Music, Music Countdowns, Radio, Retro Rock

1970: Greatest Year For One Hit Wonders?

 

Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “The only constant in life is change.”  The concept of change accurately describes the musical landscape of Top 40 radio in 1970.

Since the beginning of the Top 40 radio format, there has always been change. As 1969 turned into 1970, many established artists started following new musical paths.

  • Diana Ross left the Supremes
  • The Beatles officially ended their band
  • Simon & Garfunkel split as a duo

Death ended the careers of two more artists: Both Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin died of drug overdoses, at age 27.

1970 also saw new artists emerge, starting a stream of multiple top 40 hits:

  • The Carpenters
  • Bread
  • The Jackson 5
  • James Taylor
  • Chicago

During the July 4th weekend of 1970, American Top 40 (AT40) debuted as the first nationally syndicated music count down program. Hosted by Los Angeles DJ Casey Kasem, AT40 played the Top 40 songs each week, from the Billboard Hot 100.

 

Casey Kasem Host of American Top 40

Here are the Top 10 songs that Kasem counted down on the first AT40 broadcast during the first weekend in July 1970:

  1. Mama Told Me (Not To Come)             Three Dog Night
  2. The Love You Save                               Jackson 5
  3. Ball of Confusion                                 The Temptations
  4. Ride Captain Ride                                 Blues Image
  5. Band of Gold                                        Freda Payne

 

  1. Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)       Melanie/Edwin Hawkins Singers
  2. (They Long to Be) Close To You      The Carpenters
  3. The Long and Winding Road           The Beatles
  4. The Wonder of You                         Elvis Presley
  5. Hitchin’ A Ride                                Vanity Fare

 

WLS Chicago Hit Parade Surveys 3/23/70 & 4/27/70. Courtesy of Pete Battistini: Author of AMERICAN TOP 40 WITH CASEY KASEM (THE 1970’S)

At the end of 1970, Billboard Magazine published the top hits of the year. All of the Top 10 songs for the entire year of 1970, were by artists who had more than one hit:

1          “Bridge Over Troubled Water”               Simon & Garfunkel

2          “(They Long to Be) Close to You”          The Carpenters

3          “American Woman”                              The Guess Who

4          “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”    B.J. Thomas

5          “War”                                                    Edwin Starr

6          “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”        Diana Ross

7          “I’ll Be There”                                      The Jackson 5

8          “Get Ready”                                         Rare Earth

9          “Let It Be”                                            The Beatles

10       “Band of Gold”                                      Freda Payne

Taking a deeper dive into the top 100 hits of fifty years ago, it reveals that 1970 was a great year for “one hit wonder” artists.

So what exactly is a “One Hit Wonder?” The basic definition is an artist has only one hit song during their career on the national Billboard Hot 100 pop chart. Obviously, there some other rules that should be included if an artist is to be included for consideration as a one hit wonder.

 

  • No other songs from an artist ever peaking at number 40 or higher on the Billboard National Pop Chart.
  • One hit wonders vary from country to country. An artist may have just one hit in America but have multiple hits in another country.
  • Regional hits are not taken into account: A second song must be a national hit and chart within the Billboard Top 40 pop survey.
  • Any song peaking outside of the Top 40, are always excluded for consideration.
  • Songs that peak from numbers 41 through 100 on the national Billboard Hot 100 pop chart are never considered as second hits.

 

The rule that a second song must be a Top 40 Billboard National pop chart hit was established in 1998, by music historian Wayne Jancik in his definitive work on the subject, “The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders.”

The subject of “one hit wonders” has always been interesting to me and researching the reasons why some artists have only one hit song. Way before the advent of the Internet, my go to reference for this subject has been “The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits” by Joel Whitburn. I consider Whitburn’s book to be the “bible” of Top 40 music reference and still proudly own a hard copy of this excellent book.

For the remainder of this message, I will be focusing on the musical year of 1970 and the numerous excellent one hit wonder songs during this golden year of Top 40 radio.

During my research of Joel Whitburn’s book and reviewing the Billboard Hot 100 songs of 1970 chart listing, I have come up with this conclusion: 1970 is the greatest year for excellent “one hit wonder” songs.

By my estimation, there are at least 25 “one hit wonder” songs, which I consider to range from fine to superb from 1970.   There are also 4 outlier songs that I want to document before proceeding with my comments on the twenty-five good to excellent “one hit wonders” from 1970.

  •  Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye—Steam:  Technically a 1969 hit but spilled over into 1970.  I consider this a transitional one hit wonder as it reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 during mid December 1969 but still was in the Top 10 on the Billboard chart during the first two weeks of January 1970. A popular song that is still popular at sporting events here in 2020.

  •  Spill The Wine: Eric Burdon & War: Some on the Internet proclaim that “Spill the Wine” is a “one hit wonder” but the group War had 11 other Top 40 hits without Eric Burdon. In my mind, this song shouldn’t be considered in this category.

 

  •   Two Novelty One Hit Wonders Songs: “Rubber Duckie” by Ernie (Jim Henson) and “Gimme Dat Ding” from the Pipkins. I am not a fan of either of these tunes but they were Top 40 hits during 1970. I will humbly pass on affirming these two selections as being good.

 

Various “one hit wonder” records that I bought during 1970 and still own in 2020

 

Now it is on to my 25 “one hit wonders” from 1970 that I rank from good to excellent. First up are songs from 25 to 11: all are pleasing to my ears

Questionable lyric songs: Understood differently here in 2020

  • In the Summertime—Mungo Jerry
  • The Rapper—The Jaggerz

Songs with same lead singer: Tony Burrows

  • Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)—Edison Lighthouse
  • My Baby Loves Love—White Plains

Spiritual Songs: Christian themed messages

  • Are You Ready—Pacific Gas and Electric
  • God Love & Rock and Roll—Teegarden & Van Winkle

 

Canadian Artists: Only Hit in America

  • Indiana Wants Me—R Dean Taylor
  • As Years Go By—Maskmakhan

 

Various Topical Songs: A potpourri of subject matters

  • Hey There Lonely Girl—Eddie Holman
  • Montego Bay—Bobby Bloom
  • Neanderthal Man—Hotlegs

  • Evil Woman Don’t Play Your Games With Me—Crow
  • Lay a Little Lovin’ On Me—Robin McNamara
  • Go Back—Crabby Appleton
  • Ma Belle Amie—The Tee Set

 

Various “one hit wonder” records that I bought during 1970 and still own in 2020

 

Now I submit to you, my top 10 listing of “one hit wonder” songs from 1970.

I am not declaring these songs are the “best or greatest” in this category. These selections happen to be my Top 10 personal favorite “one hit wonders” from 1970: Songs which I deem to be culturally, historically, aesthetically significant, meaningful or relevant.

  1. Venus—Shocking Blue

Peaked at #1 in February: 33rd biggest record of 1970

 

Shocking Blue was the first rock band from the Netherlands to have a hit in America.

Before Dutch bands Golden Earring and Focus had hits in the United States, “Venus” was a number 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100. The song has a memorable opening guitar riff, a catchy melodic tune and superb vocals by lead singer Mariska Veres. “Venus” was a worldwide hit, reaching number one in nine countries.

  1. All Right Now—Free

Peaked at #4 in October: 27th biggest song of 1970

English blues-hard rock band Free broke through in America during the fall of 1970 with “All Right Now.”   With Paul Rodgers on lead vocals, the song has a driving beat and is considered a quintessential classic rock tune. “All Right Now” was a hit all over, Europe, Canada and in Australia. After Free broke up, Rodgers became a premier rock vocalist with Bad Company.

  1. House of the Rising Sun—Frijid Pink

Peaked at #7 in April: 60th biggest song of 1970

A Detroit, Michigan hard rock band Frijid Pink, made a psychedelic cover of the Animals 1964 hit, “House of the Rising Sun” 50 years ago.   The song features distorted fuzz and wah-wah guitar playing, with hard driving drumming. I have fond memories winning a copy of this record from Top 40 WROV Roanoke, Virginia. It was absolutely thrilling for me to be able to speak on the air with legendary WROV DJ Bart Prater, when I won this Frijid Pink record during the spring of 1970.

  1. O-o-h Child—Five Stairsteps

Peaked at #8 in July: 21st biggest song of 1970

A family group from Chicago, Illinois, the Five Stairsteps reached the top 10 during on the Billboard Hot 100 with “O-o-h Child.” The lyrics are positive suggesting the “things are going to get easier” during times of trouble.  The smooth sound of the Five Stairsteps resonated with folks all across America. The first time I heard this song was on Top 40 WABC New York, with hall of fame DJ Cousin Brucie on the air.

  1. Mississippi Queen—Mountain

Peaked at #21 in July: 78th biggest song of 1970

During the summer of ‘69, the hard rock band Mountain played at Woodstock. The following year, the band released “Mississippi Queen” and the song became their only hit. Mountain’s summer of 1970 hit opens up with signature cowbell percussion, a powerful guitar riff and strong vocals by Leslie West. The song remains a staple on classic rock radio stations here in 2020.

  1. Vehicle—The Ides of March

Peaked at #2 in May: 85th biggest song of 1970

Often mistaken for another “Horn” band Blood Sweat & Tears, a Chicago, Illinois based band, the Ides of March, flew up the charts with their tune “Vehicle.” The song features a catchy guitar riff and has a matching magical percussion horn section. The Ides of March were led by Jim Pererik, who in the 80’s founded the rock band Survivor. I distinctly remember hearing “Vehicle” being played by Top 40 WLS Chicago DJ’s Chuck Buell and Kris Erik Stevens, prior to the song becoming a national hit.

