The Song For Today

ABOUT The Author And Historian Ron Gattway

The author and historian Ron Gattway
Eye am an author/historian/publisher/satirist. Eye was born in Fulford Maternity Hospital because there was no room at the inn. Eye am the product of a mixed marriage: my mother was a woman, and my father was a man, so I had a difficult upbringing. Eye am also a racist, as eye am particula More...



Here is an extract from 'The Song For Today' by Jimmie Oliver [£9.99]

                                     JANUARY 1ST

                        Whole Lotta Love by C.C.S. (1970)

                        from the album C.C.S.

On this date in 1984 Alexis Korner died at the age of fifty-five. Korner was hugely influential in the development of British-based blues which soared into orbit in the mid-1960s. Artists such as the Rolling Stones, Cream, and Jimmy Page all had an association with this respected pioneer. Korner eventually found chart success of his own when his combo, entitled CCS (or the Collective Consciousness Society) released an instrumental cover version of Led Zeppelin's anthemic 'Whole Lotta Love'. It was very ironic that although the mighty Zeppelin flatly refused to ever issue singles in Britain, one of their tunes would become the theme music to the BBC chart's flagship television programme, 'Top Of The Pops'!

{Also on this date, the Euro currency is introduced in 1999}


                                                 JANUARY 2ND

                        Dazed And Confused by Led Zeppelin (1969)

                        from the album Led Zeppelin

This day marks the anniversary of the birth of Richard Cole in 1946, Led Zeppelin's notorious hell-raiser and tour manager. While most road managers might have sought to curb the excesses of their musicians, Cole chose to encourage them. In the company of John 'Bonzo' Bonham and Jimmy Page, Cole left a trail of destruction in many a five-star hotel suite, while the unholy trinity of Cole, Bonzo, and the ex-wrestler Peter Grant also left one or two individuals with black eyes and worse. It is therefore appropriate that the song for today should be arguably the standout track from Zeppelin's seminal debut album. Jimmy Page's composition, originally titled 'I'm Confused', was a fine example of the blending of blues with (heavy metal) rock.

{Also on this day, 66 soccer fans are killed in the Ibrox disaster of 1971}


                                                 JANUARY 3RD

                        Everybody Hurts by REM (1992)

                        from the album Automatic For The People

No this book is not about all things Zeppelin, tempting though it is to recall at length the wonder that was the fearsome foursome. Nevertheless, this date represents the birthday of the group's ace bass player John Paul Jones in 1946. After Zeppelin crash landed in September 1980, Jones went into relative obscurity, but returned to the semi-limelight in the early 1990s when he collaborated with the equally formidable REM. One product of their work together was the heart-rending ballad 'Everybody Hurts', from the outstanding 'Automatic For The People' collection. The combination of Jones's string arrangements and Michael Stipe's lyrics have granted this song the status of timeless classic.

{Also on this date, Alaska becomes the 49th state of the United States in 1959}


                                                 JANUARY 4TH

                        World Leader Pretend by REM (1988)

                        from the album Green

Not REM again? Yes, well it is the birthday of Michael Stipe in 1960. It was probably the excellent 'Green' album that effected the group's transition from cult status to international supergroup. I am particularly keen on the long player's Side Two, including such tracks as 'Hairshirt' (akin to Led Zeppelin's early acoustic numbers) and also 'I Remember.....California'. However, the best item on the album is perhaps on Side One, namely 'World Leader Pretend'. Michael Stipe has always been a serious individual who has something worthwhile to say, and in this number he sings of an individual (himself?) confronting personal demons: "I sit at my table and wage war on myself."

{Also on this day, Phil Lynott, the leader of Thin Lizzy, dies in 1986, aged 36}


                                                 JANUARY 5TH

                        Rapture by Blondie (1980)

                        from the album Autoamerican

Chris Stein, Debbie Harry's long-time other half and song-writing partner, was born on this day in 1950. In the autumn of 1980, Blondie reached the summit of the British singles charts for the fifth time in less than two years, with their cover of the reggae classic, 'The Tide Is High'. Its follow-up 'Rapture' fared less well in the UK, though it did sneak into the Top Five in early 1981, yet it was a courageous attempt by a white group to bring the new sound of rap music into the mainstream. 'Rapture' hails from the sorely under-rated 'Autoamerican' album which producer Mike Chapman described as Blondie's Sergeant Pepper, though critics begged to differ. If you ever see the colourful video promo of 'Rapture', watch out for the appearance of the goat. Apparently, it proved to be most reluctant at fulfilling its walk-on part.

