Tag Archives: Led Zeppelin

1976 – My Top Ten Albums Of The Year

Continuing my countdown backwards through the Seventies today, with my personal favourite ten album releases of 1976…

1. Billy Joel “Turnstiles”

Billy Joel - Turnstiles
Billy Joel – Turnstiles

The singer’s fourth album, Joel actually recorded “Turnstiles” twice. Firstly with producer William James Guercio, known for his work with Chicago, and session musicians. Unhappy with the results, Joel fired the producer, relocated to New York and produced the final version himself, using his regular touring band to back him on the record.

Although not nearly as commercially successful as his subsequent album “The Stranger”, there are nonetheless some fantastic songs present here including the singles “Say Goodbye To Hollywood” and “James”.

Also included are the classic “New York State Of Mind” and live favourite “Prelude / Angry Young Man” as well as a trio of songs that I first discovered on the singer’s live album “Songs From The Attic” – “Summer, Highland Falls”, “I’ve Loved These Days” and the epic “Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)”.

2. Eagles “Hotel California”

Eagles - Hotel California
Eagles – Hotel California

A slightly odd one, this. The band’s fifth record, it was to become their best-selling studio album is undoubtedly a very good one, but does feel arguably somewhat front-loaded. By that I mean that the best-known tracks all come first and surely anyone would find it hard to maintain the momentum after having the stone-cold classic “Hotel California” itself, with the famous guitar solos, as the very first track.

Then again, if you can follow that one up with the sublime “New Kid In Town” and then “Life In The Fast Lane” things can’t be that hard! Even the less well-known songs, though, such as “Victim Of Love”, “The Last Resort” and “Pretty Maids All In A Row” are top-quality Eagles songs.

As usual with Eagles, superb vocals and excellent instrumentation abound throughout this record. A fabulous album from start to finish.

3. Kansas “Leftoverture”

Kansas - Leftoverture
Kansas – Leftoverture

Another record best known for its first track, “Leftoverture” was the fourth album from American band Kansas. In this case that first track was the classic “Carry On Wayward Son”, a song that I first discovered in 1984 on a compilation album titled “American Heartbeat” that also contained tracks from the likes of Survivor, Toto and REO Speedwagon. From that moment the song has held a special place in my affections with its complex yet brilliantly catchy and music.

The inclusion of other superb tracks like “Miracles Out Of Nowhere”, second single “What’s On My Mind” and the six-part epic “Magnum Opus” makes this a fantastic hard / progressive rock album.

4. KISS “Destroyer” / “Rock And Roll Over”

KISS - Destroyer
KISS – Destroyer

As I Noted with 1977’s “Love Gun”, KISS music isn’t designed to be a cerebral experience – it’s all about having a good time, and for KISS it doesn’t get much better than “Destroyer”, their fourth studio album.

Kicking off with the timeless “Detroit Rock City”, one of four singles issued from the record. The others were “Flaming Youth”, the anthem “Shout It Out Loud” and the unexpected hit ballad “Beth” that featured a lead vocal from drummer Peter Criss.

Also on “Destroyer” can be found “God Of Thunder” and “Do You Love Me?” In fact, with the exception of “Great Expectations” which lets the side down somewhat, there isn’t a duff track to be heard. A great remixed version of the record was issued in 2012 as “Destroyer : Resurrected”, remixed by original producer Bob Ezrin and adding some previously missing vocal and guitar parts.

KISS - Rock And Roll Over
KISS – Rock And Roll Over

The group’s second album of the year was “Rock ‘N’ Roll Over”, just eight months later. Again the album kicks off with a classic, this time “I Want You” which has always been one of my favourite early KISS songs. Two singles were released from this record – “Hard Luck Woman” and “Calling Dr. Love” – both of which would also be up there on a list of my all-time favourite KISS tracks.

Although not as strong overall as “Destroyer”, there were other decent tracks on “Rock ‘N’ Roll Over” like “Ladies Room” and “Makin’ Love”.

5. Led Zeppelin “Presence”

Led Zeppelin - Presence
Led Zeppelin – Presence

“Presence” was Led Zeppelin’s seventh studio album and came into being during a difficult time for the band as singer Robert Plant recovered from serious injuries suffered during a car accident in the summer of 1975 on the island of Rhodes, meaning that the group had to cancel a world tour due to start a matter of weeks later.

Nonetheless, it was he who, together with guitarist Jimmy Page, was responsible for six out of the album’s seven tracks, with only “Royal Orleans” being credited to the whole band.

This is very much a guitar-driven album, pointing to the dominant influence that Page had over proceedings, with little or nothing of keyboards or acoustic guitars in evidence.

The ten-minute “Achilles Last Stand” starts off the record is fine fashion. “For Your Life”, the psychedelic-tinged “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” (adapted from a song recorded in 1927 by Blind Willie Johnson) and the bluesy “Tea For One” are the other standout tracks on this, as usual, excellent Led Zeppelin album.

6. Rainbow “Rising”

Rainbow - Rising
Rainbow – Rising

The second album from Ritchie Blackmore’s post-Deep Purple band Rainbow saw the first of many line-up changes as he jettisoned everyone that had appeared on the previous year’s debut record except singer Ronnie James Dio, the most notable new member – in my eyes – being drummer extraordinaire Cozy Powell.