  1. Yellow River—Christie

Peaked at #23 in December: 83rd biggest song of 1970

During the early part of 1970, British songwriter Jeff Christie formed the band called Christie and they recorded his song “Yellow River” as their first single. Jeff Christie says the lyrics of his song was inspired by a soldier going home at the end of the American Civil War. However, most listeners in America thought this power pop song was referring to the Vietnam Conflict. I remember hearing “Yellow River” for the first time on Top 40 WEBC Duluth, Minnesota, while I was visiting the land of 10,000 lakes on vacation during August 1970.

  1. Tighter, Tighter—Alive N Kickin’

Peaked at #7 in August: 47th biggest song of 1970

Tommy James and Bob King were both songwriters and producers for the song “Tighter, Tighter” by Alive N Kickin’. The band was from Brooklyn, New York and featured singers Pepe Cardona and Sandy Toder. Also in the group was Bruce Sudano, who later married disco singer Donna Summer. The song has excellent harmonies and has a Tommy James and the Shondells power pop groove. My first time hearing “Tighter, Tighter” was when I was traveling through Illinois and listening to DJ Larry Lujack on WLS Chicago.

  1. Ride Captain Ride—Blues Images

Peaked at #4 in July: 32nd biggest song on 1970

Blues Image formed in Tampa, Florida in 1967 and moved to Los Angeles, California during 1969. Musically, “Ride Captain Ride” has soaring guitar riffs, sharp piano playing and a smooth jazz sound. Prominent Blues Image member Denny Correll went on to play in the “Jesus Music” rock band Love Song after leaving the group. “Ride Captain Ride” is considered part of the “Yacht Rock” genre. It is my second favorite “one hit wonder” from 1970.

  1. Spirit in the Sky—Norman Greenbaum

Peaked at #3 in April: 22nd biggest song of 1970

My favorite “one hit wonder” from 1970 is “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum. The music on the song is excellent: Driving drums, tambourines and distorted electric guitars, brought together a hard rock sound with a spiritual lyrical message. I also consider “Spirit in the Sky” to be in the Top 10 best memorable rock guitar riffs of all time. Greenbaum’s song is still regularly played on classic rock radio stations and is considered one of the greatest “one hit wonders” of the 1970’s.

Now that I have humbly submitted my thoughts on “one hit wonders” of 1970, I am curious to find out your opinion on the music of that year.

Obviously, I do not want to come across as authoritative with my critique of the “one hit wonder” songs from 1970. The songs that you might feel are the best, maybe be completely different from my selections.

So I am asking for your opinion: What do you consider to be the best “one hit wonders” of 50 years ago? There are no right or wrong answers. I welcome your thoughts.

 

Listening to music from the golden age of Top 40 radio will always have a special place in my heart. In my humble opinion, 1970 was the greatest year ever for “one hit wonders.” Rock on!

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Artist Profiles, Music, Radio, Retro Rock

You Say: Lauren Daigle’s Surprise Crossover Hit

Once in a blue moon, there will be a Christian song to crossover and be a hit on secular radio in America. In 2019, that song is “You Say” from Lauren Daigle.

 

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough

Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up

Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?

Remind me once again just who I am because I need to know

 

The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me

In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity, ooh

 

Taking all I have and now I’m laying it at your feet

You have every failure God, and You’ll have every victory, ooh

 

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing

You say I am strong when I think I am weak

You say I am held when I am falling short

When I don’t belong, oh You say I am Yours

And I believe, (I) oh I believe (I)

What You say of me (I)

I believe

 

“You Say” by Lauren Daigle is truly a surprise hit song. During the 21st century, it has been rare for a Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) song to crossover and become a secular hit on multiple secular radio formats.

However, Daigle’s song has broken the mold: “You Say” became a huge secular hit this year and seems to resonate with many folks outside the traditional Christian music genre.

So how rare is it to have a Christian song become a hit here in 2019?   The last time a CCM song crossed over and became a secular hit was “I Can Only Imagine” by MercyMe in 2003.

 

 

 

 

I can only imagine what it will be like

When I walk by Your side

I can only imagine what my eyes will see

When Your face is before me

I can only imagine, yeah

 

Surrounded by Your glory

What will my heart feel?

Will I dance for You, Jesus

Or in awe of You be still?

 

Will I stand in Your presence

Or to my knees will I fall?

Will I sing hallelujah?

Will I be able to speak at all?

 

I can only imagine

I can only imagine

Occasionally, a country artist singing about Christian topics will crossover to Top 40 radio. Just after Carrie Underwood won American Idol, she recorded the song, “Jesus Take the Wheel” in 2005. This song was a huge number 1 country hit before crossing over to Top 40 radio. It was the first of many hits by Underwood, to chart on multiple formats.

Rarely do songs like “I Can Only Imagine “ or “Jesus Take the Wheel” ever become crossover hits. But that hasn’t always been true on secular pop radio.

During the late 60’s and early 70’s, songs on various Christian topics were regularly played on Top 40 radio. Here are a few of the songs that charted on the Billboard Hot 100, in the golden age of Top 40 radio:

 

  • Oh Happy Day—Edwin Hawkins Singers
  • Jesus is a Soul Man—Lawrence Reynolds
  • Spirit in the Sky—Norman Greenbaum
  • Are You Ready—Pacific Gas and Electric
  • Superstar—Murray Head
  • Mighty Clouds of Joy—B.J. Thomas
  • I’ll Take You There–The Staple Singers

  • God, Love & Rock N’ Roll—Teegarden & Van Winkle
  • Why Me Lord—Kris Kristofferson
  • I Knew Jesus (Before He Was a Superstar)—Glen Campbell
  • Morning Has Broken—Cat Stevens
  • That’s the Way God Planned It—Billy Preston
  • Amazing Grace—Judy Collins
  • Speak To The Sky–Rick Springfield
  • I Don’t Know How To Love Him—Helen Reddy
  • Put Your Hand in the Hand—Ocean
  • Day By Day—Godspell
  • Jesus is Just Alright—Doobie Brothers
  • The Lord’s Prayer—Sister Janet Mead
  • The Wedding Song—Noel Paul Stookey
  • One Day at a Time–Marilyn Sellars

With the growth of CCM radio stations during the mid 70’s, there were not as many Christian songs played on Top 40 stations. Jesus Music was played exclusively on newly formatted 24 hour a day CCM stations, instead of secular music outlets.

There were a few songs with Christian themes that were hits in the late 70’s. One of those songs is Bob Dylan’s, “Gotta Serve Somebody” in 1979.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed

You’re gonna have to serve somebody

It may be the devil or it may be the Lord

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

The next significant artist to crossover and have two number I hits on the Billboard Hot 100 was Amy Grant. In 1986, Grant teamed up with Peter Cetera and recorded the duet, “Next Time I Fall” which peaked at number one. Five years later, her solo hit, “Baby Baby” was number 1, for three consecutive weeks during 1991.

Other Christian artists also had secular hits during the 90’s. Michael W Smith had a top 10 hit with “Place in This World” during the summer of 1991 and Jars of Clay had a multi-format crossover hit with their song, “Flood” during 1995.

That brings us to the surprising hit of “You Say” by Lauren Daigle.

“You Say” was written by Daigle, along with co-writers Paul Mabury and Jason Ingram. Last year, Daigle shared with CCM Magazine, the story behind the song.

“It was the day after my very first Dove awards (2015), and I remember being completely overwhelmed. I walked into the studio, and Paul and Jason, my producers, were in there and they’re like “All right what’s going on in your world, how’s it been?

It was the first time we had written since “How Can It Be”…I just remember feeling like so much had happened the night before, wondering How do I come back down to normal, how do I come back down to reality?

And I started realizing these patterns of really high highs and then, okay now there’s a low. Really high, high, now there’s a low…And Involving expectation in that space can just leave you kind of questioning your identity- Where do I fit in, where is my security, where is my footing?

So when writing “You Say,” I just remember feeling for the first time pretty conflicted. It was definitely the first moment in just being an artist that I was like Okay, where is all this going exactly?”

“And I know that we’ve all faced moments in life where we can feel a crossroads happen— where we can see the past and also see the future, and realize how we are supposed to exist in the present. And it was one of those moments where I could see where things were going and I knew exactly where I came from, and I needed those worlds to still be married.

And thus brought up the issue of identity and trying to figure out how to exist when I felt like so many things were pulling me in so many different directions. I think a lot of times we build these complexes based on insecurity, based on fear, based on rejection, and lies that we have to constantly overcome.

And so this song for me was just a reminder of identity. It was a reminder that I know when I’m weak, He’s strong—so how do I change that and bring that into my every day life? When I feel inadequate how is it that there’s always these moments where I feel like God just steps in and supersedes my inadequacies.

This entire song was so every single day I would get up on stage and remind myself—no, this is the truth, this is the truth, this is the truth. Don’t get buried in confusion. Don’t get buried in waywardness. Just remember to steady the course, steady the course.”

Daigle’s song, “You Say” was the first single from the album, “Look Up Child” and was released to CCM radio stations during July 2018. It immediately shot up the Billboard Hot Christian Songs chart and became the number one song in America.

For the week of November 2nd, 2019, “You Say” spent its final week on top of the Billboard Hot Christian Songs chart, logging 66 consecutive weeks at number 1. This broke the record that Hillsong United set of 61 straight weeks at number one with “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” during 2013-2014.

Interesting side note: Kanye West just replaced “You Say” as the top Christian song in America during the past two weeks with, “Follow God.”

Obviously, the “You Say” single was huge on Christian radio last year, as it was ranked the 2nd biggest song on 2018, according to Billboard magazine. With such a strong showing, Warner Brothers released Daigle’s song as a single to secular radio during January 2019.

Then in early February 2019, Daigle won a Grammy Award for “Best Contemporary Christian Music performance with “You Say.” After her Grammy victory, Daigle’s song was added to many secular Adult Contemporary and Top 40 radio stations.

