Archive for the ‘1970’ Category

Saturday Single No. 732

Saturday, April 10th, 2021

The other week, writing about B.B. King’s “Ask Me No Questions,” I said:

It’s an interesting record, in that it’s got more piano in it than I tend to expect of a King record, but a quick look at the credits at both AllMusic and discogs tells me that Carole King was around for the album sessions. I wish I had track-by-track information, but I don’t.

Well, I do now. Shortly after I wrote about the track, I was noodling around Amazon in search of Rhiannon Giddens’ forthcoming album (it arrived yesterday, and so far, I’m pleased), and I noticed we had some bonus points or something from the site. So I added to my order King’s 1970 album Indianola Mississippi Seeds.

As I suspected, the session notes I found at the two websites mentioned above were incomplete. And I’m a bit chagrined, because with a little more effort on that Saturday a few weeks ago, I might have recognized that the piano part on that particular track was supplied by Leon Russell. I was listening for Carole King, however, and the idea slipped past me.

Carole King does play on four of the album’s nine tracks, while Russell plays on three, including on his own composition “Hummingbird.” On that one, the background vocals are provided by four women whose names have popped up many times on this blog: Sherlie Matthews, Clydie King, Venetta Fields, and Mary Clayton.

Eight of the nine tracks on the album were recorded at the Record Plant in Los Angeles, and on those, Russ Kunkel handles the drums and Bryan Garofalo provides bass. Guitarist Joe Walsh shows up for a couple of tracks.

(The ninth track was laid down at the Hit Factory in New York. Players there were Hugh McCrackin on rhythm guitar, Paul Harris on piano, Gerald Jemmott on bass and Herb Lovelle on drums.)

The CD fills nicely a gap on the shelves, as the only other B.B. King CDs I have are an a career-spanning anthology and three other CDs with King performing with others: Blues Summit and Deuces Wild feature King with a wide range of other performers (from Ruth Brown to Robert Cray on the first and from Van Morrison to Marty Stuart on the second), and Riding With The King is an album recorded with Eric Clapton.

(If I want more B.B. King, I can turn to the LP shelves, where there are eleven of his albums, mostly from the 1960s and 1970s.)

And here’s another track from Indianola Mississippi Seeds, this one with Carole King playing piano and electric piano: “Ain’t Gonna Worry My Life Anymore.” The track starts with an informal jam over strings and horns, then moves into the song itself. And in the latter portions of the track, Carole King gets a chance to show off her chops on the electric piano. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 731

Saturday, April 3rd, 2021

Shining stars. Falling stars. Shooting stars. Silver stars. It’s too big a list.

I was going to select a few favorite tracks that have “star” in their titles and blather on about each of them this morning before choosing one for today’s featured single. But a search for “star” in the RealPlayer has discouraged me, coming back with 1,239 tracks.

Many of those, of course, would not qualify. A wonderful album by various artists from 2003 titled All Night All Stars (including tracks by Gregg Allman, Amy Helm, and the duo of Bobby Whitlock and Kim Carmel) goes by the wayside, as does an odd album titled Gulag Orkestar by a group called Beirut. Gone are two albums by the group Big Star. And so on, and I do not have the intestinal fortitude to sort through all 11,239 tracks this morning.

So I’ll just go back to the record that brought me the idea earlier this week without my even hearing it. Something, somewhere, sparked the 1970 memory of hearing Sly & The Family Stone’s “Everybody Is A Star.” And that got me to thinking about records with “star” in their titles. So here we are.

Here’s Sly & The Family Stone’s “Everybody Is A Star.” As the B-side of a two-sided single – “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)” was the A-side – it spent two weeks at No. 1 in February 1970, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 725

Saturday, February 20th, 2021

During a conversation about concerts over the Texas Gal’s birthday dinner yesterday, I came to realize that I’d made an error in yesterday’s post about the concert meme running around Facebook.

She mentioned that sometime in the early 1970s, she’d seen both the Partridge Family and the Cowsills , and that triggered my memory. It turns out that the first pop/rock concert I ever attended that was not at St. Cloud State was a performance in 1970 by the Cowsills at the Minnesota State Fair. All of us – Dad, Mom, my sister and I – were there.

