Photo via the ‘Hendrix live at Woodstock’ documentary.

First of all, let me start by saying that I’ve sat down to write this article three times now, the first two times getting too stoned (sorry Mum & Dad, I did it for the art!) to do anything but eat fistfuls of granola and play with my cat while listening to Santana’s Woodstock set on repeat. This time, my mind is clear – fuelled by coffee to the point of explosion, the western way. Now, let’s get to it.

If there’s one historical event in music I would have loved to be a part of it’s Woodstock, three days of peace, love and music – although the reality of it would probably be getting lost in a crowd of half a million people in a time before phones, while tripping balls on acid – which would be either fantastic or incredibly stressful – it’s a double-edged sword, rabbit-hole roulette.

Either way, there’s no denying the mark it made in music history, and even with all political views aside, that spectacular line up is worthy of headlines on it’s own: Hendrix, Creedence, Santana, Ten Years After, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Johnny Winter, Sly and the Family Stone, Ravi Shankar, Canned Heat, Grateful Dead, Mountain, Joe Cocker, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – I mean are you fucking for real…? Last week marked the 50 year anniversary of the festival, which is why it’s been on mine, and oh-so many other people’s minds.

Being born about 40 years too late to attend and experience the festival in it’s messy and beautiful glory, I’ve done my best in the past couple of weeks to live out the Woodstock experience as well as I could fifty years down the line; I spent three days at Sonic Blast Festival in Portugal with a group of friends, dancing in the apocalyptic rain to Earthless at midnight, before partying at Jimi Hendrix’s London flat during the Woodstock weekend anniversary, drinking his favourite rosé which was handed out for free. Needless to say I felt like an absolute piece of shit the next day as we obviously managed to get our hands on more than the allocated bottle per person.

Anyway, I’m rambling, back to the festival.

Woodstock happened at a crucial moment in time; The Vietnam war was raging and brothers and sisters dying, Martin Luther King Jr had been tragically killed a year before and people were fighting for equality, whether it be due to gender, race or sexual orientation. Then all of a sudden, an angel of a farmer under the name of Max Yasgur kindly leased one of his farm fields to the festival promoters, which then attracted nearly half a million people who celebrating peace, love and music. The festival, did not go down well with the locals, fearing what these scruffy looking longhaired youngsters would get up to in their town. Luckily, Max Yasgur came to their defence:

“I hear you are considering changing the zoning law to prevent the festival. I hear you don’t like the look of the kids who are working at the site. I hear you don’t like their lifestyle. I hear you don’t like they are against the war and that they say so very loudly. . . I don’t particularly like the looks of some of those kids either. I don’t particularly like their lifestyle, especially the drugs and free love. And I don’t like what some of them are saying about our government. However, if I know my American history, tens of thousands of Americans in uniform gave their lives in war after war just so those kids would have the freedom to do exactly what they are doing. That’s what this country is all about and I am not going to let you throw them out of our town just because you don’t like their dress or their hair or the way they live or what they believe. This is America and they are going to have their festival.”
Max Yasgur to the Bethel town board.

If you take away the musicians actually performing and only focus on the logistics of it all, Woodstock wasn’t far from being the Fyre Festival of 1969; they had initially pre-sold 100 000 tickets to the festival, but as attendees started to show up, fences weren’t ready and the amount of people were so high that they were unable to stop the massive stream of hippies pouring into the area – hadn’t it been for traffic being so bad, they estimated numbers would have been higher. With nearly half a million attendees, they were also running severely low on everything; food, water, medical supplies, you name it. Still, despite the sporadic rain, lack of, well, everything, protests from the locals and just general chaos of it all, Woodstock was a peaceful celebration uniting hundreds of thousands of people through to their love of music and acceptance. Today, we might just need a Woodstock more than ever, the rainforest is on fire, and the world is ruled by mad men – we all definitely need to take the edge off a little bit.

As the summer rolls on and we get perilously close to the end of festival season, Orange Amps seems to be sending me to a varied and diverse lineup of festivals. This week was the Cambridge Folk Festival, which has been on the same site since 1965! Being from this part of the world, it is amazing in my 31 years of existence I have never set foot onto these fabled grounds. So I thought I would dive right in and see what the Folk Festival had to offer.

