Opher’s World Roll of Rock honours

Opher’s World Roll of Rock honours

Opher’s World Roll of Rock honours

Well it seems that every day another luminary bites the dust.

I thought it about time to do a list of all the great Rockers who are no longer with us. I use the term Rocker in its widest possible context. These are the guys I’ve loved. If I didn’t like them they don’t feature.

They don’t have to be good. They merely have to have impacted on me at some time in my life.

They are not in any order and I’ve probably repeated or missed out lots. Just let me know who and I’ll put them in.

 

Opher’s Roll of Rock Honours

 

Jimi Hendrix

John Lennon

Brian Jones

Elvis Presley

Bo Diddley

Duster Bennett

Jim Morrison

Paul Kantner

Lou Reed

Buddy Holly

George Harrison

Muddy Waters

Son House

Hank Williams

Robert Johnson

Jackson C Frank

Tommy Tucker

Slim Harpo

Eddie Cochran

Gene Vincent

Esquirita

Otis Redding

Bessie Smith

John Cipollina

Junior Kimbrough

Jimmy Reed

Bo Carter

Bert Jansch

John Renbourn

Keith Emmerson

David Bowie

Ian Dury

Syd Barrett

Nick Drake

Phil Ochs

Woody Guthrie

Don Van Vliet

Rick Wright

Jack Bruce

Keith Moon

Paul Kossof

Keith Relf

Ronnie Lane

Joe Strummer

Pete Seeger

John Peel

Johnny Thunders

Joey Ramone

Nico

Albert King

Kokomo Arnold

Alexis Korner

Graham Bond

Elmore James

Ray Manzarek

Willie Dixon

Johnny Kidd

Sonny Burgess

Billy Lee Riley

Etta James

Hound Dog Taylor

Big Mama Thornton

Screaming Jay Hawkins

Sandy Denny

Janis Joplin

John Lee Hooker

Billy Boy Arnold

Memphis Minnie

Carl Perkins

Billy Fury

Jet Harris

Adam Faith

Bill Monroe

Bill Haley

Louis Jordan

Ben E King

BB King

Davy Graham

Sonny Boy Williamson

Sonny Terry

Leadbelly

Lonnie Donnegan

Ken Colyer

RL Burnside

Professor Longhair

Richard Farina

Arthur Lee

Bryan Maclean

Alan Freed

Little Walter

Sid Vicious

John Bonham

Bob Hite

Bob Marley

Roy Brown

Chris Wood

Marvin Gaye

Dennis Wilson

Freddie King

T-Model Ford

Ian Stewart

Big Joe Williams

Steve Marriott

Rick Grech

Kurt Cobain

Nicky Hopkins

Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith

Rory Gallagher

Jerry Garcia

Jeff Buckley

Cozy Powell

Gene Autry

Heinz

Kirsty Macoll

Joey Ramone

Rufus Thomas

John Entwhistle

Noel Redding

Mitch Mitchell

Edwin Starr

Johnny Cash

Ray Charles

Jim Capaldi

Long John Baldry

James Brown

Ruth Brown

Ike Turner

Dewey Msartin

Snooks Eaglin

Andy Fraser

Frankie Ford

Mick Green

Dale Hawkins

Gregory Isaacs

Peter Tosh

Michael Smith

Poly Styrene

Amy Winehouse

Hubert Sumlin

Johnny Otis

Levon Helm

Paul Butterfield

Mike Bloomfield

Percy Sledge

George Martin

John Lord

Kevin Ayers

Alvin Lee

Trevor Bolder

JJ Cale

Bobby Womack

Tommy Ramone

Johnny Winter

Bobby Keys

Cilla Black

Allen Toussaint

Johnny Gustafson

Phil Everly

Doc Watson

Sky Saxon

Lux Interior

Boz Burrell

Alex St Claire

Hank Ballard

Chuck Willis

Skip Spence

Screaming Lord Sutch

Lee Brilleaux

Mick Ronson

Albert Collins

Peter Tosh

Joe Tex

Tim Hardin

Steve Peregrine Took

Marc Bolan

Bon Scott

Ron ‘Pigpen’ McKernan

Clyde McPhatter

Junior Parker

Duane Allman

Al Wilson

Sam Cooke

Cyril Davies

Cliff Gallup

Elmore James

Ray Manzarek

Willie Dixon

Johnny Kidd

Sonny Burgess

Billy Lee Riley

Etta James

Dusty Springfield

Hound Dog Taylor

Big Mama Thornton

Big Maybelle

Sandy Denny

Janis Joplin

John Lee Hooker

Billy Boy Arnold

Memphis Minnie

Carl Perkins

Billy Fury

Adam Faith

Bill Monroe

Bill Haley

Louis Jordan

Ben E King

Davy Graham

Sonny Boy Williamson

Sonny Terry

Leadbelly

Lonnie Donnegan

Ken Colyer

Brownie McGhee

Professor Longhair

Richard Farina

Peter Lafarge

Arthur Lee

Bryan Maclean

Otis Spann

James Cotton

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George Martin – a tribute from Opher’s World

George Martin – a tribute from Opher’s World

Rock Routes

So what would the Beatles have been without him? Probably not even discovered.

