Archive for the ‘1971’ Category

A Hard September

Friday, September 30th, 2016

Boy, as much as I generally love September – and those who know me know I do – I will not be unhappy to see this particular September end. Laden with my depression, Mom’s pneumonia and my sinus infection, this month has been rough.

There have been some good times, certainly, and I’ve mentioned a few of them here, but for the most part, it’s been hard times. So to close the month and put forward the hope that October is better, here’s a track whose title echoes the month’s feel but whose energy gets me up and moving.

“Hard Times” is a track from a 1971 album titled Jellyroll, recorded by a group led by Roger “Jellyroll” Troy. The late bassist, singer and producer – he died in 1991 – was also a member of the Electric Flag, and worked over the years with artists like Mike Bloomfield, Maria Muldaur, Mick Taylor, Lonnie Mack, Nick Gravenites, and Jerry Garcia.

I’m not at all sure where I got the album, but pretty much everything I know about it came from a piece by Dave Widow offered about a year ago at the blog Rockasteria. (Here’s a link to the post about Roger Troy and Jellyroll.)

See you tomorrow as October starts.

‘New Jersey . . .’

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

With September here this morning, and considering the prospect of a 45-year high school reunion later this month, I thought about the long-ago month of September of 1971. As the month started, I was ready to go back to school, to get started on my freshman year at St. Cloud State.

But the fall quarter didn’t begin until sometime after September 20, leaving me three more weeks of scrubbing floors on campus during evening shifts with my friend Mike. The quarter’s late start was disconcerting; it felt odd to see the neighborhood kids head off to Lincoln Elementary, South Junior High and Tech High while I spent my daytime doing chores around the house and listening to the radio.

Here’s some of what I was hearing during those odd days, the top ten on the Twin Cities’ KDWB during this week in 1971:

“Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” by Paul & Linda McCartney
“Wedding Song (There Is Love)” by Paul Stookey
“I Just Want To Celebrate” by Rare Earth
“Liar” by Three Dog Night
“Sweet Hitchhiker” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Beginnings/Colour My World” by Chicago
“Smiling Faces” by the Undisputed Truth
“Stick-Up” by the Honeycone
“Won’t Be Fooled Again” by the Who
“Bangla-Desh” by George Harrison

I liked all of those, some more than others, of course. I knew the Chicago B-side and the McCartneys’ record well by then, as Ram and Chicago were regularly on the turntable in the rec room. And as I looked this morning at the rest of KDWB’s 6+30 from that week, things were pretty familiar, too, until I got to No. 31: “New Jersey” by England Dan & John Ford Coley.

I knew the artists, of course. Their “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight” is one of the records that brings back in an instant the summer of 1976 and my departure from Kilian Boulevard. But “New Jersey”? In 1971? I didn’t remember that from 1971 although something about the record was tickling my memory. So I went digging.

The record got some airplay on KDWB, but not a lot: It was in the 6+30 for about eight weeks and peaked at No. 22. How did it do elsewhere?

Well, the massive collection of Top 40 surveys at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive shows little love for “New Jersey” anywhere except the Twin Cities. The record shows up on four other stations’ lists: It was listed as an “Instant Preview” in mid-August on the Music Guide offered by KRCB in Omaha/Council Bluffs. A week earlier than that, KAFY in Bakersfield, California, tagged the record “hit-bound” in its “Big 55.” In September, the record went to No. 12 on KSPD in Boise, Idaho, and to No. 7 on WLON in Lincolnton, North Carolina.

Sadly, ARSA doesn’t have any surveys from stations in New Jersey during September 1971, nor are there any surveys there that came out of Austin, Texas, the duo’s home base, during that month. Maybe the record did better in those places, but I don’t know. In any case, even though ARSA doesn’t have complete archives, it seems to me that being listed on surveys from only five stations is a pretty slender showing.

Finally, we’ll go to the big book: Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, where we find that “New Jersey” pretty well flopped: The A&M release bubbled under the Hot 100 for all four weeks of September 1971, never rising higher than No. 103.

