DJTees Blog

This is where I indulge in my passions - VINYL & ROCK 'n' ROLL

It 'was' better in my day...

It 'was' better in my day...

Authored By John Nicholson

I think the ‘it was better in my day’ is a deeply unpleasant characteristic, best avoided. But when it comes to rock music, I genuinely think that the artform was pushed to its outer limit between 1965 and 1977. As a youngster I totally took for granted that something new and original would be released every week. In little more than a decade we saw the rise of prog rock, heavy rock, the birth of soul, jazz-fusion, disco, folk rock, blues rock, psychedelics, heavy metal, Motown and funk. That is objectively incredible. The whole industry continues, one way or another,...

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Encyclopaedia of Rock...

Encyclopaedia of Rock...

Authored By John Nicholson

Because I was a few years out of date when growing up, listening in 1979 to music recorded 1966-76 I never knew what was really popular and whose time had been and gone. Sometimes it was obvious, like with all the big name acts, but where did you put the Blues Project of the Electric Flag? Bands that had long split.. In hindsight being regarded as old fashioned probably made me seem a bit weird. Everyone else was listening to Madness and The Beat and The Clash while I was getting excited about Cream's first album or the Grateful Dead’s...

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The 75th Anniversary of the Single

The 75th Anniversary of the Single

Authored By John Nicholson

It's apparently the 75th anniversary of the 7” single this year. If you have any, they are quite rare. Its easier to get 1950s 78rpm shellac versions. I have some Little Richard and Fats Domino early vinyl singles and they are worth a few hundred pounds but they were also released on 10” 78’s and these are worth little.Because 78s were so brittle, it was inevitable that they’d be replaced and by 1960 they didn't exist even allowing for the fact that there wasn't much else to do singles were immediately popular. Unlike later, they were usually not also an...

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The British Steely Dan?

The British Steely Dan?

Authored By John Nicholson

Are 10.c.c. the British version of Steely Dan? I only ask because I’ve heard this said many times. Not that the two bands sound anything like each other, but I think it's said because they share an obsession with rerecording everything multiple times and have a similar left-field aesthetic. Personally, I think it is a bit of a stretch but I can see why people say it. As a fan of both bands, Steely Dan songs plough a much more novelistic, kind of romantic furrow and have much more pronounced jazz roots like on the peerless Aja which I think...

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Do tribes still exist?

Do tribes still exist?

Authored By John Nicholson

When growing up in the 70s there were clearly demarcated groups and they didn’t blur together. I was in the long hair, hippie group, prone to philosophising and general anti-establishment beliefs. Not too far out you understand, the more extreme elements tempered by living in the northeast of England. This was enough to clearly separate me from other social groups. And although it was a crude thing, I was happy enough with being in this group. Other groups were punks, mods, smoothies and even a group who could only be grouped by their not being in a group. They seemed...

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Cassettes are making a comeback...

Cassettes are making a comeback...

Authored By John Nicholson

Cassettes are making a comeback. I keep hearing this. But even though there is an official Cassette Day, I’ve found no passion for it. I grew up with cassettes and taped albums all the time. It was the only way to afford records. There was often a queue to tape the one copy. But the cassette is a strange looking thing and as inferior as they used to be in terms of sound and longevity, I can see the attractiveness to kids who haven't grown up with them. I still have all of mine. They’re in a box in the...

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Ignored Artists...

Ignored Artists...

Authored By John Nicholson

It’s remarkable really. Even in 2024, classic rock is easily the most popular genre of music, but its width and breadth is rarely represented as an artform. There are documentaries about the big stars and big events, sure, but that’s like talking about the icing and not the cake. The size of the genre is rarely addressed in any way. There are documentaries about the Beatles and Bob Dylan, for example, but the likes of Budgie, to take one random example, are entirely ignored and there are hundreds of bands like that. Bands that we all saw and loved who...

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Unusual formats, well worth collecting...

Unusual formats, well worth collecting...

