Saturday, December 31, 2011

This Week's Review -- December 25, 1971

To my loyal readers, I wish you a happy and prosperous New Year. This year was an unusual case, as both January 1 and December 31 fell on this is the 53rd and final weekly review of 2011. Believe it or not, I've already picked out the reviews I will be tackling over the next 12 months. That means I intend to keep them coming, so please keep checking back to see what I'm featuring.

There were ten singles debuting in this week's Billboard Hot 100. Three of those would go on to reach the Top 40 and one made it as high as the Top 10. The biggest hit was another smash from Three Dog Night that was written by the same person who'd just handed them their biggest hit single. Wilson Pickett reaches the Top 40 with a song that exemplified his style, and Led Zeppelin offer a unique start/stop rhythm to their song. The songs that missed the Top 40 come for some long-established artists such as Ray Charles, Rufus Thomas and the Bar-Kays, as well as early hits from Alice Cooper and The Ohio Players. A hidden gem from The Persuaders shows up, as well as a song that helped spread the "gospel" of Jesus Christ Superstar.

There is an archive of past Billboard issues over at Google Books, and the December 25, 1971 edition is among them. The full Hot 100 list can be found on page 58. An editorial article on page 3 has a few short words regarding the recently deceased David Sarnoff. In what may be one of the first mentions about him in the magazine, Billy Joel complains in an article on page 14 about how hard it is to find a good piano while touring. On page 28, the spokesmen for Admiral are announcing that their engineers have picked 8-track over cassette for which tape format to offer to consumers. The issue also contains a special section naming the top singers and songs of the year.

Led Zeppelin - "Black Dog" Black Dog - Led Zeppelin IV (Remastered)

(Debuted #67, Peaked #15, 12 Weeks on chart)

What do you call the LP that is led off by "Black Dog"? Many call it Led Zeppelin IV, but it has also been called Four Symbols, Runes, "Zoso," Untitled or "the fourth album." The album was issued without a name, so fans (and the band's record company) have had to use their own devices over the years when it comes to giving it a name. Whatever it's called, it's the band's best-known album and their biggest seller, and it's not solely due to the fact that "Stairway to Heaven" is included; it's a solid rock collection.

"Black Dog" is one of those songs where the title doesn't appear at all in the lyrics, but that is probably for the best, as the words are an expression of lustful desire. The idea for the song came from Muddy Waters' "Electric Mud," which inspired John Paul Jones to come up with a rolling bass part. As for the start-and-stop lyrics before Jimmy Page's guitar assaults that are probably the most memorable part of the tune, that inspiration was from Fleetwood Mac's 1969 song "Oh Well."

Wilson Pickett - "Fire And Water" Fire and Water - Don't Knock My Love

(Debuted #79, Peaked #24, 11 Weeks on chart)

Once again, I'm a sucker for Soul Train footage when it comes to picking out the video footage that accompanies these posts.

One of Wilson Pickett's talents was an innate ability to take songs from other genres and adapt them to his own style. In many cases, he chose material that many soul artists might not have dared to try. In case of "Fire and Water," he took a song that was originated by the English rock group Free and made it his own.

He had some help, of course...Dennis Coffey contributed the guitar and the Memphis Horns were there to add some of their own color to the song. A clavinet is also a major instrument in the mix, but it's Pickett's powerful voice that binds it all together. "Fire and Water" was the lead track on his Don't Knock My Love LP, the last one he recorded for Atlantic.

Three Dog Night - "Never Been To Spain" Never Been to Spain - Harmony

(Debuted #81, Peaked #5, 12 Weeks on chart)

Three Dog Night was well-known for getting its hit material from top-notch songwriters. In the case of "Never Been to Spain," the writer was Hoyt Axton, who also penned their monster hit "Joy to the World" earlier in the year. The song mentioned seemingly random geographic references (Spain, England, Oklahoma, but "not Arizona," Las Vegas) played out as if it were the ramblings of a wayward drifter. At the same time, Cory Wells keeps raising the tenor of his voice. At the beginning of the song, he's singing in a whisper, but by the end of the song he's giving it all he has.

