagine that.

Well not really, I prefer to ingest my religion in the traditional way by visiting old churches. I am very fortunate in living within spitting distance of St George’s Church – a Neoclassical example of the early 19th Century architecture and ‘churchdom’ – incidentally, the architects were the same ones that helped to design the Holy Trinity Chapel in Ship Street – another of my favourite places. It is or tries to be, the hub of the community – you can vote there, train your puppy there, hold a charity boot sale there, get married (or Civil Partnershipped) there, have your send-off there. I can, and do, rely upon the chime of the bells (although recently it sounds as if they have been turned down). There have also been some excellent music gigs there – John Grant, Gillian Welch, Edwyn Collins, Villagers, Seth Lakeman immediately spring to mind – there is something quite lovely about going to a gig and being back at your house within 3 minutes. I often wonder what numbers the Sunday congregation attracts though. I’ve considered popping my head in (but not appropriate with Fred) or going to a Midnight Mass at Christmas but have no idea what to expect.

I do not have a religious bone in my body though. But I DO love a church and try to visit one whenever I see a newbie. All have different characteristics and smells and feels. There is something ultimately comforting about the silence and the light and I still say a little prayer, light a candle, kneel on a hassock and contemplate. I like it – it keeps me centred and appreciative.

It was when I saw Prince during his 21 Nights In London tour. He played this and it all fell into place (the bastard). The song revealed itself as a beautiful, heartfelt thing – whereas Osbourne’s version skates dangerously close to 4 Non Blonds territory, in the hands of Prince, it became something else. The chorus is a proper earworm too.

Yet I’m still no nearer (okay, perhaps a bit nearer), to be able to answer that question.

Number 14. Bonnie Raitt – ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’

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What a song. Languishing on Bonnie’s ‘Luck Of The Draw’ album which was released in 1991, it was revived by George Michael for the ‘Older’ sessions and performed and became a hit for Adele in 2011. It became Bonnie’s biggest US single. She had been waiting in the wings for ages – a stunning redhead (a little like Patti Scialfa’s elder sister) with a beautiful soulful voice and seemingly never happier than playing bottleneck on her guitar. She has never achieved the level of success or acclaim which she deserves – incidentally she didn’t write this so cannot claim writing credits – but thanks to Jools Holland, who with all of his faults, helped someway to making her a bigger star.

With a string of 17 classy studio LP’s behind her, she has worked with the cream of the music scene: Bruce, kd lang, Roy Orbison, Jackson Browne, Toots & the Maytals and Warren Zevon. She is also a political animal backing the No Nukes campaign, Democrat voter and is often up to supporting a cause.

Originally written as a bluegrass number, they decided to slow the tempo down and considered offering it to Linda Ronstadt or Bette Midler or Bonnie. Bonnie accepted the gauntlet. Written after composer Mike Reid had read about a case in the local paper which involved a man getting drunk and taking a shot at his girlfriend’s car – he claimed:

“I learned, Your Honor, that you can’t make a woman love you if she don’t.”

Bonnie recorded her vocal in one single take and has said:

‘I mean, ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ is no picnic. I love that song, so does the audience. So it’s almost a sacred moment when you share that, that depth of pain with your audience. Because they get really quiet, and I have to summon … some other place in order to honor that space’
Which brings us onto the versions by George Michael and Adele. George always had impeccable taste in his cover versions – just one listen to ‘Songs From The Last Century’ will confirm that. Released as the B side to ‘Older’, it made a proper appearance on ‘Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best Of George Michael’. In his hands, it reveals itself to be a song of rare sensitivity and despair, especially coming from the mouth of an outwardly gay man.

Adele recorded this as part of her ‘Live At The Albert Hall’ CD. It reached Number 45 in the UK Singles Chart back in 2011 but was not released as an actual single. Now I love Adele. I think she has the most fantastic voice, is an incredibly talented songwriter and interpreter. And she is blessed with a great sense of humour (and is quite quite filthy).

Her version is genuinely raw and heartfelt though she at least pronounces ‘patronise’ correctly, – she has said:

“It makes me really, really happy and really, really devastated and depressed at the same time. It makes me think of the fondest and best times in my life, and it makes me think of the worst as well, and combined, probably is a recipe for disaster, but I do love this song. It’s just fucking stunning.”(told you. Filthy).

Though Adele’s version, ‘I Can’t Make Me Love You’ has become staple fare for any reality singing show you can recall – usually sung by an Adele wannabe or a failed boyband (Union J) – but none of them can compare to these three versions (I suspect also that’s it’s one of Simon ’11 Times a Night’ Cowell’s favourite records but we’ll have it back now thank you very much).

Destined to become something of a standard though. 25 years old and there are still plenty of tears to be shed over this one.

BTW – the piano player here is Bruce Hornsby of the Range fame.

