Saturday, October 8, 2016

Everybody's saying that music is love (David Crosby)

Music is love (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 7, part 1: The Sixties)

Very 'umble - my whole collection in the early days -  the first 12 albums and singles
Everybody's saying that music is love, 
Everybody's saying it's love, 
Yeah everybody, everybody, everybody 
Everybody's saying that music is love, 
Everybody's saying it's love, yeah.

In keeping with the order from my original autobiography (copyright 1992) we have reached chapter 7: Music is love.

I love music. I can't live without it. Music is love.   
Some of my earliest memories centre around music, whether it be on television, radio, films, or records, and many of those memories gather around The Beatles.

Let's start at the beginning shall we?

Dad built our first TV from a kit set. He was an early adopter and he loved electronics so we had television from the early sixties onwards. 

The Ed Sullivan Show was a regular on the one black and white NZBC channel available. To this day I can picture my eight year old self kneeling on the floor, elbows leaning against a coffee table in our lounge at 18 Korma Avenue, Royal Oak, Auckland. Gaze fixed on the TV in the right hand corner.

After Mr Sullivan did his introduction, a band came on and ripped up my old life and started me on an obsession that is ongoing.

Ladies and gentlemen - The Beatles...screams...the band steps up...oh my God - the lead singer...Oh yeah I...

...and I'm gone. Lost in a moment. Totally. Irrevocably. A John Lennon fan for evermore. A Beatle obsessive forever.

This was my Heartbreak Hotel moment. John immediately stood out for me. Johnny Rhythm - the smart one, the caustic one, the dreamer, the honest one.

If ever there was a seminal moment, this was it!

That I watched in awed silence, alone, was symbolic of my remoteness. Ross and my parents never shared my hell bent fervour for rock'n'roll. Nor does Jacky. Curious.

For the rest of the sixties, music came to me via my dad's records, television shows like Ed Sullivan's and local variations like C'mon, and the radio. 

Jazz and easy listening sounds were my sixties soundtrack for most of the time. Herb Alpert, Sergio Mendes, Big Band swing and Dave Brubeck were there long before T Rex, Slade, Zeppelin, Sabbath and Purple took over.

In these early days, we had a radiogram type device before dad upgraded equipment. As well as being an early adopter, he was what is now termed an audiophile. It was all about the quality! He built amps, bought new turntables and speakers on a regular basis. Whatever was new! Thank God.

Later, he would build my amps and make speakers for me to go with my Garrard SP25 Mk3 turntable.

Radio Hauraki and later on, 1ZM, were life savers. They provided the signposts to going further out into the musical cosmos. I discovered so many new sounds - progressive stuff, and deep cuts. Sadly radio is no longer the force it was. Now it's niche marketing and, too often, blandness. Then it was less is more, and, therefore, different, and vital to my musical education.

Many highlights for me growing up were musical in nature: hearing Yellow Submarine on Hauraki; seeing the Let It Be movie posters in cinemas; having the Do The Bluebeat single by Dinah Lee; and seeing a promo for the Woodstock movie.

John Lennon was the total package throughout these pre teen years. 

I admired his creativity, intelligence, ability to articulate his feelings, and the ability to cut through his own persona and myth with self deprecating humour. I came to admire other things about him too - how he confronted his masculinity and how caring and loving he was to Yoko. Certainly, he made mistakes and opened himself up to ridicule, but that just made me love him more. 

I know this is crazy talk, but I feel, no doubt like millions of others, that I connected personally with him. He touched our lives so profoundly; his loss is still felt, and always will be.

I not only collected records, but... I also took pictures of them!
I was about 12 when I got my first real records. From a mixture of sources: Christmas presents (1970's Hey Jude - The Beatles); twisting mum's arm at the new food market in Three Kings (1967's Pisces Aquarius Capricorn and Jones Ltd - The Monkees/ 1969's The Autumn Stone - the Small Faces/ 1968's Best of The Cowsills); and the RCA record club (1969's Santana).

My collection slowly built up.

It wasn't until the seventies that I collected back catalogue items from my favourites, and much, much later that I compiled a number of sixties albums and singles that now make my top picks.

And so, here it is, my first list - my top 20 picks of the sixties!

1 The Beatles – The Beatles (1968)
When I was a teenager, I finally caught up with this. We were living in Asquith Avenue in the mid seventies and I played this album endlessly in the front lounge while we were there. It instantly conjures up sunny, carefree days in Mt Albert.

