Archive for the ‘1970’ Category

‘There’s Really Nothing To It . . .’

Thursday, January 30th, 2020

We started the month (and new year) digging into some charts from 1970, and I have a sense that for the next 336 days, we’ll be in that year a lot, first because it’s a nice round fifty years ago, and second, because it was – as ya’ll know if you’ve been taking notes – one of my favorite years for music.

This morning, we’re going to look at what was hot on the Twin Cities’ KDWB as January turned the corner into February that year. Here’s the top ten from the station’s “6+30” survey that was released on February 2, 1970:

“Venus” by the Shocking Blue
“Arizona” by Mark Lindsay
“I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5
“I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” by Dionne Warwick
“Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin
“Jam Up, Jelly Tight” by Tommy Roe
“Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)” by Sly & The Family Stone
“Don’t Cry, Daddy” by Elvis Presley
“No Time” by the Guess Who
“Early In The Morning” by Vanity Fare

That’s a decent forty or so minutes of listening. I truly like eight of those ten, having always had some mild dislike for the Tommy Roe and Elvis records. If I were hearing them in my room at home, they’d give me a good opportunity to wander downstairs and get another glass of juice or something. But the other eight were fine.

(And as I look at those ten, I see a heck of a segue, if one were counting up, from “Whole Lotta Love” to “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again.”)

Back then, my favorites from this bunch were probably “Arizona” and “No Time.” Thoughts of the Mark Lindsay record don’t put me in any specific place, but I always perked up a bit when it came on the radio.

As to “No Time,” my clearest memory of the record comes from a drive back to St. Cloud from the Cities after watching the Minnesota North Stars play the Montreal Canadiens to a 1-1 tie. I was with Rick and Rob and a friend of Rob’s, and we had just left what was then the northwestern limits of urban growth and were driving through farmland that in the next twenty years would become suburban subdivisions. “No Time” came on KDWB, and I recall letting the sound of the introductory guitar riff wash over me as I looked out and saw the moon high over the barren wintertime fields.

(I’ve always put that memory into early February, and a quick bit of digging at the Hockey Reference site verifies that: The Stars and the Habs played to a 1-1 tie on February 7, 1970, just a day after Rick turned sixteen.)

Just because we regularly check, we’re going to see how many of those records are in the iPod and thus still a part of my day-to-day listening. It turns out that the only tracks missing are those by Tommy Roe, Sly & The Family Stone and Elvis, just as I likely would have guessed. (So will “Thank You [Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again]” find its way into the iPod? Maybe.)

And from here, we’ll play some Games With Numbers, taking today’s date – 1/30/20 – and take a look at the No. 20 and No. 30 records in that long-ago 6+30. Sitting at No. 20 is a double-sided single by Creedence Clearwater Revival that I liked fairly well, depending on my mood at the moment. If I felt like bopping, I’d want to hear “Traveling Band.” If I were being reflective, the flip side, “Who’ll Stop The Rain,” would do well. I liked both records fifty years ago and still do. (Both are in the iPod.)

And at No. 30, we find another record I like, one that I recall hearing on KDWB but not very often. It must have made an impression, though, because when I ran across it years later – either during the vinyl madness of the 1990s or during my time in the early 2000s digging through blogs and boards – it was happily familiar. It’s Jefferson’s “Baby, Take Me In Your Arms,” and it, too, has a place in the iPod. And I still love the tympani introduction.

Saturday Single No. 672

Saturday, January 4th, 2020

Having started and discarded in extreme dissatisfaction two posts this morning (my sinus infection and needy cats have been no help at all), I’m just going to punt and do right from the top the same thing we did here two days ago as we noted that 1970 is now fifty years distant:

I’m going to sort the releases in the RealPlayer from 1970 by running time, drop the cursor in the middle, and click on random ten times.

And we fall upon “Rosy Shy,” a track from Jesse Winchester’s self-titled debut album, a work produced by Robbie Robertson of The Band. And it’s today’s Saturday Single. (I hope to have more to say come next week.)

