Archive for the ‘1970’ Category

Saturday Single No. 504

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

After another harsh week around portions of the world – terror in Nice, a failed coup in Turkey, political craziness here at home and who knows what else in other places – I was looking for something to make me feel better. Music works, more often than not, so I decided to take a look at what I was likely hearing on my radio during this week in 1970.

As I’ve noted before, that year was my one full calendar year of focused Top 40 listening. Until late summer 1969, I hadn’t cared much; come the autumn of 1971, I moved in the direction of albums and progressive rock. So it’s a year I look at as a touchstone. Given that, what did I find looking back at KDWB’s “6+30” from mid-July of 1970?

Well, as the link shows, a lot of familiar stuff, records I’ve heard over and over and over in the years since then. Not that I dislike them; some of the stuff on the survey from the week of July 20, 1970, is among my favorite music. But I don’t know that after nine years of blogging, I have much more to say about those favorites.

And then I spotted a listing of a record I’ve not heard in years. I don’t know that it was among my favorites back then, and I’ve not thought often of it since. It sat at No. 13, heading up from No. 20; it would peak on KDWB at No. 7 where it would spend the next two week: “A Song of Joy” by Miguel Rios. (It did better on KDWB than it did nationally in Billboard, where it peaked at No. 14.)

And the single – with music based on the Fourth Movement of Ludwig von Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and words (credited on the record label only to “Orbe”) that echo, if not exactly replicate Schiller’s “Ode to Joy,” which Beethoven used for the chorale portion of the movement – is worth a listen this morning.

Two years after Rios’ single was a best-seller in much of Europe as well as here, an adaptation of Beethoven’s music was adopted as a European anthem. Given Europe’s travails in the past week – indeed in the past year – it’s an easy choice to make “A Song of Joy” this week’s Saturday Single.

‘Way, Way Down Inside . . .’

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

I slept in today, a rare thing. But when the alarm went off at 6:54, I wasn’t feeling well, and four hours later, not much has improved. Sluggish mind in a sluggish body isn’t exactly the ideal the ancient Greeks had in mind. But we get what we get.

I’ve been following the ongoing plagiarism case against Led Zeppelin for allegedly nicking a piece of Spirit’s song “Taurus” for the famous riff in “Stairway To Heaven,” and I saw a piece on the Rolling Stone website that in its introduction pretty much summed up my thinking about the case brought by the estate of Randy California. Gavin Edwards writes:

Reasonable people can disagree on whether (and how heavily) Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” filches from Spirit’s “Taurus” – that’s why there’s a court case in progress. But the reason many people aren’t extending Led Zeppelin the benefit of the doubt on “Stairway” is because they have an extensive history of swiping songs from other people and giving credit only under duress.

And Edwards’ piece goes on to explore – with videos illustrating each example – ten cases of appropriation.

(Another cataloging of Zep’s indiscretions – with nifty illustrations – is found at the great blog Willard’s Wormholes. Look for “Zeppelin Took My Blues Away” in the blog archives.)

So I was thinking about Led Zeppelin, and I got to thinking about “Whole Lotta Love,” which had its genesis in Muddy Water’s “You Need Love.” And I got to pondering covers of “Whole Lotta Love” (and the Led Zeppelin single remains part of the remembered soundtrack of my junior year of high school, which makes it matter).

I have a few covers of the tune, and there are more out there, according to Second Hand Songs. But if my search function worked correctly this morning, I’ve never posted any of those covers here. That oversight ends now, and sometime soon – tomorrow? Tuesday? I will not promise a specific date, only an intention – we’ll dig into more covers of an appropriated tune.

Our starting point is one of the better versions we’ll find of “Whole Lotta Love,” a 1970 track from King Curtis & The Kingpins.

‘The Many-Colored Beast . . .’