A haunting synthesizer intro ushers in opening track “Tarot Woman”, one of the highlights of the album. Also present is the single “Starstruck” which is a fine example of Blackmore’s fusion of classical influences with hard rock.  Without a doubt, however, the highpoint of this record is the majestic eight-minute “Stargazer” which begins with a perfect example of Powell’s formidable drumming skills and features the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, one of Dio’s best ever vocal performances and some of Blackmore’s most inspired soloing.

The album cover, too, is a classic. A perfect visual representation of the music contained within, the painting by fantasy artist Ken Kelly (who also produced the cover for “Destroyer” by KISS) evokes the epic scale of the band’s music and is possible one of the best-loved hard rock album covers ever. I even have a framed copy hanging on the wall of my study.

7. Rush “2112”

Rush - 2112
Rush – 2112

“2112” was Canadian trio Rush’s fourth studio record and, in common with other albums on this list, begins with one of the group’s most celebrated compositions – in this case the twenty-minute seven-part title track. The track was a concept piece set in the year 2112 when the priests of the temples of Syrinx have complete control over everyday life. It was apparently influenced to some degree by the novella “Anthem” by Russian author Ayn Rand.

“2112” took up the entire first side of the original vinyl release, and side two presented a further five tracks, not connected to the concept found in the title track. The first two, “A Passage To Bangkok” (a light-hearted look at drug use in the Seventies) and “The Twilight Zone” (inspired by the TV show), were issued as singles. In truth the remainder of the album is less essential but those three tracks are worth the price of admission alone. Oh, and another classic album cover – courtesy of long-time Rush collaborator Hugh Syme.

8. Slade “Nobody’s Fools”

Slade - Nobody's Fools
Slade – Nobody’s Fools

The sixth album from UK band Slade, this one was not as well received as those released during their initial early Seventies heyday. This was in part because the band had spent the previous year in the USA trying to break through there, leading to some UK fans to feel that Slade had sold out, which was reinforced by the change of sound on this album which showed the influence of American music with female backing singers and touches of soul, funk and country music evident.

For what it’s worth I reckon this is actually a very good, strong Slade album with some very good songs and a better sound than on some of their other albums.

Singles-wise (which is what the band were known for to many) the album produced “In For A Penny”, “Let’s Call It Quits” and the (almost) title track. The first two both reached number eleven in the UK but “Nobody’s Fool” itself failed to chart.

Of the non-single tracks, the highlights for me are “Get On Up”, the reggae-influenced “Did Ya Mama Ever Tell Ya” and “I’m A Talker” – and the CD reissue added the 1975 standalone single “Thanks For The Memory (Wham Bam Thank You Mam)”.

9. Status Quo “Blue For You”

Status Quo - Blue For You
Status Quo – Blue For You

Status Quo’s ninth studio album (and third UK number one) “Blue For You” begins in thunderous fashion with the heavy boogie of “Is There A Better Way” but, as with most of the band’s albums and contrary to the general public perception of the group, there was an element of light and shade on display on the record, with the slow gentle blues of “Blue For You” and the country-influenced “Ease Your Mind” a contrast to the uptempo shuffle of “Rolling Home” and the groovy “That’s A Fact”, one of the album’s highpoints.

Best of all, however, are the two singles. “Rain”, written solely by guitarist Parfitt will forever be one of my favourite of the band’s tracks, whilst “Mystery Song” – especially in its full six-plus-minutes version – is also up there with their best.

10. Thin Lizzy “Jailbreak” / “Johnny The Fox”

Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak
Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak

As with the KISS records above, and as I sometimes do, I’m bending the criteria slightly by including two albums by one artist under one entry. Irish rockers Thin Lizzy issued two studio records during 1976 – “Jailbreak” in March and “Johnny The Fox” in October.

I would say that it is “Jailbreak” that is the best-known of the two by virtue of the material contained on it. Two of the band’s most famous songs (both released in the UK as singles) are present in “The Boys Are Back In Town” and “Jailbreak” but also here are “Warriors”, “Cowboy Song” and “Emerald” which would all become Thin Lizzy classics – and all five of those tracks would appear on 1978’s classic live record “Live And Dangerous”.

Thin Lizzy - Johnny The Fox
Thin Lizzy – Johnny The Fox

The line-up of Lynott, Gorham, Downey and Robertson remained stable for long enough to record the follow-up “Johnny The Fox”, though the latter would be replaced more than once by Gary Moore in subsequent years. This second album of the year only had one track issued as a single in the UK – the number twelve hit “Don’t Believe A Word”.

Another couple of tracks destined to appear on “Live And Dangerous” also featured – the funky “Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed” and “Massacre” which echoes the earlier record’s “Emerald”. Further highlights here were “Fools Gold” and the drum-heavy “Boogie Woogie Dance”. One could argue that the two albums could have been distilled into one single killer record, but that would have meant losing some excellent, though lesser-known, material.

Elsewhere in 1976 Harold Wilson gave way to James Callaghan as British Prime Minister whilst over in the USA Gerald Ford held the office of President. In football Liverpool replaced Derby County as champions of the old first division into which Manchester United had been promoted following a season in the second division (1974-75). United lost to Southampton in the FA Cup final. The biggest film releases of the year included “Rocky”, “A Star Is Born” and the classic that is “The Omen”. Oh, and last but in no way least, 1976 was the year in which my lovely wife was born!

