Zine

- Forty Years Of Records -

In 1976 I started buying records. I kept a small notebook which I would write down the name of the record and the date I bought it. I thought it might be a good idea - 40 years to the day - to go over to the shelf, see if the records written down are still there and, if so, maybe play them and see what happens next...

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14th November 1976

Ringo Starr: Ringo's Rotogravure

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For my twelfth birthday my folks bought me the new Ringo Starr album. It had a gatefold sleeve and even came with a magnifying glass. I also got three blank cassettes for my birthday. I don't think I was that advanced yet to tape records from the family record player to the cassette deck (I remember it was a top-loading deck housed in wood) and I don't think Dad even had a "hi fi" unit set up in 1976. Instead, I would hold the portable cassette player up to one of the speakers of the old Pye cabinet. Alternatively, I had a radio/cassette player in my room and was able to tape songs off the radio on that.

Ringo's Rotogravure had his usual cast of famous best friends helping him, including all the other ex-Beatles (ex? funny that, JohnPaulGeorgeRingo will always be Beatles, no need to chuck an "ex" in front!) and I liked the first song "A Dose Of Rock And Roll" and maybe one or two more...maybe, but apart from looking at the Polaroid snaps of the musicians in the gatefold, I think I tired of this record pretty quickly. I was moving on from Ringo as I was about to head into High School. You don't suddenly turn to your first girlfriend and announce in your new low voice, "oh yeh, and my favourite Beatle is Ringo!"

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Sorry mum and dad. Sometime in the last decade of the twentieth century, I threw away your birthday present to me.

Where am I now with Ringo's Rotogravure? I'm not. Like most of the other early purchases I ditched and then bought again years later, I had this album back on the shelf but had never actually played it. So when I got Ringo's Rotogravure out to confirm why I got rid of it all those years ago, I couldn't play the album at all! It had a huge bend right across the face of the vinyl. Not like some warps where you can at least play the songs closer to the centre, this affected the entire album. Worthless! Into the recycling bin it went. And now there's room on the shelf for something else.

Reading about the album online, one interesting thing was that George and Ringo had a bit of a falling out because Ringo recorded a song of George's for the album and George wasn't happy with it and sued Ringo! The album was also partly recorded at Cherokee Studios in West Hollywood, where I recorded Come On Feel with the Lemonheads many years later. The owners of Cherokee, the Robb Brothers, spent half the time telling us stories from the Sixties (me = eager listener) and stuff like "Sammy Davis Jr recorded his vocals for 'The Candy Man' right where you're sitting" and "See that cupboard? Freddie Mercury and Divine made out in there one day". I must have missed "...and this is where Ringo's downfall began!"

I wonder where the magnifying glass ended up?


5th November 1976

Bryan Ferry: Let's Stick Together

Another Friday night in Civic. Another six dollars saved up to buy an album. Looks like I was running out of Beatles records to add to my collection so I decided to get the new LP by Bryan Ferry. Let's Stick Together was a big hit in Australia in 1976 and it made it all the way to the number one spot, as did the single of the same name.

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There was a lot to like on Let's Stick Together. Great versions of some well known songs like The Everly Brothers "The Price Of Love", the Beatles "It's Only Love" and the ye olde "You Go To My Head". There was also a lot I found a bit boring, like most of Bryan Ferry's original songs. I didn't know at the time they were re-recordings of songs mainly from the first Roxy Music album, Bryan Ferry's band, who had recently broken up (but not for long).

I used to love looking at the liner notes on records (still do!) (who doesn't!) and I noticed that the guitarist was Chris Spedding, who'd we'd seen recently on Countdown in the film clip for "Let's Stick Together" playing his trademark Flying V guitar. He was already slightly well known, looking all biker-tough, singing a song called "Motor Bikin'" back in 1975. It was probably because of his association with Bryan Ferry that "Motor Bikin'" finally entered the Australian charts in 1977, something it failed to do when it was first released.

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Where am I now with Let's Stick Together? To make room for new ones in my shelf, this was one of the albums that I got rid of sometime in the 80s or 90s. I still had the "Let's Together" single and the Extended Play EP, which had most of the other songs I liked. Then, a few years ago, when I saw the album in the five-dollar section at Egg Records in Newtown, I thought I should get it again. And I'm glad I did.

Listening to Let's Stick Together forty years later, I was surprised how much I enjoyed the whole album. It's been getting loads of plays! I love Bryan Ferry's take of Gallagher & Lyle's "Heart On My Sleeve" and I think "The Price Of Love" is the best version of that song. Chris Spedding really rocks on this one. Those Roxy remakes that I used to think were boring had now grown on me after repeated listens. The album reminds me a bit of Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti - new arrangements of other people's songs and some obscure originals, recorded over the course of a few years.


October 1976

AC/DC: Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

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A new AC/DC album about to come out was big news. Along with Skyhooks, these guys were local favourites of mine and they appeared on Countdown all the time. Their new single "Jailbreak" had a film clip of them playing on some huge boulders outside a jail and getting blown up. Cool! I attempted to take a photo of Angus Young off the TV one Sunday night but only managed to get a blurry close-up of his school satchel. I even started a 'magazine' in Sixth Grade called Wak Weekly - which stood for Wings AC/DC Kiss - but it had nothing to do with jerking off, something I didn't know about at age eleven!

They were also rebels and were constantly in the news about having altercations with the police, parents and town authorities over young girls, flashing their bums and being a bunch of ratbags whilst they toured around Australia. The first mention of this new punk rock thing in the media was only a couple of months away when the Sex Pistols said 'fuck' on British TV but, here in Australia, AC/DC were our version of punk (along with the Saints - whose "Stranded" single was also released in September 1976 - but that wasn't on my radar just yet).

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I didn't write it down in my diary but I reckon I bought the Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap album sometime in October. It was everything a young kid wanted to hear. Like listening in on older teenagers on a Saturday night chatting about girls and cars while they guzzled beers and cigarettes. When I heard "Problem Child" for the first time it struck a chord with me: That's me! I'm the problem child! It became my theme song, as I was about to enter High School and teenagerdom. My friends and I laughed our heads off when we heard "Big Balls" and wondered what on earth "Squealer" was about and the whole album seemed like a call-to-arms to run around and do something really naughty.

There was a coupon inside the album to write away and buy a Dirty Deeds songbook, which I did (my first ever mail-order!). I remember taking it away on the Sixth Grade school camp with me but I was too crap on guitar to play the chords so another boy bashed away on the gut string while a whole bunch of us yelled along. I stole a radio from a farmer's shed during the week and the drunk headmaster whipped me with his belt until I bled. I still have that scar on my thigh. I'm a problem child! Even the headmaster hates me!