Authored By John Nicholson

Singles are 7”, albums are 12” right? Well, most of the time, but there are exceptions that are well worth collecting. I have a 6” single by Spirit. I have no idea why it’s 6 inches, it provides a little bit of extra time, and that’s it. In the 1930s, some transcription discs were 16″s, cut onto aluminium and used to broadcast radio shows. As far back as the ’50s there were 6″ and 8″ children’s stories and nursery rhymes that spun at 78rpm, sometimes on splatter or sunburst coloured vinyl.In the 1960’s there was a fad for ‘pocket-sized’ 4” records,...

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The funniest gig...

The funniest gig...

Authored By John Nicholson

The funniest thing I ever saw at a concert was at Middlesbrough Town Hall in the mid-70s. Camel were touring their Snow Goose album. I really liked Camel, though it has to be said that they were very serious po-faced boys and they played this concept album with all due solemnity. This made what was to happen even funnier.We had seats on the balcony. To our right were some empty seats with ‘reserved’ pinned to them on sheets of paper. We thought nothing of it until the encore, when a team of half a dozen roadies arrived as the band took...

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The curse of having hit records...

The curse of having hit records...

Authored By John Nicholson

I have everything Steve Miller has ever released including the first not-on-album single as a demo, so when I saw him live it was a special moment. It was a Konocti Harbor resort in northern California about 15 years ago.It was an open air gig and came after a hot summer day. As a big fan I wanted to hear pre-Fly Like An Eagle songs, but most of the set was drawn from Book Of Dreams and Eagle, although they are great, popular albums, they’re quite middle of the road AOREven so. The crowd liked it. At least until he...

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Do you remember the first record you ever bought?

Do you remember the first record you ever bought?

Authored By John Nicholson

Do you remember the first record you ever bought? There's usually a lot of stretching of the truth because a naff single is most people’s choice of record. Mine was Manfred Mann’s Do Wah Diddy which my parents bought for little Johnny in the mid 60s. But as we know, that doesn't count because I didn’t buy it with my own money. So I had to wait until 1971 when I bought Best of Status Quo which I absolutely loved and which set me on the path to loving blues-rock.Later, the first single I bought was by The Kinks, Supersonic...

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When did you begin to collect records?

When did you begin to collect records?

Authored By John Nicholson

It’s one of the most asked questions from people, once they know of my 10,000+ collection. The truth is I never ‘started’, I just bought a lot of music because I loved educating myself about it, devouring and collecting as I went. I've always bought second hand records which were cheap. In fact I still buy stuff because it’s cheap. You’ve not much to lose if it's rubbish.One of the first bands I collected was Ten Years After. I used to love finding an old record by them, the copy of Recorded Live, a particular passion. I only had maybe...

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Do we have any big bands anymore?

Do we have any big bands anymore?

Authored By John Nicholson

Do we have any big bands anymore? When we were kids it was clear. Bands like Sabbath and Purple and Zeppelin were at the top of the tree. They charted in the top five and the demand for tickets was huge and you had to sleep on the streets to get one.These days it's different. Tracks by bands get downloaded millions of times, but they have little presence or cut through. Sometimes the downloads are free so the figure does not represent desire or support for the band. It all feels very disposable.Vinyl sales were the largest since the early...

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The Day I Almost Met Robert Plant...

The Day I Almost Met Robert Plant...

Authored By John Nicholson

I don’t recall why we decided to go to Banbury, the time it wasn’t held in Banbury but at Broughton Castle, but we decided to build it into a holiday. Anyway, we set off doing what hippie people did back then; we hitch-hiked. Imagine getting into strangers' cars? You never see hitchhikers now, but back then it was very common.We always thought our chances of getting a ride were good as boyfriend and girlfriend. We didn’t appear to be obviously murderers. I don’t recall any of the lifts we had or any of the generous spirits who gave us a...

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Bootleg Banter...

Bootleg Banter...

Authored By John Nicholson

Bootlegs. They ain't what they used to be. Remember what a hip credibility they had in the 1970’s? If you knew someone had one they had real cred. My pal Russell had a few including Led Zeppelin at Kezar Stadium 1973. It was a Flying Pig recording. I'll tell you what, that recording was a bit rough and ready but it showed Zep as a killer band.And that’s the thing. I never understood the hostility to them from bands. It was obvious that only big fans wanted what was sometimes a hand held live recording. I get that the band...

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