Back in 1962 the general consensus of opinion was that Rock Music and guitar based bands had had their day. All the jolly Rockers (Like Cliff, Marty and Billy) were moving into soft crooning ballads. Nobody wanted a raw, rough, scruffy Rock Band.

The Beatles had been touted round the record labels, been rejected by Decca after a mediocre audition, and EMI were their last chance.

It was iffy. But George Martin must have seen something. He took a chance on them.

That first album was really their stage act. A virtual live studio recording of the R&B and Rock ‘n’ Roll (plus Paul’s odd standard) that made up their live performances. It had the odd one of their own compositions. It was George who gave them their head in the studio. It was George who recognised the worth of their rudimentary songwriting abilities and allowed them to put out first Love Me Do and then Please, Please Me.

It’s easy, looking back, to see how good they were and what potential they had. But I bet it wasn’t easy back then. They were not a polished unit. Those early compositions were great but did they stand out? They needed a touch of faith.

It was George who had that faith. He stuck his neck out.

George was quite a staid, conservative character, and not at all like the wild scousers. He was cultured and from a different region of society. Yet he was a brilliant producer and struck up a rapport with them that was special and unique for the time.

It was George who allowed them access to the production side. He worked with them to assist in the development of their music so that they progressed from simple R&B to the more progress, psychedelic songs of the later sixties. He didn’t have to. The Beatles were probably pressing for it but he could have kept them out. That relationship was crucial. He was one of the ingredients that kept the Beatles at the forefront of what was going on. He helped them move to a new level of Rock that was a million miles away from those early songs.

George probably had to put up with a lot. There was the notorious pot and LSD, the politics and social stuff. It was probably quite foreign to his world, nd yet he did not allow it to intrude into his relationship. They accepted each other for what they were. He did not even fall out with them when they brought in Spector for Let It Be. That’s the measure of the man.

They called him the fifth Beatle. Well another one has gone and be sadly missed. But we have the music and the legacy.

Thanks George – you faith and vision gave us the Beatles and a whole new world!

If you enjoy my writing on Rock Music you might like to have a look at my books on Rock Music:

In Search of Captain Beefheart

537 Essential Rock Albums pt. 1

Rock Routes

Opher’s World Tributes to Rock Geniuses

Or have a look at all my other books:

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Brussels – All you need is love

Brussels – All you need is love

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It seems an age ago that we back in the sixties and there was hope.

The world was not a place of butchery and hatred where young people were willing to blow themselves to pieces.

Love was the message.

Young people trekked out across the planet exporting their smiles. Friendship and sharing were the mantra, equality and freedom was the ethos.

The only blot on the landscape was the war in Vietnam.

That world seems so innocent now. But it was love that made it possible. If you meet someone as an equal with a smile and respect you make contact.

Somehow the radicalised young Muslims have been talked into hatred. They feel ostracised from society and have grown to despise it. Gone are the days that all the world wore flares. We are fractured.

It is time to heal.

You do not cure hatred with more hate.

The Beatles have been rather neglected and denigrated of late. They were the greatest band ever because of their genius and adventurousness. They were at the forefront of the sixties culture and they had a knack of summing things up.