Ray Charles - "What Am I Living For" What Am I Living For - Singular Genius - The Complete ABC Singles

(Debuted #87, Peaked #71, 7 Weeks on chart)

Once again, Ray Charles takes a song that was already familiar and gives it his own interpretation. "What Am I Living For" was written by Jay Harris and was a #1 R&B hit for Chuck Willis in 1958. It became a standard over the years, cut not only by soul artists like Chuck Jackson and Solomon Burke, but also by country artists Ernest Tubb and Conway Twitty. The country style is evident in Brother Ray's version, as it starts with the notes of a steel guitar.

That said, Charles' take on "What Am I Living For" was not sung as a country song. Country serves as one of his many influences, as he delivers the lines as only he knew how. 

Alice Cooper - "Under My Wheels" Under My Wheels - Killer

(Debuted #88, Peaked #59, 8 Weeks on chart)

 At the time "Under My Wheels" was a hit, the name "Alice Cooper" was still associated with the band that performed it as much as the singer. In this entry, I'm referring to the band.

"Under My Wheels" was the song that led off the LP Killer, which was a collection that pointed toward Alice Cooper's future musical direction. Written by three of the members of the group (rhythm guitarist Michael Bruce, bass player Dennis Dunaway and keyboardist Bob Ezrin), it has become a concert staple over the years.

The Bar-Kays - "Son Of Shaft" Son of Shaft - The Bar-Kays: All-Time Greatest Hits

(Debuted #92, Peaked #53, 10 Weeks on chart)

Just as the movie Frankenstein was swiftly followed by The Bride of Frankenstein and The Son of Frankenstein in the wake of its success, it was little surprise to see "Son of Shaft" show up so soon after Isaac Hayes took his Shaft film score to #1 on both the singles and album charts.

Like the original and more familiar "Theme From Shaft," "Son of Shaft" features a lengthy instrumental part, a solid funk backbone and the retort "Shut your mouth" to prevent the utterance of a radio-unfriendly obscenity.

The video above comes from the the film Wattstax. That was a concert festival held in the summer of 1972, where various artists from the Stax family performed at the Los Angeles Coliseum. In order to get as many people as possible to attend, tickets were sold for one dollar.

The Persuaders - "Love Gonna Pack Up (And Walk Out)" Love Gonna Pack Up (And Walk Out) - Thin Line Between Love & Hate: Golden Classics

(Debuted #96, Peaked #64, 10 Weeks on chart)

The Persuaders' best songs have been remade into big hits, but "Love Gonna Pack Up" seems to have been overlooked by "Thin Line Between Love and Hate" and "Some Guys Have All the Luck." However, "Love Gonna Pack Up" is a song that deserved a wider audience than it eventually had.

Despite having a similar rhythm and topic that was used on "Thin Line Between Love and Hate," there is a tremendous groove that drives "Love Gonna Pack Up." A fuzz guitar punctuates the lyric's warnings that a relationship requires a lot of work and can fracture without both people giving it their all. Rather than a song about dealing with a split, it's a reminder that one can happen when regular care isn't taken to keep it alive. It deserves a listen if you've never heard it.

Rufus Thomas - "Do The Funky Penguin (Part 1)" Do the Funky Penguin (Part 1) - The Very Best of Rufus Thomas

(Debuted #97, Peaked #44, 10 Weeks on chart)

After a long career performing soul and blues and drawing from his Vaudeville background to keep audiences entertained, Rufus Thomas was letting the funk take the wheel in many of his early 1970s songs. One of those tunes was "Do the Funky Penguin," and sequel of sorts to his 1969 hit "Do the Funky Chicken."

The guitar effects in the song that give it much of its bite come from Charles Pitts. As a longtime member of the Stax lineup, Thomas was able to get some of the tightest musicians in Memphis to play on his records, and it sounds like they had a great time laying it down in the studio.

