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David Soulsby Reflections

by David Soulsby, author of the novel "Somewhere in the Distance"

David Soulsby, British Writer

 

  • Bringing It  All Back Home - OK, so Bob Dylan’s lyrics have been broken down, put through the mangle, trodden underfoot, interpreted and misinterpreted, brought to their knees, thrown up in the air, dismantled and dismissed, and criticized for being too full of obscure symbolism, but, hey, hasn’t it been fun along the way?
  • Carole King: Queen of the Sixties Hits - With the highly-acclaimed stage musical Beautiful currently celebrating the musical genius of Carole King it’s a fitting time to look back at her substantial Sixties accomplishments. 
  • The Mighty James Brown - It was a live performance out of this world!. It was March 1966 and a young James Brown was in town on his first visit to England. The father of funk, the caped crusader, the energy-fuelled R&B revolutionary, was out to give of his best — and more! 
  • 1964 - The Music Lives On - Fifty years sure does fly by, but time has been kind to the music from 1964.  It was my final year at school and a year full of classic songs and great bands and solo performers. 
  • Legacy of The Wild One - I first saw Marlon Brando’s biker classic The Wild One in 1967, a full 14 years after it was made. The movie had been banned in Britain for all that time because of its subject matter. There had been a few screenings over the years by film societies but they had been watched by only a handful of people. So, when a group of journalists, myself included, were invited to a special showing to mark its general release with an adults only X-certificate, we were keen to see and hear what all the fuss had been about.  
  • What Made the Sixties Great - The Sixties started out full of uncertainty and angst: the icy tentacles of the Cold War were everywhere, creating tension and mistrust between east and west. No one was sure what was going to happen to our world. 
  • A Portrait of the Buckinghams - I PICKED up on The Buckinghams’ million-selling hit Kind Of A Drag via the radio. There was a regular weekly show in Britain that included a look at the American top-selling singles and albums and provided listeners with information about the artists. Also, the respected British weekly newspaper, the New Musical Express, mentioned them in February 1967 when they were top of the charts in US. 
  • What I Say About Ray Charles - When push comes to shove when asked who’s my all-time top male singer, I have to say that Ray Charles is the number one. He beats Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison into second and third place, but only by a whisker. 
  • Happy 50th Birthday to "A Hard Day's Night" - If ever a movie captured the true verve and essence of a rock band, it has to be A Hard Day’s Night. The film came out in the summer of 1964 and cemented The Beatles’ phenomenal hold on the music scene, exposing them to an even bigger worldwide audience and declaring that they were undoubtedly the best group around.  
  • On High with the Jefferson Airplane -  As I cross the brow of the hill, I make out the band tightly packed on the cramped open-air stage. It’s a long way from the sunny climes of San Francisco to the dull, wet skies that hang threateningly overhead but the Airplane obviously aren’t fazed. The sultry dark-haired singer Grace Slick and her fellow band members look comfortable and in command.  
  • 1966 and All That - With a dramatic goal in the final moments of what was a nail-biting match, England finally became soccer World Cup champions, securing a 4-2 win over West Germany at London’s Wembley Stadium. It was just one of the many highlights of 1966 that are etched on my memory from a year that had its fair share of controversy and tragedy as well as producing some outstanding music.  
  • Remembering Bobby Darin- I became an instant Bobby Darin fan the moment I heard Dream Lover booming out of the fairground speakers as the carousel whirled round merrily in its giddy, up and down jerky fashion. It was a song that captured the moment: I was in my early teens and life seemed so innocent and free of worries. It's a song that remains with me to this day.  
  • Friday, November 22, 1963- It started out like any other Friday during school term. Along with a close group of friends I was looking forward to our regular end of week visit to the famous Studio 51 in London’s West End, where we indulged in our love of blues and rock music.  
  • September 1967- You couldn’t turn on the radio in September 1967 without hearing Scott McKenzie telling you that San Francisco was the place to be, and if you made it there you were advised to have floral decorations in your hair. The sentiment summed up perfectly the Summer of Love, that innocent, freewheeling time that captured a mood so perfectly. September was always an odd time when I was in my teens, stuck as it was between the last hazy days of summer and my impending birthday in October.  
  • Long Live Louie Louie- Few songs have had as much impact on rock music as Louie Louie, the calypso-beat mid-Fifties song by Richard Berry that mutated into the raucous 1963 version by The Kingsmen, and then became a popular part of pop culture.  