I vaguely remember the family band coming onto the stage in spangly costumes, and I imagine they performed their hits: “Hair,” “Indian Lake,” and “The Rain, The Park, & Other Things,” but I don’t recall that part of the evening. Nor do I recall the opening act, which was Bobby Vinton. So, if I don’t remember it, does it count? I dunno.

(I could rely on the same scoring system I encourage the Texas Gal to use: Her older sister brought her along when she was very young – maybe seven or eight – to see the Beatles. She doesn’t remember anything of the show, just that there were a lot of people screaming. Does she get to say her first concert was the Beatles? I say yes. But should I count the Cowsills? I guess so.)

Another candidate for first pop/rock concert not at St. Cloud State also took place at the State Fair, a year after the (evidently) forgettable performance by the Cowsills. This one I remember: Neil Diamond. We’d been at the fair most of the day, and when showtime – likely 6 p.m. – rolled around, my folks wandered around the fairgrounds while Rick and I took in the first of two shows that Diamond did that night.

It was the day before my eighteenth birthday, and I recall bits and pieces of the concert: “Sweet Caroline,” “Done Too Soon,” and my favorite of the time, “Holly Holy” all come to mind.

And since the conversation over our meal yesterday, I’ve been wondering how many concerts I’ve been to that I’ve utterly forgotten about, as I did the Cowsills’ performance as I was writing yesterday. Not many, I don’t imagine. I didn’t go to that many to begin with, probably between twenty and thirty pop/rock (and related) shows. There are a few others that are dim in memory, though. As I’ve noted here before, I sometimes have to remind myself that I saw It’s A Beautiful Day when I was in college and that I saw the Rascals a year before that when I was a senior in high school.

Ah, well. No big deal. Here’s Diamond’s “Cracklin’ Rosie,” which I’m sure we heard that evening in September 1971, as it was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 at the time. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘Faith Has Been Broken . . .’

Wednesday, February 17th, 2021

Sometime during the summer of 1971, in the car or hanging out on the front porch or even while cleaning floors at St. Cloud State with Janitor Mike, I must have heard the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses” on the radio.

It was on the Billboard Hot 100 for only eight weeks, and it only went to No. 28, yeah, but given that I surrounded myself with music during my non-work and non-sleep hours (and even during work at times as Mike and I waited for floors to dry so we could wax them), I think I had to have heard it. But it must not have made much of an impression, as I recall the first time I played the album Sticky Fingers about a year and a half later, when I got the album through a record club.

“I need to learn to play that on piano,” I recall thinking, listening to the Mick Jagger/Keith Richards composition as it came out of the speakers in the basement rec room. Hearing the song as part of the album – a hodgepodge of outtakes and finely constructed pieces the Stones had clumped together in the spring of 1971 – was like hearing the song for the first time, I guess. Or maybe I just paid attention to it for the first time.

There was no way that I knew that the song existed elsewhere. But it did. “Wild Horses” had showed up in April 1970 on Burrito Deluxe, the second album by the Flying Burrito Brothers:

Here’s the “Wild Horses” timeline, as pieced together from AllMusic Guide, Second Hand Songs, and Wikipedia.

December 2-4, 1969: Rolling Stones record “Wild Horses.”
December 7, 1969: Keith Richards gives Gram Parsons a demo of “Wild Horses.”
April 1970: Flying Burrito Brothers release “Wild Horses” on Burrito Deluxe.
April 1971: Rolling Stones release “Wild Horses” on Sticky Fingers.

My question, admittedly an inside baseball kind of thing, is: Which recording is the original and which is the first cover? Is the original version of a song the first one recorded or the first one released?

My thought is that the first recorded version is the original and anything else – even if it comes to light ahead of that first recorded version – is a cover.

But to close things out, here’s one of my favorite covers of the song, the version that Leon Russell included on his 1974 album Stop All That Jazz.

Fourteen Years

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021

It was on this day in 2007 that I figured out what I wanted to do with this space. I’d been posting albums from my collection since mid-January, first with no commentary, then with comments pulled from All-Music Guide, and then with some tentative assessments of my own.

