Last week I continued my wander down memory lane by moving into the Seventies, and promised that I would be back for more. Despite my comments that this was the time when I began buying many more albums than singles I have somehow managed to compile a list of another dozen or so songs that, whilst I mostly bought them on albums, were also released as singles, so I’m kind of taking a place in both camps for this week and next by sharing these. Still, if the government can keep changing its mind and making up the rules as it goes along, it must be OK for me to do that too, right?
I’m starting this week by rousing you out of any torpor in which you might have found yourself:
No one sleeps while I’m around! It may not come as a surprise to you that after I bought the album from which that was the title track, I only managed to play it in the lounge once, before a maternal decree decided that any future listening was to be undertaken by removing the record player to my bedroom until the horror was over! Still, Mum liked Jim Reeves so I guess this shouldn’t have come as any shock to me. As a single, that was released in August 1970, and reached #4 here and #61 in the US. The album followed the next month, and was a UK #1, peaking at #12 in the US. Black Sabbath – and this album in particular – are often cited as being influential in initiating the heavy metal genre of music. Hardly surprising, really.
Next up is another song which was the breakthrough hit for the band, and still sounds as fresh as ever today:
Roxy Music released their eponymous debut album in June 1972, reaching #10 here in the UK but failing to chart in the US, despite the fact that the US version included this track, which had been omitted from the UK version: they saved it for release as a non-album single in August 1972. It peaked at #4 on the UK singles chart but didn’t score in the US: in fact, it would be several years before they had a hit single over there – Love Is The Drug, in 1975, was their first, although their albums had by then made some small dents on the charts. I guess they were one of those bands whose appeal and style didn’t travel well beyond our shores. Well, not as far as North America, for the most part. They were at the beginning of the time of glam rock (cf. also T. Rex, The Sweet, Mud, Slade, etc) but were, in my view, more interesting in musical terms than the more ‘pop’ bands of the time. Their later albums are very sophisticated rock/pop, and Bryan Ferry, their lead vocalist and leader, has also made some superb solo albums. This video shows the band’s first appearance on our weekly tv chart show, Top Of The Pops – they were a breath of fresh air at the time, bringing something a little exotic and mysterious. I loved them, and still do.
This week’s next song is a little unusual for me, in that it is a cover version which I bought as a single, despite already having the original on an album:
In case you didn’t know, the song was written by Cat Stevens and was on his Tea For The Tillerman album, which was released in 1970, as was Jimmy Cliff’s cover version. Cat Stevens’ version is, to my mind, slightly more delicate, but I’ve always loved the reggae tinge that Jimmy Cliff gave to it. He clearly liked it too: it was the title track of his 1971 album, which also contained the wonderful song Going Back West – not easy to find, but it’s on YouTube somewhere. Go on, look it up and treat yourself! Cat Stevens didn’t release the song as a single in the UK, leaving the coast clear for Jimmy, who reached #8 with the song here. It didn’t become a US hit, probably because Cat Stevens’ version was released as a single there, peaking at #11. The video I’ve shared is a real period piece, but one thing has always puzzled me about it: were the band hiding behind the wall, or was this an early example of karaoke?
So, that’s two from the UK and one from Jamaica so far, so where next? How about Canada?:
The story goes that the song was written and recorded as a joke for Randy Bachman’s brother Gary, who had a stutter. It wasn’t originally intended to be on the Not Fragile album, but when the record company heard it they were convinced that the band had a hit on their hands. They were right! It was #1 in the US and their native Canada, as well as in Germany, Denmark and South Africa, and got to #2 here in the UK. Both the single and the album were released in September 1974: the album was also #1 in both the US and Canada, but didn’t reach our charts. This song was the soundtrack to my final year at university: it was guaranteed to fill the dance floor at student discos!
Moving south of the North American border now for my next choice. This has one of the best guitar riffs of all time, and I think it’s amazing:
Tom Scholz, take a bow: I applaud your guitar playing and songwriting. Brad Delp deserves praise too, I think, for some great vocals. The album – Boston – was released in August 1976. This was its opening track, and was released as a single the following month. The album peaked at #3 in the US and #11 here, while the single reached #5 and #22 respectively. Even after all these years, the hairs on my neck rise when I hear that guitar solo! One small point: if you watch this on YouTube, please disregard the attributions in the information section. This song was NOT written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, nor was it performed by the Bee Gees. Fake noooz!
Back home to the UK for this week’s final choice. This was a band that straddled the late Sixties/early Seventies, and made six great albums in a little under four years. I could have chosen many of their songs but I was looking for a hit single, and it is a bonus that this one gives me a rousing finale:
This was the opening track on the band’s final album, Heartbreaker. Only two of the original band members were left by then, so it is hardly surprising that their second, and final, break up followed shortly afterwards. But Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke then went on to found Bad Company, so all was not lost! The album was released in January 1973, and reached #7 in the UK and #47 in the US. As a single, this was released in December 1972, and also reached #7 here. It was also a #47 hit – but in Germany, not the US! It was another favourite at the students’ union discos, too.
So, as we stumble into another national lockdown under the ever incompetent guidance of our government – aka the ship of fools – I bid you adieu until next time. I’ll be posting again in a couple of days, so do look out for that: I’ve managed to work out that the week includes days other than Tuesday, so I thought I’d share my discovery with you. To back myself up on that revelation – I posted some tunes for Halloween last Saturday, if you missed them. There’s just no
end beginning to my achievements, is there!
Be well, stay safe, and enjoy your music.