Number 13. Sad Café – ‘Every Day Hurts’

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Sad Café were from Manchester rather than California – it’s quite difficult to appreciate that. Formed from the ashes of Mandalaband, a prog group, and from Gyra they became Sad Café in 1976. Their debut album. Fanx-Ta-Ra featured a saucy pic of an almost topless, slightly sexist image of a woman sitting at the mirror in her bedroom with some geezer skedaddling out the door (it was probably a Hipgnosis job as they did the best sleeves). Recorded at Strawberry Studio’s they were linked to the brilliant 10CC – Eric Stewart produced Every Day Hurts and it’s parent album ‘Misplaced Ideals’ (I’m saving 10CC for a later TT’ed).

During the school holidays in 1979, I participated in an all-night charity fundraising activity, where me and my sixth form colleagues, participated in an all-night games session (Monopoly, Cluedo, that kind of thing) which took place in the Sixth Form building. It felt quite communal and bonding, we raised about £200 for charity and I was collected, bleary-eyed at 7 o’clock in the morning and he took me home. At around 4am, this record was played on the radio, and I burst into tears, through tiredness probably. It’s such a beautiful record and the chorus, when it arrives, is enormous and emotional.

Paul Young was the singer from Sad Café. Not that Paul Young, the one who sang on Do You Know It’s Christmas and Wherever I Lay My Hat (NOTHING wrong with him though) but Paul Young who went on to have a couple of hit with Mike & The Mechanics. Young was a powerful, expressive singer not dissimilar to Mick Jagger on the rockier numbers. He looked great in a skinny tie too. He died in 2000 of a heart attack aged just 53. He had had no history of heart problems and like so many others, it just finished him off.

Number 12. Kirsty MacColl – ‘They Don’t Know’

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All Hail Stiff Records! Established in 1976 by Jake Riviera & Dave Robinson – their first single release was ‘So It Goes’ by Nick Lowe – catalogue number BUY1. The catalogue number is significant as it heralded a run of singles – some great, some dreadful – which lasted until 1986. It was satisfying to have witnessed the birth of the label – I did try and collect them all, even going to a Stiff Records Collectors Fair at the Marquee in order to fill in the gaps. The starting point for many a great band or artist – Elvis Costello, The Damned, Ian Dury, Belle Stars, Lene Lovich, Wreckless Eric, Devo, The Pogues, Madness and Kirsty MacColl.

Kirsty was the daughter of respected folkie Ewan MacColl who grew up in Croydon, staying with Stiff for two singles – this and ‘You Caught Me Out’ before moving to Polydor Records. She continued to record excellent albums, appeared regularly with French & Saunders or Raw Sex, appeared as a backing vocalist on several singles and albums and seemed to be a lovely, funny lady. Then disaster struck as she was visiting Mexico. She went for a diving expedition in a supposedly safe area of water when she was struck by a powerboat which decapitated her and killed her instantly. I remember thinking that it was (and is), the most tragic of deaths. The scene must have been horrific and traumatising for her family who witnessed it. The BBC documentary entitled ‘Who Killed Kirsty?’ expanded upon the background and focussed upon trying to bring the perpetrators to task. What was just as tragic, was that her recording career was going through a resurgence of interest – ‘Tropical Brainstorm’ had been her most commercially successful record in a while, fully of cheeky songs and South American rhythms.

‘They Don’t Know’ was also released by Tracey Ullman, though Stiff Records incidentally. It became a Number 2 hut in the UK and reached the US charts. Tracey takes the song in a more 1960’s girl-singer direction – imagining it to be sung by Sandie Shaw or Cilla – and Paul McCartney features in the video which must have helped. By the way, the Ullman parent album – ‘You Broke My Heart In 17 Places’ – is an unexpected pleasure.
Perhaps Kirsty will be best remembered for her work on ‘Fairytale Of New York’ though, which is a huge shame as she was much, much better than that.

And in my head, there is an actual clip of her singing this on TOTP’s but buggered if I can find it.

Number 11. Alanis Morissette – ‘You Oughta Know’

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Bunny boiler alert. She’s quite cross, isn’t she? That’s putting it mildly. She spews hatred all over this track. It’s about an ex-boyfriend (possibly married) who’s dumped her and moved on with his life, leaving Alanis desperately frustrated – he never answers her calls, avoids her in Walmart, defriended her on Facebook but you KNOW he’d come back for more, given half the chance. Filthy too – ‘would she go down you in there theatre?’ natch

In spite of this, I’m not really a fan of hers. ‘Ironic’ is a ridiculous record – and deserves the many parodies that it spawned. I do LOVE ‘Thank You’, the one where she is wandering about in the nuddy (I’m a sucker for list songs) – and although I have ‘Jagged Little Pill’ and the follow up ‘Supposed Infatuation Junkie’, I rarely play them (apart from this, which is played on repeat about three times if it comes on my IPod).

