Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Into this house we're born, into this world we're thrown (The Doors)

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

Vinyl junkie-dom kicked off big time in the seventies - the decade when I was a teenager.

This first part covers the first flush, the fertile BF (Before Forth)/BK* (Before Knowles) period and takes in 1971-1975. [The second part, due in four days' time, is the AM (After Marbecks) period - 1976-1982].

Records! Bands! What was an interest previously, became much more as posters of bands festooned my teenage bedroom; as the Garrard Sp25 Mark 3 timetable was kept constantly spinning; as Shoot! and Look and Learn gave way to NZ's Groove, Rip It Up, Australia's Go SetHot Licks, England's Sounds, NME, Melody Maker and Crawdaddy, CirCreem, Rolling Stone, Circus from America.

Thanks to the growing piles of music magazines under my bed, I began listening to the radio and collecting records with increasing knowledge.

I joined record clubs - RCA first, then World Record Club. I saved up money from odd jobs and my vegetable garden returns from mum and bought records. 

Due diligence became a thing. It became of vital importance to visit record shops a number of times and weigh up the merits of various albums. I didn't have lavish sums remember.

Starting off it was often cut out bins. Often this resulted in some great buys (the aforementioned Small Faces, Hollies, Beach Boys albums came from the Foodmarket, or Woolworths at Three Kings). 

All this gave me habits that last to this day: I love a bargain, and I consider purchases carefully. I value the actual physical object. Number one then, now and forever was/is/will be Long Playing vinyl albums.

During the BF/BK period, a variety of record shops became familiar haunts: Onehunga's Queen Street (Led Zeppelin III); New Lynn's mall (Creedence Clearwater Revival EP); Taste in Lorne Street (Deep Purple's Machine Head); Newmarket's Sounds Unlimited (Frank Zappa's Bongo Fury); 246 (The Hollies and T Rex singles); Otahuhu's DJ Records (The Beatles' Hey Jude and Let It Be package) and on and on it went - building a collection.

As witnessed by the Top 30 list at the end of this post, mainly my tastes ran to hard rock, heavy metal with many tangential weird fringe side streets along the way, but Beatle style music was always a constant.

My modus operandi was to latch onto a group or artist after buying their current album or single. From there I would start hoovering up the back catalogue.

Following my purchase of a Solid Gold Hits Vol 2 album, John Lennon is a case in point - the current album and hit was Imagine in 1971 (from George Courts in K Rd). From there it was a backwards search for John Lennon/ Plastic Ono Band and Live Peace in Toronto. Then it was a slavish devotion to everything he's done, said, written, sung.

I wrote a letter to Sounds magazine in 1975 that to my shock was published. I was seeking information on how to get some mythic Lennon albums - Two Virgins, Life With The Lions, Wedding Album, and Live Peace in Toronto. None of which I could find in any of my usual haunts.

Some of these albums are pictured above. How come? Noel Forth is how come. He saw my Sounds letter and (along with a few others like Lothar Drockner in Germany) started writing to me with suggestions and swaps. He was after certain NZ pressings of Fabs stuff which I could get, parcel up and send to him in Adelaide. In return I got Apple singles and albums, including some of those mythic albums. Heaven.

Noel is also a drummer! Tortis first, then Vertical Hold in the eighties. I became a keen fan of both bands. Nothing like that personal connection, is there?

Even before this watershed moment in 1975 though, the collecting picked up pace!

Mum vetoed Joe Cocker's Cocker Happy for some reason - perhaps the drug busts, perhaps the vague obscenity of the title, and Black Sabbath and Frank Zappa brought howls of protest from the folks but generally I was given free reign with my purchases. I loved them all with a passion.  

Sample of stuff from Noel.
During 1972 things really kicked off: in the football teams and my 4B class I had friends like the aforementioned Clive Webber who lent me records like The Rolling Stones' Exile On Main Street, Jimi Hendrix's Isle Of Wight; I bought Machine Head, Dark Side Of The Moon, and Led Zeppelin 4; heard The Doors' Riders On The Storm on a car radio; from the RCA record club came Uriah Heep and Frank Zappa's Fillmore East album. All of these went onto high rotate on the Garrard SP25 Mk3.

And in this way ran the AF-BK years - reading, collecting when I could, listening, day dreaming and wishing. Oh and failing everything I touched at school. Was there a correlation? Hmmm - now that I think about it...maybe, just maybe, there was!

* BTW - it's called the Before Forth/ Before Knowles period because up to 1975 I was collecting on my own. Then, in addition to Noel Forth's long distance help, I met Greg and during the sixth and seventh form at Mt Albert Grammar we became a team - collecting records, buying records together and even recording stuff together (as Buster Bludvessel and Gregarious G-String). Noel's help was invaluable from 1975 onwards, and without him I would have been truly lost. Much more on this in the second part.

Here is my Top 30 of the BK period (there is nothing that compares to the music of your formative years - ages 13 to 15 - life was never going to be the same after this lot!):

30 Blows Against the Empire – Paul Kantner (1970)
Using the same musicians as David Crosby's magnificent first solo (number 2 ), Kantner et al plot my path to the cosmos!

29 Dark Side Of The Moon – Pink Floyd (1973)
My memory surrounding this has me in mum's mini at the Royal Oak shops, on our way home to Asquith Avenue. I'd just bought it, was busting to hear it, and was looking at the two posters and devouring the rest of the packaging. including the Harvest label. So so cool!

