Our new community reporter Bernard Leach shares his top ten tracks with us! What are your top ten tracks? Could you whittle them down like this?
1. Eddie Cochran “Summertime Blues” (1958)
I was given a Grundig reel-to-reel tape recorder when I was young. I used it to record music from the Radio. I spent ages compiling tapes. This song was one of my favourites. I loved the guitar on it and was surprised he didn’t have many hit records. I only found out later that he had died in a road crash near Bath at the end of a UK tour. He was only 21, what a loss
2. Them/Van Morrison – “Baby, Please Don’t Go” (1964)
Originally a delta blues song first recorded in the 1930s by Big Joe Williams. I remember hearing this 1964 version by ‘Them’ a group from Belfast on Top of the pops and being knocked out by Van Morrison’s voice and the guitar of Jimmy Page. In my teens I had been really into the Blues with my favourite singer being John Lee Hooker, so I was not surprised to find out that this recording was a re-working of John Lee Hooker’s 1949 version that Van Morrison reworked into this classic recording
3. Bob Dylan “Like A Rolling Stone” (1965)
I first heard Bob Dylan when a school friend brought round “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” LP (1963). I became a total convert and went to both of his concerts at the Manchester Free Trade Hall . The first was in May 1963 when I was 16. Dylan was still in his folk/acoustic stage, though his songs were already becoming more personal that political. It was, of course his second concert in Manchester in May 1966 that became famous as the “Judas” concert. He played solo acoustic guitar in the first half which was rapturously received. However, the second half was his ‘electric’ set. It wasn’t well received and led to booing from some in the audience. Just before the end someone famously shouted out “Judas,”. Dylan’s response was to end the concert with a very loud version of “Like a Rollings Stone.” To my shame, I had been shocked at the switch from folk to electric myself (though I didn’t boo!). I was soon to change my mind and came to love the new Dylan. “Like a Rolling Stone” came to represent big changes in my own life and I still love it.
4. Neil Young “Old Man” (1972)
I love Neil Young’s voice. I’ve chosen this song as it compares a young man’s life to an old man’s and reflects on their similarities – “Old man, take a look at my life, I’m a lot like you.”
5. Love “Alone Again Or” from their Forever Changes album (1967)
Released at the height of psychedelia and after which the band soon disintegrated. I really like this haunting track from this strange, spaced out group, that seemed to represent the end of the hippy dream. It was the summer of 1968. I had just finished my degree. I listened to this and other West Coast groups, with friends whilst we were trying to sort out our own lives out as our dreams of alternative lifestyles faded away and we were soon destined to go our separate ways.
6. Jefferson Airplane “White Rabbit” (1967)
Another psychedelic rock classic. Grace Slick wrote this song, based on that trippy book “Alice in Wonderland.” I stayed at a friend’s flat that I rented for the summer of 1968 in Tufnell Park. On Sep 4th that year, we heard late on about a free concert being given by Jefferson Airplane in Parliament Hill Fields. We rushed across Hampstead Heath and heard “White Rabbit” being played. It was pouring down . As we got there the sun appeared, but we had arrived right at the end, as the song was the encore at the end of their gig.
7. The Doors “The End”
We went to the Roundhouse concert on Sep 7th 1968 two days after failing to get to see the Fairfield Convention (FC) at Parliament Hill Fields. Fortunately, the FC played at this concert, but the real attraction was to see Jim Morrison and the Doors play their only concert on mainland Britain. The Doors, and especially because of the charismatic Jim Morrison, were my favourite group. “The End” was played only after a delay when Jim demanded that the lights be turned down. As Granada TV was filming the event this proved difficult, but he eventually got his way. A few days later I was to leave London and what had been my own Summer of Love (a year late!) and return to real life, whatever that was going to be.
8. Sandy Denny “Who knows Where the Time Goes” (1973)
Sandy wrote this song and first recorded it in 1967. I love her voice, for me she is one of the best female singers of all time. The reflectiveness of this song and the fact that she died much too early at the age of 31, always makes it an emotional song for me.
9. Carole King “You’ve Got a Friend” (1971)
Another reflective, emotional song from another great singer. I love this song for itself but also because (like my final choice of song) featured in the Royal Exchange (RE) Elders production of “Touch: Imagine a World Without Touch” (2019) that I took part in. In retrospect, “Touch” seemed to foretell the Pandemic to come. I had never acted/performed before, and this song provides a warm reminder of taking part and the friends I made during the making of Touch.
10. Sam Cooke “A Change is Gonna Come” (1964)
I only got to know this song when it was chosen by the cast as the opening song for RE Elders production of “Touch”. Such a powerful song and such a great singer. It sends shivers down my spine, reminding me of how I felt as the curtain slowly opened on “Touch” with this music playing . The song was recently featured in the film “One Night in Miami.” Cooke himself died young at the age of 33 after a shooting incident.