Nick Mulvey on the Second Stage

So many activities!

Whether it was the diverse lineup or the mixture of workshops and talks, you would find it very difficult to run out of things to do at the Cambridge Folk Festival. When I arrived on site on Friday the second stage was in the middle of a Yoga session and I had just missed the morning T’ai Chi session in the well-being area, I had forgotten my yoga mat anyway. And when you feel like some music the 4 music stages give you everything from bluegrass through to folk and country.

Site to see

The festival is set in Cherry Hinton Hall Park which is 15 mins away from the famous city centre. It was really strange to walk through the suburbs of Cambridge and then for the rows of tents to appear to announce the entrance to the festival. It felt like finding an undiscovered part of the city, with smaller stages dotted around the campsite, attendees have a wide array of choice. The well-being area is surrounded by a lake and duck pond to add to the positive vibes. The music stages are close enough to be within a short walk from each other but not too close to create noise issues.

Jack Broadbent on the second stage

Relaxed and friendly

Most festivals I end up at through work there are people tearing round the site trying to see every band on the bill and drink their weight in beer (just like to say there is nothing wrong with this, drink safely guys!) But it was nice to see people relaxing while the bands were playing and having a dance and generally having a lovely time. People were in early to set up their camping chairs and then spent the rest of the day enjoying the acts. This doesn’t mean to say no one was moving, far from it, the ceilidh dancing was in full flow throughout the festival, don’t worry I didn’t have a dance.

The Bands

Lucinda Williams on the main stage

Having never been to this festival I was overwhelmed by the talent of the performers and how diverse the acts were. One moment you could see blues slide player Jack Broadbent shredding and then the next, Jose Gonzalez multi-layered nylon string guitar playing. There were so many highlights, Graham Nash’s set on Friday, Lucinda Williams show on Saturday and Imarhan’s desert blues on the Sunday. I could name another 10-20 acts, it really was that good!

For this months ‘Voice of’ campaign we’re mixing it up a bit to focus more on the actual amps instead of the artists using them like we’ve done in previous months like ‘Voice of Country’, ‘Voice of Rock’, ‘Voice of Acoustic’ – you get my drift. Check out our selections for ‘Voice of Quality’ below.

Rockerverb MKIII

The Rockerverb series, consisting of both 50W & 100W heads as well as a 50W combo have been a customer favourite since it first launched back in 2004 and have since proved itself to be a workhorse of an amp suiting a whole variety of genres. A decade and a half after first being released, the Rockerverb has been tweaked and improved using customer feedback as well as lead amp designer and technical director Ade Emsley’s brilliant mind, which has led us to the most recent Rockerverb series, the MKIII. The biggest change in tone from the MKII to the MKIII is the clean channel, as the MKIII allows for a lot more headroom and chime than it’s predecessor. However, fear not, it still has the warmth and vintage feel to it as well. The MKIII has also been given the same foot switchable attenuator as the Dual Dark and Thunderverb, and it works a treat.

A few artists using Rockerverb MKIII:
Andy Powell, Wishbone Ash – Rockerverb 100 MKIII
Stevie Wonder – Rockerverb 50 MKIII Combo
Matt Pike, Sleep, High on Fire – Rockerverb 100 MKIII
Marcus King, The Marcus Kind
Jim Root, Slipknot – Rockerverb 100 MKIII
Andreas Kisser, Sepultura – Rockerverb 100 MKIII

Custom Shop 50

Our Custom Shop 50 is a carefully hand wired head operating at either 50w in class AB, or 30W in class A. Switching between the two allows you to adjust the tone from a sensitive chime in class A to a warmer, fuller sound in AB. The responsive EQ section works well with the Gain control, making it a smooth transition going from round and warm, to bold and snarly. The Custom Shop 50 is a prime example of a British amplifier, and perfect for good ol’ British blues.

