Archive for the ‘1970’ Category

One At Random

Thursday, November 5th, 2020

I thought that today, I’d dig into the larger universe of digital files I keep stacked in the RealPlayer and see what mischief we can find in one click. We’ll set the cursor in the middle of the column of 81,141 tracks and go from there, with no filters for weirdness, except that tracks shorter than a minute will be ignored.

And we land on “Don’t Talk Now,” a bluesy, earthy track by a group called Brethren. Discogs tells me that it’s the second track on the group’s first, self-titled release, a 1970 album that was followed by one more release, 1971’s Moment Of Truth. The folks at AllMusic classify the group’s rough-edged sound as “psychedelic/garage” pop rock, and that might be about right. Alternatively, it’s just as easy to say that the group’s members had likely been listening a lot to The Band.

I don’t have the second album in the stacks, and I have no idea where the first one came from, likely from a blog around ten to fifteen years ago.

According to the blog johnkatzatmc5, Brethren was from New York, and its members moved into session work after the group’s two albums came out. The first, self-titled, album, the blog says, is notable for liner notes written by Dr. John, who added some keyboard work as well. The blog notes, “The band was: Tom Cosgrove (guitar, vocals and percussion), Mike Garson (keyboards, composer), Rick Marotta (drums) and Stu Woods (bass, clavinet, vocals). Next to Dr. John, Rusty Young of Poco played steel pedal.”

The group has a home page at YouTube with videos for all the tracks on both albums. Some other stuff shows up there, too, maybe by groups with the same name. Brethren released one single, “Midnight Train” from the first album. It doesn’t seem to have made any dent in the charts (though I could be missing something).

Here’s “Don’t Talk Now.”

Saturday Single No. 708

Saturday, October 10th, 2020

As long as we’ve been messing around in the Billboard charts published this week in 1970, let’s look at the Top Ten in the Easy Listening chart from the edition that came out fifty years ago today:

“We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters
“Cracklin’ Rosie” by Neil Diamond
“It’s Only Make Believe” by Glen Campbell
“Snowbird” by Anne Murray
“Look What They’ve Done To My Song, Ma” by the New Seekers
“Julie, Do Ya Love Me” by Bobby Sherman
“El Condor Pasa” by Simon & Garfunkel
“Candida” by Dawn
“Pieces Of Dreams” by Johnny Mathis
“Joanne” by Mike Nesmith & The First National Band

Most of those are familiar and were so fifty years ago. I’d forgotten about the Glen Campbell and New Seekers records, and despite a stop at YouTube this morning, I don’t know that I’ve ever heard the Johnny Mathis single before. It turns out to be the title theme from a movie starring Lauren Hutton that I don’t recall either. I don’t really care for the record, which went no higher on the Easy Listening chart and didn’t come near the Hot 100.

I remember finding Mike Nesmith’s “Joanne” on a collection sometime during the late 1980s and remembering how much I’d liked it in 1970. It went to No. 21 on the Hot 100, and I must have heard it on KDWB from the Twin Cities or maybe WJON down the around the corner.

The more interesting of the two records I’d forgotten about – “It’s Only Make Believe” and “Look What They’ve Done To My Song, Ma” – is the latter. It would peak at No. 4 on the Easy Listening chart and get to No. 14 on the Hot 100. It was a cover of a tune by folkie Melanie, slightly retitled. (Melanie’s original version was titled “What Have They Done To My Song, Ma.” It was originally on her 1970 album Candles In The Rain and was also released as the B-side to “The Nickel Song” in early 1972.)

Several strands are coming together in a loose pattern here. I was weeding out some unwanted tracks in iTunes the other day and spent some time thinking about the New Seekers’ medley of the Who’s “Pinball Wizard/See Me Feel Me.” (It stayed.) I also spent some time the other evening sorting through videos at YouTube, looking for the long version of Melanie’s “Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)” and watching several of her performances on long-ago talk shows.

And the other day I got from our local library a CD anthology of Melanie’s hits as I pondered investing my own cash in a copy. She’s long fascinated me: I used to have seven of her LPs on the shelves – only Candles In The Rain survived the Great Sell-Off – and I wrote a lengthy post about her and Candles In The Rain during the first year of this blog’s existence.