Her song then exploded on multiple radio formats, during the spring and summer of 2019. Here are some of the impressive stats on how well “You Say” performed on secular radio, according to Billboard:

  • Peaked at #1   Adult Contemporary
  • Peaked at #5   Adult Top 40
  • Peaked at #20 Mainstream Top 40
  • Peaked at #29 Billboard Hot 100

Daigle also won two other awards for “You Say” during 2019. In May, she picked up the Billboard, “Top Christian Song” award and last month Daigle took home the Gospel Music Association, “Song of the Year” award. 2019 has been an extremely successful year for Lauren Daigle.

The song, “You Say” isn’t the only musical success for the Lafayette, Louisiana native. Daigle’s album, “Look Up Child” spent 44 weeks at the number 1 position of the Billboard “Christian Album Chart.” The album also received a 2019 Grammy Award for, “Best Contemporary Christian Music Album.”

For those individuals who listen to CCM radio, they are familiar with three other hits from the album: The title track “Look Up Child” peaked at #3, “Rescue” reached #2 and Daigle’s current single is, “Still Rolling Stones” which is still charting during the fall of 2019.

Singer-songwriter Annie Lawrence with Lauren Daigle. Photo courtesy of Annie Lawrence.

The past 16 months have been a whirlwind for Lauren Daigle, with the unexpected success of her the song “You Say.”   A fair question to ask would be: What will be Daigle’s chart success in the future? Will she achieve multiple hits or go the way of Debby Boone and become a one hit wonder?

Although I do not know the reason why, “You Say” became a crossover hit, her song has resonated with many folks outside the CCM genre of music. Maybe there is a renewal of spiritual awakening happening in America?

Where will Lauren Daigle’s career go from here?   Obviously, that remains to be seen. The lyrics to Natasha Bedingfield’s song, “Unwritten” seems to sum it up best:

“Drench yourself in words unspoken

Live your life with arms wide open

Today is where your book begins

The rest is still unwritten”

 

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AT40, Music, Music Countdowns, Radio, Retro Rock

1974 Singles: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me

Gotta turn it up louder, so my DJ told me

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me

At the end of my rainbow lies a golden oldie

 

I remember listening to AM radio on my transistor radio and hearing the novelty hit, “Life is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)” during the summer of 1974.

Some music historians would point to the “one hit wonder” song by Reunion and proclaim that it was indicative of how bad the music was on Top 40 during 1974.   Many musical experts completely pan the entire year of 1974 music, claiming it to be the worst year ever for Top 40 radio. Is that hypothesis correct?

I completely understand why some folks may not like a lot of the top songs from 1974, as many of those tunes are horrid. However, I refuse to throw out the baby with the bath water.

During any given year, there are plenty of good songs and also bunches of wretched, insipid tunes. I refuse to categorically describe all music released during 1974 as wretched. I prefer to place the music from 45 years ago into three silos: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

For this edition of my musical musings, I will be investigating the Top 100 songs of 1974, which were compiled by Cashbox and Billboard music publications.

Here are the Top 20 songs from Cashbox:

 

  1. Show And Tell – Al Wilson (Rocky Road)
  2. Come And Get Your Love – Redbone (Epic)
  3. The Most Beautiful Girl – Charlie Rich (Epic)
  4. Rock Me Gently – Andy Kim (Capitol)
  5. The Way We Were – Barbra Streisand (Columbia)

 

  1. Sunshine On My Shoulders – John Denver (Rca Victor)
  2. You Make Me Feel Brand New – The Stylistics (Avco)
  3. Rock On – David Essex (Columbia)
  4. Seasons In The Sun – Terry Jacks (Bell)
  5. The Joker – The Steve Miller Band (Capitol)

  1. You Haven’t Done Nothin’ – Stevie Wonder (Tamla)
  2. Bennie And The Jets – Elton John (Mca)
  3. The Loco-Motion – Grand Funk (Capitol)
  4. Love’s Theme – The Love Unlimited Orchestra (20th Century)
  5. Spiders And Snakes – Jim Stafford (Mgm)

 

  1. Nothing From Nothing – Billy Preston (A&M)
  2. TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia) – MFSB (Philadelphia Int’l)
  3. You’re Sixteen – Ringo Starr (Apple)
  4. The Night Chicago Died – Paper Lace (Mercury)
  5. Top Of The World – Carpenters (A&M)

Here are the Top 20 songs from Billboard:

  1. “The Way We Were” – Barbra Streisand
  2. “Seasons in the Sun” – Terry Jacks
  3. “Love’s Theme” – Love Unlimited Orchestra
  4. “Come and Get Your Love” – Redbone
  5. “Dancing Machine” – The Jackson 5

 

  1. “The Loco-Motion” – Grand Funk Railroad
  2. “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)” – MFSB
  3. “The Streak” – Ray Stevens
  4. “Bennie and the Jets” – Elton John
  5. “One Hell of a Woman” – Mac Davis

  1. “Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)” – Aretha Franklin
  2. “Jungle Boogie” – Kool & the Gang
  3. “Midnight at the Oasis” – Maria Muldaur
  4. “You Make Me Feel Brand New” – The Stylistics
  5. “Show and Tell” – Al Wilson

 

  1. “Spiders and Snakes” – Jim Stafford
  2. “Rock On” – David Essex
  3. “Sunshine on My Shoulders” – John Denver
  4. “Sideshow” – Blue Magic
  5. “Hooked on a Feeling” – Blue Swede

As you can tell from comparing the two 1974 year-end surveys, there are distinct differences with these listings. I will be selecting my choices for Good, Bad and Ugly from these two lists.

The musical landscape of 1974 is dear to my heart, as my first job in radio started in April of that year. At age 18, I was hired to be a remote engineer by Top 40 radio station WROV in Roanoke, Virginia. My responsibilities at the station included setting up equipment for remote broadcasts, running the soundboard and playing records, while a WROV DJ was in charge of announcing duties.

Dave Woodson playing records for WROV Roanoke remote broadcast during 1974.

During my first remote broadcast, I worked with the legendary WROV DJ Larry Bly. The first song I played that day was “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone, so for sentimental reasons, I am placing that song in the Good category for 1974 singles.

Two other Good 1974 songs associated with WROV are “The Joker” by the Steve Miller Band and “Blackwater” from the Doobie Brothers. The Roanoke radio station added “The Joker” during the fall of 1973, and was credited with a “gold record” by Capitol Records, as WROV was the first station in America to play the song.

Then during September 1974, WROV music director Chuck Holloway started playing “Blackwater” as a Doobie Brothers album cut on his nighttime DJ air-shift. The WROV request line lit up every time “Blackwater” was played and it immediately became a hit in Roanoke.

Soon after, Phil Beckman at WQRK Norfolk and Buzz Bennett with KDWB Minneapolis added “Blackwater” to their playlists. Finally, Warner Bros Records released the song as a single and it became the first number 1 tune for the Doobie Brothers during March 1975. Later that year, WROV proudly received another “gold record” for breaking “Blackwater” in America.

Working for WROV gave me a chance to thoroughly evaluate the music from 1974. From my perspective, there are a whole lot more Good songs than Bad or Ugly tunes from this year.

Since I will be evaluating just the top singles of 1974, according to Cashbox and Billboard, there are many Good songs that I will not be mentioning with this message. The sole parameter that I am using will be if the song made one of the year-end surveys for 1974.

Before I reveal my Top 10 good songs from 45 years ago, I am going to share some other significant songs from 1974. I consider all of these songs to be Good.

  • I Shot the Sheriff—Eric Clapton
  • Beach Baby—First Class
  • Sideshow—Blue Magic
  • Nothing From Nothing—Billy Preston
  • Rock on—David Essex

  • The Air That I Breathe—The Hollies
  • Annie’s Song—John Denver
  • Goodbye Yellow Brick Road—Elton John
  • Help Me—Joni Mitchell
  • Please Come to Boston—Dave Loggins

  • Be Thankful For What You Got—William DeVaughn
  • Then Came You—The Spinners & Dionne Warwick
  • Whatever Gets You Through the Night—John Lennon & Elton John
  • You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet—Bachman Turner Overdrive
  • (I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long—Chicago

  • Hello It’s Me—Todd Rundgren
  • The Lord’s Prayer—Sister Janet Meade
  • Midnight Train To Georgia—Gladys Knight & the Pips
  • I Got A Name—Jim Croce
  • You Make Me Feel Brand New—The Stylistics

Now I will be focusing on what I consider to be the top ten Good songs of 1974.

The top ten songs that I have selected fit into the following categories: I deem the 10 songs to still be culturally, historically, aesthetically significant, meaningful or relevant. There are no rankings with my listing and the songs are placed in a random order.

 

Time in a Bottle—Jim Croce    

 

After Jim Croce died in a plane crash during September 1973, “Time in a Bottle” was released as a single and became a posthumous number 1 hit.   The haunting lyrics of mortality and the wish to have more time, brings sadness to this melodic tune. The song truly resonated with music listeners and is one of Croce’s greatest musical achievements.

 

Band on the Run—Paul McCartney & Wings

 

The musical structure of “Band on the Run,” is absolutely incredible. Continuous switching of tempos, with three distinct music segments, the song flows into a musical masterpiece. Paul and Wings provide excellent three part harmonies throughout the song, which utilizes rock, funk and country influences. I consider “Band on the Run” to be the best song recorded by McCartney after the break up of the Beatles.

Living For the City—Stevie Wonder

 

Prior to 1974, Stevie Wonder sang mostly love songs and stayed away from controversial issues. This changed with his hit, “Living for the City.” It became one of his first songs to deal with racism and gave Wonder a chance to express concerns facing life in America. The other thing I admire about this song is that Wonder played all the instruments on this wonderful tune.

 

You Haven’t Done Nothin’—Stevie Wonder

 

The second good Stevie Wonder song of 1974 is “You Haven’t Done Nothin’.” With backup vocals from the Jackson 5, Wonder unleashes fiery lyrics about U.S. President Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal. Ironically, Nixon resigned his presidency in August, the same month that Wonder’s song was released as a single.