As a debut single from an LP, it remarkably brave and forthright. Questions have been asked as to the identity of the bloke – is it Matt LeBlanc? The jury is still out on that one. The band on the record were Dave Navarro & Flea (from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers) and Benmont Tench (from Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers). It has been covered by many an angry young woman, most intriguingly (and appropriately) by Britney Spears on her Circus Tour (I would have loved to have seen her do THAT).

Alanis was only 20 when she recorded this – how someone could become so bitter about her lot at that age is beyond my comprehension. Born in Ottowa, Alanis released two LP’s before ‘Jagged Little Pill’ which were similar in feel to the stuff that Tiffany and Debbie Gibson were touting. Moderately successful (in Canada), she upped sticks and moved to LA, met up with producer and songwriter Glen Ballard and signed to Maverick Records. Jagged Little Pill went on to sell 33 million copies worldwide. She never regained the commercial success awarded her with this album. She has ventured into acting making appearances in Dogma (as God), De-Lovely, Sex and The City and Weeds. She was engaged to Ryan Reynolds for three years before settling down with Mario Treadway (Rapper). Of course, she also practices all sorts of yoga and self-help.

It’s also the most appropriate Valentine’s Day song for all of you that have ever been dumped!

Number 10. Golden Earring – ‘Radar Love’

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Was thinking about this the other day. Do boys still get their ears pierced? I’m not sure that they do. They are more likely to pierce their eyebrows or nipples and such or get a tattoo. Back in MY day, it was a rite of passage. I had my ear pierced within a week of leaving school – the jewellery shop in Hatfield did it – you had to dab it with ointment until it fully healed (about a week) and then it could be replaced by a Golden Sleeper Earring rather than a stud. My Nan went ballistic, my Mum wasn’t too happy either, my Dad couldn’t care less. I was regularly asked to take out my earring for fear of upsetting my Nan & Grandad but as I was ever so stubborn, of course, I refused. One had to be very careful as to which ear was pierced also. If your right ear only was pierced you were definitely gay (wouldn’t want anyone to think that), if you had both ears pierced you were probably Bisexual or George Michael. Every bloke I knew at the time had an ear piercing – either left or right or both. It’s weird, isn’t it? It must have been a late 70’s/80’s/90’s thing.

Golden Earring were from the Netherlands – a country not renowned for its musical output. Shocking Blue were from there of course, and subsequently, Teach-In won Eurovision with Ding-A-Dong a couple of years later. Then, there was a wave of 2nd rate Eurodisco acts – namely 2 Unlimited, the Vengaboys and Ferry Corsten. There was some good stuff – Gruppo Sportivo, Herman Brood (before you shout at me and point out the error of my ways.
Golden Earring (or The Golden Earrings as they were then known), scored their first ever Number One in the Netherlands as long ago as 1967 with the marvellously titled “Dong Dong Diki Digi Dong”. They waited until 1973 to unleash this beast of a record. Like the band itself, it’s bare-chested, hairy and struts around like a rhino. Each member of the band, apart from Barry Hay, have unpronounceable names – George Kooymans, Rinus Gerritsen, Cesar Zuiderwijk, Eelco Gelling and Bertus Borgers. Reading about Golden Earring is not terribly exciting nor does it reveal that much about their history – apart from the fact that Barry appears in a commercial for prescription spectacles.

From their TENTH LP called ‘Moontan’ (the one with the naked lady), this is the perfect driving song – huge riff, pumping bass and downright sexy lyrics. It remains their only hit record.

Number 9. Cher – ‘Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves’

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What can be possibly said about the legend that is Cher? American comedian Jimmy James quipped:

“After a nuclear holocaust, all that will be left are cockroaches and Cher”.

She has said about herself on the David Letterman Show:
“I went to the bathroom, and I’m coming out, and this woman goes “Miss! Miss!” and she comes running after me and grabs my hand, and she was like “Can I have your card? ‘Cos you are the best that I’ve ever seen.”
And I’m so dense, I’m thinking “I don’t have a card! I don’t carry cards!” Then she looks at me, and says “Oh god, I’m so sorry!” She thought I was a very good Cher impersonator.”

I love Cher. She never takes herself too seriously, has a self-deprecating wit and is (or was) very beautiful and saucy.

In her 50+ career, she has tacked many a variety of music, has appeared on film – nominated as Best Supporting Actress in the Golden Globes, BAFTAs AND the Oscars for Silkwood & Moonstruck where her performance was sublime. She navigated her way from being a single Mum of two children, is dyslexic, has had affairs with many of the American Men of Rock (Gene Simmons, Duane Allman etc), is a fierce supporter of LBGT Rights and has been brave enough to take on Trump in a twitter war. She doesn’t put up with any nonsense I feel.

Last February, the headline of the National Enquirer announced ‘Cher Is Close To Death’ – of course, it was stuff and nonsense, but it did give me a cold chill, especially so soon after Bowie. She is hale and hearty, and is currently working on a Broadway show and is doing 30 (more) live shows in the States, the first taking place on the 8th of February.