A few artists using the Custom Shop 50:
Scott Holiday, Rival Sons
Wolf Jaw
1000mods

AD200

Truls Mörck, Graveyard

Another classic of ours is the AD200 bass head, which, as the Rockerverb, we’ve improved and tweaked our way to the current MKIII. Even when blasting out at max, the AD200 remains clean and punchy all the way. The amp is loaded wit four 6550 valves pushing the 200W of power which generates an enormous sound, which also means it generates enormous weight, but isn’t that the price we pay for solid valve amplifiers? A classic Orange ‘plug and play’ amp.

A few artists using AD200 MKIII:
Glenn Hughes
Geddy Lee, Rush
Truls Mörck, Graveyard
Tom Petersson, Cheap Trick
Steve Micciche, Every Time I Die

PPC212V

The PPC212V, which is our first ever vertical cabinet, is built using birch plywood and installed with  two lightweight Celestial Neo Creamback speakers to make it as light as possible – one of the lightest 2 x 12 speaker cabs around, actually, as it comes up at just under 20 kilos. However, fear not, the lightness of the weight does not compromise the heaviness of the sound, you still get the Orange excellence.

A few artists using PPC212V:
Rob Graham, Drenge
Mary Spender
Todd, Mobile Deathcamp
Bad Day Blues Band
Roascio RCM

After a mere four years of working freelance for Orange I decided it was time for me to make an attempt of getting one step further, to second base, you might say. ‘Can I pretty please have a column where I write about everything music related, and give it a cool Lester Bangs sorta name?’ I was holding my breath waiting impatiently for the reply; ‘Let’s give it a go.’ Shit, so I’m doing this – a column where I share my thoughts on whatever, but what do I call it?! Then all of a sudden, there it was, clear as day; ‘Ramble On’ – it’s perfect! I landed on this name as I, well, talk a lot, and the Zeppelin song is an absolute banger.

Growing up I knew Led Zeppelin from my dad’s record collection, to me they were one of those epic bands from way back when, when rock ‘n’ roll was still new, and giants walked the earth – there was no one like them, except maybe Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd. All three giants from lost times that helped shape music the way it is today. I never dreamt in a million years that I’d ever get the chance to catch any of them live, well, Zeppelin for obvious reasons, that ship tragically sailed and sunk on the 25th of September 1980 with the passing of John Bonham. 

Ozzy, photo by Fin Costello

However, I’ve managed to see Robert Plant twice, first with Alison Krauss in 2008, then second at the iTunes festival at Roundhouse in 2014. My heart skipped a beat both times as I cried myself through ‘Black Dog’ and ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ – how could I be hearing these songs played live? I’ve also seen another quarter of Zeppelin in the flesh with John Paul Jones playing with Seasick Steve, where he played a variety of instruments alongside bass, some of which I’d never seen before and to this day am still unaware of what were. Obscure to say the least! 

I’ve somehow also managed to catch Black Sabbath twice before it all ended (although not with Bill Ward, gutted!) – first time in 2014 with Motörhead (which again for me was a major childhood dream come true!) and Soundgarden supporting, not knowing the importance of what I was witnessing and the end of two eras to come as both Lemmy and Chris Cornell, two such massive figures within their own genres, passed away within the next couple of years.

Pink Floyd

Last summer I also got to see Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, my Virgo birthday brother from another mother; I’d been obsessing over Waters since watching his ‘In the Flesh’ DVD at 13, and being gifted Floyd’s ‘Wish you Were Here’ for Christmas that same year. Fast forward a few years to finding ‘Live at Pompeii’ and the damage was done, hell, you don’t get that stuff these days. The stuff they use to have, do, well, we probably don’t get that these days either… Anyway, I’m loosing track as I often do, hence the name ‘Ramble On’ (works well, huh?), which brings me to my next point of the fact that I have yet to see Jimmy Page perform; the ultimate guitarist, and the final boss of rock ’n’ roll legacy. Maybe just break out that Earls Court dragon suit one last time…?!

