1975 Seals and Crofts – I’ll Play For You

1975 Seals and Crofts – I’ll Play For You

Jim Seals and Dash Crofts had a string of hits in 1972 and 1973, as described in one of my books, Lost or Forgotten Oldies Introduction: Hit Records from 1955 to 1989 that the Radio Seldom Plays.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B098HCW885/

Their momentum ground to a halt with the release of their fourth album, 1974’s Unborn Child.

In 1973, the original Roe vs Wade Supreme Court decision legalized abortion in the US. Jim and Dash were members of the Bahai Faith, and their belief is the soul begins its journey at the moment of conception. The title song from their album was a plea to avoid abortions. When that song became their next single, many radio stations were reluctant to play the record and many others simply banned the single.

As a result, the band failed to reach the top forty in 1974. Their second single from the album was not political at all, but perhaps their previous single made it more difficult to get airplay again. King Of Nothing stalled at only #60 on the Hot 100. That result was disappointing, as I felt the song was one of the band’s better songs. It also reached #26 on the Adult Contemporary Chart.

The next year, their fifth album led off with another top forty single, I’ll Play For You. As usual, the pair co-wrote the song themselves.

The single reached #18 on the Hot 100 and #4 on the Adult Contemporary Chart.

The duo continued to score top forty singles in each of the next three years and retreated from the music industry in 1980.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seals_and_Crofts
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27ll_Play_for_You

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1974 Art Garfunkel / Tim Moore – Second Avenue

1974 Art Garfunkel / Tim Moore – Second Avenue 

While the name Tim Moore may not be familiar to you, his career is full of names that you will recognize.

Tim grew up in Philadelphia and played drums in Woody’s Truck Stop, a band that included Todd Rundgren. 

Tim’s music impressed Frank Zappa, who invited him to New York City and offered him a recording contract. When Frank admitted he was too busy to produce his album, Tim walked away.

Tim began doing studio work for Thom Bell and Gamble and Huff in Philadelphia. He lived next door to Daryl Hall and the two of them formed the band Gulliver and released an album on Elektra Records.

Gulliver disbanded, and Tim moved to Woodstock and signed with Dunhill Records. He sang on Dallas, the first single issued by Steely Dan.

In 1974, Tim finally released his first album for a new label: A Small Record Company. Paramount’s parent company Famous Music Corp. distributed his album as well as the single Second Avenue

Famous Music Corp. almost immediately went out of business, seemingly ending sales for Tim’s record. A bidding war ensued, and Asylum Records signed Tim to a contract and began pressing the single on their label.

The single reached #58 on the Hot 100 and #41 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Meanwhile, two days after Tim’s single came out, a second version of the song was released. Art Garfunkel recorded his version of the song and it came out on Columbia Records. The single peaked at #34 on the Hot 100 and #6 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Tim wrote more songs that were hits for other artists and had a number one hit in Portugal in 1986 without ever reaching the top forty on the Hot 100.

Art had three more top forty singles in 1975, all of which topped the Adult Contemporary Chart.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Moore_(singer-songwriter)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Avenue_(song)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_Garfunkel_discography#Single

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1973 Doobie Brothers – Jesus Is Just Alright With Me

1973 Doobie Brothers – Jesus Is Just Alright With Me 

Art Reynolds wrote the gospel song Jesus Is Just Alright and recorded it with The Art Reynolds Singers in 1966.

Gram Parsons was in the studio when the group recorded the song and became the drummer for Byrds in 1968. He introduced the band to the song, and they began playing it in concerts. They recorded the song and released it as a single that made it to #97 on the Hot 100 in 1970 and then promptly fell off the chart.

Tom Johnston, Patrick Simmons, Dave Shogren, and John Hartman formed the Doobie Brothers in 1970. The band used the name Pud at first but began looking for a different name. Their neighbor, Keith “Dyno” Rosen, had a suggestion: “Why don’t you call yourself the Doobie Brothers because you’re always smoking pot?” Nobody liked the name, but they decided to use it until a better name came along.

