Between a world of cancelled and postponed gigs and time spent in lockdown, 2020 has been a troubled year, but nevertheless, time marches on. Unbelievably, we’ve reached December and our traditional countdown to Christmas has begun.
Mixing pop, acoustic singer songwriter chops, a touch of dream pop and a light country steel guitar, Sophia Marshall’s previous covers EPs have delivered at least one track apiece that’s been absolutely marvellous. She’s turned the melancholy of Blur’s ‘End of the Century’ into something even more heartfelt, while The Kinks’ ‘I Go To Sleep’ – already drenched in sadness – became even sadder, with her lilting vocal style dripping from every syllable.
Whilst previous EPs have been themed by artist (The Kinks represented via a cover of a Pretenders cover), ‘Loose Torque’ is themed by subject. The three featured tracks are all concerned with cars – and in a big surprise, there’s nothing included by Gary Numan or new wave legends The Cars. Maybe those synth heavy sounds just wouldn’t translate. Instead, Marshall has chosen three pop and rock tunes from three rather disparate artists which. when applied with her own easy style, results in something that flows very well.
If 1972 were the year where the 1970s took on its own distinctive image with glam rock flaunting its majesty in a peacock-like fashion, then 1973 was the year the beards fought back. Every up has its flipside and so it goes here. The polar opposite of Bolan’s optimism, 1973’s biggest selling albums included Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of The Moon’ (a lavish concept album about depression and mental stability), The Who’s ‘Quadrophenia’ (a concept album about angst, youth and mental stability) and Mike Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells’, arguably the biggest foray into self-indulgent prog rock this side of Yes’ double platter bore-fest ‘Tales of Topographic Oceans’ (also released in 1973).
That’s not so say the great and accessible pop and rock had been swept away, of course. Nor that glam was dead – far from it, in fact. Sweet scored some big hit singles, Bolan told us the ‘Children of the Revolution’ couldn’t be fooled and one time hard rockers Slade escalated in popularity on the back of some great singles.
At an unspecific point in 1979, my dad arrived home from work carrying a long playing record. It turned out to be the new Police album. At this point, ‘Message In a Bottle’ had been all over the radio and I knew I liked this new music. My mum, on the other hand did not have quite the same enthusiasm; she’s a bit put out that this does not have ‘Roxanne’ on it. Presumably, the album – like others – had been purchased at Barnaby’s, a record shop (no longer there) very near my dad’s then place of employment; a giant tin shed in which he worked with dangerous acidic chemicals and little regard for health and safety. That Police album (‘Reggatta De Blanc’) got played a lot. If I think hard, I can still see Dad sitting by his Fidelity stereo system lifting the needle onto the record and playing the title track over and over and I remember thinking how fitting it was that the word emblazoned on the front looked a bit like the word fiddle. That piece of music must have spoken to him: decades later, he would still attract my attention by calling my name to the tune of that track.
The sight of my dad coming home with new music in this way was not entirely uncommon.
Real Gone’s first Queen poll, looking at the band’s 70s work, was a roaring success. Hot on its heels, we ran a second poll asking you to vote for your favourite songs from the second phase of their much-celebrated career. While similarly successful, the second poll showed how much love fans have for band’s singles – in this case, far more so than the album material.
There’s no denying the quality of Queen’s hits between 1980-1991. Aside from those from the “marmite” album ‘Hot Space’ (1982), the band achieved wall-to-wall greatness in the singles department during their stadium years; their singles still in regular radio rotation the world over. …And fans clearly still love them.