Early sounds of swing

Getting serious

Early pop with added Sibelius

The Best of America – 60s Black Music

Robert Wyatt’s basic jazz education

Returning the compliment

Getting to grips with modern music

Brain training I

Brain training II

The 14-Hour Technicolour Dream

Ear damage and the Social Deviants

Pooh’s first gigs

Extra-curricular activities

USA news from Robert Wyatt

Weird shit from the East Coast

Soft Machine 1… like WTF?

Winterland – New Year’s Eve, 31st December 1968

The SF Holiday Rock Festival, 26th December 1968

The Fillmore West, 2nd January 1969

Page 9: Early sounds of swing

“(My parents) went through the war tapping their feet to the beat of big band leaders like Glen Miller, Duke Ellington and Count Basie.”

Glenn Miller – In the Mood

I must confess to rather liking Glenn Miller. For my dad in particular it was the musical backdrop to World War Two. Being an RAF fighter pilot his life was made up of short bursts of adrenaline-fuelled sheer terror, the black humour of the survivor, beers with his still extant friends, and all the free nicotine he could inhale. Miller’s big band was the sound of escape from all that. As a kid, I remember watching The Glenn Miller Story (1954), the family clustered round our small black and white TV. The mysterious disappearance of Major Alton Glenn Miller over the English Channel on 15th December 1944 brought a sad end to a stellar career. His music, though, lives on.

Duke Ellington – Take the A Train

Ellington was another big wartime favourite of my dad’s but it was really just the 40s music and band that he went for. The more risky arrangements post-war didn’t do it for him. Take the A Train was, however, a constant visitor to the small mono record player we owned. There’s an understated sophistication and a natural syncopated flow to everything Ellington did.

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Page 9: Getting serious

Meanwhile, my mother’s cousin, Derek… introduced us to the joys of  the 19th Century romantics: Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn, etc. etc. Also, a personal 20th century favourite: Benjamin Britten’s A Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra. 

Ludwig van Beethoven – 6th Symphony, Pastoral

Derek and John Davis, a cricketing friend of my dad’s, both had huge, expensive stereos – all of a piece, glossy wooden items of furniture. But way better than a mono Dansette. Together they gave my brother Ian and myself a background in the classics.

Beethoven of course. My personal favourite is the 6th Symphony, the Pastoral. The version we had was conducted by Herbert von Karajan and recorded in 1953. The melodies, the atmospherics, the drama, the evocation of a rural idyll. But, as Robert would say, it’s all about the tunes. And when it comes down to it, that is true of it all.

Britten – A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra

A few years later and another LP constantly played was Benjamin Britten’s 1964 recording of his own Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. I cannot tell you how much I loved/love this. Apart from introducing young ears to the instruments and sections of the orchestra again, it’s the tunes! The opening theme is enough to send shivers down the spine, but every section has a memorable melody and mood. The climax, with the re-introduction of the opening theme, is truly a thing of grandeur and beauty. A work of genius.

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Page 9: Early pop with added Sibelius

“The likes of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard et al passed us by (I never ‘got’ Presley). But then came The Shadows… The next 45 I bought was Andy Williams’ Can’t Get Used to Losing You in spring 1963… But next to them on the Dansette’s turntable were EPs of Tchaikovsky’s 1812, Sibelius’s Karelia Suite and more.”

The Shadows – Apache

But then came The Shadows – Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch, Brian Bennett, Jet Harris. Oh yeah. Still have Apache, Kon-Tiki and Dance On! in a box in the attic.

Hank may have been the star but Welch had some interesting bass lines going there.

Andy Williams – can’t get used to losing you

The next 45 I bought was Andy Williams’ Can’t Get Used to Losing You in spring 1963. Great song and arrangement – the pizzicato strings, the lovelorn lyrics.

Sibelius – Karelia Suite

The French horns, the relentless majestic theme, the evocation of a landscape. Written when Finland, a Grand Duchy, was still part of the Russian Empire. Premiered, unhappily, at the  Imperial Alexander University in Helsinki (now the University of Helsinki) it reflected Sibelius’s strong Finnish nationalism. Independence came in 1917 and was successfully defended in the Winter War of 1939-40.

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Page 9: The Best of America – 60s Black Music

“Black American music: The Supremes, The Crystals, The Chiffons and Martha and the Vandellas, but also James Brown, Junior Walker, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett… the list goes on. We listened. We sang along.”

