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Wednesday, December 9, 2020

BAY CITY ROLLERS BOOK

BAY CITY ROLLERS BOOK

Only few copies left!  For any further info, write to dontstopthemusicbook@gmail.com 

What the critics said: 

But it’s also a story that demanded to be told.  The Rollers have of course been documented across a stream of titles, but the emphasis has always been on the cultural/commercial phenomenon of their mid-70s peak, and the peculiar emotions that they aroused in their fan base. 

Don’t Stop the Music, on the other hand, is focused only on the music, in the form of a 252-page annotated discography, itself dissected to a level that few other artists have been blessed with.  A band history naturally unfolds alongside the details, but again the emphasis is on the music as opposed to the mayhem, and you’d need a stoney heart indeed not to look to YouTube at least a few times while you’re reading about the songs.  Shimmy shammy shong, indeed.

The Rollers’ own story is the heart of the book, but the same amount of detail and background is also expended across the various spin-offs… solo careers for Nobby Clark, Les McKeown, and Pat McGlynn; a new band for early members Billy Lyall and David Paton (remember Pilot?); and probably deserving a book of his own, the post-Rollers life and times of Ian Mitchell…

Worldwide discographies of the Rollers, and a plethora of record sleeves, reproduced in full color, add to the book’s allure. 

Dave Thompson, goldminemag.com, January 11, 2019.


An essential book about the Rollers! (5 stars)

There have been a few books and several autobiographies written by and about the Bay City Rollers but most at best merely skimp over the musical aspects of the group to concentrate on the more sordid side of the band's history.  With this book the situation has been remedied as it is basically a very comprehensive review of their musical output.  Written by a fan it doesn't gush over everything they've released, and I personally disagree with some of his opinions on songs, but he does give an honest and critical assessment of the band's catalogue.  

...nicely laid out little publication.

amazon.co.uk user Swanny, February 7, 2020.


 

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

A tribute to Ian Mitchell (1958-2020)

A tribute to Ian Mitchell

(1958-2020)

After a reportedly short but brave battle with throat cancer former Bay City Rollers and Rosetta Stone guitarist Ian Mitchell died on September 2nd, 2020.

Having replaced bassist Alan Longmuir (Guitarist Stuart “Woody” Wood switched to bass upon Ian’s arrival) in April 1976, Ian’s initial tenure with the Rollers was brief.  Mere seven months to be exact, although he also partook in a reunion or two later-on in the band’s turbulent history.

The Rollers’ fourth album Dedication featured Mitchell – his lead vocals even adorned the title track.

After leaving the band due to an apparent nervous exhaustion in November ’76, he rejoined his pre-Rollers group Young City Stars, now re-christened Rosetta Stone. 

After a couple of albums in a couple of years he left to form his very own Ian Mitchell Band.  Similarly, two years and two albums later IMB became La Rox, and eventually Bachelor of Hearts.  BoH recorded one album, On the Boulevard in 1983.  After that Ian returned to Rollerland for a couple of years.

The late ‘80s saw him move to American for good – he eventually became a U.S. citizen – where he played in myriad of bands through the years. 

He recorded his first and only solo album in the early 2000s – a festive album no less – but does seem to have been only sporadically involved with music thereafter.

As a tribute to Ian I’ve picked a few of the best bits *I* believe he was involved with during his time as a working musician.  Feel free to disagree though…

Bay City Rollers/"Dedication" (LP version) 1976


Rosetta Stone/"(If Paradise is) Half As Nice" (1977)


Ian Mitchell Band/"Lonely Nites" (1979)


Ian Mitchell Band/"Everybody's on The Fiddle" (1980)


Bachelor of Hearts/"Boulevard L.A." (1983)