A week after the school camp I went and saw AC/DC play at Ginninderra High School and it was a night that changed my life: playing music was what I wanted to do. I've written about that night right here but I've noticed a couple of errors since I wrote the story down in 2004. The AC/DC songbook didn't go missing (as it turned up amongst all my crap a few years ago) and it wasn't me that went to Homecrafts to buy the tickets to the show. It was my mum who ducked around the corner from the bookshop on the morning that the tickets first went on sale (hence nabbing me TICKET NUMBER ONE!).

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Where am I now with Dirt Deeds Done Dirt Cheap? So something odd happened on the way to the Eighties. Despite being a life-changer, I got rid of the album.

You what?!?

When punk and new wave came along in the next few years and I became obsessed with the Velvets, I went through my collection and ditched Dirty Deeds (along with Deep Purple's Machine Head, a live Joe Walsh album, a best of Steve Miller and three ELP albums). All of which, except for the Joe Walsh one, I regretted giving away and re-bought again.

Sometime in the mid 80s, when I realised that AC/DC weren't uncool anymore, I managed to find an original pressing of Dirty Deeds which looks and sounds like it didn't get played much. So it's a bit of a blessing in disguise I got rid of my copy as I'm sure if I still had it, it wouldn't sound too great. It got played quite a lot back in the late 70s.

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap is a very special album to me. We've been though a lot - together and apart. RIP AC/DC.

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22nd October 1976

The Rolling Stones: Stones (compilation)

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During the spring of 1976 an ad appeared on Channel 7, Canberra's only commercial television station, for a Rolling Stones compilation, simply called Stones. Eighteen songs PLUS a foldout poster for only five bucks. I had to get that!

At home, we already had the Big Hits (High Tide And Green Grass) compilation which was one of a handful of records my mum's brother Uncle Greg (or 'Uncle Grog' as I used to call him) had donated to us, and I used to sit there and look at the inner sleeve photos over and over, thinking what a cool band! That photo session is my favourite ones of the Stones - Brian Jones with his thick red corduroy pants and perfect pageboy haircut, Keith tuning his acoustic guitar with the granny glasses on, and Mick Jagger, lost in song, with headphones on singing into the studio microphone. I knew that the Beatles were from England but back then, with his affected Southern drawl, I thought Mick Jagger was American. He was pretty cool.

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As both of these records were compilations, there was a double up of only four songs so I wasn't wasting my money buying this new Stones collection. So on a Friday after school, I headed to a new record shop which was upstairs in the Garema Arcade, on the left hand side (opposite the Center Cinema), facing the courtyard. Was this the first home of Impact Records? It was darkly lit, with deep red carpet and had a lot of 'imports' of Dylan and the Stooges sealed in plastic sleeves so maybe it was.

The foldout poster - a larger version of the black & white photo of Mick with the red lips - went straight onto the wall and the record onto the player and I absorbed myself with a dozen 'new' Stones songs and the others I already knew. "Heart Of Stone", "Tell Me (You're Not Coming Back To Me)", "Ruby Tuesday", "The Singer Not The Song", "Poison Ivy". Great stuff, as I would say at the time.

So where am I now with Stones? Putting this record on forty years later I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. It hadn't been touched for decades. It's an Australian-only collection of early hits, cover songs and album tracks. A bit of a hodgepodge. It's like a fan-made compilation that somehow got a proper release. The quality of the mastering isn't great but that didn't worry me at all when I was a kid. And then they have added "Gimme Shelter" - which sticks out like a sore thumb as it is from a whole different era of the Stones. Such a powerful song. I wonder now if I knew I was singing along to "rape...murder!" back then. I can't remember.

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So when I pulled this compilation off the shelf, I played it over and over. Then I got out High Tide And Green Grass and played that. Then Rolled Gold got a spin. Then back to Stones. I had a whole day (or was it a week?) of Rolling Stones hit songs from the Sixties. I fell in love with them again. What a band! I'm sorry, Mick and the boys, all is forgiven!

You see, gradually over the years, I'd started to dis the Stones. Saying things like: "their album tracks suck", "Mick Jagger's lyrics are terrible", "they're a singles band", "Exile On Main Street is boring" and "what's with the tracksuit on stage?" Stuff like that. Of course I hold them in high regard - they are one of the greatest bands from the Sixties - and "Get Off My Cloud" is of my all-time favourite songs, but it's their stuff from the early Seventies onwards I really don't have much time for anymore. I prefer the Flamin Groovies.

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Every few years I would put Exile On Main Street on the turntable, lie down on the couch and try and understand why it's revered so much. No, nothing. I like a couple of the songs but it's not the version of the Stones that gets me going. So last year, I decided to put my money where my mouth is, and I took Exile (along with Sticky Fingers, Goats Head Soup and Let It Bleed) into Egg Records and sold it. I'll admit it now: I only really like their Sixties stuff (especially the Brian Jones era) and the singles from the first half of the Seventies (my sister Jane had the Made In The Shade compilation which I devoured). Of their Seventies albums, I did keep Black and Blue and Some Girls. You can only have so many records on the shelf!

They were true rock and rollers back in the Sixties. On the back of Rolled Gold it shows where each of the songs was recorded and you've got to give it to them: half of these classic songs were recorded while they were out on the road. Who wouldn't pass up a chance to record in Hollywood or at Chess Records in Chicago? But on your day off in the middle of a gruelling US tour? And to make it your next single? So while our beloved Beatles tinkered away on a song, sometimes for months, supported by a team of white-lab-coated EMI engineers, the Rolling Stones bashed it out, Take One or Take Three, now let's move on to "Satisfaction"!

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But that's why a lot of the music of the Sixties still sounds great. It was recorded and mixed quickly, with all sorts of little quirks left in that might have been 'mistakes' but they give it a freshness that has been locked into the grooves for all eternity. And when it comes to the Stones, it's Charlie Watt's drumming that has a whole lot to do with that. A sort of sloppy you don't get sick of.

Maybe running around on stage in a tracksuit ain't that bad.

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15th October 1976

Paul McCartney and Wings: Band On The Run

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I already knew this record extremely well before I bought it. My dad had the cassette and it got a lot of play in the family car. Band On The Run was also a mainstay in the 'back room' of family friends, the Flemings, at their home in O'Connor. This 'back room' was the bedroom of the eldest Fleming offspring - Keith - and it was your classic mid-70s teenage bedroom: walls painted black, patterned sheets hanging down from the ceiling, bead curtain into the bedroom and a very low coffee table with things on it a ten year old didn't know about yet. And there was an exotic looking plant that was coming along quite nicely thanks. Band posters adorned the walls and were a visual companion to the music: Hendrix, the Doors, Velvet Underground, Grace Slick, Zappa, the Stones and a cropped-haired and scary looking Lou Reed. My lifelong love of late-60s acid rock came from this period in 1975-76 when I soaked up the sounds, sights and smoke in that revered 'back room'.