For all that, it’s not a bad record, even though a first-time listener might think from the introduction that he’s listening to Joe Cocker’s version of “With A Little Help From My Friends.” And with that in mind, I finally recalled where I’d previously heard “New Jersey” by England Dan & John Ford Coley. The track was on a collection of the duo’s early work given to me about a year ago by pal Yah Shure. So here it is:

Saturday Single No. 499

Saturday, June 4th, 2016

So, as high school ended in early June 1971 and the summer stretched ahead, offering what turned out to be hours riding lawnmowers and wielding mops, what was I listening to?

Well, the first survey of June 1971 offered by the Twin Cities’ KDWB had this Top Ten:

“Brown Sugar” by the Rolling Stones
“Treat Her Like A Lady” by Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose
“Rainy Days & Mondays” by the Carpenters
“Want Ads” by Honey Cone
“Sweet & Innocent” by Donny Osmond
“Indian Reservation” by the Raiders
“It Don’t Come Easy” by Ringo Starr
“Albert Flasher” by the Guess Who
“It’s Too Late” by Carole King
“Chick-A-Boom” by Daddy Dewdrop

The only one of those I do not recall is the Donny Osmond record. I listened to it the other day, and I don’t think I need to hear it again. Seven of the rest are on my iPod this morning; the two absentees are “Indian Reservation” and “Chick-A-Boom.”

By the time the summer drew to a close – and it was the longest summer break of my school days, as St. Cloud State did not begin its fall quarter until sometime around September 20 – here was KDWB’s Top Ten:

“Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” by Paul & Linda McCartney
“Wedding Song” by Paul Stookey
“Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers
“Go Away Little Girl” by Donny Osmond
“I Woke Up In Love This Morning” by the Partridge Family
“Stick Up” by Honey Cone
“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” by Joan Baez
“Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep” by Mac & Katie Kissoon
“Do You Know What I Mean” by Lee Michaels
“Superstar” by the Carpenters

Wow. Only three of those are among the more than 3,000 tracks on the iPod: The Bill Withers, the Lee Michaels and the Carpenters. Was it just an odd stretch on KDWB, or was it my changing tastes? Probably a little of both,

I got some records for graduation and added a few that summer. We may take a look at those acquisitions sometime soon, but for now, we’ll find a single among the twenty records that at least in a radio sense framed that long summer of 1971. And out of the ten of those twenty I still listen to today, one has never even been mentioned in more than nine years of filling up white space here.

That makes “Albert Flasher” by the Guess Who today’s Saturday Single.

Hail, Princess Ælfthryth!

Friday, May 20th, 2016

Well, checking out the history of May 20 at Wikipedia, I learned something. Or rather, I learned a number of things, most of which don’t have any application here today. Those can wait.

My useful bit of learning is that it was on this date in 794 that King Æthelberht II of East Anglia visited the royal Mercian court at Sutton Walls, hoping to marry Princess Ælfthryth. The reception he got was less than cordial. He was taken captive and beheaded, though sources differ as to whether King Offa’s decision to execute the visitor was his alone or was influenced by – as Wikipedia characterizes her – “Offa’s evil queen Cynethryth.”

Wikipedia notes that the tale of Ælfthryth’s betrothal to Æthelberht II is “a late and not very trustworthy legend,” though the tale of his death at the Mercian court seems to be true. And I imagine one has to question as well, then, the tale that after Æthelberht’s death, Ælfthryth – as Wikipedia tells it – “retired to the marshes of Crowland Abbey,” where she was built into a cell about 793 and lived as a recluse to the end of her days.

Why does that matter? It really doesn’t, except that I love old English names with their odd vowels and odd consonantal combinations. And I remain thankful that none of the parents of the women I courted when I was young – or in later years, for that matter – decided that I’d be more useful without my head.

