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1970s 45 rpm 7" Pop

Small nations

Many otherwise intelligent and discerning people delight in the Eurovision Song Contest, and can name the winners stretching back decades. Personally, the magic and mystery of Eurovision rather misses me, but one thing I have noticed and respected: the contest really matters to small nations. For Bosnia-Herzegovina, for Ireland, for Belgium, for Finland – there […]

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12" 1970s 33 rpm Children's Comedy LP

That’s Daryl on the left

There are not many songs about engineers. I don’t mean engineer in the American sense – the guy driving an old steam locomotive, face black with coal dust, desperate to get the Ol’ 97 into Spencer on time. I mean the sort of engineer who sits at a draft board, pencils and protractor at hand, […]

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1970s 45 rpm 7" Pop

Soul man

After a couple of weeks stranded on Earth, attending to the small matter of making a living, it is a relief to again board the Planet Vinyl shuttle and land … well, it’s a place called Topanga, and we are in the company of a funky 1970s TV cop. David Soul was one half of […]

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1970s 45 rpm Pop Single

Rhyming slang

It is a misfortune perhaps unique in the whole of popular music. Barry Crocker was an Australian pop crooner in the early 1970s: something in the style of Tom Jones or Englebert Humperdinck. He must have sold truckloads of records, because it is a rare op-shop in Australia which does not have several of his […]

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1970s 45 rpm 7" Dance

Unpretentious in Spokane

I used to be a journalist, and worked briefly for the best-selling tabloid newspaper in Australia. One of the expressions we used, and which I hated, cropped up if a financial institution collapsed, or a con-man was exposed. The story about the victims would gravely begin “They are the mums-and-dads investors …” This has nothing […]

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1970s 45 rpm 7" Dance Pop

More than one gay in the village

The Village People were a marketing concept before they were a band. A record producer, Jacques Morali, had the idea of a camp disco-dance act, which would draw on gay stereotypes. He secured a recording contract before he even had found anyone to fill the roles of dog man, biker, cop and the others. Despite […]

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1970s 45 rpm 7" Pop Single

Doomed beauty

I had known Gene Pitney for his gunslinger ballads, especially the themes to The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence and Town Without Pity. He was also a successful songwriter, whose material was performed by Roy Orbison, Bobby Vee, The Crystals – heaps of others. Many are jaunty pop or country numbers with no lyrical pretensions: […]

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1970s 45 rpm 7" Pop

The boy from Iowa

I used to work for a magazine whose editor was from Iowa. I had never met anyone from Iowa before, nor have never met one since. As Iowa is a mostly rural state with a small population – there are six-times more pigs there than humans – and on the other side of the world, […]

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1970s 45 rpm 7" Pop

Like chocolates in a box

The Carpenters, sister Karen and brother Richard, sang sweetly, and almost always about love. Richard played the keyboards and provided the harmony. Karen sang the lead and – I never knew this – also played the drums. I remember the Carpenters on the radio, back in the 1970s. Even then I felt that Karen and […]

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12" 1970s Gospel LP

You take a stick of bamboo

“You take a stick of bamboo,” goes an old folk song, “You take a stick of bamboo and you throw it in the water.” Alternatively, you can bury the bamboo in sand for a year or two, so that it dries and hardens, and make a pipe organ. That is what an innovative Catholic Priest […]