Posts Tagged ‘Helen Reddy’

The Starship Sampler

February 17, 2017

In one of those things that occasionally bedevil all of us in this digital world, I found myself for about two weeks unable to access my Yahoo! email account, the one that’s used for this blog and for offers to meet incredibly scrumptious women. When whatever gunked up the Intertubes cleared up – and I imagine it was a combination of digital Yahooligans and my own errors – I found a gift from regular reader and friend Yah Shure:

He sent along scans of the WJON/WJJO Starship Sampler from February 9, 1976, detailing thirty-eight top singles on each of the two St. Cloud stations – WJON was Top 40 (or near enough) and WWJO was (and still is) country – along with a list of 30 featured pop/rock albums on the back cover of the sampler. (Yah Shure had intended me to have the sampler in time to write about it on February 9, but whatever went wrong with my email put a dent in that idea, so we’re a little more than a week late, which seems like no big deal after forty-one years.)

The two stations, of course, were right around the corner and across the railroad tracks from my folks’ place on Kilian Boulevard (and they’re still there in a newer building, just down Lincoln Avenue from our current place). For many years, WJON was one of the stations that gave me my evening Top 40 fix. Oddly enough, at the time of this particular sampler, that wasn’t the case: I was living in the Twin Cities, finishing an internship in television sports and getting my Top 40 from KDWB.

Still, it’s fun to know what the folks I left behind me in the Cloud were listening to, even though not much of it is surprising. Here is WJON’s Top Ten from that long-ago week:

“Convoy” by C.W. McCall
“I Write The Songs” by Barry Manilow
“Saturday Night” by the Bay City Rollers
“50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” by Paul Simon
“Evil Woman” by the Electric Light Orchestra
“Squeeze Box” by the Who
“All By Myself” by Eric Carmen
“Fox On The Run” by Sweet
“Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” by Neil Sedaka
“Winners & Losers” by Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds

(I’m going to leave the country side of the sampler alone today except to note that “Convoy” was also No. 1 there.)

The only one of the pop Top Ten I did not recall was “Winners & Losers,” and a trip to YouTube did not impress me. The record, which went to No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100, was HJF&R’s follow-up to the group’s No. 1 hit, “Fallin’ In Love,” which I also thought was a little flabby. (I’m not alone there. Yah Shure noted in a later email that both “Fallin’” and “Winners” were releases on the Playboy label, the group’s new home, and he noted that “their Playboy output was like listening to their Dunhill singles, minus any air in the tires.”)

The only surprise that Yah Shure pointed out on the Top 40 side of the sampler was the presence of Michael Murphey’s “Renegade” at No. 34, a decent enough record but one that I don’t recall at all. We both expressed amused bafflement that “The White Knight” by Cledus Maggard & The Citizens Band – a sort of rough-edged “Convoy” wannabee – sat at No. 26 on WJON. And he noted – half kidding, I think – that he was surprised that station owner Andy Hilger hadn’t “put the kibosh” on the station’s airing the Who’s naughty joke, “Squeezebox.”

Beyond that, the sampler was pretty much what you’d expect from early February 1976. There were a good number of records I recall fondly, some I love, some I don’t care about, and some I dislike. Beyond “Renegade,” there was only one I did not recall: David Ruffin’s “Walk Away From Love,” which sat at No. 19. A trip to YouTube refreshed my memory, and it fell into the “don’t care” category.

The interior pages from the February 9, 1976, Starship Sampler are here.

We’ll take a look at the list of “St. Cloud’s Top Albums” from February 9, 1976, early next week. And we’ll close today with a record that sat at No. 31 in the Starship Sampler that long-ago week, one that I like a great deal, and one that’s not been mentioned here since April 2007, Helen Reddy’s “Somewhere In The Night.”