And then, learning of the tale of Princess Ælfthryth gives me a chance to offer here another of my favorite long-form pieces of pop rock: “Tie-Dye Princess” by the Ides of March. The long track, running 11:31, was the closer to Common Bond, the 1971 follow-up to Vehicle, the group’s 1970 debut, the title track of which had been released as a single and had gone to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album itself went to No. 55.

Common Bond didn’t fare nearly as well. The singles “Superman” and “L.A. Goodbye” went to No. 64 and No. 73, respectively, and a single edit of “Tie-Dye Princess” bubbled under at No. 113. (Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles shows “Tie-Dye Princess” as the A-side of Warner Bros. 7507, while the site Discogs.com shows it as the B-side. I’m inclined to agree with Whitburn.) And Common Bond bubbled under the Billboard 200 at No. 207.

I’m pretty sure that a princess at the court of Mercia wouldn’t have worn tie-dye in 794, but I don’t care. Here, in honor of Princess Ælfthryth and in honor of the possibly true tale of the ending of her courtship 1,222 years ago today, is “Tie-Dye Princess” by the Ides of March.

Saturday Single No. 492

Saturday, April 16th, 2016

The Top Ten at the Twin Cities’ KDWB fifty years ago today was studded with records that were familiar to the kids around me at the time and have since become familiar to anyone who cares at all about mid-century Top 40 (or anyone, for that matter, who listened to the radio during Mrs. Villalta’s art classes at St. Cloud’s South Junior High School):

“(You’re My) Soul & Inspiration” by the Righteous Brothers
“Bang Bang” by Cher
“California Dreamin’” by The Mamas & The Papas
“Daydream” by the Lovin’ Spoonful
“19th Nervous Breakdown” by the Rolling Stones
“Nowhere Man” by the Beatles
“The Ballad of the Green Berets” by Ssgt. Barry Sadler
“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” by B.J. Thomas & The Triumphs
“Time Won’t Let Me” by the Outsiders
“These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” by Nancy Sinatra

And looking further down the station’s “Fabulous 40 Confidential” from fifty years ago today, there are only three records that stick out as unfamiliar, two of which were debuting on the survey that week. Sitting at No. 33 in its first week in the survey was a country ditty called “Tippy Toeing” by three siblings from Arkansas who recorded as the Harden Trio. It would peak on KDWB at No. 23 in four weeks; nationally, it went to No. 44 on the Billboard Hot 100, their only record to reach the pop chart. (The record went to No. 2 on the country chart, and the trio had two other records hit the country Top 40 in the next year.)

Parked at No. 40, and also in its first appearance on KDWB’s survey that long-ago week, was a drum-heavy cover of Bo Diddley’s “Mona” by a Twin Cities group called T.C. Atlantic. According to Discogs.com, the group put out at least seven singles and a live album from 1965 through about 1969. The record, which I think I would have dug in art class, peaked on KDWB at No. 30 in early May. It never got to the Billboard chart.

The third record unfamiliar to me in that April 16, 1966, survey is the Underbeats’ version of “The Book of Love” that was a little bit doo-wop and a little bit subdued garage rock. It was sitting at No. 12 in its fifth week on the survey, and it would go no higher. Like the T.C. Atlantic single, “Book of Love” would get no national notice.

But the Underbeats, well, they would get their shot at national attention four years later after revamping their style considerably and becoming the band Gypsy. I told the tale long ago, and over the past several weeks, as I’ve ferried the Texas Gal to and from work, among the music coming from the CD player in the car has been most of the early 1970s work from Gypsy, both the group’s self-titled album from 1970 and its 1971 follow-up, In The Garden.

And one of the tracks I’ve enjoyed most could easily have fit into our Long Form series here. I was reminded of it one evening this winter when I was driving home after a meeting at church. “Man,” I thought as I crossed the Mississippi River and headed down Kilian Boulevard, “that sounds like Gypsy.” I memorized a few of the lyrics in case I needed them, and almost as soon as I got into the house, I checked the playlist on WXYG. It was indeed Gypsy.