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

Forty-five years ago this week, as I was entering the home stretch of my senior year of high school, the top three spots in the Billboard Hot 100 were occupied by Janis Joplin (“Me and Bobby McGee”), Tom Jones (“She’s a Lady”) and the Temptations (“Just My Imagination [Running Away With Me]”).

None of those really spoke to me, nor did much else in the Top 40 at the time, but I was still listening late every evening in my room. Early portions of the evenings were taken up at the time by keeping the scorebook at St. Cloud Tech High wrestling matches; by rehearsals and eventually performances of Don’t Drink The Water, the spring play at Tech; and by plenty of table-top hockey.

How much hockey? Rick, Rob and I had decided during the autumn that we would try to play a full 76-game schedule for our twelve-team league (the NHL’s Original Six and its first six expansion teams). That would have come to 456 games. By the time March rolled around, we realized that we weren’t going to finish the task. So we trimmed the schedule to 52 games per team, which still accounted for a pretty impressive total of 312 games (not counting the playoffs, which went around 40 games).

(It’s remarkable what’s stayed in my head over the years. Rob was clearly the best player that season: His St. Louis Blues were 36-8-8, and his New York Rangers were 30-10-12 and won the Stanley Cup.)

And there was music from the stereo as the games went on in the basement rec room. The two brothers would occasionally bring one or two albums with them, but usually, the music came from my slowly growing library: Seven Beatles albums (Beatles ’65, Let It Be, Sgt. Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour, Hey Jude, Revolver, and the White Album), Chicago’s second album, the 5th Dimension’s Aquarius, The Band’s self-titled second album, Best of Bee Gees, and an album that was becoming a favorite (and remains so to this day although it never seems to make those Top Ten lists I occasionally put together): Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Déjà Vu.

I didn’t quite get everything on the record: It took me years to figure out that David Crosby’s title tune was a reincarnation metaphor. Even so, I liked the track and the rest of the record enough that the process of having the music pretty much embedded in my mind was underway. (It’s still embedded; unless I purposefully divert it, the sounds of Déjà Vu will be running through my head the rest of the day.) And not only was I hearing the album as background for our rather loud hockey evenings; I was also listening to it at other, quieter times, absorbing what that quartet of gifted men were offering as musicians and as songwriters.

As a nascent songwriter myself – I’d bought my first guitar from a friend a few months earlier – I tried figure out how the four performers were putting their songs together. Some of them were far too complex for me to try to replicate (at least until I bought a songbook a few months later that offered the songs on Déjà Vu as well as those from the earlier Crosby, Stills & Nash album). Some of them, I wasn’t particularly interested in playing. But one of them caught my interest and was workable:

Four and twenty years ago, I come into this life,
The son of a woman and a man who lived in strife.
He was tired of being poor, and he wasn’t into selling door to door.
And he worked like the devil to be more.

A different kind of poverty now upsets me so.
Night after sleepless night, I walk the floor and I want to know:
Why am I so alone? Where is my woman? Can I bring her home?
Have I driven her away? Is she gone?

Morning comes the sunrise and I’m driven to my bed.
I see that it is empty, and there’s devils in my head.
I embrace the many-colored beast.
I grow weary of the torment. Can there be no peace?
And I find myself just wishing that my life would simply cease.

The emotional desolation in the song resonated with me, longing as I was for the company of one particular young lady (though the thoughts in the song were framed in far more adult ideas – the empty bed, for instance – than I could have found at the time). So I painstakingly worked out the chords. And though the emotional anguish that Stills chronicles is long gone from my life (it showed up a few other times along the way), the song “4+20” remains one of my favorites from Déjà Vu.

Saturday Single No. 487

Saturday, March 5th, 2016

I was going to play around this morning with more of the tracks from the various Warner Bros. loss leaders, but the RealPlayer and I did not get along very well. I was trying to reload some albums, and it kept telling me there was something wrong with part of the selection.

