Agit Disco Speed Pop History

Vague 47
Getting it Straight in Notting Hill Gate CD

1 Pink Floyd ‘See Emily Play’

Syd Barrett was reputedly inspired to write the lyrics of ‘See Emily Play’ by the ‘looning about’ of Emily Young at All Saints church hall on Powis Gardens in late 1966. This was during Pink Floyd’s seminal Sound/Light workshop series of gigs, which were part of the London Free School community action project, along with the first Notting Hill Fayre and Pageant procession. The first UK hippy underground paper, International Times (or IT), was a continuation of the Free School newsletter, The Gate/The Grove.

2 The Jimi Hendrix Experience ‘Purple Haze’

In early 1967, as Erno Goldfinger said ’scuse me while I kiss the sky and began work on Trellick Tower, Jimi Hendrix was staying at 167 Westbourne Grove, when the property was painted purple. According to rock legend, on his return from a UFO club trip one morning, the sight of the house inspired his second single.

3 The Rolling Stones ‘Sympathy For The Devil’

Shortly after the Powis Square gardens were forcibly opened by radical hippies as a children’s playground, number 25 was chosen to star as ‘Turner’s House’ in Performance. Leading the supporting cast, Mick Jagger sold his soul to satin as the jaded rock star ‘Turner Purple’. The May ’68 revolution in Powis Square may have been overshadowed somewhat by the events in Paris, but one square at least was opened permanently for the people in London.

4 Quintessence ‘Getting It Straight In Notting Hill Gate’

As the hippy movement went horribly wrong in 1969 with the Altamont and Manson murders, to Quintessence’, ‘things look great in Notting Hill Gate, we all sit around and meditate.’ According to the review of their debut Island album ‘In Blissful Company’ in Oz 25, the ‘Hippy Atrocities’ issue, the track ‘Getting It Straight In Notting Hill Gate’ ‘transcends a tendency towards total banality in the lyrics and achieves the status of a minor classic.’ After getting in straight in All Saints hall with a lot of Grateful Dead-style collective jamming, Quintessence became the ultimate, or worst, progressive-jazz-rock-blues-Indian-cosmic hippy group.

5 The Clash ‘London’s Burning’

Of all the groups associated with Notting Hill, from Pink Floyd to Gorillaz, the Clash have the most street cred and best represent the area with the Sound of the Westway. Joe Strummer wrote the lyrics of ‘London’s Burning’ at his Royal Oak squat in 1976 after watching the traffic on the Westway from Mick Jones’s towerblock, Wilmcote House, the other side of the flyover. The day after their first London gig, Joe Strummer was under the Westway on Ladbroke Grove at the start of the ’76 Carnival riot. The Clash first promoted themselves with a graffiti campaign that included Westway stanchions, and never missed an opportunity to pose for photographers under the flyover.

6 Bob Marley and the Wailers ‘Punky Reggae Party’/‘Jamming’

By all accounts, Bob Marley was initially sceptical of punk rock and more inclined towards prog. But in Notting Hill, during the course of the ‘Exodus’/‘Jamming’ sessions at Basing Street studios in 1977, he was won over to the cause. Don Letts says he assured him that the Clash were reggae fans and not ‘crazy baldheads’. As a result, Bob, Lee Perry and Aswad came up with ‘Punky Reggae Party’ as the b-side of ‘Jamming’, the Wailers’ first top ten single.

One Response to“Agit Disco Speed Pop History”

  1. It’s Portobello, Man. « The 'Spill Says:

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