2 Revolver – The Beatles (1966)

Hearing Yellow Submarine on the radio in the back yard of Korma Ave is a distinct memory. Smart move by the Fabs - a kids' song that hooked us kids!

3 Electric Ladyland – Jimi Hendrix (1968) 

In the 4th form I was lent a single of Hey Joe b/w Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) by Clive Webber. I'm pretty certain he's totally forgotten about that but I never will. Wow - especially the B side. This guy sounded dangerous. And huge!

4 Abbey Road – The Beatles (1969)

I remember going to a friend's place, a birthday party and trip to a movie, and his big sister had the Come Together single playing. I looked at the label - an apple. AN APPLE!!! The sound was amazing and the graphic design stunning. I wanted more!

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin

My first Zeppelin experience came from III, bought in Onehunga. Instantly, I was a fan - taking cuttings from Groove magazine. Then I backtracked via II, to the debut. My parents hated it!

6 Crosby Stills and Nash – Crosby Stills and Nash (1969)

Dad would often be Mr Fixit for friends' Hi Fi issues. I remember him working on a friend's car - something to do with the 8 track cartridge player. I remember seeing the cartridge for this and Who's Next in the car - and thinking how cool the covers were. The music seemed impossibly cool as well.  

7 Woodstock
– Various (1969)

I've already mentioned the promo which grabbed my interest, my other memory of this involves aching over the price of the triple LP boxed set in Woolworths (at Three Kings Plaza in Auckland). It seemed so exotic and kind of subversive, and so so out of reach!

8 Santana - Santana (1969)

As pictured at the start of this post. This came from a record club. Dad bought it but I quickly 'borrowed' it and thrashed it! Soul Sacrifice, as performed at Woodstock, and here, is an immense sound. No way can I sit still while this is playing!

9 Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles (1967) 

On one of our family holidays to 
Sydney I spotted the gatefold cover in a store - I was too young to actually buy it, but I still vividly remember that moment. I wanted it badly, but I didn't have enough pocket money saved.

10 Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys (1966)
The Beach Boy singles in the sixties sound tracked our summers via Radio Hauraki. I didn't really appreciate how much until I bought some of their albums from Marbecks when I worked there (much more on this in the second seventies post). I love all the double vinyl sets I bought from Marbecks - this one came with Smiley Smile.

11 Hot Rats – Frank Zappa (1969) 

Crucially, cousin Christine was/is a few years older than me, and lives in the UK. In those days the UK was like Mars - it was impossible to imagine ever being there. She introduced me to this album via It Must Be A Camel (I had some later Zappa albums already but this just seemed too wacky for me in 1969).

12 Let It Bleed – The Rolling Stones (1969)

Ah, the Stones. In the sixties I was much taken with Get Off Of My Cloud on the radio (and Paint It Black). I loved those songs but it was The Beatles that won out over The Rolling Stones. When I started at Marbeck's, Roger educated me to the back catalogue items.

13 II – Led Zeppelin (1969)

I can't hear this without thinking of the Ramelton Road games room where I did my art and designed countless T shirts from silk screen stencils.

14 Highway 61 Revisited – Bob Dylan (1965)

It took until my university years to fully appreciate Dylan via Greg Knowles. Dylan just didn't touch my consciousness in any way during the sixties. I was too young and naive.

15 The Doors – The Doors (1967)

Like Dylan, I didn't know much about Jim Morrison or the Doors in the sixties. It took hearing Riders On The Storm on my mum's car radio, their The Mosquito single, and Apocalypse Now - all that and working at Marbecks - to really educate me to the splenders of The Doors.

16 Beatles For Sale – The Beatles (1964)

This was one of my first buys after Hey Jude.

17 Sweetheart of the Rodeo – The Byrds (1968)

Another band I didn't know until the seventies, although I must have heard their stuff on the radio.

18 Big Brother and the Holding Company – Cheap Thrills (1968)

And another. Working at Marbecks beefed up my collection hugely!

19 Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones Ltd – The Monkees (1967)

One of the 12 first albums in that picture above - this one came from watching their amazing television show, and hearing the hits on the radio throughout the sixties.

20 Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere – Neil Young (1969)

I got completely hooked on the extended Crosby, Byrds, Stills, Nash, Hollies, Young, Buffalo Springfield, Manassas, Crazy Horse universe in the seventies, largely thanks to Roger Marbeck's influence (much more on that in future posts).

Love and peace - Wozza

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