{Also on this date, Mal Evans, the roadie and friend of the Beatles is shot dead in LA, aged 40}


                                                 JANUARY 6TH

                        Shine On You Crazy Diamond by Pink Floyd (1975)

                        from the album Wish You Were Here

The late Roger 'Syd Barrett' (born on this date in 1946) only contributed to the first Pink Floyd album and partially to the second one, yet the legend that is Syd hung like a shadow over his former bandmates for many years thereafter. It could be argued that 'The Dark Side Of The Moon' (or parts of it) and 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' (from the 'Wish You Were Here' follow-up) were written with Syd in mind. 'Shine On' is certainly a giant of a song. Split rather pretentiously into nine parts (well, it is the Floyd), 'Shine On' is very much a period piece, typical of early and mid-seventies progressive rock, when lengthy, meandering tracks were in vogue. By a strange quirk of fate, a bald, overweight Syd appeared at the EMI Abbey Road studios during the recording of this song about him. Doing a fine impersonation of a vagrant, the erratic Syd explained to his horrified friends that his weight was due to the large pork chops he had in his fridge. He wasn't known as a crazy diamond for nothing.

{Also on this day, jazz musician, John 'Dizzy' Gillespie dies in 1993, at the age of 75} 


                                                 JANUARY 7TH

                        Babylon System by Bob Marley And The Wailers (1978)

                        from the album Survival

This day marks the birth of Earl 'Wya' Lindo, a keyboardist in Bob Marley's backing group, The Wailers. The song that I have chosen for today emanates from the 'Survival' album. Rather like much of the content from this long player, 'Babylon System' is an uncompromising black consciousness track which denounces the First World (or the west) for its ill treatment of the Third World, of which Marley was a leading spokesman. The musical accompaniment to this superb Marley effort makes for pleasant listening, but fellow Babylonians be under no illusion, the marvellous Marley doesn't sugar coat his lyrics. Steeped in biblical imagery, Robert Nesta states that "we've been taken for granted much too long" and urging the listener to "tell the children the truth."

{Also on this date, the Vietnamese seize Phnom Penh from the Khmer Rouge in 1979}


                                                 JANUARY 8TH

                        Sound And Vision by David Bowie (1977)

                        from the album Low

By 1976 David Bowie, re-invented as The Thin White Duke, was languishing in Berlin, coping with the after-effects of hard drug use. Well, what do you expect when you play with Iggy and Lou? Nevertheless, although Bowie's creative energy was almost stifled by his extra-curricular habits, he did re-emerge with the help of such tracks as 'Sound And Vision'. This song is a particular favourite of mine. I like the guitar chords, drums, and the synthesizer. It's all fairly repetitive stuff, but when you create a catchy sound, then why go off at a tangent? The single also struck a chord (no pun intended) with the British record buyers who helped Bowie return to the Top Three of the hit parade in early 1977. I like the origin of this item. Bowie, laid low by one or two substances, was literally waiting for the gift of sound and vision to return to his consciousness. Ably assisted by the guitar of Carlos Alomar, this is an under-rated Bowie classic that ought to be played on the anniversary of his birth in 1947.

{Also on this day, the trial of the 7 Watergate 'burglars' begins in 1973}


                                                 JANUARY 9TH

                        The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore by The Walker Brothers (1966)

                        available on the album The Walker Brothers’ Story

Scott Engel was born on this day in 1943. Along with Gary Lees and John Maus, he lit up the singles charts with one or two classic pop songs. Most noteworthy is 'The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore' which highlighted the excellent vocal harmonies of the Walker Brothers. This pop ballad emulated their previous success with 'Make It Easy On Yourself' by reaching the summit of the British singles chart. Unquestionably one of the great singles of the 1960s, this tear-jerker has been described fittingly as "majestic" by the former Radio One disc jockey Mike Read. The great bespectacled one wasn't too wide of the mark on this occasion. What a pity that Scott and his companions could not build upon the success of this 45. Anyhow, one note of warning ought to be issued: Before indulging yourself in this track, get a couple of tissues out.

{Also on this date, the UN headquarters in New York officially open in 1951}


                                                  JANUARY 10TH

                        The Killing Of Georgie (Part I And II) by Rod Stewart (1976)

                        from the album A Night On The Town

This track never quite garnered the acclaim it truly deserves. There may be a couple of possible reasons for this. Firstly, it narrowly failed to reach the coveted Number One position. After all, in cricket it is suggested that people remember centuries considerably more than scores of 98 or 99. Secondly, the success of 'Sailing' also served to eclipse what I consider to be the superior song. Furthermore, the consensus of opinion is that once Rod parted company with the Faces and acquainted himself with Uncle Sam, the quality of his recordings declined. I question this theory. Anyhow, 'The Killing Of Georgie (Part I And II)' is a moving story of a gay friend who meets a violent and early death in New York. I regard this beautiful but sad record to be marginally Rod Stewart's best-ever piece. On the anniversary of the old mod's birthday in 1945, you could do worse than play this composition.

{Also on this day, Cuban troops start to withdraw from Angola in 1989}


                                                 JANUARY 11TH

                        Jeepster by T Rex (1971)

                        from the album Electric Warrior

This single fell just short of the Number One slot in the UK singles chart, but in my humble opinion it is more deserving of this coveted position than the four T Rex tracks that did arrive there. This date is the anniversary in 2003 of the death of Marc Bolan's closest musical collaborator, percussionist Mickey Finn, at the age of 55. 1971 marked a transformation in the fortunes of T Rex, as Bolan and Finn metamorphosed from the cult hippie Tyrannosaurus Rex into the radio-friendly T Rex. While Marc and Mickey basked in the new-found glory of T Recstacy, their former champion John Peel was horrified at their new pop sound. Pop or not, 'Jeepster' (an unusual love song) is one of the great singles from the era of glam rock.

{Also on this date, the state of East Pakistan is re-named as Bangladesh in 1972}


                                                 JANUARY 12TH

                        Tragedy by The Bee Gees (1979)

                        from the album Spirits Having Flown

January 12th is the anniversary of the death of Maurice Gibb in 2003, aged 53. It is consequently appropriate that the song for today is 'Tragedy' by the Bee Gees. After scoring two chart-toppers in Britain in the late 1960s, Australia's finest singing family had to wait a full decade before returning to the top of the hit parade with the dance-floor classic, 'Night Fever'. For a few years, the brothers Gibb could do no wrong. Their renewed popularity was a result of their association with the 'Saturday Night Fever' soundtrack which effectively re-ignited their flagging fortunes. Cashing in on this success was the single 'Tragedy', taken from the 'Spirits Having Flown' album, which was undoubtedly one of the best Number Ones of 1979.

{Also on this day, Agatha Christie dies in 1976, at the age of eighty-five}


                                                 JANUARY 13TH

                        Night Boat To Cairo by Madness (1979)

                        from the album One Step Beyond

Originally included on the 'One Step Beyond' album, it was a full six months before 'Night Boat To Cairo' became the fourth hit single from the debut album of Camden Town's finest septet. Today marks the date of birth of their hugely likeable vocalist, Graham 'Suggs' McPherson. In the group's pre-fame days, Suggs was fired from the band when he deemed a football match more important than attendance at group rehearsals. Fortunately for us all, common sense soon prevailed, and Suggs could be found on our screens in the spring of 1980 dressed in British Eighth Army uniform with his six buddies as they clowned their way through the video of this excellent song. This track was the featured cut from the 'Work Rest And Play' EP, although also worth checking out is the tune 'Don't Quote Me On That' which remains one of the great undiscovered pop songs.

