Archive for the ‘1971’ Category

Saturday Single No. 768

Saturday, January 8th, 2022

I went back to Tucson this morning, checking out some more info on the playlist survey from KWFM that brought us Brewer & Shipley yesterday. One portion of the survey I’d not mentioned yesterday was the list of new albums and featured cuts, which included work by artists such as Lighthouse, Repairs, Steve Kuhn, Ron Cornelius, Taj Mahal, Colonel Bagshot, Pendulum & Co., and a few others, not all of whom I know.

I checked out “Sleep My Lady,” one of the featured cuts on the self-titled Pendulum & Co. album. It was folky and pretty and, yeah, it would put the targeted lady asleep pretty damned quickly. If you’re gonna do lutes and flutes, you gotta make it interesting, not somnolent.

I sampled a few more of the featured cuts and then went back to a band I know, though I did not know the track: Here’s “Rockin’ Chair.” It’s from Lighthouse’s 1971 album Thoughts Of Movin’ On, and it was a featured track at KWFM fifty years ago. It’s also today’s Saturday Single.

No. 40 Fifty Years Ago (Easy Listening)

Wednesday, December 29th, 2021

We’re going to take care of some fifty-years ago business in these last days of 2021, looking back at the last week of December 1971, a time when my greatest concerns were trying to explain how I had managed to fail both chemistry and African history during the fall quarter just completed at St. Cloud State and trying to figure out what to do about a girlfriend who was moving too fast for my comfort.

(I solved the first by admitting I did not know how to study, never having been required to put much effort into schoolwork in high school. I solved the second by running away. In today’s parlance, I ghosted poor Jeannie. [I ran into her about ten years later on Main Street in Buffalo, Minnesota, and explained and apologized; she held no grudge.])

At the time, my listening was beginning to bend toward progressive/album rock, the result of my having begun to spend much of my free time on campus in the studios of KVSC-FM, the St. Cloud State student station. But I still heard enough Top 40 in the car and enough easy listening elsewhere that the records listed by Billboard in its last Easy Listening chart of the year were mostly familiar.

Here’s the Top Ten:

“All I Ever Need Is You” by Sonny & Cher
“Cherish” by David Cassidy
“Old Fashioned Love Song” by Three Dog Night
“Friends With You” by John Denver
“Let It Be” by Joan Baez
“Baby, I’m-A Want You” by Bread
“Stones” by Neil Diamond
“I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing” by the Hillside Singers
“Brand New Key” by Melanie
“An American Trilogy” by Mickey Newbury

Most of those were also receiving play on Top 40, which I still heard in the car and at friends’ homes and on occasion, at my own home. I had to refresh my memory of the John Denver tune the other day, and this morning, listened to the Baez single, which I do not recall at all. (It went to only No. 49 on the Hot 100, but I liked it today much better than I’ve ever liked her previous single, the ill-begotten cover of The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”)

And I remember the Newbury single – a mash-up of “Dixie,” “Battle Hymn Of The Republic” and “All My Trials.” I don’t think I ever heard it on the radio – it went to No. 26 on the Hot 100 – but my pal Rick across the street had a copy of it, and I heard it enough over there to be underwhelmed.

Most of those, as I said, were familiar at the time, but that’s not to say that those ten are enduring portions of my musical world. The only singles in that Top Ten that are in my iPod fifty years later – and thus a part of my day-to-day listening – are those by Three Dog Night and Bread. The Neil Diamond track may join them, as might the Baez.

But what do we find when we drop down to the bottom of that long-ago chart, as the title of this piece promises?

Normally, when doing things with fifty-year-old charts, we’d go to No. 50, but the Easy Listening chart listed only forty records in 1971, so we’ll see what’s at No. 40. And it turns out to be a record I doubt I’ve ever heard: “I’d Do It All Again” by Vicki Carr, pulled from her 1971 album Superstar.

It’s a lost love tune, one in which the protagonist admits that the ending hurts but – as the title states – she’d do it all again. Decidedly middle-of-the-road with a big band backing, it’s something that I probably would have liked had I heard it a little more than two years earlier, in the days before I heard the Beatles’ “Come Together” coming from WLS in the middle of an August night.

“I’d Do It All Again” would move up one more slot on the Easy Listening chart; it would not make the Hot 100.

‘Cahoots’ Gets A Re-Make

Wednesday, December 15th, 2021

“Life Is A Carnival,” sang The Band on the group’s 1971 album Cahoots, an album that also contained the group’s take on Bob Dylan’s “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” a duet with Van Morrison titled “4% Pantomime,” and the elegiac “River Hymn.”