Cat’s in the Cradle—Harry Chapin

 

Listening to Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” for the first time, one may think it is a mellow song. However, the subject matter is any thing but mellow. Chapin’s signature song paints a sorrowful picture with a father neglecting his son, and then when the son becomes a man, he actually neglects his father, the same way he was treated as a boy. This folk rock song gives a baleful warning with brilliant lyrics.

 

Sweet Home Alabama—Lynyrd Skynyrd

 

One of the most iconic Southern Rock songs from the 70’s, “Sweet Home Alabama” pans multiple political subjects and stoked controversial topics. The lyrics mention Neil Young and his song, “Southern Man,” the Governor of Alabama, George Wallace and the Watergate scandal. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s first hit record has become an anthem for the state of Alabama.

For the Love of Money—The O’Jays

 

First Timothy 6:10 states, “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” That message is the basis for the O’Jay’s hit song, “For the Love of Money.” This R&B groove features powerful vocals and has a killer bass line. The group from Philadelphia gives a powerful warning about the misuse of money on the toe-tapping soul song.

 

Takin’ Care of Business—Bachman Turner Overdrive

 

During the summer of 1974, Canadian rock band Bachman Turner Overdrive had one of the hottest sounding songs with, “Takin’ Care of Business.” Randy Bachman, formally of the Guess Who, teamed up with Fred Turner to give us straight-up catchy guitar rifts and tongue in cheek lyrics. The band from Canada sure knew how to rock during this year.

Keep on Smilin’—Wet Willie

 

Making lemonade out of lemons is the main message on Wet Willie’s song, “Keep on Smilin’.” The band was from Alabama, giving Southern Rock more exposure on Top 40 radio. A positive message is heard on the chorus, “Keep on smilin’ through the rain, laughin’ at the pain, just flowin’ with the changes, till the sun comes out again.”

Wet Willie’s biggest hit happened during the summertime.

 

Radar Love—Golden Earring

 

Throughout the history of Rock and Roll, there have been songs dealing with death. The Dutch band, Golden Earring, gave us a perfect “death rock” song in 1974. “Radar Love” is actually a “Rock Suite” and has two distinct musical segments. Lyrics mention Brenda Lee, driving at a high rate of speed in the middle of the night, and reconnecting with his angel “in the sky.” It is an excellent highway road song.

The next 6 songs are in the Bad category.

 

Spiders and Snakes—Jim Stafford

 

I don’t like spiders or snakes, and I sure don’t like Jim Stafford’s number 1 song about arachnids and serpents. “Spiders and Snakes’ ” lyrics of sexual innuendo are not clever and are down right trite. Stafford’s follow up hit, “My Girl Bill” was equally insipid and wretched to my ears. I don’t know why this became a hit record.

 

Midnight At The Oasis—Maria Maldaur

 

Some may call this song a guilty pleasure. I call the fantasy desert love affair song, “Midnight at the Oasis” lascivious. Maldaur’s stereotypes of Arab “sultans and sheiks” are appalling and her suggestive sexual euphemisms are way over the top. Lyrics like, “But you won’t need no harem, honey, when I’m by your side, and you won’t need no camel, when I take you for a ride” are absolutely insidious.

 

Maria Muldaur

The Streak—Ray Stevens

 

When the streaking craze happened in 1974, someone had to record a song on the topic. That someone was Ray Stevens. His novelty song, “The Streak” may have been funny the first time heard. After the second hearing, the song became annoying. These are lyrics I never want to hear again: “Don’t Look Ethel”, “Ethel, you shameless hussy”, “Ethel, you get your clothes on” and “Say it ain’t so, Ethel.” Ray Stevens’ number 1 song is a dud.

 

You’re Sixteen—Ringo Starr

 

Ringo Starr should have never covered the song “You’re Sixteen.” The Beatles drummer was 33 years old when he recorded the song, and it was creepy listening to it on the radio in 1974. I attended Ringo’s concert with His All Starr Band last month, and he is STILL performing “You’re Sixteen” during his shows. Hearing a 79 year old man singing this song is beyond disgusting. It is atrocious.

 

 

Ringo Starr at Roanoke Concert 8/13/19 Photo by Sammy Oakey

I Can Help—Billy Swan

 

Country crossover artist Billy Swan hit number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with his dreadful song, “I Can Help.” The singer pleads, begs and promises to do any and every thing possible in order to be her lover. The last line of the song is unbelievable: “If your child needs a daddy, I can help, It would sure do me good to do you good, let me help.” Any woman that is gullible enough to believe that line definitely needs HELP!

 

Dark Lady—Cher

 

Normally, I can tolerate story songs but Cher’s number 1 song from 1974 is rather sordid. “Dark Lady” is a New Orleans fortune-teller, which the narrator of the song (Cher) goes to see. When money is paid for a fortune, the woman proclaims that Cher’s lover has been unfaithful and gives this advice: “Leave this place, never come back and forget you ever saw my face. “ Of course, Cher goes back to the fortune-teller with a gun, catches her lover kissing the woman, and shoots them both dead. Some may claim the song is clever, I maintain the song is just wretched.

 

Cher

Finally, here are 6 songs in the Ugly category:

 

I’m Leaving It Up To You—Donny and Marie Osmond

 

Every time that I heard Donny and Marie’s horrid song during 1974, I would sing, “I’m heaving it up on you.” Listening to this song made me want to puke! In deference to Marie Osmond, she should have never recorded any duets with her brother. Every single Donny Osmond song is completely detestable and obnoxious to my ears. Same for the Osmond Brothers. The song is ugly to the max!

 

Hooked On a Feeling—Blue Swede

 

Why would Swedish pop band sing, “Ooga-chaka, Ooga-Ooga, Ooga-Chaka” over and over, with their cover version of, “Hooked on a Feeling?” Why ruin a wonderful song, which B.J. Thomas made popular in 1968? I prefer listening to Thomas singing “Hooked on a Feeling.” Listening to Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling” is worse than torture for me.

 

Blue Swede

The Night Chicago Died—Paper Lace

 

One may think that “The Night Chicago Died” was based on a true story. However, it is about a fictional shoot-out between the Chicago Police and members of Al Capone’s crime syndicate. Instead of Capone and his men meeting their doom, the lyrics state “about 100 cops are dead” at the hands of the gangsters. Even worse than unbelievable lyrics is the “bubble gum pop music” that Paper Lace performs on this vapid tune. Chicago would have been better off without this song by Paper Lace.

 

Billy Don’t Be a Hero—Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods

 

One of the sappiest bubble gum songs of 1974, “Billy Don’t Be a Hero” is the ultimate, miserable death pop music song. With the Vietnam Conflict still going on in 1974, many folks assumed that “Billy Don’t Be a Hero” was associated with the Southeast Asian war. However, the lyrics suggest it is about the American Civil War. A young woman is distraught that her fiancé chooses to enlist with the Army. Eventually, Billy is killed in action during a battle. A dreadfully sad tune, that continues to be irritating to me 45 years later.

 

(You’re) Having My Baby—Paul Anka

 

Besides being a duet with Odia Coates, I can’t think of anything positive about this Paul Anka song. “You’re Having My Baby” is overtly sentimental, sappy and the most sexist record of 1974. With Anka declaring, “it is his baby” without acknowledgement of the mother and her part in the pregnancy, is the ultimate in male chauvinism. Furthermore, the song was voted the number 1 “Worst Song of All Time” by CNN in 2006. Needless to say, this is one horrible tune.

 

Terry Jacks

Seasons in the Sun—Terry Jacks

 

The bubble gum, death pop tune, “Seasons in the Sun,” quite possibly is one of the worst songs ever made. The tune is an English-language adaptation of the song “Le Moribond” by Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel with lyrics rewritten by American singer-poet Rod McKuen. The singer laments that he is dying and says goodbye to his Papa, Michelle and a trusted friend. Terry Jacks’ singing delivery is a schmaltzy, emotional mess. Just hearing the opening chords of this song makes me shiver. Rolling Stone ranks the record as the 7th “Worst Song of the 70’s. I proclaim “Seasons in the Sun” as the ugliest of ugly songs of 1974.

 

Now that I have humbly submitted my thoughts on the Good, Bad and Ugly singles from 1974, I am curious to find out your opinion on the music of that year.

Obviously, I do not want to come across as authoritative with my critique of the 100 biggest songs from 1974. The songs that you might feel are the Good, Bad and Ugly, maybe be completely different from my selections.

So I am asking for your opinion: What do you consider to be the Good, Bad and Ugly songs for 1974? There are no right or wrong answers. I welcome your thoughts.

If anyone ever suggests that the music from 1974 is all bad and ugly, I hope those folks educate themselves. The majority of the top 100 songs from 1974 are on the good side of the ledger. Long live Top 40 music from 45 years ago!

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me

Gotta turn it up louder, so my DJ told me

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me

At the end of my rainbow lies a golden oldie

 

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Concert Reviews, Music, Retro Rock

Ringo Starr: With a Little Help From My Friends

 

What would you think if I sang out of tune?

Would you stand up and walk out on me?

Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song

And I’ll try not to sing out of key

 

Oh I get by with a little help from my friends,

Yes I get by with a little help from my friends,

With a little help from my friends

 

Imagine being 79 years old, headlining a rock concert tour and playing songs that were popular last century: Would you need a little help from your friends to pull off a successful concert tour? Most folks would probably say “yes” in answering that question.

Richard Starkey, professionally known as Ringo Starr, wasn’t afraid to ask for some help on his latest concert tour. In fact, Ringo’s All Starr Band provided a great deal of help to the drummer who first rose to superstardom as a member of the Beatles.

