Bob Stanley Presents 76 In The Shade.

Label: Ace Records.

Format: CD.

Sometimes, when people of a certain age reminisce about  their childhood they’re convinced that every British summer when they were growing up in the seventies was long and hot. Cue confused looks from their friends who remember things differently. “Are you sure about that?” 

They remember that long hut summer when Britain went months without rain and eventually a drought was declared. What year was it though? The favourites are always 75, 76 or 77 and they begin to work out which year it was? Their tried and tested way of doing this is by thinking about the music that was released during that long hot summer. 

What follows is a debate about what was number one and what singles made it into the top thirty. And what albums were released and did they buy?

Before long, memories come flooding back of their youth and the music that shaped them. They also remember the cringeworthy music that bought and hope that nobody remembers. Unfortunately they do and some good-natured comments are exchanged and they kid each other about their musical taste or lack of. 

Eventually, after a long discussion that heads off at tangents and down memory lane the general consensus is the long hot summer was in 1976. Just to be sure phones and checked and some even sneak a look at the music that was released.

They find albums by 10CC, Smokey Robinson, David Ruffin, Liverpool Express, Steve Miller Band, The Emotions, Barclay James Harvest and Carmen McRae were released during the summer of 76. Forty-four years later and tracks from these albums are among the twenty on Ace Records’ new compilation Bob Stanley Presents 76 In The Shade. It’s sure to bring back memories of the long hot summer of 76.

Opening Bob Stanley Presents 76 In The Shade is Walking So Free by Spike Janson. He was a part-time jazz musician who after making a large amount of money in real estate in South California decided to fulfil his dream of recording an album. This he did with the help of producer Robert Klimes at Annex Studios. When the album Window Panes was completed, it was sold to a European record label. Later, the dreamy, lysergic sounding Walking So Free ended up being used by the BBC as the soundtrack for BBC which will bring back memories for people of a certain age. 

By 1975, singer, songwriter and producer Lynsey De Paul had already won two Ivor Novello awards and had just released her third album Love Bomb on Jet. One of the highlights of the album was Sugar Shuffle which was released as a single in America and Japan. It features a sensuous and coquettish vocal and is a reminder of a truly talented and sometimes underrated vocalist. 

Between 1972 and 1976 the original lineup of 10CC released a string of slick, hook-laden hit singles. This included their 1976 single I’m Mandy Fly Me which was taken from their fifth album How Dare You! Eric Stewart started writing the song after seeing a National Airlines poster with the words “I’m Cindy, fly me” and it was completed at Strawberry Studios in Manchester. The single which floats melodically along reached number six in the UK, and is one of their finest singles.

During the seventies, Simon Park established a reputation as one the leading lights in British library music. He released the album Electric Bird on Music De Wolfe. It featured Stoned Out a futuristic sounding track that combined electronica, funk and fusion. It’s a track that was way ahead of its time and proof that there’s many hidden gems to be found on albums of library music.

In 1976, former Temptation David Ruffin released Everything’s Coming Up Love on Motown. This was the much-anticipated followup to his 1975 album Who Am I? Both albums had been arranged, conducted and produced by Van McCoy. He also wrote the floater Discover Me which was released as the lead single in the UK. With its dancing strings and tender harmonies from Faith, Hope and Charity it’s one of the highlights of this oft-overlooked  album.

Very few people expected Liverpool Express to enjoy a hit single during the long hot summer of 76. It had been years since their last hit with Sorrow, in 1966. However, the paean You Are My Love with its needy heartfelt vocal gave Liverpool Express an unexpected hit when the song reached number twelve in the UK.

By the time John Cameron began work at KPM Music he already had an impressive musical CV. He had arranged Donovan’s Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow albums, and then written the score to Ken Loach’s films Poor Cow and Kes. When he arrived at KPM he quickly made an impression with his 1972 album Jazzrock which is library music classic. So is Voices In Harmony which was released in 1973 and featured Liquid Sunshine. It’s a mellow sounding track where jazz and easy listening are combined to provide the perfect soundtrack to those long hot sunny nights in the summer of 76.

 In May 1976 the Steve Miller Band released their ninth studio album Fly Like An Eagle. It became their most successful album when it sold over four million copies. One of the highlights is the Steve McCarthy composition Wild Mountain Honey where echo is used effectively on this beautiful, dreamy and atmospheric sounding song which transports the listener back to the summer of 76.

Before signing to Columbia,The Emotions had released two albums via the Stax imprint Volt. Flowers which was released in 1976, was the group’s major label debut. It was produced by Maurice White and Charles Stepney and reached forty-five in the US Billboard 200 and five in the US R&B charts. This gave The Emotions their first gold disc. When the title-track was released as the lead single it stalled at eighty-six in the US Billboard 100 but reached sixteen in the US R&B charts. That’s no surprise as it’s a beautiful ballad and features The Emotions’ at their soulful best.

Progressive rockers Barclay James Harvest recorded their sixth album Octoberon at Strawberry Studios during the summer of 1976. It was released in October  of that year by Polydor and features Rock’n’Roll Star. It’s slow, spacey, spacious and has a summery sound that has stood the test of time. Quite simply, it’s one of the most accessible tracks on the group’s sixth album and a welcome addition to the compilation.

Closing Bob Stanley Presents 76 In The Shade is Carmen McRae’s cover of James Taylor’s Music. It’s taken from her Can’t Hide Love which was released on Blue Note Records in 1976. Carmen McRae takes this familiar song in a new direction and breathes new meaning and emotion into the lyrics. It’s the perfect way to close this eclectic selection of songs from the long hot summer of 76.

Just like any good compilation Bob Stanley Presents 76 In The Shade features songs from familiar faces and new names. That’s the case here as hit singles, album tracks and unreleased tracks sit side-by-side on a truly eclectic compilation. There’s pop, rock, R&B and soul as well as library music, pop-soul, psych and progressive rock on what’s best described as another lovingly curated compilation from Bob Stanley who has impeccable musical taste.

Compiler Bob Stanley has dug deep into his collection and come up with an a truly eclectic and highly enjoyable selection of music that brings back memories of the early to mid-seventies. This includes the long hot summer of 76 when much of the music on Bob Stanley Presents 76 In The Shade was released. It was such a good year for music that there’s plenty of material for a second volume. Let’s hope that Bob Stanley is already working on that. Meanwhile, enjoy Bob Stanley Presents 76 In The Shade which is one of the finest compilations of recent months.

Bob Stanley Presents 76 In The Shade.


  1. chris

    Really looking forward to acquiring this.Thanks for your review.

    • I hope that you enjoy the compilation as there’s some great music on it. Bob Stanley triumphs again with one of the best compilations of recent months.

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