Despite being fortunate enough to have caught these incredible artists decades after it all begun, I can’t help but speculating and dreaming about how it would have been to see them in the glory of their heyday, when Black Sabbath spent more money on coke than recording, Pink Floyd exploring psychedelics and visuals at the UFO club, and Led Zeppelin melting minds with four day long versions of ‘Dazed and Confused’ while taking on the title as ‘the greatest band in the world’. Until time travel’s invented I’ll just watch ‘The Song Remains the Same’ religiously instead, and ramble on.

Think you have what it takes? Think you’re an amp master? We’ve created a comprehensive quiz to separate the Satsumas from the Tangerines! Test your knowledge and see if you can reach BLOOD ORANGE.

Let’s cut to the chase.

When we’re talking about blues amplification the apple fell a long way from the tree of its origins. Yet there’s something fundamentally organic about the sound of the blues that hasn’t been lost in translation.

That’s because the foundation of blues lies in the roots.

“The Rocker dirty channel has been at the heart of my guitar tone for 12 years. Standing alone it’s warm and hits you like a wall of sound, then stacked it cuts and sustains in the best way possible. It’s hard to imagine a show without that signature Orange overdrive” – Hannah Wicklund

Just like a tree, breaks overtime spawn new saplings, fed from a lineage of ancient roots that continue to feed musicians. Inspiring them to push their limits, evolving in ways that are almost indistinguishable from their forbearers.

But once you get down in the mud you’ll notice that everything that was, still is.

The murky roots of the Mississippi Delta

To some extent, it takes a lot of imagination to tell the story of blues amplification. But what we do know is before amplification; we had the acoustic blues. A melting pot of sound, mixed up from traditional string bands, folk, Creole and Broadway theatre songs.

It’s no surprise that legends like Robert Johnson originally made their crust playing American show tunes at Juke joints. These places were wild and unruly, the name itself ‘Juke’ comes from the Gullah word ‘joog’ or ‘jug’ meaning rowdy or disorderly. So the need for louder instruments was a prerequisite. Resonators became widely used for those who could afford them. Not many of these players could.

Blues: amplified

Consider the first amplifiers these blues legends were using. Makeshift designs built by converting old radios. They were pure grit; filthy dirt that was brutality embodied.

The Orange Rocker 32 is the perfect amp to achieve that level of grime. All valve monster tone within the footprint of a self-contained stereo combo. This is an amp designed for experimentation.

Orange Rocker 32 Amplifier

Just as the pioneers had rewired and retubed army issue radios (often players would swap out the smoother 6v6s for European standard EL34s) to create roaring beasts usually resigned to closing time on a Saturday night, the Orange Rocker 32 gives you so much flexibility.

12AX7s on the front end allows you to dial the distortion all the way up to Mr Nasty while the 12AT7s give more headroom and chimey cleaner tone. Add in 4 x EL84’s at the power amp stage and the whole thing fires up when overdriven.

Now the old school blues players didn’t have luxurious stereo effects returns with separate valve output stages, but you can be sure they would have been melting heads in the process.

Some other cool features include half power mode for tinnitus-free wailing, perfect for those who don’t want to experience the deafening silence of a motor shelling during an intimate gig.

Boomtown USA

Many of the Delta players migrated northwards during the great depression, up to the Mississippi and along Highway 61 towards the big city lights of Chicago, from there, blues exploded.

Where money flows, technology grows, and with that amplifier design took off. Classics amps that today now symbolise the American sound became a common workhorse for blues musicians.

Those amps though from back in the day were dirty beasts. The players; innovators. So when it comes to getting close to those classic sounds you got to think about what was going on over there.

Amplifiers were being modded and tweaked, each one was unique, often driven by a need to keep the thing going long enough to play out the next gig. It’s said that when Keith Richards and Eric Clapton paid homage to their heroes by meeting them on American soil they were expected them to be wielding Gibsons, but in fact, they were playing Kays. A perception that comes from an ability to play the hell out of anything and make it sound badass.

Orange TremLord 30

The TremLord 30 is an Orange take on the classic amps that were around in the 50s. It’s quite likely that this beefed up vintage design is an accurate reflection of what was in use, opting for EL84 (nee EL34s) that break up more than the 6v6 type American tube.

What those guys wouldn’t have were contemporary FX chains that give you far more flexibility without suffering tonal loss.