All You Need Is Love

Love, love, love
Love, love, love
Love, love, loveThere’s nothing you can do that can’t be done
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It’s easyNothing you can make that can’t be made
No one you can save that can’t be saved
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time
It’s easy

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

Love, love, love
Love, love, love
Love, love, love

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

Nothing you can know that isn’t known
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown
Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be
It’s easy

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

All you need is love (All together, now!)
All you need is love (Everybody!)
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Yee-hai! (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)

Anecdote – Jackson C Frank at a small club on Ilford High Street in 1969

Anecdote – Jackson C Frank at a small club on Ilford High Street in 1969

 

Jackson C Frank at a small club on Ilford High Street in 1969

Jackson C frank was a major singer-songwriter from the sixties though not too many people would know that. He was a regular at Les Cousin,  partnered Sandy Denny and persuaded her to give up her job and sing full time, was a close friend of Roy Harper (who wrote the song My Friend for him) and was a great influence on all those songwriters of that era. His first album, recorded in 1965, being groundbreaking. A beautiful, melodic album of well-crafted introspective songs that are haunting.

The Contemporary Folk scene had taken off in a big way in England. Donovan had popularised it and Dylan’s success had made acoustic music a viable commercial exercise but the whole scene had blossomed underground with the likes of Davy Graham, Bert Jansch and John Renbourn. It had different roots to that of Greenwich Village in America, although there was a lot of overlap.

I stumbled across this folk phenomenon via a number of sources. When I was fourteen I had been introduced to Woody Guthrie and Big Bill Broonzy by a girlfriend of mine. Then Donovan had started playing on Ready Steady Go. It seemed to fit together. Donovan at the time put the same sign on his guitar that he’d stolen from Woody – ‘This machine kills fascists’. I liked that.

Then Robert Ede and Neil Furby played a part in my education. They were two school-mates. Neil nicked one of my girlfriends but he introduced me to Bert Jansch and John Rebourn, so I suppose that was a fair exchange. Bob had bought the Jackson album the day it came out (he was way ahead of the game) and lent it to me. I loved it. I was hooked right from that first hearing. It was perfect – the voice, guitar, melodies and lyrics all gelled for me. I immediately went out and bought my own copy.

So contemporary Folk Music became a big part of my life.

The final culmination of that time was to discover Roy Harper in Les Cousins with his first album. That blew them all away. But that’s another story.

Back in those halcyon days of the mid-sixties, 1965-66, prior to the advent of Roy, I spent a lot of time in my room with my old dansette record player, playing those first albums by Bert and John. I just loved the passion, integrity and guitar. But the album I played most was Jackson’s. Those songs were absorbed into my being. I knew them inside out.

For over three years I enjoyed that album. When I went to college I met up with Pete and we roomed together for two years. It was a delight to discover that he not only also adored Jackson but could play all his songs. Pete was an outstanding guitarist.

Most of the time in London I never saw Jackson advertised anywhere though he did play the folk scene and was a regular at Les Cousins where I went quite often. I looked out for him without success. But there was so much going on in the Folk and Rock scene that it was not foremost in my mind.

Then in 1969 Pete and I discovered Jackson billed at the Angel in Ilford High Street. The Angel was a pub with a room above it for small music events.

We arrived early. It was set out with a number of round tables with chairs around them. We purloined a table at the front. There were only about thirty people in the Audience. Jackson was quiet and softly spoken, very laid back. He played his songs faultlessly. They were all the songs from that album with nothing new. We clapped each rendition madly. It was brilliant to see him in the flesh. His playing was faultless. His personality shone and those songs were sparkling diamonds.

I would have loved to have heard some other new songs as well though. We were hungry for more of these extraordinary compositions. It was not to be.

After the concert everybody else left but we stayed behind and chatted.  Jackson was very friendly and appreciative. He told us that there was no fabled second album or live performance. He said he had not written any other songs but that turned out not to be quite true. The song Golden Mirror, which has just been discovered from a TV programme, is from that period. I do not think he had the confidence in his new material.

Jackson left Pete and I with the sense of a really warm and shy character who was very approachable. We both thought he was a genius.

The next week he was supposed to have turned up for a guest appearance (the only guest – an honoured spot) at Roy Harper’s fabled St Pancras Town Hall gig. He never showed up. I asked the guy he had been with in Ilford, who did turn up to the Roy gig. He informed that Jackson would have come but he was unwell.

I never saw him advertised again. He seemed to evaporate into the night.