Tying all those threads together this morning – the Underbeats’ appearance in the KDWB “Fabulous 40 Confidential” from fifty years ago today, the presence of Gypsy in the car CD player in recent weeks, and a long track heard in that same vehicle on a cold evening sometime in the past few months – makes for an untidy piece of work, I suppose.

But I don’t care. The music hits my sweet spot, temporally and emotionally, and that’s why “As Far As You Can See (As Much As You Can Feel),” the longest track from Gypsy’s 1971 album In The Garden, is today’s Saturday Single.

A ‘Place’ Holder

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

What with appointments (at the local garage for the Nissan on Monday and at the doctor for my mom Tuesday), the week has gotten off to a disruptive start. As I noted not long ago, when my routine is altered, I feel off-kilter and out of sorts.

And here I am on Wednesday, doing the laundry that should have been done Monday. And my routine of showing up here mid-week with something more than a nod and a wink is thrown askew as well. So I’ll rest my hopes on tomorrow (as we all tend to do as we make our ways through our lives).

For now, though, a placeholder is necessary. So I told the RealPlayer to sort out tracks with the word “place.” It gave me 352 of them. Many of them are from albums with titles that have the word “place” in them, but there are enough tracks with “place” in their own titles for us to have a good choice.

And I settled for this Wednesday morning on a B-side to which I’d never paid much attention: “Place In The Country” by Fanny. It was on the flip of the band’s “Charity Ball” single, which went to No. 40 in 1971. It’s piano-driven and maybe doesn’t rock quite as much as the A-side (except for the guitar solo), but it’s still a nice slice of listening for a Wednesday morning.

See you tomorrow, unless things remain off-kilter.

Saturday Single No. 483

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

A couple of strands come together today that are, I guess, worth marking. It was during this week in 2007 that – after a couple weeks of sharing albums without much comment and a couple more weeks of doing so with halting commentary – I settled things here into a mix of memoir, commentary, occasional whimsy and whatever else you want to call it, and actually started blogging. And when that happened, I figure, this place became a blog instead of a music salad.

That happened nine years ago this week. So that’s one strand in today’s cord.

The other strand finds a milestone since Odd and Pop and I set up housekeeping here under our own domain name (after a little more than three years on Blogger and WordPress, both of which evicted us for giving away music). The little counter on the dashboard tells me that in the six year since we’ve had our own space – the first post here was on January 30, 2010 – we’ve put up 999 posts. And that means that this piece is post number 1,000 since we set up our own domain.

So how do we mark such an occasion? Well, one of the things I do need to do is thank the readers who have followed me through these nine years, however many there are (and not having a counter, I have no idea). Some of those readers have become friends, which is a goodness I could not have predicted when I offered my first halting post nine years ago. I’m grateful for those friends. And I’m also grateful for the simple pleasure I get three times a week or so from sharing tales from my life and my love of music. And as I do that sharing, I learn things about myself that I didn’t know. All of which makes the creation of Echoes In The Wind a source of joy.

So I sifted through titles with the word “joy” in them. And I came across Little Richard being Little Richard, testifying and taking the lid off with a performance of a song that’s not been fresh for me for a long time. It’s plenty fresh this morning. Here, from his 1971 album, King of Rock and Roll, is Little Richard’s take on Hoyt Axton’s “Joy To The World,” a perfect choice for post No. 1,000 and today’s Saturday Single.

One Chart Dig: January 1971

Friday, January 29th, 2016

There’s a nasty flu/cold bug going around these parts, and at various times over the past few weeks, the Texas Gal and I have felt its effects. This week, it’s my turn, which is why things have been sparse this week (not only in this space but anywhere that I have responsibilities).

But I took a look this morning at the Billboard Hot 100 from this week in 1971, forty-five years ago. As my senior year of high school turned the corner toward graduation (and a summer of lawn-mowing and floor-scrubbing), buried deep in the chart – bubbling under at No. 105 – was a record I would have liked very much if I ever had heard it.