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So it wasn't long before I was singing along to every song on Band On The Run which made it a quick decision when I saw this album in Homecrafts after school on a Friday evening. When I got home and discovered the inner sleeve with all the lyrics I was able to verify that I had the words right. So it was 'rabbits on the run' and not 'ravaged on the run' which a school friend thought it was. He's a clever muck that Macca because he plays all the drums and most of the other instruments along with fellow Wings, wife Linda and guitarist Denny Laine.

The front cover - who are all these unknown people caught in the spotlight? How odd. They're not in the band and they're on the cover! And what are all these travel documents to Nigeria? Picasso's Last Words? Leave me alone, Mrs Vanderbilt? And I thought John was the weird one!

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Where am I now with Band On The Run? Still a favourite album and it gets a look in every now and then. Like the supposed "greatest album" Sgt Peppers that has been challenged by Revolver and Rubber Soul in the Beatles canon over the years, likewise with Paul, Band On The Run has seen Ram and, for me, McCartney vie for the number one possie. In fact, I purposely didn't want to know about McCartney for years because in 1970 Paul sued the other Beatles and puts out a no frills home-recorded album! It must be crap I thought. But when I finally got around to getting this solo album I wished I'd bought it earlier. McCartney has become one of my go-to Macca albums and it has all these lo-fi treasures that always surprise. There's a song that's just drums and a bit of chanting! Paul McCartney: the first bedroom rocker.

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But back to Band On The Run. I still don't know who half the people on the front cover are but I did hear Michael Parkinson say on the telly he made a bet with Paul and that's why he's on the cover. I've got a spare copy these days in case the one I bought in the spring of 76 runs out of gas. And it hasn't yet. Unlike my first copies of Let It Be and Abbey Road the grooves haven't been worn down.

And I learnt a new word: suffragette.

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October 1976

The Sweet: Desolation Boulevard

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This one is a bit of a mystery. It's not mentioned in my 1976 Wings diary or written up in the little book of record purchases. But I've had it this the whole time, in my big shelf of records, pretty much unloved for forty years until only recently when I pulled it out and put it in the 'to sell' pile.

What I do remember is I did buy it off a fellow class mate of mine in sixth grade for about three dollars and I played it a few times but then it seemed to have turned itself into The Invisible Record. I didn't really notice it there amongst the Beatles, Bowie and Neil Young records that started to multiply like mushrooms in my record collection over the next few years.

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The Sweet were one of the big bands in the mid-70s that got played on the radio and Countdown. Someone had the Sweet Singles Album cassette down the South Coast. We'd all sing along to their hits like "Ballroom Blitz" and "Action", "Peppermint Twist" and their greatest single "Fox On The Run". So I ended up buying the Desolation Boulevard album from a friend because it had this song on it. I also remember liking "The Six Teens" and suffering through a boring drum solo but, apart from that, it wasn't a very memorable album. Not when AC/DC's Dirty Deeds appeared like a kick in the pre-teen balls a few weeks later and became my favourite album over the next few months.

Where am I now with Desolation Boulevard? I'm not. When I'd be flicking through the shelf and I came across it I'd think 'oh you're still here, are you?" Last year, when I was doing the occasional cull, I put it on the record player to check for scratches before I tried to sell it and got a surprise when "Fox On The Run" came on. It was a completely different version to the single! I put on the single to double check. Yep, that's the one I remember.

So down to the garage the album went. And it's still there.


6th October 1976

Gary Wright: Love Is Alive (single)

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After a physiotherapy session one Wednesday afternoon I bought this single by Gary Wright. Who is Gary Wright? Well, I knew who he was because his name is on the back cover of All Things Must Pass as one of the keyboard players. I'd pretty much memorised all the fine print on record covers back then!

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It's not written down in my book, but some time after this, I also bought Gary Wright's "Dream Weaver" single. When punk and new wave came along I got rid of the "Love Is Alive" single but I kept the "Dream Weaver" single. Gary Wright's schtick was ALL synthesizers and keyboards except for the drums, which were played by Jim Keltner or Andy Newmark. So if you see someone playing air guitar along with "Dream Weaver" they have got it wrong!

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Where am I now with "Love Is Alive"? When I put it on the record player tonight I could see why I got rid of it. It's no "Dream Weaver" which was a great song then and is a great song now. I know I must have bought "Love Is Alive" again from Ashwoods some time in the 1990s because it has a "2" written in pencil on the label in that large Ashwoods way. And it has been in the hit and miss "1970s" box ever since.


1st October 1976

Bryan Ferry: Let's Stick Together (single)

Click here to see it bigger An entire month after buying "Looking For An Echo" I bought my next record. A whole month? Slipping on the record purchases, hey Nicholas? Well, in early August I had a skiing accident and broke my leg so I was out of action for a while. I must have been on the mend by Tuesday 21st September because my younger sister Sara and I went and saw Chuck Berry at the Canberra Theatre. I remember a longhaired, tight teeshirt and flared denim-clad blues band called Red Cloud backed him and the whole audience sang along to "My Ding-a-ling". Oh, and that's me waving my crutches in the air to "Johnny B. Goode". Dad picked us up from Chuck's hotel around 3am. Jokes!

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All throughout September and half of October I'd been going into Civic for my tri-weekly physiotherapy session to help heal my leg and after one of these sessions, waiting for my mum to finish up working at the bookshop on a Friday afternoon, I hobbled around to Homecrafts to check out the singles rack.

And the winner is Bryan Ferry's new single "Let's Stick Together". I think it was #1 at the time. I loved it. Countdown was flogging it. 2CC and 2CA were as well. I had to have it. The tough tenor saxophone and meaty beat underneath the pleading lyrics about 'marriage vows' made this one hot song in the spring of '76. And Bryan Ferry's look was unlike everyone else's at the time. Neat black hair with a floppy fringe and evening dress. James Bond with a microphone.

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Bryan Ferry was no one-night-stand back then. The older kids at school had the early Roxy Music albums and Ferry's first solo album so I knew songs like "Virginia Plain", "Do The Strand" and "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall". But the big one was Roxy Music's "Love Is The Drug" which was a big hit in Australia in 1975. The other side of the record - a cruisy and atmospheric song called "Sea Breezes" - grew on me over the years but for a hyperactive eleven year old I didn't have the patience then to flip the single over.