I spoke to Roy about it much later and he sadly shook his head and told me he had not seen him again either.

It was only long afterwards when the CD, with those later recordings, came out in the 1990s that I became aware of his tragic fate.

I remember Jackson fondly. He was a sweet, pleasant man, full of emotion and compassion. He wrote songs and music that were so touching and beautiful that they still haunt me.

I think he suffered. He was too kind and vulnerable. Fears robbed him of his potential. The terrible memories of that High School fire in which he was burnt and his girlfriend and fourteen others died, haunted him. It created a mental anguish that he never recovered from. Nobody deserved to suffer the way he did. He was a genius who impacted on the music and songwriting of so many others – including Roy, Sandy, Bert, John and the Fairports. He should have been lauded to the rafters. Instead he is largely forgotten.

I’ll never forget that night in Ilford. That might have been his last gig.

Anecdote – The Sixties Underground Rock venues – The Toby Jug

Anecdote – The Sixties Underground Rock venues – The Toby Jug

Rock Routes

The Sixties Underground Rock venues – The Toby Jug

Back in the sixties when Rock music was king of the culture and all possibility prevailed there were a plethora of clubs in London and its surrounds.

I lived in London and had access to it all. London was the place to be. It was where everything was happening. There were so many venues catering for the full spectrum of music and so many bands. Every night of the week was a quagmire of decisions. We were utterly spoilt for choice. Each week I would get the NME or Time Out along with my copy of IT and peruse the gig list. It was overwhelming. I usually went to around three gigs a week and two of those were Harper gigs. But Roy played with a lot of other people and I managed to meet a number of brilliant bands through Roy Harper concerts. He certainly did not confine himself to the ‘folk’ circuit. Roy described himself as a one man Rock ‘n’ Roll band and that’s how he treated it. Not only did he perform with the likes of Ralph McTell, John Renbourn, Ron Geesin, John Martyn and Al Stewart but he also appeared alongside bands such as Free, the Bonzos, Nice and Pentangle. Just by following Roy I picked up on a lot of the best of what was around.

Those were heady days for heads, freaks and denizens of the alternative world. You would meet up with old and new friends. These were the days when you could tell a friend by the length of his hair and the clothes he wore. This was the new society. You would cross a road to say hi to complete strangers and indulge in debate about music and social events. They were the days of quiet revolution.

One of my favourite venues was the Toby Jug at Tolsworth. It was a big old pub with a large room at the back. That was the scene of a weekly Blues club. The term blues was used very loosely. They had bands as diverse as Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin and Captain Beefheart.

My favourites were always Fleetwood Mac. That band always rocked. I thought the brilliant rhythm section created by McVee and Fleetwood really allowed Pete Green and Jeremy Spencer to let rip. They were two or three bands in one.

Liz liked to dance and so we used to find space at the back and give it some energetic prancing.

What was good about the Toby Jug was that you had the room to dance but could also get near to the stage to watch the performance. For 25p you were able to see Ian Anderson play flute while standing like a stork on one leg, or watch Jimmy Page churn out those riffs. That was the place I saw Beefheart and Led Zep, up close and personal, and all for a mere 25p. None of this stadium stuff with binoculars. You could stand at the front and be a couple of feet away from Jimmy Page or Pete Green and watch their fingers as they teased the strings. You could mingle without the need of backstage passes. They weren’t so much ‘stars’ as revered exponents of ‘our’ music, fully fledged members of the new society. You felt as if we were all in some new ethos together.

We had some high old times.

The Toby Jug was one of my special 1960s haunts. Fond memories.

If you enjoy my poems or anecdotes why not purchase a paperback of anecdotes for £7.25 or a kindle version for free.

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Anecdote – Roy Harper at St Pancras Town Hall 1969

Anecdote – Roy Harper at St Pancras Town Hall 1969?

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Roy Harper at St Pancras Town Hall 1969

When I first saw Roy Harper he was at the beginning of his career. The first gig was sandwiched between Bert Jansch and John Renbourn at Les Cousins. Roy was one of those regulars there and not yet one of the headliners.