I doubt, though, that I ever heard the Assembled Multitude’s “Medley from ‘Superstar’ (A Rock Opera)” coming out of my radio speakers. I might have already heard Murray Head’s take on “Superstar,” essentially the title track of the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. At the end of January 1971, that release was at No. 78 in a slow climb to No. 14 during its second stint in the Hot 100. (It had been released in early 1970 and stalled at No. 74.) Whenever it might have been that I heard Head’s single, I liked it enough to pick up the album during the coming summer.

And though I didn’t really know who the Assembled Multitude was – a group of studio musicians from Philadelphia, as it happened – I’d liked “Overture From Tommy” when it went to No. 16 during the summer of 1970. A second single release from 1970, a cover of “Woodstock,” went to No. 79 but escaped my attention at the time.

So, too, in its brief time in the chart, did the Multitude’s “Medley from ‘Superstar’ (A Rock Opera).” It bubbled under the chart for a few weeks, crawled up to No. 95, and then faded away.

Saturday Single No. 481

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

It’s time to go digging in the Billboard pop charts in search of a single for a Saturday morning. Six times during the years that generally interest us here, the magazine has put out its weekly pop chart on January 23. So we’re going to look at those charts, check out which single was at No. 23, and then choose one of those for our weekly treat.

Along the way, as we generally do, we’ll check out the No. 1 single for each week.

We’ll start back before the Space Age began, in January 1957. “I Dreamed” by Betty Johnson sat at No. 23, on its way to No. 9. It’s a peppy love song in which the singer has fantastic dreams and realizes that they all lead back to her guy. It was Johnson’s biggest hit in a chart career that lasted from 1956 into 1960. Three of her other titles hit the Top 40: “Little White Lies” went to No. 25 in the spring of 1957; “The Little Blue Man,” a novelty record, went to No. 17 in early 1958; and “Dream” went to No. 19 later that year. Sitting at No. 1 fifty-nine years ago today, in the ninth week of an eventual ten weeks at the top, was “Singing The Blues” by Guy Mitchell.

Sitting at No. 23 on this date in 1961 was Dion’s “Lonely Teenager,” heading down the chart after peaking at No. 12. With the Belmonts and on his own, Dion racked up thirty-nine singles in or near the Hot 100 (well, it was still called the “Top 100” when the first single hit) between 1958 and 1989. And he’s still working: I saw on his Facebook page that his new album, New York Is My Home, will come out next month. (The video for the title track, which he recorded with Paul Simon, is here.) And during this week in 1961, Bert Kaempfert’s “Wonderland By Night” was in the last of its three weeks at No. 1.

When we get to 1965, we find the Shangri-Las at No. 23 with “Give Him A Great Big Kiss.” The follow-up to the No. 1 hit from late 1964, “Leader Of The Pack,” “Great Big Kiss” was on its way to No. 18. The quartet from Queens would end up with thirteen records in or near the Hot 100 between 1964 and 1967, three of them in the Top Ten: “Leader Of The Pack,” “Remember (Walkin’ In The Sand)” (No. 5 in 1964), and “I Can Never Go Home Anymore” (No. 6 in 1965). Perched at No. 1 fifty-one years ago today, in the first week of a two-week stay, was Petula Clark’s “Downtown.”

Rare Earth was sitting at No. 23 in the Hot 100 from January 23, 1971, with “Born To Wander” making its way to No. 17. The record was the fourth of an eventual dozen in or near the Hot 100 between 1970 and 1978 for the Detroit group. Three of the group’s records made the Top Ten: In 1970, a live version of “Get Ready” went to No. 4 and “(I Know) I’m Losing You” went to No. 7; in 1971, “I Just Want To Celebrate” also peaked at No. 7. The No. 1 record as my senior year of high school hit the halfway point was Dawn’s “Knock Three Times,” in the first of three weeks in the top spot.

It took another eleven years before a Billboard chart came out on January 23, and, as this blog has often noted, my life and music had changed a fair amount by 1982. Parked at No. 23 on this date in that year was Billy Joel’s “She’s Got A Way,” which would go no further up the chart. Plenty of Joel’s work did go higher, of course, as he collected twenty-three Top Twenty singles among his forty-two records in or near the Hot 100 between 1974 and 1997. The No. 1 record thirty-four years ago today was Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical,” in the last of its ten weeks atop the chart.

