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Mike Barnes  |  Sep 13, 2019
Released at the very end of 1975, the band's fourth album saw them hoping to build upon their success as one of the decade's most successful pop acts. Yet the very clash of creativity that produced such hits as 'I'm Not In Love' would split the group in two

Since its release in 1976, 10cc's How Dare You! has been described variously as soft rock, art rock, glam rock and even progressive rock. But one neologism that hopefully will never catch on – yet it evokes the essence of both the group and this album in particular – is 'sophisti-pop'.

Mike Barnes  |  Nov 01, 2019
It was his seventh album but his first for RCA, and as the clock ticked up expensive studio hours he still awaited inspiration for songs he hoped would bring him real chart success in the States. Would the one-time folk singer from Scotland make the grade?

Born in Greenock near Glasgow, Al Stewart was still a boy when he moved with his mother to live in Dorset. On turning 19 in 1964 he gravitated towards London, 'With a corduroy jacket and a head full of dreams', as he put it in the autobiographical song 'Post World War Two Blues'.

Mike Barnes  |  Oct 13, 2020
With its now famous front cover showing the son of drummer Butch Trucks, the band's fifth album was the sound of a group striving for renewal after the tragic deaths of two of its members. Yet the album's success would only sour the relationships between them

In many ways it was remarkable that The Allman Brothers Band's Brothers And Sisters was made at all, arriving as it did after the deaths of two of the group's members within a year, and drug abuse by the musicians and their entourage having spiralled out of control. The fact that it was also their greatest commercial success still feels rather hard to believe.

Mike Barnes  |  Mar 17, 2022
Miles Davis, The Mahavishnu Orchestra... this American drummer was the first to fuse jazz with rock and, with his debut solo album, the first to take this freshly forged genre into the charts. His percussion powered one of Massive Attack's smash hits too...

William E Cobham Jr was born in Colón on the Caribbean coast of Panama in 1944. His mother was a singer and his father worked as a hospital statistician, but he also played piano at weekends. As such, Billy grew up listening to jazz, classical and Latin music.

Mike Barnes  |  Jun 25, 2021
When four unsuccessful musicians joined forces in Birmingham in 1968, little did they know that by the end of the following year they would have transformed themselves from blues-rock hopefuls to a group who helped change the face of rock music forever

Few bands have realigned their whole modus operandi around a single song. But for Black Sabbath, the title track from their self-titled 1970 debut album represented a stylistic shift that changed the group irrevocably and would be the single most important step in formulating what would become known as heavy metal.

Mike Barnes  |  Dec 10, 2020
Released in October 1974, this was the first Island Records LP with the re-formed Wailers and its all-female backing group, The I-Threes. It sold over 100,000 copies and prompted interest in the States, many critics now citing it as the greatest reggae album of all time

By the mid-1970s the UK had already enjoyed a lengthy relationship with Caribbean music, from the gentle exotica of calypso to its more syncopated cousin, reggae and the upbeat ska.

Mike Barnes  |  Jul 05, 2022
In 1961, a youth culture movie musical accelerated Cliff Richard's rapid transition from rock 'n' roll heartthrob to household name, and was quickly followed by a soundtrack album that scored a trio of Top 10 hits and stayed in the UK charts for 42 weeks

The story starts in the basement of the 2i's coffee bar in Old Compton Street, Soho, where live music had been put on since 1956. This was the time of the UK skiffle boom, a style of music that had developed in America out of rhythm and blues and folk, with elements of jazz. But while it had a hint of swing it was rhythmically more straight ahead, and was popular with young musicians because you didn't have to be a virtuoso to play it. If you had a washboard or could knock together a tea chest bass, you could be in a skiffle rhythm section.

Johnny Sharp  |  Apr 22, 2022
In 1989, a trio of young New York rappers turned the hip-hop world on its head with a playful, skit-filled debut that coined the term 'sampladelic'. Yet over 30 years later, legal wrangles and label fallouts mean we are still waiting for a definitive high-quality release

Given the LP's almost childlike sense of fun, inadvertent originality and youthful irreverence for genre rules, it makes sense that 3 Feet High And Rising first took shape in a suburban high school. It was 1986, and 17-year-old Kelvin Mercer (aka Posdnuous), Dave Jolicoeur (aka Trugoy The Dove) and 16-year-old Vincent Mason (aka Maseo) had been working on their own hip-hop jams, the latter already an aspiring DJ providing onstage beats for local MC Gangster B.