The Ohio Players - "Pain (Part 1)" Pain - Pain

(Debuted #99, Peaked #64, 8 Weeks on chart)

For many casual listeners, The Ohio Players' pre-Mercury recordings (aside from "Funky Worm," possibly) have been largely overlooked.  What is better remembered from the group, their racy LP covers. Where their Mercury albums often looked like they were remainders from a Penthouse shoot, their Westbound LPs went with an S&M angle. That's not really surprising once you see that those LPs were called Pain, Pleasure and Ecstasy.

The first of those LPs was Pain, which marked a transition from the Southern-style hard-edged soul they were performing in the 1960s to a more experimental sound that incorporated jazz, blues and psychedelia. It wasn't yet the funky stuff that would fuel their biggest hits later in the decade, but they were finding their way to that point. The song "Pain" was an example of this, with its freeform horn solo and a guitar workout that goes off on their own jazzy tangents, as well as a flute that could have been right at home on a Herbie Mann track.

The Assembled Multitude - "Medley From Superstar (A Rock Opera)" (Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted #100, Peaked #100, 1 Week on chart)

This was a second chance for "Medley From Superstar," after it managed to spend a single week at #95 back in February before dropping off the chart. Unfortunately, it would also spend only a single week on the chart before falling off for good.

The Assembled Multitude was an instrumental ensemble based in Philadelphia. Some of the members would go on to work in the various orchestras behind Thom Bell, Gamble & Huff and what would be called the "Philly Sound." With "Medley From Superstar," they performed an instrumental medley of songs from Jesus Christ Superstar, similar to what they did with Tommy. However, this time the result didn't climb its way very far up the chart; instead, Murray Head's performance of "Superstar" became the hit version (albeit on its third chart run).

Saturday, December 24, 2011

This Week's Review -- December 23, 1978

There were ten new singles this week in Billboard, with five reaching the Top 40, two making the Top 10 and one that coursed its way to the #1 position. That chart-topper was a song about a one-night stand and -- depending on who's commenting about it -- is either a sign of its era or a reminder of when the artist made a wrong turn. The other Top 10 hit was a surprise single that sounds little like most of the songs of the era. Foreigner shows up with a familiar sound, while Dobie Gray tries on some dancing shoes and Chicago tries to right a course charted by a twist of fate. Further down the chart are a Christmas-themed song, two movie themes, an adult-oriented tune and a song that could have only appeared during the Disco era.

Unfortunately, there is no December 23, 1978 issue in the archive of Billboard issues over at Google Books. So, I will once again shamelessly plug my other music-related blog, 80s Music Mayhem. Each weekday, I feature a single song that peaked in the 1980s and last week's focus was 1982. The five songs featured over the week represented five very different styles...if you're not reading that blog, I'll recommend making it a regular stop.

Rod Stewart - "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" Da Ya Think I'm Sexy - Blondes Have More Fun

(Debuted #40, Peaked #1, 21 Weeks on chart)

We start with one of the more polarizing songs of the decade, one that not only picked up more fans for "Rod the Mod" but also repelled others who'd been following him since the beginning of the decade. To those fans, it was a sign that he had somehow signed a pact with Satan himself to become so talented and finally had to pay the piper. Not only had Stewart crossed over into disco, but the person narrating the tale of picking up a one-night stand is miles away from the person who sang the lyrics of Faces' "Stay With Me."

Adrian over at the 7 Inches of 70s Pop blog did a much better description of this song than any I'll ever write, complete with the songs that were used (some might say "lifted whole") as guidelines for the finished product. So, I'll link over to his blog instead and point out that it should be regular reading for anybody who is interested in this weekly exercise.

Foreigner - "Blue Morning, Blue Day" Blue Morning, Blue Day - Double Vision (Expanded Version)

(Debuted #75, Peaked #15, 14 Weeks on chart)

"Blue Morning, Blue Day" was the sixth hit single Foreigner charted in just two years, and each of those made the Top 40. By this time, the band had pretty much established its template for pleasant arena rock, with hard-edged guitar riffs, flawless production and lyrics that weren't exactly subtle.

However, when compared to the other hits that came off the group's Double Vision LP ("Hot Blooded" and the title track), "Blue Morning, Blue Day" actually comes off as restrained. That wasn't going to change, though; their next LP Head Games featured more of the same sound and attitude...and still sold well.

