Music from Hyde Park to Barking Essex

June 2, 2011

On Saturday June 7 th 1969  three of my friends Kevin, Arthur and Kieran and me caught the train up to London to see Blind Faith perform free in Hyde Park to about 200,000 people. It was a real beautiful summer’s day as we sat down on our little patch of grass to watch the afternoon’s entertainment. First on that afternoon was the droning Third Ear Band followed by the Edgar Broughton Band who did manage to liven up the crowd with their open air anthem ‘Out Demons Out’.

Next on stage was Woodstock favourite Ritchie Havens who was great to see and then followed a quiet set from Donovan, and boy was it hot that afternoon! but it was better temperature wise when Blind Faith hit the stage at about 5pm. Billed in the music press as a supergroup this band consisted of Eric Clapton on Guitar and Ginger Baker on Drums from the legendary group Cream also Stevie Winwood on Keyboards from Traffic  and the little known Ric Grech on Bass from Family. Straight away you could tell that this group would not be following in the footsteps of Cream but as the first self titled album would show this was a half~decent band which were not given much of a chance to progress and fell apart during the following US tour as Clapton quickly lost interest in playing long solos and decided to hit the road with Delaney & Bonnie as a back up guitar player and was more influenced by the Band album ‘Music From Big Pink’ than anything that he and Mr Winwood could come up with at this point! Unfortunately Stevie Winwood being the great musician he is, does not have the greatest stage present, but it was great to be there to see them.

As we trundled back on the underground to our home town in Essex we decided that such a big debut concert was not the best idea for Blind Faith this new under~rehearsed band but all was not lost as that evening we were going to see Jethro Tull at the Roundhouse in Barking Essex. A full day of music!  I had loved Jethro Tull’s  first album ‘ This Was’ with Mick Abrahams on guitar and was sad to see that he had left the band due to a difference of opinion with Ian Anderson about which direction to take the band in, but the new album ‘Stand Up’ had just been released and tonight we would be seeing their new guitar player Martin Barre play live. Mick Abrahams would go on to have a solo career and form the band Blodwyn Pig who I also saw live at the Marquee Club.

When we finally got in the place was packed and it was a hot night inside the building and outside and there was little room to move we were like sardines but the band came on stage and straight away delivered a stunning performance with Ian Anderson in his Aqualung tramp stage outfit standing on one leg like a demented ballet dancer all hair and beard with flute in hand and his eyes popping out of his head delivering his outrageous words. Brilliant! you could see that their was only room for one star in this band as they went on to be one of the world’s best bands. On guitar new man Martin Barre with his Gibson Les Paul turned up to 11 let us all know that he could play with beautiful guitar solos and rhythm on  each song. On drums Clive Bunker was as solid as ever along with bassist Glen Cornick they supplied the back~bone to the Jethro Tull sound for many years to come.                                 

It was so hot and packed  inside the hall that by half~way through their performance people down the front of the audience were fainting and had to be lifted above the crowd and passed back over the top of the audience and out to the St. John’s ambulance people in a tent out the back of the  building.                                                                                                                                                                                  

So ended the lesson. One of the greatest day of music from Blind Faith in the open air in Hyde Park to Jethro Tull in an old bingo hall in Barking Essex. Amen.

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The Who Sell Out ~ Not Likely !

February 3, 2011

I have always been a big Who fan from the first time I heard them in my cousin’s bedroom in Dagenham, Essex at the age of 12. He had just bought a copy of the Who 45 ‘ My Generation ‘ which became one of the defining songs of  the 60s.                                                                                                                       

I love the power and the violence bursting out of that song and the stuttered voice only added to the tension. It shot up to the top of the charts in England and around the world and became an anthem for the young.

Earlier that year 1965 the Who had released two other singles ‘ I Can’t Explain ‘ and ‘ Anyway Anyhow Anywhere ‘ both explosive songs with memorable Townsend guitar parts. The classic My Generation album was to follow with brilliant cover versions and Townsend originals like ‘ A Legal Matter ‘ and ‘ The Kids Are Alright ‘ This was the first of a long line of important rock albums from the band.

The group in England always had a big mod following and were always a great live band with members Keith Moon on drums who was in a class of his own and totally irreplaceable just like Zeppelin’s John Bonham. On guitar Pete Townsend was to turn into a great songwriter but not the greatest lead guitarist in the world like Hendrix or Clapton but was completely locked into Keith Moon on each Who song and was exciting to watch. They would both smash~up their guitars, speakers  and drums at the end of each live performance and would both leave the stage in chaos and destruction.

John Entwistle on bass also known as ‘ The Ox ‘ was the glue which kept this group in time a very talented bass player who played his instrument like a lead guitar and was very loud with the treble control full on! On vocals ace ~ face Roger Daltrey was full of aggression and attitude having many famous fallouts with Townsend along the way but as a singer he just got better and better as the years when on especially live.

The Who would become one of the best live bands around in the late 60’s early 70’s and I love their performance on the Stones Rock & Roll Circus ‘ where their stole the show with their mini opera ‘ A Quick One While He’s Away ‘ and let’s not forget the stunning Woodstock performance.

 Back to the singles and next up in the British charts was ‘ Substitute ‘ which I think is a  brilliant bit op pop with the lyrics.

 I’m a substitute for another guy, I look pretty tall but my heels are high,  the simple things you see are all complicated, I look pretty young but I’m  just backdated “

My favourite Who album is their third ‘ The Who Sell~Out ‘ from 1967 featuring the top ten hit ‘ I Can See For Miles ‘ and pirate radio jingles in between the tracks.                                                                   

The biggest album that the band ever had ‘ Who‘s Next ‘  from 1971 which doesn’t have a bad track on it! but well worth a listen is the 1967 release ‘A Quick One ‘

After the huge success of ‘ Tommy ‘ probably the most overlooked album is the double ‘ Quadrophenia ‘ from ’73 with great songs like ‘5:15 ‘ ‘ The Real Me ‘ and ‘ Love Reign Over Me ‘ and don’t  miss the movie if you haven’t seen it with a young Sting in a starring role,  made in mod heaven Brighton.

The group was never the same after the album  ‘ Who Are You ‘ and  the death of Keith Moon but Kenney Jones was brought in to fill the drum spot and the group made a spirited go of things in the 80’s and the hits kept on coming.

In the later years Ringo’s son Zak has been a good substitute laying down a rock steady drum beat, you can see him on the excellent Royal Albert Hall DVD which is highly recommended.

In 1990 The Who was inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and following the sad loss of bassist John Entwistle in 2002 the band is down to two original members Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend who have admirably soldiered on and I am just putting this suggestion out there that maybe one day we might see Townsend on guitar and Daltrey on vocals join forces with Paul McCartney on bass and vocals and Ringo Starr on drums to record an album from a band that would be worth waiting for!                                                                                                              

Meet the new boss ~ same as the old boss


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