File Under Unpopular: 70s Albums Revisited
We all have them don’t we? The albums we brought off the back of one great single or on a whim but as soon as we got them home and pressed play couldn’t figure out why we’d bothered? They were the records, cassettes and CD’s set aside for another day, except that day never came so they slipped to the bottom of the pile, quietly forgotten. Cleaning out my garage recently, desperate for more space to store even more shite, I came across a hoard of long gone albums erased from my memory. Perhaps the time had come to give them that one last chance; the one they’d been denied all those years ago.
VELVET UNDERGROUND / LOADED (August 1970)
FAVOURITE TRACK ‘Rock And Roll’
I knew I had a copy of Loaded but had no idea where. In 1974 I’d splashed out for second hand copies of the complete Velvets catalogue but those vinyl relics were long gone. It was the CD version I’d mislaid. When it re-appeared, I knew exactly why I had barely bothered to play it; The Velvet Underground & Nico, White Light/White Heat and The Velvet Underground had helped rewire my brain. What chance did Loaded have after that? It’s still enjoyable of course, and when heard in isolation the likes of ‘Rock And Roll’, ‘Cool It Down’ and ‘Sweet Jane’ piss over most records of the day. But as a complete entity Loaded is just a little too cheesy, a little too poppy and, though it pains me to say it, a little too boring.
NICO / DESERTSHORE (January 1971)
FAVOURITE TRACK ‘Janitor Of Lunacy’
Curiously appealing, Nico was always an enemy of her own beauty and far too fucked for fame. Unlike Marianne Faithfull, she never seemed remotely capable of turning her self-destructive tendencies into gold. I snapped up Desertshore during my Velvets obsession only to find a record so completely impenetrable to my naïve, teenage mind I almost dumped it the same day. Forty years later, as gloomy as Desertshore is, I find it far easier to hear the real beauty and chink of light shining through Nico’s dense 29 minute storm of hell and despair. I don’t think another four decades will pass before I play it again.
SPARKS / A WOOFER IN TWEETER’S CLOTHING (November 1972)
FAVOURITE TRACK ‘Girl From Germany’
At the peak of Glam we were mesmerised by ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us’ and the genre juggling Kimono My House. Most folks left it there, but as an idiot completist I went back a couple of years to A Woofer In Tweeter’s Clothing and promptly never even gave it a spin. Sadly, now I have, there’s no getting away from the fact it is more than a little dull, even the great ‘Girl From Germany’ unable to disguise the work of a group which, much like Ron’s Mein Führer look, had yet to realise its full potential.
T.REX / TANX (March 1973)
FAVOURITE TRACK ‘Life Is Strange’
Electric Warrior and The Slider were impossible to follow not least because Bolan’s star was already fading. Increasingly porky, coked to the gills and in despair at his inability to transcend the genre that had so defined him, Tanx was the moment he lost me and the rest of his teenage acolytes as we headed for the darker kicks of Bowie, Roxy, Iggy and Uncle Lou. In truth I realise I’d simply outgrown him but nonetheless, loyal to the end I persevered and continued to play Tanx over and over, so keen was I to love it. Ultimately that proved impossible, the chubby ones tales of tenement lady’s, factory hens, mad donna’s and beggar boy’s so one dimensional they verged on the ridiculous. Unfortunately, they still do.
MICK RONSON / SLAUGHTER ON 10th AVENUE (April 1974)
FAVOURITE TRACK ‘Growing Up And I’m Fine’
When Ziggy broke up the band, The Spiders went it alone for Slaughter On 10th Avenue. A bit of a glam curio, I bought it solely for the Bowie connection and discovered a brilliant sidekick should remain just that. In fact, it’s only Bowie’s involvement as a songwriter on ‘Growing Up And I’m Fine’, ‘Music Is Lethal’ and ‘Hey Ma Get Papa’ that make Slaughter On 10th Avenue remotely interesting.
NEU! / NEU! ’75 (April 1975)
FAVOURITE TRACK ‘E-Musik’
I had little knowledge of Krautrock before Neu. My old mans copy of Tangerine Dream’s Phaedra and Kraftwerk’s ‘Autobahn’ single were all I knew and neither fully prepared me for the radical nature of Neu ’75. I think it’s safe to say that as I was still hovering somewhere between the remnants of Glam and the genesis of disco, the exploits of a couple of German longhairs were way beyond my limited comprehension. At 15 years old it sounded monotonous in the extreme. Of course now I’m able to recognise their genius; the motorik drive of ‘E-Musik’, the glacial emptiness of ‘Leb Wohl’, the proto punk of ‘Hero’, and how in 1975 they were a good ten steps ahead of most everything else.
BOB DYLAN / DESIRE (January 1976)
FAVOURITE TRACK ‘Isis’
I never did understand the holier than thou sanctity of 60’s Dylan. Inevitably, new generations reject all that has gone before and my generation did just that. In our mother’s fake furs, silk scarves and gold earrings we only wanted to emulate The Stones early 70’s cool but no-one ever wanted to be Dylan, not even when we were gifted Desire. It was just another album to play for a week or so, an alternative soundtrack to our increasingly desperate teenage angst. These days, knowing what I know you’d think I’d be more appreciative of old Bob as God, but I’m not, not really. Forget the other tunes, Desire is only
here because of ‘Isis’, a beautiful, beautiful thing that somehow manages to weave its magic web around me despite or maybe because of my resistance.
RICHARD HELL & THE VOIDOIDS / BLANK GENERATION (September 1977)
FAVOURITE TRACK ‘Walking On The Water’
Richard Hell’s autobiography nudged me into digging this out even if the man himself is a bit of a cock. In 1977, a good year past it’s sell by date, Blank Generation faded away with indecent haste. A cruder, more awkward version of Tom Verlaine’s Television, with words honed from Hell’s highbrow reading habit, I guess it encapsulates my music press influenced ideal of the New York CGBG pre-punk scene as well as any one record could. The thing is; I didn’t need that then, and I sure don’t need it now.
PATTI SMITH / EASTER (March 1978)
FAVOURITE TRACK ‘Privilege (Set Me Free)’
I’ve always been deeply suspicious of Patti Smith. Not for nothing has she been called the ‘Grande Dame Of Bohemian Pretension’. Admittedly in 1976, if her version of ‘Gloria’ was great, the mauling of ‘My Generation’ was even better. But to my ears the much praised Horses was an out and out con. Completely in thrall to rock tradition and the Beat poets, all it represented was the past. So when I discovered Easter I even surprised myself. Less artsy cool and more pop friendly yet simultaneously more divisive, in 2014 I like it a lot.
MARIANNE FAITHFULL / BROKEN ENGLISH (October 1979)
FAVOURITE TRACK ‘Why’d Ya Do It?’
Marianne Faithfull is just a day older than Patti Smith but if anyone had told me at the height of punk that a couple of years down the line I’d be happily shelling out for a record by a 32 year old child of the sixties, I’d have laughed in their face. As it was I obviously failed to listen without prejudice because Broken English was soon consigned to the bottom of the pile. 35 years later I have no idea why because the eight slightly off kilter songs about addiction, moral bankruptcy, suicidal housewives and betrayed lovers are full of more venom and hate than punk ever mustered. You only have to hear ‘Why’d Ya Do It?’. One of the most graphic and furious songs of the era, prepare to be stunned as the sometime Aristo and citizen of Reading asks ‘Why’d you spit on my snatch’ before declaring ‘Everytime I see your dick I see her cunt in my bed’. Incredible.