Rick and Mike look back forty years for Obscuropean Friday.
Now that it’s 2015, it’s time for Mike and me to re-visit our favorite tracks from 1975! I’m sending this a day earlier than usual, because in the midst of our move, internet is intermittent. So, keep this note for 48 hours and find us and all of our fun selections on Friday evening.
I have hinted at this before, but in all the years that Mike and I have done a 40-year highlights as our January show, I’ve always been playing some music that reached me later than the year we celebrated. 1975 is the first year’s collection whose entire contents were known and loved by me in that year. The big difference is Wigwam, who began releasing music in Finland in the 1960s, but I never heard them until the summer of ‘75 when Virgin Records in England put out “Nuclear Nightclub,” as well as a solo album by their former bass player, Pekka Pohjola. I was instantly on my way to becoming the Finn-atic I am today. So, nestled amongst my many selections for Friday, January 9th will be songs from those two life-changing albums.
But of course, the whole play list reads like a who’s who of my life: Hatfield and the North, GONG, Steve Hillage, Kevin Ayers, Caravan, Alan, Hull, Strawbs, Wigwam, Pekka Pohjola, Peter Hammill, and Van der Graaf Generator!
Hatfield and the North: I still hear from listeners who remember that there was once an album divider in a record store called Caper’s Corner (an early sponsor of my radio pursuits). Said divider called Hatfield and the North something like “the greatest band in the world.” I might still have difficulty arguing with that point of view, but there are a few contenders. (Oh, I put the divider there!)
All of you know my lifelong connections with GONG. Many tours, CDs, friends, and of course our memorable wedding as part of the global GONG family in Amsterdam in 2006. They have so many great albums, but solo releases were just beginning in 1975. Something from the amazing GONG album YOU and also a track from Steve Hillage’s first solo album, Fish Rising.
Kevin Ayers: Well, I’d seen him play with the Soft Machine opening for Jimi Hendrix in 1968 and vowed to get everything any of them ever released. I was a big fan of Kevin’s in 1975, but we wouldn’t meet for a few more years and then we became good friends in the 90s. Like all of his fans, I still miss him, but his tunes will always bring cheer!
Caravan: Still recording, and just announced that they’ll be cruising the high seas on the YES cruise this year. If you dock stateside, boys, it’d be great to see you again in the middle of the country!
Strawbs: In December of 1975, The Strawbs played a magnificent concert at Kansas City’s downtown Lyric theater. For many years, it stood as one of the best concerts of my life. It’d still be on that list, of course, but has been eclipsed a few times. . . . I have an audience tape of their show in Denver a few days later. As Dave Cousins introduces the next song, he says being in Kansas City gave a whole new meaning to the song, “Out in the Cold.” Years later, in my home, Dave said he had no memory of any previous trip to Kansas City!
Alan Hull: About twenty years ago, I wrote to Alan and said that of my top ten favorite singers, he was the only one I hadn’t worked with or met. I offered to book a tour of this country’s cafes, cabarets, clubs, cathedrals, and living rooms. He was especially keen for the living rooms! He was so excited about coming over and touring in his own name, not with Lindisfarne. I got a nice handful of fans who agreed to be promoters, and a few clubs in the Northeast, ready for a tour in November, 1995. Alan then called me and asked if we could postpone for three months. That way, he could record a new album and have it available as merchandise along the way. Hard to dispute that thinking, so I said, “Alan, we’ve waited 25 years – what difference could another three months make?” Alan and his son-in-law, Dave Denholm made a little video for me to share with the promoters, showing Alan and Dave in live and acoustic settings as well as intermissions in Lindisfarne shows. Then I got the word that Alan had indeed finished the album, and upon going home to celebrate, he died that night, the U.S. tour undone.
I wrote about Wigwam and Pekka Pohjola up above, so that only leaves Peter Hammill and Van der Graaf Generator. I still remember wishing the singer would be quiet and just let the band play. I felt that way for several years and ten albums. Then, one day, I realized that Peter’s was the greatest voice I’d ever heard, and he’s made many albums since that Epiphany! Aside – I’ve seen Peter 32 times, in 20 cities across 5 countries. 1975 saw two important releases for Peter. Nadir’s Big Chance was his fifth album, and presented a 16-year-old would-be rock and roller named Rikki Nadir. Nadir’s Big Chance, which implores you to “smash the system with a song” was often cited in the rise of Punk, especially in England. Later that year, after a several-year hiatus, Van der Graaf Generator re-formed and released the first of a new trilogy of fantastic albums, Godbluff. I’ve sequed the opening tracks of both albums together to cap off my portion of the show.
No telling what goodies Mike will bring to the table — our interests are like spokes in a wheel – never quite in tandem. That’s why we mesh so well and one of the things (besides music) that keeps listeners coming back.
Friday, January 9th, from 7 to 9 PM here in Kansas City, tune in to 90.1 FM, KKFI. Everywhere else in the world, you faithful listeners can find us at https://kkfi.org . When it’s 7:00 here on Friday evening, it’s 0100 GMT on Saturday. Hope that helps you find us for a fun 40th!
In February, we’ll be back to showcasing new releases. February 13th. In the meantime, I hope you teach your ears some lovely new tricks! Happy listening throughout!