Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Joan Armatrading and those '70s albums

Forty years of Joan Armatrading! For a singer-songwriter-musician who began in the 1970s she seems to improve like good wine. She is now touring as a solo, with just her guitar. I loved her with those bands during her other concerts which I saw in places like Hammersmith, Brighton, Croydon over the years since I discovered her in 1975 with that great album BACK TO THE NIGHT. Then her solo album in 1976, the one with "Love and Affection", "Down to Zero", "Join The Boys" was almost played out, I had to give it to friends to get it out of the house. This of course, as I said before (music label) was the heyday of the vinyl album, and the singer-songwriters ruled for me: Joni Mitchell, Carole King (TAPESTRY and Joni's BLUE defined 1971), Carly Simon, Neil Young, Paul Simon, Tim Buckley, Tim Hardin, Tom Rush and of course Laura Nyro and Janis Ian. As well as Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Cleo Laine and more. Joni and Joan though were the tops. We liked some Dylan too of course: JOHN WESLEY HARDIN, NASHVILLE SKYLINE, BLOOD ON THE TRACKS and that very influential second album of his back in the 60s - the era of The Byrds, The Doors, Cream, Beatles, Stones, Yardbirds, Small Faces, The Band, Blood Sweat & Tears, The Moody Blues, even The Incredible String Band  etc..

Joan had that fire and ice voice, wrote great lyrics, and those albums just kept coming, with songs we loved like "Show Some Emotion", "Willow", "Ma-me-o Beach", "Tall in the Saddle", "Me, myself and I".. I kept returning to BACK TO THE NIGHT though with "Stepping Out", "Cool Blue", "Travelled so Far" and that great title track. 

Paul Simon's STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS was probably the best of his solo albums, with not a duff track on it.... In the early 70s we liked Rod Stewart's EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY, Jeff Beck's albums, Eric Clapton's, and Elton's first three - particularly TUMBLEWEED CONNECTION. Then of course Pink Floyd came along with DARK SIDE OF THE MOON and WISH YOU WERE HERE, while Roxy Music (MANIFESTO, FLESH & BLOOD) and Police were also making music one had to have. Joni Mitchell continued with her fascinating series of albums too .... what an era. Tim Buckley's elastic voice kept me listening to GREETINGS FROM L.A and SEFRONIA..and his terrific songs like "Because of You" and "Dolphins".
The 12" single arrived for the disco of the late 70s - one had to have Grace Jones' "La Vie En Rose" with "I Need A Man", and Blondie's "Atomic" and "Heart of Glass". Oh, those 70s!.The 80s then belonged to those New Romantics (Human League, Eurythmics, Culture Club, Duran Duran, Thompson Twins, Frankie ...) Erasure, Bronski Beat and the Pet Shop Boys (who are also still going now, I have to have all their stuff) as house and club dance music took over, with speed garage and deep house. We loved those 'Global Underground' cds by the likes of Danny Tenaglia, and the Murk/Funky Green Dogs guys from Miami, as well as the spaced out chill-out of A Man Called Adam ... 

Nice to see Joan is still making music and touring and still selling out concert halls.  I've now got a recent CD of hers, STARLIGHT, to enjoy.


  1. My favourite Armatrading album is her very first. I think it's called WHATEVER'S FOR US and includes my favourite track of hers, "It could have been better".

  2. Yes I knew that one at the time, but it became unavailable for a long time, in fact BACK TO THE NIGHT does not seem to be on cd at all now ...