As I have mentioned elsewhere on this site, reading and listening to music are two of the pleasures in my life. I'm not saying my life would be over if I lost my ability to do either but if I had to make a choice between the two, it would be a very difficult one.
Up to the age of about fifteen, like most young teenagers I used to listen to the Pop music of the era. However in my opinion, the Pop music of the mid to late 60's and into the early 70's was far better musically than the Pop music from the late 70's through to today. I remember listening to the so called 'Pirate' radio stations in England, usually Radio Caroline, a radio station that used to transmit from a ship just off the English coast, so that they did not have to pay for any transmission licence from the British Government.
Back in those days my music collection was almost completely comprised of vinyl singles with just a couple of EP's. Some of those singles included such titles as 'Apeman' by the Kinks, 'He's gonna step on you again' by John Kongas, (if I spell some of these names wrong, forgive me as I am relying on memories of some 36 years ago) 'When I'm dead and gone' McGuiness Flint, 'Ride a White Swan' TRex and quite a number of Monkees singles. Hey! Well I was just a kid.
Luckily for me, I had an older sister, Clare. Although she is only some 20 months older than me, her taste in music took directions far away from the standard Pop world and she introduced me to music from such people and bands as, Joe Cocker, Santana, Led Zeplin, Pink Floyd and other even less know bands of the era, such as Yes and Curved air.
So, when the time finally came in '72 and at the age of fifteen, for me to buy my very first LP, instead of buying a Pop LP, I bought the third Yes album called 'Fragile'. Music I still listen to today, in fact I became quite a fan of Yes, especially during those early years and bought all their albums, such classics as 'Close to the Edge', 'Tales from Topographic Oceans' and 'The Yes Album'. Just writing about those albums has just prompted me to open up iTunes on my Mac and listen to TFTO as I write this. Definitely a different album for its day, a double LP with only four tracks and could never be called Pop music. The buying of these LP's obviously happened over a few years, as even today I can still remember the second and third LP's I bought.
The second LP was probably bought because of my enjoyment of the music played by Yes, in particular the keyboard magic of Rick Wakeman, as it was his LP 'The six Wives of Henry VIII' that was next to join the collection. That was followed closely by an album recommended to me by the girl at the record store I used to go to in Adelaide South Australia. She said if you like that one, referring to 'Six Wives', you'll probably enjoy this one too, showing me 'Tubular Bells' by Mike Oldfield.
So my collection started to grow, adding more Yes albums, 'Journey To the Centre of the Earth' by Wakeman, 'Hergest Ridge' by Oldfield and on and on. After those early days it becomes a little harder to remember what order I bought the albums in my collection but it continued to grow over the next few years.
One thing I want to say here, is that I have always bought my music. I may have other faults and there may be some laws that I do not uphold but when it comes to the creative work of others I always believe in paying for it. That includes all my music, some of which has been paid for a number of times when old LP's have gone missing, or old cassettes died and when the age of the CD came in. I also pay for all my computer software and of course all the books in my collection.
It was sometime over those next couple of years that I discovered the band that was to become my all time favourite. I had heard the occasional single played on the radio but it wasn't until moving to Gladstone Queensland in '73-74 that I first listened to a full Album. One single actually managed to hit the number one spot on two occasions, firstly when it was first released in 1967 and then again when it was re-released in 1972. It was my then brother in law Lex, who was already a fan, that introduced me to the band whose lyrics and music were to have a pretty large impact on my life.
So who was it?
Let me see if a couple of hints might help.
Their very first number 1 single hit the charts way back in 1962. The lead singer/guitarist who sung that song later in his career ended up playing with Paul McCartney and Wings.
After he left the band, they started looking for a new lead singer/guitarist and there's a story here. It seems that at the same time, they were looking, so was Eric Burdon. It seems that Eric had put an advert in the paper, saying that top recording band was looking for a new guitarist, no names of course. Anyway, not long after the advert was placed, Eric found his new guitarist but had this sack full of replies and no further need.