I was smitten. Not only were the songs extraordinary but the banter was revolutionary. I hadn’t heard anyone talk like this. It seemed to me that I was hearing some young Jack Kerouac on speed, in one long stream of consciousness. You not only received a brilliant musical event but you also were regaled with whatever thoughts were going through that remarkable mind…. And there were no end of thoughts. Roy would say whatever came into his head. His mind was like quicksilver. There were asides, commentary and polemic. It was unfiltered. I had not heard anyone like it. Not only that, but his thoughts were echoing my own. It was as if he was articulating all of the concerns that I was experiencing.

You did not get a concert with Roy. It wasn’t so much of a performance. He treated the audience as if they were friends and the club as if it was his front room. This annoyed a lot of people. They wanted a slick presentation. They wanted to sit and appreciate the guitar playing, melody and songs. For me that was not the crucial element. I was enthralled with the ideas, the exchanges of views, and the unadulterated access to the mind of another human being, someone with the same sensibilities as myself. I was as intrigued by the diatribes and asides as I was by the music. I did not mind if he stopped halfway through a song to inform us of a thought, tale or idea that had just strayed into his head. I found that extraordinary and illuminating. He was opening himself up and revealing his inner thoughts. There was no holding back. I’d never encountered anyone like that before.

It must have appealed to a lot of other people too. When I started following Roy he was playing the small club s and venues to small audiences. That rapidly changed. It happened almost overnight. One minute there were thirty or fifty people and the next there were queues around the block.

Roy was extraordinary

I saw the change.

The St Pancras Town Hall gig felt like the end of an era. It was a farewell to the warm intimate meetings of a small group of friends and the ushering in of a larger arena. For me it was the change from Roy the small-time amateur, free-wheeler, to Roy the performer.

That gig was special – a watershed.

It was as if all the faithful gathered together in one place for one last bash. This was Roy with his friends. After this it would never quite be the same. We would have to share him with both the rest of the music punters and show biz in general.

For this evening we had him to ourselves.

I still remember it. There are concerts when everything comes together to create perfection. The audience and Roy were one. Roy was relaxed. The music and banter flowed and gelled and everything was suffused with warmth.

You do not get too many magical evenings like that. This wasn’t a concert so much as a sharing of spirit.

St Pancras Town Hall was the end of the beginning and a more suitable gig could not have been arranged. We were moving into the next and larger phase and it would be one filled with delights as Roy blossomed musically and his recording career took off, but nothing could ever transcend the intimacy of that evening.

If you enjoy my poems or anecdotes why not purchase a paperback of anecdotes for £7.25 or a kindle version for free.

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Or a book of poetry and comment:

Rhyme and Reason – just £3.98 for the paperback or free on Kindle

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In search of Captain Beefheart – just £6.91 for the paperback – Kindle free

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Elmore James – a genius on the slide guitar – Blues from Heaven

Elmore James – a genius on the slide guitar – Blues from Heaven

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The first time I heard Elmore I was smitten. I was fifteen years old and I loved the sound of the guitar. In terms of Blues guitar I had been introduced to Lightnin’ Hopkins, Howlin’ Wold (Hubert Sumlin on guitar), Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker and I adored the sound they made. But when I heard that extraordinary searing slide guitar of Elmore’s I was amazed. It was so strident and rich! The voice wasn’t bad either and the lyrics were great. Elmore was the whole package for me.

I had one album of Elmore’s that I cherished and played to death. One day I was motorbiking past Dobells in Charing Cross Road (London) and noticed two Elmore Albums in the window. It was late at night and the shop was shut.

The next day I made the sixty mile journey to buy those two albums. They cost me £5 each and I still have them. Each album had ten tracks of raw searing Blues. Brilliant.

Unfortunately Elmore had heart problems and died of a heart attack before I got to see him. He was due to come over to England on one of the Blues packages but it was not to be. I failed to see him play live.

Now you can go on amazon and order every track he ever recorded and get them delivered the very next day. There’s no hunting round for elusive albums and none of the joy of discovering a long sought after gem. I have 27 CDs of Elmore and ten vinyl albums. Back in the sixties that would have been unthinkable. My latest purchase  is a three CD collect – The Ultimate Collect. It has sixty tracks (six old vinyl albums worth) and cost me £4. I have every tack on it but I bought it to play in the car. You cannot beat driving along with the CD Player cranked up high with Elmore’s guitar blasting your ears!

Back in the sixties Elmore was so hard to get that you valued every track and played they to death. You learnt every word and every note by heart.