I heard some of those on the radio, maybe – “Life Is A Carnival” was the first single pulled from the album, and it went only to No. 72 on the Billboard Hot 100, leaving me wondering on which station I heard it (KVSC-FM at St. Cloud State is my guess this morning) – and I heard some at friends’ homes and at other places in St. Cloud during my college years.

I wasn’t impressed. Even though I had the group’s self-titled 1969 album – an album I loved – at home, the bits and pieces of Cahoots that I heard left me cold. So I forgot about the album until the late 1980s, when a lady friend of mine began to explore the music of The Band for the first time, and I came along, adding Cahoots in early 1988. And I added the CD to the collection in 2018.

It still didn’t impress me. It sounded flat, unfinished somehow. I might have pulled it out of the stacks once or twice to put “When I Paint My Masterpiece” on a mixtape or a CD for a friend, but that would have been about it. Unlike Music From Big Pink, The Band, or even Stage Fright, it wasn’t an album I sought out for casual listening.

And I began to understand my decades-long reaction yesterday when a delivery truck dropped off the two-CD fiftieth anniversary edition of the album. The notes in the accompanying booklet tell how the album came to be created in the first place: With the group recording whatever the five musicians had at hand while helping Albert Grossman figure out how to finish off his Bearsville studio in Woodstock, New York.

The notes, by Rob Bowman, explain that The Band – especially Robbie Robertson – had always felt Cahoots to be unfinished because of the lack of facilities at Bearsville at the time. And that meant that preparing the fiftieth anniversary version offered an opportunity to mix and master the album the way the group would have liked in 1971.

Robertson and engineer Bob Clearmountain have both been involved in three previous fiftieth anniversary reissues of albums by The Band: Music From Big Pink, The Band, and Stage Fright. Those projects, both men say in comments in the new edition’s notes, involved enhancing the sound of the three albums, making them sound better while keeping the albums’ characters and general sound the same. Their work with Cahoots, the two say, was to make the album sound like it should have sounded.

Much of the commentary supporting that approach comes from Bowman’s interviews with Robertson. Although there are general quotes from the other members of The Band about the making of Cahoots that come from previously published material, it’s probably good to remember that Richard Manuel, Rick Danko and Levon Helm are gone and unavailable for current comment. A few comments from Garth Hudson make their way into Bowman’s notes, but it’s basically Robertson’s views that prevail.

So, does it work? I have yet to absorb the whole album in its new state. And I think I’ll be going back and forth between the new version and the old one at odd times for a while, trying to internalize the changes. (That’s true, too, of the live bootleg of a 1971 performance by the group in Paris that’s included on the second CD of the package.  And both CDs have bonus tracks of outtakes and alternate takes from the Cahoots sessions.)

As “Life Is A Carnival” started to come out of the speakers here yesterday, I reminded myself that different isn’t always better. But, at least for that track, it is. The track, enhanced even more now by Allen Toussaint’s horn arrangement, has a kick it’s never had. As I wander through the rest of the new album, comparing it to the old one, I hope I continue to be pleased.

Here’s the new version of “Life Is A Carnival.”

Saturday Single No. 765

Saturday, December 11th, 2021

With some errands to run and a North Dakota State football game set for late morning, we’re going to take the quick and random way out this morning by playing some Games With Numbers with today’s date. We’re going to look for a Billboard Hot 100 from December 11 during the years of my sweet spot – 1969-75 – and then we’re going to see what was at No. 23 that week.

And that puts us back – as I thought it might – in 1971, fifty years ago. And the No. 23 record fifty years ago this week was one that has – as far as I can tell – never been mentioned during the nearly fifteen years this blog has trudged along. (Oddly, though, the Texas Gal and I listened to it in the car the other day.)

Fifty years ago this week, “Everybody’s Everything” by Santana was at No. 23, coming back down the chart after peaking at No. 12. A note in Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles says that the tune was originally recorded as “Karate” by the Emperor’s (yep, with an unnecessary apostrophe). That record peaked at No. 55 in late January 1967.

Here’s Santana’s “Everybody’s Everything,” today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 760

Saturday, November 6th, 2021

With a minimum of time available – I slept very late – I’m just going to jump into the Billboard Hot 100 from fifty years ago today and see what’s sitting at No. 76, in honor of today’s Saturday Single integer.

And the No. 76 single from that long-ago chart is a record that would climb to No. 9 on the Hot 100, No. 10 on the R&B chart and to No. 24 on the chart then called Easy Listening. “You Are Everything” by the Stylistics is today’s Saturday Single.

No. 50 Fifty Years Ago (Album Version)

Wednesday, October 27th, 2021

We’re going to play the album version of our game of Symmetry, checking out the No. 50 album from a fifty-year old chart. But first, here’s what the Top Ten looked like in the Billboard 200 during the week of October 30, 1971, fifty years ago:

Imagine by John Lennon
Every Picture Tells A Story by Rod Stewart
Shaft soundtrack by Isaac Hayes
Santana III
Tapestry
by Carole King
Teaser & The Firecat by Cat Stevens
Carpenters
Every Good Boy Deserves Favour
by the Moody Blues
Ram by Paul & Linda McCartney
Who’s Next by the Who

I don’t think I’ve ever written about Imagine, so . . .

I liked some things I heard from the album back then – the title track, “Jealous Guy,” “Oh, My Love,” “Give Me Some Truth” – enough that when the album showed up about a year later in the used bins I checked occasionally at a downtown St. Cloud store, I took it home.

I thought that “How Do You Sleep?” – Lennon’s takedown of Paul McCartney – was tacky. (I didn’t know at the time that “Too Many People” – the first track on the McCartneys’ Ram – was a shot at Lennon. Even so, as I compare the two songs, McCartney’s was a needle and Lennon’s was a hammer.) And the rest of the stuff I hadn’t heard was just okay.

I listened to it occasionally, but not as frequently as I did Ram or many other albums. And somewhere along the line I quit putting Imagine on the turntable entirely. I have only two tracks from the album on the digital shelves – the title tune and “Jealous Guy” – and I doubt I’ve listened to the entire album since the mid-Nineties, if that recently. It’s not an album that matters much to me.

Beyond Imagine, the rest of that Top Ten would be very good listening. (There are portions of Shaft that some might find tedious, but I’m a soundtrack guy.) I know Tapestry, Ram, and the Moody Blues’ album best (and probably like them the most), but all of those ten except Santana III were on the LP shelves at one time or another, and all except Imagine are either on the CD shelves or here in digital form. And that’s not at all surprising.

But what do we find when we head down the chart to No. 50?  We find a comedy album that I’ve never heard: We’re All Bozos On This Bus by the Firesign Theatre. I knew of the record, but comedy records have never been my deal. If someone played one at a party, fine, but beyond a Bill Cosby album – Why Is There Air? – that I got as a birthday present in 1965 or so, I’ve never owned a comedy album. No Cheech & Chong, no Richard Pryor, no National Lampoon, none.

I suppose I should listen to We’re All Bozos On This Bus but I probably won’t. And since I really know nothing about it, I really can’t assess it in any way. Here it is:

No. 50 Fifty Years Ago

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

We’re going to indulge in a game of Symmetry in a moment, looking at the No. 50 record from the fourth week of October 1971, but first, we’re going to take a look at the top five from that week in the Billboard Hot 100:

“Maggie May/Reason To Believe” by Rod Stewart
“Superstar/Bless The Beasts & Children” by the Carpenters
“Yo-Yo” by the Osmonds
“Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves” by Cher
“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” by Joan Baez

“Maggie May” still works for me as a record, especially the long mandolin solo before the final choruses, but it also serves as a reminder of that long-ago season, the first autumn of my college days. It brings up memories of wandering down dorm hallways and across campus and into pizza joints with my first set of college friends, the folks I’d met at the summertime orientation. It’s always welcome here.

So, too, is “Superstar,” chiefly for the purity of Karen Carpenter’s voice (and the tasteful arrangement by her brother Richard). Bowdlerizing a bit the original lyric by Bonnie Bramlett and Leon Russell, the record still works.

We looked at Baez’ cover of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” the other week. As for “Yo-Yo” and “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves,” well, “Yo-Yo” is a pleasant memory, and the Cher single is one of the 2,900-some in the iPod, so I must like it.

But what do we find when we go the halfway point of that week’s Hot 100? Well, we find a record I’m pretty certain I’ve never heard before: “She’s All I Got” by Freddie North, during which North pleads with a rival: “Please don’t take. She’s all I got . . .”

It’s an okay record, I guess, but nothing special. It made it to No. 39 on the Hot 100 and to No. 10 on the magazine’s R&B chart. North was a singer/songwriter and guitarist from Nashville, and the only other record of his that made the two charts was “You And Me Together Forever,” which bubbled under the Hot 100 at No. 116 and went to No. 26 on the R&B chart in early 1972.

Oddly, I have North’s 1975 album, Cuss the Wind, in the digital stacks. How it got there, I have no idea. I may have grabbed it somewhere because it contains North’s cover of “A Rainy Night In Georgia.”

Here’s “She’s All I Got.”

My Faves From ’71

Friday, October 15th, 2021

I saw a squib the other day on Facebook for a book titled Never a Dull Moment: 1971, The Year That Rock Exploded by writer and broadcaster David Hepworth, a book I plan to read as soon as the local library sends it my way. The squib was followed by a challenge to list the twenty best albums from that admittedly very rich year, now fifty years in the past.

Well, I love lists, as anyone who comes past here knows. I usually do lists of single tracks, although I recall listing my thirteen favorite albums in a very early post here (the post is here, but I’ll warn you, it wanders around for a while before getting to the list). I revised that list a little later, and I imagine if I took on the topic again, my list would look at least a little different than it did fourteen years ago.

So, I’ve put together – in no particular order – a  list of my twenty favorite albums from 1971, which was, in fact, a great year for music. The greatest? Impossible to say, except to note that it lies right in the middle of my sweet spot. The years of high school and early college – 1968 through 1974 – were the best years for music for me.

I should note that one album that I wrestled with was The Concert For Bangla Desh, but I decided that all-star live albums have an unfair advantage. I’ll just note that Leon Russell’s “Jumpin’ Jack Flash/Youngblood” medley at that concert might be the single best thing released in 1971.

Here are my twenty:

Tapestry by Carole King
Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones
It Ain’t Easy by Long John Baldry
Naturally by J.J. Cale
The North Star Grassman and the Ravens by Sandy Denny
Madman Across The Water by Elton John
Pearl by Janis Joplin
Ram by Paul & Linda McCartney
Mudlark by Leo Kottke
Every Good Boy Deserves Favour by the Moody Blues
Stargazer by Shelagh McDonald
Leon Russell & The Shelter People
Stoney End by Barbra Streisand
Teaser & The Firecat by Cat Stevens
Every Picture Tells A Story by Rod Stewart
The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys by Traffic
Just An Old Fashioned Love Song by Paul Williams
2 Years On by the Bee Gees
Chase (Self-Titled)
Closer To The Ground by Joy Of Cooking

This was not a deeply researched list. I simply sorted the mp3s in the RealPlayer for 1971 and then sifted through the 300 or so albums that showed up, so I imagine I might have missed one or two that I’ll think about later.

And again, without thinking too hard about it, I’ll choose a track to share here today. It’s the title track to Shelagh McDonald’s Stargazer. Her story, as I’ve said here before, is quite strange; here’s a link to her tale at Wikipedia. And here’s “Stargazer.”

Saturday Single No. 753

Saturday, September 18th, 2021

Having looked yesterday at the Top Ten from the Billboard Hot 100 from fifty years ago this week, we may as well take a look at the Top Ten from that week’s album chart:

Tapestry by Carole King
Every Picture Tells A Story by Rod Stewart
Every Good Boy Deserves Favour by the Moody Blues
Who’s Next
Ram
by Paul & Linda McCartney
Carpenters
Mud Slide Slim & The Blue Horizon
by James Taylor
Shaft (Soundtrack) by Isaac Hayes
Master Of Reality by Black Sabbath
What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye

That’s a great Top Ten. There are at least five in there that I’d call essential Seventies albums, those by King, Stewart, the Who, Hayes and Gaye. And four of the others aren’t that far behind. (I’m not certain about the Black Sabbath album simply because it’s in a genre in which I have no expertise at all. Anyone who wants can leave a comment assessing it.)

The earliest any of those came into my life was Ram, which I got as a high school graduation present. And I’ve owned eight of those ten as LPs, everything except the Black Sabbath and James Taylor albums. Then, between CDs and digital files, I have everything on that list except Master Of Reality.

It’s interesting that Rod Stewart shows up here today. Earlier this week, the Texas Gal and I were driving home from some errand when Stewart’s “Gasoline Alley” came on the radio. I’m not as familiar with the track, or with the 1970 album that’s its namesake, as I am with other portions of Stewart’s early solo work, but I recognized it immediately and I was struck by what seemed its sloppiness: guitars going every which way, the bass and percussion seemingly working off a different sheet. I should go back and listen to the entire album, I guess, but I think I’d hear the same thing.

And that contrasts with what I hear when I listen to Every Picture Tells A Story from 1971. Stewart produced both albums, but it seems that during the time between them, he learned some restraint. I’m not saying that every track on the later album was painstakingly precise, but the rowdiness that gives Gasoline Alley its somewhat ramshackle air is gone.

I dunno, maybe I’m hearing things that aren’t there. But anyway, here’s “Seems Like A Long Time” from Every Picture Tells A Story, a cover of a tune that was originally recorded by Brewer & Shipley. And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘Another Night, Another Day . . .’

Friday, September 17th, 2021

We’re playing “Symmetry” this morning, checking out the No. 50 record in the Billboard Hot 100 from fifty years ago this week.

As usual, we’ll start the game with a look at that week’s Top Ten. There are no surprises.

“Go Away, Little Girl” by Donny Osmond
“Spanish Harlem” by Aretha Franklin
“Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers
“Maggie May/Reason To Believe” by Rod Stewart
“Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” by Paul & Linda McCartney
“Smiling Faces Sometimes” by the Undisputed Truth
“I Just Want To Celebrate” by Rare Earth
“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” by Joan Baez
“How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” by the Bee Gees
“Whatcha See Is What Cha Get” by the Dramatics

Well, except for the records by Osmond and Baez, that’s some decent listening. “Go Away, Little Girl” is at least a little icky these days no matter who sings it (and no matter how noble the intentions of the character the singer is channeling) but having a thirteen-year-old boy sing it is just weird. But that’s today’s mores, and I guess few people were thinking that way fifty years ago.

As to the Baez, my frustration with the record starts with – as I think I’ve noted before – her mis-singing the lyrics. I’ve heard or read somewhere that Baez’ people got the lyrics over the phone from Robbie Robertson’s people or publisher and mis-heard some of them, thus turning “Stoneman’s cavalry” into “so much cavalry” and Robert E. Lee into the steamboat-to-be.

But I’ve realized that the main reason I dislike Baez’ version of the song is that she pulls all the emotional weight out of it. She treats it as she did many old folk songs during the beginning of her career, as if it were a fragile flower needing her protection. “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” is a song of grief, and the singer needs to offer it as if the events it chronicles matter to him or her, as does Levon Helm of The Band.

(As I mentioned almost in passing in a post from a year ago, I’m still sorting out how I feel about “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and other cultural pieces that would undoubtedly offend some folks.)

Other than that, the nine records remaining of the eleven listed above range from inspired to pleasantly remembered. The best one there is either “Spanish Harlem” or “Maggie May,” and I won’t argue with anyone who chooses one over the other.

Oddly, only about half of the records I like from that list are in the iPod and thus in my day-to-day listening. I’ll have to add the records by the Undisputed Truth, the McCartneys, the Bee Gees and the Dramatics. It’s strange that I missed so many of those.

And now to our main business, the No. 50 record in that Hot 100 released fifty years ago yesterday. It turns out to be a ballad by Engelbert Humperdinck, some of whose stuff I’ve liked over the years and some of whose stuff I have little time for. I’d never heard “Another Time, Another Place” before:

Her candles flicker in the fading light
I sit alone and watch that lonely night
I see you everywhere and I try desperately to hide

Another time, another place, I see that old familiar face
And I try hard to catch your eye
Another road, another mile, I see that old familiar smile
But you’ll be with somebody new
Another night, another day, I’ll see you standing in my way
I’ll stop and say “Hello, my friend”
Another place, another time, you’ll tell me you’ve been doing fine
And walk away from me once more.


I try to run away from sad regrets
The bitter wine won’t help me to forget
That I locked up my heart and threw away the precious key

Another time, another place, I see that old familiar face
And I try hard to catch your eye
Another road, another mile, I see that old familiar smile
But you’ll be with somebody new
Another night, another day, I’ll see you standing in my way
I’ll stop and say “Hello, my friend”
Another place, another time, you’ll tell me you’ve been doing fine
And walk away from me once more.

Another night, another day, I’ll see you standing in my way
I’ll stop and say “Hello, my friend”
Another place, another time, you’ll tell me you’ve been doing fine
And walk away from me once more.

A couple of years earlier, still in my easy listening and soundtrack days, I probably would have liked that one a lot. Maybe I would have, anyway. But the brassy backing and Humperdinck’s over-singing were a long distance from what I was listening to during my first days of college.

The record peaked at No. 43 on the Hot 100 and got to No. 5 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart.