You could transform Swansea into anything you wished. Here I like to think of myself as a Russian nobleman silently contemplating his estate. In fact it's a view from the college building overlooking the Mumbles Road and the sea.
The soundtrack to my years at Swansea was dominated by King Crimson, and their album‘In the Court of the Crimson King’. It seemed to be on every night, the soundtrack to endless games of ‘Sweaty Betty’ and tea when the beer ran out.
There was other music, in particular Hendrix’s version of ‘All Along the Watchtower’, which can only be really appreciated heard at sunset in Three Cliff’s Bay. There is no logic to that. Nor need there be. It just is. The Gower was rich in magic: hidden coves, ancient barrows, and soundtracks heard in the head without an IPod in sight.
I saw Love Sculpture performing Sabre Dance in a pub; saw a drunken Kevin Ayers fall off the stage. I stood between the two speakers as Wishbone Ash duelled guitars in the Junior Common room, and remember feeling puzzled when Paul McCartney’s Wings pulled up for a quick drink in the Woodman’s hotel, prior to playing a surprise gig at the University. We were so intent on arguing whether it was or it wasn’t ‘him’ that we missed the gig entirely. Story of my life, really.
The Woodman where an encounter nearly took place. Behind is the 'world famous Rhododendron Garden'...apparently.
The last Swansea gig I went to was in the Top Rank in 1972, but that was far from joyous. Stone the Crows were playing and midway in the set their guitarist Les Harvey began a frantic dance – or so it seemed to the semi-pissed standing far to the back. In fact he was being electrocuted live on stage. I never went to Altamont, but I imagine there was the same horrible, sour taste that would never entirely go away.
Next post will be on Swansea politics.
For anyone interested in rock trivia you may have to wait for a bit to find out Cher’s opinion of Cardiff (overheard in the toilets.)