The Supremes – Stop in the name of love

Another hit from the machine that was Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland, the songwriters who built the Motown sound. Later, they contested a 9 year lawsuit with Tamla-Motown owner Berry Gordy JR, which must have made some lawyers very wealthy and very happy. 

For those who need to know, the great James Jamerson bass. As with all the other bass players mentioned, I foolishly learnt nothing from him/them.

The Crystals – Then he kissed me

Spectors’ Wall of Sound. A mad genius who claimed to be bipolar, he was responsible for some of the most recognisable hits of the mid 60s. His work with The Beatles, however, was not, to my mind, a success.

He died on 16th January 202i whilst in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, having been found guilty of the murder of actress Lana Jackson in 2003. He would have been eligible for parole in 2024.

The Crystals – Da doo ron ron

‘His name was Bill’. Well alright then!

Martha and the Vandella – Dancing in the Street & & Nowhere to run

The first of these written by the great Marvin Gaye with the assistance of William Stevenson, prodiucer of numerous Motown hits, and Ivy Jo Hunter, part of the house band who wrote a number of hits for the label.

Nowhere to run was another Holland-Dozier-Holland classic driven, as usual, by the great James Jamerson.

James Brown – This is a man’s world

Ooops, mind those woefully politically incorrect lyrics, James.

James Brown – Live at the Apollo, 1967

One of the greatest live albums featuring Robert Wyatt’s favourite rhythm section – Clyde Stubblefield (drums), Bernard Odum (Bass), Jimmy Nolen and Alfonzo Kellum (guitars). I mean There was a Time, I Feel All Right…. and Cold Sweat. Hit it!! And a shout out to Maceo Parker and his tenor sax solo. Awesome.

Junior Walker – Roadrunner & How sweet it is to be loved by you

The sound and tone of the tenor sax was the easy identifier of any piece by Junior Walker, or Autry DeWalt Mixon Jr. as he was christened back in 1931.

Both tracks written by the great Holland, Dozier, Holland combo. And on bass: the ubiquitous James Jamerson, propulsive and melodic

Sam and Dave – Hold on I’m comin’ & Soul Man

Hold on, I’m comin’ (1966) was written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter and, yes, the somewhat suggestive title raised more than eyebrows, especially in the southern states. Soul Man, written by the same duo, was released in 67.

And all driven by that Stax rhythm section, Booker T and the MGs, and the Mar-Keys Horns. Duck Dunn on bass.

Wilson Pickett – Midnight Hour

A Pickett/Cropper tune recorded May 65. Another song which some uptight, conservative honkies thought to explicit. What they would have made of some modern lyrics ‘the lord alone knows’.

The MGs rhythm section again – Dunn, Jackson and Cropper.

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Page 13: Robert Wyatt’s basic jazz education course for white teenagers

“But back to the jazz. Sure, we’d heard Dave Brubeck’s Take Five, Blue Rondo à la Turk and Unsquare Dance  and, of course, our dad was still partial to a bit of Ellington, but what we heard in Robert’s bedroom was eye opening. And brain widening. John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Charlie Mingus, Pharoah Sanders, Eric Dolphy, Miles Davis, Cecil Taylor…”

Dave Brubeck – Blue Rondo à la Turk

This seemed exotic at the time. But polite. Controlled. Did I know this was in 9/8? Probably not. Did I care? No.

The piece was then re-worked, made regular, and seriously overblown by Keith Emerson via The Nice and then on to ELP.

I know which version I prefer.

Pharoah Sanders – The creator has a master plan

The raw emotional wail of Sander’s sax against the floating backdrop of bass and percussion segues into the extended extemporisation over the simple riff.

Miles Davis/Gil Evans – Sketches of Spain: Solea

The purity of Miles’s tone and the wistful, melancholy of his lines, Paul Chamber’s relentless bass riff, the slightly threatening brass underpinning, the cleverly knitted drums/percussion of Jimmy Cobb, Elvin Jones and Jose Mangual, the building tension.

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Page 13: Returning the compliment

“I once returned the compliment to Robert’s jazz education by rushing round to play him Hendrix’s Wind Cries Mary which I still think one of the best songs he ever wrote/recorded.”

Jimi Hendrix – The Wind cries Mary

I strongly believe all budding lead guitarists should be forced to listen to the solo, learn it, and then repeat to themselves whilst playing it, ‘less is more, less is more’.