Where am I now with "Let's Stick Together"? I play Roxy Music's "Love Is The Drug" EVERY time I dj and I think I've played "Let's Stick Together" only once or twice when I've had a 1976 night. Like Elton and Kiki's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart, I've heard it enough but on the shelf it stays.

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1st September 1976

Ol' 55: Looking For An Echo (single)

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Was there a Palings store in Canberra in the mid-70s? Was Homecrafts part of the Palings chain? Because there's a Palings ($1.25) price sticker on the Festival sleeve. I also bought a 'ukelale', harmonica and harmonica stand the same day (during the school holidays) so maybe it was a music store and not Homecrafts. Nevermind, with my purchase of the new single by Ol' 55 I helped get it to #9 on the charts! *

"Looking For An Echo" is my favourite of the four Ol' 55 singles I own. I used to sing along with all the lyrics and loved the story of the doo-wop guys reminiscing about the old days and how they nearly 'found their sound'. The b-side "Doin' Fine", written by bassist Jimmy Manzie, is a cool little rocker with some classic low-harmony singing. Yeah!

I always knew it wasn't one of Ol' 55's own originals and assumed it was a doo-wopper from the 50s but only found out recently - in June of this year when I was writing about my first Ol' 55 purchase - that "Looking For An Echo" was a cover, written by Richard Reicheg and originally recorded by Kenny Vance from only the year before in 1975, apparently the last 'doo-wop' song to hit the charts. What about "Eighteen With A Bullet" I hear you say?

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I got even more excited when I read that this until-now-mysterious Kenny Vance guy was the (uncredited) music supervisor to the Animal House movie, produced the soundtrack LP (including John Belushi's version of "Louie Louie") and Danny O'Keefe's American Roulette album. He's also that guy I have seen in a handful of classic Woody Allen movies. Well I never!

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Where am I now with "Looking For An Echo"? Still love it. Ol' 55's finest three minutes. Wouldn't turn red-faced if I was caught spinning it on the record player and singing along about the Moonglows, the Harptones and the Dells.

Warners in Australia have just released an Ol' 55 compilation and the original lineup has reformed for shows in November (Freddie "Skyhooks" Strauks will replace drummer Geoff Plummer who passed away in 2006). Go to the Ol' 55 facebook page for more info!

* Marcus "Young Docteurs" Flux confirms that there was a Palings store in Canberra (opposite the Civic Hotel) that sold both instruments and records.

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28th July 1976

George Harrison: Ding Dong (single)

Flicking through the singles at Homecrafts or Sound Cell I came across a George Harrison single called "Ding Dong". This is odd I thought. It's not a new release as the label says 1974. I'd never heard of the song before but it's one of the Beatles so I bought it. Click here to see it bigger

And quite a few years ago I either sold it or gave it to a friend who wanted it more than me.

It's a 'Christmas single' that actually did quite well when it came out, despite being a bit of a throwaway. An over-produced throwaway with about a squillion guitars all over it. The b-side "I Don't Care Anymore" is a self-described tune seemingly written and recorded on the spot especially to be the flip of "Ding Dong".

Where am I now with "Ding Dong"? Many years after I got rid of the single, I came across it again in a Salvos or Vinnies. Nostalgia got the best of me and it's back on the shelf - but I don't think I have played it until today, forty years later.


23th July 1976

The Beatles: Please Please Me

Skyhooks: This Is My City (single)

At the end of July my dad came back from a bookshop business trip to the US with a copy of the recently released Beatles compilation - a double album called Rock & Roll Music - which had a lot of their more rockin' originals and covers (including my fave "Bad Boy") spanning their entire output. I thought it was weird that the credits said the songs were from these LPs called The Early Beatles, Beatles Second Album, Beatles VI, Something New and Beatles '65 but I hadn't got my head around the fact that the US chopped and changed their albums up to 1966. What? More Beatles albums to buy?!?!

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So maybe this compilation was the inspiration for my next record purchase. I clearly remember standing at the racks in Sound Cell, which wasn't a very big shop at all, and umming and aahing over which record to get. It was a toss up between Hard Day's Night, With The Beatles or Please Please Me. The guy that ran the shop saw me in decision anguish and suggested I go back to the very beginning and and get the first album Please Please Me. I think this was the time he gave me a really cool green Sound Cell teeshirt - wish I still had that one! Click here to see it bigger

This was the first record I bought that was made before I was born and I sat there thinking about that for awhile. Would I enter a time machine and suddenly be Minus Age Two? Will I understand music made pre-1964? I have played this record to death over the years but I'm sure I had a whole decade away from it in the 90s. It's still unbelievable to think that the album was recorded in a twelve-hour session but these guys were tight and hungry by the end of 1962. I always thought it was funny that Ringo sang a song about "Boys" and Paul got his love for sappy show tunes off to an early start ("A Taste Of Honey"). This is an album where every song is a killer sing-along. It's bookended by two of the greats: Paul singing "I Saw Her Standing There" and John shredding his voice on "Twist And Shout".

Where am I now with Please Please Me? My original copy still plays okay but it has that archaic stereo mix I just don't want to hear now. I didn't notice the Left Channel Of Murk when I was a kid. The new mono reissue is the one that's been getting played these days. I could never tire of hearing the Beatles early brilliance. One of the greatest debut albums ever made - an essential classic.

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Meanwhile, a new Skyhooks single was played on Countdown the previous weekend, so just like last week when I bought All Things Must Pass, I raced around to Homecrafts and bought "This Is My City". Their most rockin' song so far, I really got into this one. The film clip had them playing on top of a Melbourne rooftop, looking like the popstars that they were! My favourite local band could do no wrong and I was gearing up to seeing them play (again!) in exactly one week's time.

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My diary tells me that on Friday 30th July I caught the bus into Civic after school and saw a double screening of A Hard Day's Night and Help! at the Boulevard Cinema and then walked around to the Canberra Theatre, met up with school friend Nigel Grainger, and we saw Skyhooks and Ol' 55 (on the opening show of The Brats Are Back Tour). I must have got some dinner at some stage but a detail like that is definitely lost in the foggy haze of Teenage Rock! I wrote in my diary: GREAT STUFF.

Where am I now with "This Is My City"? A good song but not one of their top shelf classics. It's got a tough guitar riff with the telltale 'Hooks guitar hooks and noodles throughout. Skyhooks' heaviest song so far. The other "A" side, "Somewhere In Sydney" is one of their jaunty, bouncy numbers and is about a girlfriend up in Sydney. It's still on the singles shelf!