Thursday, April 23, 2020

SWEET Top 10


Arguably one of the greatest singles act of the 1970s, (The) Sweet racked up no less than 16 UK hits between 1971 and 1978. And although they reached the pole position only once – with 1973’s mercurial Blockbuster – they, impressively, five separate times hit no. 2.
Always something of a schizophrenic proposition, on one hand, a bubblegummy glam act while on the other a bona fide hard rock band, Sweet was never what one might call a critics favourite.  Although all four of them – Brian Connolly (Vocals), Andy Scott (Guitar), Steve Priest (Bass) and Mick Tucker (Drums) – were clearly excellent musicians, they were more often than not perceived merely as a vehicle for the songwriting talents of Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn (AKA Chinnichap) – not unlike the duo’s other high profile clients: Mud, Suzi Quatro and Smokie.
Time has been kind to Sweet though. Nowadays they seem to be viewed not that harshly, musically at least. Even though the often over the top visual appearance and image might predictably still warrant the odd ridicule, the music itself rarely does now.
Pre-Chinnichap, during the late ‘60s, The Sweet recorded a few unspectacular and unsuccessful singles here and there, but by 1971 had teamed up with Chinn & Chapman and began to churn out sticky bubblegum like Funny Funny and Co-Co. At first, apart from merely providing vocals to the proceedings, the band had precious little to do with the hits. The B-sides, though, were always real opportunities for the group to show their harder rocking tendencies.
It wasn’t until the somewhat risqué Little Willy, the fifth Chinnichap Sweet single, the band actually supplied instrumental backing to the A-side.  1975’s Fox on The Run was their first self-penned & produced single and, although one of their best and universally most successful, in hindsight it also signaled the beginning of the end for the band.
By 1978 singer Brian Connolly had left Sweet and they never enjoyed another big hit after that year’s excellent Love Is Like Oxygen.
For fun, I’ve selected my Top 10 of Sweet’s singles and listed them here below with the oblibigatory links to YouTube videos.  If so inclined, feel free to do the same in the comments section below, although I doubt the YouTube thing will work there.
Here goes…
No. 10:  Little Willy (1972)

No. 9:  Wig-Wam Bam (1972)

No. 8:  Lies in Your Eyes (1976)

No. 7:  Action (1975)

No. 6:  The Ballroom Blitz (1973)

No. 5:  Blockbuster (1973)

No. 4:  Teenage Rampage (1974)

No. 3:  Fox On The Run (1975)

No. 2:  Love Is Like Oxygen (1978)

No. 1:  The Six Teens (1974)

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Alan Merrill R.I.P.



Chiefly known as the co-writer (or sole writer as he claimed in later years) of a little ditty called I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll, Alan Merrill, born Allan Preston Sachs, sadly succumbed to COVID-19 on 29 March 2020.

Although for the past 50 years Alan worked consistently as a recording artist, both solo and with others, to the ‘70s teenpop community (as if there is such a thing!) however, he will be most fondly remembered as a member of mid-'70s glam act Arrows, who originally recorded I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll as a single B-side in 1975.


I had the good fortune of corresponding via e-mail with Alan back in the early 2000s.  Some of said correspondence found its way into my book Don’t Stop the Music: The Bay City Rollers on Record, and focused mainly on Alan’s passing acquaintance with the Rollers who appeared a couple of times on the Arrows’ UK TV show in ’75 – ’76.

Alan was very articulate, had an amazing memory and was very generous of his time – in short, an ideal interview subject.  I suspect he was also the person behind the fully warranted corrections of my haphazard piece on the Arrows for the ‘70s teenpop blog a number of years later.  I was always hoping he'd write his own book, he was a natural storyteller and knew were many of the bodies were buried...so to speak.

In a long and varied career that was launched in Japan in the early ‘70s with Alan as singing, acting and modeling teen idol, there was seemingly never a dull moment.  After stints as a front-man with the aforementioned Arrows as well as, later on in the ‘70s, with adult-oriented rock band Runner, Alan was humble enough to take the backseat as a guitarist with both Rick Derringer and Meatloaf in the ‘80s.