  • The Kinks Really Got Me - From the outset, the opening riff of You Really Got Me announced a clear no-nonsense message of intent: The Kinks are here and you had better believe it! They’ve served their apprenticeship in scores of small, sweaty rhythm and blues clubs and now they are ready to make their mark big time.  
  • Trio Who Made the Sixties Swing- Rock music in all its guises certainly dominated the Sixties, but the verve and sophistication of the Swing Era never went away.  There were three vocalists at the time that epitomised this spirit of survival. The trio were all ultra professional, well grounded in their musical heritage and, arguably, had reached a peak of perfection: Jack Jones, Mel Torme and Sammy Davis Jr.  
  • Magical Movie Moments - If you were a regular moviegoer in the Sixties you would have had a wonderful choice of magical silver screen moments to savour. There were moments that played with your feelings, creating laughter, tension, tears or excitement, sometimes all at the same time. There was something for everyone.  
  • A Tribute to a Talented Trio - For me, three singers in the opening years of the Sixties stood out head and shoulders from the  crowd. They were Clyde McPhatter, original frontman of the legendary Drifters, Jimmy Jones, the owner of the amazing voice that distinguished the Sparks of Rhythm group before he went solo, and the genial gentleman Gene McDaniels.  
  • The Outstanding Otis Redding- Soul singer Otis Redding first crossed my music radar in a meaningful way in 1966. Sure, I’d heard him many times during the past year or two but it was his live appearance on a special edition of the groundbreaking British television show Ready Steady Go! that really caught my full attention.  
  • Early 1969: Creedence, Led Zeppelin and the Beatles  - It was around the time of Palach’s death that I bought my first Creedence Clearwater Revival album, the classic Bayou Country, and recall being totally enthralled by the mesmerising pounding beats and growling bluesy voice of lead singer John Fogerty. It was a revelation. I’d bought the album after reading a favourable review.  
  • Elvis and the Big Freeze - Elvis Presley topped the Christmas charts with Return To Sender, the sentiment of its title often light-heartedly aimed at the inclement weather. If you could have parcelled it up and sent it back where it came from, that would have been, if you pardon the expression, so very cool.  
  • Van Morrison: Them and Beyond:  I’ve just recently finished listening to Van Morrison’s latest album, appropriately called Born To Sing, and my thoughts are whizzing back to 1965 when, as a young editorial assistant on The Guardian newspaper in London, I often saw rock stars arriving at reception prior to boarding the lift up to the neighboring Sunday Times offices where iconic photo shoots were held for the paper’s groundbreaking glossy magazine.   
  • The Beatles: It Was 50 Years Ago - A catchy harmonica riff identified a new record that hovered around the lower regions of the British hit parade in late October 1962. It had a familiar ring to it: Bruce Channel had had a big hit with a similar motif earlier in the year on his classic Hey Baby, and throughout the summer an Australian singer named Frank Ifield enjoyed massive worldwide success with I Remember You, the harmonica again featuring strongly.  
  • Scary, Spooky Movies A disembodied hand creeps its way downwards in the dim light, transfixing the horrified figure trembling at the foot of the stairs. As the hand gets nearer, the wide-eyed watcher becomes more and more crazed with fear. The tense atmosphere is heightened by the accompanying atmospheric music. There’s nowhere to go to escape, no way out, for the terrified onlooker.  
  • The Magnificence of Motown - Mention the word Motown and a classic song, singer or group will invariably come to mind. So many greats graced the label in a magical Sixties period when the Berry Gordy-driven Detroit music factory churned out nearly as many classy groups and unforgettable songs as the city’s car industry production lines.  
  • The Rolling Stones: Highbury Fields Forever - When I was growing up in north London during the Fifties, my friends and I would spend many hours in Highbury Fields, an oasis of grass, tall trees and tranquillity flanked by a mixture of impressive Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian dwellings. It was the ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of the nearby area. Many of us lived in drab-fronted houses and blocks of flats that had survived the German bombs that had hurled down in the Second World War.  
  • The Beach Boys on the Beach - Wouldn’t it be nice, hopes Rick, if the reunion goes well, echoing The Beach Boys’ sentiment on the car radio as he travels down from Seattle to California along the Pacific Coast Highway, admiring the scenery and looking forward to meeting up again with friends from his teenage years.  
  • The Searchers Still Going Strong -  Hundreds of screaming girls, arms thrust forward in frenzied animation, their bodies shaking with intense excitement, create a crescendo of noise so loud that the song being performed by the smartly dressed group on stage is barely recognizable.  
