Posts Tagged ‘Lou Rawls’

Saturday Single No. 348

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

During our Independence Day observance Thursday, one of the Billboard Hot 100 charts we examined was from July 4, 1976. (That’s not a royal “we,” as Odd and Pop were perched on my shoulders, having returned from their summer vacation in Funkytown.)  I noted that the top spot in that chart was occupied by “Afternoon Delight” by the Starland Vocal Band and then went further down the chart to Nos. 17 and 76 (Neil Diamond’s “If You Know What I Mean” and Heart’s “Crazy On You”).

And in the two days since then, I’ve glanced at the same chart a few more times and realized that the chart came at a turning point, one that didn’t seem like such a big deal at the time: That July was when I moved out of my folks’ house on Kilian Boulevard over to the North Side of St. Cloud. And scanning the titles of many of the records on that chart – released on July 10, 1976 – reminds me of that move.

So what are some of those records?

Well, “Afternoon Delight” is one. Beyond that, there were these: “Moonlight Feels Right” by Starbuck (sitting at No. 13 during the first full week of July 1976); “I’m Easy” by Keith Carradine (No. 26); “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” by Lou Rawls (No. 37); “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight” by England Dan & John Ford Coley (No. 40); “This Masquerade” by George Benson (No. 44); and “Lowdown” by Boz Scaggs (No. 70). There might be more (and I do wish that Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town” had worked its way into my soul that summer, but that would come some years later). Even with a few records overlooked, however, those are the records that make up the bulk of the soundtrack when I think back about that first move.

It wasn’t a difficult move, either logistically or emotionally. I didn’t own a lot of stuff, and I was just moving across town. I knew two of the other three guys in the house – they’d been in Denmark with me a little more than two years earlier – and I was still in school at St. Cloud State. It wasn’t like the dislocation of moving to a new job in a new city, something I experienced a year-and-a-half later when I moved to Monticello and the weekly newspaper there.

But it nevertheless was a turning point, and seeing the titles of some of the records in that chart brings back glimpses of that time: My first cat came along sometime in early July, rescued by my then-girlfriend while working at a summer theater near Alexandria, northwest of St. Cloud. I got my first coffee-pot and claimed a few old pots and pans from the folks to add to kitchen on the North Side, preparing to cook regularly for myself for the first time. And there was the odd feeling that arose at the end of the first school day after the move, when going home in the afternoon took me on a different route, not across the Mississippi to the East Side but west past downtown and the Polish Church and then north to just short of the railroad yard.

Oddly enough, one of my most vivid memories of those first weeks on the North Side comes from my first trip to the nearby Red Owl, when I stocked my own larder for the first time. There were decisions to make that I’d never anticipated. Chunk or grated tuna? In water or in oil? What had Mom always bought? I’d never paid attention. I opted for grated in water, which worked out just fine for creamed tuna on toast. I also had to decide what brand of coffee to buy. The folks drank Sanka, and decaf has never been my choice; I settled on Butter-Nut, which I liked well enough for a few years. And as silly as it may sound, I was more than pleased to finally choose my own toothpaste. For years, I’d used Crest because Mom and Dad liked it. I hated it, and I recall a sense of satisfaction when I pulled a tube of Pepsodent off the shelf for the first time.

So where is all this going? I’m not sure, beyond sharing the realization that those first days of July 1976 were more important to me than I seem to have realized before. And as I look at the titles of the records listed above, one of them reminds me more than any other of my first weeks on the North Side that summer, not because I had the kind of relationship it described (although I was hoping) but because as I look back to July of 1976, it seems that when the radio was on, I was hearing Lou Rawls.

That’s why Lou Rawls’ “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” is today’s Saturday Single.

‘Think I’ll Spend Eternity In The City . . .’

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

I dance in the kitchen. Not well, but I dance.

With the mp3 player plugged into the CD player atop a small cabinet, I shuffle and weave, play air piano and guitar, and I cue unseen drummers, violin players and horn sections. And I do all this while removing and shelving clean dishes from the dishwasher and then replacing them with the dishes yet to be washed.

The tunes on the mp3 player continue to be the 228 that were in last year’s Ultimate Jukebox, augmented by another hundred or so records or album sides. Some of the tracks aren’t truly suited for dancing: The second side of Shawn Phillips’ Second Contribution popped up the other afternoon and instead of whirling through the gyrations I call dance, I stood in one spot for a few minutes with my eyes closed, absorbing Phillips’ dense creation while holding an empty Mason quart jar.

There are a few tunes on the player that call for gentle motion, soft songs sometimes laden with memories as varied as midnight alone in a city filled with strangers or the fluttering of a seventh-grade heart during the first slow dance ever. But most of the tracks in the player get me moving from one end of the small kitchen to the other, with wooden spoons filling in for a conductor’s baton (think “MacArthur Park”) and a measuring cup being a make-shift substitute for an air chimes mallet (the instrumental break on “Photograph”).

And as I made my way across the floor the other day, I boogied and shuffled to the call and response of Daryl Hall and John Oates – “She’s gone!” “She’s gone!” “She’s gone!” “She’s gone!” – and I wondered why none of the duo’s other singles have ever made me want to dance. Not only do they not make me want to dance, they don’t even make me want to hear them again.