{Also on this date, Marshal Tito becomes the President of Yugoslavia in 1953}


                                                 JANUARY 14TH

                        Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana (1991)

                        from the album Nevermind

Apparently 'Teen Spirit' is/was an American deodorant. Only Kurt Cobain, the nerd-cum-rock star could conceive such a song title. Featuring Kurt's remarkable tongue-in-cheek lyrics, not to mention a light and shade dynamic, reminiscent of Led Zeppelin, Nirvana brew up a storm, which became the staple diet for many a student disco for the ensuing decade. This opening track from the 'Nevermind' album launched grunge rock's best act into the big league of superstardom, for which they were scarcely prepared. On the birthday of Dave Grohl, take a listen and marvel at Dave's drums demolition. This track remains one of the great anthems of the 1990s.

{Also on this day, in 1972 Margrethe II becomes Denmark's first Queen since 1412}


                                                 JANUARY 15TH

                        Without You by Nilsson (1971)

                        from the album Nilsson Schmilsson

This momentous ballad is steeped in tragedy. Firstly, the lyrics by themselves reveal someone in a state of darkest despair. This was indeed the case for the composer, Pete Ham (a member of the group Badfinger), who would take his own life a few years later. Secondly, the vocalist (Canada's Harry Nilsson) also met a premature end on this day in 1994, aged 52, after years of hard living in the company of Keith Moon, Ringo Starr, and John Lennon. Although something of a bad luck charm, this single was one of the best transatlantic Number One hits of 1972 courtesy of Nilsson's impressive vocal performance.

{Also on this date, Los Angeles plays host to the first Super Bowl in 1967}


                                                 JANUARY 16TH

                        Killer Blow by Sade (1986)

                        from the Absolute Beginners movie soundtrack

Sade came to prominence in the mid-eighties with a number of excellent hit singles, such as 'Smooth Operator' and 'Your Love Is King'. This particular track is quite obscure, but it makes a welcome appearance on the soundtrack to the heavily-panned 'Absolute Beginners' musical film. Few soundtrack albums can come close to 'Absolute Beginners' for quality, as it yielded efforts from such luminaries as David Bowie, Jerry Dammers, Ray Davies, the Style Council, and this undiscovered gem from Sade. I had the supreme good fortune to pick this superb soundtrack album up for something like 99p in a Bradford record store about fifteen years ago. Irrespective of the patchy film, this was money well spent. For the record, the elegant Sade was born on this day in 1959.

{Also on this day, the Shah of Iran flees Iran and goes into exile in 1979}


                                                 JANUARY 17TH

                        Wonderland by Paul Young (1986)

                        from the album Between Two Fires

The immensely likeable Paul Young was born on this date in 1956. Luton's greatest soul singer enjoyed huge success with his first two albums 'No Parlez' and 'The Secret Of Association'. Both albums produced a string of hit singles, mainly cover versions of such quality as Jack Lee's 'Come Back And Stay' and Hall And Oates's 'Every Time You Go Away'. Young's third album, 'Between Two Fires', was less commercially successful, which is regrettable considering that it possesses such fine tracks as 'Wasting My Time', the up-tempo 'In The Long Run', and this majestic attempt at Betsy Cook's 'Wonderland'. Released as a single, 'Wonderland' failed to penetrate the Top Twenty, but Young does tremendous justice to a song that includes such lines as: "Are your eyes so tired of searching that they can't see love?/ And is your heart so full of locks and keys, that it can't open up?" Superb stuff.

{Also on this date, the first air strikes of Operation Desert Storm take place in 1991}


                                                 JANUARY 18TH

                        Pride (In The Name Of Love) by U2 (1984)

                        from the album The Unforgettable Fire

Martin Luther King Day is commemorated in the United States of America each January on the third Monday of the month. The charismatic King became the subject of a number of posthumous pop records, including Marvin Gaye's 'Abraham, Martin, and John' and this stunning classic from Ireland's leading export, U2. 'Pride' was the second Top Ten hit single in Britain for Dublin's fab four, helping to launch them towards two decades of world domination. Bono and his buddies were so struck by the legend that is King that their 'Unforgettable Fire' offering also included another King-inspired track on Side Two, namely 'MLK'. 'Pride' features an awesome intro from guitarist Dave 'The Edge' Evans, ably assisted by the drums of Larry Mullen. Anybody who scoffs at the output of 'eighties popular music needs to listen to this record. 'Pride' is an apt title, because the authors ought to be proud of their end-product.

