Sunday, 6 November 2016

Music I Love - 'G'

We reach the letter 'G' in this occasional series of sounds that have made it through my speakers on several occasions. 'G' was not the easiest of letters of the alphabet, I have to say. In a musical sense anyway - both my daughter and granddaughter's names begin with 'G' so I don't have any aversion to the letter itself. But most of the music here is about singles more than albums.

We kick off with Gallagher and Lyle. Mainly for their laid-back performance on their hit single Heart On My Sleeve. They came together in 1959 and played in a number of bands. Then came a period of writing songs for other artists under contract to Apple Records. In 1970 they were founding members of McGuinness Flint whose hits When I'm Dead And Gone and Malt and Barley Blues are also worthy of a mention. The duo Gallagher and Lyle graced stages and studios from 1972 and Heart On My Sleeve came from their fifth album as a duo. They split in 1980. Graham Lyle went on to form a music publishing company and wrote songs for a veritable who's who of artists. He wrote both What's Love Got To Do With It and We Don't Need Another Hero for Tina Turner. Benny Gallagher also kept busy as founding director and first chairman of PAMRA, the Performing Artists Media Rights Association and with a long associaltion with Paul McCartney's School of Performing Arts in Liverpool. He also had a seven year stint with The Manfreds, touring much of the world with five original members of Manfred Mann and including both Paul Jones and Mike D'Abo as singers.

Art Garfunkel merits a solo spot - even though I'm fairly sure he will crop up again as part of a relatively successful duo when we get to the letter 'S'... Most people who are old enough will remember the theme song from the animated film Watership Down which he recorded. Bright Eyes hit the No.1 spot in 1979, four years after his first solo No.1, I Only Have Eyes For You.

At one point in my teenage years I was an avid Motown fan and Marvin Gaye was one of my most-listened to performers, particularly for his duets with the likes of Kim Weston and Tammi Terrell. By the Seventies I had moved on to more progressive music, but I can still get lost in the rhythm and the sheer craft of songs like It Takes Two, You're All I Need To Get By, I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Too Busy Thinking 'Bout My Baby and The Onion Song.

Crystal Gayle - my God, the hair... here for just three songs: Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue and Talking In Your Sleep which both charted and the non-charting River Road, which she sang as guest on The Muppet Show and I just loved it!

From one Gayle to another. Michelle Gayle started off in Grange Hill then Eastenders and moved from there to creating records. I have to admit that Sweetness was the only one that I bought, but it was one of those that I used to play a lot.

The Diva, Gloria Gaynor. Ok so I Will Survive became an anthem for defiant women everywhere, but it was the first single Never Can Say Goodbye five years earlier that stood out amongst lots of insipid female voices of the time. It reached No.2 and was followed by another three - a cover of The Four Tops hit Reach Out I'll Be There, All I Need Is Your Sweet Lovin' and a cover of Les Paul and Mary Ford's How High The Moon. Then nothing for just over three years from 1976 to 1979 when the afore mentioned First I was afraid... hit the No.1 spot.

The J Geils Band are included for their No.3 smash Centrefold which tells the sweet tale of a young man who had been in love with an innocent girl at school and carried this image until he saw her in the centre spread of a soft porn mag. Upon which his dreams of her innocence turn to thoughts of lechery - (huh?) He is dismayed everyone can see her without clothes but now suggests going to a motel room where he can take them off in private... Tsk! Oh ok it's not a sweet song at all - but it did have a stunning video didn't it lads...? And in the midst of a load of emerging dreary songs with synthesizer backings it was a bit of a breath of fresh air.

Ok, I wasn't too much of a fan of the Peter Gabriel era Genesis, though me and my mate Alex Dyson went to Manchester Free Trade Hall to see them play live in the early Seventies. They were middle of the bill with Bell and Arc (by far the best act of the night) on first and with the truly excruciating Van der Graaf Generator as top of the bill despite half emptying the place within five minutes... We had met someone we knew and promised them a lift home so had to stay. They meanwhile, sitting somewhere else in the theatre, long before mobile phones, were also hating every moment but stayed because they didn't want to leave us waiting for them in vain... Tickets for the concert had been a massive...30p !!!

Genesis I remember particularly for an electric organ with a gizmo that allowed a chord to be played and then dropped through the scale like a slide guitar and (highlight of their act) Peter Gabriel smashing his maracas (could have been nasty!) on his mic stand during a bit where the stage was lit by flashing strobe lighting. All the little bits that made them rattle could be seen flying out in jerks. But I had a few later singles like I Know What I Like (the B side has the electric organ effect mentioned above) and Follow You Follow Me and the excellent Land Of Confusion that I felt deserved far better than the No.14 it stalled at.

I thought I'd include Gerry Marsden here instead of under the letter 'M' because Gerry and The Pacemakers was the name of the group. They were one of the Liverpool Beat groups, all three of their first three singles How Do You Do It, I Like It and You'll Never Walk Alone shooting straight into the charts at No.1. It had never been done before. Quite apart from the massive impact of You'll Never Walk Alone there were many lovely songs that he released such as Ferry Cross The Mersey, I'm The One and my particular favourite Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying. I remember playing You'll Never Walk Alone with Creeping Bentgrass in Croxteth Park one summer's day in either 2004 or 2005 when we had a full field of people all waving their arms overhead. It was magical. There was even an Everton fan asking for it twice. Well... that was the number of fingers he had up...

Gerry kept coming back too, re-recording his old hits as charity records following the 1985 Bradford stadium fire and the 1989 Hillsborough disasters. We saw him with one of many Sixties Revival shows in 2002, seen here with the rest of the cast. L-R: Dave Berry, Mike D'Abo, Gerry Marsden, Mike Pender and Brian Poole with (out of shot) Anne and Maureen Nolan from The Nolans on backing vocals. A terrific night!

Debbie Gibson was an ear-worm from my daughter during the 1980s when all she played for a while was Electric Youth and We Should Be Together. Many years after my boss mentioned her as having been in a film on TV (some ridiculous creature thing Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus - Whatever...) "My God, I remember her!" I said. "Well don't look her up at work," he said with a laugh, "there's some rather dubious photos..." Dear me...

Girls Aloud. Look, I'm nothing if not eclectic, ok? Whilst totally failing to understand why anyone would want to cover their buttocks with a massive tattoo, somehow I still managed to get quite into singles such as Sound of the Underground, Love Machine, No Good Advice, I'll Stand by You, The Show, See the Day, and Something Kinda Ooooh. (Shakes head... illogical...)

Not so this, of course...

...recorded Almost Live at the Cricklewood Rainbow...

And of course I mustn't forget the early 1960s Easy Listening genre. Ron Goodwin was master of the film soundtrack and two of my earliest CD purchases were his. Each contained two of his Studio 2 albums for Columbia. They were Adventure and Excitement and Fire and Romance. I also have several singles and even a few 78 rpm records of his.

His themes for films 633 Squadron and Where Eagles Dare are amongst my favourites and I recall with great affection going to see him conduct a large orchestra at the Grand Theatre, Blackpool, where he treated us to a full night of film music.

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