‘Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves’ was released in 1971 from the self-titled ‘Cher’ LP. You could be forgiven for thinking that the song was written about her early life – the sense of rebellion and of desperation, dancing for money, having a baby too young – but it wasn’t – she just makes it sound like it was. It’s surprising that it toppled ‘Maggie Mae’ from the top of the US charts, and reignited her failing career. She went on to release some of her best material subsequently – ‘Dark Lady’, ‘Half Breed’, ‘Take Me Home’, ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ & ‘Just Like Jessie James’ to name just a few. I would, however, love to hear her do an album where she links up with a Rick Ruben say or a duets album where she sings with Ronstadt, Parton or kd lang, as I’d love to hear a more introspective side to her and her remarkable voice.

I could write a book about her. So much source material – I’ve not even mentioned her relationship with Sonny nor their kooky TV show, her relationship with Chaz etc. So instead, I shall leave you with this genre-defining performance whilst gazing upon her beauty.

Number 8. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – ‘Mainstreet’

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We all, I think, have our own unique image of America. For some, it’s exactly as shown in the photos from this video – straight streets, the American flag waving about a shop, the Whitehouse in the distance, everything’s just that bit bigger and brighter than over here. Or maybe it’s the lush greenery of New England, the steam rising from the subway in New York City, the desolate plains of the Arizona desert. Or perhaps it’s the Grand Canyon, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Empire State Building, Mount Rushmore, The Statue of Liberty, Niagra Falls – the list goes on and on. There is no country on earth that has had such an influence upon our collective consciousness as the US – incredibly so. Not all of it good of course. I’ve visited the US on two separate occasions – each time was as different as visiting Berlin and Mumbai – it’s such a massive country that each city seems to operate independently from the rest of the country – even having their own TV news channels, climate and demographics – it’s really very fascinating and attractive.

I have kept my counsel on Donald Trump since his election as President but quietly I am seething. When it was mooted that he was running for the job, I laughed at the audacity of the man. Surely, he wouldn’t have a hope in hell, would withdraw in the early stages and he would return back to reality TV land? Right up until the morning of the that early November morning, I was convinced that it would not happen – when it did it was horrifying. Now, I totally get why he was elected – his opposition candidate was weak and untrustworthy in many people’s views. One look at the map post-election, reveals that he was elected from the middle of the country rather than the coasts (Florida being the exception) – this suggested to me that there were huge pockets of the US who DID feel disenfranchised, disconnected, fed up and wanted change. Populated by mainly working class, normal American’s with little employment opportunities, living close to the poverty of all races. The sexy entertainment industries, banking, IT, film, business all take place in the coastal districts – working in a factory is not especially sexy, is it? I get why they voted for them but did they have to vote for him?

The run-up campaign was one of the nastiest, bitchiest events I’ve ever witnessed. Trump came across as a playground teenage boy – bullish and bullying – casually insulting all who disagreed with him, threatening/promising all sorts of stuff if he were to be elected. Misogynist, nasty, homophobic, creepy little man – he didn’t even win the popular vote, trailing Hillary by 3 million votes.

The US Constitution has been in place since 1789 and has had 27 amendments which, with the exception of Amendment II (Google it), has proved itself to be a robust and comprehensive document and I trust in the legislature of the country to take him to task should he fall foul.

He has been in the job for less than one month. Already, he and his ignorant sidekicks are trying to dismantle the very essence of what it means to be living in America in the 21st Century. Many of his supporters have proved themselves to be racist beyond belief and, of course, racists are usually homophobic, transphobic, see the disabled as a drain on society. I feel so much sympathy for friends and family of friends who are currently having to negotiate this new way of doing things and I applaud anyone who makes a stand and protests – even from this vantage point in cosy England, I think it’s important to do so.

Let’s make this clear too. He is not ‘mentally ill’ as some people may think – that is doing a disservice to those who are. He might not even be enjoying himself that much – occasionally you seeing him looking fidgety and awkward and thinking possibly: ‘What the fuck have I got myself into now’. He is a businessman running a multimillion-dollar operation, rich beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, a reality TV star who has had NO political experience – it’s hardly surprising that it has the potential to all go tits up.

But let’s not forget that this country has our own balls to juggle. Theresa May is *almost* as bad – quietly dismantling the NHS, cutting benefits for the disadvantaged, siding with Trump, and pushing on with Brexit (because it’s what we all wanted isn’t it?).

I genuinely fear for our future. Maybe one morning I shall wake up to find it’s all been a nightmare and we roll back 12 months but approach things with the knowledge we have now and do the right thing (has anyone seen that Kanye West has thrown his hat into the ring for the 2020 Presidential Campaign – doesn’t seem that unlikely now does it?).

‘And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.’

So ‘Mainstreet’ was written about Ann Street which is just off Main Street in Ann Arbor in Michigan – Republican Trump territory for sure. It was Seger’s place of birth and he, more than any other artist typifies the ethos of Tiffany Twisted. ‘Night Moves. The parent LP was released back in 1976 and has been a constant feature in my life – remember that ‘Night Moves’ the track topped my imaginary chart 6 years ago. This could easily have topped this year – any of the top ten could, actually. Aged 71 he has been in the business since 1961 and has a string of the most fantastic records in his bag.