{Also on this day, Martin Luther King Day is observed in all 50 states in 1993 for the first time}


                                                 JANUARY 19TH

                        Dedicated To The One I Love by The Mamas And The Papas (1967)

                        from the album The Mamas And The Papas Deliver

One of the two Papas, Denny Doherty, passed away on this day in 2007 at the age of 66. For the uninitiated, the Mamas and the Papas were Abba in a California, 'sixties flower-power setting. Actually, unlike Sweden's finest foursome, they did not write all of their own material, in spite of the best efforts of John Phillips. The repertoire of cover versions included 'My Girl', 'Twist And Shout', and 'Dancing In The Streets'. However, nothing quite compares with their version of 'Dedicated To The One I Love'. Supremely beautiful vocal harmonies contribute to a stunning love song. Rather like Fleetwood Mac and Abba themselves, the west coasts's great singing quartet mixed business with pleasure as they fell in and out of love with one another. Internal disharmony decreed that the Mamas and the Papas, like most of their members, would be a short-lived wonder.

{Also on this date, Miami, Florida, receives its only ever snowfall in 1977}


                                                 JANUARY 20TH

                        Let There Be More Light by Pink Floyd (1968)

                        from the album A Saucerful Of Secrets

On this day in 1968, the original Floyd performed ensemble for the last time at Hastings in Sussex. The tale goes that on a subsequent outing, the question was posed as to whether they should pick up Syd Barrett for the gig, but there was now no enthusiasm for deploying the services of the group's front-man and wayward genius. Barrett did however receive musical assistance from his former colleagues as he proceeded to release a couple of characteristically quirky albums. Back in early 1968, while Syd became surplus to requirements, Dave Gilmour was recruited to the unenviable task of filling the void of Syd. Before such a changing of the guard took place, Barrett contributed a formidable guitar part to the excellent opening track of the group's second long player, 'A Saucerful Of Secrets'. 'Let There Be More Light' is a magnificent opener, with a semi-sinister and spooky sound which set the tone for some of the Floyd's subsequent space rock, 'progressive' recordings.

{Also on this day,in 1981 Iran releases 52 American hostages}


                                                 JANUARY 21ST

                        Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack (1991)

                        from the album Blue Lines

Robert Del Naja of ace nineties group Massive Attack was born on this day in 1965. Massive Attack provided their own huge assault on the charts with the album 'Blue Lines' from which the single 'Unfinished Sympathy' was drawn. This composition formed part of the soundtrack to the excellent sexual thriller 'Sliver', starring Sharon Stone and Tom Berenger. 'Unfinished Sympathy' represents all that is good about dance music - cool, mysterious, and with an irresistible rhythm. What a pity that the Beatles or the Rolling Stones could never produce anything remotely wondrous as this tune, which is definitely a strong candidate for the best song of the 1990s.

{Also on this date, Elvis's manager, 'Colonel' Tom Parker dies in 1997, aged 87}


                                                 JANUARY 22ND

                        The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle by The Sex Pistols (1979)

                        from the album The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle

By the time that the film 'The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle' had hit the cinema screens in 1979, Johnny Rotten had long since departed the Pistols in acrimony in January 1978, while scarcely twelve months later his buddy Sid Vicious took his leave of planet earth. The title track to the film and its soundtrack features stand-in vocal performances from amongst others Tenpole Tudor, who enjoyed a cameo role in the movie alongside that other notorious punk rocker, Irene Handl. I like to depart from conventional wisdom (such as it is) by expressing my admiration for 'The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle' album and in particular for this tune which surpasses anything that the Pistols had previously offered. Steve Jones provides an excellent guitar sound and the vocals are reminiscent of Sham 69 in which the group proceed to unseat such dinosaurs as Elton John, Rod Stewart, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, and Mick Jagger, the "white nigger". Today is the date of birth of Pistols manager and entrepreneur, the inimitable Malcolm McLaren, born in 1946.