Twist my arm I might tell you who in particular needs/needed this lesson.

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Page 13: Getting to grips with modern music

“I struggled with some of the new music being introduced chez MacCormick by my sadly late bro’.”

Stravinsky – Rite of Spring

“It took me some time to get next to The Rite of Spring. At first a jumble of rhythms and noises but now, one of my favourite pieces. In such things Ian led, I followed.”

Pierre Boulez, 1963. The best recording/performance ever?

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Page 13: Brain training I

“Then, one day, Ian brought home Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, the Charlie Mingus’s 1963 classic. To my young ears most of it was great. 

But…

Charlie Mingus – Theme for Lester Young

Truly great.

Charlie Mingus – Hora Decubitus featuring Eric Dolphy

“But then came Eric Dolphy’s solo on Hora Decubitus (2:07 onwards). Like, what the fuck was that? Sounded like a series of squeaks and grunts. An animal in pain. It made me angry. But the more I listened, the more I came round. Just as the brain can be trained in one way of thinking it can be untrained if the person so desires. I began to see that music wasn’t just pretty melodies to sing along with. It could be anger, pain, regret, joy, love, chaos, despair.”

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Page 14: Brain training II

“Soon, things like Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie were spinning on the Dansette’s turntable along with Ives, Britten, Bartók, Alban Berg, Stravinsky, and Shostakovich, an especial favourite of Ian’s and which led to his book The New Shostakovich about which the composer’s second son, Maxim Shostakovich, wrote: “One of the best biographies of Dmitri Shostakovich I have read.”

Olivier Messiaen – Turangalîla-Symphonie

This from the 1961 recording (released 1962) borrowed from the West Norwood record library. The third recording of the symphony, it features Messiaen’s second wife, Yvonne Loriod, on piano, and her sister Jeanne Loriod on the Ondes Martenot, the innovative electric keyboard instrument invented by Maurice Martenot in 1928. The recording was supervised by the composer.

Alban Berg – Violin Concerto

From the superb 1967 recording. Leonid Kogan was the soloist and the USSR Radio & TV Large Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Gennady Rozhdestvensky. The 2nd movement is titanic until the introduction (17:30) of the majestic theme from a Bach cantata temporarily calms and soothes until the piece resolves in an optimistic manner. It was Berg’s last completed work before he tragically died from blood poisoning on 24th December 1935.

The piece is dedicated ‘to the memory of an Angel’, the 18-year-old Manon Gropius, the daughter of Walter Gropius and Alma Mahler née Schindler, the widow of Gustav Mahler, who died of polio on 22nd April 1935.

Dmitry Shostakovich – 11th Symphony, In the Year 1905

Stokowski’s extraordinary cinematic rendition (1958). Elements of the symphony were used in the desolate soundtrack to the ground-breaking BBC documentary The Great War broadcast back in 1964. Watching it became a religion. My mum, Ian, and I would sit down with a cup of tea and slice of coffee gateau and watch the catastrophe of 1914-18 slowly unfold over 26 harrowing episodes.

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Page 14: The 14-Hour Technicolour Dream

29th-30th April 1967

“Then, in April 1967, I turned sixteen. Taking advantage of my parents’ surprisingly liberal attitude to the activities of their offspring, I attended another seminal musical/cultural event: The 14-Hour Technicolour Dream at Alexandra Palace on 29th April 1967. The Softs, Pink Floyd, The Move, Pretty Things…”

Pink Floyd – Arnold Layne & See Emily Play

Personally, the playful, wistful Englishness of the Barrett-era Floyd has always been my favourite. The later material was, to my ears, overblown, ponderous and, still later, portentous.

See Emily Play – the sound of London, Summer ’67.

The Move – I can hear the grass grow

The Brummie boys second single which reached No. 5 in the summer of 67.

Managed by the loose, if highly successful, cannon that was Tony Secunda they later managed to get themselves sued for libel by Labour Primie Minister Harold Wilson when Secunda unaccountably promoted their next single, Flowers in the Rain, with a postcard showing Wilson in bed with his secretary, and éminence grise, Marcia Williams. The story since appears to have been proved true: Secret story of Harold Wilson’s lover, secretary and driving force

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Page 14: Ear damage and the Social Deviants

“…first up, The Social Deviants, the late Mick Farren’s statement making, if not actually very good, band. Being naïve, I stood front left. Right in front of what turned out to be a 4 x 12-inch WEM PA speaker column. I swear my left ear has never recovered from the opening notes Pete Munro, bass, Clive Muldoon, guitar, and Mike Robinson, guitar, strangled out of their instruments.”