1975 coming up next in a week or two…

1979 – My Top Ten Albums Of The Year

OK, so when I recently finished my look back at my favourite albums from the Eighties with my top ten from 1989 I wasn’t sure whether to next tackle the Nineties (having already looked at 1995 some time ago) or the Seventies (again, 1975 has already been covered).

Well, decision made – it’s the Seventies, but this time I’m going to start at the end of the decade and work my way back from 1979 to 1970. As I have mentioned previously we are now in territory where I have come to appreciate these records in retrospect, not having been exposed to the majority of them when they first appeared.

Without further ado, therefore, here are (in alphabetical order) my personal favourite ten albums released during 1979…

1. AC/DC “Highway To Hell”

AC/DC - Highway To Hell
AC/DC – Highway To Hell

The band’s fifth studio album to be released outside of Australia, and what was to prove to be lead singer Bon Scott’s last, as he died in 1980 during early sessions for what would become “Back In Black”.

I can remember having the vinyl copy of this record and playing it a lot back in the early 80s when I was beginning my love of / obsession with (delete as appropriate!) music, having been turned onto the band through my regular Friday night engagements with BBC Radio 1 and Tommy Vance’s fabulous Friday Rock Show.

Aside from the classic title track which was a number 56 single in the UK, “Girls Got Rhythm” would also be a hit reaching number 29.

There were plenty of songs on the record that were about girls and sex, including the aforementioned “Girls Got Rhythm”, “Beating Around The Bush”, “Love Hungry Man” and “Touch Too Much”, for this then-teenage boy to envisage, whilst the band attracted controversy subsequently with the final track “Night Prowler” as it became associated with the case of Los Angeles serial killer Richard Ramirez – a fan of the band – who had been nicknamed the Night Stalker.

Regardless, this album – produced by legendary producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange – is a classic hard rock record and one of AC/DC’s very best.

2. The Clash “London Calling”

The Clash - London Calling
The Clash – London Calling

It would be nice to bolster my street cred by claiming to have been into bands like The Clash, Joy Division, Stiff Little Fingers or the Specials in the late 70s, but the truth is I was never that cool! Even when I started to get into music in secondary school (where I started in September ’79) it was mainly rock, metal and pop music that I listened to. In retrospect, however, I have investigated and come to appreciate many acts that passed me by at the time, including The Clash.

Released just a couple of weeks before the year’s end, “London Calling” was the band’s third album and saw them moving further away from their punk rock roots and embracing a variety of styles including reggae, ska and rockabilly, and it was the fusing of reggae and punk that initially drew me to the record.

Whilst single “Train In Vain” didn’t chart in the UK, “London Calling” itself just missed the top ten, reaching number 11. With nineteen tracks spread across four sides of vinyl in its original double album format, there is a lot of value for money to be had here, with some of the best tracks being “The Guns Of Brixton”, “Lover’s Rock”, “Lost In The Supermarket”, “Spanish Bombs” and, of course, “London Calling”.

3. Cozy Powell “Over The Top”

Cozy Powell - Over The Top
Cozy Powell – Over The Top

An instrumental album, this one was one of my favourites for attempting to play along to on the drums – sounding I suspect nothing like the great man himself.

Hailing from Cirencester, Powell became one of rock’s most well-known and loved drummers for his work with bands such as Rainbow, Michael Schenker Group, Whitesnake and Black Sabbath. “Over The Top” was his first – and best – solo album and featured contributions from Gary Moore, Bernie Marsden, Don Airey, Clem Clempson and Jack Bruce.

Kicking off with a version of “Theme One”, originally a single for Van Der Graaf Generator in 1972 and used weekly as link music on Tommy Vance’s Friday Rock Show, the album is full of actually memorable instrumental numbers, with some great performances from all concerned.

Naturally the drums are the focus and nowhere is this more the case than on the closing track “Over The Top” which incorporates Tchaikovsky melodies with original themes written by Airey and Powell and some simply thunderous drum soloing. Undoubtedly this is a record for drummers, or at least fans of drumming, but it is still strong enough in my opinion to hold its own in this list.

4. Led Zeppelin “In Through The Out Door”

Led Zeppelin - In Through The Out Door
Led Zeppelin – In Through The Out Door

Released in August of ’79, this would prove to be the final studio album from Led Zeppelin (leaving aside the outtakes collection “Coda”) as drummer John Bonham died in September of the following year.

Less guitar-heavy than the preceding album 1976’s “Presence”, there was more influence on the sound and material from singer Robert Plant and bassist / keyboardist John Paul Jones as the pair experimented with a new synthesizer that Jones had obtained and guitarist Jimmy Page and Bonham allegedly battled their addictions to heroin and alcohol respectively.

Whilst admittedly different in sound to the rest of Zeppelin’s work I still love this record. Favourite tracks include the opening “In The Evening”, the keyboard-heavy “Carouselambra” and “Fool In The Rain” (with some fantastic syncopated drumming). The closing two tracks “All My Love” and “I’m Gonna Crawl” are slow burn numbers, with the latter having a definite blues edge and the former perhaps pointing towards Plant’s early solo material.

Not as essential as “Physical Graffiti” or “Led Zeppelin IV” but any Led Zeppelin album is worthwhile and better than anything that many bands could ever produce.

