Archive for the ‘1977’ Category


Thursday, September 17th, 2015

As likely noted here before, I usually do laundry – a task that takes about eight hours – on Mondays. This week, Monday was the last day of the Texas Gal’s vacation, so I set the task aside. Tuesday, my sister and I had scheduled a midday lunch to celebrate my birthday, so I punted again.

And then yesterday afternoon, my mom had a dental appointment, so I delayed things once more.

I likely should have done half of the laundry early Tuesday and finished it yesterday, but I’m not always a good planner. So here I am on a Thursday, working on ten days’ worth of clothes and towels.

So even though the gender is wrong (and I don’t need to use a washboard), I feel very much like the subject of “Washer Woman,” as offered in 1977 on the self-titled album by Levon Helm & The RCO All-Stars. (The All-Stars included Booker T. Jones, Dr. John, Paul Butterfield, Fred Carter, Jr., Duck Dunn, Steve Cropper, Alan Rubin, Lou Marini, Tom Malone and Howard Johnson.)

‘We Must Sip The Wine . . .’

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

When this blog was less than two months old, I wrote about Rick Danko’s self-titled solo album from 1977. Here, revised slightly, is part of what I wrote:

I missed Rick Danko’s solo album when it came out in 1977, although I’m not sure why. I guess I was just too busy, finishing an additional college minor, leaving my hometown for a small town about thirty miles away and diving into the details of writing for a newspaper and the details of living a life in that small town.

One thing that leaving my hometown – the town where I went to college as well – did was separate me from my everyday sources of information. The bull sessions that went on in the student union, in our apartments and in various bars and taverns had provided all of us with a constant stream of information about books, music, drama and current events. Current events, I could still keep up with, but even being only thirty miles away from the friends who helped define the last years of my college life, I was removed enough that I no longer had regular access to their ideas and experiences. And I missed the release of Rick Danko, the first solo album by the bass player and vocalist for The Band . . .

Back then, I was doing what I loved – reporting – and I was learning to live my life. I didn’t notice the album’s release and didn’t get to listen to it for more than ten years. I’m very sure that I also failed to notice many other things taking place at the time, and many of them, I am certain, were no doubt far more important than a record.

But it was bad enough, in retrospect, to not know about Danko’s album. I think it would have helped me as I settled into my life in that small town. We hear on occasion about comfort food – dishes that provide some kind of nostalgic balm as we consume them, dishes that provide nourishment not only for the body but also for the soul. Well, there is also comfort music, records that provides the same internal sustenance. Danko’s album is one of those records, and if I’d had its homey sounds in my apartment during those first months of my so-called adult life, that transition might have been a little less lonely.

I finally got to the album in 1990. I’d been living in the small town of Conway Springs, Kansas, and when the relationship that had brought me there in April wheezed and gave way in just a couple of months, I headed to Columbia, Missouri, three times in less than four weeks: the first time to find a job, the second time to find a place to live, and the third time to stay.

During the second trip, I took ten minutes toward the end of the day to do some digging at a record shop near the University of Missouri, and there I found Rick Danko. If I recall things accurately, I left the record at a friend’s house and then reclaimed it a couple weeks later when I moved to Columbia.

When I wrote about Danko’s album and the idea of “comfort music” back in 2007, I likely had in mind not only my early days in Monticello in 1977 – when Danko’s album might have eased my transition – but also the first weeks in Columbia in July and August of 1990, when I did have the record.

Columbia wasn’t new to me; I’d lived there for eighteen months in 1983-85. But I was tired of moving: My apartment on Ripley Street was my sixth home in just more than three years. And I was no doubt grieving the failed pairing with my ladyfriend in Conway Springs. (It was an odd grief: I’ve had partings that have caused great anguish. This one, though, left me with more of a stunned feeling, something like, “Well, that was quick!”)

And once I settled into my new digs on Ripley Street (and a month later into my even newer digs on Ellis Avenue, and that’s another story to which I may have referred at one time or another), Rick Danko was on the stereo a lot. So were other records; I had about seven hundred LPs to choose from at the time. But I remember Rick Danko’s voice filling some of the empty spaces on both Ripley Street and Ellis Avenue as I settled into Columbia once again.

