Elkie Brooks

Elkie Brooks with band – look at that fabulous Seventies style!Elkie was a singer with a crooning husky voice, most famous or at least most remembered for Pearl’s A Singer from an album in 1977. Elkie sang Nights in White Satin in 1982. Originally recorded by The Moody Blues, another great band. I remember this as the Seventies, but have been corrected by Wikipedia.

I’m sure I remember the video for Nights in White Satin featuring a herd of white horses galloping in slow motion. Or that might have been something else. Anyway, I mistakenly believed this song to be about knights who wore white satin suits. I imagined these knights in shining armour on white horses galloping to the rescue of Elkie dressed as a princess in distress and letting down her long hair for them to climb up. I was only a child. And obviously very influenced by Disneyfied fairytales.

Years later, I saw the name of the song written down and realised she was singing about sleeping on satin sheets. Ooooh! Right. Now I get it.

Elkie is still doing the circuit as I found out last week when a colleague mentioned that her husband was going to a concert. Apparently she is still amazing.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Suzi Quatro

Suzie Quatro on guitarSuzi Quatro was my absolute heartthrob! I loved her for the way she looked, the way she sang, the fact that she did whatever she wanted and didn’t care.

I so wanted to be her when I grew up, probably the only woman during in my childhood I wanted to be like, all my other heroes being male.

In most of the clips of Suzi her face is obscured by a long fringe but this early clip shows that she is in fact totally delicious and my major crush is justified. Still rocking with no adornment or falsity, Suzi is so refreshing compared to other old timer female singers.

Most people think of Can the Can when they think of Suzi Quatro, but my favourite was always Devil Gate Drive.

When I was sweet sixteen I was a juke box queen down in Devil Gate Drive.

Not quite true of me, but I did love discos. I still listen to Devil Gate Drive now and sing it in the car.

Like many Seventies stars, Suzi was extremely talented and is still around now. She is still gorgeous and has fantastic fingerwork. This clip had me sweating.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Village Hall Disco

disco lightsIn the village where I grew up there is a hall which can be hired out for events. It was known as the memorial hall, though I don’t remember what it was a memorial to.

When I was a child, I used to spend a fair amount of time at the memorial hall. My mum was very active in the committee and there were always events going on. Discos mainly, any excuse for a disco.

There were hardly any other small children at the discos, only the offspring of the organisers who couldn’t get babysitters. So we were the ones who collected glasses (finishing off the drinks) and had pop and crisps. We got pushed around by older children who were trying to be important and petted by adults who thought it we were funny.

I remember being six years old and crawling behind the speakers to have a rest. I didn’t actually sleep but it was very comfortable. The curtains were a bit dusty and made me sneeze. When we sat on the wooden floor to do the ‘Boots Outside Your Head‘ dance, I would get a dirty bum and dirty hands, but it was fun to do it and be part of the grown up crowd.

We used to go up on stage to make requests and I shocked the DJ once by asking for the Sex Pistols. I didn’t know the name of the song but wanted to prove that I was grown up by saying the band’s name. Some of my favourite disco songs were the ones that spelled things out like YMCA and D-I-S-C-O.

When we were in the hall, dancing to these loud songs and looking at the flashing lights, I would feel like we were somewhere completely different and I could do anything, be anyone. Then the lights would go up and we’d have to wait for mum to help clear up before we could go home. We’d run around the empty hall like children always do. Out in the cold night air, walking through the village to our house, I’d start to feel tired and let down. I wasn’t a disco queen after all but just and ordinary village girl with sore feet.


 

Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night

Saturday Night Fever the film based on a journalistic lieThis article appeared in the New York Magazine in 1976 and is the inspiration of the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever.

The article was an exposé of the disco scene. However, according to Wikipedia, it was pure fiction, the author Nik Cohn not having done any research on the disco scene.

This is not just wikipedia being notoriously unreliable. Nik Cohn has admitted himself that the character Vincent, (on whom John Travolta’s Tony is based) “was largely inspired by a Shepherd’s Bush mod whom I’d known in the Sixties.” He got away with it apparently because the mod culture in London was similar to the disco subculture in Brooklyn.

I wonder how much more investigative reporting is fabricated? Perhaps everything on which we base our beliefs and values is a total lie. I’ve always known that you shouldn’t believe everything you read in the newspapers but this one really takes the biscuit!