Looking Ahead To 1970

Thursday, January 2nd, 2020

Well, not that it’s a trenchant insight or anything, but the past keeps getting further away from us. For example, stuff that happened in 1990 – a year that still seems recent – now took place thirty years ago. My students from that year at Stephens College, a women’s college in Missouri, are now mostly in their early fifties, many of them likely grandparents. And yet, they remain in their early twenties in my memory.

Then there’s the year of 1970, long a benchmark for me – for both music and life – which suddenly (or so it seems) lies a half-century in the past. But its music – and the music of the years on either side of it, from about 1965 to 1975 – still seems vital to me (and to millions of others, too, based on the things I see and hear in the groves of popular culture).

So I guess we’ll keep digging here – Odd and Pop and I – into the music and times of my youth. And what better way to continue doing that than to look at what the year of 1970 would eventually bring as, we tuned our radios fifty years ago this week.

Here are the top ten records of 1970, as offered by Joel Whitburn in A Century Of Pop Music:

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel
“I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5
“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” by B.J. Thomas
“(They Long To Be) Close To You” by the Carpenters
“My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison
“I Think I Love You” by the Partridge Family
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross
“War” by Edwin Starr
“American Woman” by the Guess Who
“Let It Be” by the Beatles

No surprises there.

But the list reminds me of lying on the sofa at home on January 1, 1971, listening and taking notes as the Twin Cities’ KDWB was counting down its own top hits of 1970. At Nos. 1 and 3 were “Bridge” and “Let It Be.” (And I’m not sure of the order of those two, as the piece of paper on which I took my notes has years ago gone its own way.) But at No. 2, I remember for certain, was the Partridge Family record, and I remember as well rolling my eyes in consternation.

Fifty years later, I’d be unconsterned, if that’s a word. “I Think I Love You” is, as I’ve realized over the years, a great record, so it was no surprise to see it the top ten in Whitburn’s book. (And it’s a record that’s provided me with a more vivid memory than have either “Bridge” or “Let It Be,” a memory I’ve related here before.)

So what do we listen to today? Usually, I’d find the No. 50 record from a year that’s now fifty years in the past, but Whitburn’s book only lists the top forty records of the year. So I think we’ll sort out by time the 4,183 records from 1970 in the RealPlayer, set the cursor in the middle and click ten times.

And we get José Feliciano covering the Beatles, taking on “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window.” It’s from his 1970 album Fireworks, which I used to hear across the street at Rick’s.

Tenth record added after first posting.

The Moody Blues’ Seventies, Part 1

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

Now we come, in our long-term look at the catalog of the Moody Blues, to the hard part, assessing the three albums the British group released during the first years of the 1970s: A Question Of Balance from 1970, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour from 1971, and Seventh Sojourn from 1972.

Those are the albums that made me a fan of the Moody Blues. I heard the first of the three across the street at Rick’s sometime in late 1970, soon after it came out. During my early college days, I heard bits and pieces of the second in dorm rooms and apartments, enough to know I liked it. The third of those came my way in December 1972 as a Christmas present from Rick.

And there were singles from all three of those albums that got airplay during those years as well.

In other words, enough of my youth is tied up into those three albums to make it difficult to assess them dispassionately. But I’ll give it a try, starting today with A Question Of Balance.

After starting their last three albums with spoken word introductions or sound collages, the group shifted gears and started A Question Of Balance with music, the stand-out track “Question,” written by Justin Hayward. A version of the track was released as a single in late April 1970, a little more than three months before the album came out, and went to No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100. By the time the album came out in early August, the track had undergone some changes, perhaps most notably the addition of orchestral flourishes – courtesy, no doubt, of the Mellotron – in its introduction.

About a decade ago, I included the single version of “Question” in the 228-track Ultimate Jukebox, but I like both versions equally, and I recall the sixteen- and seventeen-year-old me listening especially closely during the spring of 1970 to the words of the single’s slow middle section:

I’m looking for someone to change my life
I’m looking for a miracle in my life
And if you could see what it’s done to me
To lose the love I knew
You’d safely lead me to
The land that I once knew
To learn as we grow old
The secrets of our soul

And if I hadn’t ever written anything in this space about my adolescent romanticism, all you’d need to do is read those lines to know a lot about who I was in 1970 (and likely still am).