28 On the Beach – Neil Young (1974)

27 St Dominic’s Preview – Van Morrison (1972)

26 The Yes Album – Yes (1971)

25 Bongo Fury – Frank Zappa/Captain Beefheart (1975)

I used to get my Sounds magazines from a corner bookshop in Newmarket. Mum would often visit the shops here, so I guess it made sense to 'have it put away' for me here. Funny - I now have my monthly Mojo magazine put away (PaperPlus in Waipukurau). Nothing much has changed huh?Anyway - while in Newmarket I'd cruise up to the record shop, Sounds Unlimited - which had an amazing range. This is one album that came from there.

24 Captured Angel – Dan Fogelberg (1975)
Copious family holidays were soundtracked by the cassette of this. My favourite Fogelberg album by some distance because of that.

23 Close to the Edge – Yes (1972)
I first taped And You And I from a friend's copy, the rest of the album felt way out of my league - what the hell were they on about? Then I got it! Then I was hooked on Yes and had to have everything!!

22 Aqualung – Jethro Tull (1971)
I bought the single version of Locomotive Breath ('balls' was censored) and molested the house with it - loudly! The folks were a bit disapproving (naive me couldn't understand the fuss - I was listening to the riff!!). A bit later I was watching a surfing film at MAGS during a lunchtime screening, when Slip Stream started up behind the surfing footage. Then Locomotive Breath started. Then I HAD to get the album.

21 Made in Japan – Deep Purple (1972)

20 Wishbone Ash – Wishbone Ash (1970)

19 Machine Head – Deep Purple (1972)
I can still feel what it was like, buying this from the ultra cool Taste Records in Lorne Street and walking out of the shop feeling ten feet tall!

18 Live at the Paramount – The Guess Who (1972) 

In 1972 the family had another Sydney holiday. This time I was old enough to INSIST on visits to record shops. I returned home to NZ with a clutch of albums including this one, and Deep Purple's Made in Japan. At the time, I would have put the Purps ahead but not now (obviously). A rare example of a CD improving on the original vinyl by including all the additional tracks.

17 Alive! – Slade (1972)
One of my first buys was the Tak Me Bak 'Ome single, then this album. Slade in their finest hour - burps, rough starts, stutters and asides just add to the appeal.

16 Moondance – Van Morrison (1970)

15 Ram – Paul McCartney (1971)

14 Isle of Wight – Jimi Hendrix (1971) 

My first Hendrix experience after the Hey Joe single, this is not an album you'd direct newbies to - the track listing is all over the place, but somehow it's the Hendrix album I play the most often! I taped it from a school friend's copy, then had to own it.

13 The Koln Concert – Keith Jarrett (1975) 

This is an example of an album I NEVER would have found on my own. A double album of solo improv jazz piano? Are you kidding?? Please!! But thank God I met and worked for Roger Marbeck. He gave me a home taped cassette of this and told me to listen. I did. OMG. It brings me to tears, this music. How is that possible?

12 Four Symbols – Led Zeppelin (1971) 
I asked dad to get this for me from DJ Records (I paid) and I will always remember arriving home from school and finding this on my bed. I cherish those memories! Many, many headphone sessions in the dark would wear the stuffing out of this album!

11 Exile on Main Street – The Rolling Stones (1972)

10 The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle – Bruce Springsteen (1974)

Like the previous Stones record, bought from the Record Warehouse at the same time as Darkness On The Edge Of Town. What I loved about the Record Warehouse was the way they displayed albums facing front so that you could be completely seduced by the cover! Worked on me every time.

Irish Tour ’74 – Rory Gallagher (1974)
I came to Rory via a TV special that hooked me well and truly and for ever!

Stormcock - Roy Harper (1971)
A friend from where I played social badminton (St Margaret's church hall) wanted me to tape a load of Genesis and Harper albums for him. While the Genesis ones did nothing for me, I instantly fell in love with this one.

Waka Jawaka/ Hot rats – Frank Zappa (1972)
From the World Record Club. I didn't 'get' this record for a long time. A teenagers' attention span finds it hard to appreciate a 17 minute Big Swifty, with no vocal. Yikes. Then it just clicked. I used it often to soundtrack my walks through Hadleigh Castle in Leigh-on-sea. It was a perfect fit for my thoughts!

Tonight’s the Night – Neil Young (1975)

Thick as a Brick – Jethro Tull (1972)

Headband – Headband (1971)

Blood on the Tracks – Bob Dylan (1974) 

While at University I would often walk past the central library to get my bus. The library was a great place to borrow records I was unwilling to buy for whatever reason. I borrowed this and a few older Dylan albums and took them back to Ramelton Rd. I taped it, then had to own a copy, then another...

If I Could Only Remember My Name – David Crosby (1971)

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – John Lennon (1970)

Less is more was embraced by everyone it seems on this most harrowing of listening experiences. Maybe that's why I love that philosophy so much.

Apart from this being my favourite album of this era (and actually, any era) the album has special memories for me. 

My mum was interested in a number of creative hobbies - flower arranging, pottery, knitting and for a while - painting. I asked her to paint the iconic cover for me and she did. And I have it hanging, proudly, in Abbey Road Three.  

Love and peace - Wozza

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