Today sees my final selection of Seventies singles – for now. I may return to this theme at some point, as there are so many I’ve had to leave out. But rest assured: if I do come back to this, there definitely won’t be any Bay City Rollers or Middle Of The Road. And if that just put Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep into your brain, my apologies. (Not really 😂)
Looking back at the past couple of weeks I can see a leaning towards the early Seventies, which probably reflects the end of my singles buying days. That is also true of this week’s choices, too, though a couple are from later. I’ll admit to a little bit of cheating here, though: all of these were singles, but I had them on their albums!
I’m starting this week with one of those later ones. Dating from 1978, this is the most ‘recent’ of my Seventies songs:
That was on The Cars’ eponymous debut album. I instantly fell in love with their sound and have all of their albums.The album reached #18 in the US and #29 here. This was the lead single from it, and I can remember watching them on Top Of The Pops way back then – for those unaware of the show, that was the UK’s long-running chart music programme. This song did well for a band hitherto unknown in this country, reaching #17 and actually outperforming the US, where it only got as high as #27. The follow up, My Best Friend’s Girl, did even better, reaching #3 here – it is still their highest rated UK single. Sadly, both Benjamin Orr and Ric Ocasek, the two driving forces behind the band, are no longer with us.
My second choice is from a band who also featured in my Sixties selections:
If pressed, I’d probably say that the Moody Blues were my favourite band back then. I had all of their albums, and played them a lot – as my parents and sister could testify! This was the opening track and lead (in fact, only) single on their first album of the Seventies, A Question Of Balance, which was released in August 1970 – the single having been released in April. I received it that Christmas – good old Mum! – and thoroughly enjoyed blasting it out on the immensely powerful system that my Aunt and Uncle had, as we were staying with them that festive season. It wasn’t quite the same on the record player back home but I still loved it! The album was #1 here and #3 in the US. The single was a UK #2 and US #21.
Slowing things down a little now. Obligingly – for this series, at any rate – The Beatles released their final album in 1970, so I can include them in this decade too. This was the title track from it:
This single was a March 1970 lead in for the album, which was released in May that year. It wasn’t the first track from the album to be a single, though: Get Back had been a single release in April 1969, but was held back from that year’s album, Abbey Road, and didn’t appear as an album track until featuring on Let It Be. To my mind, that album has always had a feeling of being comprised of the ‘leftovers,’ coming out a couple of months after the band had broken up. That doesn’t stop me thinking this to be one of their most beautiful songs, and it still brings a lump to my throat when I hear it now. It should come as no surprise to you that the album was #1 in both the UK and the US, though the single only reached #2 here – #1 in the US, though.
Coming up next is a band who have sold zillions of records – I was really spoilt for choice here! I went for this one, as it was on their eponymous 1975 album, which was their first after Bob Welch left the band and was replaced by Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks:
That was the album that began it all for the reincarnated version of the band. The album was a US #1, but only reached #23 here in the UK. I guess the name still meant ‘blues band’ to us and we weren’t yet ready for the soft-rock version. We made up for it, though. This was the fifth track from it to be released as a single, and came out in June 1976 – it reached #11 in the US but only #40 here. I wanted to find a live version to share with you, and where better than when the band were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame? (By the way, the HoF still needs to get its act together and posthumously vote in Warren Zevon – can we take it to court?). Lindsey Buckingham played banjo on the recorded version of the song, and it’s interesting to see him playing it here as the lead instrument – it adds another dimension to the song, I think.
My next tune this week is one that was a big hit here in the UK:
That was the title track from Mott The Hoople’s 1972 album, and as a single reached #3 here and #37 in the US. The album fared less well, peaking at #21 here and #89 in the US. The song was written for the band by David Bowie, after they had rejected his offer of his song Suffragette City. This was their high point: the band subsequently went through several personnel changes, which began when lead guitarist Mick Ralphs left in 1973 to be a co-founder of Bad Company. One of his songs – Ready For Love – features on both the All The Young Dudes album and on Bad Company’s first record (I prefer the Bad Company version!).
I wanted to leave this series of Seventies singles with something that was important then and has remained so. I couldn’t have chosen a better song, I think:
Is there anything I can say about that song that hasn’t already been said? Somehow, I doubt it. The basic facts are that it was the title track from his 1971 album, which was a US #1 and a UK #3. As a single, the song was also a US #1, and reached #2 here. This epic trawl through American popular culture is, I think, fitting now that the country has voted to reclaim its soul. I recommend you should all sit down and listen to this, whilst reading the transcript of President-elect Biden’s speech – they are a good fit for what I have always believed your amazing country to represent. I wanted to find a live performance of the song from that time, and this one from the BBC archives was perfect. And for all you Americans who think that we Brits are too quiet as audiences, as we don’t whoop and holler over even the most sensitive pieces of music, please note that the audience here joined in. Quietly and with reserve, of course.
Next week I’ll be starting to share my favourite Seventies albums. Well, some of them – there are so many that we could be here for quite a while. That will occupy the next two weeks, and then we reach December, when everything here changes – watch this space!
It is Day 6 of Lockdown 2 here, and I’m thankful for music, books, magazines, newspapers and tv to get me through it all again. I hope this finds you safe and well, and that things will stay that way for you. Two members of my ex-wife’s family tested positive for Covid last week, one of them being her aunt, who is well into her 80s: it brings it home to you, doesn’t it?
Take care, and let’s meet again here next week.