Archive for the ‘Back In 1970’ Category

‘Not Even Know Your Name . . .’

December 10, 2021

As I sat at the computer the other day, iTunes kept me company, offering familiarity and comfort, mostly from the late 1960s and early 1970s, and then – from 1970, a year smack in the middle of that period – came “The Road” by Chicago, a track from the group’s second album, the silver one.

And, not for the first time, I pondered the lyrics and wondered how the narrator – not necessarily the song’s composer, Terry Kath or its singer, Peter Cetera, but the imagined narrator – would feel about his words fifty-some years after the fact:

If you’d like to get together
Then come right over to me
Oh, we can do anything
That you’d like to do

If you’d like to give your love
Then please, just feel free
Because I may be gone tomorrow
And not even know your name, yeah

Now please don’t misunderstand my loneliness
Let’s never, ever talk of time
For our friends may fade away
And our hopes will say goodnight
And our friendship would be lost
It would be such a waste of life
So, let’s just, let’s have a good thing, girl
And let’s not worry
Let’s do everything we want
And let’s not cry.
When it’s over
When I leave, our thing won’t die

If you really understand
Then come right over to me
Oh, we can play together for a while
And still be free, yeah!

The callowness of the young, right? Well, Kath and the other members of Chicago were young when the track came out. Kath was twenty-four, just to check one. And the sentiments of the song were very much of its time, especially for a young man on the road with a band. (The song is kind of the flip side of “Superstar,” the Leon Russell/Bonnie Bramlett tune.)

And I remember sorting the lyrics out when I got the Chicago album at the age of sixteen and kind of thinking (perhaps ahead of my time and my peers): “That might be a cool way to live, with a lot of girls around, maybe, but you know, when you do get to wherever home is, there’s probably no one there, and maybe that wouldn’t be such a good idea, not that I’ll ever have the chance to know . . .”

And with that train of thought sometime in 1970 went the rather ludicrous idea of my ever being a rock ’n’ roll god, and from then on, I just bobbed my head to the music and – in the last few decades – have wondered how long it took in the rock ’n’ roll world for those sentiments to fade away or if they even have.

Ah, well. It’s just an old song, an artifact of its time, and it pops up once in a while – six times this year – and usually I let it roll by as I read news or putter on Facebook.

‘Through The Drizzling Rain . . .’

June 18, 2021

When I ask the RealPlayer to sort for the word “Friday,” I get twenty-four results back. Two of them are performances by The Band from the mid-1990s on the NBC show Friday Night Videos. The rest are all tunes with “Friday” in their titles.

Some of them have shown up here before, like Nancy Sinatra’s “Friday’s Child,” an odd, jarring song (written, unsurprisingly by Ms. Sinatra’s mentor, Lee Hazlewood, who specialized in the odd and jarring).

Most of the other Friday songs, I believe, have been left unexamined. So I settled, simply because of the worldplay in its title on “Friday Mourning” a 1970 B-side by the group Mid Day Rain. It got here via the massive Lost Jukebox project that showed up on the ’Net some years ago, most of which I managed to capture.

And I can learn nothing about the Mid Day Rain except that the group evidently had just the one single released: “Welcome To The Rain/Friday Mourning.” There are no other releases listed at discogs, and no entry for the group in Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles. (I didn’t really expect to find one there, but one covers the bases.)

“Friday Mourning” was written by one S. Arrell, and “Welcome To The Rain” came from someone named Davis, with both tracks produced by John Florez and both songs published by Lenco Music. “Welcome To The Rain” was the A-side of the RCA release, and that’s really all I know, except that I read that Gnarls’ Barkley’s “Online” sampled “Welcome To The Rain.”

And that “Friday Mourning” is kind of a dreamy, lost-in-the-mist song, and it’s decent listening.

‘Let Me Run Down Your Fingers . . .’

September 7, 2018

Looking back forty-eight years to the September 7, 1970, “6+30” survey from the Twin Cities’ KDWB, the top six records immediately start a playlist in my head:

“War” by Edwin Starr
“In The Summertime” by Mungo Jerry
“Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” by Stevie Wonder
“Make It With You” by Bread
“25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago
“Solitary Man” by Neil Diamond

Decent records all, but I find things more interesting in the bottom six of that long-ago survey:

“Holy Man” by Diane Kolby
“Lay A Little Lovin’ On Me” by Robin McNamara
“All Right Now” by Free
“Soul Shake” by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
“Long Long Time” by Linda Ronstadt
“Tell It All Brother” by Kenny Rogers & The First Edition

We’ve talked about the bottom three of those at one time or another here, and the one that grabs my attention this morning is the first entry in that list: “Holy Man.” Sitting at No. 31, it was new to the survey:

The record peaked at No. 12 on KDWB three weeks later, which is probably why I recall it. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the record, but when I saw it listed on that 1970 survey this morning, I remembered hearing it and liking it.