5. Motörhead “Overkill” / “Bomber”

Motörhead - Overkill
Motörhead – Overkill

As I did with Saxon’s two releases of 1980 I’m cheating slightly by including two albums by Lemmy and his crew – “Overkill” came out in March ’79 and “Bomber” followed in October.

For may folk the band’s golden era was when the line-up saw Lemmy joined by guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clark and drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor – the version of the band responsible for 1977’s self-titled album as well as “Overkill”, “Bomber”, “Ace Of Spades” and “Iron Fist”.

“Overkill” contained two singles “No Class” (number 61) and the title track (number 39), whilst the title track from “Bomber”  (number 34) was the sole single from that record. I can remember seeing the band on BBC’s “Top Of The Pops” numerous times in the late 70s / early 80s.

The group’s classic live album “No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith” contains six tracks from this pair of records in its ten tracks and many of the cuts here remain in the band’s live repertoire to this day including “Bomber”, “Stay Clean”, “Metropolis”, “No Class” and “Overkill”. Simply essential heavy metal.

6. Rainbow “Down To Earth”

Rainbow - Down To Earth
Rainbow – Down To Earth

July 1979 saw the release of “Down To Earth”, the fourth studio album from Ritchie Blackmore’s post-Deep Purple band Rainbow.

Following original singer Ronnie James Dio’s departure at the end of 1978 the album had been recorded by Blackmore, drummer Cozy Powell, keyboardist Don Airey and bassist Roger Glover. Glover wrote lyrics for all the songs and then singer Graham Bonnet was hired and recorded the vocal parts on top of the already near-complete record.

Two singles were released from the album, which saw Blackmore pursuing a more commercial sound. “Since You Been Gone” reached number 6 in the UK and “All Night Long” got to number 5.

Although more poppy than the Dio-fronted albums, there is still plenty of hard rock to be found here, particularly on “Eyes Of The World”, “Love’s No Friend” and “Lost In Hollywood” whilst “Bad Girl” and “Makin’ Love” also have their moments. Blackmore’s playing is sublime in places and his riffs as instant as ever and with brilliant rhythm work from Powell and Glover and Bonnet’s distinctive voice on top this is a great hard rock album.

7. Sky “Sky”

Sky - Sky
Sky – Sky

I have my parents to thank for this entry, the second all-instrumental one to make this list. They had this record in their collection, and I think one of two others from Sky, and I can remember listening to this at home quite often.

A so-called supergroup, Sky were formed by classical guitarist John Williams, bassist Herbie Flowers, drummer / percussionist Tristan Fry, guitarist Kevin Peek and keyboardist Francis Monkman – all of whom had extensive experience in session work as well as having been members of various bands.

A progressive rock band in nature, the group’s debut album “Sky” features a mixture of styles featuring electric and acoustic instrumentation. The first side of the record contained five short numbers (all under four minutes) including two classical adaptations, but it is side two where the magic is to be found.

Written by Monkman, “Where Opposites Meet” is a five-part suite that I never get tired of hearing and love just as much today as when I first heard it. Absolutely superb!

8. Status Quo “Whatever You Want”

Status Quo - Whatever You Want
Status Quo – Whatever You Want

Another album that hit the shelves in the latter part of 1979, in this case October, “Whatever You Want” was Status Quo’s twelfth studio album and produced two top twenty singles in the UK. The title track “Whatever You Want” made number 4 and “Living On An Island” got to number 16.

One of my favourite Status Quo albums, this has some truly great songs alongside the hits. These include “Shady Lady”, “Your Smiling Face”, “Breaking Away” and the brilliant one-two of “Come Rock With Me” which segues beautifully into “Rockin’ On”. It was such a thrill for me when “Come Rock With Me” appeared in the band’s live set for a while!

The album was retitled “Now Hear This” in 1980 for the American market in an attempt to achieve some success there with a remixed and differently sequenced record. That version is very good but the UK original, with its classic album cover, is hard to beat.

Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt’s guitars mesh perfectly on their trademark boogie crunch, Rossi pulls off some great solos, the rhythm section of Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan are right on the money and keyboardist Andy Bown’s contributions are important too. Most importantly, though, there is not one duff track here – ten superb Status Quo tracks.

9. Thin Lizzy “Black Rose : A Rock Legend”

Thin Lizzy - Black Rose : A Rock Legend
Thin Lizzy – Black Rose : A Rock Legend

Coming the year after the release of the band’s seminal live album “Live And Dangerous”, this was Thin Lizzy’s ninth studio album.

With guitarist Gary Moore staying with the band long enough to make a full album – having had stints in the band in 1974 and 1977, the line-up was completed by vocalist / bassist Phil Lynott, guitarist Scott Gorham and drummer Brian Downey.

The record produced three hit singles in the UK – “Waiting For An Alibi” (number 9), “Do Anything You Want To” (number 14) and “Sarah” (number 24). Of the rest of the album, the best tracks are “Got To Give It Up”, “S & M” and the four-part celtic epic “Róisín Dubh (Black Rose) : A Rock Legend” which is one of the highlights of the band’s entire catalogue.

10. Whitesnake “Lovehunter”

Whitesnake - Lovehunter
Whitesnake – Lovehunter

“Lovehunter”, another October ’79 release, was the second album from former Deep Purple singer David Coverdale’s band Whitesnake.

