Category Archives: 1960s

HUMBLE PIE: Natural Born Bugie (7″, Immediate IM 082, 1969)

Humble Pie - Natural Born Bugie

Ahhhh, this record takes me back. Not to 1969 when it was released, obviously, as I was yet to be born then, but to my excitable youth, delving into the world of the 1960s and pseudo-mod culture at around the age of 18 or so. My listening to the Small Faces led to my listening to the Faces, which inevitably lead to Humble Pie, the band that briefly took up Steve Marriott’s time in between. The three bands are a clear line drawn from the ramshackle mod excitement of the early ’60s to the boozy, rockin’ late ’60s. Humble Pie, of course, also feature legendary curly-haired rocker Peter Frampton, who you will have seen – whether you realise it or not – on the Frampton Comes Alive cover, looking all starry-eyed and airbrushed.

Around the time when I was right into this stuff, I briefly dabbled in a covers band with some friends, which included my singing of the Small Faces’ ‘Song Of A Baker’. If you don’t know me, that won’t mean much; if you do know me, it might be hard to imagine. It’s hard for me to imagine. I still have a recording on tape somewhere – it will never, ever be aired.

The B-side of this single is ‘Wrist Job’, which features some extraordinarily warm, beautiful Hammond organ swells, all Leslie-speakered up to the eyeballs. I love it. An old friend of mine in the mid-90s bought a Hammond organ with some Leslie speakers and installed it in his bedroom in our shared student house. Now, I can’t play the keyboard for toffee, but I can – and did – get countless hours of enjoyment warming up the ol’ Leslie valves and giving it some random chord thumping. Happy days!

FREE: The Free Story (2LP, Island ISLD 4, 1973)

Free - The Free Story

Wow: this two-album compilation is a line drawn in the sands of self-belief. You won’t find many bands that a mere five years after their inception merit a collection of such perceived importance and value as this one. Gatefold sleeve; numbered (“The Free Story is released in a limited edition”, state the huffy liner notes); printed inner sleeves that themselves contain further record-protecting bags; and a stapled-in four page booklet that talks through, in more detail than most people would like to know about, the history of the phenomenon known as Free. And you thought that they were just that band that did ‘All Right Now’? Hell, no. If you’re taken in by the majesty of this tribute, you’d be justified in thinking that they’re the greatest musical event of the past fifty years.

There’s a whole ton of long-haired, flare-trousered, coke-fuelled 1960s-fallout self-confidence on display here. It’s hard not to be seduced. Bands these days just don’t seem to mean it quite so desperately or convincingly as those that emerged blinking from the excesses of the ’60s into the mysterious 1970s. I want every band to mark their fifth anniversary with this kind of double-album tribute to their Story So Far. It’s like the music industry equivalent of a celebrity kiss’n’tell (ghost-written) biography.

VARIOUS: Rubble Nine: From The House Of Lords (LP, Bam-Caruso KIRI 065, 1986)

From The House Of Lords

I love these 1960s garage/psychedelia/punk/r’n’b compilations, which is just as well, as there’s a never-ending supply of them. Everything from Nuggets through to Pebbles and Rubble and a billion other (some non-geologically-named) compilations have been part of the microscopic documentation of a relatively brief period of time. A furiously creative and productive time as well, as despite some element of crossover between compilations, there must be thousands of tracks compiled as a whole. Although having said that, I guess a compilation of rare, underground tracks from (for example) the first five years of this century would yield roughly a billion tracks.

This volume of the Rubble compilation series is interesting in that it exists in two versions – this, the original 1986 release, and a later 1991 release named Plastic Wilderness, sporting a completely different set of tracks in a different sleeve yet still claiming to be Rubble Nine. Not sure what that is all about; some kind of licensing problems? Just a mix-up?

I bought my first Rubble at a record fair in Oxford Town Hall about eight years ago. I came across a plastic crate full of Rubbles and was dismayed to only be holding enough cash for a single volume. It turns out that I had been forced to make the correct decision – that crate was full of reissues and since then I’ve amassed a tasty set of original releases. Except for Rubble Nine of course, of which I now own both versions. Me, a tragic and misguided collector? Never!

A note: the main typeface used on this album’s cover is Peignot. Never liked that typeface. Just in case you’re interested.