So with all that going on, it seems as if the universe gives me no choice. Here’s the British/Australian group the New Seekers with “Look What They’ve Done To My Song, Ma,” their cover of Melanie’s “What Have They Done To My Song, Ma.” It’s today’s Saturday Single.

No. 50, Fifty Years Ago (October 1970)

Wednesday, October 7th, 2020

Despite the concern at plowing fields already set into furrows, we’re going to play a game of Symmetry this morning and check out the record that was at No. 50 in the Billboard Hot 100 during the first portion of October fifty years ago, in 1970.

We’ll start with a look at the top five from the Hot 100 as offered in the magazine’s October 10 edition:

“Cracklin’ Rosie” by Neil Diamond
“I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5
“Candida” by Dawn
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross
“All Right Now” by Free

That’s a pretty decent quarter-hour of listening. There might have been times over the past half-century when I would have looked askance at the Jackson 5 or Dawn singles, finding them a little bit lightweight, but these days, they’re fine. Neither one of them has been plugged into the iPod, where I find my day-to-day listening, but after this morning, they’ll be on the short list, with “Candida” a little closer to the top than “I’ll Be There.”

The Diana Ross and Free singles are in the iPod, but somehow while I was reloading the device after getting a new computer during the summer. I managed to do so without selecting any tracks by Neil Diamond. That oversight will be corrected today, and “Cracklin’ Rosie” will be one of the tracks selected.

And what of our main business today? Well, sitting at No. 50 fifty years ago this week was a record that takes me back to late autumn evenings in 1970, when it was just me and my RCA radio killing time in my bedroom. Among the songs I heard that autumn was the only Top 40 hit by the English band named after its vocalist: “Yellow River” by Christie.

The record, says band leader and writer Jeff Christie, was inspired by the thoughts of a soldier going home after the American Civil War. Given the era in which it was released, with the U.S. still entangled in the Vietnam War, many listeners thought the record was about current events. On a page on his website, Christie has collected comments he’s received about the record over the years from Vietnam vets and others who lived through the times.

Fifty years ago this week, “Yellow River” was on its way to a peak of No. 23 in late November. The record also went to No. 22 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart. A later single from the group, “San Bernadino,” got to No. 100 in late January 1971. (And yes, the record’s title misspelled the name of the California city.)

Here’s “Yellow River.”

Saturday Single No. 705

Saturday, September 19th, 2020

We had a busy day yesterday, the Texas Gal and I: We did a grocery run in the morning, then spent the afternoon preparing the house for company for the first time since March. Tom, a friend from our Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship, had offered to come over and help us with a household problem, and we in turn had offered him dinner.

The problem was basically pretty simple. The light bulbs in the ceiling fixture over the landing had finally died. The fixture hangs from the main floor ceiling and can only be reached from the landing a story-and-a-half below. Not long after we moved here, we bought a twelve-foot step ladder, but we soon learned we were uncomfortable – both of us being a bit wobbly – near the top of the ladder.

Tom isn’t. Soon after he arrived, he was checking out the light fixture, tightening screws on the fan blades and installing light bulbs. Not long after that, he and I were quaffing Oktoberfest brews while the Texas Gal put finishing touches on dinner, and then all three of us were dining on chicken breasts with an apple-onion-raisin curry sauce and roasted sweet potatoes.

It was good to have company again. And yes, it’s good to have lights over the landing again, but we would have been pleased with the company even without the household assistance. As I’m sure many folks out there agree, the last six months have been fairly isolating, and a taste of safe normality – we’ve known Tom long enough that we trust him and he trusts us in all matters, not just those related to the corona virus – was good for all three of us.

But I’m tired today. So I’m not doing a whole lot here this morning. I just dipped back into the Billboard Hot 100 we looked at yesterday – released on September 19, 1970, fifty years ago today – and looked for something interesting in its lower reaches.

And I found a cover I’d never heard before, a take on Stephen Stills’ “For What It’s Worth” by Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66. Fifty years ago today, it was bubbling under at No. 101, and that’s as high as it ever went, although it went to No. 10 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart. I do wonder why Mendes thought 1970 was a good time to cover the tune, which the Buffalo Springfield originally released in 1967. Whatever the reason. it’s today’s Saturday Single.

