My Essential 100 Albums

In these days when we are all living longer more and more of us will be faced with be faced with spending our declining years in sheltered housing.  It goes without saying that most of our possessions will not be going to the home with us.  There is not the room in sheltered housing to accommodate a lifetime’s collection of memorabilia, ornaments, and keep sakes.

As that time approaches for me I have begun to think of what CDs I will take with me.  (Do not talk to me of downloads, compressed files etc.  I want to have things to hold, treasure, pore over, and remember when and where I bought them – or the original vinyl).  

Anyway, it would seem to me that any reasonable home would allow about 100 CDs, after all, they take up little space.  The problem is how to pick my essential 100 albums.  I have a dislike of “best of” albums.  The tracks are out of context and invariably, not all the tracks chosen are the ones I want.  I do not want to spend lots of time burning tracks onto my own “best of” CDs.  That, in turn, means that I can only choose one or two albums from every artist or band to ensure I get a good spread. 

With most bands restricting myself to one album is easy.  Take the Beatles as an example, there is only one album worth having, Revolver.  Revolver is the epitome of the perfect pop record and so an obvious choice – if I decide I need anything by the Beatles.  Zappa is the complete opposite.  There are just too many great albums, Freak Out, Joe’s Garage, Chunga’s Revenge, Hot Rats to name just 4.  Deciding which one or two to take is going to be a problem. 

Over the coming weeks I will start making decisions and update you on my choices.  Please feel free to suggest albums that I should include in my list of essential 100 albums.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged as: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On This Day 26th September 1887- Thanks Emile

250px-Emile_Berliner_with_disc_record_gramophone_-_between_1910_and_1929This day in 1887 was one of the great days of popular music.

Emile Berliner who emigrated from Germany to the USA when he was 26 applied for a patent for his invention, the gramophone. This was the first machine to play discs and not the wax cylinders. He solved the problem of getting the turntable to revolve at a steady and measurable rate after teaming up with Eldridge Johnson.

Although he also designed a very (very) early helicopter and a loom suitable for mass weaving his contribution to popular music is what he will be remembered for.

My thanks to Emile, you saved my young life.

Posted in On This Day | Tagged as: , , | Leave a comment

On This Day, The Beatles First Real Recording Session, Or Perhaps NOT…………..

On This Day,  4th September, 1962, the Beatles entered EMI Studios at Abbey Road for the group’s first proper recording session

Or perhaps not, according to your perspective.

They were there to record two songs for their debut single. The band was John, Paul, George, and Ringo – Ringo is the key to the ‘perhaps not’ comment.

Ringo had recently replaced Pete Best on drums.  On June 6th The Beatles, with Pete Best, had been to the EMI studios at 3 Abbey Road, St John’s Wood, London.  On that day they recorded a number of songs including; Love Me Do, PS I Love You and Ask Me Why.

beatles 1962 - 1

On 4th September they rehearsed a number of songs before going into studio 2 to record some songs, including the 3 from 6th June.  One interesting aspect of that day was that Geroge Martin, producer, was not convinced about the Fab Four’s (or rather the dynamic duos) songwriting ability.  A self penned song for a B side was one thing, but he felt that they needed a ‘proper’ song for the A side.  With that in mind he handed them  “How Do You Do It,” was which was written by a proven written by song writer Mitch Murray.  The lads were not happy, and eventually Love Me Do was released as the A side.

The recording of Martin’s choice went well, quite probably done in just one take, but no one seems to quite remember.  They do remember the “new” Beatles recording “Love Me Do”, however.  Ringo Starr took more that 15 takes to get the drum part right.  (Years later Paul would when asked if Ringo was the best drummer in the world said that Ringo was not even the best drummer in the Beatles!  Ringo eventually quit the band in a fit of pique when he discovered Paul going back into the studio at night to re-record Ringo’s parts.  With friends like that…..)

TheBeatlesdm_468x311 - 1Anyway, after this first, or second, recording session the rest has become history, and music was changed forever!









Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On This day – Goodbye Jimmy Reed

Jimmy Reed - Big Boss Blues - Front29th August 1976, Jimmy Reed died after an epileptic seizure at the age of 50. Jimmy Reed influenced many later guitarists with his distinctive sound. He also wrote many songs, perhaps the most noticeable was “Bright Lights, Big City” (a personal favourite of mine).

He did not manage to get signed by Chess records but was signed by Vee-Jay and scored a number of hits. However, his problems with alcohol and his epilepsy prevented him from becoming as big a star as some of his contemporaries. Never the less many artists have quoted JR as being a large influence on their work. The Rolling Stones cited JR as being a large influence on their early material and their sound. Compare “Not fade Away” and “Shame, Shame, Shame” and the influence is obvious.

“Bright Lights, Big City” has been covered by Van Morrison, amongst others while The Grateful Dead covered “Big Boss Man”. Elvis covered a number of his songs.

Two of his recordings “Big Boss Man” and Bright Lights, Big City” were voted onto Eock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On This Day – Wanna Buy a Record Player?

On this day, well nearly – actually on 22nd August 1906 – the Victor Talking Machine Company (New Jersey) started selling record players. The price was about $200 which must have been huge at the time. Records ranged from $1 to $7.

This was one of those pivotal moments in the history of popular music. There were some who said that it was the end of the world, culture available for the masses? A dreadful development. Having said that no Victrolar (that’s what it was called) and there would have been no James Blunt or Celine Dion and so the world would have been a better place. On the other hand, there would also be no Tim Fite, Nick Cave, Beefheart, Zappa, Patti, or Lou.

OK, on the whole it was a good thing.

