These were a few notes for a series of radio shows that Mike and me put together!! We called ourselves SHYTE!!
The Oph and Mike Karma Sutra of Sound
We look at Rock music from different positions
Programme 9 – Mid 60s British consolidation & songwriting development
We’re Opher and Mike and together we’re SHYTE!!!!
Around the mid-60s Britain still ruled the planet. The States had made a few forays with Bob Dylan, the Byrds and a bit of Surf music from the Beach Boys, but it was the long-haired English bands that set the pace, called the tunes and defined the fashion.
They’d moved on from covering Blues, R&B and R&R to writing their own songs. This was the transition phase between British Beat and the start of the 60s Underground.
The Yardbirds had started as an R&B Blues cover band. Though they put their own style on it, speeded it up and built up to freak out crescendos – a brilliant exciting live band. They’d backed Sonny Boy Williamson on tour, recorded Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters songs and then moved on.
The mid sixties saw the exit of Eric Clapton and the entrance of a brilliant innovative guitarist, fresh from the Tridents, Jeff Beck.
Beck brought a new edge to the band. His playing was loud, raw and exciting and it was different and distinctive
Yardbirds – Over under sideways down
The who had started out doing Slim Harpo covers – got love if you want it. Their management made them into a Mod band. Mods and Rockers were all the thing in the mid-60s. With fights on Brighton beach and rallies on old LD Scooters in Parkas.
Mods wore their hair layered, smart Italian suits and Parkas with fur trim. They rode around on scooters with loads of headlights, dangly bits, aerials and Mod girls draped on the back all trying to look like Twiggy.
Rockers wore greasy leather jackets, motorcycle boots and jeans and rode big Triumphs or BSAs.
At one end of my town was a Mod café – they played Ska and Beat and dropped purple hearts – amphetamines.
At the other end was a rockers café. They listened to loud Rock n Roll.
The Who developed their Mod Art with roundels and union jack jackets and a wild act representing the rebellion of the time. They had the best live act of all with their mad drumming from Keith Moon, Their guitar gymnastics from Pete Townsend, microphone mayhem from Roger Daltrey, held together by John Entwhistles revolutionary bass playing. They finished it off by wrecking their instruments in a final act of mayhem and feedback.
Who – My generation
The Smallfaces were the other big Mod band fronted by Steve Marriott. They too started out with R&B covers but by the mid-60s were doing weirder stuff. I never quite got into the strange cockney type stuff. Sounded a bit to Chas and Dave for my liking but stuff like Itchycoo park was in another league.
Smallfaces – Itchycoo park
The Pretty Things were always too far out. Phil May always had the longest hair. They moved into songwriting in a big way and arguably wrote the first Rock Opera with SF Sorrow.
By the mid-sixties they were treading a very alternative path.
Prettythings – LSD
The Beatles were never a band to be left behind. They remained at the forefront of things right up to their break up in 1970.
Every single release seemed to take them to a new level and a new direction. By the mid 60s they were ploughing some weird and wonderful stuff on albums such as Rubber Soul and Revolver. Tomorrow never knows came out of an LSD experience with Peter Fonda and the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
Beatles – Tomorrow never knows
The Stones didn’t stand still either. Their best years were ahead of them but the mid-60s was fertile ground for them, churning out some classic songs such as ‘have you seen your mother, baby standing in the shadows’, 19th Nervous breakdown, Ruby Tuesday, Let’s spend the night together, Last time. They held their position as the bad boys.
Rolling Stones – 19th Nervous breakdown
The Downliners Sect sadly never hit the heights the promise of their brilliant debut album indicated. They released a couple more albums, trying to jump on the Country trend and then Rock trend without great success.
He was a square was quite fun. I used to play it a lot.
Downliners Sect – He was a square
It was in the mid 60s that Ray Davies really came into his own as a songwriter. He specialized in quiet English songs of precise social observation as you get on Well Respected Man or Dedicated Follower of Fashion. The 60sc were littered with his brilliant songs – Waterloo Sunset, Days, Lola, See my friend etc, etc.
Kinks – Well Respected man
The Animals were most prolific and successful with a string of hits but never seemed to develop too much and remained a bit commercial. None the less they produced some great tracks before splitting up and Eric Burden going off to form the more progressive New Animals.
Animals – Don’t bring me down
There were a few new British bands that started up. The Zombies were one. Not really a Beat group. They went on to produce a brilliant final album in the late 60s -Odessey and Oracle – before splitting.
Zombies – She’s not there
Amen Corner, featuring Andy Fairweather-Lowe, were another new addition. Andy went on to feature in many other projects in the future.
Amen Corner – If Paradise was half as nice
The Searchers managed to hang on for a while. They were a big influence on the guitar sound of the Byrds. They did some topical stuff with Jackie De Shannon numbers.
Searchers – What have they done to the rain
The end of this interim period is very confused but it gave way to the British Underground proper with its Blues Bands, Psychedelia, Folkrock, and Progressive Rock.
By the end of 1966 the underground was beginning to build ready for the great summer of love in 1967.
A band that heralded this transition was Jimi Hendrix. They exploded on the scene and propelled everything forward.
Jimi Hendrix – Hey Joe
Suddenly we had Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, Cream, Jethro Tull, Taste, Incredible String Band, Traffic, Family, Arthur Brown, Edgar Broughton, Fairport Convention, Strawbs, Social Deviants, Chicken Shack, John Mayall and a whole new Ball Game. But that’s another story.