Then, on a Saturday that actually happens to be fourteen years ago today, I wrote about a Danish single – “Rør Ved Mig,” the one I mentioned in Saturday’s post – and just a little about how hearing it made me feel back in 1973 and a fair amount more about how hearing it made me feel in the present of 2007:

For just a few moments, it is the fall of 1973, and I am walking somewhere inside the old portion of the city of Fredericia, Denmark, maybe heading to have a beer with a buddy, maybe walking with my long-ago girlfriend, or maybe just walking. It’s a golden day in October, and somewhere, not too far away, Lecia & Lucienne are singing “Rør ved mig. Så jeg føler at jeg lever . . .”

And I’ve continued to do that for fourteen years, offering posts of “music as memoir” – a phrase that my brother in blogging, jb of And The Hit Just Keep On Comin’ credits me with finding (though I’m certain it’s been used before) – along with posts mostly about record charts and surveys, sometimes about books and movies, and sometimes just about the life the Texas Gal and I are living here in St. Cloud.

No, I’m not wrapping things up here. This ain’t a retirement speech. For the foreseeable future, I’m going to keep on throwing things at the wall to see if they stick. Some days, I hope, I will say something that matters to someone out in the digital world and say it in a way that I hope is original. Other days, I might not have much to say, but at least – to my ears – the music here will be good.

Thanks to those who pop by here, whether you’re one of the old-timers or a relative newbie or something in between.

And now for some music: Here’s “They Call It Rock & Roll Music,” a track by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends from the 1970 album To Bonnie From Delaney. With help from Duane Allman and King Curtis, the track is about as good as rock music got for me in the early 1970s when I was exploring things I’d been missing.

Saturday Single No. 720

Saturday, January 16th, 2021

As it often does as I sit here on the seventh day of the week, the tune “Come Saturday Morning” popped into my head today.

Written for the 1969 film The Sterile Cuckoo, the song was first recorded by the film’s star, Liza Minelli, as the title track of an album released in February 1969, according to Second Hand Songs. The film came out in October 1969, and it was the Sandpipers’ cover of the song that was used on the film’s soundtrack and released as a single. The record went to No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 8 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart.

Other covers followed, of course, and a few of them have ended up on the digital shelves here, by artists like Joe Reisman & His Orchestra & Chorus, the Fifty Guitars Of Tommy Garrett, the Mystic Moods Orchestra, and Mark Lindsay, one-time lead singer for Paul Revere & The Raiders.

Other familiar names show up on the list of covers at Second Hand Songs with Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, Patti Page, Robert Goulet, Ray Conniff and Scott Walker found among the vocal list, and artists like Percy Faith, Andre Kostelanetz, Peter Nero, Roger Williams, and Jackie Gleason listed among the instrumental covers of the song. The most recent of all of those was Walker’s take on the song, which came in 1972, and more followed.

Only five of the thirty-eight versions of the song listed at SHS have been released later than 1974: Vocal versions by Charles Tichenor (1996) and a female vocalist called Rumer (2010), and instrumentals by the Keith McDonald Trio (1986), Jim Hudak (2000), and the Dave McMurdo Jazz Orchestra (also 2000).

So there are lots of versions to sample and choose from. But I’m going to take the easy way out and find Peter Nero’s version of the tune because he’s one of the very few artists I’ve written about who has left a note here. (He responded a few years ago to a post about “The Summer Knows,” the theme from the movie Summer of ’42.) Nero’s version of “Come Saturday Morning” is from his 1970 album I’ll Never Fall In Love Again, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

As The Year Ends

Thursday, December 31st, 2020

I’m overwhelmed again, as this awful year lurches to its ending. I don’t know how much better 2021 will be, but one has to hope for something at least a little bit better. My level of optimism shifts from one day to the next, and it’s quite low this morning.

As I’ve struggled with stuff this week, I keep reminding myself that the Texas Gal and I are lucky. We’re safe, warm and dry, and we are not dependent on jobs for our income, having both retired. So many have it so much worse than we do that I feel a bit churlish nattering on about my dismay.

So I’ll be back tomorrow and in a better mood, one would hope. Here’s “Things Get Better,” the opening track from Delaney & Bonnie & Friends’ 1970 live album On Tour With Eric Clapton.