One of the tracks from Danko’s album that’s most evocative of those evenings is “Sip The Wine.” It’s a love song, and for the most part, it had no bearing on my life at the time, but I remember hearing the closing repetitions of “We must sip the wine” and nodding in agreement. The wine I was sipping wasn’t as sweet as that quaffed by the lovers in the song, but that was okay. I still found comfort in the song.

Before I offer the track, though, I should note that the song’s life began with a different title. And even though Danko is listed on the jacket of his album as the song’s writer, that’s not the case. We’ll dig into all of that later this week. In the meantime, enjoy “Sip The Wine” by Rick Danko.

‘I’ll Be Just As Gone . . .’

Friday, August 7th, 2015

In our tour of Texas music the other day, I missed some tunes that we could have included because I forgot about a variant spelling. In the days before, as I pondered the post and the city of San Antonio, I did check on the digital shelves for tunes that called the city “San Antone.” But as I wrote Tuesday, that spelling slipped my mind.

As it slipped, we lost our chances at hearing Emmylou Harris’ “I’ll Be Your San Antone Rose” from her 1977 album Luxury Liner, and we missed out on two versions of “Home In San Antone,” the first a vocal take by Redd Volkaert from 1998 and the second an instrumental version by the Quebe Sisters Band from 2003.

And we missed out, of course, on one of the classic country songs, “Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone.” The song was written by Glenn Martin and David Kirby, and its most famous iteration is its first, the version recorded in February 1970 by Charlie Pride:

Pride’s version was No. 1 for two weeks on the Billboard country chart and made it to No. 70 on the magazine’s Hot 100. (It was one of twenty-nine No. 1 hits for Pride on the country chart between 1969 and 1983.) And covers abound: Second Hand Songs lists twenty-eight of them, from Bake Turner’s version recorded in March 1970 to a version by Buddy Jewell that came out in June of this year (and there are likely others not listed there).

Two of those covers – along with Pride’s original – are on the digital shelves here: There’s a pretty basic country version by Nat Stuckey from his 1971 album Only A Woman Like You, and then there’s a 1973 take on the tune by Doug Sahm with some vocal help – according to both my ears and Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles – from Bob Dylan:

The track was released as a single on Atlantic and bubbled under the Hot 100 for three weeks, peaking at No. 115. It was also released on a 1973 album titled Doug Sahm and Band.

Saturday Single No. 451

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

It’s late afternoon, and it’s been a full day: A trip to Maple Grove for lunch with my sister, belatedly celebrating the Texas Gal’s February birthday. (When that February birthday actually took place, weekends were already filled on one calendar or another through May, so we did the best we could.)

That lunch was followed by a brief shopping stop at one of the specialty stores in Maple Grove, and once back in St. Cloud, the Texas Gal headed to church to weed the community garden, and I ran an errand for my mom and then delivered to her some photos of her first great-grandchild (which my sister showed us at lunch).

So it’s been a busy day . . . and it’s time to mellow out a little. So here’s the aptly titled “Mr. Mellow” by Maynard Ferguson. It’s from his 1977 album Conquistador, and it’s today’s very late Saturday Single. See you next week!

Let’s Go To Town

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Every once in a while, you just gotta go to town and find out what’s there for you.

So you need an invitation? Okay, you’ve got one from Joe Therrien & His Rockets, who recorded “Hey Baby Let’s Go Downtown” on the Brunswick label in 1957. The rockabilly invitation turned up a few years ago on That’ll Flat Git It, a massive (twenty-six volumes) collection of generally obscure country and rockabilly singles.

So, once we’re in town, we need to find out what’s going on. That means we need to listen to the “Small Town Talk” as offered by Rick Danko from his 1977 self-titled album. The tune, written by Danko and Bobby Charles, was first released on Charles’ 1972 self-titled album (which Danko co-produced with John Simon). It’s since been covered on occasion, most recently by Boz Scaggs on the album A Fool To Care, released in March.