In order to find the flaw, I had to reload small batches at once. I never did figure out what the program didn’t like, but after about two hours, I’d worked around the problem. That, however, has left me with little time, as the Texas Gal and I are meeting a friend for brunch in a little more than an hour.

So I decided to pull up all the tracks in the RealPlayer with the word “time” in their titles and see what catches my eye and ear this morning. And that’s how “Seems Like A Long Time” by Brewer & Shipley – from their 1970 album Tarkio – became today’s Saturday Single.

‘But She Could Not Rob . . .’

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

Taking up our project of replicating Joe Cocker’s self-titled 1969 album through a series of covers, we come to the fourth track of that fine album, “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window.”

When I heard the album for the time in the spring of 1972, I was a little skeptical. I knew the original version, of course, from the long set of three medleys on Side Two of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album, where it follows “Polythene Pam” and ends the second medley (leaving listeners with a brief moment of silence before Paul McCartney’s piano opens the final medley with “Golden Slumbers”).

But the song itself – credited to the writing partnership of John Lennon and McCartney but written solely by McCartney – was such a brief snippet, running less than two minutes on Abbey Road, that I wondered as Cocker’s album played how it could be stretched to a full track. Well, Cocker didn’t stretch it a lot, but he and producers Denny Cordell and Leon Russell added a guitar solo between the verses and got the track to 2:37. Good enough.

But as we replicate Joe Cocker! with covers, which other version of “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window” do we use? There are plenty to choose from. Second Hand Songs lists twenty-two covers, and there are more listed at Amazon. No doubt there are others not listed either place.

Booker T & The MG’s included the song in an instrumental medley on McLemore Avenue in 1970. It’s a decent version, but it isn’t as good as some of the other covers on the Abbey Road tribute. Ray Stevens covered the song on Everything Is Beautiful in 1970, adding a funky voodoo rhythm behind his blah vocal.

On 1972’s Feel Good, Ike & Tina Turner offered a herky-jerky, gender-flipped cover of the song laden with some of the most unpleasant shrieks of Tina’s career. The Youngbloods turned the song into a near-country shuffle on their 1972 album, High On A Ridge Top, adding slide guitar and some nice country-folk accents and harmonies.

The Bee Gees took two stabs at “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window.” The first came for the soundtrack to All This And World War II, which, says Wikipedia, is a 1976 musical documentary that juxtaposes covers of Beatles songs “with World War II newsreel footage and 20th Century Fox films from the 1940s. It lasted two weeks in cinemas and was quickly sent into storage.” As to the Bee Gees’ contribution, the vocals sounded like the Bee Gees and no one else, but the orchestral backing was overly busy. With the addition of Peter Frampton, the Brothers Gibb took another swing at the song for the 1978 movie, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Bracketed by “Polythene Pam” and “Nowhere Man,” the cover is as dull as one can imagine.

I noticed, without listening to them, several other covers of “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window.” Eddie Money and Los Lonely Boys each took on the song in 2009, as did British singer-songwriter Karima Francis. Her version was released on a 2009 tribute celebrating the 40th anniversary of the release of the Beatles’ album, titled Abbey Road Now! (The CD was included free with MOJO Magazine No. 191, dated October 2009.)

I also noticed that the tune has been covered by several groups naming themselves with ghastly Beatle-related puns, including Yellow Dubmarine and Shabby Road.

So there are lots of choices out there. But I’m going with the first cover of the song that ever came to me, one that I heard across the street at Rick’s. Here, from his 1970 album Fireworks, is José Feliciano’s idiosyncratic cover of “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window.”

Happy New Year!

Friday, January 1st, 2016

We celebrated the New Year last night with our customary zeal: We watched television and puttered on Facebook until just near midnight, when we flipped channels until we found a celebration going on in Chicago with the band Chicago playing “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”

Well, the band evidently knew, because they closed the song while the year-end countdown had about five seconds to go. The crowd in Chicago went nuts, and here in St. Cloud, we clinked glasses and toasted the New Year with some sparkling grape juice (the Texas Gal does not like champagne) and just a bit of gelato (mine with sea salt, caramel and peanuts; hers a double chocolate). And then, old folks that we are, we headed to bed.