So I still love the album’s title track. What about the rest of it? How can I separate the music I hear now from how I heard it as a junior in high school (and as a college student and as a young adult and so on)?

Well, first, let’s note that – as was often their habit – the Moodies blended a lot of the tracks into one another, making suites instead of discreet tracks. And that’s how I listen to the album these days: as clusters of tracks. Still, being as discerning as I can, I have noted during my listening over the past few months that some of the songs on the album work less well than others.

The first of those is the one that immediately follows “Question,” Mike Pinder’s “How Is It (We Are Here),” which kind of lumbers along with its commentary about “men’s mighty mine machines” and “concrete caves with iron doors.” The fade-out, repeating the title, works but the stuff that comes before it seems heavy-handed in 2019.

Nothing else on the album is that awkward, but I find two of John Lodge’s compositions a little lacking as well: “Tortoise & The Hare” – appended to Graeme Edge’s “Don’t You Feel Small” – strains lyrically, as does his “Minstrel’s Song,” which one finds between a pair of Hayward tunes: “It’s Up To You” and “Dawning Is The Day.”

And then there’s the final track, “The Balance,” co-written by Edge and Thomas, which starts with a spoken word section that – like those on preceding albums – indulges the worst instincts of the band. Consider this:

And he felt the earth to his spine,
And he asked,
And he saw the tree above him,
And the stars,
And the veins in the leaf,
And the light,
And the balance.
And he saw magnificent perfection,
Whereon he thought of himself in balance,
And he knew he was.

I’m no cynic, but that doesn’t connect with me nearly as well in 2019 as it did in 1970 (or 1975 or 1980, even). Maybe it should, but . . .

There are, though, some tracks on the album that still work for me after almost fifty years. Ray Thomas’ “And The Tide Rushes In,” the two Hayward tunes – “It’s Up To You” and “Dawning Is The Day” – and especially Mike Pinder’s “Melancholy Man” all still speak to me without irony or eye-rolls.

And back in 1970, the album spoke to a lot of people, rising to No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and staying on the chart for seventy-four weeks. From what I can tell, “Question” was the only single released from the album.

So with all that, what letter grade would I give the album, assessing it not as a memory but as I hear it today? Despite the missteps outlined above, it’s got a better selection of songs than most of the group’s albums, and my misgivings with a few of the songs are generally with the lyrics; musically, the album is gorgeous. (Assuming, that is, that the listener likes the wall of sound the Moodies offer; I recall one co-worker years ago at the Monticello Times who refused to listen even once to an album I offered him. The group’s sound was “too busy and heavy” for him.)

So I’ll give it a B.

Here’s a 2017 remastered version of my favorite track (save perhaps “Question”) from the album, “Melancholy Man.”

Saturday Single No. 663

Saturday, October 26th, 2019

As of today, we’ve been married twelve years now, the Texas Gal and I. She’s been a Minnesota (or at least a Texan in exile) for nineteen years this month. And in just a few months, we’ll mark twenty years since our avatars popped up on the same day in the listings of a Lycos chat room devoted either to social issues or music. (We think it was the former, but we frequented both, so we’re not entirely sure.)

We thought about those tales of years the other day as we sat on the couch ignoring something on TV, and we agreed that it doesn’t feel like twelve years since we walked out of the Stearns County Courthouse as married folks; nor does it feel like nearly twenty years since we met. That, I guess, proves two truisms: My dad’s long-ago warning that time would go faster and faster the older I got, and the universal warning that time flies when you’re having fun.

Conversely, it seems as if we’ve been in each other’s lives forever (and karmically, we think that’s so for this life and others that have gone on elsewhen).

Here’s what I posted here twelve years ago, as we reached one of those markers noted in today’s first paragraph:

Sometimes the Texas Gal and I look at each other and marvel that we ever met, that our lives took the turns they did to bring us together, first in a small corner of the Internet and then – in a leap that took courage and faith for both of us – in a small corner of Minnesota.