If we’ve been gone a while, well, we might find it kind of hard to fit back in, even after several years. That’s what happened to Percy Mayfield (or at least he imagined it did) to inspire the song “Stranger In My Own Home Town.” There are a few versions of the tune out there, but the one that gets me going is Elvis Presley’s, recorded in Memphis in February 1969 and originally released on the 1970 album, Back In Memphis.

And of course, there might be some folks in town that we’re not all that happy to see, as the Tokens noted in “He’s In Town” in 1964. The record, written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, made it to No. 43 on the Billboard Hot 100. If he’s back in town, and she’s thrilled about it, it might be kind of hard to stay.

We might stay anyway, but I have a sense that we’d be wandering the streets late at night, murmuring to ourselves about “Love On The Wrong Side Of Town” just like Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes were back in 1977. The track, written by Bruce Springsteen and Steve Van Zandt, was originally released on the album This Time It’s For Real.

But you know, if we get past all that and hang around town for a while, we might find ourselves in a place where we belong, and someone else might come along from somewhere else who needs what we have to offer. In that care, we’d be the “Home Town Man” that Terry Garthwaite and the rest of Joy Of Cooking were thinking about on their Castles album in 1972. And we’d be home.

Four At Random

Friday, April 10th, 2015

I’m going to fire up the RealPlayer this morning and let it do the work for me.

Right off the top we get some easy listening: “Emmanuelle” by Italian sax player Fausto Papetti, which turns out to be an instrumental version of the theme to the 1974 soft-core film Emmanuelle. The film was the first of seven chronicling the adventures of the character created in 1959 by French writer Emmanuelle Arsan (a pseudonym for Thai-born Marayat Bibidh Krasaesin Rollet-Andriane) and portrayed in four of the films by Sylvia Kristel. (All of that according to Wikpedia.) The song and the soundtrack for the first film were written by Pierre Bachelet. Papetti, who passed on in 1999, was known, Wikipedia says, for both his saxophone work and the covers of his albums, many of which featured attractive women in little or no clothing. Papetti’s 1977 version of the theme came to me in a 2009 collection titled 100 Hits Romantic Saxophone.

And then we head back to 1944 for “Opus One” by Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra. The fox trot – as it’s described on the Victor label – was written by Sy Oliver, who became, says Wikipedia, “one of the first African Americans with a prominent role in a white band” when he joined Dorsey’s band in 1939. It’s not my favorite track from Dorsey; that would be his theme song, “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” from 1935. As it happens, any of the 1930s and 1940s big band tunes remind me of the summer of 1991, when I was reporting and writing a lengthy piece about life in Columbia, Missouri, during World War II. On a lot of evenings at home that summer, as I sat at my desk and planned my next day’s work, I stacked some big bands – Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and more – on the stereo and tried to get my head at least a little into an era that I never knew.

From there, it’s another dip into the easy listening pool with Paul Simon’s “Homeward Bound” as filtered through the sound of Frank Chacksfield & His Orchestra. The late Chacksfield was an English composer and conductor who is estimated, Wikipedia says, to have sold more than 20 million albums world-wide. Two of those albums reached the Billboard 200: Ebb Tide went to No. 36 in 1961 and The New Ebb Tide went to No. 120 in late 1964 or early 1965. Chacksfield and his orchestra had one single reach the magazine’s charts: “On The Beach,” the title song to the 1959 film, went to No. 47 in early 1961. Chacksfield’s take on Simon’s tune was a track on a 1970 album titled Chacksfield Plays Simon & Garfunkel & Jim Webb. It came to me in a 2005 collection titled The Lounge Legends Play Simon & Garfunkel.

Then up pop the Bee Gees with “Sun in My Morning” from 1969. The not terribly interesting track was the B-side to the group’s single “Tomorrow, Tomorrow,” which doesn’t make my list of vital Bee Gees’ tunes, either, even if it went to No. 54. There’s not a lot more to say as the tune plays itself out and this post limps to an end.

And there we see clearly the risk of letting random chance decide things.

‘We Almost Didn’t Make It . . .’