Our tepid celebration masks the fact that we’re hoping very much that the New Year brings better things with it than did the year just past. I don’t think I’ve indicated it here much, if at all, but 2015 was a difficult year in many ways here under the oaks, and it does seem as we start 2016 that most of the difficulties that made it so have been resolved.

So we are hoping for better days, not only for us but for all our family and friends, and that includes anyone who stops by this little corner of the Interwebs these days.

And we’ll ring in the New Year, of course, with music. In the closing track of his 1970 album Open Road, Donovan said it pretty well with “New Year’s Resolution.”

Do what you’ve never done before
See what you’ve never seen
Feel what you’ve never felt before
Go where you’ve never been

Sing what you’ve never sung before
Say what you’ve never said
Bear what you’ve never borne before
Hear what you’ve never heard

All is not as it would seem
Nothing ever remains the same
Change is life’s characteristic
Bend and flow and play the game
Loose your chain . . .

And do what you like
Get on your back and do what you like
Get on your back and do what you like
Get on your back and do what you like

So many times
I was the one who stopped myself from doing things
So many times
I was the one who grounded myself and clipped my wings
So I say:

Do what you’ve never done before
For fear of losing face
You’ve got nothing to defend now
In your state of grace

All is not as it would seem
Nothing ever remains the same
Change is life’s characteristic
Bend and flow and play the game
Loose your chain . . .

And do what you like
(What you’ve never done before)
Get on your back and do what you like
(You must see what you have never seen)
Get on your back and do what you like
(Feel what you have never felt before)
Get on your back and do what you like
(You must go where you have never been)

So many times
I was the one who stopped myself from doing things
So many times
I was the one who grounded myself and clipped my wings, clipped my wings,
clipped my wings, clipped my wings

Love is the gift of man which he will not receive
Within is the judge of man yet he cannot perceive
Without is the realm of man he yet cannot perceive
Wealth is the plague of man but he will not believe
There go you go I
There go you go I
There go you go I
There go you go I

About Muscles

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

I’ve been thinking about muscles for the last week or so. Sometime in the middle of last week, I woke up with a sore back. I think I somehow strained some muscles in my sleep, and they’re getting only marginally better day by day. (This is unrelated to the muscle I pulled near my hip while moving the copying machine the other week.)

Then we had about five inches of snow Monday evening and another inch or so last night, and I went ahead and shoveled the walk yesterday morning and this morning. I probably shouldn’t have done that either time.

All of that means that I’m finding it hard to concentrate on writing right now (although I am working on an idea for a post on Friday, if I can focus). But I thought I’d just drop a note here so folks know that I haven’t bugged out for the winter like my tunehead pals Odd and Pop evidently have.

So, just to prove I’m still here and to note obliquely why my mind isn’t as clear as it should be right now, here’s Herbie Mann’s “Muscle Shoals Nitty Gritty” from 1970:

‘Underneath This Sky Of Blue . . .’

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

So as I thought the other day about how the sweet autumn of 1975 ended, I also wondered – as I tend to do – what I was listening to as it did.

Well, it was pretty much the same stuff I was listening to earlier that year, a list we explored in August: A couple of radio stations, the (very good) jukebox in the snack bar at St. Cloud State’s Atwood Center, and a slowly growing collection of LP’s in the basement rec room at home. How slowly? During the entire year of 1975, I added six albums to the cardboard box where I kept my LPs.

Well, I was a student, and there was very little cash for records. And I had other priorities: My classes and work at the library, my friends at The Table, my new friend Murl, my newly acquired taste for writing, and – beginning in late October – a growing (and marvelously mutual) attraction to the young lady who in a few years would become the Other Half.