No. 50 Fifty Years Ago (September 1970)

Friday, September 18th, 2020

As promised earlier this week, we’re playing Symmetry, looking back fifty years to whatever record was sitting at No. 50 in the Billboard Hot 100 at this point in September 1970. First, though, we’re going to take a look at the Top Five released fifty years ago tomorrow:

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross
“War” by Edwin Starr
“Lookin’ Out My Back Door/Long As I Can See The Light” by CCR
“Patches” by Clarence Carter
“Julie, Do Ya Love Me” by Bobby Sherman

This is not a particularly great five (or six) from where I listened long ago. There are some nice moments here, especially the intro to the Diana Ross single (although the spoken word portion of the record tamps that down a bit for me), and “War” is always going to get one’s attention. I like the CCR B-side, and the Bobby Sherman single always reminds me that there was a young lady named Julie during that long-ago season who was – clearly in retrospect but not evident to my seventeen-year-old self – interested in me.

As to the CCR A-side and the Clarence Carter single, I’ve never been interested, though I could no doubt sing along without errors as each of them played.

The four I dealt with two paragraphs above are in fact in the iPod and thus are part of my current listening, but if I were forced to trim, say, a hundred tracks from the device, three of them would likely be among those culled. Julie would stay.

And what do we find when we drop halfway down the Hot 100? We chance on one of the great singer-songwriter singles, one that’s been, I think, devalued and set aside somewhat as a result of its prominence, its ubiquity, and its status as one of the foundations of the decade’s singer-songwriter movement: James Taylor’s “Fire & Rain.”

I don’t remember the first time I heard the record, but I do know that as I heard it frequently during the autumn of 1970, its personal and confessional lyrics touched something in me. I’d guess – not for the first time – that the record was part of what moved me to begin writing my own stuff later that school year. (The other part, of course, was an unrequited affection for a sophomore girl, the tale of which I told in 2009 and revisited some years later in a post found here.)

If one tries to listen to the record with fresh ears – an almost impossible task after so many years and so many hearings – it remains a remarkable piece of work, one that went to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 7 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart.

Saturday Single No. 703

Saturday, August 29th, 2020

We’re going to dabble, as we often do, in 1970 this morning, looking at the No. 1 records in the various Billboard charts from fifty years ago today. Those records were:

“War” by Edwin Starr on the Hot 100.
“Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” by Stevie Wonder on the R&B chart.
“Don’t Keep Me Hangin’ On” by Sonny James on the country chart.
“Snowbird” by Anne Murray on the easy listening chart
Cosmo’s Factory by Creedence Clearwater Revival on the pop album chart.
ABC by the Jackson 5 on the R&B album chart.
Charley Pride’s 10th Album on the country album chart.

As might be expected, I know everything but the country stuff from that list. And even though I should probably know more about Sonny James and Charley Pride than I do, I’m going to pass on them today, and we’re going to take a look at Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Cosmo’s Factory.

Even though I liked hearing CCR’s singles coming out of my radio in the years from 1969 to 1972, I never thought to get any of the group’s records until the summer of 1988, when I came across Willy And The Poorboys and Green River (probably used at a garage sale). The rest of the group’s catalog landed on my shelves during the years of vinyl madness in the late 1990s, with today’s topic – Cosmo’s Factory – coming home with me in October 1998.

Is it my favorite Creedence album? No, I think Green River take that label. But it’s got three Top Five double-sided singles: “Travelin’ Band/Who’ll Stop The Rain” (No. 2), “Up Around The Bend/Run Through The Jungle” (No. 4), and “Lookin’ Out My Back Door/As Long As I Can See The Light” (No. 2), as well as the eleven-minute jam on “Heard It Through The Grapevine.” So it’s got some cred.

Fifty years ago today, the album was in the second week of a nine-week run atop the Billboard 200, so here’s my favorite track from the album, “Long As I Can See The Light.” It’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘Hoverin’ By My Suitcase . . .’