They never picked a new name.

The Doobie Brothers heard the Byrds’ version of Jesus Is Just Alright and came up with a very similar arrangement to play at their own shows (although they did add a bridge to the song). A version that ran about four and a half minutes appeared on the band’s second album in 1972.

They edited the song down to less than four minutes and released it as a single that reached #35 on the Hot 100 in early 1973.

The band finally cracked the top ten later that year with Long Train Running and topped the chart the next year with Black Water.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Doobie_Brothers
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Doobie_Brothers_discography#Singles
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Is_Just_Alright

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1972 Mott the Hoople – All the Young Dudes

1972 Mott the Hoople – All the Young Dudes 

A band calling itself The Doc Thomas Group formed in the UK in 1966 and released its first album in 1967 on an Italian record label. The band used that name in Italy but toured in the UK first as Shakedown Sound and later as Silence.

Guy Stevens at Island Records became interested in the band but refused to work with them unless they brought in a new lead vocalist. He ran an unusual ad: “Singer wanted, must be image-minded and hungry”. Singer/songwriter Ian Hunter answered the ad and became the band’s piano player and lead singer.

Guy had previously given Procol Harum and insisted that Silence rename their group Mott the Hoople, a name he came up with after reading a novel by Willard Manus. 

Poor album sales and disappointing appearances left the band on the verge of breaking up. David Bowie had been a fan of the group’s music and he sent a demo of the song Suffragette City hoping to convince them to record it. The band tried out the song but did not feel it was right for them and turned down his offer, sending word to David that they were going to break up instead.

Fortunately, David did not give up so easily. He had his manager, Tony Defries, work to get the band a recording contract with CBS Records. David played an acoustic version of another song he was working on, and everybody became excited to record it: All The Young Dudes

It took some additional work to flesh out the lyrics, after which David produced their single (and sang backup vocals as well). 

The record reached the top ten in the UK but stalled at only #37 on the Hot 100 in the US. David produced an entire album for the band as well.

While the band never reached the top forty again in the US, they did have a string of hit singles in the UK in 1973 and 1974. I found one of those songs to be instantly recognizable, All The Way To Memphis. Ian wrote the song; it tells the story of a musician whose band traveled to Memphis while his guitar inexplicably went to a small town in Kentucky. It dwells on the woes of being in a band on the road.  

All the Young Dudes may not have been a chart success in the US, but it became recognized as a pivotal recording in the Glam Rock field. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked the record at #161 in its 2021 list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and it became one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mott_the_Hoople
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mott_the_Hoople_discography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_the_Young_Dudes

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1971 Nilsson – Me And My Arrow

1971 Nilsson – Me And My Arrow 

After reaching the Hot 100 with a song from both his third and fourth albums, Harry Nilsson decided to do something different for his fifth album in 1970. He entitled the album Nilsson Sing Newman, and it included only songs written by Randy Newman.

The album met with praise from reviewers and a shrug from the public.

Harry then began work on a television special, The Point. Harry wrote the story for the show and created its soundtrack. Fred Wolf directed the animated show, which aired on ABC-TV in February 1971.

Harry released the theme song, Me And My Arrow, and the record became his third top forty single on the Hot 100. It peaked at #34 on the Hot 100 and did even better on the Adult Contemporary chart (where it reached #3).

When Plymouth created a car called The Arrow, they even licensed Harry’s song for some commercials.

Harry traveled to England to record his next album, Nilsson Schmilsson. One song he recorded for the album was a cover of a song written by two members of Badfinger. Without You became a number one hit for Nilsson in early 1972.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Nilsson
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Nilsson_discography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Point!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Me_and_My_Arrow

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Me_and_My_Arrow

1970 Elvis Presley – I’ve Lost You / The Next Step Is Love

1970 Elvis Presley – I’ve Lost You / The Next Step Is Love 

Elvis Presley had concentrated on his movie career through most of the sixties, and the filler songs that came from them did little for his music career. For almost four years, beginning in the middle of 1965, Elvis had no top ten singles on the Hot 100.