The Social Deviants – Hyde Park 1969 and, by then, simply The Deviants.

The sound ain’t great but I doubt they’d care.

Leader, Mick Farren, was a stalwart of the 60s counter culture scene and a contributor to the International Times based in its offices at 102, Southampton Row. As a small contribution to undermining the establishment I used to sell IT around Dulwich College. Went down well with the authorities.

An intermitten musician of uncertain success, his literary output was prodigious. He wrote for the New Musical Express and produced 23 novels before his untimely death on 27th July 2013.

His passing, though, was apt. He died from a suspected heart attack while performing with the Deviants. Rock on, Mr Farren.

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Page 18: Pooh’s first gigs

“Our ‘set’ was strictly limited timewise. First up, a raucous version of Love’s ‘7 and 7 is’ culled from their album Da Capo released at the end of 66.”

Love – 7 & 7 is – with reference to lyrical misunderstandings courtesy of Jimi Hendrix

Pre the internet and lyric websites it was, of course, almost impossible to make out what words people were actually singing, e.g. Jimi Hendrix, Purple Haze: ‘Excuse me while I kiss the sky’ or, as some would have it, ‘Excuse me while I kiss this guy’.

This applied here so I just mostly made shit up but did so with confidence or, perhaps, brio, this being a musical reference. For example, the actual lyrics start: ‘When I was a boy, I thought about the times I’d be a man. I’d sit inside a bottle and pretend that I was in the can.’

OK, so I heard the second line as: ‘I’d sit inside a bottle and pretend I was in a jam.’

Which, I would venture, makes a tad more sense lyrically than Arthur Lee’s nonsense. Not a lot more. But some.”

Paul Butterfield – Born in Chicago

“To add to ‘7 and 7 is’ (proving we could add up) came Nick Gravenites’ Born in Chicago (lifted off the Paul Butterfield Blues Band’s eponymous album, and proving white public schoolboys could play the Blues. My late brother played harmonica on this number. He was pretty good, god bless him).” BTW Bloomfield, hell of a player.

Jefferson Airplane – Somebody to Love

“… a slowed-down, extended version of the Jefferson Airplane’s Somebody to Love (proving we had imbibed the current psychedelic atmosphere if not anything actually psychedelic).”

BTW, can I say here that Jack Casady is up there amongst my favourite bass players? Yes I can and so I will.

I got to see the Airplane twice and within a few days of one another. First, a free concert with the excellent Fairport Convention at a small bandstand on Parliament Hill Fields, and second at the Roundhouse as part of the epic Airplane/Doors shows 7th and 8th September 1968.

Tickets were £5. Seemed like a lot at the time and worth anything between £100 and £270 nowadays. So, was a lot.

Cream – Spoonful

“… an even more extended version of Cream’s Spoonful (proving we could be self-indulgent).”

Though you get the shorter, studio version here. Be grateful for small mercies.

The Doors – Love me two times

And something I forgot to mention in the book…..

The Doors and the Jefferson Airplane at the Roundhouse, 7th September 1968. Now there was a gig. Two sets by each band. Me six feet from the low stage, Grace right in front of me. Mr Morrison almost at touching distance.

Yes, indeed.

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Page 19: Extra-curricular activities

“After rehearsals we retired to the front room to listen to whatever exotic and exciting albums were to hand: Joseph Byrd and Dorothy Moskowitz’s The United States of America, Captain Beefheart, a particular favourite of Charles, and The Mothers of Invention.”

The United States of America – I won’t leave my wooden wife for you, sugar

The United States of America: apart from the outrageous sounds and wonderful arrangements, great lyrics:

Now listen, Baby and try to understand
That tying you is fine and whipping you is grand
Now I just can’t tell you how much fun it’s been
You make me feel twenty-five again

But I can’t leave my wooden wife for you, sugar
I got a split level house with a wonderful view, sugar
A couple next door who do the things we do, sugar
And every Saturday we sit around the pool

If I should meet you on the street someday
I hope you’ll understand me if I look away
It isn’t that I’m ashamed about you and me
But I’ve got to consider my morality

And I won’t leave my wooden wife for you, sugar
I got a split level house with a wonderful view, sugar
Three sweet kids and Yorkshire terrier, too, sugar
And I just couldn’t stand it when you come home late from school

Captain Beefheart – Safe as Milk (entire album)

I liked the first album, Safe as Milk (and later Clear Spot). Charles Hayward (bless his little cotton socks) lurved Trout Mask Replica.