There were two new albums in the basement in November of 1975, though. One of them, bought used from a fellow student if I recall things correctly, was getting a little bit of play: Mood Indigo, a two-record collection of Duke Ellington’s greatest work. I bought it mostly because I happened upon it, but I also knew (from reading if not from listening) that Ellington was one of the great musicians in American history, and if I wanted to understand American music (and I was beginning to realize that I wanted to do so), I had to know Duke Ellington.

The other new album was heard more frequently in the rec room: Bob Dylan’s New Morning from 1970. I was already a bit familiar with the album. When I’d been in Denmark two years earlier and living with my Danish family, I’d occasionally checked out cassettes from the public library, and New Morning had been one of them. I was still learning about Dylan’s work at the time – the only album of his I owned was his second greatest hits collection – and as I sorted through the display bins at the Fredericia library, the sepia-toned portrait of Dylan on the album’s cover was familiar compared to the Danish offerings that made up most of the cassettes available.

What I didn’t know, of course, as I listened to New Morning in my room in Fredericia that autumn and as I listened to it again in the basement on Kilian Boulevard two years later, was that New Morning was seen as Dylan’s hurried response to the critical disaster of Self Portrait earlier in 1970. And it was received as a decent if not great album with several very good songs and a few clinkers. (Chief among those last, I would guess, was the spoken word/jazz piece “If Dogs Run Free,” which I’ve always kind of liked.)

Among the better-received tracks, I think, were “If Not For You” (covered later that year by George Harrison on All Things Must Pass), “Day Of The Locusts” (interpreted as Dylan’s reaction to receiving an honorary degree from Princeton University; according to one account I’ve seen, cicadas were buzzing as the ceremony took place), the Elvis Presley tale “Went To See The Gypsy,” and “Sign On The Window” (covered by Melanie a year later on her Good Book album and covered perhaps more memorably in 1979 by Jennifer Warnes on her Shot Through The Heart album).

I liked all of those, and they and the rest of the tracks on the album slowly wove their way into my ears and memory as I entertained friends, read or otherwise whiled away time in the rec room in late 1975. Here’s the title track:

Saturday Single No. 464

Saturday, September 19th, 2015

Things have been pretty sparse around here, what with the Texas Gal on vacation for the first portion of the month, followed by a scrambled week of getting reorganized. And come next week, we should be back to regular postings here.

But this morning, we’re off to staff our Unitarian Universalist Fellowship’s booth at the annual Pride In The Park celebration. We’re set to be there pretty much all day, joined along the way by other members, so by the end of the day, we’re likely to be pretty tired.

So here’s a Saturday song, a pretty good cover of “Come Saturday Morning” by Mark Lindsay. It’s from his 1970 album Silverbird (a pretty decent record from a good year), and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

See you next week!

Found In A Scrapbook

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

One of my minor projects last week was dissecting a scrapbook put together for me in the early 1980s by the Other Half. She meant well, but the scrapbook was one of those with adhesive lines on each page and a clear plastic sheet covering the page. The Texas Gal – citing expertise earned while working for years for Creative Memories, the direct sales scrapbooking firm – told me not long ago that if I wanted to save the photos in the scrapbook, I should take the book apart soon.

So I did that last week. All of the photos save one came out whole; the one that shredded was a picture of my mother’s aunts and uncles, and I have at least one more copy of that somewhere else. Most of the non-photo stuff was stuck too tightly to the adhesive to remove it; I cut and trimmed some of the book’s pages to keep a few things and discarded a lot of stuff that was important at the time and now seems less so. I will likely take one more look through the book to make certain before sending it on its way to the dumpster.