His Comeback Special in 1968 helped get him established again, and he finally hit the top ten again with the #3 single In The Ghetto in 1969. He then followed that with the chart-topping hit Suspicious Minds. Sadly, that was to be his final #1 record on the Hot 100.

In 1970, Elvis released a two-sided hit that somehow did not become a big hit.

Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley had written several hits in the UK. They wrote the song I’ve Lost You for Iain Matthews. When Iain’s version did not become a hit, Elvis recorded it and it became the a-side of his single.

Paul Evans reached the top ten on the Hot 100 with the novelty song Seven Little Girls Sittin’ In The Back Seat in 1959. He also wrote songs that became hits for other artists, such as Roses Are Red (My Love), which took Bobby Vinton to the top of the Hot 100 in 1962. He co-wrote The Next Step Is Love with Paul Parnes, and that song became the b-side of Elvis’ single.

By 1970, the Hot 100 combined sides when charting a single, so we don’t know for sure which side was more successful. The record peaked at only #32 on the Hot 100. No doubt some consolation came from reaching #5 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Both songs were included on the next album Elvis released in 1970. Another song on the album also became a hit single. Elvis covered You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me, which Dusty Springfield had taken to #4 in 1966. Elvis reached #11 with his version and it would be his highest charting record until late in 1972.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elvis_Presley
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elvis_Presley_singles_discography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27ve_Lost_You
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Next_Step_Is_Love

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1969 The Beatles – The Ballad Of John And Yoko

1969 The Beatles – The Ballad Of John And Yoko

John Lennon and Yoko Oko got married in 1969 and went to Paris for their honeymoon. The pair also began some very publicized bed-in’s pleading for peace and love and such. 

The media and much of the public did not react well, and the reactions inspired John to write the lyrics for The Ballad Of John And Yoko. When he and Yoko returned to England, he went to Paul’s home and insisted they begin work on the song. George was not in the country and Ringo was off filming The Magic Christian, so John and Paul spent five hours recording the single themselves.

 

The tapes of the recording sessions show John and Paul joking around and working well together and helping each other. There was no obvious tension or any of the anger and problems that were rumored that late in the group’s career.

In the past, they had created a mono mix for singles, and often a stereo mix followed. This time there was no mono mix at all, just the stereo version. John and Paul played all the instruments on the record and over-dubbed multiple tracks of vocals as needed.

The record did not come out immediately; instead, they delayed the release so they could release the single Get Back in April. The Ballad Of John And Yoko reached the charts in the US two weeks after Get Back reached the top of the Hot 100. 

Many radio stations were reluctant to play the record because of the line, “Christ! You know it ain’t easy.” Not getting listed by major stations like WABC in New York and WLS in Chicago limited the record’s ability to climb the charts. The record stalled at #8 on the Hot 100 and never charted in Canada but still topped the charts in most other countries (including the UK and Australia).

I don’t recall ever hearing the song played by any radio station except the one I was working for in 1969, and it isn’t too surprising that it doesn’t get too much airplay on oldies stations now. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ballad_of_John_and_Yoko
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beatles_discography#Singles

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1968 Ray Stevens – Mr. Businessman

1968 Ray Stevens – Mr. Businessman 

While he may be best known for his humorous and novelty records, in 1968, Ray Stevens decided to record an album of serious songs. He had not released an album of new songs since 1963, and before the new album came out, he released a serious single on Monument Records, Unwind.

While the song did better in Nashville, it only reached #52 on the Hot 100. That was still better than any other single he recorded over the prior five years (including several singles for Monument), so the company released his album. Ray wrote all but one of the songs on the album (and co-wrote a second song), and they were a big change from his comedy recordings of the past.

