Influential Albums

Take a look at Ron's top six albums that have inspired him and influenced the musician that he is today.

 

Ron's Favourite Contemporary Artists

As much as I love the music of the sixties and the seventies, I like to keep my eyes and ears open for what music is happening, to-day. There are some truly wonderful, talented artists and bands ‘out there’, making great music. Here are some of my current favourites.

 
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SOULMATE

Soulmate is a blues-rock band from Shillong, India. The band is primarily made up of Rudy Wallang (guitar/vocals/songwriter) and Tipriti (Tips) Kharbangar (vocals/guitar), although they frequently team up with session musicians Leon Wallang and Vincent Tariang, who play the bass and drums, respectively, when on tour. Tipriti is considered as one of the finest female singers to have emerged from India and Wallang is considered one of the most respected blues guitarists of India. I absolutely love the soulful melodies of soulmate and Tipriti’s voice is so strong, emotional and technically perfect. Rudy is my kind of guitarist and a decent vocalist, too. His rhythm work is solid and driving and his solos are melodic and fluid. When I first heard ‘Set Me Free’, I had to hear more, so I bought all four of their albums, which I play regularly. This is Blues with a ‘good-time’ feel. I feel truly alive when I listen to Soulmate.

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HUNDRED SEVENTY SPLIT

This power-trio are Britain’s best, as far as I am concerned. Led by the legendary Leo Lyons, Bass-player and occasional manager of the hugely successful ‘Ten Years After’ for over forty years, Hundred Seventy Split play a repertoire of highly energetic, virtuosic and melodic blues-rock. Lead vocalist and guitarist Joe Gooch really does play an inspirational guitar as well as having a powerful and emotional voice. Drummer Damon Sawyer does not simply play with power, but with feeling. These three really are virtuosos of their instruments. That’s what I really love about them.

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THE HIGH LLAMAS

The High Llamas are like absolutely nothing else on Earth. Their music has evolved from 1960s-style power-pop to a type of minimalist, Brazilian-tinged, melodic, avant-garde style of music. Whilst leader, Sean O’Hagan cites Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys as an early influence, the music of The High Llamas is also influenced by Burt Bacharach, Ennio Morriconi and other European film composers. Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream are also quoted, musically, along with a smattering of Steely Dan. Irishman, O’Hagan, is the lead singer and the composer of the London-based band. The band is unusual as they have a vibraphone player and they regularly use brass, reeds and strings both on record and live. Their music is extremely melodic and Sean’s arrangements are highly original and effective. I have followed them on their journey to what is now mostly ‘minimalist’ instrumental music of a highly international and original type. They continue to challenge and excite.

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JACK BROADBENT

A truly original and exciting solo act, if ever one existed, Jack Broadbent is larger than life. He has honed his craft and diligently forged his own, unique path that was certainly to lead to critical acclaim and stardom. Jack Broadbent certainly deserves a large audience.
Hailed as “The new master of the slide guitar” by the Montreux Jazz Festival and “The real thang” by the legendary Bootsy Collins, Lincolnshire’s own Jack Broadbent has spent the the past few years impressing international audiences with his unique blend of virtuosic acoustic and slide guitar, and poignant folk and blues inspired vocals.
Born in rural Lincolnshire, the son of bass-player Micky Broadbent (ex-Bram Tchaikovsky, The Glitter Band and The Rumble Band) Jack grew up listening to artists like Steely Dan, Robert Johnson, Joni Mitchell and Davey Graham. These legends influenced Jack’s distinctive song writing, singing , production and performance style, giving his music a depth and heart that defies strict musical genre. Jack‘s performances exude a warmth, humour and energy that has electrified audiences worldwide.
Following a string of successful shows opening for legendary artists, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Peter Frampton, Johnny Hallyday, Tony Joe White and Ronnie Wood, Jack has headlined a series of international tours, playing sold out shows in Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, the US and Canada. 
I have seen Jack, in concert, several times and each time he has presented new, exciting and original material, along with old favourites that everyone loves, given the full ‘Jack Broadbent treatment’. He is a revelation, live, so go and see him. I can not recommend Jack highly enough, for all-round entertainment and sheer musicianship. Cut him, he bleeds music!
With four full length albums under his belt, including his latest album ‘Moonshine Blue”, Jack is buoyant!