I’m glad I did. Fifty years later I’m still loving it. I just gave a CD to my daughter-in-law – she’s got taste!

Photography – The Grateful Dead at the Bill Graham Auditorium 2013 – as Furthur.

Photography – The Grateful Dead at the Bill Graham Auditorium 2013 – as Furthur.

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AppleMark

That was one hell of a concert. Three hours of nonstop brilliance. I hardly missed Jerry Garcia. They were exquisite!

Desert Island Discs – Part 2

Desert Island Discs – Part 2

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Little Richard – Rip it up

For most people it is Elvis Presley who epitomises that Rock ‘n’ Roll rebellion but for me it’s Little Richard. Elvis was a imitator and interpreter of the R&B scene. People like Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley were the real innovators. They created something out of nothing.

Little Richard’s incredible Gospel edged voice and raucous style was the visceral rebellion of the fifties. It rocked the establishment, mobilised the kids and got things moving.

Little Richard was energy unleashed.

 

Phil Ochs – Cops of the World

 

Nothing changes. When Phil wrote this song about the ‘Cops of the World’ he was singing about the American invasion of other countries, the rape and abuse and arrogance of it. That was back in the sixties during Vietnam. We’d yet to see the delights of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

Phil was a reporter and chronicler, an idealist and commentator. He wrote some delightful, insightful songs.

Cops of the World is one of them.

 

Billy Bragg – World Turned Upside Down

 

Billy was another of my social/political bards. When he broke onto the scene with his portable sound system and ragged, shrill guitar, he was like a breath of fresh air. His spikey songs, like Between the Wars, were thought-provoking and perceptive. His rough voice was just right and his passion was real.

He sang about what he believed in and spoke his mind. Not only that – but he could write a song or two. For me he followed in the footsteps of Woody, Bob, Phil and Roy.

I like my music with a cerebral/social content. Billy had the heart for it.

 

Linton Kwesi Johnson – Sonny’s Lettah (Anti Sus Poem)

 

Linton put poems to reggae music and became the bard of Brixton. His words illustrated the Brixton riots and put into patois the feelings of the beleaguered black community. He was eloquent and his rich voice painted pictures. They were pictures of anger and resistance, pictures of unleashed fury and they told the story of discrimination and disadvantage, of persecution and distrust and an establishment that was the enemy.

Linton, like Michael Smith, had an ability to speak in the language of the black minority and articulate their feelings in passionate music that was brilliant in its own right.

Sonny’s Lettah is superb.

 

Bob Marley – Redemption Song

 

Reggae was a minority music beloved by Mods before Bob Marley turned it into a global phenomenon. The great thing is that he managed to do that without pandering to the lowest common denominator and watering down his music or message. He has Chris Blackwell to thank for melding it to a harder Rock beat that gave it more balls but it was just as uncompromising.

Bob was one of those geniuses who could write a song that stuck in your head that also had content and meaning. He expressed complicated thoughts in easy to grasp language.

Redemption song is a master’s song. It looks at slavery and then towards an optimistic future without racism, where black people will reach their potential.

I think he will be proved right.

 

Buffy St Marie – My Country ‘Tis of Thy People You’re Dying.

 

Buffy was a full-blooded Native American Indian who was rightly proud of her heritage and wrote a series of excellent songs about it. These included Soldier Blue, Now That the Buffalos Gone and Universal Soldier. They are all good but pale before this incendiary epic about the lies and genocide perpetuated on the Plains Indians by the United States Government.

I discovered that Buffy was the only female I had in my top twenty songs. That made me think. I don’t think it’s sexism. I do like Janis Ian, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, Patti Smith, Glace Slick and many others but I admit to having a tendency to prefer male voices.

So Buffy has to represent all women and she does it admirably. This is a really strong song. They don’t come any stronger.

 

The Clash – London Calling

 

The Sex Pistols were brilliant but the Clash were better. They were all the intelligent Punks but that demeans the lyrical genius of many of the Punk outfits. Johnny Rotten was no slouch with words. He could be pithy.

The Clash were criticized at the time for moving away from the Punk ethos and developing the music into more complex styles. Who cares? This is brilliant music. Why categorise it?

It was a great shame that they split up and fell apart with all that animosity. They were a great band and London Calling, with its imagery of a post-holocaust world is brilliant.

 

The Doors – Unknown Soldier

 

One of the best bands to come out of America. Consistently brilliant. They melded Jim Morrison’s poems to an incredible music and were all masters of their instruments.

If Jim Morrison had not been so self-destructive with his drinking they would have gone on to do a lot more. I think his alcohol consumption sapped his creative spirit and fed his disillusionment. By the end he was fed up with the hype and falseness of the industry and despised the whole pantomime. He even despised his audience and doubted their motives.

I chose Unknown Soldier because the image of the theatrical mock execution is cemented into my brain from their Roundhouse performance. I love the antiwar stance and that song was superb musically as well.

 

The Mothers of Invention – Help I’m a Rock

 

At one point in time they were another best band in the world. Nobody comes close to the satire and creativity of Zappa. He refused to be labelled or put in a pigeon-hole. Frank was Frank.

He also had a superb sense of humour.

Help I’m a Rock illustrates that. It was an early Dada masterpiece that brought me to tears of laughter. Brilliant.

We’re Only In It For the Money was a later genius of an album.

 

The Kinks – I’m Not Like Everybody Else

 

This was the B-side of Sunny Afternoon I believe. I used to put this on in my bedroom, on my Dansette with the arm raised, and play it endlessly when I was fifteen. It seemed to sum up exactly how I felt about the world. All the angst, disillusionment and rebellion would pour out in that strident vitriolic diatribe.

 

The Beatles – Come Together

 

We seem to be in an age when it’s cool not to like the Beatles; to align with the Stones. But it’s not an either or. I love them both.

What nobody can argue with is the impact of their music on Britain and the world. Rock music was dead and Britain was a backwater before the Beatles came along. They blew the doors down and kick-started the corpse.

Not only that but they developed and progressed so that they were always at the cutting edge of what was happening. They led the way. The West Coast bands looked to them.

It is also now convenient to focus on the more Pop and twee element of their repertoire – like Yesterday. I prefer their more complex, harder edged material – Revolution, Tomorrow Never Knows, Glass Onion and Strawberry Fields. I prefer my acerbic Lennon to the sweet McCartney.

Come Together was Lennon at his most inventive. No nonsense.

The Beatles were rightly the greatest Rock Band to have ever lived for a large number of reasons. The major one being that they were unremittingly brilliant.

 

That concludes my paltry list. I’ve had to leave out so much!

If you enjoy my poems or anecdotes why not purchase a paperback of anecdotes for £7.25 or a kindle version for free.

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My desert island discs – Part 1

My desert island discs – Part 1

Rock RoutesIn search of Captain Beefheart cover537 Essential Rock Albums cover

My desert island discs

I was just listening to the radio today as someone was trotting through their desert island discs and telling me why they had selected their favourite pieces of music.

What an impossibility.

How could anyone limit their selections to so few? Music has been an integral part of my life. It reflects my views and feelings. It has helped develop my whole perspective on life. Right from the early days of my youth I have poured over lyrics and immersed myself in the emotion and wonder of music. It is a universal language. If I had to choose between music and literature for which has had the biggest effect on my development I think I would be hard pushed to decide.

Anyway – you will be pleased to know that the BBC has decided to do a special three hour Desert Island Discs just to accommodate my essential choices because they felt that they were so profoundly brilliant. Unlike with everyone else they are going to play all my selections in their entirety!

How about that!

It still presented me with huge dilemmas. What did I leave out! I’d need at least a thousand hour programme.

Anyway, they weren’t about to do that, though I think they were quite keen. I was forced to make decisions.

These are they:

Bob Dylan – It’s Alright Ma (I’m only bleeding)

 

Bob Dylan was that fulcrum point around which Rock Music turned. He not only brought poetry, stories and a different structure into Rock Music, he brought politics, meaning, social commentary and fury.

This is a song that sums all that up. The poetic imagery of birth and death, the wide vista, the anger at the plastic society and how we were all being knocked into shape, the hypocrisy and greed he described all seared themselves into y brain.

I could have chosen a hundred Dylan songs but this is the one that used to send my adolescent, rebellious brain into paroxysms of anger as I deciphered what he was talking about.