On Tuesday August 13th, Ringo and His All Starr Band came to Roanoke, Virginia, performing at the Berglund Center. For those who attended the show, Ringo and his band put on an excellent performance.

Founded 30 years ago, Ringo’s All Starr Band is actually a rock supergroup. Its members are all renowned musicians and instrumentalists who played in other prominent bands prior to joining Ringo’s rock group. Here are the current members of the All Starr Band and the former bands and artists associated with each member:

Ringo Starr – vocals, drums, piano (Beatles)

Colin Hay – guitar, vocals (Men at Work)

Hamish Stuart – bass, guitar, vocals (Average White Band, Paul McCartney)

Gregg Bissonette – drums, backing vocals (David Lee Roth)

Steve Lukather – guitars, vocals (Toto)

Gregg Rolie – organ, vocals (Santana, Journey)

Warren Ham – saxophone, keyboards, percussion, vocals (Kansas, AD, Toto)

Ringo Starr at Roanoke Concert 8/13/19 Photo by Sammy Oakey

The setlist for Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band consisted of 24 songs. Ringo performed 12 songs, while Gregg Rolie, Steve Lukather, Hamish Stuart and Colin Hay performed three songs each.

Ringo’s Setlist

  1. Matchbox (Beatles)
  2. It Don’t Come Easy (Solo)
  3. What Goes On (Beatles)
  4. Boys (Beatles)
  5. Don’t Pass Me By (Beatles)
  6. Yellow Submarine (Beatles)
  7. You’re Sixteen (Solo)
  8. Anthem (Solo)
  9. I Wanna be Your Man (Beatles)
  10. Photograph (Solo)
  11. Act Naturally (Beatles)
  12. With a Little Help From My Friends (Beatles)

(Give Peace a Chance: Chorus)

Gregg Rollie’s Setlist

  1. Evil Ways (Santana)
  2. Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen (Santana)
  3. Oye Como Va (Santana)

Steve Lukather’s Setlist

  1. Rosanna (Toto)
  2. Africa (Toto)
  3. Hold the Line (Toto)

Hamish Stuart’s Setlist

  1. Pick Up the Pieces (Average White Band)
  2. Cut the Cake (Average White Band)
  3. Work to Do (Isley Brothers/Average White band)

Colin Hay’s Setlist

  1. Down Under (Men at Work)
  2. Overkill (Men at Work)
  3. Who Can It Be Now (Men at Work)

Although Ringo had played at other venues in Virginia, this was the first time the Beatles’ drummer performed a show in Roanoke. It was also the first time that my wife Priscilla and I had ever attended a show with Ringo and His All Starr Band.

Just after Priscilla and I parked our car at the Berglund Center lot, we ran into my friend Dave Delaney, and then Dave introduced me to his friend Randy Lohr.

As the four of us waited in line to gain entry into the concert venue, I asked Delaney and Lohr if they could submit their comments to me after the show. Both agreed to share their thoughts with me and I am going to be sharing their comments below. I will also be sharing comments from some other friends and acquaintances that also attended the concert.

Priscilla and David Woodson before Ringo concert. Photo by Alice Webber

Before I share the comments on Ringo’s show, I am going to reveal the most common thread among every single person submitting their thoughts to me: Everyone said they were extremely disappointed and could not understand why there was no encore at the end of the concert.

The last song of the evening was “With a Little Help from My Friends,” along with the chorus of “Give Peace a Chance.” There was no encore and fans were not happy. Surely, Ringo and His All Starr Band could have performed songs like, “Back Off Boogaloo,” “The No No Song,” or “Goodnight Vienna” for encore songs? The lack of an encore was a major letdown for the crowd at the end of the evening.

Here now are thoughts and comments about Ringo’s show from those who attended the concert.

Dave Delaney (Roanoke, Virginia):

“The whole All-Starr Band was great as always, with Colin Hay from Men at Work as the surprise standout, such a distinctive voice! Even if he is a little bit stiff on stage. Steve Lukather on guitar is as impressive as ever. If there were any disappointments, it was that Ringo didn’t make any mention of being in “The Star City of the South” – how could you not say something about that?

“The Average White Band songs were fun to hear, but kind of fell flat in terms of featuring Hamish Stuart (which is the point of doing the “All Starr” songs). It could have been any cover band or this band covering any song. Other big surprise: apparently low attendance! I saw large sections of seats with no one in them. Based on the enthusiasm we get for “1964 The Tribute” every year, I would have thought there were a lot more Beatle/Ringo fans in Roanoke and the surrounding area.”

Randy Lohr (Richmond, Virginia):

“Ringo, in this setting, was the gracious host who was willing to give up the chance to play more of his songs so that his fellow artists could perform their big hits and entertain the crowd with them. It was like a great mix-tape of curated classic rock from the late ‘60s to the early ‘80s, ranging from the jam rock of Santana to the Brit funk of Average White Band, from the pop rock of Toto to the quirky new wave of Men At Work. Each of the “All Starrs” – Greg Rolie, Hamish Stuart, Steve Lukather, and Colin Hay – had an obvious blast playing back-up roles for each other, I think in deference to the ultimate back-up player in the house, Ringo himself!

“The concert started promptly at 7:30 (fitting for a musician whose job is to set the time!) and ended almost exactly two hours later at 9:30, with a rousing rendition of “With A Little Help From My Friends” (got a little goose-bumpy again as Ringo sang those first lines – so perfect) and then a pseudo-encore of “Give Peace A Chance,” for which Ringo ran back on stage to help finish, flashing his signature peace sign, and wishing us all well.”

Ringo Starr Roanoke Concert 8/13/19 Photo by Sammy Oakey

Sammy Oakey (Roanoke, Virginia):

“Any 79 year old who ends their two-hour concert by doing jumping jacks on stage has my respect, not that Richard Starkey lacked that before his recent Roanoke concert on August 13th. The current collection of All Starr Band members truly complement Ringo’s style and music, and the entire concert was enjoyable for the many generations that attended.

“While I love the songs that Ringo selected to sing, they’re the same numbers that he has been performing for several decades now, and I yearn for a few of his more obscure nuggets. “Only You”, “Octopus’ Garden”, and “”Goodnight Vienna” would surely be great additions to his show.

“Ringo looked and sounded great! While it was a blast to see him front and center at the microphone, it was equally exciting to see him climb up on his drum kit and play along to the other band members’ songs. He looked SO at ease on drums, and the years melted away with each beat of his drums. Having Greg Bissonette on the other drum kit was a great idea, as his stellar percussion and superb stage presence make him a true unsung hero.

“Instrumentalist Warren Ham also added a great deal to the show, with his various instrumental skills as well as some high vocals during “Africa”. While I enjoyed Steve Luthaker, Greg Rawley, and Colin Hay, I’d say my favorite band member (after Sir Ringo, of course!) was Hamish Stuart. The former Average White Band (and Paul McCartney band) member was more than stellar on his numbers, showing that he has lost none of his funk from the 70’s. “

Anne Fox (Roanoke, Virginia):

“I’ve loved Ringo since elementary school and would have gone to see him even if he just stood on stage and smiled. I found him funny and engaging and enjoyed all of his songs, esp. “Yellow Submarine” and “A Little Help From My Friends”. But the best treats of the evening came from his All Star Band, my favorites were from Santana and Toto. “Hold the Line” was great! From where we were sitting, the dialogue was difficult to understand. All in all, I had a delightful time and LOVED seeing Ringo!”

Ringo Starr Roanoke Concert 8/13/19 Photo By David Woodson

Alice Webber (Salem, Virginia):

“I was super excited about seeing Ringo. Probably my last chance to see a Beatle. I wish he had sung a few more Beatles songs. “Octopus’s Garden” would have been nice instead of “You’re 16” (which makes me cringe every time I hear it.) But overall it was really special to see him, he was a great showman, great with the audience, and you could tell he enjoyed the men he shared the stage with. What I didn’t expect (because I did no research) was the caliber of his All Starr band! Hearing “Africa,” “Down Under,” “Evil Ways” and the others was a wonderful surprise. The whole night was GREAT! Loved it!”

Stevie Holcomb (Roanoke, Virginia)

“Great concert, of course he has a way to let his All Stars have their moment without making you wish there were more Beatles songs. Having seen him before, I knew what to expect. It is nice to hear Santana and Average White Band song’s sprinkled through. Still, he did a few favorites and thankfully, didn’t do Liverpool 8 (even though he DID do Anthem, which may be just as bad, Ringo is not a great lyricist) which is plumb awful.”

Michelle Lionberger (Roanoke, Virginia):

“As an elder statesmen in the world of rock, Ringo still has it. Not only did he give a fantastic performance himself, he also put together a truly all star band featuring some outstanding musicians.”

Chuck Lionberger (Roanoke, Virginia):

“This was a fun concert. Ringo was awesome, of course and I equally enjoyed singing-a-long with Men At Work, Toto and Santana songs. It was like being transported back to high school. Not only was there incredible vocal talent but also amazing musical performances. These guys can play and sing along.”

Ringo Starr Roanoke Concert 8/13/19 Photo by Sammy Oakey

Nancy Helms Childress (Vinton, Virginia):

“I thought the concert was very well organized; letting Ringo sing with the other musicians taking turns singing their big hits. That was a great format. I was truly mesmerized watching the dual drummers, perfectly in sync! Amazing! Sometimes when Ringo was on the drums, I imagined John, Paul and George being on the stage with him. What a thrill that would have been! I have seen Paul McCartney in concert and now I have seen Ringo and I feel I am truly one of the lucky ones! I would go again to either or both if the opportunity ever comes up!”

Gayle Deel (Roanoke, Virginia):

“Ringo was in great form both physically and vocally, singing several of his signature songs, along with Yellow Submarine, which enthused all the Beatle fans.

This was special for me as I took my two sons, both drummers, to see him for the first time. Although they did note Ringo’s drum was not miked, only a true musician would notice that detail. The music of Santana, Average White Band. Toto and Men at Work brought back so many memories and was spot on.

