Albums For Christmas

The albums and artists of the year have taken up so much room there is very little space to say much about the numerous albums which have been issued recently. Although it is unfair to comment on a record in only a few lines, I would like to say a little about what I consider to be the best of the new releases. Albums make ideal presents, and those mentioned here I strongly recommend as being excellent gifts, depending of course on the recipient’s musical tastes.

The most outstanding release is Lou Reed’s second solo album Transformer (RCA LSP 4807), which I cannot commend highly enough. One track. Walk On The Wild Side, also put out as a single, has to be heard to be believed, whilst the cut Make Up is the best Gay Lib song I have heard. Production is by David Bowie and his guitarist Mick Ronson, but whereas with Bowie’s involvement in the latest Mott the Hoople album that record came out just sounding like an extension of Bowie, his work on Transformer just adds to bringing out the explicitly stunning and original talents of Lou Reed.

Transformer is an essential record and is currently top of the Gay News hit parade. The record sleeve, especially the reverse side, is remarkable too.

Tamla Motown have brought out two excellent records in time for Christmas. One is the new Temptations album All Directions (STML 11218). It is well up to the standard of this group’s past work, with the 11 min 45 sec Papa Was A Rolling Stone being a monster success. The other album needs no introduction to recommend its guaranteed quality. It’s the latest in the Motown Chartbusters series, this one being Volume Seven (STML 11215). Included are sixteen of the best and most successful cuts the company have put out over the last few months. Amongst the artists contributing to the volume are The Supremes, The Temptations, Michael Jackson, Mary Welles, Diana Ross, and Stevie Wonder.

Bread are currently riding high in the charts with their single The Guitar Man. Now they have released an album with that cut as the title track. Guitar Man (Elektra K52004) contains twelve tracks, and is a first rate followup to their recently released Best of Bread disc. Bread fans will be delighted with this new effort, as will any new converts to the group.

Some of the raviest, rocking music produced over the last few years came from Delaney and Bonnie. This husband and wife team have now sadly parted and have gone their separate ways. But they can well be remembered with The Best of Delaney and Bonnie (Atlantic K 40429) which truly lives up to the album title. Just listen to Soul Shake to be convinced that Bonnie Bramlett delivers some of the best white blues/soul vocals ever.

The Moody Blues keep on bringing out one fine album after another, and Seventh Sojourn (Threshold THS7) is no exception. Moody fans will need no recommendation to know that this album is a must for them, whilst anyone new to the group’s work will find this release a good way to discover why they have such a large following. As usual the production is faultless, with the When You’re A Free Man track standing out as the most impressive.

Shirley Bassey devotees will find her new album And I Love You So (UAS 29385) a welcome release. Of the songs tackled by Miss Bassey on this record, the following are the most outstanding: Someday, The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face, Day By Day (from ‘Godspell’), Ballad Of The Sad Young Men, I Don’t Know How To Love Him (from ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’) and Don McLean’s And I Love You So.

The West Country group, Stackridge follow up their excellent first album with this new offering, Friendliness (MCA MKPS 2025). Stackridge have a sunny magical charm which comes over even stronger on this release than before, and is guaranteed to find them an even wider audience. Largely responsible for the musical inventiveness on this record and ultimately the group’s success is the playing of Mike Evans (violin and cello) and “Mutter” Slater (flute) whose contributions equal the guitar work of James Warren and Andy Davis’s keyboards. A happy, friendly record this, that will remove many worried frowns and long faces.

Snippets

19720901-07We thought you would all like to know that Gay News is now regularly despatched off to the British Museum. It goes into their archives for posterity. So now we’ll become a little piece of history. Only heaven knows what the future will think of us.

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Which CHE group in West London has orgies and blue movie shows on Good Fridays? Send your answers on a postcard to Julian D. Grinspoon.

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In a future issue of Gay News we hope to bring you an interview with Lou Reed, ex-lead guitarist and chief song-writer with New York’s Velvet Underground rock group. Lou, who is now living in this country is currently recording his second album here for RCA. The record is being produced by David Bowie. In a recent Melody Maker interview Lou described himself as a ‘bisexual chauvinist pig’. One wonders what that means? All will be revealed in our interview we hope. When Lou completes his present recording commitments, he will begin playing live dates across the country.

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Recently in London from the USA was the Motor Cycle Club of New York. Our man in Earls Court reported seeing large numbers of the club’s members in the Colherne on the evening of Thursday 24th August. On being asked where they were headed next, their ‘leader’ replied “Russia”. Good luck and Bon Voyage, see you all next year.

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Incidentally, The Colherne is changing managers at the end of August. The new managers, a married couple, take over on 1st September. We hope they will settle in without too much trouble. To them too, we wish the best of luck. We trust that the pub’s regulars will be patient with them. And to Jeff, the manager who is leaving, we wish all the best in the future and thanks for the improvements that have happened whilst he has been at the pub.

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And don’t forget, people, Bass-Charrington have a welcome for all behind those bright red doors of theirs. So their ads say anyway.

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Competion Corner: When CHE stands up to speechify at Speakers’ Corner, why do two handsome young poicemen stand in the front of the crowd with their arms folded high across their chests ? Writers of the first 5,000 correct solutions opened will receive prizes of pocket tape recorders.

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If you hear any little bits of gossip or chatty pieces of news, give us a ring at the Gay News office.

GAYROCK

David Bowie, in concert at The Royal Festival Hall.

05-197208xx-6There comes a time when each of us has his turn to be right. But let me put that truism in perspective.

This year your reporter said this was going to be the year of “gay rock” And the year when David Bowie was going to happen.

He said it last year. And the year before. By now his ancients are used to dismissing these portentous statements by “Just because you fancy David Bowie” and that sort of thing.