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15th July 1976

George Harrison: All Things Must Pass

Elton John & Kiki Dee: Don't Go Breaking My Heart (single)

So here I am, aged eleven and a half, eight record purchases in, going for the big one: A TRIPLE ALBUM. I'd only ever known two double albums - the sunburst Jesus Christ Superstar and the Beatles White Album - so here I was making a big commitment to my new found love (records). I'd been eyeing off George Harrison's All Things Must Pass for months now. I remember standing in front of the H rack at Homecrafts, imagining I had magic powers that could reduce the triple LP down to the size of a matchbox so I could then easily slip it into my shirt pocket and whistle out of the store.

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I ended up buying it at my new favourite shop Sound Cell around the corner in Garema Place. It was my first 'special order' so I would be getting a brand new copy - not the well-pawed one at Homecrafts - and cheaper! I was gearing up for this one for quite some time because, according to my Wings Diary, I wrote on Friday 2nd July: "School. I ordered 'All Things Must Pass' from Sound Cell. Charlie Watts Birthday. 19th Nervous Breakdown." Then on the following page for Friday 9th July: "School. I won $10 voucher from ski place in Civic from Good Morning Club 2CC. I'm buying 'All Things Must Pass' next week."

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All Things Must Pass was a real famous album. There'd been talk for years this was the best solo Beatles album, even better than Band On The Run! No way! Imagine that!

My first thoughts: he's gone all out! George, who is lucky to get one or two songs on a Beatles album, surprises the entire world with six (psst! four!) sides of majestic sad. He's a right old dark horse, isn't he? Making my way down the credits on the back cover is the proof this going to be something epic: three drummers, two bass players, FOUR keyboardists...the entire Badfinger on rhythm guitars and percussion! I would have been thinking that they were ALL on EVERY track at the same time!

I've always loved poring over all the fine print on records, all the publishers names and engineering credits, and two from this album have always stayed with me. The first one: Mal Evans on Tea, Sympathy and Tambourine has always given me naive wonder. He was the guy last seen banging an anvil in "Maxwell's Silver Hammer". The second, Printed & Made In Australia by Z. Nosek & Co. Pty Ltd, was really cool - the local major label EMI had to get an outside printer to take on the TRIPLE SET. It was all too much for them.

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I'd sit there in the upstairs family room, on the bluey-green couch, listening to every one of the six sides - in order - even diligently putting on sides five and six, the one called "Apple Jam". More than a few times. The only jam I knew at this stage was strawberry jam and it took about a year before I realised this was an early 70s stoner workout that loses its flavour quite quickly and I didn't need to listen to it again. Maybe George is sending us a 3rd Disc message: Life Is Just One Big Meaningless Jam.

Where am I now with All Things Must Pass? I was looking forward to hearing this sprawling masterpiece after quite a long time. It's a wonderful album. Soulful, spiritual, dark 'n' gloomy, and on occasion, brash and claustrophobic. George plays the most sad and sweet slide guitar throughout. He is at his peak on All Things Must Pass. The country-tinged ballads ("Beware Of Darkness", "Behind That Locked Door") and mid-tempo pop songs ("My Sweet Lord", "If Not For You") are the best things about this record; in fact all of sides one to four are great. The only ones that get a bit tiring - "Wah-Wah", "What Is Life" and "Let It Down" - are where George and co-producer Phil Spector have laid on too many guitars and horns. Would love to hear them with a little less going on.

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And I have been playing it over and over since putting it back on the record player some forty years later. This is one album I should have been tucking into a little bit more the last twenty years! It took me two days to get through all six sides and it was with a now-weary chuckle I made it through "Apple Jam" again. Boogie rock! Great song titles though: "I Remember Jeep" and "Thanks For The Pepperoni". Holding the discs up to the light I can see from the snail trails around the centre holes that side one got played the most and side six the least with about three or four squiggly lines that have just realised the rest of the household have packed up and gone to bed.

I have all sorts of solo John, Paul and Ringo albums but All Things Must Pass is the only George on my shelf. A classic.

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With All Things Must Pass tucked under my arm, I headed back to Homecrafts and bought the single that was currently racing to number one all the way around the world. "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" by Elton John and Kiki Dee. It came in a picture cover and was written by a mysterious duo called Orson-Blanche, who I assumed were a Motown-Brill-the Corporation-type songwriter team. It was only recently, whilst researching this story, I read that Ann Orson and Carte Blanche were pseudonyms for Elton John and Bernie Taupin, who were going for that soul-pop-60s vibe and they'd originally asked Dusty Springfield to sing it with Elton. One more: Mr Sunshine Pop himself, Curt Boettcher, sings backing vocals. I never knew that!

Where am I now with "Don't Go Breaking My Heart"? Still one of my favourite songs from back then. I don't actually play it much but it has made the occasion appearance when DJ Vu has a 1976 special.

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18th June 1976

Ol' 55: On The Prowl (single)

One day, while walking up and down the A to Z racks at Homecrafts I found myself standing in front of a display at the end of the front counter. Why hadn't I noticed it before? SINGLES! The songs I'm hearing on 2CC and 2CA every day. And they're only $1.30 each! Cheaper than a full-lengther! Click here to see it bigger

Where to start? I thought. Up on the top row in first place was "Fernando" by ABBA, which has been number one for weeks now. "Silly Love Songs", "Show Me The Way", "I Like It Both Ways", "S-S-S-Single Bed", "Fooled Around And Fell In Love", "Dream Weaver", "TNT", "Welcome Back". All the goodies are here. It looked like it's going to be a toss up between AC/DC's new one "Jailbreak" and Thin Lizzy's "The Boy's Are Back In Town", which had only recently been premiered on Countdown. Click here to see it bigger

And then I saw it. Down on the bottom row was one song I'd been loving the last month on the radio. "On The Prowl" by Ol' 55. I'd first seen Ol'55 on Countdown in late 1975 when they played their first single - a version of Paul Anka's "Diana" - and then saw them live when they supported my beloved Skyhooks at Fraser Park Speedway in December. As I'd only seen Ol' 55 play "Diana" on the TV, I thought they had just the one song and would play it twelve times in row. I had never been to a concert before so I had no idea that bands had a set list consisting of more than one song! And then...they didn't even play "Diana"!

Ol' 55 were part of the 70s Fifties rock and roll revival (that started with the American Graffiti movie) and was in full force by mid 1976 with the Happy Days TV show (Brisbane act Silver Studs had a huge hit with their local version of the theme tune) and its spin-off Laverne & Shirley. Believe it or not, we actually used to think that Fonzie was cool because if you've ever watched the re-runs he comes off as a complete jerk. I saw Ol' 55 a second time at the end of July when they supported Skyhooks at the Canberra Theatre. I bought their next two singles "Looking For An Echo" and "C'mon Let's Do It" but by the end of 1976 my love of Ol' 55 had disappeared. Click here to see it bigger

Where am I now with "On The Prowl"? I don't think I've played "On The Prowl" since 1977 which, coincidence or not (!), was around the time that punk rock came along. Despite being recorded around the same time and at the same studio (Trafalgar in Annandale) by the same producer (Charles Fisher) as Radio Birdman's Burn My Eye EP it's a fun little rocker with a Chuck Berry riff and "me and the boys out partying on a Saturday night" lyrics written by the bass player Jimmy Manzie. Was cool to hear it again. Rob Younger still laughs at me for liking Ol' 55. He hated them! Hey, I was eleven! I still like their version of "Looking For An Echo" and it was the lyrics in the song "We'd sing songs by the Moonglows, the Harptones and the Dells" that made me pick up a Harptones album a few years later, which I have always cherished.

On 26th January at the Yabun Festival at Victoria Park in 2013 I watched Vic Simms and the All Star Band start their set with "Sweet Home Alabama" (an odd song to play at a 'Survival Day' show? I think Vic's a bit of a stirrer!) when someone told me that Jim Manzie from Ol' 55 was on the bass. That got me excited. After the show I went around to the back gate to see if I could get the attention of Jim Manzie and maybe get a photo with a childhood hero but I piked out and went off to enjoy the rest of the day.

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(Ol' 55 pic from their Facebook page - thanks Rockpile!)


2nd June 1976

Wings At The Speed Of Sound

In April or May of 1976 my dad went over to the UK for some bookselling business. While he was there he met up with Jimmy McCulloch's girlfriend, who worked for a UK publishing house. That's Jimmy McCulloch from Wings! He mentioned to her that I was a massive Beatles fan (who wasn't in 1976?) and that night or the next my dad had dinner with Jimmy McCulloch and his girlfriend. Jimmy brought a whole swag of very recent Wings promotional goodies to give to me. Click here to see it bigger

So imagine my delight when my dad returned from his trip and tells me "I had dinner with Jimmy McCulloch and he gave me all this stuff to give to you". "Did you meet Paul?" I asked. "No, but he passed on his regards!" Alley-oop! He gives me all of this Wings stuff: a couple of posters, an envelope of Wings postcards, tour booklet, greeting card, a couple of badges and, best of all, a diary for 1976 called Linda's Pix For Seventy Six. Unreal! I started using the diary straight away, which set me on a diary writing journey for the next five years or so.

Wings At The Speed Of Sound was the first record I bought that was a new release. The other six records I'd bought up until now was this thing I'd grow to love and cherish: back catalogue. I'd been anticipating its arrival in Canberra for a few months and I'm pretty sure I bought it the minute it arrived at Homecrafts. I would have caught the 234 bus straight after school into Civic on that winter Wednesday in June and then raced home to play it while I looked at all my new Wings paraphernalia whilst drawing the Wings logos over and over in the exercise book I should have been doing homework in.

Click here to see it bigger Wings At The Speed Of Sound wasn't as good as the previous album Venus and Mars, which my sister Jane owned and I completely devoured. It was a toss up then to which was my favourite Paul album - Band on the Run or Venus and Mars (these days it's a tie between the first two - McCartney and Ram). But I did play Wings At The Speed Of Sound a lot. That was until one of my sisters dropped it on the floor. I can still see Jane or Ann holding up the cover and the disc slipping out, falling on the parquet tiling and a huge sliver of the moon breaking off. I was so upset. My first broken record! Well, there goes the two opening songs on side one and two: "Let 'Em In" and "Silly Love Songs".

I kept the broken record in my shelf for a few years - unplayed, of course - until I eventually gave it a home with a bunch of spare Beatles LP covers that were left over from a Beatles window display from my folk's bookshop. I finally bought a replacement copy of Wings At The Speed Of Sound in 1990 for $1.50 that looked unplayed. I know I definitely have played it at least once or twice since then. I had a Paul McCartney and Wings Day sometime in 2011 when I was putting together some IKEA goodies and I played - in order - every Macca album from 1970 to 1980. I had always taken pride in the fact that I didn't have any records post-McCartney II but that has recently been broken by finding both Tug Of War and Pipes Of Peace in Vinnies and, surprisingly, enjoying them!

Where am I now with Wings At The Speed Of Sound? I was expecting to only enjoy the two hit singles and maybe have fond memories of some of the others but after listening to side one I went yep, this isn't bad at all. "Let 'Em In" ticks all the Macca boxes and has that weird fade out/fade in ending. Did the marching drum make a wee mistake at the end? Only he could: "Sister Suzie, Brother John, Martin Luther, Phil and Don, Brother Michael, Auntie Gin...open the door and let 'em in". "Beware My Love" is probably the highlight of the album, mainly because it hasn't been heard over and over like the two hit singles...and it rocks! Click here to see it bigger

Paul allows each of his fellow Wings to have a song or two. "Cook Of the House" is a cute throwaway but probably the worst song on the album. Sorry Linda. But I always liked the sound of the frying pan sizzling away. It's good to have another Jimmy McCulloch song to listen to and "Wino Junko" is more than passable. I lost interest during side two despite the round and bouncy jaunt of "Silly Love Songs" and the gorgeous "Must Do Something About It" that drummer Joe English sings. Sometimes Paul's melodies really hit the right pot. I mean spot.

There are just too many other McCartney albums I would play before Wings At The Speed Of Sound so it hasn't had that much spin time but I still have a soft spot for this syrupy 76er.

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26th May 1976

The Beatles: Hey Jude (compilation)

Cassettes were a big part of the Seventies and they were especially essential in the car on those long trips down to the south coast and other destinations on the school holidays. It was either the radio or tapes. The ones that the whole family seemed to enjoy was Paul Simon's There Goes Rhymin' Simon, Paul McCartney and Wings Band On The Run, Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti and, my most cherished one, A Collection Of Beatles Oldies by my favourite band the Beatles. Here on one rectangle of magic plastic were most of their singles (up to 1966) and a selection of non-album tracks. Sixteen of the little rippers. Click here to see it bigger

This collection included what was then, and still is now, my favourite song by the Beatles. "Of course you can't have a favourite Beatles song! No such thing!" I hear you say. Impossible! Don't make me choose! They are all my children! Okay, I tell a lie. But when I do think of MY FAVOURITE BEATLES SONG it's the Larry Williams cover of "Bad Boy", which the band rushed out one night to fulfil a request from Capital Records to pad out one of those hodgepodge albums put together for the US market. (Depending on the moment, other "my favourite Beatles songs" have been "Glass Onion", "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Rain". My friend Luke Russell noted, "Very odd, Nic. For a Macca-head, your three favourite Beatles songs are sung by John!")