Friday, August 21st, 2020

Brook Benton’s cover of Tony Joe White’s “Rainy Night In Georgia” popped up on iTunes the other day, but the volume of the song was low compared to the tracks that had come before. I did some checking, and the mp3 of the tune (the source of the iTunes file) also had a lower volume than most of the other mp3s on the digital shelves.

Blame the source, which I think was a borrowed CD.

So I found another source for another mp3 and replaced all the files. Now, when the track pops up on random, the opening guitar figure can grab my attention the way it did back in the early months of 1970, when I heard the record on KDWB, where it peaked at No. 17; WLS, where it peaked at No. 4; and WJON, which, as far as I know, did not offer surveys. (Am I right, Yah Shure?)

Nationally, the record peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also went to No. 2 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart and spent a week at No. 1 on the R&B chart.

I’ve got a few other versions of the song, but Benton’s take on it remains my favorite, partly because it’s the first version I heard but mostly because its hushed sound and that opening guitar riff remind me of evenings in my room with my old RCA radio during my first Top 40 winter.

There are quite a few covers of the song out there; Second Hand Songs lists eighty-five versions, including White’s and Benton’s, and there are likely others not listed. I see versions listed there by Tennessee Ernie Ford, B.J. Thomas, Johnny Rivers, Chuck Jackson, Boz Scaggs, and Ray Charles, a duet by Sam Moore and Conway Twitty (from a 1994 album titled Rhythm Country and Blues), and instrumental takes by Al Hirt, Cornell Dupree, Boots Randolph, and more.

But we’ll close today with the original version of the song by Tony Joe White. It’s from his 1969 album . . . Continued.

What’s At No. 68?

Thursday, August 20th, 2020

I can’t resist today’s date: 8/20/2020. So we’re going to play Games With Numbers and turn those numerals into sixty-eight, and then we’ll check what was at No. 68 in the Billboard Hot 100 on this date during the seven years that make up my sweet spot, the years 1969 through 1975.

So, during the third week of August 1969, when the No. 1 record was “Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones, what was parked at No. 68? Well, it’s a record I don’t think I’ve ever heard: “I Do” by the Moments. The R&B trio from Hackensack, New Jersey, was eight months away from breaking through with the sweet “Love On A Two-Way Street,” and “I Do” went only to No. 62 in the Hot 100 (and to No. 10 on the Billboard R&B chart). Listening this morning, it sounds shrill.

A year later, the third week of the eighth month of 1970 found Bread’s “Make It With You” at No. 1. Our target spot down the chart was occupied by a short version of one of my favorite tracks from that summer fifty years ago: A cover of Neil Young’s “Down By The River” by drummer Buddy Miles & The Freedom Express. The link is to the single version, which I don’t recall hearing; Rick and I heard the album track – a much better piece of work – on WJON during late evenings in his screen porch that season. We’ve caught the record at its peak; it would go no higher than No. 68.

Sitting at No. 1 forty-nine years ago this week was the Bee Gees’ “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart.” The No. 68 record during that week in 1971 was one of the two hits I recall from my college years to feature a banjo solo: “Sweet City Woman” by the Stampeders, a trio from Calgary, Alberta. (“Dueling Banjos” from the movie Deliverance is the other I recall; there are likely more.) The Stampeders’ record went to No. 8 in the Hot 100 and to No. 5 in the magazine’s Easy Listening chart. And you know, you can do lots worse than love and tenderness and macaroons.

On to 1972, when the No. 1 record as August 20 went past was “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” by the Looking Glass (and its mention brings back radio memories as Rick, Gary and I drove to Winnipeg, Manitoba). As we drove, we likely also heard the A-side of the single at No. 68 that week: “Burning Love/It’s A Matter Of Time” by Elvis Presley. (I don’t know that I’d ever heard the B-side until today.) “Burning Love” was Presley’s last big hit in the Hot 100, as it peaked at No. 2. (He would still have Top Ten hits on the Easy Listening and Country charts.) On the Billboard Easy Listening chart, the record – with “It’s A Matter Of Time” listed as the A-side, according to Joel Whitburn’s top adult songs book – went to No. 9.