Number 7. Julie Covington – ‘Only Women Bleed’

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It occurred to me that I’ve seen Julie live on stage. Not singing, I don’t think she has ever toured, but in a play. ‘Plenty’ was written by David Hare and was my very first visit to the theatre. The National Theatre, on the South Bank, a pretty ugly building if truth be told, resembling a 1960’s carpark. Previously, I’d seen some Shakespeare (Othello) in Stratford Upon Avon, Been to the Young Vic to see Faustus but this was a ‘new’ play. It contained ‘nudity’ too which, for a sixteen-year-old lad was highly thrilling. Julie played a character called Alice, but it was Kate Nelligan who I remember more clearly – he was incandescent, beautiful and commanded the stage. I was a convert and followed her career for at least six months. I could still not tell you what it was about though – but that didn’t matter as it was being at the theatre which mattered the most. It also occurs to me that I do not go to the theatre enough – I recently saw ‘The Boys In The Band’ with Tina Proudlock, had the best time, and my love was re-ignited.

Julie Covington I’d seen before. On television, in Rock Follies, where she played Dee Rhodes in a fictional rock band called ‘Little Ladies’. Proper water cooler telly, it followed the Little Ladies through the trials and tribulations of the audition, touring in back street pubs, sleazy agents and rise to stardom. The series ended when they were about to tour the US and appear at Madison Square Gardens. It was very Seventies. It made all three actresses household names – Rula Lenska and Charlotte Cornwall together with Julie and songwriter Andy McKay, reached the top of the album charts with both soundtrack LP’s – and I bought them both. It was Julie who really stood out. She became an icon for a couple of girls in my sixth form – her short hair, her dungarees, slightly punky, her single earring and her excellent voice. The future looked bright for them all.

She was also the singer responsible for ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ which is my favourite Lloyd/Webber songs (don’t get me started on Evita). She turned down the role on stage which went to Elaine Paige – later saying that she didn’t really like Eva Peron so couldn’t guarantee the best performance. By the time the late 70’s, 80’s rolled in, Covington spotting became rarer and rarer. She appeared on Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds, she appeared in Guys N Dolls in the West End – then nothing. She was last seen on a BBC4 programme playing Samuel Johnson’s mum but even that was in 2006. It’s all very mysterious for one who had so much talent. I’m sure she is happy doing whatever she is doing – she probably made enough money from her recordings to live comfortably.

‘Only Woman Bleed’ was from her second and last LP, released in 1978. But what was it about? It might have been about Menstruation – (or the monthlies – luckily the only monthlies I have are subscriptions to Mojo or Uncut and the stint at the Almanac) – if so, it has to be the only Top Twenty record to address the subject. Or perhaps it’s about spousal abuse. Or perhaps it’s about both. Initially recorded and written by Alice Cooper, he got into some hot water about this song from feminists. Released on his ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’ record it continued an exceptional run of records. Always a showman, it sounds like it should have been in a musical (and maybe it was). Still, the version by Julie trumps it. Reaching number 12 in our charts, the LP is one of my most cherished examples of late 70’s pop. But you never hear this on the radio anymore, do you? Weird.

Number 6. Nilsson – ‘Without You’

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This song, or this version of the song, in essence, is an operatic aria. Think Verdi, Puccini, Dvorak, Mozart. I’ve never been to an actual Opera – not even a Gilbert & Sullivan one. I think I’d get a bit fidgety and bored – but the experience is something I’d like to encounter – in Paris or Milan preferably. From the exterior, all are extraordinary buildings with astonishing architecture designed to provide the best acoustics – sort of puts the O2 to shame.

I often imagine one of the great tenors doing this from the stage of La Scala – a Pavarotti, or a Domingo or a Carreras – but only the arrangement by Harry Nilsson. The song begins gently enough – thoughtfully ruminating upon the night that was. By the time he reaches the first chorus, things are becoming a little desperate. He gets halfway through the first chorus and practically breaks down before our very ears. Closer inspection of the lyrics reveal that he only sings two verses – and repeats the first part of the second verse before totally losing it – it’s a simple but highly effective trick. Paul McCartney has described it as a ‘the killer song of all time’.
Written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans from the multi-talented Badfinger, who for a time were considered to be the ‘new Beatles’, it caused ructions over the (lack of) songwriting royalties which, tragically, ended with the suicide of Tom Evans, following Peter Ham, who had also hanged himself in 1975.

Nilsson heard Badfinger’s version at a party, thinking it was a Beatles track he decided to cover it for his upcoming LP. It reached Number One in the UK in 1972 – a grim time to be a ten year old in Britain – remember the miner’s strikes and the electricity being switched off? It remained at Number 1 for 5 weeks selling 800,000 copies. The pianist on this track is Gary Wright, who later achieved success in Spooky Tooth and released ‘Dream Weaver’ as a solo artist – a cornerstone of Tiffany Twistedness.