{Also on this day, Russian dissident, Andrei Sakharov is arrested in Moscow in 1980}


                                                 JANUARY 23RD

                        King by UB40 (1980)

                        available on the album The Singles Album

'King' is another tribute to the American civil rights leader, tragically gunned down in the spring of 1968. It was fitting that a multi-racial band should sing his praises. The track 'King' was coupled with 'Food For Thought' as a double A-side for UB40's two-pronged assault on the British charts. Both the background and the outcome of 'King' make for an interesting story. Unlike many other so-called working-class heroes in the music industry, UB40 did not benefit from an art college or grammar school background. The only benefits that they benefited from were unemployment ones. Thus, starting out on the road to possible fame, the UBs had a shoestring budget with which to launch their musical career. Consequently, they were obliged to record their debut single in Bob Lamb's home-made studio, which also doubled up as his bedsit. This home-made reggae classic, along with 'Food For Thought', would become (for the Graduate record label) one of the great success stories of the independent record company scene, peaking at No.4 in the UK singles chart. On this day, bassist Earl Falconer was born in 1957.

{Also on this date, the Rock 'N' Roll Hall Of Fame inducts its first 8 members in 1986}


                                                 JANUARY 24TH

                        America by Neil Diamond (1980)

                        from the album The Jazz Singer (Soundtrack)   

Not to be confused with Simon And Garfunkel's magnificent song of the same name, 'America' is an epic recording from the hugely popular Neil Diamond, which reached the American Top Ten in 1981, having originally featured on the 'Jazz Singer' soundtrack. As well as carving out a successful singing career, courtesy of such gems as 'Sweet Caroline' and 'Forever In Blue Jeans', Neil Diamond also penned British chart-toppers 'Red Red Wine' for UB40 in 1983 and 'I'm A Believer' for The Monkees in 1967. Today marks the date of birth of Neil Diamond in New York, back in 1941.

{Also on this day, the first Apple Mac computer goes on sale in 1984}


                                                 JANUARY 25TH

                        Best Friend by The Beat (1980)

                        from the album I Just Can’t Stop It

If this book achieves nothing else, then I hope that it brings to the attention of the reader the fact that this effort from The Beat's debut album 'I Just Can't Stop It' is unarguably one of the great jangly guitar classics. Yes reader, if you haven't had the supreme good fortune to hear this song yet, then go and promptly acquaint yourself with it. The trouble for this record was that by the time that it was issued as the third single from The Beat's impressive long player, many record buyers were not inclined to buy a song from an album that they may already have possessed. On this the date of birth of the group's guitarist Andy Cox, this tune showcases his talents which re-surfaced when he and fellow Beat member David Steele formed The Fine Young Cannibals with Roland Gift. Sorry to shatter illusions folks, but this brilliant pop song far surpasses the La’s 'There She Goes'.

{Also on this date, Idi Amin seizes power in Uganda in 1971 from Milton Obote}


                                                 JANUARY 26TH

                        Johnny Too Bad by UB40 (1983)

                        from the album Labour Of Love          

We stay in Birmingham for this album track from UB40's hugely successful 'Labour Of Love' offering in 1983. This song, one of ten reggae cover versions on the long player, featured Norman Lamont Hassan on lead vocals. Rather like Chas Smash of Madness and Neville Staples of The Specials, Hassan was the versatile member who had a variety of musical roles in the eight-piece combo. Stepping forward to the microphone, Norman was helped by a fine keyboards sound evoked by Mickey Virtue. This record was one of a handful of compositions from 'Labour Of Love' which wasn't released as a single but which could easily have been. Nevertheless, this piece remains a key component of a project which revived UB40 after they had floundered for a couple of years. Today marks the anniversary of the birth of Hassan in 1958.