“Brother Louie” by the Stories sat atop the Hot 100 as the third week of August 1973 ended and the fourth week began. Down at our target slot that week was the title track from Alice Cooper’s current album, “Billion Dollar Babies.” I admit that I’ve listened to very little of Cooper’s work over the years, and in 1973, I was, I guess, pointedly ignoring it as gauche or something. The record had guest vocals from Donovan, but still disappointed, peaking at No. 57, considerably lower than Cooper’s last few singles.

Perched at No. 1 as the third week of August 1974 passed was “(You’re) Having My Baby” by Paul Anka and Odia Coates. Hoping for better, we drop down to our target at No. 68 and find “Finally Got Myself Together (I’m a Changed Man)” by the Impressions, a record I do not recall and honestly doubt that I’ve ever heard until today. It’s a sweet soul/R&B side, underlaid with the social awareness that ran through much of Curtis Mayfield’s work. The record peaked at No. 17 in the Hot 100 and spent two weeks on top of the Billboard R&B chart.

Forty-five years ago this week, as August 1975 spooled out, the No. 1 record was “Fallin’ In Love” by Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds. Sixty-seven spots further down the chart, we find, again, the Impressions, this time with “Sooner Or Later,” a tale of romantic consequences told with an irresistible groove. The record went no higher on the Hot 100, but went to No. 3 on the R&B chart.

Saturday Single No. 698

Saturday, July 25th, 2020

We’re going to stay right with Crabby Appleton this morning because I’m tired and my sinus infection – a standard summer companion – is hanging around like a visitor who’s exhausted the supply of guest towels.

Crabby

A reminder of where the California group got its name: As seen on the right, Crabby Appleton was the arch-villain on the Tom Terrific cartoon segments that were part of the Captain Kangaroo show, bedeviling Tom, whom Wikipedia describes as a “gee-whiz boy hero.” Simplistically drawn, the cartoons were offered in five-minute segments during the 1957-58 and 1958-59 seasons (and re-run frequently in years to follow).

As to the band and its music, I thought the simplest thing to do today would be to listen to the B-side of its one Hot 100 hit. Here’s “Try,” which also showed up in a longer (and possibly different) version on the group’s self-titled 1970 album. (The second album, released in 1971, was titled Rotten To The Core.)

Here’s what I think is the B-side version of “Try”. (The label is of the Canadian release, but I think it’s the same recording.) It’s pretty good, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘You Don’t Hold Me So Well . . .’

Friday, July 24th, 2020

We’ve spent some time during the past fortnight in the Billboard easy listening and album charts from July 1970, and I thought it might be interesting this morning to look at the KDWB survey from late July of that year to see what it was I was really listening to as I made my way through my last high school summer.

Here’s the Top Ten from KDWB’s 6+30 survey from July 27, 1970:

“Band Of Gold” by Freda Payne
“(They Long To Be) Close To You” by the Carpenters
“Mama Told Me (Not To Come)” by Three Dog Night
“Go Back” by Crabby Appleton
“Tighter, Tighter” by Alive & Kicking
“Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
“Song Of Joy” by Miguel Rios
“Question” by the Moody Blues
“Make It With You” by Bread
“O-o-h Child” by the Five Stairsteps

I wasn’t doing much during the summer of ’70. I worked the four days of the state trap shoot for $60, probably tried to pass my driver’s license test a couple of times – it took me five tries, the fifth one coming in October of 1970 – and otherwise hung around in various places with Rick and in the basement rec room with him or by myself, listening to my slender but growing LP collection.

August would bring two-a-day football practices (I would be the head manager), but that was still at least a week away fifty years ago this week.

But each of those ten records was part of the soundtrack of that summer, and they remain vivid. (All of them save “Teach Your Children” are in my day-to-day listening in the iPod.) Some of them I heard frequently in the years to follow, others less so. I’d guess the one I heard least was the Crabby Appleton; when I got my first ’Net-worthy computer in 2000 and started collecting mp3s and scavenging for music, finding “Go Back” was one of those moments of “Good lord, I haven’t heard that for years!”

“Go Back” wasn’t a huge hit nationally for the California band, peaking only at No. 36 in the Billboard Hot 100, but it did much better in the Twin Cities, peaking at No. 4 on KDWB and at No. 5 on WDGY.

Having found it sometime between 2000 and 2007, I included it eleven years ago in my Ultimate Jukebox. And here it is again.