Harry was born in Brooklyn in 1941 before debunking to LA working in a bank and writing songs in his free time. He released his first record in 1966, enjoyed a string of marvellous LPs before his career petered out – his voice was going, he’d lost one of his best friends in John Lennon, he drank too much. He died in 1994 5 months shy of his 53rd birthday. He has achieved massive respect amongst his peers – he was friends with all the stars – although Cass Elliott and Keith Moon probably regretted the day the decision to stay in his London flat. Little Richard reportedly remarked to him: ‘My! You sure sing good for a white boy’

Uniquely for a song of such stature, it has remained untouched by dreadful cove versions by third-rate boybands (i.e not been covered by Westlife) – I think the challenge of the song is too much for them. Mariah Carey, though, did have a hit with it. Released a week after Harry’s death, it became her first UK Number 1. She used the same arrangement as Nilsson and did give him a run for his money in her voice and phrasing (and let’s face it, like her or loathe her she is one hell of a singer).

And, yet, I don’t really like the Badfinger version.

Number 5. The Carpenters – ‘Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft (The Recognised Anthem Of World Contact Day)’

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Is there Life Of Mars? Probably not, as I think we would have been made aware of this in the last 2000 years. But maybe there IS life somewhere out there in the vastness of the galaxy. Our world has long been fascinated by life, the universe etc – if there is life ‘out there’ what does it look like? It’s a subject that has fired our collective imagination and inspired numerous films, TV shows and several hundred songs. I do find it incredible that Branson, my old boss, is still pursuing Virgin Galactic which will take anyone on the ultimate journey into space (at a cost of $250,000 and rising) – what does he expect to show us? – it’s hardly a trip to a Caribbean island and would not be as much fun as a trip to Ibiza – just lots of darkness (although I accept that the view might be worth seeing). Not in my lifetime though.

1977, it seemed, was the year that our interest in Extra-Terrestrials was at its peak. We’d seen The Man Who Fell To Earth, Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind was still huge. ET was just around the corner, there was even a spate of Disco records which referred to the subject of alien life force. The ELO even released a double LP with our own cardboard spaceship which we could build. We could all draw our vision of an alien upon our exercise books at school.

This was written and recorded by Klaatu – a Canadian Prog Rock band that they were regularly accused of being the Beatles in disguise. The ACTUAL Beatles. The idea is preposterous, they do not sound anything like them – and the Beatles were doing just fine without the band thank you very much. ‘Calling Occupants’ was from their debut LP entitled 3.47 Est. It became moderately successful, due to the Beatles rumours (I suppose it does remind one of Sergeant Pepper but not that much).

Which brings us to The Carpenters record. Released in 1977, it the most bonkers of records. The LP version runs for practically 7 minutes and the single version just over 5. It’s a lush orchestral piece crammed with a 160 piece orchestra and some incredible piano playing by Richard. It’s certainly their most audacious single and a million light years away from ‘Jambalaya’. In the wake of the 2-minute punk record, it sounded like nothing else (well not until Mr Blue Sky came out as a single). It begins with a radio jock whose broadcast is interrupted by an alien who wants to make contact with us (baby) – then Karen drifts in, giving us another masterclass in singing – something that she always did. The American record-buying public went mad for this and seriously believed that ‘World Contact Day’ was an actual thing and demanded to know when it was and how to get involved – it was the equivalent of ‘fake news’ (imagine the hoo-ha had Facebook been around then?).

Of course, Karen died far too young. She was a phenomenal drummer and an extraordinary singer. You can see her pain and distress in this video clip – painfully thin, suffering from anorexia and bulimia, her death from heart failure raised awareness of anorexia as a condition. Despite the fact that she dated several famous men – Tony Danza, Steve Martin, Alan Osmond – she married just the once towards the end of her life but divorced him before her death. One can only speculate what might have been – would she have been able to take on the mantle of a Streisand or would she have done a Cher? She may have entered politics or moved into films. We’ll never know.

One of my most enduring images occurred at the Almanac back in November 2016. We played this as our last song – and try to end on a high note with a big song. The room went berserk. Matthew Stradling II and Jonathan Kemp performed a life-affirming, interpretive dance to it in front of the DJ booth, faces lit up with a torch – we all swooned and sighed, it was a moment I shall never ever forget. The Carpenters and this record had finally come of age.