So when I came across Hey Jude, which was a collection of single A and B sides mainly from the second half of the Sixties, I had to get it next. "Bad Boy" isn't on it of course but it had a whole lot of other songs not on any of the Beatles studio albums. A contender for the greatest single ever in "Rain"/"Paperback Writer" was the highlight for me and Paul's "Hey Jude" and "Lady Madonna" were big favourites of mine when I was a kid. Crazy John gave us "Revolution" and "Don't Let Me Down" and George is responsible for the cool little boogie shuffle "Old Brown Shoe". from 1964, "Can't Buy Me Love" and "I Should Have Known Better", which always seemed a little out of place as they sounded a bit dated compared to the other tracks but that was okay - still great songs! Click here to see it bigger

There was also "Ballad Of John And Yoko" which made a huge impact on me. Not only is it recorded just by John and Paul (who were meant to hate each other at the time, weren't they?) but the lyrics were an autobiographical rundown of John getting married to Yoko and having a peace picnic in beds around the world. Who'd written something so matter-of-fact like that before? Hey Jude also included two songs from 1964, "Can't Buy Me Love" and "I Should Have Known Better", which always seemed a little out of place as they sounded a bit dated compared to the other tracks but that was okay - still great songs!

The grainy cover photo intrigued me as well. From all the books I'd been reading about the band I was aware that the photos were from the last dying days when the band were all looking a little rough around the edges, shell-shocked and sad. I hear no uplifting soundtrack music in the background, just feel a cold chill in the air as John, Paul, George and Ringo prepare to head their separate ways in the as-yet-uncharted 1970s. It looks like they are already turning into the statues they may have already become. Click here to see it bigger

I may not have bought this from my beloved Homecrafts as there were now a couple of other record stores in Civic to take my hard-earned pocket money (new full-length LPS were about six dollars in 1976). So I may have bought Hey Jude from either Sound Cell (on the ground floor in Garema Arcade) or the very first Impact or Trax (located upstairs in Garema Arcade - I can't remember which shop it was).

Where am I now with Hey Jude? I don't play it as much as some the other Beatles records as I went on to either buy the singles or the Past Masters cd (and now all of them on the glorious Mono Masters LPs) but for many years Hey Jude was my go~to destination to hear the magic of "Rain" and the punchy "Paperback Writer".

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7th April 1976

The Beatles: Let It Be

Was it just all about the Beatles? No, there was a flood of great music for me to hear in 1976. Even, dare I say it, modern songs.

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At the end of 1975 a new radio station called 2CC came along in Canberra to rival 2CA with all the current chart action and I spent a lot of time in my bedroom listening to it. Songs like "Fox On The Run", "January", "I Can Help", "Love Will Keep Us Together" and "When Will I See You Again". I also used to tape my favourite songs off the radio and now, each time when I DJ and I play Polly Brown's "I'm Going Up, Up, Up In A Puff Of Smoke", I'll tell whoever is standing nearby that "this is one of the first songs I taped off the radio in 1975."

I've always thought 1976 was the last great year for Top Forty pop songs before disco and punk started to put a couple of forks in the road. Songs like "Jeans On", "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Love Really Hurts Without You", "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" and "Fooled Around And Fell In Love". I recall thinking something really spooky was happening when, at a quarter past four every afternoon, "Livin' Thing" by the Electric Light Orchestra would come on. "That happened at the same time yesterday!" Freaky! I didn't know about programmed play lists then, did I?

There was also my sister Jane's first two Skyhooks albums. I used to sit there, listening to them over and over, whilst going over every little detail on the album artwork. Songs like "Horror Movie", "Smut", "Ego Is Not A Dirty Word", "Every Chase A Steeple" and "Balwyn Calling". Lyrics with Australian place names! I love the interplay between the two guitarists and Red Symons is still my favourite wah-wah player. Other records of Jane's I was 'freaking out on' were the Doors Weird Scenes Inside The Goldmine, Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon, Neil Young's Harvest, Patti Smith's Horses and Joni Mitchell's Blue. Yep, the classics. Click here to see it bigger

But the pull of the Beatles was too great! I jumped onto the 234 bus and Civic-bound I was. Straight around the corner into Homecrafts. Before I knew it I was in mum and dad's office, waiting for them to close up the bookshop, and showing them my new purchase of Let It Be. "Slow down on the record purchases, son, this could get dangerous," they said.

Where am I now with Let It Be? Like Abbey Road, I wore out my copy. It started skipping all over the place like a happy kinder. I still have the original cover (with 'Nicholas Dalton 1976' written inside the cover) but I believe that the record inside isn't the same one (but another original Australian pressing). Whilst not as 'produced' as Abbey Road or as varied as the White Album it was released as a raw snapshot of a band 'breaking up', it has some of my favourite songs. "Two Of Us", "Dig A Pony", "Get Back", "I Me Mine", "One After 909", even "Maggie May". All great sing-alongs! Pre-teen me didn't care about Phil Spector adding the strings to "The Long And Winding Road" or John being bitchy to Paul with his silly 'hark the angels come' intro to "Let It Be". Even playing it now, while I make my kids cheese and gherkin toasties, I'm singing along thinking "I have never gotten sick of hearing this album!"

Click here to see it bigger I did buy Paul's commissioned remix of the album when it came out in 2003 called Let It Be...Naked which I listened to quite a bit, and enjoyed, but eventually filed that cd away. Revisionism is usually never a good idea. It's the original album I'll always go back to.

An odd and sad side note: One Friday night my mum and I went to a late night screening of the Let It Be movie in Canberra. I think it started around 11pm. I still can't believe whether it was horrible ol' Aussie racism or blinded Beatles obsessiveness when every time Yoko appeared on the screen certain sections of the audience would start booing. I remember looking over at mum and we sort of nervously shrugged at each other. Now that was as a weird scene.

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15th March 1976

The Beatles: Abbey Road

It looks like I was a good eleven year old boy, concentrating on starting Sixth Grade and keeping my new stash of three albums tidy in my bedroom. I didn't head back into Homecrafts until six weeks after buying the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour album during the school holidays. What was next? Another Fab Four album of course! I Ummed and Aahed over which one but finally Abbey Road won out. Click here to see it bigger

I've always been sceptical about the whole "I played this record so much I wore it out" line but I had to buy a new copy of Abbey Road about fifteen years ago because the one I bought in 1976 had finally gone caput, worn out, tired. So the original copy wasn't in the shelf anymore. I'm not sure where it is, but I think I may have chucked it out. (The new one is a US Apple/Capitol copy from 1995).