Chicago - "No Tell Lover" No Tell Lover - Hot Streets

(Debuted #77, Peaked #14, 15 Weeks on chart)

"No Tell Lover" was a song that pointed to the direction of the band Chicago at the time. It was written by group members Peter Cetera, Lee Loughnane and Danny Seraphine, but the vocals were supplied by Cetera and Donnie Dacus, the member who joined the band as Terry Kath's replacement after Kath's accidental suicide. Not only was Kath gone, so was the group's long-time producer James William Guercio. The album containing the song was called Hot Streets -- a break from the band's routine of simply numbering their albums -- and featured a shot of the band members instead of an artistic design.

The changes weren't all well-received by the group's fans. Some were frustrated by their more pop-oriented direction at the expense of the progressive jazz-rock fusion they showcased earlier in the decade. While a certain degree of aimlessness was expected due to Kath's death and a change of producer, the group's records tailed off both artistically and commercially. "No Tell Lover" would be Chicago's final Top 40 single until 1982, after they were dropped by their record company and settled on their future direction. Along the way, they also dropped Dacus from the lineup in quick and unceremonious fashion.

"No Tell Lover" was a ballad about an on-the-sly affair that was done, appropriately enough, in an adult contemporary style. It was one of the album's high points, but marked the end of their staggering run of big hits in the 1970s.

Bobby Caldwell - "What You Won't Do For Love" What You Won't Do for Love - What You Won't Do for Love

(Debuted #83, Peaked #9, 20 Weeks on chart)

Sometimes I enjoy taking a few minutes to read through the comments that accompany some of the videos that get placed on this blog. For another video where Bobby Caldwell performed "What You Won't Do For Love" in the late 1980s, this little note was added in the comments: "Wait a minute...this guy is white?"

That's actually a legitimate question, as the song is performed in a similar style that many R&B artists employed well into the 1980s and uses a light jazz accompaniment that gives it some of the urban sophistication you'd expect from Michael Henderson or Peabo Bryson. Caldwell personified "blue-eye soul" in "What You Won't Do For Love," and the song has a timeless quality that makes it sound fresh in any era.

Engelbert Humperdinck - "This Moment in Time" This Moment In Time - This Moment In Time - Single

(Debuted #85, Peaked #58, 6 Weeks on chart)

A few weeks back, I was listening to a repeat episode of Casey Kasem's American Top 40 radio show from 1976. It's a weekly habit for me, here's a list of the stations that run the show and links to hear them stream live. Before playing "After the Lovin'," Casey told the story of how a singer named Arnold Dorsey failed to generate much excitement until he changed his stage name to Engelbert Humperdinck.

By the mid 1970s, Humperdinck was more focused on his stage shows than he was on his new records. "After the Lovin'" was a temporary change in that philosophy, but the shows were too profitable to ignore. He targeted an adult crowd, sang his standards at his Vegas shows and only charted sparsely on the pop chart into the early 1980s. "This Moment in Time" did pretty well with the adult contemporary scene -- it was his fourth and final #1 single in that format -- given the way it sounds like a wedding song.

Dobie Gray - "You Can Do It" You Can Do It - Ultimate Collection: Dobie Gray

(Debuted #86, Peaked #37, 11 Weeks on chart)

It is somehow appropriate that this singer's final pop hit as a solo artist finds its way into this blog during the same month he passed away. The sad news about Dobie Gray losing his bout with cancer on December 6 brought out several career highlights, as this type of news tends to do. Long-time fans remembered him for "The In-Crowd" and "Drift Away." Northern Soul fans in the U.K. reflected on his "Out On the Floor." Others remembered the guest turn he took on Uncle Kracker's remake of "Drift Away" in 2003. And yes, over on a music group I follow on Facebook, somebody said, "hey, anybody remember his disco hit"?

