Archive for the ‘1972’ Category

Saturday Singles Nos. 755 & 756

Saturday, October 9th, 2021

Having mentioned yesterday that Neil Young’s “Love Is A Rose” grew out of an earlier song titled “Dance Dance Dance,” first recorded by the band Crazy Horse, I thought we’d take a quick look that way this morning.

After “Dance Dance Dance” came out on Crazy Horse’s self-titled debut album in 1971, a few people jumped on the cover wagon: The New Seekers had a slight hit with it, with the record going to No. 84 on the Billboard Hot 100 in a five-week run a year during the autumn of 1972. That year that also saw covers of the song by Dave Edmunds and the band Cochise. More covers followed, but not until the 1990s.

Maybe next week we’ll look at a few other covers of both “Love Is A Rose” and “Dance Dance Dance,” but for now, here’s “Dance Dance Dance” as it was released in 1971 on Crazy Horse’s first, self-titled album and then as the New Seekers released it. They’re this week’s Saturday Singles.

Saturday Single No. 748

Saturday, August 7th, 2021

As this week has turned into an “It’s Too Late” week here, I thought that we’d close the week by doing one of my favorite things: Finding a foreign language version of the tune that is our focus.

And Second Hand Songs provides a few options for languages: Chinese, Finnish, French, German, Portuguese, and Swedish. (And there are suggested versions in Khmer and Spanish that the website had not yet verified.)

As readers might expect, we’ll go Scandinavian: Here, with Swedish lyrics by Stig Anderson, is Björn Skifs’ recording of “Alltför sent.” It was on Skifs’ 1972 album Blåblus, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘You Were Light And Breezy . . .’

Thursday, August 5th, 2021

According to the Joel Whitburn book #1s, here are the singles and albums that topped the seven major Billboard charts this week in 1971, fifty years ago:

The Bee Gees were atop the Hot Singles chart with “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart,” in its first week at No. 1.

On top of the R&B chart was a record that likely has the longest title for any single ever mentioned in this space, James Brown’s “Hot Pants Pt. 1 (She Got To Use What She Got, To Get What She Wants).”

Charley Pride was on top of the Country chart with “I’m Just Me,” in its second week in the top spot.

And “If Not For You” by Olivia Newton-John was perched atop the Adult Contemporary chart.

Things were more long-term on the album side:

Carole King’s Tapestry was in its eighth week at No. 1 on the pop chart.

Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On was No. 1 on the R&B chart for the second week.

And I Won’t Mention It Again by Ray Price was No. 1 on the country chart for the fourth week.

As is almost always the case, I know the pop stuff, I know half of the R&B stuff – What’s Going On has been on my shelves for many years – and I don’t know the country stuff. But since we’ve come across Tapestry again, I thought we’d take a look at another cover of its most well-known track, “It’s Too Late.”

Among the artists who have covered the song that I noticed but didn’t mention earlier this week are the Isley Brothers, who gave the song a ten-minute-plus workout on their 1972 album, Brother, Brother, Brother. Here it is:

Saturday Single No. 717

Saturday, December 26th, 2020

And the holiday is over.

It was a pleasant one here, with plenty of goodies and with gifts between the Texas Gal and me parceled out one-at-a-time every few days or so starting about December 10 (a pattern we fell into about fifteen years ago and have liked).

There are plenty of goodies left: about a third of a charcuterie tray – meats and crackers and cheese – is yet in the fridge, as is at least two-thirds of a large lasagna. And even the cats have leftover treats, courtesy of the new family just to our east; sixteen-year-old Sydney stopped by yesterday afternoon with a stocking full of cat treats. We’ll have to ask the newcomers what brand the goodies are, as the cats seem to like them a great deal.

We Zoomed for a while yesterday afternoon, checking in with my sister and her husband and my nephew in the Twin Cities suburb of Maple Grove and with my niece and her husband and their two toddler boys in a Chicago suburb. And we made phone calls to the Texas Gal’s sisters and to a few other folks we know who were alone for the day.

