Tracks Of My Years

Tracks Of My Years

When scientists launched the Voyager space probe they decided to pack a few simple items that would reveal an insight to the human race should it be found by inhabitants of some far distant galaxy. Obviously a piece of music would be essential but when the choice of Bach was put forward Carl Sagan quipped, “I think that would just be showing off.”

There’s no doubt music plays a massive part in all our lives. It’s a constant, in adverts, shops, in lifts, in films, TV, theatre and these days, on every street corner as some down-and-out strums a guitar and murders, ‘Yooo gotta friend…’

Britain’s Got Talent needs you!

I grew up without pop music as such. Christ, I grew up without television until I was in my teens! Owning my first transistor radio opened up a whole new world because this was the age of pirate radio and pre-dated Radio 1. Approaching puberty I was introduced to Tamla Motown, some of the finest music ever made. I considered including a Tamla track in the playlist but where do you start? Holland Dozier Holland wrote the soundtrack of my angst but I’m not going to pick between Smokey and the Temptations, Little Stevie Wonder and the Supremes or countless others. That’s a playlist on its own.

And I’ll ignore the emerging Beatlemania – all those neat suited guys who strummed pop tunes on guitars and laid the way for today’s rock corporates. Here are my choices for the mood I’m in today:

Waterloo Sunset – The Kinks

I’ll kick off with The Kinks. Ray Davis was an amazing songwriter who painted pictures with words and simple chords. You couldn’t pigeon hole the band and Waterloo Sunset is just one of several examples I might have chosen. The song is actually a statement about the demise of Merseybeat and was cited by Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd as the song he wished he had created.

Wild Thing – The Troggs

And then came Reg Presley. The Troggs gave us the first hint of what the future held. Gutteral rock at its simplest based on pure guitar power. Recorded in 20 minutes flat, this was transistor rock and I’m transported to Bentley Park, Sunday evenings, waiting to hear the chart show. The Troggs are straight in at number one and for some weird reason that’s enough to provide an adrenaline rush! Well, we’re with girls and your hormones are all over the place, aren’t they?

Reason To Believe – Rod Stewart

I can’t hear this song without drifting back to Toll Bar Pond, fishing on ‘the second bend’ for tench. Radio 1 was the new hip sound and Stuart Henry would intersperse his show with a few really cool tracks that us ‘hip’ guys would listen to. Of course, we would sneer at the more popular fare championed by the likes of Tony Blackburn. Henry gave us album tracks! This, and Maggie May were right up his Scottish roots. The original version was released as a single with Maggie May on the B-side.

All The Young Dudes – Mott The Hoople

I first heard this played live at a ‘Hoople’ concert on the eve of its release and you just knew it was going to take Ian Hunter a step closer to stardom. Written by David Bowie, the band was on the verge of quitting due to lack of commercial success when he gave them the track. I’ve seen Bowie perform it live and for once, here’s a Bowie track that is performed better by another artist. A classic. Funnily enough, Mott were Matt Hayes’ favourite group when we first met.

Schools Out – Alice Cooper

Here’s another song that that ‘hit’ written all over it and unless my memory is playing tricks – as it frequently does these days  – I first heard it at that Hoople concert. Without question an anthem that has stood the test of time. The chorus of kids was put together by producer Bob Ezrin who used the same trick seven years later when he produced Another Brick In The Wall with Pink Floyd.

Blowin’ Free – Wishbone Ash

Torquay’s finest. A cold winter’s night inside Sheffield City Hall (but it could have been summer!) and the Gibson flying V leaves us in no doubt that Wishbone Ash has arrived. Andy and Ted Turner swapping guitar solos that raise the immaginary plectrums of every air guitarist. Leaving mid-encore was a bummer but that’s what we had to do in those days to catch the last train back to Donny. Glencoe supported – for some reason the name lodged in my somewhat scattered brain. 20-odd years later I drove through the real Glencoe, site of heroic and historical deeds. Until that moment the penny simply didn’t drop – Glencoe was a place, not some stupid name like Glen and company…! Cue outraged Scots. Err, sorry folks! No offense meant.

Layla – Derek And The Dominos

Who could possibly pick a favourite Clapton track? Well, this comes close. I’m in the Danum Hotel’s Planet Bar toilets, someone has scrawled ‘Clapton Is God’ in thick felt tip across the cubicle door. It wasn’t me, honest. Written about George Harrison’s wife, Patti. “I’m taking your wife!” Said Eric. “Take her…” Said George. The pair remained friends despite this and George even played at their wedding! Duane Allman plays lead on this track.