Recorded at Clearwell Castle here in the Forest of Dean, the album spawned one single, the lead track “Long Way From Home”, the video for which featured drummer Ian Paice, who had joined the band after the album was recorded, along with Coverdale, Jon Lord, Micky Moody, Bernie Marsden and Neil Murray. This incarnation of the band would only last until late 1981 but produced a further three excellent studio records.

The album cover, designed by Cyprus-born fantasy artist Chris Achilleos, attracted some controversy for obvious reasons, but is really a fairly accurate representation of Coverdale’s lyrical direction in tracks such as “Lovehunter”, “Rock ‘N’ Roll Women”, “Mean Business” and “Medicine Man”.

Musically, this album is very much in the bluesy hard rock era of the band, with some wonderful guitar interplay between Moody and Marsden adding colour to the muscular rhythm section, all topped off by Coverdale’s fantastic voice.

That, then, is my favourite ten albums from 1979. Some of the albums that narrowly missed out on making it onto this list include southern rock band Blackfoot’s “Strikes”, the Police’s “Regatta De Blanc”, Scorpions’ “Lovedrive” and Cliff Richard’s “Rock ‘N’ Roll Juvenile”.

In the wider world in 1979 Margaret Thatcher replaced Labour leader James Callaghan as British Prime Minister whilst President of the USA was Jimmy Carter. Football-wise, Liverpool won the old First Division with Arsenal beating Manchester United for the FA Cup. In cinemas top film releases of the year included “The Amityville Horror”, “Rocky II” and the fantastic “Apocalypse Now”.

OK, that’s it… look out for 1978 coming up soon…

Bring It On Home

CC+Coletti+++Bring+it+on+Home

C.C. Coletti On Meat Loaf Tour 2004
C.C. Coletti On Meat Loaf Tour 2004

Carolyn Coletti Jablonski, known professionally as C.C. Coletti, first came to my attention in Cardiff back in January 2004 when Meat Loaf was touring to promote the “Couldn’t Have Said It Better” album and C.C. was part of the Neverland Express as backing vocalist / acoustic guitarist.

Since then, as well as appearing on two Meat Loaf studio albums and some live DVDs C.C. has released three albums under her own name.

Anthony Krizan
Anthony Krizan

The second of these, 2013’s “Bring It In Home”, is a tribute to rock legends Led Zeppelin – indeed it is subtitled “Sings The American Roots Of Led Zeppelin”. Working together with producer Anthony Krizan on guitar, second guitarist John Korba, drummer Tony Beard and bassist Todd Lanka, C.C. has crafted an impressive spin on classic Zeppelin tunes.

C.C. Coletti
C.C. Coletti

Taking an acoustically based-back porch blues vibe, C.C. and her band have breathed new life into the classics tackled here. Vocally, there are traces of the likes of Janis Joplin to be found in C.C.’s voice and it fits perfectly with the arrangements and instrumentation on this record.

C.C. Coletti
C.C. Coletti

Some of these tracks are very different to the Zeppelin versions, such as opener “In My Time Of Dying” and “Black Dog” whilst others, “Rock And Roll” included, are closer in spirit to the originals. Nonetheless, the whole album underlines both the quality of the musicians involved and, crucially, that the material is strong enough to withstand the re-imagining and still come out sounding strong and vital. If you didn’t know this was a covers album you could be forgiven for thinking it was a collection of originals, such is the coherence of style and sound.

C.C. Coletti
C.C. Coletti

My personal favourite tracks on this record are “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp”, “I Can’t Quit You Babe”, “You Shook Me” and “When The Levee Breaks”.

I’ve heard plenty of Zeppelin covers (such as this year’s Mojo magazine cover-mounted “Physical Graffiti Redrawn”) as well as tracks influenced by the Zeppelin sound (e.g. Kingdom Come’s “Get It On”, Whitesnake’s “Still Of The Night”) and have to say that I think C.C.’s album is one of the most convincing in terms of approaching the material in a different way whilst retaining a consistent standard from start to finish. Good stufff…

71OhyGRdpwL._SL1050_“Bring It On Home” tracklist:

1. In My Time Of Dying / 2. When The Levee Breaks / 3. Bring It On Home / 4. You Shook Me / 5. Black Dog / 6. I Can’t Quit You Babe / 7. Killing Floor / 8. Bron-Y-Aur Stomp / 9. Nobody’s Fault But Mine / 10. Whole Lotta Love / 11. Rock And Roll

1 originally from “Physical Graffiti” (1975) / 2, 5 and 11 originally from “Led Zeppelin IV” (1971) / 3,7 and 10 originally from “Led Zeppelin II” (1969) / 4 originally from “Led Zeppelin I” (1969) / 6 originally from “Coda” (1982) / 8 originally from “Led Zeppelin III” (1970) / 9 originally from “Presence” (1976)

1975 – My Top Ten Albums Of The Year

For this instalment of my top ten albums of the year I’m going back forty years to 1975. I was only 7 years old at the time, so the majority of this list has been discovered retrospectively once I started with my musical obsession at the start of the 80s…

1. Bruce Springsteen “Born To Run”

Bruce Springsteen - Born To Run
Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run

I first discovered Springsteen’s music through his mega-hit 1984 album “Born In The U.S.A.” and subsequent live box set “Live 1975-85”, and it on the latter that I first heard a good portion of his breakthrough third album “Born To Run”.

