Posts Tagged ‘Love’

On The Nines

September 9, 2021

Well, it’s September 9, or 9/9, and the part of me that loves Games With Numbers can’t possibly ignore that. So we’re going to look at three near bottom-dwellers in three Billboard Hot 100s released on or near today’s date, each separated by nine years.

We’ll start in my lodestone year of 1970, the one year of my life when I listened, delighted and dutifully, to Top 40 music all year long, and then go back to 1961, when I had no idea that anything as cool at the Hot 100 existed. And we’ll complete our excursion with a look at 1979, a year when the Hot 100’s coolness quotient was – in my life, anyway – rapidly fading.

Along the way, as we customarily do with these follies, we’ll check out each chart’s top two records.

First, to 1970. Sitting at No. 99 in the Hot 100 released on September 12, 1970, is a record regarded by many as a classic and one that I’m sure has left many a listener baffled, perhaps, with its cryptic message and stunned with its beauty: “Alone Again Or” by the psychedelic group Love.

The version we find there – and it went no higher – is one we’ve tangled with a few times before. It’s longer than the single version that was released in 1968 after the album Forever Changes came out in 1967. (Both versions are shorter than the version on the album.) Yah Shure, my friend and patient guide to all things chart-related, wrote to me a few years ago, saying, “In my [Joel] Whitburn Pop Annual, the time listed for the 1970 re-do is 2:50. Under the ’68 single’s entry in my Whitburn Bubbling Under chart book, Joel refers to the 1970 #99 release as ‘an enhanced version,’ and that’s what it really is: embellished with additional instrumentation to pack more of a wallop over the airwaves. The difference between it and the original mix is quite apparent.”

Here is a version of the tune that has been labeled “mono single remix” with a seemingly appropriate running time. At discogs, the 1967 original release is said to have a running time of 2:49, while the 1970 rerelease – as Yah Shure noted – runs 2:50. (The 1967 album track runs 3:15.) Is this the right one? I dunno.

Sitting at Nos. 1 and 2 during the second week of September 1970 were, respectively, “War” by Edwin Starr and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross.

Hoping to leave bafflement behind, we head to 1961 and the Hot 100 that was released on September 11 of that year, There, parked at No. 99, we find “Signed, Sealed And Delivered” by Rusty Draper, a countryish waltz that has utterly nothing to do with Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” from 1970.

Draper was a singer/songwriter and guitarist from Kirksville, Missouri (a burg where I’d often stop for a burger or gas during the 1980s as I made my way between Columbia, Missouri, and Monticello or St. Cloud in Minnesota). He had one country hit – “Gambler’s Guitar” went to No. 6 in 1953 – and eleven records that reached the Hot 100 (with another bubbling under). Best-performing of the bunch was “The Shifting, Whispering Sands,” which went to No. 3 in 1955.

The maudlin “Signed, Sealed and Delivered” went to No. 91 and was his next to last entry on the chart.

The records at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, during the second week of September 1961 were “Michael” by the Highwaymen and “Take Good Care Of My Baby” by Bobby Vee.

And now to 1979, and the No. 99 record from the chart released on September 15 of that year: “Baby I Want You,” a piece of light R&B that was the only chart entry from the Funky Communication Committee, a short-lived group that managed to release two albums and three singles in 1979 and 1980.

“Baby I Want You” climbed the chart to No. 47 and did not get into the R&B Top 40. And that’s all I know.

Sitting at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, during the third week of September 1979, were “My Sharona” by the Knack and “After The Love Has Gone” by Earth, Wind & Fire.

Saturday Single No. 658

September 14, 2019

We’re going back to 1970 again this morning, a year we’ve reviewed in music and events here more often than any other year.

It was, as I’ve said here before, the only full year during which I got my musical fix from Top 40 radio: I began listening in earnest in the late summer of 1969, and by the time the end of 1971 rolled around, I was beginning to listen more to progressive rock and album tracks.