“Ringo spoke and performed to the audience like he was playing in our living rooms. At one point he mentioned his “first” band: I know we all thought he was going to say The Beatles, but he gave a shout out to his original band, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Starr also mentioned his Beatle mates and ended his show with John’s “Give Peace a Chance,” with Ringo’s signature line, “peace and love” with the two finger V. I left in chills.”

 

Steve Lukather Roanoke Concert 8/13/19. Photo by Sammy Oakey

Thanks to everyone who submitted their comments for this Ringo Starr concert review.

Before I end this message, I will be sharing my favorite song by each of the four singing members of the All Starr Band and on the “Starr” of the concert, Ringo!

Gregg Rolie: “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen”

Although I loved “Evil Ways,” a song that Rollie sang at Woodstock 50 years ago as lead singer of Santana, it was actually “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen” that was musically pleasing to me. Rollie’s organ, Steve Lukather’s guitar and the rest of the All Starr Band bought out one of the best overall musical performances of the entire evening.

Steve Lukather: “Africa”

The All Starr Band played one of the greatest Yacht Rock songs of all time: Toto’s biggest hit “Africa.” Their version extended Colin Hay’s guitar and Warren Ham’s saxophone, which complimented Lukather’s guitar and vocals in an excellent way. The crowd seemed to resonate with the tune during this performance.

Hamish Stuart: “Pick Up the Pieces”

This song has always been a favorite tune for me. I had the opportunity to meet Stuart when the Average White Band played a concert in Roanoke in 1975, while I worked for radio station WROV. Every member of the All Starr Band contributed to the success of this tune, with superb musicianship on the stage. It was a true meshing of instrumental talent on this selection.

Colin Hay: “Overkill”

With terrific songs like “Down Under” and “Who Can It Be Now,” it was extremely hard for me to pick “Overkill” as my favorite song. I loved all three of the Men at Work songs, but Hay’s best vocals of the night came when he performed “Overkill.” Collectively, the All Starr Band had wonderful blending of guitars, keyboards and saxophone. I maintain it was the best overall performance that evening by the band.

Ringo Starr: “It Don’t Come Easy”

Easily my favorite Ringo song of the night was “It Don’t Come Easy,” which was co-written by George Harrison and became Ringo’s first solo hit single during the summer of 1971. I enjoyed hearing Warren Ham’s saxophone and Steve Lukather’s guitar on one of the most musically demanding Ringo tunes. I appreciated the All Starr Band’s playing on this timeless classic.

Ringo Starr Roanoke Concert 8/13/19 Photo by Sammy Oakey

It may sound like a cliché but Ringo has paid his dues. As the Roanoke Times music writer Tad Dickens stated in his review of Starr’s concert, “The Beatles drummer, who turned 79 last month, is an energetic and groove-oriented onstage presence, 30 years removed from rehab, and 30 years into leading his own All Starr Band.”

Ringo has paid his dues and he can now sing the blues. He did so with His All Starr Band in Roanoke on August 13th, 2019. Rock on, Ringo Starr!

It don’t come easy,

You know it don’t come easy.

 

Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues,

And you know it don’t come easy.

 

You don’t have to shout or leap about,

You can even play them easy.

 

Forget about the past and all your sorrows,

The future won’t last,

It will soon be over tomorrow.

 

I don’t ask for much, I only want your trust,

And you know it don’t come easy.

 

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Broadcasting, Music, Radio, Retro Rock

Back in the Summer of ’69

I got my first real six string,

Bought it at the five and dime,

Played it til my fingers bled,

Was the summer of ’69.

But when I look back now,

That summer seemed to last forever,

And if I had the choice,

Yeah, I’d always wanna be there,

Those were the best days of my life.

 

The “Summer of ‘69” was a time when Canadian rocker Bryan Adams was buying his first guitar and reminiscing about that summer being the “best days of his life.”

That summer of 1969 was an eventful time for those in the United States. The Vietnam War continued with over 500,000 American troops still in Southeast Asia and Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon.

During August, the Woodstock “3 Days of Peace and Music” Festival happened, with over 400,000 people attending one of the greatest events in rock music history. Meanwhile, the Beatles recorded their last album, “Abbey Road” just before John Lennon quit the legendary rock band.

The summer of 1969: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” to quote Charles Dickens from his book, “A Tale of Two Cities.”

Various Records that I bought during the summer of 1969.

It was during the hot summer of 1969, that I listened to the radio 10 to 12 hours a day and made a decision that I wanted to be a radio announcer when I grew up. My pursuit to become “DJ Dave” started in the summer of ‘69.

I have fond memories of listening to Top 40 radio during the summer of ‘69. Living in Roanoke, Virginia during this time, I would mostly listen to legendary Top 40 WROV 1240 AM in the daytime, with DJs Jack Fisher, Fred Frelantz and Bart Prater. I also would occasionally tune into WBLU 1480 AM Salem, a second Top 40 station in the Roanoke radio market. WBLU DJ’s Chris Shannon, Les Turpin and Bill Cassidy played the hits, while Dave Moran was the general manager at the station.

At sundown, WROV reduced their power and WBLU signed off the air, so I tuned my radio into stations hundreds of miles away from my Virginia home. Since radio waves changed on a nightly basis, I would listen to a variety of 50,000 watt, clear channel AM stations on any given night.

Various records that I bought during the summer of 1969.

The two main stations that I listened to during the nighttime were WLS 890 AM Chicago and WABC 770 AM New York. On the Big 89 WLS, Larry Lujack, Chuck Buell and Kris Erik Stevens were my favorite DJs. When listening to WABC, Dan Ingram and Cousin Brucie (Bruce Morrow) are the two radio DJ voices that I remember from that hot summer.

On nights that WLS or WABC were hard to pick up, I had other clear channel stations that I could listen to. Among those other stations: WOWO Fort Wayne, WCFL Chicago 1000 AM, CKLW Windsor, Ontario (Detroit) 800 AM, WKBW Buffalo 1520 AM and WKYC Cleveland 1100 AM.

Because I spent so much time listening to Top 40 radio that summer, I decided that I wanted to become a DJ when I became an adult. My desire to work in radio became a reality for me five years later in 1974, as I landed a remote engineer position with WROV Roanoke when I was 18 years old.

Dave Woodson playing records for WROV Roanoke remote broadcast during 1974.

For the remaining portion of this message, I will be focusing on the music that was played on Top 40 radio during the summer of 69. I will be highlighting hits songs from 50 years ago that are still considered relevant here in 2019.

Musically, the summer of ‘69 is considered part of the “Golden Age of Top 40 Radio.” Diversity accurately describes the music that accounted for the biggest hits during that summer.

It was not uncommon to hear different genres played back to back: A DJ might start a music set with country crossover, “A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash, segueing into a gospel song, “Oh Happy Day” from the Edwin Hawkins Singers and finally playing a reggae tune, “Israelites” by Desmond Decker and the Aces.

 

Various records that I bought during the summer of 1969.

To further show the diversity of the music, here are five songs that reached number 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Cash Box Top 100 charts during the summer of 69:

 

1. Get Back—The Beatles with Billy Preston

2. Love Theme From Romeo and Juliet—Henry Mancini & his Orchestra

3. In the Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus)—Zager & Evans

4. Honky Tonk Women—The Rolling Stones

5. Sugar, Sugar—The Archies

 

In addition to those five songs, “In the Ghetto” by Elvis Presley spent the last week of June at the number 1 position on the Cash Box Top 100 chart.

 

WLS Chicago Hit Parade Surveys 7/21/69 & 8/4/69. Courtesy of Pete Battistini: Author of AMERICAN TOP 40 WITH CASEY KASEM (THE 1970’S)

Before I reveal my Top 10 most relevant songs from 50 years ago, I am going to share some other significant songs from the summer of ‘69.

Top Underrated Songs:

1. I’m Free—The Who

2. See—The Rascals

3. Marrakesh Express—Crosby Stills and Nash

4. Spinning Wheel—Blood Sweat and Tears

5. Polk Salad Annie—Tony Joe White

 

WROV Roanoke Super Summer Survey 8/24/69. Courtesy of DJ Steve Nelson and WROV History Website/Pat Garrett.

Top Love Songs:

1. What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)—Jr. Walker & the All Stars

2. Love (Can Make You Happy)—Mercy

3. Baby, I Love You—Andy Kim

4. My Cherie Amour—Stevie Wonder

5. My Pledge of Love—Joe Jeffries Group

 

My 45 RPM single of the Rascals “See” record that I bought in 1969.

Top Miscellaneous Subject Songs:

1. Grazing in the Grass—Friends of Distinction

2. Color Him Father—The Winstons

3. Black Pearl—Sonny Charles & the Checkmates

4. Sweet Caroline—Neil Diamond

5. More Today Than Yesterday—Spiral Staircase

 

My 45 RPM single of Oliver’s “Jean” record that I bought in 1969.

Now I will be focusing on what I consider to be the top ten 1969 summer radio songs. These are songs were either released and/or were hits between June and September 1969.

The top ten songs that I have selected fit into the following categories: I deem the 10 songs to still be culturally, historically, aesthetically significant, meaningful or relevant. There are no rankings with my listing and the songs are placed in a random order.

 

My 45 RPM single of CCR’s “Fortunate Son/Down on the Corner” record that I bought in 1969.

One—Three Dog Night

When the Beach Boys and the Byrds started to wane on Top 40 radio, a new vocal powerhouse came upon the scene: Three Dog Night. Group members Chuck Negron, Danny Hutton and Cory Wells were all talented vocalists and their blended harmonies and vocal versatility soared with their catchy, up-tempo rock tune. “One” spent 3 weeks at number two on Cash Box Top 100 chart and was the first of 21 consecutive songs to reach the Billboard Top 40 between 1969 and 1975 for Three Dog Night.