‘The following tone is a reference tone…..’

The Mothers of Invention – Freak Out (entire album)

Freak Out – the double album. Bought at great expense on import. Borrowed by a school friend who then dropped it off the back of his bike scraping the shit out of it. I won’t mention who was responsible. But I’ve disliked Jon Copeland ever since. No, not really.

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Page 19: News from the US of A, courtesy of Robert Wyatt

“Robert would send through updates from time to time on what, in his terms, was musically hot…”

The Chicago Transit Authority – Poem 58

“The Chicago Transit Authority, later, simply called Chicago. First album only for them. Some great brass arrangements. Then they went soft and soppy.”

Poem 58 contains everything notable about early Chicago: instrumental virtuosity in the form of two Kath wildly different solos, a relentless riff, and a great ‘big band’ brass arrangement (7:09).

Terry Kath, CTA’s incendiary guitarist who sadly died way too early, is said to have impressed Hendrix. Too many drugs, and an all-American fascination with firearms killed him. He accidentally shot himself in the head with a 9 mm semi-automatic not knowing it was loaded.

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Page 21: Weird shit from the East Coast

“We’d already got word of wild happenings in NYC so the gatefold import Velvet Underground & Nico, complete, with peelable banana, already adorned my shelves.”

The Velvet Underground & Nico – European Son (to Delmore Schwartz)

Perhaps not the most obvious choice from the album. After all, where’s Nico? But a sound impossible to replicate. Terrifying in its intensity. Even Cale’s early simple bass part is surprisingly difficult to play at that speed. Only from New York…. And only then.

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Page 21: Soft Machine 1… like WTF?

“… serendipitously, I happened to be round at Dalmore Road enjoying a cup of tea with Honor and Pam when in rushed Robert’s half-brother Julian Glover… The reason for his sudden and rather excitable appearance was that he was clutching in his hands what looked suspiciously like an LP. And so it was. A US copy of the first Soft Machine album in its gatefold cover with rotating front sent post-haste from New York by Robert. All conversation ceased as it was placed carefully on the record player.

Their only previous vinyl output was the single Love Makes Sweet Music. So, what to expect? Not what I heard, I must admit.”

Soft Machine – Love Makes Sweet Music

The first single out on Polydor, released 17th February 1967. I still have my copy. A treasured item. Was not quite sure what to expecte when it came out. More poppy than I expected? Perhaps. But made the shock of the album all the greater.

Soft Machine – 1st album (entire album)

“Listening to the Soft’s album wasn’t exactly stressful but my entire body was so wound up by what I heard, and as adrenaline flushed through my veins, everything seemed staggeringly clear. It was not simply an aural experience but a physical one. It changed the way I thought about music.”

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Pages 22-24:

The San Francisco Holiday Rock Festival, 26th December 1968

The Cow Palace, 2600 Geneva Ave, Daly City.

Steppenwolf – Born to be Wild

The Sparrow – Isn’t it Strange 

“Steppenwolf fresh off the back of two hit singles: Born to be Wild (No. 2 in the US Singles Charts) and Magic Carpet Ride (No. 3). To my mind they were far more interesting as the psychedelic group The Sparrow (not The Sparrows as per Wikipedia). Check out the 1966 single Tomorrow’s Ship and, most especially, the B-Side Isn’t it Strange.”

Canned Heat – On the road again

“Canned Heat, then enjoying success with Going up the Country (No. 11 in the US carts) which I wasn’t keen on and, earlier that year, On the Road Again (No. 16, though No. 8 in the UK) which I was.”

That this got to No. 8 in the UK single charts in 1968 tells you a lot about the time and the music. There was a time and a place for everything and anything.

Buffalo Springfield – For what it’s worth

“Buffalo Springfield, technically The New Buffalo Springfield as the important ones, Stephen Stills and Neil Young, had both departed.”

Still’s prescient 1966 song For what it’s worth sealed the original band’s position in the 60s rock pantheon.