Some Bits Left Out

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020

We took a couple of hours the other day to catch up on the HBO documentary The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart. We enjoyed the music and the memories, learned a bit more about how the Brothers Gibb put together their sound, and – for my part, anyway – felt more than a little bit sad for Barry, the last surviving Gibb brother, as he talked about his memories of fellow Bee Gees Maurice and Robin and their kid brother, Andy.

Over the years, I’ve said something like “There are three parts to the arc of the Bee Gees’ career,” citing the Beatlesque phase of the mid- to late 1960s (covering the period from their first album and hits to 1969’s Odessa), the “pulling-it-back-together” phase from 1970 through 1974, and the disco/megastar phase from 1975 to 1980.

Probably over-simple, and I kind of missed one: The songwriting and production phase, which overlaps the last of my three phases. From 1978 on, the Brothers Gibb wrote and produced hits for so many folks that any hour on the radio was going to bring you two or three records with the Bee Gees’ fingerprints on them, stuff by Samantha Sang, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, Diana Ross, and so many more (including brother Andy).

What I thought was just as interesting as the stuff the documentary reminded me about was the stuff that it left out entirely. There was no mention of the 1978 film version of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, an utter failure that featured Peter Frampton as well as the Bee Gees. (The best – and kindest – reaction I’ve ever read about the mess came from Beatle George Harrison: “I think it’s damaged their images, their careers, and they didn’t need to do that. It’s just like the Beatles trying to do the Rolling Stones. The Rolling Stones can do it better.”)

And there was at most a veiled mention of the period in 1969 and 1970 when the group split, with Robin Gibb trying out a solo career. No mention of Robin’s album Robin’s Reign or the album that Barry and Maurice put out at the same time, Cucumber Castle (a title taken from a track on the 1967 album The Bee Gee’s 1st). Neither of the two albums is very good, though I think Robin’s is the lesser of the two. On the other hand, that opinion might stem from the fact that I’d never heard Robin’s Reign until I found it online ca. 2007, while I first heard Cucumber Castle across the street at Rick’s in 1970 (and it made its way onto my shelves in 1989).

Given those caveats, the HBO film was well done and pleasant watching (and listening). I was especially tickled to learn that Barry’s falsetto – the group’s secret weapon during the period when they owned the world – was discovered pretty much by accident while recording “Nights On Broadway” for Main Course (which happens to be my favorite Bee Gees’ album).

Here, from 1970’s Cucumber Castle, is the quirky “My Thing.”

No. 48, Forty-Eight Years Ago

Friday, December 4th, 2020

We’ve not bounced around in 1972 lately, so it’s likely a good time to see what folks were listening to in early December of that year, at least as reflected in the top section of the Billboard Hot 100. And we’ll play a game of Symmetry, heading down the chart to see what was sitting at No. 48 during that late autumn forty-eight years ago.

It was my second autumn as a student at St. Cloud State (because of a couple of failed courses a year earlier, I wasn’t technically a sophomore), and it was an unmemorable time. The friendships that has sustained me through my first year of college had faded away, and I was pretty much on my own. I hung around with some folks from a speech class that fall quarter, but I never quite fit there, either. And I wasn’t dating anyone, nor were there any candidates in sight.

I was exploring musically, having finished my Beatles collection in August. Some record club purchases brought me albums by the Moody Blues, Buffalo Springfield, the Rolling Stones and Mountain, and those sounds filled the basement rec room many evenings as I played a Sports Illustrated tabletop football game by myself.

And I still listened to the radio in my bedroom and in the car, so the records in the Top Ten forty-eight years ago (as reported by Billboard on December 9, 1972) were likely familiar:

“I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy
“Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone” by the Temptations
“If You Don’t Know Me By Now” by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
“I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash
“You Ought To Be With Me” by Al Green
“Me & Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul
“It Never Rains In Southern California” by Albert Hammond
“Ventura Highway” by America
“Clair” by Gilbert O’Sullivan
“I’m Stone In Love With You” by the Stylistics

That’s pretty heavy on the soul/R&B side of the ledger, with a couple of southern California records (stylistically as well as literally), one piece of fluff (“Clair”) and one record – the Helen Reddy – that’s sui generis. And nine of the ten are as familiar as was the interior of my 1961 Falcon, which I’d inherited that summer from my sister.