Easy To Be Hard—Three Dog Night

Just after their song “One” became a hit, Three Dog Night had a second smash tune during the summer of 69: “Easy To Be Hard” from the Broadway musical “Hair.” Chuck Negron has excellent passion when singing the lyrics that question the harsh treatment of humanity: “How can people be so heartless, how can people be so cruel, easy to be hard?” Three Dog Night went on to have a 3rd Top 10 hit with “Eli’s Coming,” a Laura Nyro tune, during the fall of the same year.

Bad Moon Rising—Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR)

The second CCR song to reach number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, after “Proud Mary” in the spring of ‘69, is considered to be one of the first tunes in the “Swamp rock” genre of music. Plus, “Bad Moon Rising” has perhaps the most misheard lyric ever in modern music history. Many folks think CCR’s leader John Fogerty sings “There’s a bathroom on the right” instead of “There’s a bad moon on the rise.” “Bad Moon Rising” remains popular and is still played at many sporting events here in 2019.

Fortunate Son—Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR)

Summer of ‘69 was huge for CCR. The band played at Woodstock, 4 hit singles charted and their “Green River” album was released. Then in September, the band released “Fortunate Son.” The song quickly became an anti-war movement anthem and is considered a signature song for John Fogerty. In 2013, “Fortunate Son” was added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

 

Crystal Blue Persuasion—Tommy James and the Shondells

With the Vietnam War ongoing, Tommy James had his 3rd consecutive top 10 hit, a song longing for a future age of brotherhood, harmony and living in peace. James has been quoted multiple times, stating that the inspiration for “Crystal Blue Persuasion” came from him reading the books of Isaiah, Ezekiel and Revelation in the Bible. The melodic acoustic guitar and organ on the tune help to make this song still sound good, 50 years later.

Get Back—The Beatles with Billy Preston

A song that was originally performed at the historic Beatles “Rooftop” concert in January 1969, the single “Get Back” was the first number 1 song, on both Billboard and Cashbox charts, during the summer of ‘69. The Beatles’ “Get Back/Don’t Let Me Down” single is the only time that another artist was credited on a Fab Four recording, with Billy Preston sharing the honor for the biggest Beatles single in 1969. “Get Back” was also the Beatles’ first single released in America in true stereo.

Get Together—The Youngbloods

With the catchy chorus, “Come on people now/Smile on your brother/Everybody get together/Try to love one another right now,” the Youngbloods created a timely classic with their “Love and Peace” anthem “Get Together.” American involvement in the Vietnam War remained strong in 1969 and the song was a huge hit on Top 40 radio. It was also embraced by many Christian churches during this time period, that wanted to promote “Love and Peace” in their congregations. A true quintessential song from the golden age of Top 40 radio.

Put a Little Love in Your Heart—Jackie DeShannon

It is interesting to look back on how many of the most significant songs from 50 years ago were on the subject of love and peace. Jackie DeShannon’s biggest hit record, “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” is one of those “Love and Peace” songs that resonated with radio listeners in the summer of 69. Along with DeShannon’s other big hit, “What the World Needs Now,” her message of seeking love and peace, rather than war, is still relevant today.

In the Ghetto—Elvis Presley

For most folks who think about Elvis songs, very few remember his songs of social concerns. “In the Ghetto” is completely different than almost every other Elvis tune and provided a comeback for the “King of Rock and Roll” in 1969. The Mac Davis-written song tells a narrative of generational poverty that is set in the city of Chicago. With the success of this song, Elvis charted two consecutive number 1 songs in 1969: “In the Ghetto” and “Suspicious Minds.”

Suite: Judy Blue Eyes—Crosby Stills and Nash (CSN)

When CSN played at Woodstock during August 1969, the band opened up their set list with “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” The song was the second single from the CSN self-titled debut album, after “Marrakesh Express” and was released as a single in September ‘69. The tune is made up of four separate sections and is seamlessly woven together by excellent harmonies of the band. Truly, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” is the signature song for CSN.

 

Various records that I bought during the summer of 1969.

Now that I have humbly submitted my thoughts on the most significant singles from the summer of 1969, I am curious to find out your opinion on the music from 50 years ago.

Obviously, I do not want to come across as authoritative with my critique of music from the golden age of Top 40 radio. The songs that you feel are the best from the summer of 1969 could be completely different than my selections.

So I am asking for your opinion: What songs do you feel are the best, greatest or most significant singles from the summer of 1969?

Listening to the music on Top 40 radio in 1969 highlighted some of the best days of my life. Rock on!

I leave you with the ending lyrics to “Crystal Blue Persuasion:”

Maybe tomorrow.

When he looks down,

On every green field,

And every town,

All of his children,

In every nation,

There’ll be peace and good,

Brotherhood,

Crystal blue persuasion

 

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Music, Retro Rock

Gayle Deel: Mega Beatles Fan Explores England and Iceland

 

The Beatles Story Museum exhibit in Liverpool. Photo by Gayle Deel

Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people

Sharing all the world…

 

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will live as one

Imagine if you were inside the childhood house of Paul McCartney in Liverpool and a tour guide invites someone on the tour of the home to play a song on Paul’s piano? It may sound like a dream but it actually became reality for Beatles fan and Roanoke, Virginia native Gayle Deel.

While on tour at McCartney’s home, Gayle played John Lennon’s signature song, “Imagine” on the same piano that Paul himself played and sang “When I’m 64”, along with James Corden, on a June 2018 Carpool Karaoke episode of The Late Late Show. It was truly one of the highlights of Gayle’s trip to England to visit multiple Beatles sites during September of last year.

I first came in contact with Gayle shortly after I published Dave & Steve Delaney: Beatles Pilgrimage to England on my blog last October. Through our mutual friend Bruce Bias, Gayle and I communicated about me possibly sharing her Beatles experience after she enjoyed reading about the Delaney Brothers Fab Four trip.

Earlier this month, I interviewed Gayle about her trip to England and a secondary visit to Iceland to visit a John Lennon memorial, The Imagine Peace Tower. Gayle’s passion and knowledge of the Beatles was evident as she reminisced about various things associated with the band that got their start in Liverpool.

As a retirement gift to herself, Gayle Deel planned a trip of a lifetime: Touring Beatles sites in London and Liverpool, England. Gayle retired from the Veterans Administration Hospital in Salem, Virginia where she worked in the Radiology department for many years.

Exhibit at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England. Photo by Gayle Deel.

Accompanying Deel on the trip were her brother Douglas Nauman of High Point, North Carolina and her boyfriend Douglas Rhodes of Roanoke, Virginia. The three embarked to England on September 11, 2018 and spent 7 days viewing various Beatles sites in Liverpool and London.

Gayle’s love for the Beatles began on February 7th, 1964 when she watched the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite with her father. As Gayle stated to me, “I fell in love. My dad just shook his head.”

Deel went on to say, “That’s when I became a Beatle devotee for life and I anxiously awaited any magazine that was published just to own a piece of them in print. My only prized possession at that time was a 45 rpm “I Want to Hold Your Hand” –played repeatedly on a portable turntable.”

After getting off the airplane at England’s Heathrow Airport, Gayle and her traveling companions boarded a train in London bound for Liverpool. Gayle mused on that initial train ride: “I just knew it was going to look like the same train: I hear “A Hard Day’s Night” (from the 1964 movie where the Fab Four ride on a train from Liverpool to London).

The first location the trio visited in Liverpool was the Cavern Club. The Beatles played many concerts there during their early days as a band but the original building was closed in 1973 due to construction on a new underground rail loop. A new building for the Cavern Club came in 1984 and this site is now one of the most visited tourist sites in England.

Gayle Deel at the Cavern Club Liverpool, England.

Gayle accounts her experience at the historic music site in Liverpool: “The first stop was the Cavern Club, taking the steps down into the cellar with music flowing, signatures of thousands across the ceiling and “The Stage” where my heroes began their journey. All I could hear was “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Twist and Shout” in that hallowed cellar.”

Every Beatles fan has a favorite Beatle, and Gayle has been a John Lennon fan since the days that the Fab Four performed on the Ed Sullivan show during February 1964. She shared with me that visiting Lennon’s Liverpool childhood home was her favorite event on the Beatles pilgrimage.

Gayle Deel at John Lennon exhibit in Liverpool, England

Here is Gayle describing her tour of the Lennon home: “It was emotional to walk into the back yard and enter the kitchen knowing John had been through that door many times with friends such as Pete Shotton, Ivan Vaughan and sometimes Paul McCartney. The most chilling was being in the small bedroom where John spent young years and teenage years reading about other musicians, listening to American artists and beginning to craft his own musical talents.”

Paul McCartney childhood home in Liverpool, England. Photo by Gayle Deel.

Gayle’s second favorite visit on the trip was her visit to Paul McCartney’s home on 20 Forthlin Road in Liverpool. Gayle also shares her thoughts on this memorable happening:

“On to Paul’s home – the second thrill of my trip, because it was here that I played, in his living room, the very same piano that THE Paul McCartney had played. Actually the song that rolled off my fingers was “Imagine” by John Lennon, not a McCartney song. But I found it applicable as I had imagined many times the reuniting of these two brilliant musicians. Another young Beatle fan joined me and we played “Let It Be”. He with the melody and me on the chords. I’ll never forget it!”

The other tourist stops on the trip to Liverpool are too numerous to name. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Penny Lane
  • Strawberry Field
  • St Peter’s Parish
  • Eleanor Rigby’s grave

The Beatles Story Museum in Liverpool, England. Photo by Gayle Deel.

After spending a few days in Liverpool, it was then time to take what Electric Light Orchestra sang about in 1979, the “Last Train to London.” The next day, Gayle’s touring group hit various Beatles sites in and around London.