  • The Hollies Hit 50 -  Eagerly flicking through the racks at the local record store, my gaze is attracted by the five fresh-faced young men smiling out from the bright, colourful album cover. Their eyes are   focused fully on the camera, confident in what they’re doing, not in an arrogant way, but simply letting everyone know that they’ll be doing the best they can to make a name for themselves in a tough, highly competitive music business.  
  • Summer of 1962 -Is it really almost 50 years since I was a gangly 16-year-old-coming-on-17, as I was at the start of the summer of 1962? Where has the time gone? Rewind back all those years and golden anniversaries are everywhere, some personal, others universal  
  • Shouting about the Twist -Rummaging in the loft just after New Year, I came across some of my old vinyl records. Flicking through them, one in particular caught my attention: it was Chubby Checker vs Gary U.S. Bonds, a Canadian issue LP that I’d bought in the late 1970s.     
  • Gentle Glen on My Mind -  Early 1965 and I’m tuned-in to the early-morning radio, getting ready for work when from out of the blue comes this thunderous opus, a song that crackles through the air and swirls round you like a cloak. It’s the Phil Spector–produced Wall of Sound classic, You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’, by The Righteous Brothers, and I’m instantly hooked.  
  • 1963: Good Times, Bad Times  - With his trademark cheeky grin and bubbly delivery, Gerry Marsden with his group The Pacemakers performs his latest single for an adoring television studio audience. It’s October 1963 and the song is You’ll Never Walk Alone.  
  • Once Upon a Time in a Western - Seated expectantly in the dark, my eager young eyes transfixed on the big screen with its larger-than-life figures towering overhead, I would be transported to another time and place, a Hollywood-hued world that was more often than not the wonderment of the Wild West.  
  • 1969: Tommy's Amazing Journey - YES, I can hear you, Tommy, loud and clear. It was resoundingly so in 1969 and still rings true today. The years may have flashed by like a speeding pinball, but the impact remains — and now, more than 40 years on, we have a resurgent Roger Daltrey triumphant after touring England with a refreshed rendition of the iconic rock opera, breathing new life into the deaf, dumb and blind kid’s rocky rite of passage.  
  • Rave on Buddy Holly - I’ve finally caught up with the stage musical Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, which has been running at theatres round the world for a staggering 20-plus years.  
  • 1967: The Who and The Beatles - The Beatles had the clever, toe-tapping, delightfully-melodic songs, the Stones had the pulsating, animalistic, howling songs, but it was The Who that had the chest-pounding, lung-searing, ear-deafening songs, songs that rocketed and roared, slapping against the audiences’ faces like sharp tentacles hurling from the stage, the thunderous roar of the guitars and drums reverberating through their bodies from the bottom of their feet to the top of their heads, a truly awesome visceral and cerebral experience.  
  • Bob Dylan Hits 70 - My, how time flies! One minute he’s an enigmatic young newcomer, stirring up the music business, the next he’s 70! It’s as if everything Bob Dylan has achieved in nearly 50 years of performing and song writing has happened in the blink of an eye. It does make you realise that life is, indeed, short. You don’t, of course, think like that when you’re young and growing up: old age just seems so remote, so very distant in the future. You might, to paraphrase a Dylan song, try to stay forever young, but time is relentless and unstoppable…  
  • Recalling Roy Orbison - Possessing a big voice that was blessed with a range as imposing as Texas, his home State, his songs were equally as big, grandiose and operatic in their intensity. He had a big, commanding stage presence that held audiences in his spell. Roy Orbison was indeed The Big O. There was just no one quite like him.  
  • Million Dollar Memories -  Just back from seeing the London West End version of the musical Million Dollar Quartet, based on the famous 1955 jamming session at Sun Records when Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis created great balls of fires!  
  • 1961: Seven Special Songs - It’s February 1961 and I’m just four months into my 15th year, John F Kennedy has a few weeks ago been sworn-in as America’s 35th President (‘a momentous event’ according to one teacher at school, ‘what with him being so young and charismatic’), and the song going the rounds in the school playground is The Shirelles’ Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?  
  • Them Old Winter Blues - 5,4,3,2,1 … there I was counting down the days to an invigorating shot of Sixties nostalgia at the Maximum Rhythm ‘n’ Blues concert at the English coastal resort of Southend, when what should come along to spoil things but the heaviest early-winter snowfalls to hit Britain for nearly 20 years.  
  • Jimi Hendrix-The British Experience - The Seattle-born Hendrix lived in the top-floor flat at number 23 Brook Street between 1968/69, and would have been seen regularly on the streets in around the capital city’s Mayfair, Soho and West End areas, wild-haired and dressed in his trademark colourful clothes.  
 

 

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