Sunday, 27 February 2011

47: Thunderclap Newman, “Something in the Air” (no.1, 1969)

As orchestrated by Pete Townshend (who played bass guitar on the track, under the pseudonym “Bijou Drains”) and former Who roadie John Keen (who provided lyrics and vocals), another of those late 60s British pop songs to feel more sun-kissed than especially incendiary. (The title could equally refer to the spirit of revolution, or the plumes of reefer smoke emerging from the back of that VW camper van parked up the street.) Like its American contemporary “San Francisco”, it too seems to intuit what a glorious shambles the whole counterculture movement was, both in that insistent refrain “We have got to get it together” and in Dixieland pianist Andy “Thunderclap” Newman’s gleefully atonal piano break, which arrives out of nowhere to make “Something In The Air” what it is: an enduring slacker anthem, absolutely the work of - as per the video - a group of men who can’t even distribute balloons efficiently.

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