The first memorable site Gayle visited was 3 Savile Row, which was the location of the Beatles last live performance ever: The Rooftop Concert. This mini concert became the climax of the 1970 documentary film “Let It Be.”

Visiting 3 Savile Row was a surreal experience for Gayle as she shared with me,

“The Beatles’ rooftop concert with Billy Preston, was the last time the group ever played together as a band. The Apple building was once owned by all four Beatles and each had an office in that structure. I went in and experienced being in the former beautiful wooden offices, now lined with clothing to purchase. What a shame this building is not a museum. I hear, “Get Back.”

The other highlight for Gayle in London was visiting Abbey Road. The iconic street is known around the world as John, Paul, George and Ringo were photographed walking across thoroughfare and the Beatles made it the front cover of the “Abbey Road” album. In Gayle’s words, “The walk across “Abbey Road” in London: no words can explain and then to turn and see Abbey Road Studios. I hear “Come Together.”

Gayle Deel walking across Abbey Road in London, England.

As trips go, Gayle, her brother and boyfriend all enjoyed their Beatles trip to England. However, Gayle wasn’t finished visiting sites associated with the Beatles.

On December 4th of last year, Deel and her boyfriend Douglas Rhodes went to Iceland to view the Imagine Peace Tower.

The memorial to John Lennon by his widow Yoko Ono, is dedicated to peace, and the tower’s name comes from Lennon’s signature 1971 solo hit song, “Imagine.”

Gayle had a wonderful experience visiting Iceland and the Peace Tower. Here are some of her thoughts as she recalls visiting the Nordic island country in the North Atlantic.

Iceland town. Photo by Gayle Deel.

“Iceland is a beautiful country. The air is clean and crisp and it is a quiet, peaceful country. It looks like a scene from Santa’s workshop.”

“The Peace Tower is located on Viday Island and a boat ride is required to get that location. We went at night. It was cold, windy and there were several inches of snow on the ground. We made the trek up the hill to the beautiful monument that shone a blue light into the heavens. Engraved on its’ sides is “Imagine Peace” in 24 languages. It is inspiring and moving. Yoko has also placed a stone that says: “I dedicate this light tower to John Lennon. My love for you is forever – Yoko Ono October 9, 2007.”

Whale watching boat, Atlantic Ocean, along the coast in Iceland. Photo by Gayle Deel.

“Yoko chose Iceland with the blessings of the Icelandic people to build the monument there because it is between Liverpool, England, the land of John’s birth and New York City, the city he loved as it reminded him of Liverpool. Iceland is also considered the most peaceful country in the world – thus The Peace Tower.”

“The light is visible for many miles and the blue hue of the light just exudes a peaceful feeling and a yearning for self and world peace. The sole purpose of this trip was to experience that peace. And it happened: I hear ”Give Peace a Chance.”

As you can tell from Gayle’s writing above, she was deeply moved by her time in Iceland visiting the Imagine Peace Tower. She told me during our interview that she would like to revisit Iceland again in the future.

Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland. Photo by Gayle Deel.

Next up on Gayle’s bucket list is visiting Bermuda. This was the location where John Lennon wrote the songs for his last album, “Double Fantasy” which was released just prior to his assassination on December 8th, 1980. Gayle would love to listen to Lennon’s song, “Watching the Wheels” while visiting the Caribbean Island.

Now that Gayle is retired, she has taken up photography. You can view some of Gayle’s photography work on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/gaylendeelphotography/

Thanks to Gayle for sharing her pilgrimage to England and Iceland. After hearing and writing about her experiences, this Beatles fan is ready to travel in England and beyond to visit Fab Four sites.

These are Gayle Deel’s words to live by:

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will live as one

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Music, Retro Rock

What is Frat Rock?

 

 

 

Now the seats are all empty

Let the roadies take the stage

Pack it up and tear it down

They’re the first to come and the last to leave

Working for that minimum wage

They’ll set it up in another town

 

Now roll them cases out and lift them amps

Haul them trusses down and get’em up them ramps

Cause when it comes to moving me

You guys are the champs

But when that last guitar’s been packed away

You know that I still want to play

So just make sure you got it all set to go

Before you come for my piano

The lyrics above are from Jackson Browne’s 1977 song “The Load Out,” which mentions roadies. I had this song rolling across my mind, as I was a roadie for Andrew Peterson’s “Behold the Lamb of God” tour in Roanoke, Virginia last month. While taking a break from roadie duties that day, I received a call from my friend Bruce Bias.

After finishing small talk, Bias asked me the question: “What is Frat Rock?” My friend had been listening to E Street Radio on SiriusXM and heard Bruce Springsteen mentioning that he used to play Frat Rock music in the early days of his career before the release of the “Born to Run” album in 1975.

I didn’t know quite how to respond to his question. The only thing that initially came to my mind was music that was played in the 1978 film, “Animal House.” Or maybe it was music that is played by garage bands?

Before ending our phone chat, I told Bruce that I would research the meaning of Frat Rock and get back with him. Obviously, I educated myself on the subject and am ready to share my thoughts with Bruce and to everyone else who is reading about Frat Rock now.

The week that I was researching Frat Rock, I watched the 1996 film, “That Thing You Do!” for the first time. Written and produced by Tom Hanks, the movie chronicles the rise and fall of a fictional 1964 “one hit wonder” garage rock band.

The film accurately portrays what a typical garage band would be like in the mid-60’s and paints the picture of what many Frat Rock bands had to deal with during that time period. My daughter Amy recommended the film to me and I am now recommending the movie to all who are reading this message.

So what is Frat Rock? This genre of music is closely associated with the garage rock bands that became popular after Beatlemania swept across America in 1964. Frat Rock is also associated with 60’s R&B grooves: songs that have fast up-tempo beats and explosive choruses that can be sung by multiple singers.

Many of the early Frat Rock songs sounded like a party was happening in the studio when the song was being recorded. Backup singers on these early recordings would hand clap, shout, laugh, holler and make it sound like a party was being thrown while the song was actually being made into a record.

Quite a few Frat Rock songs released in the 60’s were made by rock bands that were either “one hit wonders” or tended to not have more than two or three major Top 40 hits. Later on during the 70’s, Frat Rock’s biggest acts were J. Geils Band and Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. These two bands featured plenty of guitars along with keyboards and saxophones.

One of the finest examples of Frat Rock from Bruce Springsteen comes from “The River “ album and the song, “Sherry Darling.”

During the 35th anniversary of Springsteen’s “The River” tour in 2016, Billboard Magazine had this to say about his “Sherry Darling” song: “The whooping party noises on this throwback frat-rock stomper provide a funny contrast with the lyrics, all about a guy stuck driving his girl’s pain-in-the-butt mother to the unemployment agency. Springsteen based the tune on ‘60s classics like the Swingin’ Medallions’ ‘Double Shot of My Baby’s Love,’ and he nails the vibe while injecting just enough sociopolitical angst to make it his own.”

During the late 60’s and early 70’s, Frat Rock songs became a mainstay for college fraternity parties. Perhaps the most celebrated Frat Rock song of all time is the tune called, “Shout.” The Isley Brothers wrote and recorded the song in 1959 but in was immortalized in the 1978 movie, “National Lampoon’s Aminal House.”

In the “Animal House” film, Otis Day and the Knights perform a cover version of “Shout” at a fraternity party that features drunken frat boys in togas dancing with sorority sisters. “Shout” is now in the Grammy Hall of Fame and Rolling Stone magazine ranks the song at number 118 on their, “500 Greatest Songs of All Time Listing.”

So what do music critics consider to be the best Frat Rock songs of all time?

ThoughtCo.com has a listing of their Top 10 Frat Rock songs:

  1. Double Shot Of My Baby’s Love—The Swinging Medallions
  2. Louie Louie—The Kingsmen
  3. Wooly Bully—Sam the Sam and the Pharaohs
  4. Nobody But Me—The Human Beinz
  5. Quarter To Three—Gary “U.S.” Bonds

 

  1. Shout—Isley Brothers
  2. 96 Tears—? And the Mysterians
  3. Land of a 1000 Dances—Cannibal and the Headhunters
  4. Farmer John—The Premiers
  5. Mony Mony—Tommy James and the Shondells

There is even an album called, “Frat Rock! The Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Party Tunes of All-Time.”

Some of the songs on this compilation album from Rhino Records include:

  1. Gimme Some Lovin’—Spencer Davis Group
  2. Hungry—Paul Revere and the Raiders
  3. Keep on Dancing—The Gentrys
  4. Barbara Ann—The Beach Boys
  5. Wipe Out—The Surfaris

 

  1. Wild Thing—The Troggs
  2. Do You Love Me—The Contours
  3. Dance To The Music—Sly and the Family Stone
  4. Reelin’ and Rockin’—Chuck Berry
  5. Function at the Junction—Shorty Long

 

And now some of my favorite underrated Frat Rock Songs:

  1. (We Ain’t Got (Nothin’ Yet)—Blues Magoos
  2. Pushin’ Too Hard—The Seeds
  3. Talk Talk—The Music Machine
  4. You, I—The Rugbys
  5. Shape of Things To Come—Max Frost and the Troopers

 

  1. Birthday—Underground Sunshine
  2. Hot Smoke and Sasafrass—Bubble Puppy
  3. I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)—Electric Prunes
  4. Psychotic Reaction—Count Five
  5. Did You See Her Eyes—The Illusion

Obviously, my thoughts on Frat Rock are just the tip of an iceberg. If you want more information about this genre of music, there are many places on the Internet to satisfy your curiosity about the various aspects of Frat Rock.

To Bruce Bias, as I promised to you: an investigation and a blog message on Frat Rock. Enjoy the read!

And to everyone else who is reading this message now: You don’t have to be a former college fraternal brother to enjoy the type of music described on this blog.

Everyone can delight listening to this musical genre. Long live, Frat Rock!

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