Probably the single most beautiful thing to happen in modern-day amplifier design is to drop the volume but still retain the springiness of a valve amp. That means you don’t need a plethora of amps to keep you away from an anti-social behaviour order.

The Spirit of Revival

Orange, as you may know, played a role in sculpting the sound of the blues from the late 60s when Fleetwood Mac took the first Orange rig out across America. This was a big step away from those early blues players who sacrificed blood and bone to amplify their sound.

This was a wall of sound, thick with mid-ranged compression, tar-like, knurled and jagged edges reminiscent of sun-beaten highways where its origins were performed in road worker campsites. A sound that rang on endlessly as the birds picked at the carrion that laid in their wake, and which has evolved beyond comprehension, yet still is as relevant now as it was 50 years ago.

The amplifier which embodies the spirit of the British sound is the Orange AD30, our flagship all-valve amplifier.

So we’ll let the music do the talking:

As a few days have passed and the hangover had time to wear off, it’s time to reflect on yet another spectacular Desertfest London. We kickstarted the weekend at The Black Heart at 2pm on the Friday for Israel’s ‘The Great Machine’, who totally kicked ass, by the way, before venturing out in the rain heading towards Electric Ballroom where Old Empire had curated the stage for the day. We caught soothing Jaye Jayle who were a nice little ‘calm before the storm’, as we knew we were about to get our ears blown out over the course of the next 48 hours.

Ben McLeod, All Them Witches

After a Black Heart pit stop for a rum and coke, it was time to interview Swedish ‘Skraeckoedlan’ where our first questions were “HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE YOUR NAME WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHERE DOES IT COME FROM AND WHY DID YOU PICK IT?” We’d tell you the answers to all of the above, but we’d rather keep ya hanging so you’ll watch the interview we did with them once we release it in about four years time. We can tell you this though, they shared their thoughts on it perhaps not being the most beneficial name when it comes to world domination and reaching an international audience – no shit. Still, lovely guys and killer musicians, and totally cool with getting interviewed outside in the freezing rain, gotta love viking Scandis.

Over at the Underworld L.A record label Riding Easy was showcasing a selection of it’s bands, and we caught heavy rock band R.I.P which catered for those wanting fast and heavy rock ‘n’ roll. Later on in the evening saw OM headline Electric Ballroom, Electric Citizen the Underworld and Skraeckoedlan The Black Heart, before The Shrine played Electric Ballroom’s midnight afterparty, which was their first London show with bassist Corey Parks.

From previous year’s we’ve been pretty spoiled with sunshine and summer during Desertfest, something we had to pay for during the Saturday as we had thunderstorms, rain and hail all at once, which also called for yet another great outside interview with Savanna’s swamp metal band Black Tusk who were headlining the Black Heart later on in the evening. The Saturday consisted mostly of legging it between venues to catch as many bands as possible, all while not becoming a soaked mess while doing so.

Isaiah Mitchell, Earthless

Sunday was the grand finale, where we headed early to catch up with Earthless before their show, followed by Witch, All Them Witches and Fu Manchu. Once the Roundhouse headliner finishes everyone knows it’s do or die to get into the Black Heart, where we miraculously landed a table and spent the rest of the evening people watching and drinking until closing time at 3am, which then again calls for another half an hour (at least) lingering outside in the street hoping that somewhere else to party will somehow appear – it did. Fast forward two more hours to dehydration and a headache, and it was time to realise Desertfest London was over, for this time.

Charles Michael Parks, All Them Witches
Desertfest afterparty.

Lo and behold, Desertfest London 2019 is upon us! With just a few more days to go, it’s time to take a moment to check you’ve got everything you need for this years festivities, you wouldn’t wanna show on unprepared now, would you?

Ticket

Well, have you got your ticket yet? If not then you best get going, there’s still some left at Desertfest’s website, phew.