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SALSOLA

Salsola are a guitar-driven ‘indie’ band of great versatility. There is an air of confidence, in their performances and they take no prisoners with their uncompromizing repertoire of mostly original material. 
“Vicky Wright’s impressive vocals complimented the bluesy riffs with thick bass lines in equal measure. Salsola are everything you want to see from an upcoming band, complete with strong melodies and guitar riffs which left the crowd in a brief daze." (Spotlight, November 2018).
Salsola are a punky, catchy, spiky, pop band hailing from Middlesbrough. Since Salsola formed in late 2017 they have gigged in venues around the north the most notable playing the Georgian Theatre for BBC Music and BBC Tees Introducing which was broadcast live on BBC Tees in May 2018. A recent review described Salsola's performance as, "Catchy pop songs with a punky edge, jangly guitars and a palpable energy, Salsola really blew the roof off the place." (Spotlight, October 2018)
The band shared a stage with The Van Ts and PINS during the first Last Train Home Festival in Darlington and were part of the May installment of the songs of Northern Britain compared by BBC Radio 6’s Vic Galloway. Salsola also supported Dutch band Pip Blom on the Newcastle leg of their 2018 tour. Their Debut EP 'An Ordinary Thrill' was released on 2nd June 2018, with the first track 'Give Me Love' given multiple plays on BBC Tees.
Since the COVID-19 restrictions, Salsola have been working with Ron Mozart on several tracks for his album ‘Cut and Run’, as well as developing more of their own material. 
Salsola are an exciting band to experience, live. Just watch ‘em in 2021!

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Influential Artists & Bands

 

I am a music-lover. I love all genres and most sub-genres. I listen to around 7-8 hours of music, per day, on average and I also read a great deal about music and musicians. Although the genres of Western Art Music and Jazz are of vital importance to me, I should like to discuss Popular Music and how this has come to play a pivotal part in my whole life. There are certain bands and artists whom I consider to be important and who have influenced and entertained me. I should like to look at these artists, in turn, discussing why they appeal to me as well as briefly examining their greatest works.

 

From a very early age, I must have decided that I enjoyed listening to music that was played by musicians that were most capable, if not virtuosos. This preference led me down the ‘Progressive’ route or ‘Prog Rock’ as it came to be called. A very simple explanation of this sub-genre of ‘Pop’ music would be to say that those bands and artists known as being ‘prog’ were generally ‘classically’ trained to some degree and had as much in common with JS Bach as they did with Elvis. Much of their music was experimental, but was still Rock’n’Roll. I also enjoyed what came to be known as ‘Heavy Rock’, whereby the music was loud and more adult-themed than the average ‘Top Twenty’ fare of most teenagers. I have always preferred music that presents a challenge to the listener, just as I prefer a book that challenges me as a reader and a play or a film that challenges me as a viewer.

 

Music has always been of paramount importance to me, it can never be pushed into the background. I have never been able to understand people to whom music is of little or no importance. To-day, it is possible to obtain music very quickly and simply, thanks to the internet. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, it was much more difficult and I do believe that we learned to appreciate it more, as it was not simply available at the ‘drop of a hat’. To-day’s casual listener may download or stream music to their digital devices, but that will not do for me. I have to have the album, be it in CD format or on vinyl. I have to have the artwork, the credits, the lyrics and the ‘liner notes’. It is all part of the package. All part of the enjoyment. 

 

So, let’s look at my favourites whom I consider to be important and who have certainly left their mark on me!

Harold Eugene Clark (17 November 1944-24 May 1991)

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“There are two kinds of people in this world: those who love Gene Clark and those who have never heard Gene Clark.” Ron Mozart, 2021

 

‘He’s [Gene Clark’s] got something to say and I’m listening.’ Bob Dylan, 1965

 

Gene Clark seemed the most likely of all the five original Byrds to become a solo superstar: he had the looks, a beautifully emotive voice and, most importantly of all, an extraordinary talent as a songwriter. For a myriad of reasons, Clark never made it on his own despite producing some truly wonderful solo albums but over the years the cult of Clark has been growing, as more and more people are discovering his work beyond The Byrds.

