Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Me and my C.C.S

So there I was reading the Pet Shop Boys feature in this month’s (just) Word magazine.

(A very good feature in a particularly good issue I thought. I have been a Word subscriber for two or three years now. I often wish there was more coverage of soul, jazz and Americana – and less front cover pictures bearded rockers of a certain age – but all in all I’m hooked).

Back to the Pet Shop Boys feature. Now it has to be said I am not a fan of PSB. “West End Girls” I liked but just about everything they’ve released since has left me cold. So to read the PSB feature was not a given, it required the effort of a decision and represented a very conscious act on my part. As I said I enjoyed the feature but, I guess because PSB have never really fired my imagination, as I was reading I’m sure my sub-conscious was working away in parallel mulling over music and bands from back in the day that did do it for me. Then the article made mention of the current band CSS and that immediately sparked off a memory of one of those bands from a bit further back in the day: C.C.S. And that was it, the memories – my buried consciousness – came rushing back into full focus and the PSB article had to take a rest on the sofa for a few minutes.

“Tap Turns On The Water” by C.C.S – the Collective Consciousness Society – was one of the first singles I ever bought. It hit the UK Top Ten in the Autumn of 1971 which coincided with the time I first took a serious interest in music. I loved this record, and it always reminds me of, wait for it, conkers! I can remember plain as day being in our back garden with a friend listening to the charts on the radio wondering how high C.C.S would go and sorting through a fresh haul of conkers. Happy days. Those wonderful pastimes like conkers and marbles (remember drainsies) don't seem to get played much by pre-spotty boys anymore. The world is going to the dogs, I tell you.

The memory fast forwarded a few years then and I could hear in my head, as clear as if it was at that moment emanating from the radio in the corner of the room, Alexis Korner’s voice introducing yet another fantastic piece of soul music by…well wait and see my next post. Alexis hosted a great Blues & Soul radio show on the BBC from the beginning of ‘77 through into the early ‘80s. I am eternally grateful to him (and John Peel) for turning me on to so much great Blues & Soul music.

Fast forward again to a few months ago and I remember a blogging soul mate (was it DJ Prestige over at Flea Market Funk?) posted the C.C.S take on “Whole Lotta Love” – the Top Of The Pops theme of course. His copy of the single was a US one so of course sported a big hole in the middle. Now, if ever there was a label design made for UK singles the RAK one was it. I feel sorry for all of you in America who have never been able to appreciate the centrepiece of a RAK 45 (You could of course own a RAK album I suppose, in which case you can enjoy the ship in full sail – wonderful). When I saw the scan of the “Whole Lotta Love” single with the big hole in the middle I remember thinking - I may have commented as much – I must dig out my “Tap Turns On The Water” single and give it a spin so we can see what lies within the Bermuda Circle. So now, finally, here it is.

C.C.S - Tap Turns On The Water (mp3) 1971

So there you have it – a window into my very own personal collective consciousness society in action.

My Internet trawling for all things C.C.S led me to “Brother”. I had forgotten how great this single was – it was used as the theme tune to the Top Twenty BBC radio show:

And I also found “Hundred Highways”, which I had never heard before. It comes from the third and final CCS album “The Best Band In The Land”. Excuse me, but this is - as they say - dope, is it not?


themusicologist said...

yep...dope is what it is


Planet Mondo said...

Ooh Brother's a funky nugget - funnily enough I heard it used in the intro to a Soundhog mix (The Rinse available for free at his website)this week..

Bottski said...

Yeah, CCS were great. As a youngster I remember transferring my dad's 8-track cartridges onto cassette so I could keep listening to them. All 3 albums were reissued on CD a few years back and they're all worth finding. The second one's the killer though - the aforementioned 'Brother', 'Can We Ever Get It Back', 'Running Out Of Sky' all being essential.

windshallah said...

Happy memories indeed! I used to record Alexis's Sunday show every week and listen to it in the car on the journey to work during the following week. His sudden illness that stopped the show was a great blow to my ears - almost akin to hearing that Lowell George had died around the same time. I still have a show and a half from that period now cut to CD. Not A1 quality but good enough.

Great post - thanks