Hello My friends,
It might as well rain until September sang the marvellous Carol King so let's hope she was right and we will be in for a beautifully warm month.
The year of 68 was a time of change, musically speaking, with the charts full of melodic songs and ever-changing chart action. In September there was only one record by a Brummie band in the singles charts at Number 30. The Moody Blues with one of their new fangled, poetry songs "Voices in the Sky", goo on ar kid! music to snooze to. The heavy psychedelic bands now only recorded LP's leaving the Singles chart altogether.
For me, it was a happy time socially and musically in Birmingham, there was a party atmosphere with more bands and gigs than you could shake a stick at. The city centre had a vibe, great clothes shops where the groups would buy all their stage wear for a reasonable amount, great music shops too both as a consumer and for instruments. The worlds best bands played in the city with regularity and you could see them for the cost of a pint.
For one Brummie band though 1968 was their best year commercially and their worst as a group of musicians and they were;
A line up of experienced Birmingham band members came together to form The Move whose purpose it was to "make it" in London. They were dynamic, had Roy Wood as the song writer, brilliant harmonies and stage presence and in 1966 had made it into the charts with "Night of Fear".
The ambition of every band was to have an LP so that was their real achievement of 1968 and it got to number 15. The cover artwork was by The Fool, the Dutch artists who had done the psychedelic art for The Beatles. Their first LP.... MOVE.
The second reason for it being a successful year was they scored the No 1 spot with Blackberry Way. I still have this LP in my collection. The next 3 albums failed to make the the charts.
The style of music played by The Band was a mixture of bluegrass/country and rock. It was intelligent, biographical and full of American history. Each and every member of the group had talent and were as tight as could be after years of working on the road with Ronnie Hawkins and playing with Bob Dylan. Lots of groups were influenced by them including my band and we did "Long Black Veil" in our set
There was only one great songsmith in the group and that was Robbie Robertson who crafted such wonderful lyrics for songs such as "unfaithful servant", one of my faves featuring the voice of Rick Danko.
Their follow up to Big Pink was the eponymous THE BAND or the brown album as some call it. It was just brilliant and is a benchmark, classic recording for others to aspire to. It was definitely Robertsons best spell of writing and there isn't anything on it I dont like. It was their greatest success and thereafter things went downhill for them, too much touring and arguments regarding payment of royalties with Robertson being the recipient of all the songwriting credits. The other members arguing that they had all been responsible for music passages, influences, tweaks, hooks etc so there should have been some financial consideration but to no avail. The income for them, all bar Robertson, was based on live gigs, clearly not sustainable in the long term.
The Band called it a day in 1976 after performing The Last Waltz, with Robertson saying he couldn't take playing on the road anymore, he then recorded a new album and went on the road by himself. That must have really hurt the others, the final indignity.
The Band reformed in 1983 with guitarist Jim Weider replacing Robertson to play some concerts, touring was their only form of income. Sadly, pianist Richard Manuel committed suicide after a concert in 1986. The band folded. In the following years Rick Danko and Levon Helm passed away and sadly Robbie Robertson passed away a couple of weeks ago leaving Garth Hudson as the sole surviving member of the best musical group there ever was.
It seems that the desire to make great music and gain fame as a band was never enough for either The Move or The Band. They both had their moments and opportunities but it always comes down to money or the lack of it or jealousy and mistrust.
I have to say on a personal level that Chris Kefford was a good bassist, singer and performer with great looks and I always found him to be a nice guy. The well known phrase " The reason why certain people continually say bad things about you is because they dont want others to know how badly they treated you"
So be careful what you wish for, someone always gets the shit end of the stick!!! And there is ALWAYS one person who wrecks bands for their own purposes.
All of the above aside, 1968 wasn't all doom and gloom though because that year saw the arrival of the incredibly gorgeous songbird Mary Hopkin with her release on the new Apple label at No 2 in the charts "Those were the Days"
Well today has been declared Mexican Food and Mojito Day in the Bob Household and I shall be doing my best to enjoy every scrap. I wish you all a pleasant weekend. Where's me Sombrero?
Peace and Love.