The record’s success at KDWB was an anomaly, as “Holy Man” made it to only No. 67 on the Billboard Hot 100. There were a few other stations around the country where the record did well, based on what’s available at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive. In Kansas City, “Holy Man” went to No. 11 on KHB’s “40 Star Super Hit Survey,” as it did on the “Big Thirty” at Salt Lake City’s KNAK. A few other stations saw the record peak in the top twenty. One of those was the Twin Cities’ WDGY, where it got to No. 19. (The highest ranking that the surveys at ARSA show for the record is a peak at No. 4 on 2SM in Sydney, Australia.)

“Holy Man” was the only charting single for Kolby, a native of Houston, Texas, although several others were released in the U.S. and elsewhere between 1970 and 1974. All but one of those singles ended upon her one released album, a self-titled effort that – oddly – was not released until 1973, three years after her one bit of chart success. The one non-album single listed at Discogs – “Ju Ju Woman” – is also pretty good.

Kolby died in 2016 at the age of 70. Her life and career are examined in a post from this past June at the blog Aquarium Drunkard.

Saturday Single No. 456

July 25, 2015

My search feature told me this morning that among the Billboard Hot 100 charts that have been released over the years on July 25, one of them fell in 1970. I glanced at it, knowing as I did that every record near the top would likely be familiar, tunes I would have heard on KDWB (or on WJON or WLS after dark).

And I thought, “Why not just look at the KDWB survey instead?” So I stopped off at the Oldies Loon website and pulled up the station’s survey for July 27, 1970. (The survey is here.) And every record was more than familiar until I got right near the bottom of the survey, where Glen Campbell’s “Everything A Man Could Need” didn’t ring any bells. I checked it out on YouTube, was reminded that the full title was “Everything A Man Could Ever Need,” and then remembered hearing it and not being very impressed. Neither were the rest of KDWB’s listeners, as the record made it only as high as No. 28 on the station’s weekly surveys over a four-week run.*

So with a survey full of memories – as I’ve noted many times, the summer of 1970 was one of the best radio seasons of my life – what do I do this morning? I thought about playing some games with today’s date, and did a quick scan of the records that would be involved, those at Nos. 7, 15, 22, 25 and 32. And then I went back to No. 25, Bob Dylan’s “Wigwam.”

Back in the summer of 1970, I knew very little about Bob Dylan. I knew about “Lay Lady Lay” from the summer of 1969. I knew about “Blowin’ In The Wind.” I knew he was one of the big trees in the forest of folk and rock and pop music. I didn’t really know why.

But I loved the wordless “Wigwam,” which peaked at KDWB at No. 23 a couple of weeks later (and made it to No. 41 in the Hot 100). I know now, of course, that it came from Self Portrait, the ramshackle album that left most critics and fans baffled and annoyed at best. I know now a lot more about Bob Dylan. There are numerous albums of his that I admire more and enjoy more than I do Self Portrait. There are Dylan songs and Dylan recordings that I admire more than I do “Wigwam.”

But I still love the record, just like I did back in 1970. Because of that, and because it’s not ever been mentioned even once over the course of about 1,800 posts here, Bob Dylan’s “Wigwam” is today’s Saturday Single.

* “Everything A Man Could Ever Need,” from the movie Norwood, wasn’t a big hit nationally, either, making it only to No. 52 in the Hot 100. The record did get to No. 5 on the Billboard country chart and to No. 3 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

‘Hard Luck & Troubles . . .’

March 31, 2015

The Texas Gal came down with a cold late last week: Sneezing, congestion, body aches, the whole bit. She soldiered through it, and as she did, I figured it was only a matter of time before the cold went viral, so to speak, and wandered my way.

It did so sometime between bedtime Saturday and the alarm going off Sunday morning. So I sat at the computer early Sunday, wondering if I felt crappy enough to postpone a meeting after church that had already been rescheduled twice in the past month. I had a musical performance scheduled during the church service that could not be missed, but the idea of ending the church day there and postponing the meeting again was attractive.

I had just decided to gut it out and stay for the meeting when I heard a series of “thump-thump” sounds coming from the stairway. The Texas Gal had slipped on a step coming down from the loft and, it appeared, had sprained her ankle. I got her into the living room and settled in her recliner. She shooed me off to church, where I did my part in the musical performance. Then I begged off, postponing my meeting once more in order to get home and see to the Texas Gal’s needs.

At bedtime, she limped upstairs, and we decided that Monday morning would bring a visit with Dr. Julie. And on Monday, Dr. Julie scanned the x-rays and told us that the Texas Gal had a spiral fracture of her left fibula just next to the ankle. “Well,” said Dr. Julie, “if you’re going to have a broken leg bone, that’s the one you want to break, and that’s the way you want to break it.”

So the Texas Gal is in a boot for four to six weeks. It’s taking some getting used to, but she’s moving around far better this morning than she was yesterday, and she thinks she’ll be able to return to work tomorrow without major complications.

As for me, I’m congested and sneezing and not sleeping well, but that’s really small stuff when looking at the larger panorama. Things could be much, much worse.

And, as always, I hear music in the background of our lives. Here’s an appropriate tune from Delaney & Bonnie: “Hard Luck and Troubles” from their 1970 album To Bonnie From Delaney.

One Chart Dig: November 6, 1970

November 7, 2014

Glancing through the entries on the Billboard Hot 100 from forty-four years ago today, I was struck by a title in the Top 40 that I’d never encountered: “Ungena Za Ulimwengu (Unite The World)” by the Temptations. The record was at No. 39, just down from its peak a week earlier at No. 33. (It peaked at No. 8 on the R&B chart.)

Despite the foreign language title (and after a brief sorting of links at Google, I’m still not sure which African language it is), to my ears the record holds no trace, either sonically or lyrically, of what we would eventually call world music: It comes straight from the Barrett Strong & Norman Whitfield notebook (with Whitfield producing).

Given the Strong & Whitfield sound, its relative failure on the charts is a little perplexing. In Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, “Ungena Za Ulimwengu (Unite The World)” is the fourth of a series of five singles listed beginning in August 1969: The three before it were “I Can’t Get Next To You,” which went to No. 1; “Psychedelic Shack” (No. 7); and “Ball of Confusion” (No. 3). And following “Ungena Za Ulimwengu (Unite The World)” in early 1971 was “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me),” which was another No. 1 hit, a record decidedly different than the four preceding it but still a Strong/Whitfield track.

My guess is that the foreign title might have put off programmers and confused the buying public, because it’s a pretty good record.

‘Summer Morning In The Sun . . .’

August 26, 2014

The Texas Gal is on vacation, and consequently, I’m not planning to spend a lot of time in the EITW studios this week. But I will dig into a couple of Billboard Hot 100s and find a single record to ponder a couple times over the next few days. Today, I went back to the year that pops up more often here than any other – 1970 – and checked out the lower levels of the chart from August 29. And I found a record that I don’t believe I heard back then, but it’s one I think I would have liked: “(I Remember) Summer Morning” by the English pop group Vanity Fare:

It’s a little slight and saccharine for me now – at least it is this morning – but I’m pretty sure that the sixteen-year-old whiteray would have nodded his head as the record came out of the radio on a late August evening. He wouldn’t have been remembering a summer romance as the single played; that was an experience waiting for him some years down the road. But being the romantic that he was (and still is, more than forty years later), he would have thought to himself that what Vanity Fare offered in its record is the way one should feel about a summer romance.

(It’s possible, however, that even as he liked the record back in 1970, the young whiteray might have noticed even back then that the tale of romance is strong on generalities and very light on details of what the two innocents did during their summer: Did they ride the roller coaster at Beckman Park, or swim to the raft in the sunshine at Lake Anna, or walk along Crescent Street in the rain? The record doesn’t say.)

As far as I recall, “(I Remember) Summer Morning” never came out of the RCA radio in my room as summer dwindled and autumn approached in 1970. Forty years ago this week, the record sat at No. 98; it stayed there one week and then disappeared. Vanity Fare is, of course, better remembered for two other 1970 records: “Early In The Morning” went to No. 12 in April and “Hitchin’ A Ride” went to No. 5 in June. And it was probably just as well for that adolescent whiteray that “Summer Morning” wasn’t a hit; there were enough romantic notions coming out of the speakers of that old RCA as it was.

See you later this week.

Visualizing Sabres

March 11, 2014

I imagine it was sometime in February 1970 that I was doodling on my drawing pad, considering the recently announced nickname – the Sabres – of the new National Hockey League team based in Buffalo, New York.

And as I doodled, several threads of my life were coming together.

A few years earlier, probably sometime in late 1967, I’d wandered across the street to Rick and Rob’s house. Rick wasn’t home, but Rob was busy considering nicknames for teams he’d made up as members of sports leagues he’d created. One of them, I recall, was the Akron Hubs, with the nickname playing on the Ohio city’s prominence in the tire trade. Another was for a fictional college, the College of Cosmos & Damien, whose athletic teams would be called the Trumpeters.

He also, I think, showed me a basketball card game designed to be played either solitaire or with two players.

Being a newly hatched sports fan, all of that fascinated me, and I soon had my own basketball card game and began putting together lists of team names. I also began thinking about logos. In that year of 1967, as I’ve noted before, two new professional sports teams came to Minnesota, the Minnesota North Stars of the National Hockey League and the Minnesota Muskies of the American Basketball Association. I followed the two teams, but more than that, I found myself considering the thought and design that went into naming the teams and then crafting their logos.

Then, after the Minnesota Muskies’ first season ended, the team announced it was moving to Miami, where it would be called the Floridians. Sometime during the summer of 1968, I looked at the map of Florida, and I envisioned a basketball flying out of Miami northeast like a comet or a hurricane, then curving around behind the state and coming out under the panhandle. And I sat down with my crude tools – a compass, an atlas and some colored pencils – and created a logo for the Miami Floridians. I don’t recall what colors I used, but I remember that it was a pretty raw piece of work. Nevertheless, I found the address for the newly relocated basketball team and mailed my creation off.

And here’s what came in the mail that August:

And here’s the logo the Floridians chose:

I filed the letter away and started making logos for my own fictional teams. I had a couple of basketball leagues of eight teams each (one using my card game and the other a simple dice game I invented), and then I expanded: I divided the U.S. into seven regions and used Canada as the eighth region to conduct a national basketball tournament. Each region had sixteen teams, and I pored over the atlas to find towns small and large to enter into the tourney; when a team reached its regional semifinals, it was awarded a nickname. If it won its region, it got a logo. The number of logos in my file – a file I have sitting behind me on a table as I write – increased rapidly.

I don’t know which I enjoyed more: playing the individual games of the tournament, watching the progress of the various teams through the tournament, selecting the nicknames for the regional semifinalists, or crafting the logos of the eight regional champions. All of it fed my soul. I eventually played five annual tournaments, with the last one coming during my sophomore year of college.

It was at the midpoint of that five-year run, in 1970, that I found myself one evening doodling as I considered how one might illustrate the team name of the Buffalo Sabres, a team that would begin play in the National Hockey League that autumn. I sketched a large and somewhat ornate capital B, and a little while later, I had what we would these days call a concept:

I made another version of it, this time making the blade of the sabre white, so the “uffalo” was more clearly visible. And I sent it off to Buffalo. A few weeks later, I got a letter:

I was pretty pleased just to have been noticed. And, yes, given the final portion of the letter, I must have asked if I should continue designing logos. I don’t recall doing so, but I think I was truly asking for an honest opinion. (Really, though, what was Mr. Burr going to say to a sixteen-year-old kid?)

A couple of years later, in 1973, I quit making logos, quit my annual basketball tournament and pretty much quit creating imaginary teams. I’ve resumed in recent years, taking a tabletop baseball game – not Strat-O-Matic, but a different one – and creating a league that over the course of almost thirty years has grown to eighteen teams. I’ve used Word to create the logos, which is kind of limiting, but good enough for now. Here’s one of them.

Getting back to 1970, I remember wondering on evenings in my room if the Buffalo Sabres would respond to me at all. I’m sure the radio was playing as I wondered, tuned to either KDWB or WLS or WJON just across the railroad tracks. So what would I have heard? Well, I would have heard many records that are now, as I often say, old friends, and I certainly heard some that I have long since forgotten. One of those forgotten until recent years was “Take A Look Around” by Smith. During this week in 1970, the record was at No. 31 on KDWB’s “6+30” survey; it would top off at No. 22 a couple of weeks later (and at No. 43 in the Billboard charts).


Forty-Two Years

May 4, 2012

“Ohio” by Mott the Hoople.
Live at Fairfield Halls, Croydon, England, September 13, 1970.

Saturday Single No. 213

November 27, 2010

 I have, as has been noted here several times before, a fascination with the music of 1970. So I thought that this morning – with a planned shopping excursion and the Texas Gal waiting on the other side of this post – I’d look at the Top Ten for this week in 1970, and then do a six-song random jaunt through that year’s music in search of today’s single. (As you’ll see below, for technical reasons, this became a seven-song jaunt.)

The Billboard Top Ten in the last week of November was almost unchanged from the Top Ten a week earlier, a list we looked at last week. The order had shifted, and “Somebody’s Been Sleeping” by 100 Proof Aged In Soul had been replaced by Stevie Wonder’s “Heaven Help Us All.” But it was a familiar list (with, as a commenter rightly pointed out last week, several iconic performances):

“I Think I Love You” by the Partridge Family
“The Tears of a Clown” by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
“I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5
“We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters
“Fire and Rain” by James Taylor
“Gypsy Woman” by Brian Hyland
“Indiana Wants Me” by R. Dean Taylor
“Montego Bay” by Bobby Bloom
“Heaven Help Us All” by Stevie Wonder
“Green-Eyed Lady” by Sugarloaf

So what I’m going to do from here is sort out the 3,100 or so songs I have from 1970, arrange them in time order, and with “I Think I Love You” as my starting point, click on six songs at random and see where we end up.

Our first stop is “Movement5 (Beginning)” by Mandrill, a horn-laden Latin R&B band from Brooklyn. Starting with some guitar feedback, the piece slides into a percussion driven chant of “Peace! Love! Peace! Love!”  Sounds like 1970. Eventually, the percussion fades away, and the chanting runs through an echo chamber before finally fading away itself.

And we’re on to “You’d Better Be Ready” by a group named Magic Sand. Google has plenty of information about the scientific toy called Magic Sand but nothing significant about the group, which, according to the listing at All-Music Guide,  released only one album in its creative life. “You’d Better Be Ready” is bluesy with a heavy circular riff and a busy boogieing guitar solo that sounds very much of its time. So, too, do the slightly menacing vocals: “That fella you’ve been seeing can’t love you like me. Step over to my side. There’s no room for three.”

And we move into familiar territory: the rollicking and triplet-enhanced piano of Little Richard as he leads Delaney & Bonnie & Friends into “Miss Ann,” a selection from D&B&F’s album To Bonnie From Delaney. (That was, I believe, the first Delaney & Bonnie album I owned, and my first listening to it brought me my first knowing exposure to Little Richard’s flamboyant musicianship. As soon as the track was over, I stopped the stereo, moved the needle back and listened to “Miss Ann” once more.)

From rockin’ out with Little Richard we move on to a subdued folkish reading of a Gordon Lightfoot song by a fellow who did his share of rocking out over the years. Released as the last track on Ronnie Hawkins’ self-titled 1970 album, “Home From The Forest” gets a quiet, meditative reading, appropriate for the tale of an old man whose home was a rooming house and whose friend was a bottle. It’s a side of Hawkins not often seen, and it’s all the more effective for that. (The track also has a sad and sweet harmonica solo from none other than King Biscuit Boy.)

Fifth up this morning is a tune from Traffic, pulled from John Barleycorn Must Die. “Stranger To Himself” is a halting, shifting tune with intentional dissonance, instrumental and vocal. I’ve heard it so many times over forty years that it sounds normal, and I wish I could remember what I thought of it the first time I heard it. Now, it just sounds like the rec room in our basement circa 1973.

And we head to country rock territory, with weeping fiddles leading us into “The Image of Me” from Burrito Deluxe, the second album released by the Flying Burrito Brothers. The track, written by country writing legend Harlan Howard along with Wayne Kemp, seems to be your basic Burrito outing: good but not great, as least not when compared to the group’s previous release, The Gilded Palace of Sin. That came out in 1969, though, and we’re concerned this morning with 1970 and prepared to stop right here. Technical difficulties, however, at force us to move on one more step to a seventh song:

Ian and Sylvia Tyson were one of the most popular acts of the folk revival of the early 1960s, with Ian Tyson writing some of the most evocative songs of that era, including “Early Morning Rain” and “Four Strong Winds.” As 1970 came along, they’d been passed by for the most part, but soldiered on, heading into country rock and straight country music. Their 1970 release, The Great Speckled Bird, was produced by Todd Rundgren, and although it was not all that successful commercially, I’ve always enjoyed it. And “Smiling Wine” from The Great Speckled Bird is today’s Saturday single:

(Whoops! “Early Morning Rain,” as reader Randy points out, is Gordon Lightfoot’s tune.)