So even though we went nowhere, it was a busy sort of day, and it’s left an odd sort of weariness, perfectly suited, I guess, for the odd sort of year we’re having. So, as the morning mist outside my window begins to differentiate itself from the cloud cover, I’ll ask the RealPlayer to sorts its 82,000-some tracks for the word “odd.”

We don’t get a lot to work with, which does not surprise me, and what we do get is not inspiring. So I’m going to turn to the most odd thing I’ve come across in recent months.

Adriano Celantano is an Italian multi-talent: actor, director, producer, singer-songwriter. In 1972, according to what I’ve read, he had the idea to write a song with lyrics that sounded English but were actually nonsense. So he wrote and produced “Prisencólinensináinciúsol,” enlisting his wife, Claudia Mori, for some vocal parts.

Wikipedia says: “Celentano’s intention with the song was not to create a humorous novelty song but to explore communication barriers.” The website quotes Celantano: “Ever since I started singing, I was very influenced by American music and everything Americans did. So at a certain point, because I like American slang – which, for a singer, is much easier to sing than Italian – I thought that I would write a song which would only have as its theme the inability to communicate. And to do this, I had to write a song where the lyrics didn’t mean anything.”

That’s a little more high-minded that what I’ve read elsewhere, which is that Celantano thought that English-sounding lyrics were so popular in Italy that he figured he could have a hit with a record of gibberish if it just sounded like English.

Either way, it worked. “Prisencólinensináinciúsol” went to No. 5 in Italy and in the Netherlands, to No. 2 on the Belgian Wallonia chart and to No. 4 on the Belgian Flanders chart, and to No. 6 in France. The Germans, however, didn’t seem to get the joke, as the record went only to No. 46 in West Germany.

It’s kind of a hoot, so here’s “Prisencólinensináinciúsol” in its basic form. There is a video out there from an Italian television show setting the record in a large dance routine, with Mori’s lyrics lip-synced by Italian actress Raffaella Carrà, and that’s kind of fun, but for now, the original is today’s Saturday Single.

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.

 

What’s At No. 68?

Thursday, August 20th, 2020

I can’t resist today’s date: 8/20/2020. So we’re going to play Games With Numbers and turn those numerals into sixty-eight, and then we’ll check what was at No. 68 in the Billboard Hot 100 on this date during the seven years that make up my sweet spot, the years 1969 through 1975.

So, during the third week of August 1969, when the No. 1 record was “Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones, what was parked at No. 68? Well, it’s a record I don’t think I’ve ever heard: “I Do” by the Moments. The R&B trio from Hackensack, New Jersey, was eight months away from breaking through with the sweet “Love On A Two-Way Street,” and “I Do” went only to No. 62 in the Hot 100 (and to No. 10 on the Billboard R&B chart). Listening this morning, it sounds shrill.

A year later, the third week of the eighth month of 1970 found Bread’s “Make It With You” at No. 1. Our target spot down the chart was occupied by a short version of one of my favorite tracks from that summer fifty years ago: A cover of Neil Young’s “Down By The River” by drummer Buddy Miles & The Freedom Express. The link is to the single version, which I don’t recall hearing; Rick and I heard the album track – a much better piece of work – on WJON during late evenings in his screen porch that season. We’ve caught the record at its peak; it would go no higher than No. 68.

Sitting at No. 1 forty-nine years ago this week was the Bee Gees’ “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart.” The No. 68 record during that week in 1971 was one of the two hits I recall from my college years to feature a banjo solo: “Sweet City Woman” by the Stampeders, a trio from Calgary, Alberta. (“Dueling Banjos” from the movie Deliverance is the other I recall; there are likely more.) The Stampeders’ record went to No. 8 in the Hot 100 and to No. 5 in the magazine’s Easy Listening chart. And you know, you can do lots worse than love and tenderness and macaroons.

On to 1972, when the No. 1 record as August 20 went past was “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” by the Looking Glass (and its mention brings back radio memories as Rick, Gary and I drove to Winnipeg, Manitoba). As we drove, we likely also heard the A-side of the single at No. 68 that week: “Burning Love/It’s A Matter Of Time” by Elvis Presley. (I don’t know that I’d ever heard the B-side until today.) “Burning Love” was Presley’s last big hit in the Hot 100, as it peaked at No. 2. (He would still have Top Ten hits on the Easy Listening and Country charts.) On the Billboard Easy Listening chart, the record – with “It’s A Matter Of Time” listed as the A-side, according to Joel Whitburn’s top adult songs book – went to No. 9.

“Brother Louie” by the Stories sat atop the Hot 100 as the third week of August 1973 ended and the fourth week began. Down at our target slot that week was the title track from Alice Cooper’s current album, “Billion Dollar Babies.” I admit that I’ve listened to very little of Cooper’s work over the years, and in 1973, I was, I guess, pointedly ignoring it as gauche or something. The record had guest vocals from Donovan, but still disappointed, peaking at No. 57, considerably lower than Cooper’s last few singles.

Perched at No. 1 as the third week of August 1974 passed was “(You’re) Having My Baby” by Paul Anka and Odia Coates. Hoping for better, we drop down to our target at No. 68 and find “Finally Got Myself Together (I’m a Changed Man)” by the Impressions, a record I do not recall and honestly doubt that I’ve ever heard until today. It’s a sweet soul/R&B side, underlaid with the social awareness that ran through much of Curtis Mayfield’s work. The record peaked at No. 17 in the Hot 100 and spent two weeks on top of the Billboard R&B chart.

Forty-five years ago this week, as August 1975 spooled out, the No. 1 record was “Fallin’ In Love” by Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds. Sixty-seven spots further down the chart, we find, again, the Impressions, this time with “Sooner Or Later,” a tale of romantic consequences told with an irresistible groove. The record went no higher on the Hot 100, but went to No. 3 on the R&B chart.

Saturday Single No. 696

Saturday, July 11th, 2020

Okay, so how many tracks among the 80,000 on the digital shelves were recorded on July 11?

This, of course, is the kind of thing I resort to on days when my stock of ideas to write about is running low. Sometimes it results in something that limps, sometimes it works. (And it’s worth remembering that I have recording dates for maybe ten percent of the mp3s in my collection.)

Anyway, the answer is ten, and those tracks are:

“Put It There (Shag Nasty)” by McKinney’s Cottonpickers, 1928
“Pete Brown’s Boogie” by the Pete Brown Quintet, 1944
“Fat Stuff Boogie” by the Beale Street Gang, 1948
“Me & My Chauffeur Blues” by Memphis Minnie, 1952
“You Win Again” by Hank Williams, 1952
“I Forgot To Remember To Forget” by Elvis Presley, 1955
“Mystery Train” by Elvis Presley, 1955
“Trying To Get To You” by Elvis Presley, 1955
“(You’re A) Bad Girl” by Paul Revere & The Raiders, 1966
“Samantha’s Living Room” by the Guess Who, 1972

Four of those – the first two by Presley and the singles by Memphis Minnie and Hank Williams – are pretty well known. The others? Well, the Cottonpickers’ record is 1920s jazz on the Victor label, and the two from the 1940s are – as their titles indicate – piano-led boogies (with lots of horns) on Savoy. “Trying To Get To You” showed up on Presley’s 1956 self-titled album. “(You’re A) Bad Girl” came out of the sessions for The Spirit Of ’67 but was unreleased until the CD era. And the Guess Who track was on the 1973 album Artificial Paradise.

And of those, the one that catches my ears this morning is “Samantha’s Living Room.” An odd, atmospheric track, it showed up here on a two-CD anthology of the Guess Who’s work, and its lyrics intrigue me:

The family’s in the front room cheering
Old Dad’s in the corner snoring
Mother’s helping baby walk
And Auntie Jean is yawning
In Samantha’s living room

Granddad’s at the punchbowl drinking cordial
While Grandma sees the children play
Blindman’s bluff and chess, and the music plays
All in all it’s time for fun
In Samantha’s living room
In Samantha’s living room, in the year 1921

In Samantha’s living room
In Samantha’s living room
In Samantha’s living room, in the year 1981

So, because it intrigues me, and because I have the sense that I’ve not often mentioned the group here, “Samantha’s Living Room” by the Guess Who is today’s Saturday Single.

‘Happy’

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020

The madness out there, it seems, increases every minute. I could list all the things in just the past few days that have enraged me, made me shake my head or made me drop my jaw, but what’s the point? In another ten minutes, or so it seems, another outrage or example of idiocy will come along.

And I haven’t been sleeping well the past few weeks, which leaves my tolerance for all that stuff low. I need something happy.

So here’s one of the few Rolling Stones’ tracks on which Keith Richard sang the lead vocal: “Happy” from 1972. I recall hearing it on the radio a bit that summer (it went to No. 22 in the Billboard Hot 100), so by the time I got my copy of Exile On Main St. a year later, I was already accustomed to the pinched, thin vocal.

Instrumentally, it fits right into the raw and mostly weary aesthetic of Exile, which I think I’ve marked here before as one of the contenders for best rock album of all time (a judgment I came to only in the 1990s after years of listening).

And that’ll have to do it for today.

What’s At No. 100? (June 1972)

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

It’s been a while since we looked a chart from 1972, so let’s pull up the Billboard Top Ten from June 10 of that year – exactly forty-eight years ago today – and then head to the bottom slot in that week’s Hot 100.

Here’s the Top Ten:

“The Candy Man” by Sammy Davis, Jr.
“I’ll Take You There” by the Staple Singers
“Oh Girl” by the Chi-Lites
“Song Sung Blue” by Neil Diamond
“Sylvia’s Mother” by Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show
“Nice To Be With You” by Gallery
“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack
“Morning Has Broken” by Cat Stevens
“Outta-Space/I Wrote A Simple Song” by Billy Preston
“(Last Night) I Didn’t Get To Sleep At All” by the 5th Dimension

Well. That’s not a very inspiring set of eleven singles. The only one of those that grips me very hard at all these days is “I’ll Take You There.” The Chi-Lites’ single was a favorite back then, and I still like the singles by Neil Diamond, Gallery and Roberta Flack (although that last wore its welcome out in 1972 and is still on some form of repetition probation).

None of the others matter one way or the other except for “The Candy Man,” which approaches “Seasons In The Sun” territory on the “The First Time Ever I Heard The Record I Hated It” scale. I turned nineteen that year, and the presence at No. 1 of the “The Candy Man” in the spring and then Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-A-Ling” in the autumn taught me at that early age to be skeptical of the tastes of the masses.

So how many of those records matter to me today? Normally, we’d take a look here at the contents of my iPod. But since I got a new computer and had to reload things, the iPod is being balky, so we’ll look at the iTunes library and its 2,800-or so tracks, which remains a work in progress. How many of those eleven singles are in my day-to-day listening?

Right now, four: The records by Gallery, Robert Flack, Cat Stevens and the Billy Preston A-side are there. Likely joining them as the library is re-seeded will be the Staple Singers, the Chi-Lites and Neil Diamond. The 5th Dimension? Maybe.

Now, on to our supposed main business here: The record at No. 100 forty-eight years ago today. And we come across one of Petula Clark’s last records to make the Hot 100, her cover of Mary Wells’ No. 1 hit from 1964, “My Guy.” Clark’s cover went to No. 70 in the Hot 100 and to No. 12 in the Billboard Easy Listening chart.

Clark would have two more records in the Hot 100: Her cover of Noel Paul Stookey’s “Wedding Song (There Is Love)” would go to No. 61 in the autumn of 1972, and “Natural Love” would get to No. 66 in 1982. Both of those would hit the Easy Listening chart (at Nos. 9 and 24, respectively), and “Natural Love” would be Clark’s only entry on the country chart, going to No. 20.

Here’s her take on “My Guy.”

George Is Gone

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020

During my last year in Minot – the 1988-89 academic year – and for a few years after I’d left North Dakota, my buddy George was a constant in my life.

We’d met at a faculty workshop during the summer of 1989, and in a few weeks, we were having dinner once a week, set on finding ourselves a favorite restaurant in Minot, a task simplified by the limited offerings of the city of about 35,000. Soon enough, we were joined in our quest by Helen, one of George’s colleagues from the College of Education.

We never did find a favorite, but we had some decent meals and some good conversations. The three of us were all cat people – Helen and I of long-standing and George of recent vintage – and we took turns taking care of each other’s cats during absences from Minot during quarter and holiday breaks.

And George and I settled into a routine of having late-evening coffee either at his house or mine, talking about serious life issues or about frivolous nothings as we watched the evening news and then re-runs of Cheers.

During the summer of 1989, he and his brother Ed visited me in Minnesota, and the three of us –joined by my ladyfriend of the time – saw Bob Dylan in concert in downtown St. Paul. Then, after my ladyfriend had headed home, George and Ed and I talked over coffee until early morning in my apartment in the suburban town of Anoka.

I wandered off to Kansas and Missouri and then back to Minnesota, but phone conversations with George were a constant, and by the time I got back to Minnesota in the late summer of 1991, George was there, too, teaching at a private college in St. Paul. We had the occasional dinner but George was more occupied with his teaching and with his new lady, who was still in North Dakota but who was working to get to Minnesota. I understood, I’d been there.

And, as friends sometimes do, we began to drift apart. Some of that was George’s new commitment. He and his lady married and began to raise a late-in-life family, something he thought he’d never have the chance to do. Some of that drift – maybe most – was mine, as I spent the mid-1990s in a devastating depression, barely able to do more than go to work, go to the record store and go home and listen to music.

The last time I saw George was at the Minnesota State Fair sometime around 1995, when we took in a blues festival featuring B.B. King and Etta James. I knew he and his family were headed to California and teaching gigs at Cal-Berkeley, but I wasn’t sure when. And when I came out of my depression around 2001, George and his family were living in Oakland and I wasn’t in their lives.

I got in touch with him, and emails went back and forth for a brief time, but – just like in Harry Chapin’s “Taxi” – whatever we’d had once was gone. My fault? Maybe. George’s fault? Perhaps.

Just the way life sometimes is? Most likely.

I found him on Facebook a couple of years ago and left a message. I got no answer, which is what I expected. And he crossed my mind again this past weekend, so I searched again, and saw a listing for him in a small town in Maine. I searched further and found his obituary. He died about a year ago.

I know. We come into each other’s lives and leave each other’s lives for reasons, those reasons rarely discernible. George had been gone from my life for more than twenty years and I regret that, although I’m not sure I could have done anything to change it. I guess that at times I hoped I could reconnect with him and if things needed repairing, repair them. That chance, if it ever existed, is gone.

But I remember our late-night coffees, our late-night phone calls between Missouri and North Dakota, our bafflement at the odd behaviors of his two cats, Ginseng and Cinnamon, our love of football and good food and music, and all the things that go into a friendship, however brief it turned out to be.

Here’s a tune we tried to play together once. It didn’t work well, as he was using the words to the Byrds’ version, and I was singing the words Bob Dylan recorded with Artie Traum. (Dylan and Traum, we weren’t.) Here’s their 1971 recording of “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” released in 1972 on Dylan’s second greatest hits collection.