Sunshine Of Your Love… and Badge – Cream

Oh hell, I couldn’t make the call. The scene: Eddie Coupe’s bedroom. Eddie lived opposite me; our back gardens met. We’d spend hours up there listening to music. The cast of guests changed as mates dropped in and out before the pubs opened. It was our den, a refuge. The favoured albums of that time were Deep Purple (In Rock), Led Zep II, Yes (The Yes Album, Fragile), Black Sabbath (Paranoid), CSNY (Deja Vu), the Nice (Elegy), but I’m going to pick out Cream. What a band! These two tracks say it all really.

George Harrison plays rhythm guitar on Badge but is listed in the credits as L’Angelo Misterioso. It is one of those odd songs in which the title doesn’t appear in the lyrics. Clapton misread Harrisons notes, mistaking bridge for badge and the rest is history.

Just a few short years later I was stood in the bar of the Woolpack one Sunday lunchtime. It was a pub in the corner of Doncaster’s Market place and it’s tiny. The local Musicians Union were having a bit of a do and there in the corner was a scratch band jamming, the drummer was Ginger Baker, on bass was Jack Bruce, on guitar Chris Spedding…

I mean, in Donny!

Lay Lady Lay – Bob Dylan

I didn’t get Bob Dylan. Okay, I owned a lot of the early stuff, Freewheeling and all that, But John Wesley Harding…? Great lyrics if only I could have understood them, but this song is, well, a classic. Played repeatedly on the Juke box in the Horse and Groom in the days long before it became an Irish bar. Written for the movie Midnight Cowboy but replaced with Everybody’s Talkin’. Dylan’s vocals are slightly speeded up to raise the pitch. I could have chosen Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, mind.

Helpless – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

Woodstock is credited with changing music forever. Well, whether you believe that is immaterial but it did launch the career of this band. Graham Nash came to prominence in the Hollies; the others, well, do you really remember Buffalo Springfield? But together they could charm angels from the heavens. Deja Vu remains a favourite album to this day and I could have picked out any track.

Saturday lunchtimes, in Sheffield, what was the name of that great music bar where you went downstairs? And then there was the Mucky Duck – what a venue that was…

Take A Walk On The Wild Side… and  Perfect Day – Lou Reed

I was fortunate to see David Bowie perform several times in the Ziggy/ Aladdin Sane era. I saw him do the full-blown theatrical costume dramas and I also watched him strut a stage in jeans and a plastic bomber jacket. Looking back, if I could go back and re-live one more concert it was probably that one. Bowie at his raw best without the props. Bowie frequently cited Reed as an influence and this gave the obscure New Yorker a platform in the UK. These two songs show him at his absolute diverse best despite Wild Side being a song about transvestite prostitutes.

Since I’ve Been Loving You – Led Zeppelin

It took me ages to get into Led Zep II but once I did there was to be no going back. I adored the band. From the hard-rockin stompers to the bluesy, soulful tracks and everything in between. Accoustic folk, touches of Reggae on Dyer Maker even. Experimental metal magic. They had it all for me. And they didn’t release singles, which was really cool back then. I remember buying the vinyl version of the fourth album from Foxes Records in what was then the Arndale Centre. I was outside waiting for the doors to open, bought my copy and then asked them to play it for me. I stood in that tiny booth, headphones clamped around my ears, Robert Plant wailed “Hey, Hey, momma say the way you move, gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove…” And then Jimmy Page crashed out those chords on the Les Paul. I listened to the whole of side one and was in heaven. Imagine what it must feel like to hear ‘Stairway’ for the very first time?

But I’m going to drop back to the third album for this track. Zep at their majestic, soulful best, proving that even the heaviest of metal blues can be delicate and light.

Let It Be – John Lennon

1970 and I’m in Leicester Square. Up there above the cinema is the biggest billboard I’ve ever seen with four portraits looking down. John, Paul, George and Ringo. The film, Let It Be, says it all really. Their influence on popular culture was immeasurable and they gave it up when they were right at the top, in their prime. What followed in musical terms was a joke, I mean – Wings!

Desperado – The Eagles

The Eagles came up from left field and mugged me. Crikey, they were a country band and us rockers didn’t like country, did we? Well, you can’t escape the fact that the Eagles were amazing. They arguably became a rock band later when Joe Walsh joined and they released Hotel California but Desperado was a stand-out album. Great music to play when you’re driving along with the hood down on a warm summer’s day.