In 1982, of course, Alan’s ship well and truly came in when Joan Jett & the Blackhearts cover of ILRnR became a massive worldwide hit.  Although Alan later claimed to not have seen any real royalties from the song until Britney Spears covered it twenty years later, it must have been huge validation nonetheless.  Although mere validation musical probably doesn’t pay the rent.


In the late ‘80s, a freakishly tall and buff friend of mine acted as a minder on the Meatloaf band’s brief visit to Iceland.  And knowing my interest in all things glam, he told me of a moment when the whole group went to Hard Rock Café for a meal, and while there ILRnR came on the restaurant’s sound system one member of the group belted out, “That’s my song! I wrote that!”  Indeed he did.

In later years Alan occasionally gigged and recorded, was very active on social media and appeared to be at long last reaping the awards of his life’s labour.  All the more sad and shocking then, when the news of his untimely demise at 69 broke late last month.  The ‘70s teenpop blog sends his friends and relatives its most sincere condolences.  


This COVID-19 crap is royally starting to piss me off.  Late last night I belatedly received the news another brilliant songwriter and musician, namely, Adam Schlesinger, lost his battle with the virus last week. 

Schlesinger, the co-founder of Fountains of Wayne, one of the best bands of the past 25 years IMHO, as well as a prolific writer for films and TV (That Thing You Do, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), not to mention a sought-after producer (The Monkees, They Might Be Giants), was only 52.  RIP.
Soon, hopefully, these "troubled times" shall pass.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

New Bay City Rollers Book - Out Now!

OUT NOW!  New book.  To order, write to dontstopthemusicbook@gmail.com

For better or for worse, and probably for the first time ever, the Bay City Rollers’ records and their music are the focal points of this meticulous study by BCR aficionado Hannes A. Jonsson.
And through it all, the band’s often unbelievable story is recounted via series of ill-fated reunions and consequent break-ups.
Furthermore, lesser-known solo careers and side-projects are also visited, and so are several old acquaintances and collaborators of the group.
Detailed discographies and set lists are included as well.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Les Brians / Lez Smith (Buster) R.I.P.


It has been brought to my attention that Les Brians (Also known as Lez Smith), formerly the drummer of '70s Teenpop band Buster, has died.
His friend, Lesley Thompson, recently posted the following comment on my You Tube channel page:
Lez had been ill for a couple of years (and) eventually his liver failed to protect him from the infections.  He passed away at the beginning of Nov. 2016.  R.I.P
I do hope I'm allowed to re-post this, but since it was originally posted in a public forum I can't really see the harm.
I had the pleasure to exchange a few e-mails with Les/Lez a few years back, the results of which you can read about HERE.  I enjoyed and appreciated his candor and wit - he will be missed.

Pete Leay (Left) & Les Brians (Right) in 1977.

After briefly reforming Buster for an album, "Best & New" in 2013, sadly two members of the band have now passed - guitarist Pete Leay died in December 2013.
My most sincere condolences the family and friends of both Pete and now Les.  R.I.P.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

HELLO - The Albums


A mere two-hit-wonder as far as the British record buying public is concerned, Hello during their mid-'70s heyday nonetheless racked up an tangible track record elsewhere - particularly in Germany where they were a viable option until the end of the decade when the original line-up of Bob Bradbury (Vocals, guitar), Keith Marshall (Guitar), Vic Faulkner (Bass) and Jeff Allen (Drums) disbanded.  I would - and have - go as far as to say that Hello is probably one of the most underrated U.K. acts of the 1970's.
Kudos, then, to Cherry Red/7Ts for recently unleashing this impressive package consisting of four CD's featuring what I gather to be pretty much everything ever committed to tape during the band's tenure with both Bell/Arista and Polydor.  A scrumptious array of bonus tracks and previously unissued rarities is the main bait here, as well as the first-ever CD release of 1977 Japan-only album "Shine on Silver Light".  Better late than never!