Denim Vest with 8000 patches

Please tell us you’ve got your Desertfest uniform ready to go, no? Well, you’re in luck. As we mentioned above there’s luckily still a few days left, which means plenty of time for a bit of last minute DIY, ripping sleeves and stitching patches to the soundtrack of Sleep and Black Sabbath

Waterproof everything

If you’ve been to Desertfest and The Black Heart before you will be aware of the unisex toilets in their 2am state. If not, well, we can only word this nicely – enter at own risk and don’t ever with a hole in your boots. Bring a wetsuit and and oxygen tank to avoid drowning in a puddle of piss. Do your drugs elsewhere.

Earplugs 

A lot of you kids and grownups thinks earplugs are uncool, but we’ve got news for you, pal, so is permanent damage to your hearing. Yours truly have made the mistake of attending the majority of shows without protection and am now a constant victim of white noise should the decibel reach a certain level. Now that we’ve warned you, don’t look at us when you ears fall off having stood next to an AD200 for three hours.

Band- and music related pick up lines

Guy spots girl wearing KISS t-shirt “Hey girl what’s up, you sure pull the trigger to my love gun!”

….which brings us to the next one…

Condoms

Kidding, no one ever gets laid at Desertfest.

Requests 

Have you got your song requests ready to plea the after-party DJs? Bet you do. DJs LOVE requests and a crowd loves an obscure B-side, keep ‘em comin’!

Suncream 

English people get sunburnt everywhere, even at the Underworld at 11pm – it’s unbelievable.

Cash for Kebabs

Drinking solidly for 11 hour straight will take it’s toll and eating is advised – Woody Grill is often the ‘go to’ place for survival and with good reason, killer kebabs and great veggie options. Also conveniently located only a stone throw away from Black Heart, Underworld and Electric Ballroom – perfect when all you can handle is a 40 second stumble.

Tissues

For wiping tears of joy when ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is played at the afterparty.

It’s the Voice of Bass this month at Orange and I have been asked to recommend some albums that celebrate some of the best rumbling bass lines known to the music industry. I have decided to pick albums because at heart I am a hipster who listens to vinyl and I also struggle to pick one song from an album. In this list I have picked some classic songs but I have also tried to steer clear of the really obvious ones such as “Another one bites dust” has i’m afraid been left out, anyway let’s go!

Stone Roses – Stone Roses

For me you cannot have list about bass without Manny being involved, i’ve chosen to showcase his work in the Stone Roses (easily could have picked ‘Screamadelica’) and the band’s debut album. The opening song ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ starts with a cacophony of sounds, then the rumbling bass tone comes in and brings in the rest of the band. I could have picked any of the songs on this great album, from the bass line that opens ‘She Bangs the Drums’ all the way through to the bass riff that is the main groove of the albums eight minute finale ‘I Am the Resurrection’. What impresses me so much is the groove that goes through all of Manny’s playing and how he is always locked in with Reni. They are one of the best rhythm sections I have ever seen live.

Paul Simon – Graceland

I made a promise to myself that I would not have slap bass in any of these selections and already I have broken my rule (I also think there is another one later as well). But in my defence, this is here because of the musicianship that occurs across the album and the standout part is the bass playing, closely followed by the drumming!  I had to choose as the example ‘You Can Call Me Al’ mainly because of the bass solo that occurs at 3.44, yes I know it is a slap bass solo but sometimes, just sometimes they can be done well. Throughout the album the bass is the key component in the songwriting, especially on ‘The Boy in the Bubble’ and ‘Graceland’ it takes centre stage with carefully considered slides and beats in the bass line that propel the songs forward.

Lou Reed – Transformer

Lou Reed’s ‘Transformer’ is a great record for many different reasons, the iconic bass line that makes up it’s most famous track ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ is one of the main reasons. The iconic sound was created by interlocking bass lines played on a double bass and then overlaying a bass guitar line over the top. Herbie Flowers who played bass on the track came up with the idea so he was able to charge double for his work on the track! Herbie played bass across many of the tracks except for “Perfect Day”, “Goodnight Ladies”, “Satellite of Love” and “Make Up” which Klaus Voorman played on. If you haven’t checked this album out (one where have you been?) I recommend it very highly.