Wish You were Here – Pink Floyd

I was walking through the subway leading out of the Northern Bus Station when I espied a poster. It said, simply:




I wondered, what the hell did that mean? It never dawned on me that they were bands who were appearing at the Top Rank, so that was one I missed. Another was Pink Floyd, how or why I missed this I don’t know but it is still one of my great musical regrets. How could I miss seeing Pink Floyd play in my home town? I wish I’d been there. So presumably does Syd Barratt to whom this track is dedicated.

Faith Healer – Sensational Alex Harvey Band

It’s October 1973, my wife has just given birth, Howard’s wife is in the same hospital. We’re staying together for a few days because that’s what blokes do. We drink Guinness, cook in one pan and pray for the day our better halves return. Visiting over, we jump on the motorbikes and race down to High Melton College where the Sensational (and I mean sensational) Alex Harvey Band is playing. What an act, what a performer and that’s to Ignore Zal Cleminson, Chris Glen, Hugh McKenna and Ted McKenna. An amazing band. The following is taken from a review of a concert at Bradford St Georges Hall a year later:

Throbbing intro of Faith Healer…  Alex strides menacingly to centre front. Halfway through the classic opening a fight breaks out and the two mosh pit pioneers roll directly under the front centre stage. A small gap appears; Alex realises what’s happening and lifts his hand. The Band as one stop immediately. Alex beckons the House lights up and glares down from the stage at the still prone combatants. ‘No one fights at my fucking concerts… I’ll come down there and kick the fuck out of you both… Now shake hands’. The now petrified blokes touch palms half heartedly to much applause, the lights go down and SAHB kick ass again. Without doubt the best live band in the world 1973-1976.”

Liar – Queen

I’m stifling a yawn, trying to stay awake, you see in those days ‘proper’ music was only broadcast late at night on TV. Whispering Bob Harris gave us our weekly fix of new bands, established bands and interviews with obscure American folk you wish would go away. But the cartoons were great! And then he introduced a new band, in the studio, playing a track called ‘Liar’. Jesus wept, I was so blown away. Queen were unbelievable and I just had to get my hands on their debut album. I later tried to book them to appear at Doncaster’s Top Rank but alas they had bigger and better plans afoot but for a while I honestly thought i was going to pull it off.

Talkin’ Bout A Revolution – Tracy Chapman

This is a track I normally played in the car on my way to matches on the Stainy Canal – it was part of my preparation ritual. I’d discovered Tracy Chapman almost by accident after fishing a match on the Trent. I’d returned home, switched on the TV and there was live coverage of (I think) the Mandela concert. I happened to be watching when a tiny black girl shuffled onto the stage, almost hidden by her acoustic guitar and began to sing. I could barely believe my ears. What a performer.

Beat It – Michael Jackson

As my son grew I was introduced to music I would never normally have listened to, most of it I would prefer never to have heard, I ask you, NWA (Niggers With Attitude)? I’ve never found rap and its bed fellows remotely appealing. I wasn’t that keen on the Bay City Rollers either, but I couldn’t help but admire Michael Jackson’s Thriller album. Beat It, featuring Eddie Van Halen on guitar, still hits the spot today. Halen, playing as a favour for Quincy Jones was not paid for his contribution unless you count a couple of six packs of beer.

How Long – Ace

One of my main ambitions when I went to night school after a 5 year gap from education was to get myself onto the Student Union Entertainments Committee. Well I served my time and by the end of the first year I was running the show. The college didn’t have its own hall or bar and we had to hire halls. The Top rank was our only decent concert venue and it shut down almost as soon as I’d taken over. We ran a few shows there then one turned into a complete disaster with the headliner dropping out at very short notice. They were managed by one Wilf Pine and if you want to know about the bloke, read Sharon Osborne’s biography. Anyway, one of the stand-in bands was called Ace. They had a huge hit with How Long which featured Paul Carrack on vocals.

Reeling In The Years – Steely Dan

Popular with fans it may be but the band members don’t like it. Described by Donald Fagan as ‘dumb but effective’ and by Walter Becker as, ‘no fun’ yet rock legend Jimmy Page rates the guitar solo as his favourite of all time. It was one of the most requested tracks when I was DJ-ing at the Outlook Club.

Long Train Runnin’ – Doobie Brothers

This was another crowd pleaser after the band had finished playing. Seems an awful long time ago now!

Down At The Doctors – Dr Feelgood

One of the first bands I promoted at the Outlook Club in Doncaster. The latest hip genre (it’d be called Indie or something now) was pub rock and leading the charge was Dr Feelgood. Lee Brilleaux and Wilko fronted a band described by Charles Shaar Murray as ‘Hiroshima in a pint mug’. It was the first time I’d sat in a dressing room, looked across and seen what I call the aura. I’ve probably met around 200 rock bands in my time. It’s nothing to brag about, but once in a while you meet a band, or an individual, and that aura hits you. There’s something so special yet you cannot define it. You just know that they’re destined for great things.

Rough Kids – Kilburn And The High Roads

Monday February 3rd, 1975. Headlining this night was Kilburn and the High Roads. The singer, a dodgy looking geezer, shambles on stage holding himself up with a walking stick. It’s Ian Dury, later to gain stardom through the ‘New Boots And Panties’ album. This was him pre Sex and Drugs and Rock’n’Roll.

Doctor Doctor – UFO

By the summer of 1975 I was finding my feet as a promoter and brought in the German Band UFO featuring Michael Schenker on guitar. It takes a while to establish a club as a rock venue but a change was taking place in the music scene and metal bands that were previously out of our price range were now willing to come and play the club.

Living After Midnight – Judas Priest

JP thought they were big leaguers but were still happy to come back and play for me on several occasions. Metal Gods who went on to shift 35,000,000 albums around the world. Proper Brummie rock!

Do Anything You Wanna Do – Eddie And The Hot Rods

The Rods were great fun. Down to earth guys who loved to play music. They flirted with chart success but fell between genres in the end, being neither pub rock nor punk.

Soul Shoes – Graham Parker And The Rumour

A band I absolutely loved. Darlings of the rock press, funky and soulful but probably better suited to the US market than here in the UK. They were a fabulous live act and one I always looked forward to seeing.

Jealousy – Frankie Miller

Rod Stewart said Miller ‘Is the only white singer to have brought a tear to his eye’. I know what he means. I was fortunate to see him a few times but on his final appearance at the club (with Full House) he brought the house down. His fourth encore was a cover of ‘Let’s spend the Night Together’ and you know what? I think he meant it. Struck down with a brain haemorrhage in 1994 he spent 5 months in a coma but he’s still hanging in there.

Alison – Elvis Costello

After an evening class at Sheffield Poly I dropped into the Top Rank as I knew the manager from his time at the Doncaster Top Rank. It seemed in those days I could practically walk into any venue as a guest. Anyway, up on stage was a short arsed guy with big glasses but boy could he perform. This is taken from his debut album, a genuine classic.

I Remember You – The Ramones

There are bands and there are BANDS! It was my wedding anniversary of all days but I had a concert to stage. The support act was a little known outfit called Talking Heads but topping the bill were the Ramones. I had never laid so much money out for one show. A week earlier Ultravox had preformed for me. This show was costing me more than three times as much but it was worth every single penny. I really didn’t know what to expect but my life would never be the same again. How could a band perform 23 songs in 40 minutes? And how come they all started with 1-2-3-4! Quite the most exhilarating concert I have seen. I was exhausted by the end of it. What an absolute buzz!

Anarchy In The UK – Sex Pistols

I first encountered the Sex Pistols on 27th September 1976 when they played for me at the Outlook. They were at the forefront of a new wave but they really weren’t that good. They returned the following year on the ‘secret’ tour where each promoter gave them a name to play under. Variously they played as the Spots and the Hamsters. I christened them the Tax Exiles and if you ever watch the Great Rock ‘N Roll Swindle movie there’s a scene where Sid walks down an alley with fly-posters all over the walls advertising concerts. Look closely and you’ll see one for the Tax Exiles…

I saw the Pistols three times. The second time they came to the club they were astonishingly good. Quite outstanding and they were what I imaging the Stones were like in their prime about 500 years ago. I saw their final gig in the UK at Ivanhoe’s in Huddersfield on Boxing Day but the magic was already beginning to fade…

I Don’t Like Mondays – Boomtown Rats

The Rats were due to appear for me and things were looking good and then this bloody record took off. It was no longer unusual to be working with a band that had a hit record but Mondays took on a life of its own and the gig was pulled. I was fuming! Promises were made of a new date but that never materialised. So reel forward a couple of years and I’m managing this band. We’re playing at the Hammersmith Odeon and I’m working the theatre, checking how the band looked and sounded from the wings, the balcony, the stalls and here I am stood right at the back, downstairs behind the back row and I’m stood next to a solitary tall guy – as big as me. I glanced and then did a double take, it was Bob Geldof. I so wanted to tell him he was a wanker for letting me down but do you know what, I didn’t say a single word. It’s probably the only time in my life that I’ve been lost for words. And fair dos to the guy, he’s done enough in his time to be forgiven. Just wish I’d engaged him in conversation, that’s all. A rare opportunity missed.

Teenage Kicks – Undertones

I never saw this band, have never owned a single record of theirs but I just love them. John Peel’s favourite band, Kicks was played at his funeral and the words ‘teenage dreams so hard to beat’ are engraved on his headstone. They were everything pop music should be, loud, brash, great sing-along choruses and full of angst. The perfect pop band.

Golden Brown – Stranglers

I worked with the Stranglers about four times while their star was on the rise. The last time was at the Gaumont Theatre in Doncaster. I’d been invited to promote the gig on behalf of the band’s management as they attempted to break into bigger venues. Never a punk band but they did have punk attitudes. Jean Jaques Burnel, upset by the treatment handed out by a bouncer, put down his bass, jumped off the stage and waded into the fray! Golden Brown won an Ivor Novello award but apparently Hugh Cornwall was NOT singing about heroin.

New Rose – The Damned

‘Is she really going out with him…?’ Debut single from the Damned and what a bunch of nutters! Great fun though and pulled a terrific crowd. Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible, Rat Scabies, Brian James. I’d go and see them tomorrow. Indeed I’d give any band that was influenced by the MC5 an airing. Now there was a band. In fact bugger it, let’s stick it in here, “Kick Out The Jams Motherf*****s”

Kick Out The Jams – MC5

A real classic from way back in 1969, talk about a band that was out of its time! The Motor City Five led by Fred Sonic Smith, ultimately dropped from the Elektra label because a popular chain of record stores in Detroit refused to sell their records due to the offensive rallying cry. Eat your heart out Johnny Rotten.

Down In The Tube Station At Midnight – The Jam

The Jam were managed by Paul’s dad, John Weller, when I first became involved and I used to see John occasionally in the corridors of Polydor Records when we were using the studios. Always a gent and what a great band. Classic three piece rock. This track was banned from the BBC airwaves due to the disturbing nature of its lyrics (it’s an anti-racism song about jack booted right-wing thugs) yet it still made it to number 15 in the UK singles chart. Tony Blackburn, then a Radio 1 DJ complained, “It’s disgusting the way punks sing about violence. Why can’t they sing about trees and flowers?”

What Do I Get – Buzzcocks

Ah, the ‘Cocks! Melodic punk with a Manc nasal twang and songs from the pen of Pete Shelley. They played for me at a couple of venues and I might have chosen the better known, ‘Ever Fallen In Love’ instead of this track. In 2005 Shelley re-recorded ‘Fallen’ with an all-star group featuring Roger Daltry, Dave Gilmour, Peter Hook, Robert Plant and Elton John. Nice work if you can get it! They played on the 1994 Nirvana tour and still gig today. So now there’s no need to go asking, Whatever happened to the Buzzcocks? And their name appears in the title of a TV programme.

2-4-6-8 Motorway – Tom Robinson

Glad To Be Gay and overtly political. Some bands can be rather serious. Fortunately this one does occasionally turn out a nice anthemic pop tune now and then…

If The Kids Are United – Sham 69

It was a huge gamble putting this act on in the club. We knew they had a reputation and that reputation attracted skinheads which in turn could lead to bovver yet they weren’t a moment’s trouble and I had them back several times. Jimmy Pursey was an odd character and the last time I saw him in the flesh was in the toilets at Sheffield’s Top Rank. He was so off his face on something or other he didn’t even recognise me. There’s political and deadly serious (see above) and there’s political and fun. Sham were the latter but they could bang out a decent foot tapper! His manager/ publisher Tony Gordon pulled a deal for some friends of mine where they would sign for Pursey’s own record label. The records would be promoted and distributed by Polydor whilst JP would produce. You know we never saw him in the studio!

Helter Skelter – Souxsie And The Banshees

The Banshees fascinated me. Honestly, I rebooked them to play the Outlook because I simply couldn’t believe how bad they were the first time. They were darlings of the press and very much part of the inner sanctum but Souxsie scared the sh*t out of me and she couldn’t sing, well, not in the conventional sense. This is a cover of the Beatles song which inspired Charles Manson to embark on a killing spree because he interpreted the unique textures as coded prophesies of a war to arise from racial tensions between blacks and whites.

Private Investigations – Dire Straights

After having the Talking heads appear as support act to the Ramones I jumped at a chance to have them back as headliners. Ed Bicknell did the deal and he talked me into taking a band he managed as the support act. That band was Dire Straits and they cost me all of £50! A lovely. Lovely act. Top class. Great musicians and polite, too. In fact I’d pay them £50 tomorrow, just to play in my front room.

I’m Going Home – Ten Years After

The phone rang. “Bob, will you do me a favour?”

“Sure, what do you want?”

“I’ve a band that’s just about to go out on a stadium tour in America and they need to do a warm-up gig. Can’t say who it is but it’ll only cost you £50. Just let them play as the support act, will you?”

Monday afternoon two articulated lorries pull up outside the venue. Now I know this can’t possibly be John Ottway and Wild Willy Barratt who are due to headline.

Alvin Lee was catapulted to fame in the documentary of Woodstock where he stands bathed in red and blue light playing this track, a track that was seized on by those soldiers fighting in Vietnam. In the late 60’s and early 70’s he toured America 28 times in 7 years, more than any other UK act. By which time he was filling stadiums but he missed the clubs and felt limited by the band’s style. He stopped touring. In 1977 he was on the verge of touring his new band, Ten Years Later and the two trucks outside were filled with his gear.

When John and Willy turned up they went, ‘No way are we going on after Alvin. We’ll do the warm up.’ Alvin played for two hours. He was an absolute gent, signed my old TYA album and I reckon he truly enjoyed himself. I struggled all night to get this vision of him from the Woodstock stage out of my head. It was truly surreal. The kind of night you can never forget.

Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City

Another bloke looking to launch a new band with a warm-up gig. David Coverdale had left Deep Purple and was launching a new band, Whitesnake, who’s albums would ultimately go multi-platinum in the States. Coverdale performed a storming set that blew me away completely. Ain’t No Love was the vocal track which raised hairs on the back of my neck that evening. The after show was interesting, too. Colin Pidgeon who managed the Outlook back then and Coverdale grew up just a few miles apart. I left them to share a bottle of Southern Comfort and talk about their roots while I packed away.

Shake Some Action – The Flamin’ Groovies

Every once in a while a chance came along to indulge yourself with an American act and this one was a bit special. Power pop might describe what they performed, sort of an early Snow Patrol. Early works had entered the category of albums you must hear befor you die but very little was heard of the band between 1971 and 1976 when they teamed up with Dave Edmunds to record this song.

Jack And Diane – John Cougar Mellencamp

This guy had the aura and there’s no wonder. He was to go on and sell over 40 million albums. He was represented by Tony Defries at Mainman Management, who also handled David Bowie. Humble, polite, sensitive are the three words that best summed him up. You know you’ve made it when Bruce Springsteen joins you onstage for an encore. Alas that happened in California, not Doncaster. Hey ho!

Gary Gilmore’s Eyes – The Adverts

As punk matured the anger dissipated and the fear factor was nullified. The establishment’s hatred of the genre made it far more popular than it should ever have been. With maturity came tongue in cheek humour and what better example than this, waking up in hospital following a sight transplant only to learn that you’re now looking through the eyes of a serial killer…

White Wedding – Billy Idol

I did a couple of gigs with Billy, one in Doncaster and one at the Windmill Club in Rotherham. My wife did the door at Rotherham and when this kid in leathers carrying a crash helmet walked past the crowd and straight to the front of the queue she told him in no uncertain terms to get to the back of the queue. Despite protestation she was having none of it and the guy meekly obeyed. It was only when he got to the front that he had a chance to introduce himself, ‘Hi Billy…’


The track I’ve chosen sticks in my mind because I couldn’t get it out of my head one day while fishing a match on the Trent at Burton Joyce. It was the first time the penny had truly dropped about fishing with a moving feeder and I’d blitzed the match netting over 70 chub in the process while all around me struggled. The tune buzzed around my head all day and each time I netted a fish I’d sing the chorus, “Start a-g-a-a-a-i-i-i-n…!”

Stand And Deliver – Adam And The Ants

Fun, frantic and flamboyant but Stuart Leslie Goddard (Adam) scored 11 UK hit singles including two No1s following his appearance on my stage. Not that I had anything to do with that. The last time I saw him I nearly knocked him down as he tried to cross the road in front of our van in North London. He looked to be on a different planet to the rest of us and it seems that may have been one of his good days. In 2002 and 2003 he was brought before various courts, ultimately being sectioned under the Mental Health Act. By the sound of things he’s finally getting his world back together again and I can only wish him the best of luck.

Up The Junction – Squeeze

A strange band, technically gifted, fascinating lyrics and of course besides having Chris Difford and Glen Tilbrook writing the songs, they had a certain Jools Holland on keyboards. Bit of a musician’s band if I’m honest and not the best crowd pleaser. This example of their work has no chorus and the title only appears in the final line of the lyrics. Intelligent rock to while away the time as we awaited the coming of grunge.

Shot By Both Sides – Magazine

In the latter days of the punk boom the muso’s began to emerge from the fashionista’s. Let’s face it, punk was fun but a lot of the music had little substance. Yes, it had energy and the erotica based fashion styles were fun, but it wasn’t going to change the world. Almost before it began punk was being overtaken by the candy floss of ‘new wave’. From the ashes of the Buzzcocks rose Howard Devoto’s Magazine. Based on the traditional guitar – base and drums sound that so typified punk, Magazine released this classic single in 1978. The album, Real Life was revered by critics for its complex song structures and sophisticated musicianship.

By now punk was in decline, even if the patient didn’t realise it was ill. The days of me promoting bands at the Outlook were numbered as the club underwent an image change. I was already managing bands and spending time shuttling back and forth to London but in all fairness I was ready to quit everything and go back to a ‘normal’ life but the passion for music would always reside in my soul.

I Will Follow – U2

One of my bands was playing at a local club this Saturday evening and, as was my routine, I’d listen to the live concert on Radio Two at tea time. You have to remember that these were the days before CDs, before IPods and Internet downloads. I recorded the concert on a C-60 cassette tapeand if I were to search I’m sure it is still kicking around somewhere today. I’d heard a lot about this band, and they were promoting their debut album, Boy. I will Follow was the first track.

Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing, so goes the American philosophy. Essentially a rip-off of The Pixies, ‘Spirit’ ignited the grunge craze – loud guitars and angst-ridden lyrics. Many tried to copy but few came anywhere close. Music for boys!

November Rain – Guns ‘n Roses

You know, occasionally I’ll draw the curtains, crank up the stereo and play my air guitar to this track. It’s the longest ever top 10 hit containing the longest guitar solo in any hit record. Indeed it contains two guitar solos. A timeless ballad with a very hard edge.

Smooth – Santana

We’re getting close to the end of this playlist and it would be rude not to include a track by the legendary Carlos Santana. Written by Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty and Itaal Shur it slots straight into the phenomenal Supernatural album. When I hear the album I’m reminded of driving back from the River Dove at ridiculously high speeds. Not an album to play in the car if you hope to hang on to your driving license.

Champagne Supernova – Oasis

Let’s close with an anthem. You can’t escape from the Pixies either. Noel got the track title when he misheard the name of the Pixies Bossanova album while watching a documentary about champagne. Paul Weller guests on guitar but it’s the enigmatic nature of the lyrics that has drawn both praise and criticism. Noel Gallagher said in an interview, “When 60,000 people are singing it, it means something different to every one of them.”

Slowly walking down the hall/ Faster than a cannonball…


Classic though.

Hope you’ve enjoyed these tracks. Just can’t keep thinking about the one’s I should have included, maybe a Tracks Of 2 is needed. Time’s the trouble, where does it go? You’ll not believe how much time I’ve wasted on this playlist, but what is life for, eh?


In the comments below Macca has provided this link to a Youtube video of Todd Rungren playing live. I’ve inserted it here so it will open in a new window and to avoid you being whisked away from the web site. Unfortunately the track is not available in an embedded version.

22 thoughts on “Tracks Of My Years

  1. Hi Bob,

    Just brilliant mate, when you write like this you are in a completely different class.



  2. Footage of Todd performing Black Maria during last years Arena tour.I still reminisce about seeing Todd rundgren and Led Zeppelin at Knebworth 79…Good days
    Great site Bob…Macca

  3. I did own a couple of TR albums way back when, Todd and Something/Anything. Like many great artists he didn’t make the list, mainly because I never actually saw him live…

    Macca, I’ve removed the link as it transports viewers away from this site. However, I’ve added it to the foot of the article in a way that opens up the video in a new window.