{Also on this day, Egypt and Israel establish diplomatic relations in 1980}


                                                 JANUARY 27TH

                        Fine Time by New Order (1988)

                        from the album Technique

This 'fine' tune hails from New Order's 'Technique' album. This opening track and the rest of the contents bear the hallmarks of the Ibiza club scene and represent a far cry from the group's previous work in Joy Division with the late Ian Curtis. To their credit, the formidable New Order had the ability to re-invent themselves in the enforced absence of Curtis, as the Mancunians were in the vanguard of the emerging indie dance scene. 'Fine Time' is a 'fine' example of the group's new-found discovery of club techno-rhythms. The song is truly infectious and stands favourably in comparison with any album opener in pop history. It does face a strong challenge for the accolade of the best song from the long player from 'Vanishing Point'. On this the anniversary of the birth of keyboardist Gillian Gilbert, why not check out the merits of these two tracks in particular.

{Also on this date, Germany first observes International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 1996}


                                                 JANUARY 28TH

                        Love Hurts by Jim Capaldi (1975)

                        from the album Short Cut Draw Blood

Traffic were a group that didn't quite deliver, in spite of the quality of its line-up. Instead of which, Stevie Winwood and Jim Capaldi both chose to forsake collective responsibility in pursuit of a solo career. Capaldi did not go on to scale the heights too often, though this pleasing cover version of an Everly Brothers' recording represented a welcome return to the Top Ten in the singles chart for a man who subsequently succumbed to stomach cancer on this date in 2005 at the age of sixty. The hit single 'Love Hurts' can also be found on Capaldi's album, 'Short Cut Draw Blood'.

{Also on this day, all 7 astronauts are killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986}


                                                 JANUARY 29TH

                        The Last Time by The Rolling Stones (1965)

                        available on the album Big Hits (High Tide And Green Grass)

Today marks the date of birth of Andrew Loog Oldham in 1944 in London, the young hustler who managed the Rolling Stones during the mid-sixties. The story goes that Oldham was so concerned by the group's reliance on cover versions to provide hit singles, including Lennon and McCartney's 'I Wanna Be Your Man', that he locked Mick and Keith in a room, promising only to release them from captivity when they had written one or two new tunes. Consequently, at the sixth time of asking, the Stones issued a single that was their own composition. Featuring the dual guitar sound of Jones and Richards, and complemented by a decent B-side entitled 'Play With Fire', 'The Last Time' was a landmark recording for the infamous five. Now that Jagger and Richards had dipped their toes into the pursuit of songwriting, this certainly wouldn't be 'the last time' that they would construct new material.

{Also on this date, Willie Dixon, the blues songwriter and musician dies in 1992, aged 76}


                                                 JANUARY 30TH

                        Tomorrow Never Knows by Phil Collins (1981)

                        from the album Face Value

Not long after the death of John Lennon, two of his songs re-surfaced as notable cover versions: the chart-topping 'Jealous Guy' by Roxy Music and this closing track from the debut solo album of Phil Collins. His long player 'Face Value' was a huge seller and deservedly so, as it is choc full of marvellous compositions. However, nothing quite packs a punch like this courageous cover of one of the holiest of holies from the Beatles' canon - the last item on 'Revolver'. Whereas Lennon's initial effort was trippy and laid back, Collins created a percussion sound which transformed the tune into a much more powerful and even sinister one. On this date of birth of Phil Collins, there are few greater compliments than to suggest that he was one of a handful of artists to enhance the quality of a Beatles song, while on an album that contains 'In The Air Tonight' and 'If Leaving Me Is Easy', to state that this is the highlight is praise indeed.

{Also on this day, British Paratroopers kill 14 civil rights marchers in Londonderry in 1972}


                                                 JANUARY 31ST

                        This Is Not A Love Song by Public Image Limited (1983)

                        from the album This Is What You Want…This Is What You Get

Today marks the date of birth of that nice, polite John Lydon in 1956. Finsbury Park's finest vocalist scored a huge hit single with this song which reinforced the fact that John's Public Image Limited project was a far cry from the Sex Pistols. Lydon never wanted to be constrained by thrashing through three minute covers of The Who and Monkees' tunes. He had much more to offer than this. This recording is a case in point, as Lydon and his new gang add a horns section to boost this worthy performance. It was indeed one of several tracks which far surpassed anything that the Sex Pistols had created. Devoting more than four minutes to hearing this composition is time well spent.

{Also on this date, the American embassy in Saigon is attacked in 1968}