Here in England we have now enjoyed our so-called ‘freedom day’ but, as I said last week, this makes me rather nervous. There are many who are far better qualified than I telling us that this is too soon, and that removing most of the restrictions when a new variant is spiralling out of control may not be the most intelligent thing to do. But when was intelligence ever associated with this government? A number of other countries have expressed their concern that we will be exporting it to them by opening up, and I can see why. We have just had a week when daily new infection rates have averaged over 43k, including two days when the rate was more than 50k. Hospitalisations of Covid patients are 38% higher than a week ago, and the NHS is facing ever-increasing pressure. Our recently appointed Secretary of State for Health, Sajid Javid, has been so keen to prove his own forecast of 100k daily cases correct that he has caught it himself, and is now to be known as Sajid Covid. This gave rise to the usual parade of incompetence when the PM and Chancellor were both pinged by the notifications app, but claimed they didn’t need to self-isolate as they were part of some mythical trial of a new approach. It took them all of 2 hrs 37 mins to realise that this was a bad move, and the u-turn duly arrived, at record speed even for this lot. So, what have I been doing amidst all this doom and gloom and what could I choose for this week’s theme? Well, at times like this, there is only one thing for it: crank up the dial to 11 and play loud music, so that’s what I’m doing for you this week.
As most of these date back to the Sixties and Seventies – my favourite period for music – I have played some of them before, either as part of this series or in other posts. I offer my usual lack of apology: having been played by me before doesn’t prevent great songs from being shared again! Let’s get started:
I noticed that the people who uploaded that have a hammer and sickle in their logo: I hope that doesn’t mean they were involved in the recently revealed efforts by Russia to install Numpty Trumpty as US President. The song was written by the wonderfully named Mars Bonfire (who also had a less wonderful real name: Dennis Edmonton). Mars/Dennis is Canadian, so this may have had something to do with the album it was on – Steppenwolf’s 1968 eponymous debut – reaching #1 in Canada, as well as #6 in the US and #59 in the UK. As a single, this also reached #1 in Canada, as well as #2 in the US and #30 in the UK. As the video shows, the track was featured in the movie Easy Rider, which is still one of my all time favourites, though I admit it looks a little dated nowadays. This is one of the best driving songs I know, 53 years after it was released.
My next tune was released a couple of years later:
If Steppenwolf didn’t clear out all of the cobwebs in your head, that one should have finished off the job! Released as a single in August 1970, ahead of the September 1970 release of the album for which it was the title track, this reached #4 in the UK and #61 in the US. The album fared better, becoming the band’s first UK #1, and peaking at #12 in the US. This has since been called the ‘birth of heavy metal.’ I bought the album with my birthday money that year. Needless to say, my Mum hated it!
Proving that. for me, 1970 was a good year, here’s another of that vintage:
That was released as a single on 5 June, 1970, on the same day as the Deep Purple In Rock album. It wasn’t included on the album, but it was added to the 25th anniversary remixed version in 1995 and has been included on several compilation albums. It reached #2 in the UK singles chart, which is still their highest rating to date, and got as far as #66 in the US. The album was #4 here and #143 in the US. The band’s catalogue lists 21 studio albums, which have somehow produced a total of 28 compilations across various markets. Add another 43 live albums to these for the full picture!
This next one comes from 1974:
That was the opening track on Bad Company’s debut album, which was named after its title track: Bad Company. Oh, and the band’s name, too. The album was released in June 1974, and reached #3 in the UK and #1 in the US. This was the first single taken from it, peaking at #15 in the UK and #5 in the US. Hopefully, as this was an official video, it won’t suffer any copyright issues: that live performance is stunningly good, and shows why many consider Paul Rodgers to be the best male vocalist in rock music. I’m inclined to agree with them.
This next one may come as a bit of a shock to anyone who only knows Rod Stewart from his disco or crooning days. These guys knew how to rock:
After Steve Marriott left the Small Faces to form Humble Pie, the three remaining members were joined by Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood, from the Jeff Beck Group. They released four albums in a three year spell, and there was a lot of cross-pollination with Rod’s solo albums, as his career was taking off in a big way at the time. This was on their third album, A Nod’s As Good As A Wink…To A Blind Horse, which was released in November 1971, and got to #2 in the UK and #6 in the US. Stewart and Wood wrote this song, which was released as a single the following month, peaking at #6 in the UK and #17 in the US. This was another album that I bought and played a lot, and which also wasn’t one of my Mum’s favourites.
In a piece of total self-indulgence, I thought I’d also include this version, which was recorded in 1993 for Rod’s Unplugged…And Seated album. In this performance, he gets out of his seat a bit:
You can’t keep a good song down, can you! I love this version: it is two guys who had been friends for around thirty years at the time, enjoying making music and each other’s company. The album’s title comes from a joke Stewart made during the recording about Stay With Me being difficult to perform while sitting down. It reached #2 in both the UK and the US, but I don’t recall any of the tracks being released as singles.
After that bonus, which I’m not counting towards the quota of six songs that I allow myself as normal for these posts, here is today’s final song, which is much later than the others in this set, but no less fun for that:
One of the best rock music videos ever made, in my view. The Darkness are a band that have never taken themselves too seriously and have been all the better for it. I’m pleased to see they have a new album on the way, and are planning a tour if circumstances permit. This was on their third album, Hot Cakes, which was released in August 2012, nearly seven years after their previous offering: a gap which was largely due to the addiction problems which had beset the band’s lead singer and songwriter, Justin Hawkins. It reached #4 here in the UK and #43 in the US. This was also released as a single but doesn’t appear to have charted anywhere – in fact, whilst their albums since then have all attained high chart positions in the UK and have hit the charts in several other countries, including the US, they haven’t had a hit single since 2006!
Did I say that was the last one for this week? I told you a porkie! I noticed when I started writing this that it was #66 in the series, so I couldn’t really leave this song out, could I? The only problem was choosing which of the many versions I should give you. It was a close run thing with Chuck Berry but I decided on this one:
The song was written in 1946 by Bobby Troup, and has been recorded by – among others – Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Chuck Berry, Manhattan Transfer, Depeche Mode, and John Mayer. The Stones’ version is the opening track on their eponymous debut album (UK version), which was released in April 1964 and was a UK #1, also reaching #11 in the US. As far as I can tell, this song’s only release as a single was in Australia, where it peaked at #9 in January 1965.
That’s all for this week, folks. I hope I haven’t done too much damage to your ear drums but there are times when loud music is needed, and this feels like one of those. I’ll be back next Tuesday with some more music and a further update on what Boris Bodger and his chums have been up to. Until then, I hope you stay safe and well. Take care 😊