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Mix together one-third hippy vibe, one-third British Blues and one-third hard rock and what do you get? “Wishing Well” by Free.

Although Free had disbanded by the time I discovered they even existed, they were the first band I took a serious interest in beyond the chart acts of my youth. I had heard “All Right Now” on the radio, of course, which if I’m honest, I find a little dull although it seems remarkably popular among the people who select music tracks for TV commercials.

But I moved to London in the 1980s and a DJ on Capital Radio…


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In the last 50 years, life has got both a lot more random and a lot less random at the same time.

Now, with a few clicks of a mouse you can be chatting with someone on the other side of the world. Because technology means we are no longer restricted by geography, the world is…literally…our oyster.

But technology has been “optimised” and algorithmed to within an inch of its life which means it delivers more of exactly what you say you’re looking for, but at the same time it delivers a lot less of the random happenstance that can…


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Whenever I need to steel myself a bit to take on what life’s about to throw at me, I hum Jim Croce’s “I Got A Name” to myself under my breath. This tale of quiet determination…to keep on going no matter what…always gives me a shot of motivation when I need it.

Jim Croce was a master songwriter with a gift for sweet and tender songs. On the surface, they appeared to be very simple songs. They could all be performed with just two vocals and two guitars.

But they carried an emotional punch which far outweighed their apparent simplicity…


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What’s that you say? A fusion of progressive rock and folk music would never reach Number 10 in the UK Singles Chart? Well, I call as my first witness “Northern Lights” by Renaissance, which did exactly that in 1978.

I know that blend of musical styles sounds like an odd mix, but trust me this works beautifully…at least on this record — the fact that it’s the only hit single I can think of off-hand which successfully fuses those two very different styles probably doesn’t auger well for the genre as a whole.

In many ways, the mid to late-1970s…


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When you hear “Build Me Up Buttercup” by The Foundations do you think of “There’s Something About Mary”…yes, the movie with Cameron Diaz and the “hair gel”…?

“There’s Something About Mary” was released in 1998 and, although I haven’t seen it for many years, as always, there’s something very powerful about the way hearing a particular song can connect you across the decades in an instant and make it seem like only yesterday.

However our story goes back much further than 1998…all the way back to 1968, in fact.

For their time, The Foundations were an interesting band. They were…


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Several years ago I took someone I loved dearly on a musical tour of London. We started at Abbey Road and visited about a dozen other sites with some sort of musical connection in the city.

She, like me, is a big music fan. So at each stop I asked her to guess the musical connection. Admittedly I started with an easy one at Abbey Road. And of course I took a picture on her phone of her crossing the famous zebra crossing there.

When we reached Waterloo Station at the end of our journey she guessed the musical connection…


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I’ve loved “Amoureuse” by Kiki Dee from the first time I heard it…probably over the radio of my dad’s metallic blue Hillman Hunter Estate on the way to school back when Radio 1 was still on 247 Medium Wave.

I was too young then to understand what “Amoureuse” was all about. Although a few years later when I did understand the lyrics, I was rather surprised the BBC had broadcast it in the first place.

As a kid, I was swept along by the emotions of the song, Kiki Dee’s lovely voice and the sophistication of the arrangement. …


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I’d forgotten that Yvonne Elliman’s “If I Can’t Have You” came from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack until I saw a documentary about the Bee Gees the other evening. I always liked the song…possibly the smoothest song of the disco era…but it’s definitely one for smooching to, not for dancing to.

The arrangement and production is first class. “If I Can’t Have You” shimmers at a level few other songs did back in the heyday of disco…or since, for that matter. …


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I always think “P. P. Arnold”. You might think Sheryl Crow, Rod Stewart, Keith Hampshire or even Cat Stevens.

But for me the mellow soulfulness of P. P. Arnold is hard to beat.

A former backing singer for Ike and Tina Turner, P. P. Arnold came to London in the late 1960s and signed for Immediate Records, formed by Andrew Loog Oldham, The Rolling Stones’ manager at the time.

By chance, Mike Hurst, P. P. Arnold’s producer, was also working with a promising teenage singer/songwriter called Cat Stevens and, thank to him, would find the song that made P. P…


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Although credited to Edison Lighthouse, “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” was recorded by a group of session musicians, including session singer extraordinaire Tony Burrows.

You might not know his name, but you’ll certainly know his voice. Tony Burrows was in the original incarnation of Brotherhood of Man (not the Eurovision winners, but a previous line-up), for whom he sang lead vocal on “United We Stand”, a UK Top 10 in 1970.

He was also in The Ivy League (probably best known for their pre-Tony Burrows hit “Funny How Love Can Be”), The Flowerpot Men (“Let’s Go To San Francisco”)…

No Words, No Song

Without words, it’s just a nice tune. Add words — now you’ve got a song. And songs can change your world. I write about some that changed mine.

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