In The Singles Bin

June 1, 2011

Originally posted January 2, 2008

I never bought many singles. By the time I began listening to and buying rock and pop, the era of the album was upon us. Even though singles were routinely issued from most albums – there were some exceptions – the focus of music was on the album and the overall sense (or message or allegory) that the listener could gain from the forty or so minutes of music on the album.

I remember the first time I bought a single. It was during a shopping trip with my family to downtown Minneapolis during what must have been the summer of 1969. I made my way to – I think – the seventh floor of Dayton’s department store and rummaged through the singles until I found the 5th Dimension’s “Aquarius//Let the Sunshine In,” which had impressed me enough the spring before on the radio that I wanted the record. (This was still a few months before I began listening regularly to Top 40 radio, so the record must have impressed me a great deal, indeed!)*

As I found my record and made my way to the cash register, I looked at the expanse of records around me, singles and albums alike. I remember feeling as if I’d walked by accident into a clubhouse where I did not belong, one from which I would be ejected without ceremony if the others there realized that I did not know the password or the secret handshake. I don’t recall if I thought then and there about becoming a member of the club, but within a year, I was shopping for records – almost always albums – with a growing assurance that, if so challenged, I would be allowed to stay.

Over the years, a small collection of singles has made its way onto my shelves. A few of them were in the boxes of 45s that I received from Mr. Rau, the man across the alley who owned a string of jukeboxes in the St. Cloud area when I was growing up. Some date from purchases in the late 1980s when I began making mix tapes for friends from my growing record collection and I didn’t want to lay out the money for an album with, say “Oooh Child” on it, so I bought the single instead. And quite a few date from a few garage sales in the early 1990s when I found metal carrying cases for 45s and bought them, gaining the singles inside as an afterthought.

So I probably have about a hundred singles, as opposed to more than 2,900 LPs, and a good number of the singles are quite obscure. I have some set aside as the ones that I enjoy the most, with the rest organized only by grade. Just to give an example of the range of stuff, I’ll list here the sixth record in each section:

“Do Wah Diddy Diddy”/“What You Gonna Do?” by Manfred Mann, Ascot 2157, 1964

“A World of Our Own”/“Sinner Man” by the Seekers, Capitol 5430, 1965

“I’m Gonna Make You Mine”/“She Sold Me Magic” by Lou Christie, Collectibles 3529, 1985

“The Return of the Red Baron”/“Sweetmeats Slide” by the Royal Guardsmen, Laurie 3379, 1967

“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”/“Race Among The Ruins” by Gordon Lightfoot, Reprise 0121, date unknown.

“Rock and Roll Rhapsody”/“I Wish I May, I Wish I Might” by the Four Aces, Decca 30575, date unknown.

“Love My Lady”/“Just A Little Lonesome” by Bobby Helms, Decca 30557, date unknown.

The Christie record is a reissue of two of his 1969 hits on the Buddah label. “I’m Gonna Make You Mine” charted in the U.S. and the U.K., but “She Sold Me Magic” charted only in the U.K., according to Wikipedia.

The Lightfoot single collects two tracks from Summertime Dream with the legend “Back to Back Hits.” “Wreck” was released in 1976 as Reprise 1369, and “Race” was released later that year as Reprise 1380, so this is a later reissue, but I’m not sure of the date.

I’ve seen a date of 1958 for the Four Aces record, and that’s likely correct, as their last Top 40 hit, “You Can’t Run Away From It,” was Decca 30041 in 1956. Based on its catalog number, the Helms single likely comes from 1958 as well.

That proves nothing except that the few singles I have in my carrying cases run from the very well known to the very obscure. But the single I remember most clearly is tucked away on another shelf, with a few other singles next to the Beatles’ albums. My dad bought it for my sister and me in February 1964, and it still sits in the original picture sleeve showing the four mop-topped Beatles smiling directly at the camera. I haven’t played it for a long time, but I think it’s still in pretty good shape. And I think we’ll start today’s Baker’s Dozen with the B side, which did pretty well, reaching No. 14 on its own.

A Baker’s Dozen of Capitol singles
“I Saw Her Standing There” by the Beatles, Capitol 5112, 1964

“Little Deuce Coupe” by the Beach Boys, Capitol 5009, 1963

“Sweete Peony” by Bobbie Gentry, Capitol 2295, 1968

“Wildflower” by Skylark, Capitol 3511, 1974

“Galveston” by Glen Campbell, Capitol 2428, 1969

“What About Me?” by Quicksilver Messenger Service, Capitol 3046, 1971

“Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again” by the Fortunes, Capitol 3086, 1971

“I’m Not Lisa” by Jessi Colter, Capitol 4009, 1975

“Sukiyaki” by Kyu Sakamoto, Capitol 4945, 1963

“I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy, Capitol 3350, 1972

“Fisherman’s Blues” by the Waterboys, Capitol 17527, 1988

“Pray for Surf” by the Honeys, Capitol 5034, 1963

“Every Beat Of My Heart” by Josie & The Pussycats, Capitol 2967, 1971

Well, it’s an interesting mix. A couple of No. 1 singles – the Reddy and “Sukiyaki” – and several singles that didn’t hit the Top 40 at all: The Gentry, the Quicksilver, the Honeys and Josie & The Pussycats. (And I don’t recall adding that last to the collection!) I’m not sure if the Waterboys single charted, but I don’t think so. [It did not.]

It’s worth repeating here that in my labeling system, songs for which I have the entire album are labeled with that album title and not as a single. That means that a lot of songs that were released as singles on Capitol over the years do not come up when I sort the collection. Still, it’s an interesting list.

The A side of “I Saw Her Standing There” was, of course, “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” which went to No. 1 in the early months of 1964. It continues to amaze me that both songs – like much of the rest of the Beatles’ catalog – remain vital and fresh forty years later.

Despite the Beach Boys’ place as America’s chief proponents of fun in the sun – and despite the admitted brilliance of Brian Wilson as a writer – the group has never meant much to me, either in its cars and surf incarnation in the early to mid-1960s or when the lyrics and music became more adventurous in the later part of that decade. “Little Deuce Coupe” is what popped up randomly; if I were to choose a Beach Boys single to represent the group in an anthology, I’d probably go with “California Girls.”

“Galveston” was the second Top Ten single for Glen Campbell and was his fourth great single in a two-year period, following “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” “Gentle On My Mind” and “Wichita Lineman.” (He also charted with “I Wanna Live” and “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife” during that time, but those seem like lesser records to me.) Of all Campbell’s hits – and he had nineteen singles reach the Top 40 between 1967 and 1978 – I think “Galveston” is his best. Like many of Campbell’s hits, it was written by Jimmy Webb.

The spare and slightly spooky “I’m Not Lisa” was Jessi Colter’s only Top 40 single. Until the record was released, Colter was better known as the wife of country music outlaw Waylon Jennings.

I know that “I Am Woman” makes many people groan these days, not least the Texas Gal. But there were reasons it was No. 1 for a week, whatever they might have been. (Of course, “Sukiyaki” was No. 1 for three weeks, so I’m not going to go all cosmic here.) Whatever its merits, “I Am Woman” – as I’ve said here before – is one of the prevailing aural memories of my early college years.

As always, bit rates will vary.

Go Take A Look!
My friend caithiseach – who has frequently left comments here – launches his own music blog, The Great Vinyl Meltdown, today. He plans to post twice a week, taking a year to examine his own collection of 45s, most of them – based on our conversations – fairly obscure. Make sure you check it out!

*As it happens, “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” turns out not to have been the first single I ever bought. As noted in a later post, my first 45 I purchased was actually Dickie Goodman’s 1966 opus “Batman & His Grandmother.” Still the 5th Dimension single remains the first musical 45 I ever bought. Note added June 1, 2011.

Blogworld Gleanings & Helen Reddy

May 22, 2011

Originally posted November 27, 2011

A few things I’ve noticed while wandering around:

Jeff over at AM, Then FM is providing early fuel for those who are easing themselves into the holiday spirit with his series of “Three under the tree” posts. Visitors will find regular appetizers of Christmas and holiday tunes from sources ranging from Arthur Lyman, Billy Squier and the Royal Guardsmen. One of the first tunes he posted, fittingly, was one of the best Christmas tunes that ever came from the rock and pop world: 1971’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” by John Lennon (with the label actually reading “John and Yoko & The Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir”).

Casey at The College Crowd Digs Me continued this week his occasional series called “Track Four.” I’ll let him explain it: “‘Track Four’ is my small way of paying homage to my dad. While he was in college…when anyone picked up a new album…it was tradition to play… ‘Track Four’…first. Supposedly… ‘Track Four’…was symbolic of whatever album one was listening too. Where this started is unknown. And any factual statistics on this particular track would be purely subjective. But anyway…I think it’s kinda cool…in a ‘Freaky long-haired’ sorta way.” The series started with “Taurus” from the self-titled 1968 debut album by the Los Angeles group Spirit (“I Got A Line On You”), and its most recent entry – last week’s – was “Miracles Out Of Nowhere” from Kansas’ 1976 album, Left Overture.

Homercat at Good Rockin’ Tonight marks his blog’s fourth anniversary with some musings on the evolution of his blog and music blogging in general. To celebrate, he shares “Happy Birthday” by Weird Al Yankovic and “Birthday” by Meredith Brooks, as well as some Cheap Trick, Off Broadway and Jason & the Scorchers. Happy Birthday, Homercat!

Over at Got The Fever, wzjn checks in with an assessment of a couple of Roger Daltry tunes (and a wish for me and the Texas Gal, for which we thank him!). We’re hoping here that life settles enough at Got The Fever to allow wzjn to give us his entertaining and thoughtful take on music more often.*

I wrote a little while ago about the fortunes of three football teams I follow. I should note that since that writing my favorite high school team, the Eden Prairie Eagles, won their seventh Minnesota large-school title in twelve years. Eden Prairie defeated St. Paul’s Cretin-Derham Hall 50-21 for the title in a game between unbeaten teams. Congratulations to Coach Mike Grant, his staff and his team!

Tuesday Cover
Back in 1966, Tim Hardin released his first album, a Verve release titled Tim Hardin 1. (I wonder if the title reassured him that there would be a second album? Turns out there were more albums than that, but the immediate successor on Verve was in fact titled Tim Hardin 2.) The album was a mix of bluesy folk, folk-rock, rock and a number of songs that aren’t easily categorized. It was hailed as a solid debut, and other performers began quickly sifting through the songs on the album, all written by Hardin. Two of them became, if not standards, then at least songs that have been covered so frequently as to become far more famous than their creator ever did.

I think it’s fair to say that nothing else Hardin wrote in his short life – he died in 1980 at the age of 39 – quite had the reach of those two songs: “Reason to Believe” and “Don’t Make Promises.” (If I had to name a third-ranking Hardin tune, I’d probably go with “If I Was A Carpenter,” which, as I think about it, may have been more popular than “Don’t Make Promises.”)

The list of those who’ve covered “Reason to Believe” begins with Rod Stewart, of course, but it also includes such performers as Lynn Anderson, Glen Campbell, the Brothers Four, the Carpenters, Bobby Darin, Dashboard Confessional, Marianne Faithful, Ian & Sylvia, Scott McKenzie, Eddie Money (!), Rick Nelson and the Youngbloods, to name only a portion of the list.

As for “Don’t Make Promises,” the list of those who recorded it is not nearly as long, but still features some interesting names: Bobby Darin, Scott McKenzie and Marianne Faithful again, the Kingston Trio, Three Dog Night, Helen Reddy, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, Chris Smither and Paul Weller.

The most interesting name there may be Smither’s, as the long-time blues and folk artist has long been on my list of performers to listen to more closely. His recording of the song was on his 1999 release Drive You Home Again, an album I’m going to have to find. Weller’s recording of the Hardin song is also more recent, coming from 2004’s Studio 150, and it’s a nice recording.

But the version I’ve decided to share today – likely because it has some time and place connections for me that the other versions don’t – is Helen Reddy’s, from her 1971 album I Don’t Know How To Love Him. During my first year of college, it seemed as if it were a rule that every young woman who lived in a dormitory had to own either a copy of Reddy’s album or of Carole King’s Tapestry. So today’s share is what at least a part of college life sounded like thirty-six years ago.

(The track is ripped from vinyl, and there are just a few pops.)

Helen Reddy – “Don’t Make Promises” [1971]

*Got The Fever has since moved. Note added May 22, 2011.

A Baker’s Dozen From 1975

April 18, 2011

Orginally posted April 4, 2007

I came across the soundtrack to the movie Dazed and Confused the other day, and Texas Gal poked her head into the room as I was listening to the Edgar Winter Group’s “Free Ride.”

“I can’t tell you how many times I heard that at the roller rink,” she said with a grin. “See, this is the stuff you should be posting!” And she stood there listening, as I previewed some of the rest of the soundtrack: “No More Mister Nice Guy,” by Alice Cooper, “Balinese” by ZZ Top and “Lord Have Mercy On My Soul” by Black Oak Arkansas all got approving nods, but her largest smile came when she heard Head East and “Never Been Any Reason.”

I smiled, too. Not long after we met in early 2000, Texas Gal told me of her long-standing affection for the Head East anthem. Oddly enough, I’d never heard it, but then, I’d never spent much time listening to arena rock; for the most part, that was a genre of music that left me cold, although I did like Boston’s first album. But I let most arena rock pass me by, content in the middle of the 1970s with the Allman Brothers Band, Fleetwood Mac, Boz Scaggs and things a little less raucous than Head East and their brethren.

Texas Gal moved to Minnesota later in 2000, and not long after her move, I surprised her with a vinyl copy of Head East’s Flat As A Pancake, the home of “Never Been Any Reason.” It was a decent anthem, I acknowledged, if not to my exact taste. For her, she told me, it was a memory of some of the misspent moments of her younger days.

So when I played “Never Been Any Reason” for her last weekend as I sampled the Dazed and Confused soundtrack, she asked why I didn’t post it or use it as the start of a Baker’s Dozen. I told her I certainly could, as long as it didn’t come from 1976, as I recently posted a sampler from that year. I checked it out, and Flat As A Pancake was released in 1975.

So here is a Baker’s Dozen from that year, starting with a tune for my Texas Gal:

“Never Been Any Reason” by Head East from Flat As A Pancake

“A Day To Myself” by Clifford T. Ward from Escalator

“Marcy’s Song (She’s Just a Picture)” by Jackson Frank, unreleased session

“Reasons” by Earth, Wind & Fire from That’s The Way Of The World

“Nights Winters Years” by Justin Hayward & John Lodge from Bluejays

“Union Man” by the Cate Brothers from Cate Brothers

“You Don’t Know My Mind” by Tony Rice from California Autumn

“She’s The One” by Bruce Springsteen from Born To Run

“Somewhere In The Night” by Helen Reddy, Capitol single 4192

“Night Game” by Paul Simon from Still Crazy After All These Years

“Aviation Man” by Tim Moore from Tim Moore

“Pegasus” by the Allman Brothers Band from Enlightened Rogues*

“Love Won’t Let Me Wait” by Major Harris, Atlantic single 3248

Some things of note: the late Clifford T. Ward was one of Britain’s finest and – on this side of the Atlantic, anyway – least known singer-songwriters. Quiet, tasteful and thoughtful, his music can entrance. The same can be said for American Tim Moore, whose self-titled album from this year of 1975 should have been a massive hit. That it wasn’t is more our loss than his.

More tragic is the tale of the late Jackson C. Frank, whose single album, Blues Run The Game, came out in 1965.

And then there’s Major Harris and “Love Won’t Let Me Wait,” with its background of some lovely lady cooing and moaning. It was quite the sensation in its time.

*Enlightened Rogues is, of course, from 1979. Somehow, “Pegasus” was mistagged. Stuff happens.

Saturday Single No. 177

March 20, 2010

(Altered significantly since original post.)

Not very enthusiastically, I was scanning the Billboard Hot 100 for March 22, 1975, looking for something from thirty years ago this week that would inspire me for today’s post. I was thinking about a game of “Jump,” offering up the Top 40 single that had moved the greatest number of places from the previous week’s list. For the list from March 22, 1975, that would have been Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom,” which had moved up twenty-four spots to No. 11. I shrugged; that’s never been one of my favorite Elton John tunes.

I’d already looked at the Hot 100 for this week in 1970, and a game of “Jump” there would have pointed out an amazing leap: As of March 21, 1970, the Beatles’ “Let It Be” stood at No. 6 after not having been listed in the Hot 100 or among the records in the “Bubbling Under” section the week before. That means that “Let It Be” went in one week from no higher than No. 121 to No. 6, an astounding leap of one hundred and fifteen spots. But “Let It Be,” as much as I loved it then and still like it today, isn’t all that interesting. (Well, there are the differences between the single produced by George Martin and the album track produced by Phil Spector, but I’ve alluded to those before, I think, and anyway, the thought of writing about the record this morning didn’t grab me.)

So I went back to the 1975 chart, looking for something. And at No. 22, I saw “Emotion” by Helen Reddy, in its seventh week in the Hot 100. I’d heard the song last evening. Not by Reddy, though. “Emotion” is the opening track of the new Patti Dahlstrom CD, which arrived in the mail yesterday.

The song has an interesting back-story, one that starts with a French singer-songwriter named Véronique Sanson. In 1972, she had a French-language hit record with a song titled “Amoureuse.” According to Wikipedia, Sanson’s single was released in an English version in the United States in 1973 by Elektra Records. and thus came to the attention of Artie Wayne, a producer and songwriter (and these days, an active blogger), who at the time was an executive with Elektra’s parent company, Warner Music Group, is also a long-time friend of Patti Dahlstrom.

In the liner notes to her CD, Emotion – The Music of Patti Dahlstrom – Patti says that Artie sent Sanson’s French album to her “for my consideration to write English lyrics. I was mesmerized by the music to ‘Amoreuse,’ but I don’t speak French and had no idea what the lyrics meant. I carried the melody in my head for weeks and then one day the first line – ‘Lonely women are the desperate kind’ – just fell out as my key turned in the lock, and the lyric to ‘Emotion’ wrote itself very quickly.”

“Emotion” was included on Patti’s second album, 1973’s The Way I Am, and was released as a single. A year later, Helen Reddy recorded “Emotion” for her Free and Easy album, and an edit of the track was released as a single in January 1975. The single peaked at No. 22, which was where I saw it when I looked at the Hot 100 from March 22, 1975. (Reddy’s version of “Emotion” did, however, spend a week at No. 1 on the Adult Contmporary chart.)

So here is “Amoureuse” by Véronique Sanson from 1972. (I should note that “Amoureuse” – with lyrics translated from Sanson’s French original by singer-songwriter Gary Osborne – was a No. 13 U.K. hit in 1973 for British singer Kiki Dee. Dee’s recording thus has the same melody as “Emotion.”)

And then,  here’s “Emotion” by Helen Reddy from 1975, your Saturday Single.

(My thanks to reader Yah Shure for clarification of points I’d managed to muddy.)