From an historical perspective, Judie Tzuke’s ‘Road Noise: The Official Bootleg’ is an interesting proposition. At the time of its original release in 1982, the double live album format had been dominated by rock bands – it was rare that a contemporary pop artist or singer songwriter would bother with such a release. Also, its extended format had almost become yesterdays news. In a musical landscape populated by synth pop bands and the birth of the New Romantics, the 7” single had once again become king, much as it had been in the early to mid sixties. The decision for Tzuke to release a double platter of live material in the Autumn of ’82 certainly went against the grain.
On the surface, it would seem that the British blues boom has been well served by compilation discs over the years. On closer inspection, that hasn’t really been the case at all: the best anthologies tend to be label specific (Blue Horizon’s ‘The Blue Horizon Story’, Decca’s ‘The Blues Scene’ and Immediate’s ‘Blues Anytime’ series, later repackaged as an excellent four CD set by Charly Records). The bulk of the rest seem too concerned with repackaging bits of ‘Blues Anytime’ with cheap, inferior packaging. There hasn’t ever really been a decent compilation covering a lot of ground from different labels, or one unafraid to dig a little deeper beyond the usual suspects.
The sounds of psychedelia’s peak from 1967 and going into 1968 have been well documented. Whether delving into the classics of the era or digging for obscurities, there are a wealth of great tunes to be found within an eighteen month period. By 1969, the musical tide was very much turning; British whimsy and three minute pop gems about myriad cups of tea and talking gnomes had largely been pushed aside for harder rock sounds. Various bands clung on for dear life, of course, and even well into 1969 there were bands across Britain knocking out various 7” pieces of plastic for the psychedelic cause. In another volume of musical history, Grapefruit Records have dug deep to bring three discs of interesting cuts from the year. The results are quite often less gaudily coloured, but you’ll still find a few bands sticking to familiar formulae. While at least half of the material gathered here is more of the well-honed pop/rock variety than flat out psych, the journey is one that’s still more than worth taking. Covering over seventy tracks in all, such a box set could seem daunting, but the curators have included at least ten familiar names, which actually adds to the commercial appeal without detracting from the potential obscurities and rarities.
Few musicians hope they will be in the spotlight for fifty years and even fewer expect to spend that long with the same band. For guitarist Rick Parfitt, of course, this was pretty much the case. The young Richard Parfitt joined the fledgling Status Quo (previously called The Spectres) in 1967. His friendship with Francis Rossi now more than cemented, they both became committed to the band, which from 1967 scored hits across the bulk of the next five decades.
It is normally customary at this time of year for Real Gone to put together a brief round-up of the year’s high points, detailing our top ten releases of the previous twelve months and drawing attention to a few more great recordings that didn’t quite make the cut.
This year – 2016 – has been somewhat different. Somewhat challenging, to say the least. That’s not to say there hasn’t been good music, since there has been various gems to be discovered throughout the previous twelve months (and we shall be sharing our thoughts on such things with you in due course), but most of the positive feelings surrounding the year have been clouded by the spectre of death.