Well, back then the British music scene was pretty close knit and Eric knew this other band were looking for a guitarist and offered John the bass player the sack of replies. So the story goes from there, the very first letter that was pulled out of the sack was the man who was to become not only the new guitarist, but one of the predominant song writers for the band and maybe even the main voice of the band. But I must say here that this band were (and still are) know for their vocal harmonies.
Have you guessed yet?
OK more hints.
I have mentioned that they had a hit single in 1967, this single came off an album which was something radically different to most albums of that time. This album was actually recorded live with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and was the first LP to be recorded by Decca in their Phase4 Stereo format.
Maybe someone has guessed by now, but for others who are having trouble, try these extra details.
Their first hit in 1962 was called 'Go Now', the singer/guitarist Denny Laine.
The new singer/songwriter/guitarist that joined the band in '66 Justin Hayward.
The bass player John Lodge.
The double hit single, 'Nights in White Satin'.
Yes, it was the Moody Blues. And I am not at all ashamed to say that I have nearly all of their albums, the only exceptions are some of the compilation albums and the 'Christmas' Album they released in 2004. I haven't even listened to that one but the idea of it makes me shudder. Sorry to all the guy's in the band but just the thought of my favourite band making an album of Christmas songs, words cannot describe my disappointment.
Not a bad career length for the Moodies as a recording band, their first hit in 1962 and their last album in 2004 (that's as far as I am aware), some 42 years as a recording band. I have heard that the Rolling Stones are supposed to hold the record as the longest running recording band and if that's true then the Moodies must come a very close second.
It was around the same time that I really started to listen to Pink Floyd. Although I remember that Clare had 'Atom Heart Mother' back in England, it wasn't until later that I started to collect their albums, starting with the all time classic 'Dark Side of the moon'. There's an interesting story about the recording of that album, the engineer was a guy by the name of Alan Parsons, someone whose own projects at a later date also became part of my collection. Anyway it seems that Alan was offered either a flat fee for his work, or a percentage. Unfortunately for Alan he decided on the flat fee, as DSOTM has been one of the biggest selling rock albums of all time, I'm sure he would have ended up with a lot more money if he had taken the percentage option.
After leaving Queensland at the beginning of '75 I moved to Western Australia and through new friends I met there I was introduced to other bands and music. It was there where I first heard of the 'Alan Parsons Project' when a friend called Jackie played their first Album 'Tales of Mystery and Imagination'. Well, right from the start I liked the music and already having read most of the books by Edgar Allan Poe, I was aware of the story-lines behind each of the songs. It was from that point that I started to collect each and every album.
It was also in Perth, where I first heard other bands and recording artists, such as ELO, Chris de Burgh and Phil Collins, most of which I heard for the first time on local radio stations. I remember the first time I heard 'Don't pay the Ferryman' be CdB, I was driving in my car and once again through my reading I knew that the ferryman referred to was 'Charon' who took the dead over the river Styx into the underworld of Greek myths. I found the song haunting and just had to have it and once again I was hooked, there was someone else I had to add to my collection.
The same could be said for Phil Collins with his single 'In the Air Tonight', however I must say that I lost interest in his music as time went by because I thought it became to commercial.
It seems that it is always when I move and meet new people that I discover, what is for me, new music.
My next move was back to Queensland, but this time to the SE corner near the Capital Brisbane. Here over the next 20 years music from a variety of different genre's came my way. It was here where I discovered the so called 'New Age' music and found it something I really enjoyed.
OK, let me mention just a few from my collection that have some meaning or particular enjoyment and why. There is no particular order here, as something comes to mind, I'll throw down a few words.
'Songs From Distant Earth' by Mike Oldfield. This album is the one that has been played the most since I transferred my entire collection on to iTunes on my Mac. The book by Arthur C Clarke by the same name, is one of the books by him that is part of my (much diminished) library that I have here in Thailand. Mike Oldfield wrote the music after reading the book himself and sent the recording to Arthur, who was very happy with Mike's musical interpretation. For me, it is just one of those albums I can listen to over and over again. Many nights I have had it on auto-repeat, listening to it in my sleep. Have a listen sometime, maybe you will like it too.
'Solid Gove' by Gove Schrivenor. I first heard the album 'Shady Gove' a great number of years ago and made it part of my collection but I think that was back in the days when I used to collect cassettes and after a time, as all well played cassettes do, it died. From that time on I tried to find it again but never could. Then a couple of years ago I found 'Solid Gove' at Amazon's and noted that it had all the original tracks from 'Shady Gove' plus a number of other tracks. So, of course I bought it and welcomed Gove back into my collection. My favourite track, according to my most played song-list on iTunes is 'Cocaine', played since getting this computer some 58 times. I can't sing myself, although sometimes I hit it right and one time when singing along to 'Cocaine' received a complement on my singing from a friends ex-wife.
Loreena McKennitt Rather than mentioning just one CD I have to talk about Loreena. The first time I heard her beautiful voice I had just walked into a record shop in Brisbane. The moment I heard her, I had to buy the CD so I stepped up to the counter and asked for a copy of what was playing. The shop assistant told me that was her only copy and another customer had asked to listen to it and she pointed hi out to me. Without any hesitation, I walked up to him and asked him if he was going to buy it, telling him that if he wasn't, I would and if he was, no problem I would just order a copy for myself. Well, he was going to buy it, so I had to wait a little while before I got my copy. The CD in question was 'The Visit'. Since then I have added another four of her CD's to my collection. Just got iTunes to start playing 'The Visit' as I write this.
I feel I am very lucky, as I managed to see Loreena in concert a couple of years ago in Brisbane and she was every bit as good live as on her recordings. If you've never heard her, she plays the harp and sings Celtic songs that she has found throughout the world. Do yourself a favour and take a listen.
'Moody Blues' probably my favourite band. I like all the albums I have of their's, so much so that I would find it hard to choose one as the only one to keep if I was faced with that choice. I do however have a particular favourite track. It comes from one of the earlier albums 'To our Children's, Children's Children', the track, 'Candle of Life'. I just love the strong piano part and find it very soul uplifting. I also like very much the snippets of poetry found on the early albums too. Such as 'The Balance' from 'A question of Balance', 'The Word' from 'In Search of the lost Chord', 'The Dream' from 'On the 'Threshold of a Dream' and so on. . . .
I again feel I am lucky, as I went to the very first concert that the Moodies played in Australia. It was in 1984 (took them a while to get there) at Festival hall in Brisbane. I also saw them again in 1987 when they came to Brisbane a second time.
'Pink Floyd' another band where I wouldn't be able to write about just the one album. My collection does not include everything they've done, as it only starts with 'Ummagumma' but then carries on through to the last couple of albums completed after Roger had left the band. As far as I know, Pink Floyd have only toured in Australia the one time and because I felt it would be unlikely that they would tour again, I bought tickets to both their Brisbane concerts. Luckily for me, as the laser show on the second performance was far better. It seems that they only had the Argon laser going the first night so all the laser effects were just blue/green but on the second night the Krypton laser was firing as well, so we had the full multicolor laser show.
Lighting was by one of the world's best concert Lighting Designer's Marc Brickman. How do I know that, well at the time I was working as a Nightclub Lighting designer and salesman but that's yet another story. I am still waiting for the release of the DVD version of the 'Pulse' Concert filmed over a number of nights at The Royal Albert Hall in London (I think). Great concert, fantastic lighting, great band, the ultimate in psychedelic rock.
I think maybe I will stop here and write some other stuff on this subject later, as I could probably sit here for the next 24 hours writing about my love of music.
So watch out for more later, that is if you are interested of course. Basically I am writing for myself and if someone out there likes to read my dribble, well here on my web-site you will find plenty, as nearly every day I think of something else I want to put down in words.