This year Alice Cooper is getting friendly with snakes, the Kinks are living up to their name, the grounds of Elton John’s Honky Chateau have turned into a camp-site. And Elton and Rod Stewart camped around with John Baldry on Top of the Pops.

Most important, Bowie is back in the top twenty singles for the first time since Space Oddity (1969) and he’s well up in the album charts.

It’s good to be right. And that brings us to the event.

THE EVENT: Saturday July 8th Bowie played at London’s Royal Festival Hall in a benefit for the Friends of the Earth’s Save The Whale campaign fund.

Bowie and Mott the Hoople were going to be equally billed. But Mott insisted on doing their full two hour act, which, with Bowie, makes the thing too long, so Mott drop out.

That leaves the boy from Brixton at the top of the bill. And makes the concert something of a coming out for him. And of a gay event.

Two weeks before the concert you couldn’t get a seat in the RFH for deviant practices or money. Your reporter got in early with a couple of quid and there he was just a few yards out from the stage and enough amplification equipment to set up a small to medium sized radio station.

Kuddly Ken Everett is compere. Introduces Marmalade and the JSD Band, who replace Mott. It seems podgy Scots boys with glasses are in this week. They get a reasonable reception. But we’re waiting for the Star.

The crowd isn’t noticeably campy, even though the after shave lies slightly heavier on the air than at most concerts at the RFH.

Then Ken Ev (“I even went a bit gay” – Nova) in a fetching jumpsuit of blue denim with massive while buttons showing how he’d got in and how he meant to get out says he’s fought his way through the feather boas to the star’s dressing room.

“He insists on introducing himself in about four minutes time. So here is the second greatest thing, next to God . . . David Bowie.” says Kuddly Ken.

The speakers boom out the Moog martial version of the ‘Song of Joy’ from ‘A Clockwork Orange’.

The capacity plus crowd claps in time and in the dark as people sneak across the stage in the murk.

It ends. A single spot picks out a thin, almost drawn, jester. Red hair, white make-up and a skin tight red and green Persian carpet print space suit. All this on top of red lace up space boots.

“hello. I’m Ziggy Stardust and these are the Spiders from Mars.”

More lights and we have Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder, Mick Woodmansey.

A few seconds and we have the mind-fucking electric music of Bowie from the amps matched by the words that make Burroughs look like a slouch.

And on stage, Bowie rampant.

Until now, Bowie’s never been a star, but he’s studied some of the best, like Garbo, Presley, and now he’s on top he knows what to do.

Sometimes he plays guitar, sometimes just sings with his eerie thin voice, but sometimes that voice grows. Bowie is the understudy who’s been waiting in the wings for years. Finally his Big Day comes, and he’s got every step, every note, every voice-warble right. A star is born.

He’s a showman alright. Even the pubescent girls who’d spent their Saturday-morning-at-Woolies wages on a seat, or crowded into the gangways, screamed.

He says, “Tonight we have a surprise for you”. And everyone knows what it is. Lou Reed. The NME and the other pop papers carried that secret during the week in inch-and-a-half caps.

“Tonight we’re going to do a number by the Cream – Free.” Anti-climax swamps the hall.

But the Bowie voice is haunting in the few lines of words at the beginning of the number. Then he leaves it to the spiders to get on with it. They do – talented musicians that they are. Strobe lights on the gantry over them slow then into a far from silent movie, one frame at a time.

Then our David’s back. Now he’s in white satin space suit that leaves only how he managed to get into it to the imagination.

Garbo on Mars

And, off-hand, he says: “If you’ve seen us before, you’ll know we do some numbers by the Velvet Underground. And tonight we have, for the first on any stage in England, Lou Reed.”

And the Velvets’ former leading light bounds on in black to match Bowie’s white.

We get a set of Velvets numbers. David plays to Lou.

Lou plays to Mick. Mick plays to David.

While they’re having fun on stage there’s enough electricity generated in the RFH to keep the national grid pulsing high voltage goodies all over the land.

They end, and the front several hundred of the 3,000-plus crowd mobs the stage. Time for the expected encore.

Ziggy and the spiders reappear and do ‘Suffragette City’, orange handouts with their pictures on, explode from the stage.

In this hour-and-a-bit Bowie has passed from wild electric rock to simple ballads, such as ‘Space Oddity’ and a Jacques Brel poem, ’The Port of Amsterdam’ and back to wild electric rock.

His words span concepts from science-fiction and the coming of a superrace to sexual liberation.

And that’s what a lot came to hear, your reporter supposes. For Bowie is the totem of gay-rock. Lou Reed a “bisexual chauvinist pig.’

But more important is the little girls who came to scream at Bowie’s “bump” — as the groupy girls say – get turned on to sexual liberation.

And we all had a bloody good time.

David Bowie is probably the best rock musician in Britain now. One day he’ll become as popular as he deserves to be. And that’ll give gay-rock a very potent spokesman.

After the event:

Reporters in state of shock, deafened. So easily put off making prearranged backstage tryst with the Bowie circus by unfriendly lady from Friends Of the Earth, who’s busy being seen with the Stars.

“Thank you so much, Kenny, it was wonderful” Kisses the ducking Ev. Lady from F O E is another reason for mysogeny.

So back to the records.

  • Brief discography of albums:
  • ‘Love You Till Tuesday’ (Deram. deleted) but much of the material is on the low – price ‘World Of David Bowie’ (Decca).
  • ‘David Bowie’ (Philips, deleted).
  • ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ (Mercury deleted) ‘One Stop. Dean Street. W.1 has some U.S. import copies of this., Bowie’s most powerful album, at £2.99.
  • ‘Hunky Dory’ (RCA)
  • ‘The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (RCA) his latest is equally best. Treat yourself. ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide’ (Side two, last track) is a wow.