 

Gene Clark had everything; intelligent, handsome, talented, industrious, deeply soulful and sincere. After a whirlwind apprenticeship of singing and playing guitar in and around Kansas, he was ‘discovered’ at the age of eighteen and thrust into the national limelight as a member of the successful folk-act ‘The New Christy Minstrels’, touring America and regularly appearing on television. Sharing the limelight as an ensemble member, peddling a rather contrived ‘showbiz’ routine and singing ‘cheesy’ ditties about mules and green grass was not for a Gene, though. He’d heard The Beatles and he was about to use that influence to bear upon what he would do for the rest of his life.

 

By the age of twenty-one, Gene Clark was an international superstar. The world rested at his feet and gone was the extreme poverty and squalor of his early years in Tipton, Mississippi, where he was born the second child in a family of twelve. He never recovered from the adulation that he acquired for being the lead singer, ‘front man’ and principal songwriter of The Byrds. It shook his confidence and put him under pressure for the rest of his short life. Liable to taunts from ‘rich kid’ David Crosby and at odds with the rest of the band, due to the large disparity in earnings (Gene’s writing royalties earned him $20,000 in 1965, with the other four Byrds each earning around $1,500) Gene left the band in February 1966, citing his fear of flying as the reason for leaving. The future looked certain.

 

If anyone had ‘solo superstar’ written all over them, in 1966, then Gene Clark was that person. With his fan-base from The Byrds still in place and his songs well-known and acclaimed, Gene looked well-set for a successful solo career. The odds were right on it. Songs flowed from Gene. His majestic lyrics, often tantalisingly obscure, rivalled Dylan, who actually admired Gene’s work greatly. A debut solo album with the Gosdin Brothers was not particularly considered commercial enough, although the songs were sophisticated and intelligent. This was 1966 and the ‘Singer/Songwriter’ genre was still four to five years away. Gene, it seemed, was stuck in the ‘teenybopper’ appeal of his membership of The Byrds. Solo success is far different to group success and Gene was frustrated in realizing this, along with the fact that he was now well-aware that record companies could make or break you.

Alvin Lee & Ten Years After

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We lost Alvin Lee on 6 March 2013. He was only sixty eight years-old. He was undergoing a routine, minor surgical operation, from which he never regained consciousness. On that day, 6 March 2013, the world lost a truly great and original musical icon. Alvin was certainly ‘the fastest guitar in the west’, but there was a great deal more to him than that. Alvin’s guitar solos came from the heart. Just listen to ‘The Bluest Blues’  from 1994 to hear what I mean.

David Bowie (1947-2016)

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David Bowie first entered my life in 1969, when I heard his hit single ‘Space Oddity’ on the radio. He then disappeared until June 1972 when he appeared on ATV’s pop music show, ‘Lift Off With Ayesha’, looking like he had just landed from another planet. Bowie had reinvented himself as his own character, Ziggy Stardust and he became a superstar by choice. There had never been anything quite like him before and it’s a safe bet to say that it’s highly unlikely that there will ever be anything or anyone quite like him, again. Apart from his androgynous appearance (and the sheer weirdness of his band, The Spiders From Mars) his music was catchy, commercial-sounding, yet virtuosic and ‘serious’ enough to be courted by the ‘heavies’ as well as a teenage market. He straddled two worlds. Although it was his albums that were considered important, artistically, his singles were equally important as it gave him a lucrative audience of ‘teenyboppers’ allowing him massive exposure. Bowie was also equally as much a huge ‘superstar’ (from 1972 onwards) in the UK and in the USA.

The Velvet Underground

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Possibly the most influential rock band of all-time, although they achieved almost zero commercial success, during their initial lifetime. Led by New York-born lead guitarist & singer, Lou Reed and classically-trained Welsh viola player, John Cale, The Velvet Underground dared to go to places where no other respectable rock band would ever go. As the group's songwriter, Reed 'told it like it really is' and wrote songs about drugs, sexual deviation, violence and alcohol. He also wrote some of the greatest love songs, ever. With Reed's pal from university, Sterling Morrison on rhythm guitar & bass and Maureen Tucker on drums, the Velvet Underground were amongst the oddest collection of individuals to ever play three chords in anger!