Mike Barnes  |  Sep 10, 2021
After recruiting vocalist Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover, the second lineup of this one-time pyschedelic band would produce one of the most pivotal albums in the history of hard rock, enabling them finally to break through in Europe after prior US success

Initially named Roundabout, Deep Purple formed in 1968. Jon Lord had played keyboards in The Artwoods, who were an R&B group in the mould of The Animals, while guitarist Ritchie Blackmore had made his name as a hotshot session player with producer Joe Meek [HFN Aug '16], and thus had recorded and played live with 'Screaming' Lord Sutch.

Johnny Black  |  Nov 01, 2018
After his split from Walter Becker in 1981, the New Jersey-born vocalist and composer struck out on his own with The Nightfly, one of the first albums to be recorded digitally. The result was a treat for audiophile ears and platinum sales both here and in the US

Having established himself in the 1970s as half of the acclaimed thinking person's rock duo Steely Dan, Donald Fagen became a solo performer in 1981 when his partnership with Walter Becker fell apart.

Johnny Black  |  May 24, 2019
While other white artists were dipping their toes into soul and funk, The Doobies rode forth from San Jose with a magpie-mix of blues, country, rock and jazz that secured them a string of boogie-woogie hits. Now it was time to capitalise on that sound...

The Doobie Brothers didn't need to know the way to San Jose, because that's where they lived in 1970. And, with a smidgeon of guidance from their heroes, San Francisco Bay Area combo Moby Grape, it was where they formed the band whose driving twin-guitar attack, twin-drummer assault, tight vocal harmonies and memorably singable tunes would bring them multi-Platinum success in the '70s.

Mike Barnes  |  Aug 11, 2020
Released in November 1983, the band's third album for RCA Records went to No 1 in the UK, No 10 in the States' Billboard chart and was later certified platinum. Not bad for an LP recorded and mixed in part of a North London church in just three weeks...

In the post-punk era of the late '70s many new wave groups chose a name beginning with 'the' to differentiate themselves from what had gone years before. And often their choices were deliberately low key, which gave us names like The Trainspotters, The Members and The Tourists.

Mike Barnes  |  Nov 28, 2019
Could a group of ex-public school boys cut a path to the charts with an album packed with tricky time signatures and pseudo-classical pomp? Finished in just five days, this 1972 release was to see the band finally rock, on a scale that was to make their career

Genesis might be among the 30 biggest-selling rock artists of all time but they were never really intended to be a rock group. If all had gone to early plans they would have remained an essentially anonymous songwriting team.

Mike Barnes  |  Jan 14, 2022
In 1986, the singer-songwriter bowed out of pop duo Wham! with a sell-out farewell concert at Wembley Stadium. A year later he was back with his first solo album, having swapped the flash suits and swimming trunks for stubble, leather and shades...

In Spring 1986, Wham! announced they were splitting, with a farewell album and single, and a final concert at Wembley Stadium in June. In doing so they pulled the plug on a group that had enjoyed a string of international hit singles and albums over the previous four years, and who had become one of the biggest pop outfits in the world.

Johnny Black  |  May 15, 2020
Peppered with provocative lyrics and a cast of often nightmarish characters, this debut offered a snapshot of late-'70s Britain in all its gritty glory. Yet the catchy tunes delivered with a helping of music hall mischief means it still stands as one of rock's most original LPs

Towards the end of 1977 punk rock had taken hold in the UK in a big way and, for older and established musicians, this was a party to which they had not been invited. For David Bowie the best solution was to relish his individuality, which prompted the advertisement strapline for his LP Heroes: 'There's Old Wave. There's New Wave. And Then There Is David Bowie'. The same could have been said about the 35-year-old Ian Dury, whose music had always stood outside prevailing musical trends and whose first solo album New Boots And Panties!!, was one of that year's most original statements.

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