Last week, whilst driving down the South Coast with my girlfriend Tandarra and my two kids, Clementine and Austin, we played the "what three fruits/vegetables/books would you take with you on a deserted island" game. Clementine asked what three records and I answered off the top of my head, "The Modern Lovers (their one and only self-titled LP), the Velvet's Loaded and Abbey Road." It could have easily been Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Cole Porter Songbook, a best of Sam Cooke and Old And In The Way. There are just too many favourite records. Click here to see it bigger

But Abbey Road is way up there. The cd of it may be the most played-in-the-car over the years. There's something for everyone and I must admit I have never skipped "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" or "Octopus's Garden". You're sort of allowed to like the annoying Macca songs when you're a kid but all these years later I still love them. Ob-La-Di!

I love the variety of side one and the medley that takes up most of side two is incredible. So many wonderful moments. Ringo's one and only drum solo followed by John, George and Paul all taking a guitar solo each is one of my favourite musical bites. Yum.

And it was a inspiring move - after the cold, depressing raw jumble of Let It Be - that the band and producer George Martin decided to go back into the studio and make one last proper album. And what an album to go out on.

Where am I now with Abbey Road? A record I still play often.

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28th January 1976

The Beatles: Magical Mystery Tour (US LP)

It was the last day of the school holidays before I started Sixth Grade when I ventured into Homecrafts in Civic for my second go at record buying. I'd saved up some pocket money and had just come back from Dalmeny (on the NSW South Coast where my family spent the Christmas holidays) and it was there I would have been exposed to more Older Teenager's music taste...so I was ready to pour petrol on the fire! Click here to see it bigger

At home already were all the other '65 to '68 Beatles LPs (except for Yellow Submarine - it would be decades until I bought that soundtrack!) including the Magical Mystery Tour UK double EP and the "All You Need Is Love" seven inch. So when I saw the 12" US version, with the big booklet and blockbuster track listing (including the 1967 singles like "Strawberry Fields" which fits perfectly with the EP songs) I just had to buy it. This is psychedelic powerpop at its most colourful, punchy and modern. Click here to see it bigger

I DIDN'T KNOW THAT! I just found out last night - reading about this US version of Magical Mystery Tour I bought in 1976 - that this whole time I've been listening to a dreaded 'fake stereo' mix of some of Side Two. I never knew this and never noticed. And it's not a good look. This 'Duophonic' process basically made the left channel bassy and the right channel trebly. They should have left it mono! No wonder I always thought that my dad's 7" of Baby You're a Rich Man was better with its loud bass was the bees knees. Most 1960s mono singles do. Even the beat-up ones.

Where am I now with Magical Mystery Tour? I still have that same copy I bought and have played it consistently over the years. That is until the new mono versions came out in 2009 (cd) and 2014 (vinyl) and I've played it more than ever since then (especially the mono vinyl). If you think you can only get psychedelic in stereo listen to the mono "I Am The Walrus" and "Strawberry Fields Forever". Mindblowing!

My original copy, despite sounding thinner than the new mono, is still clear as a bell even after a lot of play over the years. The cover hasn't been so lucky: the spine has a big rip in it (so the record pops through) and the original 24 page booklet has been taken out and evidence of this can be seen in mid-70s family photos where I'd taped the pages to the bedroom and loungeroom walls. A well-loved record.

Coincidentally, it was in 1976 when, due to public demand, the UK finally released the LP version of Magical Mystery Tour.

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13th January 1976

Ringo Starr: Blast From Your Past
Ringo Starr: Ringo

Forty years ago today I started buying records. I kept a small notebook which I would write down the name of the record and the date I bought it. I thought it might be a good idea - all these years later - to go over to the shelf, see if the records written down are still there and, if so, maybe play them and see what happens next... Click here to see it bigger

The first records I bought with my own money were two by Ringo Starr, who was my "favourite Beatle" when I was a kid. Why did I skip the main act for the drummer's spotlight? Courtesy of my Dad - Revolver, Rubber Soul, Sgt Peppers were on the record player at home, as was my sister Jane's copy of the White Album. So I must have thought the collected gems of cuddly Ringo was where this Beatles-mad eleven year wanted to go to first.

So it was a Friday night in mid January when the whole family seemed to be hanging around the bookshop waiting to go home when I went around to Homecrafts (the main record store in Canberra at the time) on the other side of the block and spent my own money on these albums. I think they may have been about five or six dollars each. Over the next few months of 1976 I started to buy albums regularly and Mum and Dad complained a couple of times about me spending all my pocket money on rock and roll.

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Ringo is where the Beatles sort of came back together as the other three guys play on the album; John and Paul gave away passable songs to their old mate and the recordings are chock full of great musicians, most of them buddies of Ringo. Ringo's early 70s 'best of' Blast From Your Past is still impressive - "It Don't Come Easy", "Photograph" are wonderful songs and for some easy-going entertainment you can do worse than songs such as "Only Sixteen", "Only You", "Oh My My" and Hoyt Axton's "No No Song".

The Ringo album has such great artwork, from the front cover to the booklet which features these incredible Klaus Voorman lithographs. Looking at them now, I seem to know these drawings as well as the songs and, possibly, love them even more. The front cover, by Tim Bruckner, has a cast of famous friends and I'd spend hours poring over the details. It was only recently I read that Harry Nilsson took the title for one of his albums from DUIT ON MON DEI which is written around the apple at the top of the cover (as a last minute decision because the record company didn't like the original title God's Greatest Hits). Click here to see it bigger

Where am I now with Ringo and Blast From Your Past? I'm thinking real hard here and I have a feeling I played one or both of these albums in at least the last five years. After listening to them tonight I still rate Ringo's early-to-mid 70s songs and I'll stress this time period because pretty much everything I heard after 1975 was a bit or a whole lotta sniffy. Maybe I am biased because I loved these songs so much when I was a kid that I can't see that they may actually suck. It's like raving to someone too young, or in a different sphere, to the greatness of Skyhooks. They look at you like you have the worst taste in the world as you sing and air-wah wah pedal along to the these part-prog, part-pop odes to everyday 70s Australia sung in an very high voice. Great stuff!

As you can see from the picture I used to write my full name on the inside of the sleeves - must have been getting ready for share houses of the future there!

More than a sentimental attachment, Ringo's been on the shelf from the very beginning and I don't think I'll be getting rid of these albums anytime soon.

(Homecrafts pic by Annette Potts Jr)

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- Nic Dalton

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Half A Cow
Half A Cow Records
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