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

An email came in yesterday that piqued my interest and reminded me of a post from more than four years ago. A reader taking the name “mm” asked if I’d ever figured out who covered Jake Holmes’ song “So Close,” adding, “It’s been driving me crazy.”

The question was a follow-up to a chart-digging post that ran here in October 2010, looking back at a Billboard Hot 100 from October 1970. Among the records I noted in that chart was Holmes’ “So Close,” which was sitting at No. 70 on its way to No. 49. I wrote:

“Since I found the record at YouTube a couple of weeks ago, I’ve listened to it several times, and although I recall Holmes’ version, I swear I remember another performer singing it . . . . Is anyone out there aware of who might have covered Jake Holmes’ ‘So Close’?”

And I don’t think I ever heard from anybody about it until yesterday, when mm reminded me of Holmes’ record and my vague memories of a cover version. So I turned to one of my favorite toys, one that I did not know about (if it was in existence) during the autumn of 2010: the website Second Hand Songs, which – as I’ve noted here before – might not have full listings of all cover versions but at least provides a place to start.

First, though, here’s Holmes’ version of the song, which was pulled from his 1970 album So Close, So Very Far To Go. (As is the case with many albums from the early 1970s, I recall seeing and ignoring many copies of So Close, So Very Far To Go in the cutout bins at St. Cloud’s Woolworth’s and Musicland stores. And I have long wished I’d bought the album.)

I still like Holmes’ performance, but I think the backing gets a little busy (and Holmes’ voice gets a little thin as he goes into the higher notes on the chorus.) But even as I listened yesterday for the first time in a while, I was still hearing echoes of a cover version.

So who might have done that cover version? Well, Second Hand Songs has three covers listed, one of which I’ve managed to find. That version is by Harry Belafonte, with some help from Eloise Laws, on his 1973 album, Play Me. It’s a little bland, but it’s not awful. It is not, however, the version that sits on the edge of my memory.

Two other versions of “So Close” are mentioned at SHS: Mary Travers of Peter, Paul & Mary recorded the song for her 1974 album, Circles, and Aruban-born soul singer Julio Bernardo Euson – who recorded as Euson and whose career was centered mostly in the Netherlands – included the song on his 1975 album Sweet Surrender. If I’ve ever heard either of the two, I think it’s more likely that I heard Travers’ version, but I don’t know.

Still wondering, I waded through pages of links last evening, looking for other versions of the tune. There were quite a few other songs with the same title and lots of dead links. But after a bit, there was a reference to one Helen Schneider, a Brooklyn-born singer and actress whose career has been mostly based in Germany. Her one major U.S.-based acting credit, it seems, was playing Joann Carlino, Eddie Wilson’s girlfriend in the 1983 film Eddie and the Cruisers.

But it’s her music career that interested me. She’s had only a few albums released in the U.S., but one of them was her 1977 debut, which was titled So Close. The title song was, in fact, the Jake Holmes tune:

Is it the cover that I remember? It could be, although I can’t figure out how I ever would have heard it. But I do like it, and I would have liked it if I had heard it in 1977.

Three Revisions

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

While Andy the furnace guy tried to restore our heat last week, I was thrust viscerally back to January 1977: As I sat in my study while Andy worked and the temperature hovered somewhere around 55, I kept shifting things so that the space heater just inches away would warm first my left leg and then my right, and that brought on memories of that long-ago January in the house on the North Side of St. Cloud.

It was the place I lived for about eight months after moving away from Kilian Boulevard, and as I’ve noted here before, it had no central heat, relying instead on a large oil-burning stove in the living room and a smaller such heater in the kitchen. (In my bedroom upstairs, I supplemented whatever heat came up through vents in the floor with a space heater my folks had given me, probably as a Christmas gift).

And last week, as I alternately roasted my legs, I remembered spending a Sunday that January lying on the couch in the living room, my left side warm, my right side cold and my spirit desolate as I watched the Minnesota Vikings lose the Super Bowl for the fourth time, falling 32-14 to the Oakland Raiders. So last week’s chill morning with the space heater was kind of a remake from those days thirty-eight years ago. This year’s version was only two days long however, not the full three months of a Minnesota winter, and although my legs were once again chilled, my spirit was not dampened.