Alexisonfire – Old Crows/Young Cardinals

Described by the band as being “f**king heavy” Alexisonfire’s final album before their hiatus opens with the grizzled bass tone of “Old Crows.” The album is full of great moments of bass playing with Chris Steele locking in with drummer Jordan Hastings through out. I picked this track mainly because of the tone that starts the track off, another highlight on the album is the locked in groove of “The Northern.” This slightly slower paced track sits in the middle of the album and has a classic bass tone and groove.

Rage Against The Machine – Rage Against The Machine.

It couldn’t be a list without Rage Against the Machine! But you can’t have a bass list without Timmy C from Rage Against the Machine. This album has so many high points for a 4 string player it’s a masterclass in different techniques. From the start of “Bombtrack” with the staccato finger playing to the slap bass from “Take The Power Back” (sorry about more slap bass.) This album should be taught to every bass player! I chose “Know Your Enemy” because the bass line has such a groove and swagger in the intro and then it just switches back on itself into a walking bass line for the verse with such ease. The album is full of musicianship like this, from start to finish not only is it a great record but exceptional bass record.

fin.

So i’ve missed out a lot of other great records for bass, I know but I made a decision to only choose five so you guys could comment and let me know more. Maybe you found some records that had passed you by and this makes you check them out. Leave in the comments your recommendations and I will check them out!

Outside Reckless Records on Berwick Street in Soho, London.

Once again Record Store day is upon us, a day to celebrate music in physical form, all while helping musicians put dinner on their table. Record Store Day was started to “celebrate the culture of the independently owned record store.”, and is now on it’s 11th year after the 2008 launch. As much as I love Record Store Day and the idea behind it all, I must admit I tend to do my shopping at quieter times, when I don’t have to queue just to get into the shop. What can I say, I’m a lady of leisure! I prefer my records to be bought peacefully without anyone impatiently waiting for me to finish flicking through the 70s section. In honour of this year’s Record Store Day (as I also did for the last one), I’ve gone through my record collection to pick out my current Top 10. I say current, as these things change, and my collection keeps on growing. I do see a slight pattern here with all albums being released between 1968 – 78, so any later recommendations are also very welcome!

Free – Tons of Sobs
Released – 1968
Acquired – Sister Ray Soho, London

Free’s 1968 debut album Tons of Sobs might just be one of my favourite albums and the fact that they were all under 20 when recording it is just beyond me; a nineteen year old Paul Rogers (with sexy, sultry lyrics such as “You don’t need your horses baby, you’ve got me to ride, you don’t need your bed, I’ll keep you warm inside.”), an seventeen year old Paul Kossoff on lead guitar, nineteen year old Simon Kirke on drums and baby Andy Fraser on bass and keys, at the tender age of only sixteen, makes you wonder what they put in the water back then, definitely not social media and internet, that’s for sure. Anyway, during the bands short-lived career they proved themselves to be one of the great British blues bands of the late 60s and early 70s, with ‘Tons of Sobs’ proving why.

Human Instinct – Burning Up Years
Released – 1969
Acquired – Reckless Records, London

Sticking with the sixties blues, this one a year later than the last and from across the globe in the form of New Zealand’s ‘Human Instinct’ and their debut album ‘Burning Up Years’. The band stood out amongst their peers with their stand up drummer / singer Maurice Greer, who till this day is still active with the band, as well as guitarist Billy TK who was known as the “Māori Jimi Hendrix”. The album, which also carries elements of psychedelia featured several covers such as The Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me’ as well as Neil Young’s ‘Everybody Knows This is Nowhere’. The album never got as big as it’s follow up ‘Stoned Guitar’, but it’s still an absolute gem and well worth a listen.

Slade – Alive!
Released: 1972
Acquired: Second hand store

When mentioning Slade it’s almost impossible to not think of their Christmas banger ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ and I mean, with good reason, it’s great pop tune and gets played a million times on the radio every Christmas. However, Slade is so much more than that, something that their 1972 live album ‘Slade Alive!’ proves. The entire album is great as it combines both ballads with boogie, but the opening track alone is worth this record being in my top 10; a mind-blowing cover of Ten Years After’s ‘Hear Me Calling’, the harmonies, the build ups and the absolute explosions, the song itself is a force of nature and I can’t even imagine the excitement of being in that audience.

Agnes Strange – Strange Flavour
Released – 1975
Acquired – Flashback Records stall outside Black Heart during Desertfest London 2019

Southampton’s boogie rock three piece Agnes Strange only released this one full length album, and later the compilation record ‘Theme for a Dream’ which featured unreleased material and demos. ‘Strange Flavour’ has a strange but delicious flavour indeed and contains just as much boogie as blues, as well as some spaced out Hawkwind vibes during ‘Travelling’ and psych jams, solos and pretty harmonies for ‘Loved One.’

Rainbow – Rising
Released – 1976
Acquired – Bought second hand for the outrageous price of £3

I was first introduces to Ritchie Blackmore through Deep Purple’s Machine Head, before my dad later sat me down and put on Rainbow Rising around the age of fourteen, stating “This is one of the best albums within this genre, listen.”,and listen I did, and right he was, as per usual. Opening track ‘Tarot Woman’ sets the bar for the album and became an instant personal favourite alongside “Starstruck”, and of course, the eight minute twenty six second symphonic showpiece of the record, ‘Stargazer”, which features Munich Philharmonic Orchestra. This was Rainbow at it’s finest, while they were still fronted by the late, great powerhouse of a man, Ronnie James Dio,

T2 – It’ll All Work Out in Boomland
Released – 1970
Acquired – Some Californian record store

T2’s 1970 album ‘It’ll All Work out in Boomland’ is probably what one could call a progressive masterpiece, which is mellow, melodic, melancholic and heavy all at once. T2 should be up there while discussing the likes of King Crimson, as well as carrying Pink Floyd-like elements and some heavy rock influences. My first ever encounter with the band was through the third track ‘No More White Horses’, which was enough for me to start the hunt to add the album to my collection. The record is only four songs long, with the fourth and final one, ‘Morning” being a 21 minute long epic journey through all the elements mentioned above.

Rory Gallagher – Calling Card
Released – 1976
Acquired – Apollon, Bergen

Rory Gallagher first made a name for himself as guitarist and founding member of Taste, before later going solo and recording and releasing names under his own name. Calling Card was Gallagher’s eight studio album and shows that he just got better and better with time. He was in 1972 voted Melody Maker’s International Top Guitarist of the Year, ahead of Eric Clapton. Also check out his “Live in Europe” album, “I could’ve had Religion” is the most beautiful blues song.

Judas Priest – Stained Class
Released – 1978
Acquired – Gift from my Dad

Judas Priest was and still is, one of the most influential heavy metal bands the world has even seen and is still going strong today. Their fourth album ‘Stained Class’ is absolutely spectacular and paved the way for so many bands after them, and is also often cited as being their best ever record. A must among heavy metal fans!

Hawkwind – Space Ritual
Released – 1973
Acquired – Brighton vintage shop (For the neat price of £4!!)

The fact that I’ve managed to make Rainbow’s Rising and Hawkwind’s Space Rituals part of my record collection for the total cost of £7 is just insane, take my money! This two-disc gem from Hawkwind’s heyday features Lemmy on bass before he was kicked out of the band, and gives you a teeny tiny insight into the madness that it must have been seeing the space kings live in the 70s as it was recorded on the road in London and Liverpool.

Thin Lizzy – Live and Dangerous
Released – 1978
Acquired – Bought second hand

Thin Lizzy’s Live and Dangerous is a live double album recorded in London, Philadelphia and Toronto in 1976 and ’77 before being released in 1978. Since first hearing this album it’s been hard going back to their studio ones as the raw energy displayed on this record is nothing that could ever be transferred from stage and into the studio. “Is there anybody here with any Irish in them? Is there any of the gals that would like a bit of more Irish in them?” Phil Lynott politely asks before breaking into an extended jammy version of 1976’s “Emerald”, which is a personal favourite of mine, as well as “Suicide” and “Johnny The Fox meets Jimmy the Weed.”, to mention a few. All in all, the album showcases one of the finest rock ‘n’ roll bands I know at their absolute peak.