Whilst my favourite Springsteen albums are from his late 80s / early 90s period, this is still an undisputed classic album, and the indispensable tracks here include “Thunder Road”, “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out”, “Backstreets”, “Born To Run” and the epic “Jungleland”.

2. Eagles “One Of These Nights”

Eagles - One Of These Nights
Eagles – One Of These Nights

In the case of the Eagles it was through their greatest hits album that I was introduced to their music, with three of them coming from this, their fourth studio album.

“One Of These Nights” and “Take It To The Limit” are classic hits and “After The Thrill Is Gone” and the instrumental “Journey Of The Sorcerer” other high points, but the absolute highlight of this album is without doubt the near perfect hit song “Lyin’ Eyes” – great lyrics, perfect harmonies and always brilliant to sing along to.

3. Fleetwood Mac “Fleetwood Mac”

Fleetwood Mac - Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac – Fleetwood Mac

This album saw the band enter its third era following the initial Peter Green blues years and subsequent less revered period.

The first record to feature the now-classic line-up of Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie and new recruits Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, this one was hugely successful and featured three hit singles in “Over My Head”, “Say You Love Me” and Nicks’ mystical “Rhiannon” as well as the beautiful and delicate “Landslide”.

4. Geoff Love & His Orchestra “Big Bond Movie Themes”

Geoff Love & His Orchestra - Big Bond Movie Themes
Geoff Love & His Orchestra – Big Bond Movie Themes

Now this is one that I did discover back in the 70s, though likely not for a few years after it first came out. Being a big fan of James Bond films for as long as I can remember I loved everything about this album – the music, the great arrangements and, of course, the brilliant 70s cover art.

I think it was the version of “Live And Let Die” that first struck a chord, but there really isn’t a duff track here. There are likely far more critically acclaimed and commercial successful album released in 1975, but this one will always have a place in my top ten of the year.

5. Led Zeppelin “Physical Graffiti”

Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti
Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti

Led Zeppelin’s sixth studio album, “Physical Graffiti” was originally intended to contain just 8 songs. However, once it became clear that they would not fit onto one vinyl record the band decided to add some tracks recorded during sessions for their previous three albums and make this a double record set containing 15 songs.

A mammoth album in every sense this is constantly jostling for position as number one Zeppelin album in my mind – fighting with “III” and “IV” for that honour. Musically all bases are covered from the epic “Kashmir” to the delicate “Bron-Yr-Aur” but every track here is essential!

6. Pink Floyd “Wish You Were Here”

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

Following up the much celebrated classic “Dark Side Of The Moon” can’t have been an easy task, but despite what they described as tortuous and difficult time Pink Floyd rose to the challenge with “Wish You Were Here”.

Bookended by a brilliant 25 minute epic split into two sections, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts I-V” and “…Parts VI-IX”, were three other tracks – “Welcome To The Machine”, “Have A Cigar” and the superb title track. Classics all, making this one of the very best Floyd records.

7. Queen “A Night At The Opera”

Queen - A Night At The Opera
Queen – A Night At The Opera

Released at the tail end of the year, Queen’s fourth album was reputedly the most expensive album ever recorded at that point.

A critical and commercial success, the record contained two hit singles in “You’re My Best Friend” and the band’s most famous song “Bohemian Rhapsody”, together with the beautiful “Love Of My Life”, Roger Taylor’s “I’m In Love With My Car” and the vitriolic “Death On Two Legs (Dedicated To…)”.

8. Rainbow “Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow”

Rainbow - Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow
Rainbow – Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow

In late 1974 Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore started work on a planned solo album. Once the album “Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow” was finished he soon quit Purple and launched his new band which featured vocalist Ronnie James Dio.

Although not the best Rainbow album (surely that has to be the following year’s “Rising”?) this is still a great rock record and contains two stone cold classics amongst its 9 tracks – “Man On The Silver Mountain” and the longest and best track “Catch The Rainbow”.

9. Status Quo “On The Level”

Status Quo - On The Level
Status Quo – On The Level

The band’s eighth studio album, and featuring the classic frantic four line-up of Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt, Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan, this is just one of a series of brilliant albums that contain no filler whatsoever.

Four of the ten tracks have featured fairly regularly in the group’s live set over the decades since – “Down Down”, “Bye Bye Johnny”, “Most Of The Time” and “Little Lady” – and of the rest the pick of the bunch for me would be “I Saw The Light”, “Nightride” and Parfitt’s ballad “Where I Am”.

10. Thin Lizzy “Fighting”

Thin Lizzy - Fighting
Thin Lizzy – Fighting

Although it would subsequently be overshadowed by the following album “Jailbreak”, Thin Lizzy’s fifth album “Fighting” nonetheless qualifies as one of the band’s best studio outings.

The second record to feature what many would call the classic line-up of Phil Lynott, Scott Gorham, Brian Robertson and Brian Downey, this was a definite step forward and highlights included “Wild One”, “King’s Vengeance” alongside bona-fide classics “Suicide” and Lizzy’s cover of Bob Seger’s song “Rosalie”.

So OK, I can’t claim to remember much of this music at the time, but have certainly grown to appreciate it over the subsequent years. But what of the events of 1975? Well, 7 year old me wouldn’t have been aware, I suspect, but the Prime Minister was Harold Wilson, Margaret Thatcher became leader of the Conservative party, Derby County won the old First Division, and top film releases included “Jaws”, “The Return Of The Pink Panther” and “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”.