Led Zeppelin

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Without doubt, Led Zeppelin are the greatest rock band that have ever existed. Their story is the stuff of legends, but I doubt that Jimmy Page really did sell his sold to the Devil in exchange for the World domination that he and his band enjoyed, without a serious challenge, right from the start. 

Rising like a phoenix out of the ashes of The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin were able to immediately exert their grip on the post-Beatles rock market (both groups did actually co-exist for just under two years) due to the uncompromising management of the group by Peter Grant as well as the confidence of Jimmy Page. Page was able to put together the band of his (and everyone else’s dreams) thanks to his high standing and regard as both a session musician and as guitarist with The Yardbirds. Page knew exactly what he wanted. Failing to recruit Terry Reid as vocalist and having secured the services of bassist, keyboard player, orchestrator and musical arranger John Paul Jones (AKA John Richard Baldwin), Page was directed to the Black Country, where nineteen year-old Robert Plant was laying tarmac in West Bromwich town centre by day and singing with The Band Of Joy, by night. Page couldn’t believe his luck when Plant turned out to be everything he wanted and needed and that he also knew of a drummer that might be interested. So, enter Robert Plant and John Bonham.

Procol Harum

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How do you follow your debut single release, when it sells ten million copies, goes straight to No.1 in the charts (remaining there for six weeks) and becomes the most played record on radio, ever? Difficult. Well, that’s the task that has dogged Procol Harum, right from the beginning of their days. However, they have managed to follow that staggering success with a series of excellent albums over the last fifty years, building a loyal and sizeable fan-base along the way and they have remained significant.


A truly innovative band, right from the start, Procol Harum successfully combine soulful R&B, ‘Western Art Music’-based form, psychedelic rock, heavy rock, and folk idioms, all combined in a way that only Procol Harum could do. Led by Gary Brooker (piano and lead vocals) from 1967 right up to the present, the band have weathered the storm, briefly splitting from 1979-1991 and continuing into the new millennium with a fresh, new album that breaks new ground, yet sounds like Procol Harum.

The Beach Boys

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It is difficult to explain just how important The Beach Boys are in the history and the development of ‘Popular’ music. The casual listener can probably be forgiven for thinking that The Beach Boys were/are a smiling five-some who dressed in matching, striped shirts and sang about surfing and cars. Yes, they certainly did those things, but they did much more, besides. There was a time, between 1965-67, where The Beach Boys led the way in progressive ‘Pop’ music. It can be argued that, without The Beach Boys, there would have been no ‘Revolver’ and no ‘Sergeant Pepper’. Popular music would certainly have looked very different. It is difficult to explain ‘the case’ of The Beach Boys being the single-most innovative, forward-thinking and talented group around, in the early to mid-1960s, especially when we all know of a group called ‘The Beatles’. However, The Beach Boys were well ahead of The Beatles, musically and, had The Beatles not enjoyed the services of George Martin, they would never have got anywhere near the achievements of The Beach Boys. Have I surprised you? 
The story of The Beach Boys is a sad one. That is paradoxical, considering how ‘happy’ their music can be and also how their reputation shows them. Everyone has heard of The Beach Boys and their ‘greatest hits’, namely ‘Good Vibrations’, ‘I Get Around’, ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’, ‘Barbara Ann’, ‘God Only Knows’ and (probably) ‘Kokomo’ but only those that look beyond those catchy but well-crafted ditties and those images of teenage fun will learn to understand how The Beach Boys’ music was borne out of deep unhappiness, mental illness, bullying and fierce rivalries. How many ‘casual’ listeners realize that The Beach Boys is really one person – Brian Wilson? As his late brother, Dennis once said, ‘Brian Wilson is The Beach Boys. We are his messengers.’

Lou Reed (1942-2013)

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Lou Reed squandered a most promising career. His sheer bloody-mindedness and pretentiousness prevented him from enjoying a consistently successful career for forty years. Instead, what we got were flashes of brilliance and the odd reminder of just how good Lou had once been when he led The Velvet Underground from 1964-1970. Overall, his career was a success, but 'could do better' will for ever be his epitaph.