That reaction puts me in a significant minority. Between 1976 – when “Sara Smile” went to No. 4 and a second release of “She’s Gone” went to No. 7 – and 2005, when their version of “Ooh Child” went to No. 19 on the Adult Contemporary chart, Hall & Oates were a powerhouse: thirty-four records in the Billboard Hot 100, sixteen of them in the Top Ten and six making it to No. 1. Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles ranks Hall & Oates as the fourth most successful act of the 1980s (behind Michael Jackson, Prince and Madonna) and the thirty-fifth most successful of all time.

And I missed it and still don’t get it. None of the singles that came along in the late 1970s and through the 1980s gave me any reason at all to go buy an album. I certainly heard all of the hits, or at least most of them: The listing in Top Pop Singles shows nothing from the Top Ten that’s unfamiliar, and if some of the stuff that placed a little lower is hazy in memory, well, there were a few years in there when I wasn’t listening to pop radio at all. My point is that I know what Hall & Oates recorded and released, and while none of their singles ever made me switch to another station in annoyance, neither did any of them – save “She’s Gone” – ever grab hold of my ear and say: “Listen to this!”

I’ve tried to be careful here and make reference to the duo’s singles, because there are a few tracks hidden on Hall & Oates’ first second album, Abandoned Luncheonette, that I enjoy greatly, most notably “Had I Known You Better Then” and “I´m Just A Kid (Don´t Make Me Feel Like A Man).” The album was produced by Atlantic’s Arif Mardin and came out in 1973, with “She’s Gone” being released as a single in early 1974 and getting only to No. 80. The duo moved on to RCA Victor, with the success there in early 1976 of “Sara Smile” prompting Atlantic’s summertime re-release of “She’s Gone.” There was one more Atlantic release on the charts: “It’s Uncanny” went to No. 80 in the summer of 1977.

So “She’s Gone” remains among my favorite records, and as well as pondering my reaction to the rest of Hall & Oates’ work this week, I went looking for covers. And that required some digging: All-Music Guide tells me that there are 1,021 CDs that include a tune called “She’s Gone.” But many of those tracks are Hall & Oates’ original – which, I should note, the two singers wrote – on various collections and compilations. Many others are different songs of the same title, notably by Hound Dog Taylor, the Isley Brothers, Duke Ellington, the Gosdin Brothers, Marvin Rainwater and Black Sabbath. So there were a lot of dead ends.

But there are a few covers of the Hall & Oates tune out there. I’ve found three so far: Tavares covered the tune and released it as a single that went to No. 50 in 1974. I find that version a little bland. Dee Dee Bridgewater retitled the song “He’s Gone” and included it on her self-titled 1976 debut, and I like her take on the tune quite a bit. But my favorite among the covers I’ve found so far come from Lou Rawls, who made the song the title track of his 1974 album, She’s Gone.

Album order corrected since first posting.

A Quick Six-Pack From 1971

Friday, May 13th, 2011

I got an invitation in my email the other week: The St. Cloud Tech High Class of 1971 is getting together one evening near the end of June to celebrate the forty years gone by.

I’ve made two other reunions: the tenth, which I didn’t enjoy all that much, and the twentieth, which I did. Since then, there’s been some barrier or other in my way, and I’ve missed the get-togethers.

This really isn’t about the reunion, but the reminder that it’s been forty years since we donned our caps and gowns and then moved on to other things gave me a convenient hook on which to hang a quick Friday morning post: A six-tune random trek through 1971.

British musician Phil Cordell released an instrumental titled  “I Will Return” under the name of Springwater that year. The song didn’t chart in the U.S., but it did all right in Europe, reaching No. 1 in Switzerland and making the Top Five in the U.K. I caught up to it sometime during these past four years, and I like it quite a bit.

Our next stop is a tune that I thought was rude and excessive forty years ago, as well as being a bit too loud: “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin. Rude and excessive or not, it went to No. 15. And these days, I like it quite a bit more than I did then.

Third up is “We Got To Have Peace,” a Curtis Mayfield track pulled from his album Roots. The single barely made a dent in the pop chart, bubbling under at No. 115. It did a fair amount better on the R&B chart, rising to No. 32.

Staying on the R&B side of town for a while, we come across “Going In Circles,” a track from Isaac Hayes’ monumental album Black Moses. ‘Never Can Say Goodbye” was the hit single from the album, going to No. 22 on the pop chart and to No, 5 on the R&B chart. The album itself went to No. 10 on the Billboard 200, No. 2 on the Jazz chart and No. 1 on the R&B chart.

Our fifth stop this morning is “I Woke Up In Love This Morning” by the Partridge Family. Created for  television, the faux family group had plenty of detractors at the time, but forty years have softened the disdain, and now the group’s records sound like pretty decent early-70s pop-.  “I Woke Up In Love This Morning” went to No. 13.

And our final stop this morning brings us to Lou Rawls and “A Natural Man.” The record went to No. 17 on both the pop and R&B charts, and it won Rawls a well-deserved Grammy for R&B Male Vocal performance:

That’s it for a few days. The Texas Gal and I are going to go outside and play. I’ll be back Monday.