It wouldn’t be too long to wait before my first gig – only another four months or so, in March 1973. But in the meantime, my Alice Cooper LP ‘Love it to Death‘) was being played to death in my bedroom.
It whetted my appetite for more ‘heavy rock.’ In late 1972, however, gaining access to such music was not easy. You either had to know somebody who had bought an album and played it to you, or you took a punt and bought blind (or perhaps that should be ‘deaf.’)
Some shops though, like Lewis’s in Glasgow had ‘listening booths,’ where you’d be allowed to listen to one or two tracks from an album in the hope that you’d eventually buy.
(Latterly, the dingy wee Virgin Records shop at the end of Argyle Street, then Cambridge Street in Glasgow offered the use of headphones to listen to music. The down side though, was that only one person at a time could listen – we used to pile about six mates into the listening booth along the road in Lewis’s.
You would also have to explain to your parents just why your clothes were stinking of incense when you returned home. Telling them the shop burned joss sticks to cover up the smell of other smouldering substances in-store was probably not a good idea, though.
Some rock bands, however, like Free, Deep Purple and the excellent Atomic Rooster had been given airtime on the UK’s prime time popular music show, Top of the Pops in late 1971 / early 1972 and although a bit late to the party (again) I started to search out music from artists such as them.
Being ‘late to the party’ is a trend I’ve managed to maintain for almost fifty years, having just bought my first two Atomic Rooster albums in this past year.
(1972 also saw the blossoming of Glam Rock in the UK. Arguably started by Marc Bolan in mid 1971, the Glam movement was well and truly on the march through 1972.
At school, though as a thirteen / fourteen year old lad, it was not de rigueur, to show your true Glam self. Stars like Bolan and Bowie were for the girls. Boys had to be into what was perceived to be ‘harder’ rock. As mentioned in an earlier post, I got terrible stick for admitting I liked The Sweet. Little did those ‘macho’ pals of mine appreciate that most Glam bands could rock-out some pretty heavy riffs too.)
(Look out for a special Glam Rock Feature coming soon to LOUD HORIZON.)
My first rock album however, was one of those blind / deaf purchases I referred to earlier. I had read of this band Uriah Heep in Sounds paper / magazine, and around mid-1972, sent away for their debut album, ‘…very ‘eavy… very ‘umble.’ This immediately took over from the Alice Cooper LP that had hogged the turntable for so many months.
With the exception of Lee Kerslake, who would play drums on subsequent recordings, this for me was by far the best incarnation of the band, with Dave Byron up there with the best lead vocalists of any band.
From a kid who was totally unaware of The Beatles just a few years earlier, I was now totally immersed in music. I couldn’t play a note, of course – I was far too lazy to learn despite my parents’ best efforts. And singing? There was more chance of me holding the World Heavyweight Boxing title than me holding a note.
1972 had been a year of musical enlightenment for me. It had started with me pestering my folks to buy me a shirt similar to one I’d seen Kenney Jones wear while playing drums for Rod Stewart on Top of the Pops. I wanted to look ‘cool’ at my school disco. (We never found one, of course, and I had to settle for a turquoise, paisley pattern shirt and matching kipper tie, with lilac needle-cord trousers.)
It ended with me wearing that very same outfit to a disco in London (I was part of a representative Glasgow Boy Scouts group visiting the city) where I had my first schoolboy crush on a girl from a local Guides troop. She liked me because I made her laugh.
I now know why.
Anyway – here’s the song that kicked off the year for me and is to this day, still one of my Top 10 tracks of all time.
Roll on 1973.
(To be continued …)