Doubtless, one of Rock's more literate protagonists, Lou Reed eschewed commercial success, early in his solo career, instead pursuing a career of artistic excellence only to fall short of his goal thanks to his abuse of alcohol and other substances. After a false start with an 'over-produced' debut album, which he then followed up with a commercially successful album that saw him parody himself, Lou then released 'Berlin', a lengthy album that dealt with drugs, violence and suicide. It was a commercial failure. His next move was to release the best, most exciting and dynamic live album ever. This ear-splitting, heavy metal, organ-dominated outing of Lou's Velvet Underground material plus one new song was an outstanding release. Had Lou decided to continue in this direction then he would have surely been a success. Unfortunately, Lou spent the years 1975-88 releasing underwhelming, inconsistent albums that just about kept his career intact.

Bob Dylan
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Bob Dylan is not real.


Having read several biographies, along with the 'Chronicles' and having recently finished reading 'Time Out Of Mind' by Ian Bell, I am convinced that Bob Dylan does not exist. Well, not in the 'true' sense. Actually, several 'Bob Dylans' have existed, at one time or another, since 1961 when the first 'incarnation' came into being in that hard New York winter. Incidentally a Bob Dylan still exists, but he is not THE Bob Dylan. There is no 'one' Bob but several.

Having been born in the wrong place, to the wrong parents and with the wrong name, Bob Dylan set about doing whatever he needed to do to achieve fame, fortune and recognition. That this came through 'Folk' music is solely due to the 'temporary' death of Rock'n'Roll, Dylan's preferred medium. With Elvis in the Army and Little Richard finding God, the 'phoneys' had taken over and Folk seemed a more 'genuine' option.

Aping Woodie Guthrie and absorbing other influences like a sponge, Young Bob became noticed. He invented himself anew. Not an upbringing in the North Country for Bobby, but a move to New Mexico and a life of playing on the road. It mattered not, as his music talked. Later, his words talked louder. His voice was as phoney as his 'official' autobiographical details. Borrowed from various older 'Okies', Dylan sang with a voice that was much older than his twenty years. 

Elton John

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One artist whom I have neglected, over the past 49 years is Elton John. 
When he first appeared, in 1969, I heard a few of his songs and I thought them to be interesting and well-crafted. His singles, in the early 1970s, were excellent. I really enjoyed 'Rocket Man', 'Honky Cat', 'Daniel' and 'Crocodile Rock'. However, as Elton became more of a 'star', his appeal as a singer/songwriter diminished, for me. As a 'Rock Star', I found him awkward and rather sexless. He was more like a podgy uncle than a sexual threat (Bowie, Jagger, Plant and Rod being major 'threats'). His output became more 'mainstream' (but not less popular) as his star climbed to the toppermost of the poppermost. His material, that I heard, was top-quality but not particularly to my taste. For me, from 1974 onwards, he was always there, but of little interest to me. The last single of his that I bought was 'Part Time Love', in 1978. 
Elton's 1974-76 output was not particularly of interest to me, I was even less enamoured with the vast bulk of Elton's output from the late 1970s onward. He was extremely commercial and extremely popular, but his private- life antics and his music were of little interest to me. I preferred him as a slightly balding, serious young singer/songwriter in 'sensible' glasses. When he started to look like a Christmas Tree in platform heels, I lost interest in him. I always acknowledged his impressive back catalogue, but my musical preferences were with artists that were more experimental, 'left-field' and progressive. 'I'm Still Standing, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah' was rather lost on me. I also listened to far more Western Art Music than pop music, from 1980 onwards.

Roxy Music
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It's really interesting to see how Roxy Music went from being a highly original, 'left-field', avant-garde band, in 1970-73 to the most boring, banal, predictable and derivative band by 1980. Just compare 'In Every Dream Home A Heartache' (1973) and 'Virginia Plain' (1972) with 'Oh, Yeah' (1980) and 'Dance Away' (1979). It could be s different band.


At the beginning, Roxy Music were led by the main songwriter and singer, Bryan Ferry, ably supported by the inter-galactic hero, Brian Eno. However, by mid-'73, Ferry was fed up of having to share the limelight with the creative genius, Eno. Doesn't this sound a bit like Lou Reed ousting John Cale from the Velvet Underground, in 1968? Both Ferry and Reed wanted total control and neither of them were prepared to share the limelight with a colleague who were, arguably more original and creative. Both bands changed direction, somewhat, becoming more 'mainstream' and commercial-sounding. Perhaps this is what Ferry, the ex-Art Teacher had always wanted.