Lechlade Music Festival

Lechlade-Festival-quarter-66nyyrmuvj95a3t0kffc4a154poxnyan8pnf4rkdakeOn Sunday 24th May my wife and I took our three youngest kids to the Lechlade Music Festival, held on the Riverside Park in Lechlade-On-Thames. The children had been asking to see Status Quo play live in concert for some time, and when the band was announced as festival headliners we decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to give them what they want, especially given the family friendly and wallet friendly set up of this festival.

Twister
Twister

So it was that we sat down in the early Sunday afternoon sun to catch Twister, a rock band from Durham who have previously supported Simple Minds take the main Riverside Stage in front of just a few dozen interested spectators. Frontman Stevie Stoker had something of Mike Peters about him, not just with the very blond hair but definitely vocally. I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to say that the band’s material was also reminiscent of Peters’ band The Alarm either.

Twister
Twister

A mix of some good original material and a few covers thrown in meant that the band kept everyone entertained. Their reworking of Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” and a moody rocker with tasty guitar solo was impressive, as was the funky riff given to their version of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall”. Less successful, in all honesty, was a blast through Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” which stretched Stoker’s vocal range a little too much. “Follow”, the final song of their set saw an atmospheric intro build into a nice anthemic number – again bringing to mind the likes of The Alarm, which is no bad thing. A promising band for sure, and one who really deserve a bigger attentive audience.

Dealer
Dealer

Next up was Cirencester band Dealer. Formed back in 1979, Dealer are an unapologetic NWOBHM band. Still led by founder member singer / guitarist Trevor Short, the band is completed by guitarist Steve Peril, drummer Rupert Irving and bassist Tom Bull.

Dealer
Dealer

First track “When Midnight Comes” and it’s heads down, double bass drums and twin flying Vs – great stuff! “Looking For A Reason” and “Better Things To Do” (the latter played in memory of former bassist Pete Gentil who died in a motorcycle crash in 2013) showcased some tasty harmony guitar work, and the band’s epic number “The Final Conflict”, with plenty of stop-start riffing was another demonstration that this was a group that deserved more success back in the early 80s than fate dealt them.

Dealer - First Strike
Dealer – First Strike

Setlist:

1. When Midnight Comes / 2. Muscovite / 3. Looking For A Reason / 4. Epitaph / 5. Shatter The Night / 6. Choose Your Weapon / 7. Victim Of The Night / 8. Lap Of The Gods / 9. The Final Conflict : I Prologue – II Conflict – III Genocide / 10. Better Things To Do

Lee Pryor
Lee Pryor

Then it was time for me to head over to the Shire Stage to catch Light Zeppelin, the moniker used by three members of top Led Zeppelin tribute act Whole Lotta Led for their acoustic shows. The band had headlined the main stage on the Friday night with their usual electric set, so this performance was obviously hotly anticipated. The tent was packed even before the group started, and stewards and security had their work cut out trying to keep track of who was coming and going to avoid overcrowding.

The set began in low-key fashion with the instrumental “Black Mountain Side”, before moving into a wonderful acoustic rendition of “Kashmir”. Throughout the performance it was clear that the three were having a ball and love celebrating the rich legacy of Led Zeppelin.

Nick Ferris
Nick Ferris

Both guitarist Nick Ferris and bass / mandolin player Geoff Hunt played their parts perfectly, but special praise must go to singer Lee Pryor whose vocals were bang on the money. In a tent full of people of all ages the trio went down a storm, especially when “Stairway To Heaven” reached its epic climax.

Geoff Hunt
Geoff Hunt

One thing I don’t get about some people though – why on earth must so many folk talk at top volume all the way through artists’ performances? One might get away with it during a full powered electric performance, but the noise of talking during the quieter moments of such a brilliant, and at times delicate, performance was rather disrespectful to the band I felt.

Whole Lotta Led
Whole Lotta Led

Setlist:

1. Black Mountain Side / 2. Kashmir / 3. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You / 4. Thank You / 5. That’s The Way / 6. Going To California / 7. Tangerine / 8. Stairway To Heaven / 9. Rock And Roll

Following Light Zeppelin’s masterful set I made my way back to the rest of the family in time to catch the tail end of Dirty Thrills, who I am led to believe were OK, although the outfits and histrionics of the band members – particularly the pirate-themed bassist – meant that they left the impression with my wife that they all belonged in different bands!

Mia Klose
Mia Klose

Next act on the main stage was Swedish singer Mia Klose. First impressions were the Klose looked the part in her bright green lycra outfit but appeared to be fronting someone else’s backing band!

Mia Klose
Mia Klose

Vocally Klose was, to our ears, too poppy and “nice” to be fronting a hard rock band. The riffs were there, there were several bouts of synchronised headbanging from the singer and band members (though one of the guitarists was conspicuous by his non-participation!), but Klose lacks the grit and edge of the likes of Lita Ford and Pat Benatar – though this is less evident on her recorded work.

Mia Klose
Mia Klose

The songs, such as “Living For Love” and “Let’s Get Wild”, were fairly catchy, though not especially memorable, and to overriding impression was of a Eurovision pop singer fronting a fairly generic sounding rock band. This was most obvious on the closing Guns N’ Roses cover “You Could Be Mine”. Klose has the look – even more so when she chooses a more rock wardrobe – but just lacked that edge vocally. You can’t fault her professionalism, effort or enthusiasm though and the crowd certainly seemed entertained.