THE WALKER BROTHERS: Take It Easy With The Walker Brothers (LP, Philips BL7691, 1965)

Take It Easy With The Walker Brothers

I bought this in a charity shop very recently (Oxfam, in Oxford’s Summertown area if I remember rightly) as it was pretty cheap and I’ve long been intrigued by how much devotion and column inches the Walker Brothers seem to have gotten since they were an active outfit. I’m still not entirely convinced, based on this record. It’s okay, but oddly bland, and the meta-operatic vocal style grates a little. I’m yet to hear Scott Walker’s recent solo work, but from what I’ve read it would seem that he’s become some kind of leftfield maverick genius of late. It’s hard to see the glimmers of that in this record, to be honest. Ah, maybe I’m just not of the right soul to appreciate this, or something.

Two interesting facts I’ve learnt from this purchase, however:

  1. The Philips record label only has one ‘L’ in its name. It’s so easy to think it should be two, especially after seeing the logo so many thousands of times in the past and presuming that this was the case.
  2. (According to the liner notes on this record) the Walker Brothers are not brothers at all:

…the Walker Brothers is a phenomenon, the like of which has never before been witnessed in this country and one which has not been explained entirely satisfactorily. Scott Engel, John Mans and Gary Leeds, related only in a musical sense, were interlopers from America. They had arrived in England in February 1965, completely unheralded and without even the benefit of stardom in their own country to boost their chances here.

Lumme. Hyperbole aside – perhaps this kind of liner note writing set up their status as legends in music – that’s genuinely educational for me. Did everybody else know this fact already?

TRAFFIC: Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (7″, Island WIP-6025, 1967)

Traffic - Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush

Ah, I love this record. I saw the movie Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush, for which this is the theme tune, when I was around 17, and it immediately became one of the things that make me who I am today. If nothing else, it may have been the genesis of my long-standing desire to have been born in, ooh, 1950, and to have grown up through the 60s as a young teenager. I read the book – I forget who it’s by – soon after seeing the film, and remember that being great as well. Utterly vacuous and superficial, in both book and film form, the story may be; but hey, that’s what I like, maybe. I used to be friendly with a neo-Riot Grrl named Andrea in the early 90s, and she was utterly repelled by the book and saddened that I had read it and enjoyed it. She was doubtless right, but I was never quite so black and white and set in my opinions – or, at least, I could (and still can) come up with convincing, pseudo-intellectual reasoning for liking something that is, to many people, utter rubbish.

One of the great things about the movie is the appearance of the Spencer Davis Group in one of those quintessentially 60s scenes that sees the protagonists visit a swinging, hip nightclub (or, as memory serves, some kind of youth club, in this case…) That band’s Steve Winwood was, of course, the main man behind Traffic,  whose softly psychedelic theme tune, with one flared leg squarely in acid nirvana, the other in the pop charts, is one of the more lightweight parts of their output. The flip to this 7″ is ‘Coloured Rain’, a dreamier, more introspective number that hints more at the extended wigouts that make a lot of Traffic’s albums so horrendous and captivating in equal measures.

I’d like to see a lot of old movies from this period again, some time – this one, The Knack And How To Get It, Head, Psych-Out, The Trip, etc etc etc. I can’t get enough of them, or the music and perceived lifestyle of simplicity and fun that inevitably comes along with them.

This is a second-hand record, bought from a record fair at some time in the past. The labels have the name ‘G. Albury’ written on them in biro – I wonder who that is? Did G. Albury buy this in 1967? Are you G. Albury?

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND: The Velvet Underground & Nico (LP, Polydor SPELP 20, 1967)

The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground & Nico

No, no, no, I know that this isn’t the original release from 1967, it’s a Polydor reissue, but there’s no other date mentioned on the sleeve or the record. I’m just not cool enough to own one of the original copies with its peel-off banana and stuff. (Whilst I’d love to say that it’s all about the music and the packaging or particular release doesn’t matter to me, that would be an outright lie…)

What can be said about this record? Everybody in the universe must have heard it by now, surely? It’s the record that launched a thousand billion bands, that redefined the landscape of late sixties music, that brought Pop Art to the musical mainstream, that did everything a lot of music critics tell you that it did. It’s damned fine, though. I prefer White Light White Heat, but this album stands up to the test of time. The band photographs on the back are pretty great, as well. I always thought that Sterling Morrison looked the coolest. Who’d have thought that Lou Reed would grow up to become such a colossal, self-obsessed knob? Perhaps it happens to us all.

For some reason I’m now reminded of the scene in Oliver Stone’s The Doors movie where Nico ‘gets friendly’ with Jim Morrison in a lift. That was Nico in that scene, right? That was one of the only films I think I’ve been to where I saw people actually walk out of the cinema either in disgust or out of boredom. I guess they weren’t Doors fans. They will have missed Billy Idol’s excellent star turn though – more fool them.