Other times, we smile and acknowledge that, well, where else could we have ended up? As I’ve written before, we find the places and the people we are meant to find, no matter how crooked our paths might have been. And she and I are where we belong.

We’re not young, but there were reasons – ones we’ll never know – that our meeting was delayed until midlife. We find solace in knowing that the lives we led before we met are what made us each who we are. Those lives – we hope – have provided us with some level of wisdom that has guided us during the seven years we’ve known each other and will continue to guide us.

If this sounds solemn, it is. This afternoon, we’re going to go down to the courthouse, where we’ll formalize the marriage that took place long ago in our hearts. It’s something we’ve been planning to do for a while, and it’s time.

So here are some of the songs that have been important to us during the past seven years (with one ringer that I threw in). This is a Baker’s Dozen for the Texas Gal, who from today on will be my wife.

“Loving Arms” by Darden Smith from Little Victories, 1993
“Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer from Sixpence None the Richer, 1998
“Rest of My Days” by Indigenous from Circle, 2000
“Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House, Capitol single 5614, 1988
“I Knew I Loved You” by Savage Garden from Affirmation, 1999
“If I Should Fall Behind” by Bruce Springsteen from Lucky Town, 1992
“Precious and Few” by Climax, Carousel single 30055, 1971
“Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden from Savage Garden, 1997
“This Kiss” by Faith Hill from Faith, 1998
“Levee Song” by Darden Smith from Little Victories, 1993
“Two of Us” by the Beatles from Let It Be…Naked (recorded 1969)
“Wedding Song” by Tracy Chapman from Telling Stories, 2000
“Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison from Moondance, 1970

All of those still matter to us, though we hear some of them much less frequently than the others. But it’s Saturday, and we must choose one. It comes down, then, to either the first of that list or the last, perhaps the first two recordings we chose as ours. (I think I introduced her to Darden Smith and “Loving Arms,” and I know she pointed us toward Van Morrison and “Into the Mystic.”)

I think I know what her choice would be, so I’ll defer to that. Here’s Van Morrison’s “Into The Mystic,” today’s Saturday Single.

Finding Granny’s Intentions

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

I’m trying this week to finish up three projects: Scanning old photos and burning them to disc for my sister and our cousins, writing a song for our church, and catching up on stats for my tabletop baseball league.

That sadly leaves this space in fourth place this week.

And the weather’s not helping: The second week of autumn is cloudy and damp. The leaves are still generally green, though those on our flowering crab and linden have begun turning yellow. But it’s gray outside.

But back to fourth place: A search for “fourth” on the digital shelves brought up a a track titled “Fourthskin Blues” by a group with the intriguing name of Granny’s Intentions. The band came out of Limerick, Ireland, in the mid-1960s and in a few years was making a good living in the club scene in Dublin.

The band’s only album, according to discogs, was Honest Injun, released on Deram in 1970. “Fourthskin Blues” was one of that album’s tracks.

Saturday Single No. 658

Saturday, September 14th, 2019

We’re going back to 1970 again this morning, a year we’ve reviewed in music and events here more often than any other year.

It was, as I’ve said here before, the only full year during which I got my musical fix from Top 40 radio: I began listening in earnest in the late summer of 1969, and by the time the end of 1971 rolled around, I was beginning to listen more to progressive rock and album tracks.

So this morning, we’re going to take the Billboard Hot 100 that lies closest to the mid-point of September 1970 – a time when I was settling into my classes as a high school senior – and look at whatever record might be sitting at No. 100. We’ll start, though, as we customarily do, by taking a look at the Top Ten from that week. Here are those records as listed in the September 19, 1970, edition of the magazine:

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross
“War” by Edwin Starr
“Lookin’ Out My Back Door/As Long As I Can See The Light” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Patches” by Clarence Carter
“Julie, Do Ya Love Me” by Bobby Sherman
“25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago
“In The Summertime” by Mungo Jerry
“(They Long To Be) Close To You” by the Carpenters
“Candida” by Dawn
“Make It With You” by Bread

I like nine of those eleven a lot. My only reservations – and those reservations have been in place for forty-nine years – are for the the A-side of the CCR single and for “Patches.” I can hear them clearly in my head as I write, and they’re not malignant earworms, but I’ve just never cared much for them.

