Under the Influence – Simon King

New Musical Express – 18 August 1973

Sandy Nelson: “Let There Be Drums”:
Just a basic drum record, but it actually got me interested enough to take up the instrument.  When I hear it now, it’s a bit of a joke – but at the time it was the only drum record around.  The only others were a couple of breaks on things like the Shadows’ records.

Beatles: “Paperback Writer” and “Strawberry Fields”:The thing that struck me about “Paperback Writer” was that it wasn’t a straightforward love song.  I think it set a trend in that it wasn’t about a boy-girl relationship.  Also it was a good rocker – something the Beatles were always very good at.  Then “Strawberry Fields” was a changing point all round.  I think that one was a milestone because they were really starting to get into using recording studios as more than just a place to put a record on wax.

Velvet Underground and Nico:I just liked their basic simplicity.  There was no great musicianship in the band – in fact it was rather poor – effect on me that I’d never experienced before.  Lou Reed was the mainstay.  While everybody else at that time was getting into very arranged music, he was just rambling the lyrics out.  I love his mumbling.  I think the band have influenced a lot of people in the last three or four years.

Jimi Hendrix: “Hey Joe”:
This was the single that made me want to play rock and roll professionally.  Up till then I’d played in village hall bands in Berkshire, not taking it very seriously.  Somehow this record just appeared out of nowhere and it got me into rock and roll in the form of three-piece bands. Also, I thought Mitch Mitchell was perfect for Hendrix.  He seemed to follow exactly Hendrix’s mood whatever the occasion.  And the roaring guitar work was great.  When I first heard this single it blew my head off.  It was just rough and raw and gutsy.

Cream: “Crossroads”:
Another three-piece again.  Ginger Baker drove that along like a steam train.

The Who: “Who’s Next”:
I was impressed by this album because of what The Who left out – what they didn’t do.  It’s somehow empty, despite Townshend’s huge chords.  Also I think Keith Moon’s drumming Is brilliant.  And it’s very well produced and not overdone.  Apart from the odd exception I think I prefer it to the earlier Who stuff.  It’s certainly better than Tommy.

John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana: “Love Devotion Surrender”:
I’ve been listening to this lately along with Mike Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells’.  I like the McLaughlin album especially because of Billy Cobham’s drums – which are amazing.  I think that’s what I’d like to end up doing eventually.

Interviewer: James Johnson

A Plastic Fragment Hawkwind Press Cutting

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