Number 4. Rod Stewart – ‘The Killing Of Georgie (Part 1 & 2)’

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We were all at school with a Georgie (or a Georgia for that matter). I was that Georgie. The bullying which I received at the hands of some people in my year, some people in the year below me & above me was horrendous and vile. Purely, for being a bit different or arty or unable to kick a football properly. Those wounding years have left deep-rooted scars which have yet to fully heal. I’m still very wary of people, don’t allow anyone to get too close to me, am a loner. I’ve learnt, over the years to look out for myself as no-one else will look out for you. I suffered, like other Georgie, playground taunts both in and out of school. I didn’t know any other Georgie’s and the only visible Georgie’s were done up in drag, damaged mass murderers or the butt of a sitcom joke – hardly proper role models (if there is such a thing). There was not anyone whom I could confide in either – I didn’t tell my parents or my friends, just suffering in silence. There were three other Georgie’s (or Georgia’s) in my year – one was obviously a Georgie, the other I suspected and the third, when I discovered came as a complete surprise. We did not have the luxury of student services either – just the school nurse, who you would only visit if you’d cut your thumb in metalwork. Nowadays, there is plenty of support for young people in education, the laws have changed giving people more rights, all educational establishments have safe-guarding teams in place serving to protect the vulnerable.

In time, I became stronger, fought back and became my own person but I had to wait until I left the family home and set up on my own to actually do that. Even now though, I get flashbacks and a bit jumpy around confrontation. It’s something that all of us Georgie’s have to put up with, however ‘settled’ we happen to be.

I was honoured, and I use that word carefully and with much consideration, to speak to a couple of prospective learners this week at work. He was a typical 17-year-old handsome lad, interested in studying electrics or plumbing, tracksuit, hoodie – you know the type. By his side was his girlfriend – who wanted to study Nail Technology. Asian, an awful wig, some heavy make-up trying to disguise her beard growth. She was incredibly shy, but he did all of the talking on her behalf – he was both tender and kind towards her, straightening her coat, linking arms and asking if she understood what she had to do next. My heart soared as I watched them leave. I thought about how difficult it must be for them, even in 2017, do their friends accept their relationship? Do they suffer bullying? I imagine that they do. I very much hope that they do apply and are accepted on their course so they can show those bullies that they can make a success of their love.

‘The Killing Of Georgie’ was released towards the close of that incredibly hot summer of 1976. Rod had been in my life from the moment I heard ‘Maggie Mae’ and ‘Stay With Me’. What an astonishing singer he is – he could literally sing anything. And write anything. He wrote this about a real event. We do not know exactly who Georgie is – Rod has said that he was a close friend of him and Ian McLagan but was based on a true story from 1974. He was at the time, he has said, surrounded by gay people – a gay manager, a gay PR man and many gay friends, Elton John and colleagues. I have a picture in my head of Georgie which is of a double denim wearing, suntanned chap, with a feather cut hair and amazing forearms. Rod only mentions that he is gay once – dropping the fact rather casually into the first verse – he was murdered because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time not in an overtly homophobic attack. I’d have liked him I think. The video features Rod, solo, jacket hanging from his shoulders, a slight hint of eyeshadow, preening and pouting in soft focus with feathered hair – he could be Georgie’s lover – and he was incredibly sexy.

The first part of the song pilfers much from ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ whereas the second half could almost be ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ – it reached Number 2 in this country – which is significant as releasing such a record would have been quite risky for someone of his popularity.

Rod is still going it. He’s a survivor, still has that twinkle in his eye and last year was knighted. I saw him headlining at Hyde Park back in 2010, with Stevie Nicks supporting. Of course, she popped on stage to sing with Rod on ‘Young Turks’ but it was so lovely to see Ronnie Wood join him – he looked very excited to see him and they rocked.

I’ll leave you with these lyrics from the song:

“Never wait or hesitate
Get in kid, before it’s too late
You may never get another chance
‘Cos youth a mask but it don’t last
live it long and live it fast”

Number 3. Paul Simon – ‘Late In The Evening’

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2016 was the year of my discovery of World Music. I’ve said elsewhere that I have been a bit sniffy about it but, starting with Africa, I began my journey. I am currently embarking upon a mini trip to South America. Salsa originated in Cuba back in the 1920’s and, in the original Latin America form, the forward/backward motion of salsa is done in diagonal or sideways with the 3-step weight change intact. The salsa is quite a sexy little thing achieving widespread popularity in the 1970’s disco boom resulting in Salsa clubs springing up in every wine bar in the 80’s and becoming the Zumba of the 90’s’. It has even secured its place on Strictly Come Dancing where Ed Balls (my Ed Balls) astonished the nation by doing the salsa to Gangnam Style. When I was a nipper, I participated in ballroom dancing, a subject I shall return to at another time, but it was too soon in my dancing career to tackle the salsa. It does lack the dark passion of rhumba or an Argentinian Tango but you do get to shake your maraca’s (*note to self: buy some maracas). I’ll continue my South American musical journey and welcome any recommendations you may have.

Paul Simon, alongside Peter Gabriel, is key in bringing world music to the masses. He has been to Africa too for the Graceland LP. ‘Late In The Evening’ was released in 1980 – a great year musically – neither typically 70’s nor typically 80’s. It didn’t really fare that well in the charts reaching only reaching Number 58 (although a more significant hit elsewhere) – the record buying public preferred to plump for ‘There’s No One Quite Like Grandma’ instead!

