Albums That Live In The Loft – It Ain’t Easy (1971)

Due to my own stupidity and lack of foresight, many years ago I sold a fine hi-fi system in favour of not having anything at all to play music on so convinced was I that in the brave new world of MP3 we would not require a stack of amplifiers and media playing technology we would only need a computer and maybe a small device that held your complete record collection and would slip into a shirt pocket, and in doing so I instantly made my impressive collection of LP’s completely redundant.

So they remain to this day safely packed away in plastic storage boxes and stuffed into the corner of the loft in this here house surviving three house moves at which point the wife always asks, “Do you really need those…” and I always remind her that the terms of the exclusion order specifically state that she is not to be let within ten yards of my album collection after what she did to my singles collection in 1983.

So why did I buy what is ostentatiously a blues album at a time in my life when glam rock was all the rage and the blues were the last thing on my mind ?

Rod Stewart and Ron Wood is probably the answer for it was no secret that two of The Faces, my favourite popular beat combo act of the time, had arrived at the moment in time courtesy of Long John Baldry and his various collaborations of rock/blues themed musicians, Elton John also played in a Long John Baldry band as did all of The Rolling Stones at some point, Jack Bruce, Maggie Bell, Judy Driscoll and anyone who was anyone in the London scene in the early 1960s, Long John Baldry basically made a lot of money for other people.

So I bought the album just like I bought a Jeff Beck album simply because Rod and Ron played on it and in doing so found that there was another string of the music business that I enjoyed, 13 years old and finding my musical taste could be expanded beyond the popular beat combos of the hit parade.

This was another of those rare occasions when I purchased an Long Playing vinyl record via the postal system of this fine country, Her Majesty’s Royal Mail was entrusted to carry my precious, very breakable cargo from the warehouse or shop of the record company that placed a weekly list of sale items in The New Musical Express, I got my mother to go to the Post office and exchange five of my pound notes for a postal order of the same value, then wrote on a piece of paper the name of the album that I desired, wrote down my name and address, then got my mother to put it in an envelope, take it back to the Post Office, buy a stamp for it and bob it in the post box – if all of this sounds like a lot of work for my mother then you may be correct, but she ran all of our errands, it was just the way things got done in our house.

Then all you had to do was to sit and wait for a couple of weeks, maybe three weeks, maybe four, or maybe so long that you’d forgotten that you’d ordered it until one day the postman turned up at the door with a 12″ square cardboard sleeve and your address on it, your album had arrived, safe and well inside just a thin layer of cardboard, no packaging, no bubble wrap for it hadn’t been invented yet, nothing to protect your thin disc of vinyl from the dropping, bending and general misuse from the Post Office on its way to you these past three weeks, yet nothing ever got broke when post office workers handled everything manually rather than letting robot machines do all the work.

I have a theory actually about the practice of shipping albums via Royal Mail and none of them ever arriving broken, I reckon that as albums via post were so easy to spot (who else posted 12″ square cardboard sleeves), that in every sorting office on its route up the country one or more postal workers would take all of the albums to one side and lend them around the sorting office for a few days, maybe on their lunch breaks they sorted through all of the LP post packages in an auction style sharing out, “Long John Baldry anyone ? Long John Baldry, anyone heard of him, Arthur, Long John Baldry, want to borrow him for a few days Arthur?” I reckon my Long John Baldry album could have arrived in two days had the six sorting offices between me and the shop all not had a good listen at my album first.

The Wiki notes for this album state that Rod Stewart doesn’t sing on any track on the album but was brought in by Warner Bros to produce half of the tracks on it, Elton John producing the other half, Ron Wood played guitar, Elton John and Nicky Hopkins piano, Mickey Waller on drums, Maggie Bell sang on Black Girl, in short most of the musicians who recorded those sessions then went on to work on Mr Stewarts solo album “Every Picture Tells A Story” a few weeks later, it all makes perfect sense now and at the same time somewhere else in the UK  studios of Warner Brothers Glynn Jones was producing the first of The Eagles albums, the early 1970s are sometimes viewed  as an unproductive era in the history of British popular music when compared to the 1960s, but not for me and my schoolchums for this was our era and the new albums of the likes of Led Zeppelin, The Who Live At Leeds, Deep Purple, ELP and a phalanx of others gave us our own musical identity which we almost 60 year olds carry in our now bald heads to this very day.

But of course Long John Baldry is better known for this…

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