    Cheers mate!

  4. Some excellent Song Choices from the above Play List, some i haven’t even heard before as well.

    Pity though you missed Pink Floyd, that would have been something you would have surely cherished for a long long time to come.
    Anyway, it looks like this missing Pink Floyd is becoming a habit, the song “Wish You Were Here” doesn’t actually appear on the song list ……………. 😀

    Thank you for all the other songs, and for writing some excellent Blogs that i am just getting my head around now.

    Tight Lines.


  5. Sorry about that Steph but if you have another go you’ll find it’s there now!

    If any of these tracks drop out just give me a shout and I’ll do my best to reinstate them.



  6. See, now you can’t say any fairer, or faster than that. Service with a speedy smile. 😀

    Cheers Bob you’re a Star.



  7. So it was you who put the bands on at the outlook,ruined my apprenticeship but made my nights! Thankyou Very Much…..
    Billy Idol wasn’t wearing blue suede shoes was he? Was it the Killermeters playing support that night? I remember the floor bouncing so bad the D.J. had problems keeping the needle on the records.
    Thanks for this
    and that!

  8. Read more fantastic accounts from Bob and his Outlook experiences in my forthcoming book ‘Out of Control: Punk Rock at the Doncaster Outlook and Rotherham Windmill 1976 -85’ Due out in June… check out my website for regular updates.

  9. Read more fantastic accounts from Bob and his Outlook experiences in my forthcoming book ‘Out of Control: Punk Rock at the Doncaster Outlook and Rotherham Windmill 1976 -79 Due out in June… check out my website for regular updates.

  10. OMG! I used to go to Donny Outlook’s Rock Nights (75-76-ish). Got the bus in from Edlo and usually walked home. Couldn’t afford a taxi. Remember SAHB, Fruup, even Bowie! Also saw that Stranglers gig at the Gaumont.

  11. No Clash! You must be a fucking retarded? Selecting The Boomtown Rats, Little boy buggerer, Michael Jackson, there is so much crap music in this selection I better change that to a fucking DEAF retard!!!

  12. I rather think David has anger management issues, don’t you? Or perhaps he doesn’t understand that Tracks Of My Years are my years, not his…?

    These are songs I have grown up with, by bands that I saw playing live or influenced me in some way.

    Sadly, I never saw the Clash play live. Did meet a few band members but they have no relevance to me as such.

    Then again, it could be another pseudonym, undoubtedly the work of a certain sad individual who’s hoping for a reaction.

    As though anyone actually cares.

    Keep taking the pills, ‘David’.

  13. To be honest I think the Clash are an overhyped one hit bunch of wankers.

    Dandy Warhols,James Brown, REM, GunsNRoses, Eurythmics,Man2Man meetsman Parish….loads of quality on my list ;O)

    • Ditto the REM, Lee, although I can’t listen to my REM cd’s at the moment cos the old mans borrowed ’em for his week long trip to western europe.

  14. Does ‘ a fucking retarded ‘ actually make sense? An interesting use of English, innit?

  15. It does if you are dyslexic, as I suspect this rather sad individual is.

    Trying to provoke a reaction from behind a disguise appears to be his trademark.

    A sad individual, more to be pittied than blamed, but it takes all sorts.

    Perhaps he’s tone deaf?

  16. You know how the saying goes, Bob, it takes all sorts to make a world! Well I pity the fool….

  17. Just read that Yes bass player has died. My first concert was Yes If Egg at the top rank. Googled and this site came up. Good memories.

  18. Fondly remember 4 of us going up to the Outlook in Doncaster for the Ramones/Talking Heads gig…. In a minivan, driver had no Licence, tax, Insurance, nothing at all really that qualified him to drive. Saw a brilliant gig then climbed in the back of the van passing round a joint.. trouble is van wouldn’t start, needed a jump start . The driver decided the best thing to do was ask the local Gendarmes to give us a push. We climbed out of the back in a cloud of smoke and the local bobbies helped us push it !! When I eventually came round I couldn’t believe what had occurred…. I reckon they just decided it was better to get us off their patch rather than fill out loads of paperwork….

  19. Eyup Bob, hope you are keeping well. The music bar down the stairs in Sheffield was The Wapentake Bar. Whilst a student in Sheffield most of my grant went on concert tickets and bottles of Newky Brown at The Wap’.I never bought a single text book!!