But all of that reminded me of January 1977, and the Billboard gods have smiled on me today, as the magazine released a Hot 100 on January 22, 1977, thirty-eight years ago today. Additionally, with the idea of remakes in my head, I found three records in the lower portion of that long-ago chart that fall into that category, more or less.

One of the frequent flyers of the disco era was to take a melody from another time and reset it in a disco arrangement. The 1976 version of “Baby Face” by the Wing and a Prayer Fife & Drum Corps, which went to No. 14, was one example, and there are many others, including the record that caught my ear this morning: “Disco Lucy” by the Wilton Place Street Band, a discofying of the theme to the long-running television show I Love Lucy. Thirty-eight years ago today, the record was at No. 91, heading to a peak of No. 24 (No. 9, Adult Contemporary).

Not far below “Disco Lucy” on that long-ago Hot 100 is an example of another type of remake: A member of a band re-records and releases on his own a song that his or her band recorded some years earlier. Sometimes it succeeds, as it would later in 1977 for Bob Welch, when his solo version of “Sentimental Lady” – originally recorded by Fleetwood Mac when Welch was a member of that group – would go to No. 8. Sometimes such a remake fails, as it would for David LaFlamme, whose remake of “White Bird” was sitting at No. 95 thirty-eight years ago. The record was an inferior (but not “more brief,” as I originally wrote) version of the song originally released as a single in 1969 by LaFlamme’s group It’s A Beautiful Day. That original version Bubbled Under the Hot 100 at No. 118; LaFlamme’s solo version did better, but only marginally, peaking at No. 89.

And then, there was the record that was bubbling under at No. 109 back on January 22, 1977: A disco version of Paul Mauriat’s “Love Is Blue” from Mauriat himself, titled “Love Is Still Blue.” The original “Love Is Blue” was a 1968 treasure, sitting at No. 1 for five weeks (eleven weeks on the AC chart) and ranking at No. 3 for the entire year (behind the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” and Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine). Did we need a disco version of such a superb record? Not really. Did Mauriat need the money or the fame? I would think not. And the record tanked: After bubbling under at No. 109 for that one week, the record disappeared, as it deserved to do. Take a listen:

Error regarding the length of the 1977  “White Bird” corrected after first posting.

Missing The Midnight Special

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Rummaging around on Facebook over the weekend, I came across a link to a piece at the Rolling Stone website offering seventeen reasons to adulate Stevie Nicks. Now, I don’t adulate Nicks, nor do I need reasons to do so, but I do admire her and like a lot of her music, both with and without Fleetwood Mac.

So I didn’t need to click through for those seventeen reasons, but the video that was embedded in the piece tempted me. And I found myself watching the Mac’s performance of “Rhiannon” on the June 11, 1976, episode of The Midnight Special.

I loved pretty much everything about that clip and wished for maybe the thousandth time that I’d paid more attention to The Midnight Special. The late-night Friday show* ran from February 1973 into May 1981, and I’m not at all sure why I didn’t watch it even occasionally, much less regularly.

During most of the early years – up to the middle of the summer of ’76, not long after above Fleetwood Mac performance – I could easily have watched the show on the old black-and-white in my room (with the sound turned down some so as not to wake my folks in the adjacent bedroom). After that, at least in a couple of places, I might have had to persuade a couple of roommates (or for a few years, the Other Half) to watch with me. But I never even tried.

So I never got on board, and I wish I had. There are selected performances from the show’s nine seasons available commercially, but I’m not about to spring the cash that Time/Life is asking for discs of those assorted performances. Instead, I wander on occasion through the valley at YouTube, finding bits and pieces of things I missed half a lifetime (or more) ago, things like Linda Ronstadt (introduced by José Feliciano as a country performer) making her way through a December 1973 performance of “You’re No Good” and a May 1977 performance of “Smoke From A Distant Fire” by the Sanford/Townsend Band.

