His 1974 'concept' LP, "Between Today and Yesterday" about his growing up in Newcastle, sounds fascinating to me, from reading the All Music Guide write-up. Have many people heard this, and if so, what are thoughts on it?
It particularly strikes me because it was made a year after his excellent soundtrack work for Lindsay Anderson's "O Lucky Man!" (which is just about Galton & Simpson+Bunuel+Brecht)... in that he appears on screen in choric counterpoint to the episodic action, delivering some very notable folk-rock songs. It's very affecting - at times raucous, at times spare and poignant - agit-prop. This alone certainly makes him 'classic'.
― Tom May (Tom May), Sunday, 24 October 2004 18:55 (8 years ago) Permalink
― grimly fiendish (grimlord), Sunday, 24 October 2004 20:55 (8 years ago) Permalink
The best thing he ever did, of course, was opening his Newcastle Brown on a piano in Don't Look Back.
― Acme (acme), Sunday, 24 October 2004 21:12 (8 years ago) Permalink
Major prick no? This was told to me by Eric Burdon in an interview once and while it is undoubtadly 'his' account of things, the evidence is still damning: Price is the only member of the band listed on the Animals version of the song.
― new amsterdam (newamsterdam), Monday, 25 October 2004 10:37 (8 years ago) Permalink
― everything, Monday, 25 October 2004 19:14 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Tom May (Tom May), Monday, 25 October 2004 22:19 (8 years ago) Permalink
But that was when "Wilsonian" equated with a belief in the abolition of social class, before Harold had been reduced to a cypher - no longer with any hope either of controlling the hard Left or reforming the Whitehall hierarchy - in a pointless, stupid, *safe tribal war*. Once "In Place of Strife" had failed and the tensions of the 70s had reduced everything back to "either or" (and it DIDN'T HAVE to be that way, it SHOULDN'T have been that way), Price keyed into a new Zeitgeist, and this time it wasn't one reflected, however sub-consciously, by most of his chart contemporaries. If there's one 1974 record I'm anticipating in Marcello's survey of that strange year it has to be "Jarrow Song"; the cliched and obvious thing to say about it is that it could never have gone Top 10 in '84 or '94 or '04 - true, but a) it's merely an obvious statement fact and b) it plays up to the myth that cultural change is always a straightforward, linear process. What's important is that "Jarrow Song" could never have gone Top 10 in '64 (or '65, '66, '67, '68 ...); everything seemed to be flowing inexorably away from those old yearnings and class allegiances back then. But crucially away from those old allegiances towards a collective, classless social democracy, not in the latterday sense of pop-cultural "classlessness", i.e. in reality simply moving towards the divisions and inequalities and hatreds of Thatcherism And Everything After. By '74 we were trapped, and in his heart Alan Price - once such an icon of utopian classlessness - knew it.
I knew all Alan Price's hits, and some that weren't, aged seven or eight because my parents had his "best of" on tape. "Jarrow Song" was the one that meant most to me, for more reasons than I care to explain here and now - but if you want to understand what differentiates 1974 from today you need only note that my grandfather actually came down on the Jarrow marches, and he used to watch Top of the Pops with his three youngest children (aged 16, 13 and 11 in June '74) every week. If anything, the connections with those old battles seemed a lot stronger than ten years earlier - no white heat of technology now to alienate the old voices of the coalface, no technocratic opposition to tried-and-tested union methods as ossified as British royal ceremonies (and not much newer). And nothing evokes "Who Runs Britain?", "And Now To Work", "Where Are We Now?", Unison, Ross McWhirter, the Guildford and Birmingham bombings, "howls of anguish", Airey Neave calling for a new Home Guard, the Duke of Buccleuch, "Prices Secretary", "Healey's Double Blow" etc. better than "Jarrow Song" ("and I'm thinking nothing's changed much today" as Peregrine Worsthorne was openly calling for a military coup modelled on that in Chile the previous year; who could avoid the symbolism that this obvious hung-parliament call to arms gave Price his first Top 10 hit since the month of the Marine Offences Act?), not even Python's last series or the final scene of "Slade In Flame", fantastic period art of its time, yet still somewhat depressing, the sense that we should have moved beyond that (for Labour governments must eradicate social class as a divisive force or they have served no meaningful purpose; that is Wilson's undeserved tragedy).
Like I say, a genuinely fascinating career. "In Times Like These" is also pretty obviously of-the-moment in mid-'74 - that was a Top 10 album, believe it or not. So was The Fivepenny Piece's "King Cotton" in '76, and *that's* why it ended in shoot-out and bitter wars of words in early '79. After all, not even the first, relatively folk-purist Incredible String Band album got anywhere near the Top 10 in '66. There was a centre ground, a hybrid, a fusion. It didn't need to end that way. But it did, and history cannot be rewritten, and that's why "The House That Jack Built" carries such poignancy, and "Jarrow Song" - for all its resonance - carries such hurt. In these songs we see our failure to push the utopianism of the mid-60s to its logical conclusion, our consigning ourselves to a false battle whose result, even before we knew it, was always bound to increase tribalism and petty class hatred. And Alan Price knew that, and that's why they mean so much. And John Peel knew it too, and that's a small part of why *he* meant so much.
― GB05? (robin carmody), Thursday, 28 October 2004 04:38 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Tom May (Tom May), Friday, 29 October 2004 00:47 (8 years ago) Permalink
Was going to post about how much I like the O Lucky Man! soundtrack, but then I read Robin's essay.
― Elvis Telecom, Sunday, 12 August 2012 02:01 (9 months ago) Permalink
Is it that ILX has changed so much regarding long posts, or that RCarmody was a one-off?
― Mark G, Monday, 13 August 2012 05:59 (9 months ago) Permalink