One of the things I found in the book is a list I’ve referred to in this space at least once: On January 1, 1971, I moved my RCA radio to the living room and reclined on the couch while KDWB in the Twin Cities completed its rundown of the top singles of 1970. I don’t know whether the station used a list of 100 singles or perhaps 63 (its frequency was 630), but I got in on the action at No. 30. And I spent, most likely, the better part of two hours listening to the station’s top 30 records of 1970 and making a list of those records on two pieces of note paper using – as I nearly always did at the time – purple ink:

KDWB Top 30, 1970

(I have no idea why I started in the middle of the page on the right and worked upward. I obviously had some arrangement in mind that did not come to fruition. But I got them all. And just in case the pic is faint or my adolescent printing is unclear, here’s the list, from No. 30 to No. 1:

Nos. 30-21
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross
“I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5
“All Right Now” by Free
“Reflections Of My Life” by Marmalade
“Gypsy Woman” by Bryan Hyland
“I Know I’m Losing You” by Rare Earth
“O-o-h Child” by the Five Stairsteps
“Come And Get It” by Badfinger
“Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin
“Walking Through The Country” by the Grass Roots

Nos. 20-11
“Spill The Wine” by Eric Burdon & War
“My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison
“War” by Edwin Starr
“The Rapper” by the Jaggerz
“Green Eyed Lady” by Sugarloaf
“Lay Down” by Melanie
“Make It With You” by Bread
“Ride Captain Ride” by Blues Image
“Which Way You Goin’ Billy?” by the Poppy Family
“I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5

Nos. 10-1
“Venus” by the Shocking Blue
“Mama Told Me (Not To Come)” by Three Dog Night
“Band Of Gold” by Frieda Payne
“Cracklin’ Rosie” by Neil Diamond
“(They Long To Be) Close To You” by the Carpenters
“Up Around The Bend” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“American Woman/No Sugar Tonight” by the Guess Who
“Spirit In The Sky” by Norman Greenbaum
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel
“I Think I Love You” by the Partridge Family
“Let It Be” by the Beatles

That’s a hell of a hundred or so minutes of music. The only record of those thirty that I disliked at the time – and still do – was the Poppy Family’s “Which Way You Goin’ Billy?” As I looked over the list at the end of the day, I also thought that “I Think I Love You” was pretty slight for the No. 2 record of the year. Over the years, though, I’ve come to recognize it as a great piece of popcraft, one that spoke to its intended audience as least as clearly as the heavyweights that bracketed it spoke to theirs.

I took a quick look at the 1970 Top 40 from Billboard (as presented in Joel Whitburn’s A Century Of Pop Music), and there were some major national hits in the magazine’s list that were absent from KDWB’s Top 30. The six biggest were B. J. Thomas’ “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” at No. 2; Smokey Robinson & The Miracles’ “The Tears Of A Clown” at No. 11; the Jackson 5’s “The Love You Save” at No. 14; Sly & The Family Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)” at No. 15; Ray Stevens’ “Everything Is Beautiful” at No. 16; and the Beatles’ “The Long And Winding Road” at No. 17.

(Since I came in on the middle of KDWB’s list on that long-ago New Year’s Day, I would assume that most, if not all, of those records were in KDWB’s Top 100 or Top 63 or whatever number the station offered.)

I’m not sure any of this proves anything or has any great significance, but as I pulled treasures out of the scrapbook, it was fun to remember that January afternoon so long ago and fun as well to wonder when I quit using purple ink.

And since I like to share at least one tune here most of the time, I wondered if all of those thirty have showed up here at one time or another (with the exception of the Poppy Family). Most have, I’m sure, but I did a little digging, and not once in the more than eight years that I’ve been blogging have I ever mentioned the Grass Roots’ “Walking Through The Country.” The record fell far short of the Billboard Top 40 for the year, having gotten only to No. 44 during its time in the Hot 100 in early 1970. But I thought it was a pretty decent record back then, and I still do today.

Okay, so there were thirty-one records there. KDWB had “Venus” and “Mama Told Me (Not To Come)” tied for tenth place, and I failed to read my own long-ago note carefully enough to note that the station did not – as would seem to be customary – jump from 10th place to 12th place. Note added August 22, 2015.