So this morning, we’re going to take the Billboard Hot 100 that lies closest to the mid-point of September 1970 – a time when I was settling into my classes as a high school senior – and look at whatever record might be sitting at No. 100. We’ll start, though, as we customarily do, by taking a look at the Top Ten from that week. Here are those records as listed in the September 19, 1970, edition of the magazine:

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross
“War” by Edwin Starr
“Lookin’ Out My Back Door/As Long As I Can See The Light” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Patches” by Clarence Carter
“Julie, Do Ya Love Me” by Bobby Sherman
“25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago
“In The Summertime” by Mungo Jerry
“(They Long To Be) Close To You” by the Carpenters
“Candida” by Dawn
“Make It With You” by Bread

I like nine of those eleven a lot. My only reservations – and those reservations have been in place for forty-nine years – are for the the A-side of the CCR single and for “Patches.” I can hear them clearly in my head as I write, and they’re not malignant earworms, but I’ve just never cared much for them.

The nine others I liked then and still like, some more than others, of course. I have to be in the right mood for “War” and for “In The Summertime” (not the same mood, though). But the others are welcome at any time.

As to the some that I like more than others, five of the lower six in that Top Ten are in the iPod, putting them on the current playlist of 3,900-some tracks. The only one of those lower six that’s missing is “Candida,” which may or may not be added. And I may add the Diana Ross single. I’ll have to think about it.

And now, to our business at the bottom of the Hot 100: We find at that lowest spot a single we’ve written about but that we have not exactly shared here before: Love’s “Alone Again Or.” The track originally showed up on the classic 1967 album Forever Changes (timing out at 3:13.) A shorter version – timed at 2:49 – was released as a single and bubbled under the Hot 100 at No. 123 in the spring of 1968.

In the late summer of 1970, Elektra tried again. The video below is posted on the more or less official Love channel at YouTube and is labeled as the “mono single remix,” so I think this is the right one. The second single release of “Alone Again Or” did only a little better, peaking at No. 99 during a three-week stay on the charts.

In 2011, I tried to figure out which version was the 1970 release and ended up posting here the album track. In a note, friend and chart expert Yah Shure pointed that out and wrote: “In my [Joel] Whitburn Pop Annual, the time listed for the 1970 re-do is 2:50. Under the ’68 single’s entry in my Whitburn Bubbling Under chart book, Joel refers to the 1970 #99 release as ‘an enhanced version,’ and that’s what it really is: embellished with additional instrumentation to pack more of a wallop over the airwaves. The difference between it and the original mix is quite apparent.”

So, is the video below right one or not? I don’t know. In any case, it’s a lovely, whirling taste of psychedelia from Albert Lee & Co., and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘You’ll Do Just What You Choose To Do . . .’

October 4, 2011

It was small version of one of those, “Whoa, that’s out of place” moments. I was running through the Billboard Hot 100 from October 3, 1970 – forty-one weeks ago yesterday – scanning titles for something interesting.

And there, at No. 104 in the Bubbling Under section, I saw “Alone Again Or” by Love. That didn’t make sense. Love released “Alone Again Or” on the lush and classic 1967 album Forever Changes. Wouldn’t the single of “Alone Again Or” have been released about that time?

Well, it was. Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles lists “Alone Again Or” (b/w “A House Is Not A Motel”) as having entered the Hot 100’s Bubbling Under section in May 1968. It spent two weeks there and peaked at No. 123. And then Elektra released another version of the single in 1970, a version noted by Whitburn as a “longer version.” That single – the one I saw at No. 104 in the October 3, 1970, Hot 100 – was backed with “Good Times” and peaked at No. 99.

Longer than what, though? Longer than the earlier single release, obviously, but trying – at this late date without actually having a copy of the first single release in hand – to determine how long that original release was and how long the second release might have been is a foolish game. All I can say is that on Forever Changes, the track ran 3:15. At least that’s the listed length on my copy of the album, which is on Elektra but is dated 1971. (All-Music Guide says the track on the 1967 release ran 3:16.) Other running times listed at AMG for “Alone Again Or” on different releases of Forever Changes are either right around 2:55 or around 3:16.

That leads me to believe – not with any great faith, however – that the single Elektra released in 1967 was something short of three minutes and the single released by the label in 1970 was the full track – perhaps a different mix – running about 3:16. That belief is bolstered a little by the discovery on line of a photo of a 45 label for “Alone Again Or” with the 1967 catalog number that claims a running time of 2:49. If that running time is correct – and running times on labels are of course notoriously unreliable – then the 1967 single was an edit of the album version that ran 3:15 or 3:16.

But we’ll leave that quest be and simply consider the track, which is one I don’t know well but should. I wrote once about my first exposure to Love after finding the group’s Out Here sometime around 1971 in a record store/head shop located in a rundown St. Cloud hotel. I didn’t get Love’s music then, and even though I picked up a couple of albums in the 1990s, I still don’t know the group’s music as well as I’d like.

So as I listened to a version of “Alone Again Or” this morning, I checked what AMG said about the song. Citing the notes in a reissue of Forever Changes, Stewart Mason writes: “[P]roducer Bruce Botnick points out that in the crowded pop marketplace of mid-’60s AM radio, Love’s competition wasn’t just the Beatles or the Mamas and the Papas, but mainstream easy listening acts like Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass; as a result, the flamenco-based ‘Alone Again Or’ features not only a fully-realized string section (by David Angel), but also a Mexican-flavored horn section featuring a climactic trumpet solo that sounds like it could have been played by Mr. A&M Records himself.” (That last is a reference to trumpeter and label owner Herb Alpert.)

Mason goes on to say “Written by second guitarist Bryan MacLean in the early ’60s in musical tribute to his mother, a flamenco dancer, ‘Alone Again Or’ is lushly beautiful, but also achingly sad . . . [I]t fits perfectly as the start of Forever Changes, a jaundiced ‘no thank you’ to the supposed sunshine and good vibes of the Summer of Love as well as Arthur Lee’s own Pet Sounds, the album he intended as his personal artistic summation.”

And here is, I think, the album version of “Alone Again Or.”

Hang A Basket! Have A Parade!

June 24, 2011

Originally posted April 30, 2008

It’s May Day.*

No one’s leaving May Baskets at my door, I am certain, nor is anyone in the apartment complex dancing around the Maypole. A look at Wikipedia confirms my hunch that those are traditional English and Northern European activities, quite likely tied to pre-Christian fertility rites. I remember learning about them – May Baskets and Maypoles, not the fertility rites – in elementary school. It strikes me as I write that we learned very little about the celebrations of most other cultures, and that tells me how insular our culture was during those times (the late 1950s and the first half of the 1960s). We celebrated Anglo-Saxon traditions and – for the most part – ignored others.

I vaguely remember making May Baskets as an art project one year early in my school days. We used little blunt-ended scissors to cut construction paper into the appropriate shapes, and then we glued those pieces together with that white paste that someone in the classroom always insisted was good to eat.

May Day is also celebrated as an international workers’ holiday, and that brings back other memories. During the years of my childhood and youth, we’d see television footage every May Day of the parade in Moscow. The Soviet Union’s workers and soldiers would march, accompanied by tanks and missiles. They’d pass through Red Square, where old men in uniforms and ill-fitting suits – the leaders of the Soviet Union – stood atop Lenin’s Tomb to review them. I remember seeing bits and pieces of the parades on television in shades of gray; once color television became the norm, the parade turned into a celebration in a sea of red. Whether the spectacle was in gray or in red, though, we were taught that it should have frightened us.

Do the believers who remain still march through Red Square? I don’t know. For that matter, does anyone dance around a Maypole anywhere? Again, I have no idea. But to mark May Day, here’s a selection of songs – mostly random; I clicked past a few from earlier years – that have in common the predominant color from those May Day parades.

A Baker’s Dozen of Red
“Red Hot Chicken” by Wet Willie from Wet Willie II, 1972

“Red Box” by Simply Red from Picture Book, 1985

“The Red Plains” by Bruce Hornsby & The Range from The Way It Is, 1986

“Red Rooster” by Howlin’ Wolf, alternate mix from The London Sessions, 1970

“Red Telephone” by Love from Forever Changes, 1967

“Red Cross Store” by Koerner, Ray & Glover from [Lots More] Blues, Rags and Hollers, 1964

“Red Shoes” by Chris Rea from Auberge, 1991

“Red House” by the Jimi Hendrix Experience from Are You Experienced (U.S. version), 1967

“Red Dirt Boogie, Brother,” by Jesse Ed Davis from Ululu, 1972

“Red Flowers” by Martin & Neil from Tear Down The Walls, 1964

“Bottle of Red Wine” by Eric Clapton from Eric Clapton, 1970

“Red’s Song” by the Jayhawks from Tomorrow the Green Grass, 1995

“99 Red Balloons” by Nena, Epic single 04108, 1984

A few notes:

The band Wet Willie sometimes gets overlooked when talk turns to southern rock of the Seventies. The group had three Top 40 hits – the best, “Keep On Smilin’,” went to No. 20 in 1974 – and released a series of pretty good albums between 1971 and 1979. The best of those was likely The Wetter the Better, in 1976, but all are worth finding. My thanks to TC at Groovy Fab, whose posts reminded me. (TC also has a great blog: TC’s Old & New Music Review.)

Simply Red’s Picture Book was the group’s debut, and I’m not sure the group ever released a better album. With two Top 40 hits (“Holding Back The Years” went to No. 1, and “Money’s Too Tight To Mention” reached No. 28), the album itself reached the Top 40 with its mix of melodic ballads and grittier numbers.

“Red Telephone” comes from the quirky and beautiful Forever Changes, quite likely the pinnacle of the L.A. group Love. Led by Arthur Lee, the group released three great albums – Love, Da Capo and Forever Changes in 1966 and 1967, becoming a favorite of critics and other musicians in the rapidly changing Southern California music scene. The band soldiered on until 1974 but never regained the odd magic it had during those first years.

The late Jesse Ed Davis wasn’t much of a singer, as one listen to “Red Dirt Boogie, Brother” tells you, but he was a hell of a guitar player. The list of his credits includes session work for artists ranging from John Lee Hooker and Booker T. Jones to Buffy Ste. Marie, Brewer & Shipley, John Lennon and Tracy Nelson. And when it came time to record his own albums – his self-titled 1971 debut, 1972’s Ululu and Keep Me Comin’ in 1973 – he had a wide range of friends and associates to help out. The credits for Ululu list Dr. John, Duck Dunn, Jim Keltner, Larry Knechtel, Leon Russell, Clydie King, Venetta Fields, Merry Clayton and more.

The folk duo Martin & Neil of “Red Flowers” was Vince Martin and the late Fred Neil, the latter, of course, better known as the writer of “Everybody’s Talkin’,” which was a No. 6 hit for Nilsson in 1969. Neil’s own recordings are worth digging into. Tear Down The Walls was his only record with Martin, and within a year, Neil would release his first solo album, Bleecker & MacDougal. That would be followed by his best work, Sessions, in 1967. Later releases were a bit haphazard but interesting in their own ways.

Nena’s “99 Red Balloons” is the English version of the international hit “99 Luftballoons,” which was recorded in German. Although German is not my favorite non-English language for music – French and Danish rate rather higher – I tend to like the original of Nena’s song more than I do the translated version. I guess it’s a tendency to seek the original and beware the copy.

*Clearly, I was a day ahead of myself. It was not May Day, it was the last day of April. As I explained in a later post. I somehow misdated one of my earlier posts. Well, things happen. Note added June 24, 2011.