June 30 – The Turntable Talk, Round 4 : Could This Titanic Stay Afloat?

Welcome back to The Turntable Talk. As before, we’ve invited some other interesting music writers to share their opinions on a single topic, and we’ll be running their replies this week. Previous times we’ve looked at the influence of The Beatles, pros and cons of live albums, and the impact of MTV and music videos. This time around, we’re looking at “out of the blue”… debuts that came out of nowhere and really took listeners by surprise. Albums, or singles, that made you turn your head and say “that’s great! Who is that!?” Let’s hear about the great entrances to the musical stage and why they so impressed you… and perhaps if the act would go on to live up to that early potential or not.

Today, we have Colin from Once Upon A Time In the 70s. Colin is proudly Scottish and writes about the music and other aspects of growing up in the UK during the 1970s, and he talks about a band that might be new to many of us over here on this side of the Atlantic:

I’ll happily confess to being a bit of a grumpy old cynic. Not just when it comes to music, but to Life in general. Hey! I’m from the West of Scotland, that’s just how we’re built round these parts.

It means though, that as I grow older, very little actually surprises me now. If not exactly ‘wise’ I am at least an old man. I’ve seen it all. I’ve heard it all before. Give or take.

So my nomination for a song (and it is just a song – well, two if you count the B-side) comes from my youth.

I would have just turned thirteen when this song was released in the UK. My parents weren’t into the Beatles or Rolling Stones or anything like that – they listened to the soundtracks of ‘My Fair Lady’ and ‘South Pacific, or the military marching band sounds of The Royal Marines. I suppose it could be argued then that any ‘modern’ music came ‘out of the blue,’ to me.

At that age, I was becoming musically aware, though deprived the sounds of psychedelia and emerging heavy rock, my taste was, let’s say, a little on the innocent side. If I tell you the first three singles I bought were:

  1. The Sweet: ‘Coco.’ (June 1971)

  2. The New Seekers: ‘Never Ending Song of Love.’ (July 1971)

  3. Ken Dodd: ‘When Love Comes Around Again.’ (July 1971)

then perhaps you’ll understand how this particular track hit me like a bolt from the blue.

The fourth single I bought was ‘Sultana’ by Titanic.

Titanic were formed in 1969, and as I recall were billed as being from Norway. In fact, vocalist and main lyricist, Roy Robinson was from England. Not that there was much in the way of lyrics on this particular track.

They presented themselves, it appeared, as very ramshackle and espoused a laid back, hippie attitude. And I loved it! This was a bit of a musical awakening for a fresh, new teenager. Here was an exotic sounding ‘foreign’ band, who didn’t conform to that clean-cut, wholesome image of the bands I was more familiar with. In fact, they looked downright skanky!

I was mesmerized by the tribal and rhythmic percussion. And that organ! It was all new to me back then, but I’d soon be searching out more music along these lines. Atomic Rooster would later become a firm favourite.

My copy of ‘Sultana’ shows it released as the ‘B-side’ to Sing Fool Sing’ on the flip, though I think from reading other articles and books, the two tracks were effectively ‘Double A.’

National radio chose ‘Sultana’ as being more favourable for daytime airplay, and it resultantly spent twelve weeks in UK charts, peaking at #5 on 24th October 1971.

There was nothing around as far I could hear, that was anything like this. It still passes the ‘originality’ test to this day. It was Titanic’s debut 7” release in UK, though curiously, both tracks were lifted from their second album ‘Sea Wolf,’ while the follow-up, ‘Santa Fé’ came from their eponymous debut LP of 1970.

Sadly, Titanicoh crap, I’m just gonna say it – sank without much trace after this early highlight in their career. In addition to those mentioned above, the band released a further four albums in the ‘70s and one in 1993 during a short-lived reunion.

These LPs don’t attract much attention by way of the second-hand market. They are not particularly sought after, which is great, because they are available to buy at vary reasonable rates. Personally, I love them – good, solid, early heavy rock with strong vocals, powerful drumming and of course that distinctive organ.

Several singles were lifted from those albums, none of which made any real impact either. So yes, Titanic were your archetypal ‘one hit wonders.’

The next 7” I bought as a thirteen year old was, ‘Tokoloshe Man’ by John Kongos, followed by releases from Slade / Alice Cooper / Free. My life-long journey into the love of Rock music had begun.

So yes, like the ocean liner Titanic had only one hit. But boy! What an impact!



9 thoughts on “June 30 – The Turntable Talk, Round 4 : Could This Titanic Stay Afloat?

  1. thanks Colin! I’d never heard of them, and wonder if any of our North American readers had? That said, it’s a catchy tune… I didn’t know what to expect from the writeup but it’s an unusual track. No mistaking the time period from which it arose – it put me in mind of Santana of that era, with maybe Steve Winwood on the organ. They looked like they were enjoying their ride anyway!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Badfinger (Max)

    “My parents weren’t into the Beatles or Rolling Stones” yea I wouldn’t think many at that time would. I like this a lot… they sounded like a bigger band than what they were because of the percussion…love the percussion on Sultana.
    I like finding new old music.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. First up- ‘Never Ending Song’ ‘Coco’ and- Ken Dodd? Gettin’ down with the Diddy Men? Innocent days.
    I’d heard both ‘Fool’ and ‘Sultana’ but many a long year ago, and not again till now. The Kongos song is the next easy step towards heavier rock too, I can see the progression. Dammit, I can’t get ‘He’s Gonna Step On You Again’ out of my mind now,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. all new to me and many of us in North America, though I have heard ‘coco” by way of reading about what a hit it was in the UK and finding it to give a spin too. But that’s something i like here, we get a few ears from outside of the States and Canada who introduce us to a few new acts. I recently gave a listen to Larkin Poe, for example, which you had recommended … they’re quite good.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thats the great thing about you doing this turntable talks Dave is I learn something new everyday like for instance a band name Titanic!
    Cheers Colin and this sentence made me laugh….”Sadly, Titanic … oh crap, I’m just gonna say it – sank without much trace”
    Brilliant stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. that was a good line! I’d never heard of them either, but that track is quite listenable. Looks like they would have fit in on the Festival Express, doesn’t it?


  5. Groovy and entirely new to me. I was kind of waiting for the vocals to come in, but the music just kept on going and going and going – of course, nothing wrong with an instrumental. The combination of that seductive Hammond sound and the percussion sold me pretty quickly – reminds me very much of early “classic” Santana.

    Liked by 1 person

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