He opens the song by describing his early childhood:

‘The first thing I remember
I was lying in my bed
I couldn’t of been no more
Than one or two
I remember there’s a radio
Comin’ from the room next door
And my mother laughed
The way some ladies do
When it’s late in the evening
And the music’s seeping through’

The power of the rock & roll radio and similar to many of our first memories.

‘One Trick Pony’ was his second appearance in film – previously appearing in Annie Hall. Paul plays a semi-autobiographical character, his manager was played by Lou Reed – one suspects it is only worth watching for the musical moments. But it does also star Rip Torn who always good for a laugh.

Paul without Art was a far more successful prospect. All of his records are superb, clever, inventive, funny and contains many a track which have or will feature in Tiffany Twisted. Of Hungarian Jewish parentage, he was born in New Jersey, played a great deal of baseball, met Art, fell out with Art and married Edie Brickell and Carrie Fisher. At the grand old age of 75, he must feel slightly vulnerable but happy to survive God’s 2016 cull.

It’s a brilliant brilliant record and, from this clip, you see him surrounded by some of the hottest (in both senses) musicians going.

Number 2 – Glen Campbell – ‘Wichita Lineman’

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Back in the Spring of 2017, I embarked upon a Creative Writing course at the local college. The main driver for me doing so was that I wanted to improve my writing skills, to write more and, like everyone else in attendance, I thought I ‘might’ have a book in me. It was a shortish course (that felt like months). We were set homework and we had to read out what we had written in front of the rest of the class. This took up the majority of the time (I tried writing a poem impossible to do). Somehow, the course had the OPPOSITE effect. I have written LESS since and I never, ever finished off this series of Tiffany Twisted – abandoning it at Number 3.

This year, I have been concentrating upon my Level 2 & 3 Counselling course and I have never quite got around to finishing even last years series. But now that is all over, I’m going to give it another go.

‘Wichita Lineman’ is the most picturesque of songs. Pretty much from the off, we are introduced to the main character, we can feel the heat from the long stretch of road, we are in his head. And yet, nothing really happens – it’s just 19 (incredible) lines of perfect poetry. It’s all about what the lyrics want us to imagine – which is what a great song should be. And who knew that telegraph poles could be so evocative!

The backing band here are the Wrecking Crew who were session musicians who appeared on many of the best records ever to have graced our lives (well, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and ‘River Deep – Mountain High’ for starters).
Jimmy Webb the writer of ‘Wichita Lineman’ was a perfect foil for Glen. Solo Webb albums are nice but the magic only really happens when they combine their talents and something clicks.

Glen died in August 2017. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. That awful disease that he lived with for a good 7 years (I suggest that you also watch the David Cassidy film, it’ll break your heart). I think I first came across Glen when 20 Golden Greats (EMTV2) was released in 1976 – which became one of my favourite compilation records ever. An attractive young man – especially is cowboy drag (he looks like he should have been in Midnight Cowboy – he sold 45 million records worldwide, popped up on Pet Sounds and maintained the level of quality right up until the end of his life.

Number  1 – America – ‘A Horse With No Name’

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My Mum had a mop. Old wooden brown handle with a green mop bit. I threw it out earlier this year as it’s mopping days were over. Anyway – this mop served as my hobby horse. I have no idea why I did not have a REAL hobby horse but ‘Dobbin’ and I could be seen regularly galloping around the living room, into the kitchen and out to the garden. Of course, this was pure childhood fantasy, but it kept me out of mischief.

This was released in 1971, by which time I’d stored Dobbin away and he returned to his proper role as a mop (I am quite amazed that I still had it 50 years later though.

Numerous theories have been written about what it’s actually about. Could it just be simply about some bloke riding around the desert on a horse that he has yet to name? Or could it be, as many suggest, that it is about heroin usage? It was, at the time, banned from the radio for this very reason. There is something druggy about it – more cannabis usage than heroin I think.
Some very odd, almost banal lyrics i.e : ‘The heat was hot’ or ‘There were plants, and birds, and rocks, and things’ (‘things’ I KNOW) they told Penn Jilette (of Penn & Teller fame) that they were intoxicated with cannabis when writing it a claim that Gerry Beckley has since denied. I guess we’ll never really know and actually, it doesn’t matter at all does it?

America as a threesome have released over sixteen studio albums and a number of compilations – at least 9 begin with the letter H – (Hump is not one of them sadly). If you want a good retrospective, you could do no better than to track down ‘History: America’s Greatest Hits’ which is still available some 40 years later.

I fell even more in love with this record a year or so ago when I heard a remix by Todd Terje. He does not do that much to it except sharpen thing up a little and stretch the intro (see below).

Suffice to say, it’s the most gorgeous, allusive record that I’ll cherish until my dying day.

Fabulously hairy forearms for such a young chap too.

And on Spotify: