Apr 08

The Days Before We Came

FT11 comments • 736 views

“Five Lost Worlds” is my latest Pitchfork column – probably my most ambitious, possibly too ambitious. It’s about trying to understand the mid-70s from the perspective of not having consciously lived through them, and (more obviously) about the idea of “lost worlds” – the irrecoverability of past experience. Anyway, this is a cheat sheet for the piece: a bunch of links to stuff either mentioned in it or lurking behind it.

Nik Cohn/Guy Peellaert: The amazon.co.uk link for Rock Dreams is here – but if you see it get the earlier edition, with Dylan, Lennon etc. as kids sitting lined up in a diner on the cover. Supposedly the more recent edition squashes some of the art. There’s a reprint of the introduction to Rock Dreams, by Michael Herr, at the Taschen site – I’ve not read it yet though (I don’t remember it from my copy so I guess it’s from the new edition.). Awopbopaloobopalopbamboom is in print again.

“Jungleland”: The bits about superhero kids being made real by our wishes is this month’s Grant Morrison reference, specifically the climax of his Flex Mentallo miniseries, which you can’t buy anywhere because the Flex Mentallo character was based a bit too heavily on a Charles Atlas advert, though it is available from unscrupulous interweb pirates. You can hear “Jungleland” on this fan-made video (I haven’t watched the video, as it appears to have human beings in rather than superhuman avatars of doomed rockdom).

Roy Harper: Frustratingly, “When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease” is not on YouTube – I’ve uploaded it for this post:

The John Major speech referenced is probably his most famous – it was given to a private audience of Conservatives so isn’t on YouTube or anything either, and in fact the speech in general isn’t famous at all: just that bit. The article about young brass band players is from the Guardian, and the Grimethorpe Colliery Brass Band have a somewhat old-school website.

Reading Festival 1976: This whole section (and in fact the whole piece!) draws on this Livejournal discussion, from Mark’s journal. Particular props to anatol_merklich for drawing Sassafras’ album names to my attention! The other album mentioned, Beat of the Street, is of course by the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver. Details of the mudbath and canbath are taken from a “memories of Reading” site. For a close look at the cover to the Festival programme go here.

The Titanic Sails At Dawn: Mick Farren keeps a blog. The “Titanic” article is probably best read in the context of the rest of the NME in 1976 (which is how I first encountered it via the Bodleian library!) which would let you appreciate better how much of its style is house style and how much of its analysis is interesting. But obviously this isn’t really an option, so just take it for what it is!

The column was going to be called “The Days Before We Came”, a reference to the ABBA track “The Day Before You Came”, where you get the impression the “You” is annihilating as much as he’s resolving. But I decided nobody would get it and thought I ought to be more obvious about the broader link between the sections.

And finally, I wouldn’t have written this piece had I not got my Popular skates on recently! Thanks comments crew!


  1. 1
    Pete on 25 Apr 2008 #

    Its a pity your first para above, isn’t perhaps the closer of the column, because without it the piece doesn’t tie together half as well. You might notice that everything being referenced is mid seventies, but casual readers not knowing your age, and perhaps what’s going on in Popular may just find this a bit bitty. And if the title has been The Days Before We(I) Came, that may have been implicit too.

    Lovely collection of items though.

  2. 2
    Tom on 25 Apr 2008 #

    Well, I wanted to see what (if anything) anyone got out of it with me not discussing the link – it’s meant to ‘work’ as a bitty selection too and I think only the Farren one doesn’t. But I’m well aware that the answer might be “huh?”.

    (I don’t know if my age or Popular are relevant – the P4K readership ‘weren’t there’ either so that’s the “we” being talked about. Anyway, regular readers – if there are any! – might roughly know my age since the last column was all about me turning 35!)

  3. 3
    Pete on 25 Apr 2008 #

    Point taken on yr age. But I am using the ready and possibly throughly inaccurate stereotype that Pitchfork readers are a bit thick!

  4. 4
    david.schwarm on 25 Apr 2008 #

    This is good. I liked the diversity of source material that you used.
    thank, david S

  5. 5
    jeff w on 25 Apr 2008 #

    I think the reactions of your fellow PF contributors will also be interesting. I think for most of them the mid 70s = Eno, Krautrock and the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

  6. 6
    DJ Punctum on 25 Apr 2008 #

    My mid-’70s: The Defenders, Man-Thing, Howard The Duck, Dr Strange, Bob Shaw’s Slow Glass series in Unknown Worlds Of Science Fiction, reading the Silver Surfer comics for the first time (all eighteen of ’em), Bester’s Demolished Man and Sturgeon’s More Than Human.

  7. 7
    Tom on 25 Apr 2008 #

    I almost put a bit on Steve Gerber in there Marcello but I thought I’d stick to music. 70s Marvel pre-Jim Shooter would definitely fall under the “lost world” crieteria!

  8. 8
    DJ Punctum on 25 Apr 2008 #

    Sid Vicious was kind of the Michael Korvac of pop.

  9. 9
    CarsmileSteve on 25 Apr 2008 #

    i do wonder if the ’76 Reading line-up is any less comprehensible to us (mid thirties people) than, say, ’90 would be to The Young People Of Today, i mean look, there are at least haf a dozen bands there (main stage) that would get blank looks from all but the hardcore…

    …also i think i know what i’m doing for the rest of the afternoon now…

  10. 10
    CarsmileSteve on 25 Apr 2008 #

    hahaha, yes, i’ll be composing a carefully worded missive pointing out exactly where they are WRONG, eg the “session” tent in 88 with suede playing???

  11. 11
    DJ Punctum on 25 Apr 2008 #

    I find it strangely reassuring that Camel were still playing Reading as late as 1990 but then they were on the Mean Fiddler stage where 100% of the acts of whom I’ve never heard/can’t remember were playing.

    Not sure who this “Gary Cail” was though; did he have the Non-U Sund System as backing band?

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