Tune in next week when I’ll reveal that the Osmonds are my cousins from Darlaston in the West Midlands and Madonna is my gran from Bearwood in Birmingham. Natch.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Bohemian Rhapsody

Queen, a still from the Bohemian Rhapsody videoThe late, great Freddie Mercury wrote the Bohemian Rhapsody and recorded it with his band, Queen in 1975.

I will no doubt write a popandcrisps post for Queen, but this song requires its own post, given the profound influence it had on me and thousands of others from the Seventies to the modern day.

I still sing it now, and have had particular lyrics spinning around my head while at work lately, which prompted me to write this. ‘Goodbye everybody’ is one, and another is, ‘Just got to get right out of here.’ But enough of me and my godawful job! I think that one of the reasons it was so popular then and has remained so to this day is due to these lyrics tapping into the heart of the disaffected psyche.

Although, according to Wikipedia, Freddie wrote these lyrics as random phrases that fitted in with the music, others have interpreted deep psychological, spiritual and philosophical significance. The singer is a condemned murderer who has an epiphany prior to his execution, or he is having a drug-induced hallucinogenic nightmare and is plagued by devils.

When I was growing up, a bohemian was someone who preferred art over material wealth, who lived an alternative lifestyle, especially in terms of their sexual relationships, who maybe was from a rich background but preferred to live in poverty and squalor, perhaps due to political ideals. I always wanted to be a bohemian, and I suppose some people might say I am, though you don’t hear the word so much these days. It’s insulting or patronising to be called bohemian now, as if it’s somehow quaint. It’s comparable to ‘hippy’.

The term originally derived from the name for people from Bohemia, the area which is now the Czech Republic, in the mistaken belief that the poor travelling people in Europe were from this area. I never really understood what is bohemian about the song other than it being very alternative.

It was so alternative that it was predicted to be a complete flop. But like all good alternatives, the song quickly gained cult status and has ploughed its own furrow in the history of music. I have an idea to write a novel based on the story in the song, but I’m sure that there would be copyright issues here, plus I’ve got plenty of other novels to be getting on with. But this is one of those backburner thoughts.

I memorised the song, including the guitar solo, when I was at the age where memorising songs was important. Still now, if one of my sisters starts to sing it, we will all join in to the joyful crescendo and headbanging finish.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

The Barron Knights

Can't find an older picture of them, but this is the official Barron Knights nowSpecialising in parodies of current chart hits, The Barron Knights became my favourite group just as the Seventies were disintegrating.

They’d been around throughout the Sixties and Seventies, but came to my notice with Get Down Shep in 1978, a song about the Blue Peter dog who I loved.

The other dog song they did was The Sit Song in 1980 about Barbara Woodehouse training dogs. I loved The Sit Song and used to perform it regularly. I don’t remember whether their song is the same one that I sung over and over, but I remember the words of my song clearly.

Siiiiit! Woof. What a good boy!
Drop the lead, walk away, turn around and then you say.
Siiiiit! Woof. What a good boy!
Drop the lead, walk away, turn around and he will stay.

It doesn’t work with my dog.

Anyway, where was I? Yes, The Barron Knights. Never Mind The Presents was one of the two singles I bought at Christmas 1980 (the other was Pass the Dutchie by Musical Youth). These were my first ever music purchases at the age of ten. Before this, I wasn’t allowed to buy records.

I was just getting into the idea of parodying songs, as I’d learned the rude alternative words to some popular Christmas carols. So they were really on my wavelength. I think my sense of humour had just matured enough. Before this, I didn’t know enough about the music they parodied to understand their songs.

Perennial performers, The Barron Knights can still be found on cabaret and at seaside summer seasons, according to wikipedia.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Slade

Slade as they were in the SeventiesModern texters, bloggers and forum posters who deliberately misspell words to seem kewl have nothing on Slade. Cum on Feel the Noize was released in 1973, and many of their other titles such as Mama Weer All Crazee Now could be lolcats slogans. For a full discography, see Wikipedia.

As I grew up in a midlands village, Slade were very popular in my surrounding area, though I preferred Wizzard. I think it’s interesting that the two major Christmas classics are from these two bands. Perhaps Christmas isn’t Christmas unless said with a Brummie accent?

Slade's official pictureDave Hill is my favourite member, probably because he reminds me of so many blokes I grew up knowing. When he talks he seems really sensible and normal, and yet he does bizarre things and wears outrageous clothes.

