#SaturdaySongs No.6 – All Right Now

I didn’t know it at the time but when I wrote Summer of ’69 back in February I was, in a way, starting what has become this new series of #SaturdaySongs. I followed it up with a companion piece – Born to Be Wild(ish) – in August, and with today’s song I am in effect completing a trilogy about the days when I was a mere 16 years old.

In those previous posts I described how I worked for the first time through the long school summer holiday in 1969, saving up to buy a motor scooter, and how this opened up a time of freedom and enjoyment for me. I described joining the local scooter club and going on long weekend rides – this took me through the winter of 69-70 and right through the summer of 1970. I also joined the local youth centre in Dover, which was based at a place called Centre 365. As well as running youth nights the Centre also provided support for the needy and the homeless. It was a great place to be at that time and, as one of the managers was a friend of my father it felt like home for me. If you’ve read Summer of ’69 you’ll know that Dad left home at the end of the week in which I bought my scooter, and I think my younger self was looking for somewhere welcoming where I could just enjoy myself, away from the new responsibilities I had taken on as the ‘man of the house’ supporting Mum.

Today’s song is this:

This was released in May 1970. It spent 16 weeks in the UK charts but never actually made it to the top: it reached as far as no.2, where it stayed for 6 weeks. Five of these were behind Mungo Bloody Jerry, the other behind Elvis in his latterday bloated crooner days. Even back then the British public couldn’t be trusted to make the right choices! But the song was the soundtrack to my summer that year, and whenever I hear it – I play it often – I’m taken back to those days. For me, 1970 was the only year in a five year spell in which I had no public exams at school, so the pressure was off a lot. The school’s own exams were much better! It was the year when England failed to defend the World Cup, but I stayed up late on many nights watching the matches being broadcast live from Mexico – it was the year of Gordon Banks’ wonder save against the great Pele, and of the amazing semi-final between Italy and West Germany that seemed to go on forever, and finished 4-3 to Italy, with Franz Beckenbauer playing with one arm in a sling. To this day, that stands as the best game I’ve ever seen, for drama. Well, so my increasingly hazy memory tells me, anyway.

You’ll see that the performance I chose to share was from Free’s appearance at the Isle of Wight Festival. This was arranged as a British answer to the legendary Woodstock, which had taken place the previous year and had helped change the face of live rock music performance in a way that had hitherto been unknown. The IoW Festival was promoted well in advance, and a mate and I hatched a plan to go to it. Like most plans dreamed up in our youth, however, it fell apart in spectacular fashion, along with the friendship. Thinking about it, I’ve long preferred indoor events anyway – the acoustics are better and I don’t like huge crowds!

The success of All Right Now is credited with getting the band their spot in the Festival, at which they played to over 600,000 people. Astonishing numbers, and you only get a small sense of that from the video. It was the song that gave them their chart breakthrough too and the album from which it came – Fire and Water – which was their third of six studio albums in their four years together, was their most successful. Forget the sales figures: it is one of the few albums which has enjoyed the ultimate accolade of having been bought by me on vinyl, cassette and CD! I still play it regularly – it is a brilliant blues-rock album, and has stood the test of time well over the 46 years since its release. Wow! Where did that time go?

The joys of that summer were, sadly, never to be repeated for me. Later that year Mum sold the family home and moved us back to where she had spent her childhood, and the geography just didn’t work any more in respect of the scooter club or Centre 365. Still, it was one of the best summers I’ve ever had – it was all right then and it’s still All Right Now 😊

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25 thoughts on “#SaturdaySongs No.6 – All Right Now

  1. Sorry to hear that your father left your family in 1970. In September 1970 I had to go to Dover-Calais and back to get a work permit stamped. I had a job in Manchester and I was too homesick to go back to Denmark and enter the U.K. again, so I chose that solution. I felt very lonely on that long trip but I managed to get in in good order . I ought to write a post on all this

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  2. Having an older brother and several older cousins meant that although I was the irritating littlest at 9 years old that summer I do recall it – the football, the music playing by the pool as I splashed and the older sunbathed and generally looked as cool as they could. Later I would shun Gary Glitter, The Bay City Rollers, The Osmonds et al and keep listening to the good stuff and it actually turned out that by the time I was 15 I was considered mysterious and cool (actually I was gauche and shy) because my taste in music was not mainstream teenybopper.

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    • Being that age in those days you did well to avoid falling into the weenybopper trap, I applaud you. Before his later fall from grace Gary Glitter was actually quite fun. I once saw him as part of a charity show, singing I Love You Love to Princess Margaret. Quite a showman. Pity about the rest though.

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      • Dark skeletons he has …. I imagine it was self-prophesying in some sense given the age of his squealing audience. But I can imagine he was a great audience pleaser and I would have loved to have seen that show …. PM lapped it up, I’m sure!

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      • Sadly, those times have now been shown to have had many with dark secrets. After the pop world it is now football that is in the news. It was a great show, c.1975ish. At the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, where the Royal Box is above stage right. He knelt on one knee and serenaded her – was fun at the time!

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      • Oh Gosh … I imagine I will catch all of this when I arrive back in Europe later this week. On a lighter note my eldest daughter’s best friend is Roddy Llewellyn’s youngest daughter …. the M word is verboten in his company!!! 😂

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      • Are you coming back here, rather than France? If so it will be hard to avoid, as it seems to be growing as a story by the day. Four police forces now looking at allegations, probably more to come out as they get working. Hasn’t Roddy lightened up a bit since she went to meet the ‘choir invisibule’? 😂

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      • Roddy is possibly the funniest and most irreverent un-PC person I have ever met. I think the embargo is in deference to his wife who actually didn’t know anything about his affair and legendary toyboydom when they met having spent her life in Russia and Paris! I’m flying to England on Thursday night for 12 days then back to France for 10 and spending Christmas in England and New Year in the chunnel! I like to keep people guessing …. as for the news – I’m thankful you have prepared me for what is obviously going to be unpleasant …..

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      • Ah, now I understand. He had the non-PC reputation as well as the playboy one back in the day. Would probably have got on well with the DoE I imagine. Your schedule sounds hectic but will be a lot of fun, especially the way you’ll no doubt be describing it. Sorry to have mentioned that news, but I guess it depends which paper you read. I’m a Times man (don’t you know 😂) and it’s stayed in their sports pages. But I expect the Sun, Fail and Distress are splurging it everywhere and blaming it on the EU. Ah, take that back – BBC tv news has just led with it!

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      • We can rely on Auntie! I read the Times in England (actually I subscribe to it here but generally only read the headline articles to make way for all the other garbage US and French I insist on reading too) …. Christmas will be fun, I’ll be frazzled and I promise I’ll write it up a storm!

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  3. Ditto ditto ditto Oh my goodness, I have the album – had it on vinyl too – played until it would play no more (thank goodness for cds). I spent that summer working in the Isle of Man. I can’t even begin to describe that summer, but thanks for the memories! 🙏🏻

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  4. Great stuff, Clive. I was 13 late in 1970 so hadn’t hit the music thing yet. But the football bug had bitten hard. That World Cup was probably brilliant anyway, but for me it represents the very highest peak of sporting drama and excitement. And it was in colour! The matches … Pele’s genius (remember the wonder dummy that didn’t lead to a goal? The Banks save? Himself and Bobby Moore exchanging shirts?) The Beckenbauer in a sling semi-final … England’s rise and fall … and to cap it all Carlos Alberto’s wonder goal in the final …

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    • Thanks, being 4 years older does give me a slight advantage there! remember all of that too, it was a wonderful footy feast, and so many memories it’s worthy of a post on its own. Maybe, one day ……

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