The nine others I liked then and still like, some more than others, of course. I have to be in the right mood for “War” and for “In The Summertime” (not the same mood, though). But the others are welcome at any time.

As to the some that I like more than others, five of the lower six in that Top Ten are in the iPod, putting them on the current playlist of 3,900-some tracks. The only one of those lower six that’s missing is “Candida,” which may or may not be added. And I may add the Diana Ross single. I’ll have to think about it.

And now, to our business at the bottom of the Hot 100: We find at that lowest spot a single we’ve written about but that we have not exactly shared here before: Love’s “Alone Again Or.” The track originally showed up on the classic 1967 album Forever Changes (timing out at 3:13.) A shorter version – timed at 2:49 – was released as a single and bubbled under the Hot 100 at No. 123 in the spring of 1968.

In the late summer of 1970, Elektra tried again. The video below is posted on the more or less official Love channel at YouTube and is labeled as the “mono single remix,” so I think this is the right one. The second single release of “Alone Again Or” did only a little better, peaking at No. 99 during a three-week stay on the charts.

In 2011, I tried to figure out which version was the 1970 release and ended up posting here the album track. In a note, friend and chart expert Yah Shure pointed that out and wrote: “In my [Joel] Whitburn Pop Annual, the time listed for the 1970 re-do is 2:50. Under the ’68 single’s entry in my Whitburn Bubbling Under chart book, Joel refers to the 1970 #99 release as ‘an enhanced version,’ and that’s what it really is: embellished with additional instrumentation to pack more of a wallop over the airwaves. The difference between it and the original mix is quite apparent.”

So, is the video below right one or not? I don’t know. In any case, it’s a lovely, whirling taste of psychedelia from Albert Lee & Co., and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Back In ’73

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been looking at my radio listening and then my LP listening from first 1972 and then 1971, then ending the week with a Saturday Single from that year. It occurred to me sometime in the dreamy hours last night that some weeks ago, I addressed my radio listening during the summer of 1973 but I didn’t think to look at the LPs I’d added to the cardboard box in the basement in the year prior.

Never one to let an easy idea go unused, here’s a look at how my LP collection had grown between midsummer 1972 and the same time of year in 1973, and an assessment of how much those LPs matter to me now:

As the summer of 1973 passed by, I bought no new music. Even though my ideas of what I would find when I went to Denmark in September were very unclear, I was certain that saving five dollars to spend on a beer or three in Denmark in the autumn was a better choice than picking up something by Steely Dan at Axis on St. Germain Street downtown.

So once the calendar hit February 1973 and I knew I’d be going away in September, I spent almost no money on music. The two late winter exceptions, according to the LP database, were a used copy of J.J. Cale’s Naturally that I actually bought at Axis, and a double album of Fats Domino’s 1950s and early 1960s hits that I bought used from a co-worker at St. Cloud State Learning Resources. I think I paid a buck for the Cale and fifty cents for the Domino.

Here are the albums I added to the cardboard box in the rec room from mid-1972 to September 1973:

Beatles VI
A Hard Day’s Night by the Beatles
Live: The Road Goes Ever On by Mountain
In Search Of The Lost Chord by the Moody Blues
Stage Fright by The Band
Retrospective by Buffalo Springfield
Imagine by John Lennon
Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones
To Bonnie From Delaney by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
Seventh Sojourn by the Moody Blues
Naturally by J.J. Cale
Legendary Masters Series by Fats Domino
Exile on Main St. by the Rolling Stones
John Barleycorn Must Die by Traffic

The last two were gifts from a friend at The Table at St. Cloud State. He’d found them underwhelming and handed them to me one evening in June. And that was the last new music I got until May of the following year, 1974, when I spent about fifty Danish kroner – garnered from ten bucks Rick had sent me from home – to buy Sebastian’s Den Store Flugt, the first of what is now a substantial collection of Danish folk-rock and pop on my various shelves.