It’s a seemingly bottomless trove of long-ago treasure, and I can easily get lost clicking from video to video (something that happens occasionally anyway, though with less of a focus). Well, there are worse things to get hooked on, I suppose. And for this morning, we’ll close with a performance by Redbone from February 1974, when they opened “Come And Get Your Love” with a Native American dance quite possibly pulled – though I’m not certain – from the Shoshone heritage of Pat and Lolly Vegas, the group’s founders.

*The show followed The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, which meant that for most of its run, The Midnight Special actually started at midnight here in the Central Time Zone. When Carson trimmed his show to an hour in late 1980, The Midnight Special aired at 11:30 our time.

Six At Random

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

We’re going to put the cursor about in the middle of the 78,829 mp3s in the RealPlayer and see where we go on a random six-track trip. Here we go!

First up is “When She Loves Me” from the 1977 album Mama Let Him Play by the Canadian musician Jerry Doucette. It’s a sweet tune, and I wouldn’t have known it or anything about Doucette without the help of my blogging pal jb, who hangs out at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’. He asked me one morning if I had Doucette’s album, needing – I think – the title track. I didn’t, so I went and found it in the wilds of the Internet. It’s a decent late Seventies album, offering kind of a Canadian version of Pablo Cruise, and it got to No. 159 on the Billboard 200. I don’t often seek the album out, but when a track from it pops up on random, I hum along.

From there, we move back to 1957 and “Love Roller Coaster” by Big Joe Turner. “I ain’t never comin’ down to earth,” he sings. “I’m gonna stay up high, long as I’m up here with you.” The record wasn’t one of Turner’s greatest hits, and it came near the end of his charting days – it was the next-to-last record he placed in the R&B Top 40 – but it got to No. 12, and it sounds pretty much like a Big Joe Turner joint. In other words, you know what you’re gonna get when the record starts, and when it ends, you’re not disappointed.

Coldplay first came to my attention in 2001 when “Yellow” showed up on the playlist of Twin Cities radio station Cities 97. I remember looking askance at the radio the first time I heard it, wincing at some of the lyrics, which seemed not so much haunting (which I think was the goal) as vague. But “Yellow” brought Coldplay to my attention, which is good, as I’ve liked a fair amount of the band’s work since then. I know there are many who detest the band, and I don’t quite get that. But then, there’s a lot of stuff I don’t get, so I don’t spend much time worrying about Coldplay haters.

I paid no attention to T. Rex back in the day, except that there was no way anyone could ignore “Bang A Gong (Get It On)” during early 1972. But I missed out on everything else the band did, including “Jeepster” from 1971’s Electric Warrior album. The record went to No. 2 in the U.K. but was not released as a U.S. single. I’m not entirely sure what “Girl, I’m just a Jeepster for your love” means, but the track is catchy. And it’s very similar to Howlin’ Wolf’s 1962 single “You’ll Be Mine.” Wikipedia notes that T. Rex’s Marc Bolan acknowledged of “Jeepster” that he “lifted it from a Howlin’ Wolf song.” (Regular reader Yah Shure has since told me that “Jeepster” was in fact released as a single in the U.S., though it did not chart. My source for my statement was The Great Rock Discography, another volume that I have either misread or whose data I must now salt liberally.)

The late Larry Jon Wilson has showed up in these pages a few times, and I’m glad to see him pop up today as we wander randomly. “Loose Change” is a panhandler’s tale, the title track from Wilson’s 1977 album, and he tells the tale as he seemingly always does, with affection, with respect, and with an acute eye for detail. He released five albums – four in the 1970s and one in 2008 – and every one of them is a quiet gem. And as I write this morning, I feel as if I should listen to his music more than I do, because every time Wilson’s music pops up randomly, I’m drawn into it by his craft and his warm voice.

Among my musical idiosyncrasies is an affection for the music of Julie London, the 1950s and 1960s chanteuse who’s perhaps known for two things: her 1955 recording of “Cry Me A River” and her role as nurse Dixie McCall in the 1970s police drama Emergency! Today’s random jaunt brings up London’s performance of “I’m Glad There Is You” from her 1955 album Julie Is Her Name. It’s a quiet track, maybe not among her best, but if you want to know what the adults were listening to in 1955, it’s a pretty good example.