We don’t often venture into the late 1980s here, and it was nice to find an old friend sitting at No. 23 on this date in 1988: “Everywhere” by Fleetwood Mac, was heading up to a peak at No. 14, just one of twenty-eight singles the Mac placed in or near the chart between 1969 and 2003. It was the sixteenth and final Top 20 hit (so far) for the group. The No. 1 record twenty-eight years ago today was Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel.”

So we have six to choose from, five of which I know well. If Betty Johnson’s “I Dreamed” had been a little less frothy, I might have gone that direction. I’ve never like the Shangri-Las all that much, and the Dion single is not among my favorites from him. Nor do I care much for Joel’s “She’s Got A Way.” That leaves Fleetwood Mac and Rare Earth as choices. Well, I like both singles, but the Mac has shown up in this blog about twenty-five times and Rare Earth less than five. (I have to estimate because the archival site, sadly, is still not finished.) So we’ll go with the group less featured.

That means that Rare Earth’s “Born To Wander” – a record I like plenty enough – is today’s Saturday Single:

‘They Won’t Tell Your Secrets . . .’

Friday, January 15th, 2016

Things start with a familiarly slinky piano riff joined by a girl group singing softly in the background. Then, enter Mitch Ryder.

“Sally,” he says, “you know I’m your best friend, right? And four years ago, I told you not to go downtown, ’cause you’re gonna get hurt. Didn’t I tell you you were gonna cry? Mm-hmm. So you kept hangin’ around with him.”

Then, sounding utterly fed up, Ryder hollers, “Here it is, almost 1968, and you still ain’t straight!”

And Ryder rolls into his own version of “Sally, Go ’Round The Roses,” one that works in the chorus to “Mustang Sally” along the way:

Ryder’s cover of the Jaynetts’ 1963 hit is on his 1967 album What Now My Love, and it’s just one of numerous covers of “Sally” in the more than fifty years since the Jaynetts’ hit went to No. 2 in the Billboard Hot 100. Twenty-seven of those covers – including two in French – are listed at Second Hand Songs. There are certainly more covers of the song out there, but as usual, that’s a good starting place.

That list of twenty-five covers in English range in time from a 1965 version by Ike Turner’s Ikettes that doesn’t roam very far from the Jaynetts’ original to a 2012 version from the album Moving In Blue by Danny Kalb & Friends – Kalb was a member of Blues Project in the 1960s – that’s instrumentally exotic but vocally drab.

There have been plenty of others along the way. One that I’ve heard touted as worth hearing is a live performance from 1966 by the San Francisco group Great Society with Grace Slick. I found it uninteresting, as I did a 1974 version by the all-woman group Fanny (on the album Rock & Roll Survivors). Yvonne Elliman traded in the Jaynetts’ slinky piano for some weird late Seventies electronica when she covered the song on her 1978 album Night Flight, and that didn’t grab me too hard, either. More interesting was the funky 1971 version by Donna Gaines (later Donna Summer) released on a British single.

At a rough estimate, covers of “Sally” by female performers outnumber those by male singers by about a three-to-one ratio. Joining Ryder with one of the relatively few male covers of the tune was Tim Buckley, whose 1973 cover from his Sefronia album has an interesting folk vibe (though he wanders away from the lyrics and the melody for an odd bit in the middle).

Another folkish version of the tune comes from the British band Pentangle, who included the song on its 1969 album Basket of Light. The group’s version is one of my favorite covers, as is the version by the far more obscure group Queen Anne’s Lace, which put a cover of “Sally” on the group’s only album, a self-titled 1969 release.

But the honors for strangest version of “Sally, Go ’Round The Roses” that I came across go to singer Alannah Myles, who found an utterly weird – but compelling – Scottish vibe for the song on her 1995 album, A-Lan-Nah.