Year of the Cat – Al Stewart – 1976

January 1, 2017

year_of_the_cat_-_al_stewartFor over 50 years, Al Stewart has been a part of the English music scene. He’s best remembered for his 1976 hit, Year of the Cat.

al stewart fax

  • Alastair Stewart, born in Glasgow but growing up in Dorset, England, became an integral part of the British folk revival of the 60s and 70s.
  • In 1965, Al bought his first guitar from Andy Summers (a long time before Police was even thought of) but traded it in for an acoustic guitar when he was offered a weekly slot at a Soho coffee shop. He went on to compere at the Les Cousins folk club on Greek Street, where he played alongside Cat Stevens, Van Morrison, Roy Harper, and Paul Simon.  He and Paul used to flat together.
  • Al’s best known for his 1976 hit single Year of the Cat, the title song from his platinum album of the same name; and for the 1978 follow-up album Time Passages which also went platinum.
  • Al played at the first-ever Glastonbury Festival in 1970.
  • Since his 1967 debut album Bedsitter Images, Al has released 16 studio and three live albums. [Editor’s note: his latest live album, Uncorked, is tremendous and showcases his wonderful guitar skills.]
  • Al has, in his 51 years in the music industry, worked with some of musical greats such as: Alan Parsons, Jimmy Page, Richard Thompson, Rick Wakeman, and Tori Amos.
  • Since 1976, Al has lived in Los Angeles. He’s well-known for writing lyrics that tell the tales of characters and events from history.

the year of the cat fax

  • Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, Year of the Cat was released in July 1976 and is the title track of Al Stewart’s third album.
  • It was written by Al and Peter Wood – keyboard player for a number of bands and artists including Pink Floyd.
  • Year of the Cat peaked at #8 on the US singles chart and #31 on the UK singles chart.
  • Two versions of the song were recorded; the 4:38 length single version and the 6:40 album version.
  • The song’s title referred to one of the twelve signs of the Vietnamese zodiac. It corresponds to that of the Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac but, at the time of the song’s release, the most Chinese year was the Year of the Rabbit – Al thought that didn’t have quite the same ring to it and so went with the Vietnamese Year of the Cat.
  • Year of the Cat appears in the film version of Running with Scissors (2006).
  • Year of the Cat lyrics.

year of the cat – al stewart – 1976 – video – short version

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Sweet, Sweet Love – Russell Morris – 1971

December 11, 2016

sweet-sweet-love-russell-morris-1971Our friends from the northern end of the rock may not have heard this song before but down the bottom end, Russell Morris’ Sweet, Sweet Love is a treasured part of our 70s playlist.

 russell morris fax

  • Aussie singer, Russell Morris began his musical career in 1966… and is still going strong – in fact, of his 14 studio albums, the highest charting is 2014’s Van Diemens Land.
  • In the late 60s and 70s, Russell had five top 10 singles on the Australian charts.
  • Russell’s debut solo single was the almost seven-minute The Real Thing.  It was released in March 1969 and produced by the legendary Molly Meldrum.
  • On 1 July 2008, the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) recognised Russell’s iconic status by inducting him into the ARIA Hall of Fame.

sweet, sweet love fax

  • Sweet, Sweet Love was written and recorded by Australian singer Russell Morris.
  • It was the first single from Russell’s debut album Bloodstone.
  • Released in June 1971, Sweet, Sweet Love peaked at #7 on the Australian charts – Russell’s fourth top ten single in two years.
  • Russell once said he originally wrote Sweet, Sweet Love for John Farnham who turned the song down saying ‘it takes too long to get to the chorus’.
  • Sweet, Sweet Love lyrics.

sweet, sweet love – russell morris – 1971 – video

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Rockabilly Rebel – Matchbox – 1979

November 25, 2016

matchbox-rockabilly_rebel_sEnglish rockabilly band Matchbox – Major Matchbox in Australasia – formed in 1971 and still active.  Possibly their best known hit is ’79’s Rockabilly Rebel.

matchbox fax

  • Matchbox formed in Middlesex, England, in 1971.
  • Still active today, the band has had various line-ups but two, Jimmy Redhead and Fred Poke have remained throughout.  Steve Bloomfield, who wrote a number of their hit songs, has been with the band since 1976.
  • Matchbox appeared in the 1980 film Blue Suede Shoes which detailed the revival of 1950s rock ‘n’ roll music scene at the time.
  • Matchbox’s biggest hits include Rockabilly Rebel (1979), Midnite Dynamos (1980), and a cover version of The Crickets’ When You Ask About Love.  The latter was their only top five hit.
  • In Australasia, Matchbox was known as Major Matchbox because an Australian band had beaten them to the name.
  • In recent years the band has been playing live throughout Europe, especially in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Finland and Sweden.
  • In all, the band has released 11 albums, a number of those compilations.  Their last true studio album was Coming Home in 1998.  Their last single was from their 1982 album, Crossed Line – it was produced by Kirsty MacColl.

rockabilly rebel fax

  • Rockabilly Rebel was written by Steve Bloomfield and recorded by Matchbox.
  • It featured on the band’s self-titled 1979 album, Matchbox; Major Matchbox in Australasia.
  • Rockabilly Rebel peaked at #18 on the UK singles chart.
  • Rockabilly Rebel lyrics.

rockabilly rebel – matchbox – 1979 – video

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Leon Russell 1942 – 2016

November 14, 2016

leon-russellLeon Russell died in his sleep in at his home in Nashville, Tennessee, on November 13, 2016, at the age of 74, his wife said in a statement on his website. In 2010, he underwent surgery to stop leaking brain fluid, and he suffered a heart attack in July 2016. He was recovering from heart surgery.