 

Roy Harper – The Lord’s Prayer

 

Another epic thirty minute song/poem that burned with passions. A commentary on society, a glimpse into the mind of a human being from a different age, a yearning for something more.

Again I could have chosen a heap of Harpers but this one can keep you occupied for a lifetime. The repeating musical coda provided by Jimmy Page’s guitar that sounds deceptively simple but is fiendishly complex.

A song to tease the mind on many levels and music that soars.

 

Stiff Little Fingers – Suspect Device

 

The best of the Punk Bands. The brought the Irish troubles into perspective. Their anger was channelled into raw statements of fury. Punk was a brilliant vehicle.

What was so good was the clever use of words coupled with the searing guitars, frantic pace and social message. It moved me.

 

Woody Guthrie – This Land is Your Land

 

Woody was a phenomenon. He was the first major songwriter to take that social stance and tell the stories. He was so clever.

I love this song, particularly with the often missing verses about private property and dole queues. It should have been America’s anthem.

Woody is an international treasure.

 

Jimi Hendrix – Voodoo Chile (Slight return)

 

And still no-one comes near to that genius of guitar prowess and excitement. I can’t help but wonder what brilliance we would have seen from him. His only limitation was his imagination. I have never seen anything so exciting.

Jimi epitomised Rock Music to me – the brash excitement, showmanship and expertise. Voodoo Chile sends shivers through me.

 

Nick Harper – The Magnificent G7

 

Nick is a brilliant song-writer who is different to his Dad. This is a beautiful, haunting, delicate song with a profound message.

Our leaders are only people. World policy is ultimately sorted by seven white men in the G7. They create the mountains of grain and countries of misery. Perhaps they could do it better?

What a clever song with such strong sentiments.

 

Son House – Death Letter Blues

 

The Blues is a favourite music of mine. I always go back to it and find it satisfying. I think I like the rawness and lack of sophistication most. It is authentic in a world of overproduced plastic. It is full of emotion and passion and tells the stories of a different life.

Son House was one of the originals. He taught Robert Johnson to play. Without him there might not be Rock Music. I was bowled over by Death Letter the first time I heard it. That was at Hammersmith Odeon on a Blues package tour – Son House was the star of the night at seventy nine years of age.

 

Elmore James – Shake Your Moneymaker

 

Elmore took the old acoustic bottleneck style and electrified it. What came out was a scorching sound that blistered your ears. He rocked before rocking was invented.

I would have loved to have spent an evening in one of those sweaty Chicago night-clubs bouncing to Elmore as he scattered those slide notes off the walls and decorated them with his anguished vocals.

Shake Your Moneymaker was a belter.

 

Captain Beefheart – Big Eyed Beans From Venus

 

I first saw and heard Captain Beefheart back in 1968. On that tour he blew my world apart. I had never seen or heard anything like it. He took the delta blues, dusted it with lysergic acid and created some cosmic blues that jangled your neurones.

I think you have to see it performed live to really appreciate the phenomenal synthesis of poetry, rhythms and music. The complexity and juxtapositions of guitar and vocals with that driving bass and drums plays tricks with your head. It was as exciting as Hendrix and that is saying something.

I was never the same agin!

Big Eyed Beans from Venus is one of Rock’s greatest songs.

Country Joe and the Fish – Who am I?

 

I think Joe McDonald has a claim to possessing the best voice in Rock Music. Not for its power but its clarity and quality. It is best heard on numbers like this introspective anthem and the anti-war dirge – Untitled Protest.

I thought this band was one of the most extreme, political and original to come out of the West Coast Acid Rock Scene. They epitomised what it was all about for me with their first three albums.

Who Am I? is a delicate song with depth and beauty. It sends me.

If you enjoy my poems or anecdotes why not purchase a paperback of anecdotes for £7.25 or a kindle version for free.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Anecdotes-Weird-Science-Writing-Ramblings/dp/1519675631/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1457515636&sr=1-3&keywords=opher+goodwin

Or a book of poetry and comment:

Rhyme and Reason – just £3.98 for the paperback or free on Kindle

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rhymes-Reason-Opher-Goodwin/dp/1516991184/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1457515636&sr=1-4&keywords=opher+goodwin

My other books are here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Opher-Goodwin/e/B00MSHUX6Y/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1457515636&sr=1-2-ent

Thank you and please leave a review.