J P Sousa (a renowned conductor) was off the mark when he said that recorded music would be the end of the amateur musician. About as right as the head of IBM predicting that there would only ever be 7 mainframe computers in the world, or the American politician (can’t remember his name) who said that the Japanese did not make things that the American public would want to buy…….

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged as: , , , | Leave a comment

On This Day – Lennon Gets a Green Card

On this day in 1976 John Lennon got his green card that would allow him to settle in the USA after a long drawn out court battle.

The background to this story lies in Lennon’s left wing activism and the US government’s paranoia.

Lennon supported various left wing causes;  He was anti Vietnam War, pro John Sinclair.  When asked about the Bloody Sunday massacre he said that given the choice between the British Army and the IRA he would side with the IRA.  It should be noted, however, that Ono specifically denied that Lennon gave financial aid to the IRA when a former member of M15 suggested it.

Lennon’s anti war activities were the direct cause of the deportation order being issued against him.  Richard Nixon felt that Lennon’s reported intention to appear at an anti war concert that would coincide with the Republican’s national congress would work against him and his re-election.  A deportation order was issued shortly after.

Those were strange times, a rock star could threaten US democracy?  Given what Nixon went on to do if only Lennon did have that much power.

The original ‘reason’ for the deportation order was Lennon’s conviction on a misdemeanor ‘charge of possessing a small amount of dope in 1968.  Eventually, after 3 and a half years of litigation the deportation order was thrown out when the court said ” … the courts will not condone selective deportation based upon secret political grounds.”

The battle continued until after Nixon was forced to resign.  He was succeeded by Gerald Ford.  Ford could not see the point of the deportation attempts and they were finally dropped in 1975.  In 1976 the green card was issued.



Posted in On This Day | Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On This Day – Reverend Richard Perriman Speaks Out!

Classic Rock Music

Classic Rock Music

On this day in 1979 the Reverend Richard Perriman spoke out about the evils of rock ‘n’ roll. He told his congregation that redemption is possible. He said “If God can save an old homosexual like me he can save anyone.” The Reverend Richard Perriman is better known as Little Richard.

Posted in On This Day, Uncategorized | Tagged as: , , , | Leave a comment

On This Day – Rolling Stones Riot!

On this day in 1964 The Rolling Stones played the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool, UK and the show ended in a riot. In Response the council banned The Stones from ever playing there again.

The Stones in 1964 was not the all conquering band that we all came to know and love a few years later. True, that had released 2 singles “Come On” and ” I wanna Be Your Man” but neither made them mega stars. The First, and quite frankly wonderful first album, “The Rolling Stones” had gone to number 1 in the UK. However, they still had a lot to learn. A UK tour in 1963 had seen them learning stage craft touring under Bo Diddley, Little Richard and The Everly Brothers.

Earlier in 1964 The Stones had undertaken their first, and disasterous US tour. Mocked on TV and largely ignored by most of the media Jagger described it as “A disaster”.

So to their second tour of the UK. The bad boy image designed and developed by Andrew Loog Oldham went before them. “Would you let yopur daughter marry a Rolling Stone”, the arrests for pissing in public, all that stuff was going on at about this time.

So, to Blackpool. Blackpool was England’s most popular seaside resort. Popular, populist, and unbelievably tacky. The Empress Ballroom was an old theater that had staged rock and roll before, but the Stones were something else. The girls were screaming lads dancing, everything set for a good night out. Until. Pre-punk spitting started, aimed at Brian Jones, orchestrated by a man at the front by the stage. Keith Richard told him to stop encouraging the crowd to spit. He did not stop. Keith’s answer? Simple stand on one of the mans hands (the man was that close to the stage) and then kick him in the head, a few times. That started the riot. Everything in sight was smashed, chairs,bottles, a piano, chandeliers (yes chandeliers). The damage was total. Reports put the cost of the damage at £4,000, £7,000 even £10,000 a huge amount at that time. Two policemen and more than 30 fans were injured, presumably someone with a very sore head.

The Blackpool Council met and banned The Stones from ever playing there again. They relented in 2008, saying that The Rolling Stones would be welcomed back. So far, Blackpool has not featured in The Stones’ plans.

Posted in On This Day | Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On This Day – Clashed With the Law?

I_fought_the_lawOn this day in 1979 (was it REALLY that long ago?) the Clash released their first single in the USA - “I fought the Law”. 

The song was written in 1958 by Sonny Curtis who played in The Crickets (of Buddy Holly fame).  They recorded it in 1959 but the most famous version was by The Bobby Fuller Four in 1966. Bobby Fuller was found dead shortly afterwards.  The police said that it was suicide, but many, many people found that to be a ludicrous conclusion.

While I am digressing, I Fought the Law appears inside Lou Reed’s song Dirt on the wonderful Street Hassle album.

Back to the Clash. Joe Strummer and Mick Jones came across the song in 1978 when they were recording over dubs for their “Give ‘Em Enough Rope” album.  It was on the juke box in the Automatt studio in San Francisco.  They were taken by the song (Bobby Fuller’s version)and by the time they came back to the UK they had worked out their powerful version. It first appeared on the “Cost of Living” EP in May of 1969 in the UK.  Naturally, the US single got lots of airplay, how could it not?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

On This Day – Led Zeppelin Play to Only 55 in the USA!

led zeppelinOn this day in 1969 Led Zeppelin appeared at the Wheaton Youth Center, Wheaton, Illinois.  It was their first gig on their first North American tour.

Reportedly, there were only 55 paying customers.  That would make it the smallest audience they ever played to!  From small acorns, etc.  Their fee?  $250.

Although it was the night of Richard Nixon’s inauguration I doubt if that was the reason for the poor showing…….

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged as: , , , , , | 4 Comments