Elton John, who had once been Russell’s opening act, said “He was my biggest influence as a piano player, a singer and a songwriter.”  On hearing of Russell’s death, he said “My darling Leon Russell passed away last night. He was a mentor, inspiration and so kind to me.”

Click here to read the New York Times press release.


Leonard Cohen – 1934 – 2016

November 11, 2016

leonardLeonard Cohen has passed away, aged 82.  Read Rolling Stone Magazine here

Can’t Get Enough – Bad Company – 1974

November 6, 2016

Bcant-get-enough-bad-company-1974-single-coverad Company, an English band with a great pedigree had their biggest hit in 1974 with their first single, Can’t Get Enough.

bad company fax

  • When English band Free split in 1973, singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke enlisted the talents of Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs and King Crimson bassist Boz Burrell to create Bad Company.
  • Add the management talents of Led Zeppelin manager, Peter Grant, and you got a winning combination.
  • Bad Company released 12 albums in all, the last in 1996.  The first three, released in ’73, ’74, and ’75 all made it into the top five in both the UK and US album charts.
  • Their best known singles, Can’t Get Enough, Good Lovin’ Gone Bad, and Feel Like Makin’ Love, remain on high rotate on classic rock radio stations across the world today.
  • Over the decades the band has gone through a number of incarnations and a number of hiatus’s.  The latest line-up, since 2008, features the original band members excepting Boz Burrell.  Although, it was recently announced that, for their latest tour (supporting Joe Walsh) Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes would be standing in for Mick Ralphs.

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  • Can’t Get Enough was written by Mick Ralphs.
  • It was recorded in November 1973 and released in August 1974 on Bad Company, the band’s second album.
  • Can’t Get Enough is Bad Company’s biggest hit reaching #5 on the US charts and #15 in the UK.
  • It is, arguably, the band’s most popular song, although Feel Like Making Love must come a close second.
  • Can’t Get Enough lyrics.

can’t get enough – bad company – 1974 – video

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Without You – Harry Nilsson – 1971

October 14, 2016

nilsson-without-you-1971As great as Harry Nilsson was at song writing, he didn’t write the two hits he’s best known for, Everybody’s Talkin’ and, this week’s song, Without You.

harry nilsson fax

  • Harry Edward Nilsson III is usually known simply as Nilsson.
  • Born in Brooklyn in 1941, he became one of the 70s great singer-songwriters.
  • nilsson-1Nilsson’s grandparents were circus performers.  His father left his home when he was very young and he had an upbringing characterised by poverty.  Because of the poor financial situation of his family, he started work as a young teen.  He worked initially at the Paramount Theatre in Los Angeles. When he theatre closed in 1960, he applied for a job at a bank, falsely claiming he was a high school graduate on his application (he only completed ninth grade).  He had an aptitude for computers, however.  Banks were just beginning to use computers and so good was he at his job that, even after uncovering his deception regarding being a high school graduate, the bank retained him.  He worked on bank computers at night, and in the daytime pursued his song writing and singing career.  By the mid-60s, he’d worked with Phil Spector and Little Richard, and had songs Glen Campbell, Fred Astaire, The Shangri-Las, The Yardbirds, and others.  Despite his growing success, Nilsson remained on the night shift at the bank.
  • nilsson-3Of interest is that Nilsson achieves his significant commercial success without ever performing major public concerts or undertaking regular tours.
  • Nilsson is best known for singles Everybody’s Talkin’ (1969), Without You (1971), and Coconut (1972).  Only the latter was actually written by Nilsson.  Nilsson also wrote Three Dog Night’s hit One (1968) and the Monkees’ hit, Cuddly Toy.
  • Nilsson released 16 albums, including four soundtracks.
  • Nilsson won two Grammy Awards; Best Contemporary Vocal Performance, Male in 1970 for Everybody’s Talkin’, from the movie Midnight Cowboy, and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male in 1973 for Without You.
  • In 2015, he was ranked at #62 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time.

nilsson trivia

  • In the 70s, Nilsson lived at Flat 12, 9 Curzon Street, Mayfair, London – an apartment he often lent to friends while he was away.  During one of his absences, Cass Elliot stayed at the flat while she was performing at the London Palladium.  It was in Nilsson’s apartment that Cass died on July 29, 1974.
  • Just over four years later, The Who‘s drummer Keith Moon was staying in the apartment when he died.
  • Both singers were aged 32.  Nilsson, distraught over another friend’s death in his apartment, sold it to Pete Townshend.

without you fax

  • nilsson-2Without You  was written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger and first released on their 1970 album No Dice.
  • Without You has been recorded by over 180 artists – two artists having hit records with it; Harry Nilsson (1971) and Mariah Carey (1994)
  • Paul McCartney once described Without You as as “the killer song of all time”.
  • In 1972, writers Ham and Evans received the British Academy’s Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.
  • Hilsson’s version spent five weeks at #1 in the UK.  Mariah Carey’s version was based on Nilsson’s version and topped the charts in the UK and peaked at #3 in the US.
  • Without You lyrics.

without you – nilsson – 1971

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