There’s something happening here
But what it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware

I think it’s time we stop
Children, what’s that sound?
Everybody look, what’s going down?

There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind

It’s time we stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look, what’s going down?

What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and they carrying signs
Mostly say, “Hooray for our side”

It’s time we stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look, what’s going down?

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
Step out of line, the men come and take you away

We better stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look, what’s going down?

The Spencer Davis Group – Keep on running

“The Spencer Davis Group, but minus Steve Winwood who left in April 1967. On the other hand, their string of hit singles from 65 to 67 are up there in the pantheon of rock greats: Keep on Running, Somebody Help Me, Gimme Some Lovin’ and I’m a Man. Yes, please.”

Hate to say this but Muff ‘Quiet Sun denier’ Winwood’s bass line really drives this song forward. This 1965 release, featuring the 17-year-old Steve Winwood, was one of those songs which broke the ice of ‘pop’ music. And apparently showed white men could sing the blues.

Blue Cheer – Summertime Blues

“Blue Cheer, the trio which laid claim to being ‘the loudest band in the world!’, and whose version of Eddie Cochran’s Summertime Blues reached No. 11 on the Billboard chart earlier in the year. I can confirm they were loud. Very.”

Three Dog Night – One & It’s for you

“Three Dog Night (for information: a reference to how many huskies an Eskimo cuddled up with depending on how cold it was). This band, with three lead singers, specialised in close harmonies at which they were very good indeed. The had a big hit (Billboard No. 5) with the very good single One in early 69, but what was startling live was the rendition of the short song It’s For You (a mere 1 minute 59 seconds) with its complex vocal arrangement and sparse instrumental backing. Extraordinary.”

Electric Prunes – I had too much to dream last night

“The Electric Prunes, a LA psych-garage band whose best days were gone. Interesting to note, however, that their two hits were written by women: Annette May Tucker wrote the music to both songs and the lyrics were by, respectively, Nancie Mantz and Jill Jones. Well done, ladies.”

Santana – Soul Sacrifice

Santana. Ah, the great guitarist Carlos Santana and his band which had just signed to Columbia. They were in the process of moving away from their original Blues base towards the Latin percussion-based sound which became their trademark.”

Mike Shrieve is sure as hell a great drummer.

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Page 24:

Winterland – New Year’s Eve, 31st December 1968

Grateful Dead – Quicksilver Messenger Service – It’s a Beautiful Day – Santana

It’s a Beautiful Day – White Bird

“It’s a Beautiful Day was notable for three things: a husband and wife in the band, David LaFlamme and his wife Linda LaFlamme (keyboards), a female singer, Pattie Santos, and the fact David LaFlamme played an amplified violin.”

The Grateful Dead – St Stephen & The Eleven

You cannot listen to The Eleven on its own. You MUST hear it in the context of the magical transformation out of St Stephen (starting around 9:00) and then out the other side. Seemlessly dropping and regaining beats in the bar. Phil Lesh was a favourite bass player at the time. The Dead’s singing not so much. Ignore the rest of Love Light if you wish.

Quicksilver Messenger Service – The Fool

“The absolute stars were QMS. In particular, John Cipollina, in my view the best SF guitarist of the 60s. Cipollina’s rig was amazing enough, but his technique and originality something else completely. The guitar solo which starts at 5 minutes in their 13-minute-long song, The Fool, on their first album still makes me smile. The growls, the plectrum flicks on the pick-ups, the drama and lyricism. Sublime.”

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The Fillmore West, 2nd January 1969

Dead –  Spirit – Blood, Sweat & Tears

Spirit – Uncle Jack, Aren’t you glad & Dark Eyed Woman

Robert turned me on to Spirit in one of his postcards sent in 1968 and I was fortunate to seem them play twice with the original line-up: at the Fillmore West, and an extraordinary show at the Lyceum Ballroom. Randy California was undoubtedly one of the most original, melodic, and thoughtful rock guitarists and composers. His solo on Uncle Jack was like nothing we had heard before. That he more or less reproduced it live was unbelievable. Because they were so freaking good and because they remain so unfairly relatively ignored they get three bites at the music cherry. Great songs off three successive albums featuring the great and greatly lamented late Randy California.

Blood, Sweat and Tears – I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know

BS&T – great live and this off their best album. Shame Al Kooper left after this was recorded.

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Chapter 2 – Quiet Sun (to come)