Phil McNulty gives us a peek at his proggy record collection
The long-serving chief sports writer for BBC Online started supporting rock and prog back when he was a tuned-in Liverpool teen. But which proggers are in his premier league?
"I was born in Toxteth, Liverpool, and grew up in Aigburth. Up until I was about 13 or 14 years old, music was just something around me. But then I found a rock show on Radio City, the local radio commercial station, called The Great Easton Express. The presenter was Phil Easton and it was three and a half hours every night of the week from 6.30 to 10pm. He would play whole albums and have all the new releases before anyone else.
I still remember the programme as if it was yesterday. He was a fantastic DJ, a great champion of rock. He’d always have people like David Coverdale and Ian Gillan on, so every night at 6.30pm I’d put the radio on and that’d be it. I remember when Pink Floyd’s Animals came out, he played the whole album, so you’d stick the old C90 in the deck and get cracking [with home taping]. Later he became the pitch announcer at Anfield when I was covering matches there – it’s a small world.
The Great Easton Express really fired my imagination and gave me the patience to listen to longer things. Phil would also DJ at Liverpool Empire, which was a great place to see bands. My gateway to prog was Deep Purple’s Made In Japan and I was at the infamous last Purple concert at the Empire in 1976. Tommy Bolin had replaced Ritchie Blackmore, which went down like a lead balloon, and it was nightmare to watch as it all fell apart. Afterwards Jon Lord went into the dressing room and said to Ian Paice, ‘It’s finished, isn’t it?’ and Ian said, ‘Yeah.’ They shook hands and that was the end of MkIV.
My favourite Supertramp album is Crime Of The Century but I saw them at the Empire on the tour after that. Crime… seemed to be the band’s last shot at doing something after the two previous albums did nothing. The songwriting’s great, the singles are great. Live, John Helliwell was the frontman and really fun to watch. I saw so many amazing bands at the Empire, from Roxy Music to Elton John. It attracted big, big names.