Mia Klose - London
Mia Klose – London

Setlist:

1. Brand New Day / 2. Unknown / 3. Unknown / 4. Living For Love / 5. Let’s Get Wild / 6. Winning This Game / 7. Stronger / 8 . Not The One / 9. Never Too Late / 10. You Could Be Mine (apologies for any errors – not all songs were name-checked)

The Kix
The Kix

An all-girl rock band from Aberdare in South Wales followed. The Kix were formed by sisters Sam (vocals / guitar) and Charlotte Bolderson (drums), with Harriet Wadeson completing the line-upon bass.

Sam Bolderson
Sam Bolderson

Hitting the stage and kicking off with a playful teaser intro of Status Quo’s “Caroline” riff before launching straight into AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie” the band were on to a winner from the off.

Harriet
Harriet Wadeson

With Sam Bolderson and Wadeson both wearing skin-tight shiny black trousers and the girls sporting long dark hair all round the trio definitely looked like a rock band, and they played like one too – think along the lines of The Runaways or The Donnas and you’re not too far off course.

Charlotte Bolderson
Charlotte Bolderson

A perfectly judged set mixed originals like “Lady Luck” with a host of varied cover versions, and the rapidly expanding audience loved every minute of it. All three were technically proficient and locked together well, but I was particularly impressed with Sam Bolderson’s vocals and guitar playing – even more so as she carried on playing without hesitation when her guitar strap came undone during the last song! These girls should go far.

The Kix - Lady Luck
The Kix – Lady Luck

Setlist:

1. Whole Lotta Rosie / 2. Back To My Place / 3. Lady Luck / 4. Devil Gate Drive / 5. Medley : a. Don’t Bring Me Down / b. I Hear You Knockin’ / c. Don’t Bring Me Down / 6. Bring The Thunder / 7. Medley : a. Fat Bottomed Girls / b. We Will Rock You / c. I Want To Break Free / d. Another One Bites The Dust / e. Tie Your Mother Down / 8. Johnny B. Goode / 9. The Timewarp / 10. Delilah

Rick Parfitt
Rick Parfitt

Finally, as darkness began to fall the drone introduction issued forth from the PA system and suddenly there, picked out by a spotlight, was Rick Parfitt hammering away on his trusty telecaster and headliners Status Quo got the place up on their feet rocking with “Caroline”.

Francis Rossi
Francis Rossi

Our kids’ eyes lit up and they were loving it – even the one who had announced the previous day that they didn’t like Status Quo and that the event would be boring(!?!). Hit after hit followed, with the odd heavier track thrown in too.

Francis Rossi’s usual green and white telecaster was nowhere to be seen until later in the set, an all-green instrument – which Rossi referred to as German and being able to tune itself – being used as the main guitar instead. Regardless, the whole band sounded superb – even Parfitt’s vocals, which have sounded over stretched during prior gigs, were pretty good.

Andrew Bown
Andrew Bown

Andrew Bown seemed to spend more time prowling the stage with a guitar strapped on and less time behind the keyboards than I recall being the case previously, John “Rhino” Edwards was as solid as ever on the bass and new boy, drummer Leon Cave, was excellent.

John
John “Rhino” Edwards

Parfitt seemed to lose it briefly during the quiet section of “Roll Over Lay Down” and Rossi occasionally fluffed the lyrics, but to put on such a high energy and rocking show at their age – particularly given that they had performed the previous night in Cornwall – I think the odd mistake can be excused!

Leon Cave
Leon Cave

The set seemed to fly by and it was time to head our way home all too soon, but everyone seemed to have had a thoroughly good time – our kids definitely loved it, so job done – you can’t go wrong with the Quo!

Setlist:

1. Caroline / 2. Something ‘Bout You Baby I Like / 3. Rain / 4. Paper Plane / 5. Little Lady / 6. Hold You Back / 7. Beginning Of The End / 8. Medley : a. What You’re Proposin’ / b. Down The Dustpipe / c. Wild Side Of Life / d. Railroad / e. Again And Again / 9. Big Fat Mama / 10. The Oriental / 11. Creepin’ Up On You / 12. In The Army Now / 13. Drum Solo / 14. Roll Over Lay Down / 15. Down Down / 16. Whatever You Want / 17. Rockin’ All Over The World / 18. Junior’s Wailing / 19. Medley : a. Rock ‘N’ Roll Music / b. Bye Bye Johnny

1 and 14 originally from “Hello!” (1973) / 2 originally from “Never Too Late” (1981) / 3 and 9 originally from “Blue For You” (1976) / 4 originally from “Piledriver” (1972) / 5, 15 and 19b originally from “On The Level” (1975) / 6 and 17 originally from “Rockin’ All Over The World” (1977) / 7 originally from “In Search Of The Fourth Chord” (2007) / 8a originally from “just Supposin'” (1980) / 8b originally a single release (1970) / 8c originally a single release (1976) / 8d originally from “Dog Of Two Head” (1971) / 8e originally from “If You Can’t Stand The Heat…” (1978) / 10 and 11 originally from “Heavy Traffic” (2002) / 12 originally from “In The Army Now” (1986) / 16 originally from “Whatever You Want! (1979) / 18 originally from “Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon” (1970)