They look a bit different in their new ‘official picture’ but Dave is still there wearing his wikid clothes.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Do You Wanna Touch Me? (No)

Garry Glitter in 1974Garry Glitter, though now a dirty old man, was marvellous on stage in the Seventies. He stomped around in giant high heeled boots, sparkly suit and a huge mop of curly hair. His permanently raised eyebrows gave him an air of being a little bit scary when he stared into the camera.

I thought he was fabulous, though, even if he was a bit scary. I used to stomp around like he did, copying the walk and the way he would stare downwards into the camera which made him look like a giant.

By the time the eighties came around, I realised how naff he was and decided I didn’t like him any more. He was so incredibly naff, especially the clothes, that one of his comebacks was due to students embracing his naff-ness with irony. Did the man have no pride?

According to Wikipedia, between 1972 and 1995 Glitter charted 26 hit singles which spent a total of 180 weeks in the UK Top 100. I liked Leader of the Gang best of all, for a fuller discography, check out Wikipedia.

Garry Glitter just before being sent downMost of these hits were in the Seventies, with a couple of comebacks in the eighties and nineties, and apparently he reckons he’s going to have another comeback now he’s been released from prison.

He does look a lot different now, and if he ever does make it with a comeback I hope it’s not the sparkly suit sort, but more of an ‘old rocker with a guitar’. Maybe along the lines of Keith Richards who is equally wrinkly and horrible.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Lulu

Seventies LuluLulu was really cool. For one thing at least you could pronounce her name! She sang with a throaty voice and great gusto. She presented programs and acted in panto during the Seventies as well as being a singer. The original all round star.

According to Wikipedia, she was part of a show where the viewers got to pick which song she would sing for the Eurovision Song Contest 1969. This is perhaps the first of its kind, but it wasn’t a phone-in show, it was ‘answers on a postcard’. Do we ever get that now?

The song she sang for that Eurovision was Boom-bang-a-bang. It peed off a lot of other countries because it was a draw between several countries and they changed the rules of Eurovision after that. Lulu herself hates the song and the whole Eurovision thing with a vengeance – see Wikipedia for what she says.

Lulu now looks younger?I loved it though, and I’m sure plenty of others did. I used to sing boom-bang-a-bang but usually not about my heart.

The thing that I found amazing about Lulu was that though she was two years older than my mum, she didn’t actually get any older! She would change her hair and her clothes but she was exactly the same. Is she an alien?

I looked on the official Lulu site (I mean, god! Look at her! She’s sixty for heaven’s sake) and found that she markets a brand of anti-ageing cream. Does that explain it?


 Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Vesta Curry and Two LPs

Laura McWhinney sent me her post after reading the article in Mensa Magazine.

Vesta Beef Curry - aah takes me right back!I was born in 1966 and remember the 70’s as my formative years- maybe that explains a lot.

As far as food went anything goes was the attitude. A Vesta dehydrated curry on a Saturday night, reconstituted in a frying pan for 20 mins followed by peach melba with almost flourescent raspberry sauce was the height of sophistication in my home.

For a treat it was hot ‘coloured custard’ over sponge cake, this was pink blancmange made up with milk and served hot.

Spangles! At www.escape-to-the-seventies.comWe all had enough pocket money for numerous packets of spangles in many different flavours including ‘Old English’??? and Chipmunk crisps at two and a half pence a bag in abundance. I think Chipmunk was a brand rather than a flavour. Giant sticks of Bazooka bubble gum were only 3 pence, so you still had enough money for a Bunty comic or later Blue Jeans – heaven.

Seat belts were not compulsory and once when driving out of a big town car park with me in the front seat of our big Corsair automatic car I was flung sprawling across the car park as I’d been leaning on the door and it swung open – we did laugh!

Summers were great as you could go out after breakfast to play with friends and wander home when you felt hungry, parents didn’t need to worry as life was somehow safer.

The day the stereo system arrived and TWO L.P’s was very exciting, unfortunately it was a very long time until we could afford any more L.P’s so Mama Cass and Glen Campbell were played until I really grew to hate them.

Some of my friends that were maybe a bit older had their rooms papered with Red Tartan wallpaper as they were Bay City Rollers fans – I had to make do with huge purple flowers on my walls, they almost went with the swirly floral carpet and nearly matched the printed floral bedspread!

Beds used to take 20 minutes to make, as there were several layers of prickly blankets, under the bedspread no easy duvet to shake and drop.