Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Capital Covered

Continuing the quest for album covers that feature London locations as part of the cover art, I stumble upon another rarely photographed site - at least when used for rock'n'roll; Olympia Grand Hall. It's often forgotten that Olympia was at one time a major rock venue. With a capacity of around ten thousand it was a favoured venue for indoor 'festivals' vying for business against the similarly-sized Ally Pally on the other side of the city. In the late 60s and early 70s it hosted some amazing line-ups including, topically, an all day and night event on 22 December 1967. 'Xmas on Earth' featured The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd with Syd, Traffic, The Move, Soft Machine, Tomorrow and Eric Burdon & The New Animals. Oh, for a time-machine! By 1975 it, and rock, was well established and Olympia was the venue for the Great British Music Festival. The line-up for this 4-day event included Procul Harum, Bad Company, Status Quo, Thin Lizzy and Pretty Things, along with the less well-remembered SNAFU, Ronnie Lane's Slim Chance and John Miles. Not bad at £3.50 for a day.
The Chemical Brothers 'Surrender' album captures a moment in time at the Olympia. Fans sit 'groovin' in the great hall while in the foreground a lone 'idiot dancer' does his own, probably chemically induced, 'thing'. You can see why the shot was chosen. It is rumoured, by the way, that somewhere there's film of the Xmas on Earth gig; now finding that would be a Christmas present to remember!

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