The single chosen for his next release was Mr. Businessman. The song had strange tempo changes and dealt with the serious side of the business world, but the record still reached #28 on the Hot 100.

One more single followed from the album, but The Great Escape stalled at #114 and never reached the Hot 100.

Ray didn’t exactly switch to serious songs on a permanent basis. His first single in 1969, Gitarzan, was a novelty record that popped up into the top ten on the Hot 100 before fading away.

The following year, Ray recorded a serious record that arguably became his biggest hit, Everything Is Beautiful. Others might argue that his biggest hit was another comedy gem, The Streak, but since both songs reached #1 on the Hot 100, we can simply be happy that Ray could easily straddle genres.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Stevens
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Even_Stevens_(album)

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1967 Jimmie Rodgers – Child Of Clay

1967 Jimmie Rodgers – Child Of Clay 

After years of recording at least a dozen top forty singles for Roulette Records, Jimmie Rodgers signed with Dot Records in 1962. He continued recording the light pop/folk and country music style songs he liked with the new label.

Unfortunately, he did not reach the top forty on the Hot 100 for over six years, from 1960 to 1966.

Jimmie was at Carnegie Hall to perform as a warm-up act for Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass in 1966. He began talking with a young woman who was visibly crying and learned that she was upset because she had just broken up with her boyfriend. She said, “It’s over,” and Jimmie went back to his room and immediately wrote a song with that title.

It’s Over reached #37 on the Hot 100 and #5 on the Adult Contemporary chart and the single helped revitalize his career.

Perhaps as a result of that success, Jimmie signed a new recording contract with A&M Records and issued a new album in 1967. The title song from the album was Child Of Clay, a mild protest song. The single reached #31 on the Hot 100 and #21 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

A bizarre encounter with an off-duty cop in the Los Angeles area later in 1967 left Jimmie with a debilitating head injury that was never completely explained. He struggled through a long recovery and accepted a payment to settle a lawsuit against the Los Angeles City Council.

Jimmie contracted COVID, developed kidney disease, and died in 2021.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmie_Rodgers_(pop_singer)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s_Over_(Jimmie_Rodgers_song)

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1966 The McCoys – Come On, Let’s Go

1966 McCoys – Come On, Lets Go 

We primarily remember Ritchie Valens thanks to a two-sided hit from 1958: Donna and La Bomba. In early 1959, he died in the plane crash that is immortalized in the Don McLean song American Pie.

Ritchie actually released his first charting single earlier in 1958, it simply did not do as well. He wrote and sang Come On, Let’s Go and the single peaked at #42 on the Hot 100.

The song probably still sounds familiar thanks to several cover versions.

In England, Tommy Steele became a teen idol thanks to a long line of hit records between 1956 and 1960. He had one #1 single and seven more top ten singles in the UK but never reached the US charts at all.

Shortly after Ritchie’s single came out, Tommy covered Come On, Let’s Go. His single peaked at #10 on the UK chart.

The McCoys were formed in Indiana in 1962. A few lineup changes came about over the years, but guitarist Richard Zehringer remained a constant member. You may remember him better with a different stage name: Rick Derringer.

In 1964, the Vibrations recorded the song My Girl Sloopy and their single stalled at #26 on the Hot 100. The McCoys recorded a cover version with a slightly different name (Hang On Sloopy) and reached #1 on the chart in 1965.

The band’s last top forty single followed in 1966. They recorded their own version of Come On, Let’s Go, which reached #22 on the Hot 100. 

A biopic called La Bomba came out in 1987 featuring Lou Diamond Phillips portraying Richie. Los Lobos provided some of the music for the film, including their own version of Come On, Let’s Go. The single reached #21 on the Hot 100 and #35 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

The next single from the film’s soundtrack, La Bomba, topped the charts in at least ten countries, including the US and the UK.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_McCoys
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Come_On,_Let%27s_Go

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