The one record not familiar by title is the Al Green, which I recalled after a quick listen; I don’t know that I heard it often, and I certainly haven’t heard it as much over the years as I’ve heard “Call Me (Come Back Home),” “Tired Of Being Alone” and “I’m Still In Love With You.”

So, here’s the question we almost always ask when we look at a Billboard Top Ten: Do those records matter now? And we find the answer to that question by seeing if they’re among the 2,700 or so tracks in my iPod.

And I find four of those ten: The records by Nash, Paul, Hammond and the Stylistics. I might add “Ventura Highway,” but the others that I recall – as I ponder them this morning – carry a sense of sorrow. (Well, not “I Am Woman,” but as I noted above, that’s one of a kind.) I was not happy during the latter months of 1972, and nearly a half-century later, that unhappiness seems to be still attached to some of that era’s music.

But what of our other business here? What do we find when we move further down that Hot 100 to No. 48? Well, we come across a record I knew well at the time, one that I heard from an album that took its place between the Moody Blues, Mountain, the Beatles and the rest as I pondered third down and three in the basement rec room: “Let It Rain” by Eric Clapton.

The track came from Clapton’s first solo album, a self-titled effort released in 1970, and was released as a single in 1972, I think, because of its inclusion that year in the two-LP Polydor release Clapton At His Best (which is where I found it). We’ve caught it here at the peak of its thirteen-week stay on the Hot 100. And whether you count it as forty-eight years or fifty years, the track – co-written by Clapton and Bonnie Bramlett – is still a brilliant piece of work.

 

‘Jerusalem’?

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

Here’s what topped the Billboard Easy Listening chart in the November 28, 1970, edition, fifty years ago this week:

“You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” by Elvis Presley
“It’s Impossible” by Perry Como
“We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters
“He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” by Neil Diamond
“Stoney End” by Barbra Streisand
“Jerusalem” by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass
“One Less Bell To Answer” by the 5th Dimension
“Fire & Rain” by James Taylor
“I Think I Love You” by the Partridge Family
“And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind” by Mark Lindsay

I knew seven of these well at the time, and I like six of those seven. (The Presley record never worked for me.) But three records stand out. We’ll start at No. 10, “And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind,” on its way down the chart after peaking at No. 5.

I don’t recall hearing the record fifty years ago, which makes sense, as it only went to No. 44 on the Hot 100. If I did hear it, it wasn’t often enough for it to sink into my memory, which it likely would have with repeated hearings, as it’s my kind of record. After all, I liked Lindsay’s more popular records of the time, “Arizona” (No. 10 on the Hot 100 and No. 16, Easy Listening) and “Silver Bird” (Nos. 25 and 7, respectively).

Then, there’s Diamond’s cover of “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” pulled from his album Tap Root Manuscript. When I first heard it across the street at Rick’s, I wasn’t impressed, probably because I thought it was kind of limp when compared to the Hollies’ version from the previous winter. Did I hear it on the radio? I might have, as it went to No. 20 on the Hot 100 (as well as to No. 4 on the Easy Listening chart, right where we found it). But compared to “Cracklin’ Rosie” and “I Am . . . I Said,” Diamond’s singles that both went to No. 2 on the Easy Listening chart (and to Nos. 1 and 4 on the Hot 100) around the same time, it’s kind of lame.

Finally, until this morning, I’d never heard of “Jerusalem” by Herb Alpert and his gang, much less heard it, as far as I know. All I can say is that it’s pleasant and vaguely familiar. And, I guess, that being the owner of the record company – as Alpert was – allows you to release whatever you want; the record doesn’t sound like single material to me. But it worked, at least on the Easy Listening chart, where we found it at its peak at No. 6. On the Hot 100, “Jerusalem” stalled at No. 74. (By that time, Alpert was having much more success on the Easy Listening chart than on the pop chart. We might take a look at that another time.)

Anyway, here’s “Jerusalem.”