But back to the 1972-73 acquisitions: The first two entries completed my Beatles collection, giving me all eighteen of the American releases on Capitol/Apple and United Artists. I finished it, as I’d told Rick I would, just weeks before he began his senior year of high school. In the rankings of Beatles’ albums, A Hard Day’s Night was pretty good, but Beatles VI was a little blah. Some of the tracks from the first of those two are in the iPod, but few, if any, from the second are among my day to day listening; the CD shelves do hold everything from those two albums in the British configurations.

Again, I’m struck by how much of this music seems to be formative. Aside from the Beatles’ albums, eight of the twelve LPs listed there are on the CD shelves today, and I have two differently titled Fats Domino collections. The only albums listed there that are not replicated on the CD stacks are those by Mountain, Buffalo Springfield and John Lennon.

So how many tracks from those albums show up in the iPod?

There’s just one – the long version of “Nantucket Sleighride” – from the Mountain album, and none from In Search Of The Lost Chord, which to me has always been the least interesting of the Moody Blues’ 1960s and 1970s albums (though perhaps I should find room for “Legend Of A Mind” with its lilting chorus of “Timothy Leary’s dead . . .”).

The iPod offers eleven of the twelve tracks from the Buffalo Springfield compilation (excluding “Rock & Roll Woman” for some reason). Conversely, only the title track from Imagine is in my day-to-day listening, and that seems to be enough.

Elsewhere in the iPod, we find five tracks each from Sticky Fingers and Seventh Sojourn, four from To Bonnie From Delaney, all twelve tracks from Naturally, nine from Exile On Main St., four from John Barleycorn Must Die, and three from Stage Fright.

So, as I’ve concluded from earlier posts looking at the music acquired in 1970-71 and 1971-72, this stuff still matters greatly to me. Interspersed among the 3,900-some total tracks in the iPod, the tunes from those first three years of serious listening and collecting don’t pop up often, but when they do, they remind me of the foundations of my listening habits.

Here’s one of those foundational tracks: “Living On The Open Road” by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends from 1970. (One of those friends is Duane Allman, who adds slide guitar here.)

Saturday Single No. 646

Saturday, June 22nd, 2019

We stopped at the St. Cloud farmers market this morning, hoping to connect with the woman from Browerville from whom we buy cucumbers every summer. Alas, she was not there today. Nor were there many other vendors; it’s still early – especially given the wet, cool spring – for much produce to be available.

So we and a friend wandered through the rest of the market, and we bought some green onions, though I’m not certain what plans the Texas Gal has for them. I considered a lamb chop before deciding against it. And then the three of us had a late breakfast/early lunch.

A stop at the grocery store followed, and we came home already tired and ready to sneak in a nap. So I’m making this brief.

Here’s a loose and loopy Saturday song: “Big Time Saturday Night” by the Goose Creek Symphony. It’s from 1970, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

How Many Junks?

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

Summer – in a cultural sense – starts this week, the last days of May. (In a meterological sense, summer starts with the solstice, which will take place here in the American Midwest at 10:54 a.m. on Friday, June 21.) But these days of dwindling May have been disappointing, with too many clouds and too much rain and very few sunny days.

And that’s been a problem, as the Texas Gal has taken this week off from work, and we’d like to play in the sunshine. (Well, it was just as well that yesterday was kind of ooky, as we both had dental appointments and neither of us – especially she – wants to waste a nice day with the mundane unpleasantness of that.) Today, however, promises better times with a high temperature of about 75 (Fahrenheit) and – if I am reading the forecast on my phone correctly – at least dappled sunshine for the day.

So we’re going to go play in a few hours, starting with a lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. Then we’re going to wander a little ways from St. Cloud, looking for antique stores or junk shoppes that we have not visited recently. How many junks we buy depends on both our moods and our assessments of our wallets.

I had thought about dropping in here a song with “summer” found somewhere in its title, but the last sentence of that last paragraph pushed me in a different direction. Here’s Paul McCartney’s lovely brief ballad “Junk.” It was written in India in 1968 and was passed over for inclusion on the White Album and Abbey Road, finally seeing release on the solo album McCartney in 1970.