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It's No Secret - Jefferson Airplane

One of the good things that happened in Aberlour House was the clandestine discovery of alternative music. The highlight of the week for us 12 year olds was Thursday evenings and Top of the Pops where we were fed a diet of the likes of Herman's Hermits, the Tremeloes, Manfred Mann and the Love Affair. However, in January 1967, after the Christmas holidays, a young American by the name of Norman McRoberts bought back an album - Jefferson Airplane Takes Off - that was different to anything we were listening to. The record was effectively contraband, in that it came from San Francisco where there were these strange people called hippies and there were drugs. Norman selected a chosen few to listened to it in secret, convinced that the content was so dangerous and alternative that discovery would result in confiscation followed by the record's destruction. And we weren't disappointed. Track after track seemed to resonate with a new, serious and very different musical sound from what we were used to. Looking back, McRoberts did indeed have his finger on the pulse, as this was the first album to feature one of the great San Francisco bands, and didn't even make Billboard's LP 100. I'm proud to say, following his lead, I bought it too.

The freshness, excitement and sheer boldness of the new sound, the Bay area combination of folk music and rock and roll, is still there when you hear it today, set like a beautiful detailed fossil in the vinyl. For me, the song that resonates most strongly across the years is Marty Balin's "It's no Secret" maybe because that's precisely what it was in Aberlour those years ago - a secret. Even our inexperienced 12 year old ears could recognise the subversive nature what we were hearing.

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