That would be "You Can Do it." Recorded in Muscle Shoals with legendary producer Rick Hall, it was a minor hit that just scraped the Top 40 early in 1979. That made it his first pop Top 40 in nearly six years.Although the era was marked by artists who were quick to record a danceable tune to cash in on the Disco craze, "You Can Do it" is a song that shouldn't be lumped in with more generic productions. It's actually a very good song that still can be considered a solid R&B tune (something that many Disco songs fail to do) and isn't trapped up in the conventions of the sound. Hall and the Muscle Shoals players deserve some of the credit for that, but Gray deserved it as well.

Stephen Bishop - "Animal House" Animal House - On and On: The Hits of Stephen Bishop

(Debuted #88, Peaked #73, 5 Weeks on chart)

Animal House has long been one of my favorite films, so this song, which plays over the closing credits of the film, has long been familiar to me. Singer Stephen Bishop was able to secure a cameo in the movie as well, playing the man with the guitar who is serenading a group of ladies on a stairwell during the fraternity's toga party before Bluto (John Belushi) grabs the guitar and smashes it against the wall.

"Animal House" is an original song but is given a wonderfully retro feel that makes it sound like it was from the film's early 1960s setting. The lyrics tell about the various characters in the film, and the soundtrack version -- but not the version played in the film -- interjected dialogue from the movie. It's not really surprising the song didn't get much higher that #73 on the chart, but it really could have stayed around a little longer.

Yvonne Elliman - "Moment By Moment" Moment by Moment - The Best of Yvonne Elliman

(Debuted #89, Peaked #59, 6 Weeks on chart)

Earlier in 1978, Yvonne Elliman scored her biggest hit with a track from a monster movie starring John Travolta. At the end of the year, she was contributing a theme to another Travolta film, a May/December romance co-starring Lily Tomlin called Moment By Moment. Neither the film nor Elliman's theme song was able to match the heights Saturday Night Fever did.

"Moment By Moment" sounded like it was made to be a song that played over the closing credits of a film. It's soft, it features a lush orchestral arrangement and features Elliman's lovely and soaring voice. It's exactly what you expect to hear when the story has played itself out and you're walking out of the theater.

Boney M - "Mary's Boy Child"/"Oh My Lord" Mary's Boy Child - Frank Farian - The Hit Man

(Debuted #90, Peaked #85, 5 Weeks on chart)

Just in time for the holiday season, here's a song about the man who gave the name to Christmas. And in the U.K., where there is a special emphasis placed on the #1 song during the Christmas week, the song that held down the top spot was "Mary's Boy Child/Oh My Lord" a medley that mixed a 1956 Harry Belafonte song with a song co-written by Boney M's creator Frank Farian.

Originally, the single was rushed into production in order to have it ready for the holiday season. As a result, it was a single-only release that would never be placed on an album until 1981 (and then, in edited form on a U.K.-only LP). Due to its low peak position on the chart and limited availablity, it was a prized single among collectors for a while. It can still be heard on radio stations during the holiday fact, I actually heard it a few times this year on my own radio.

John Davis and the Monster Orchestra - "Ain't That Enough For You" Ain't That Enough For You - Ain't That Enough for You

(Debuted #92, Peaked #89, 4 Weeks on chart)

During his youth, John Davis was supposedly given the nickname "Monster" because he didn't know that the word could be used as a synonym for "huge" (as in a "monster" hit). Eventually, he used the name for his backing band. Their only single to make the Hot 100 was "Ain't That Enough For You," a catchy disco song that failed to get too far up the chart before falling off.

"Ain't That Enough For You" was definitely a shot of adrenaline and was certain to pick up the pace on the dance floor. It's surprising that it didn't get more exposure at a time when everybody and his brother was rushing to get out a disco song. However, the end of the Disco era soon spelled the end of The Monster Orchestra as well. Davis remained in the music business, composing the theme for Beverly Hills, 90210 in 1992.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

This Week's Review -- December 18, 1976

Nine new singles debuted in the Billboard Hot 100 this week. Of the four that eventually cracked the Top 40, three reached the Top 10 and two were #1 hits. Both of those chart-toppers are still familiar songs today, as is the other Top 10 hit. The remaining songs are all by artists who are familiar to most casual listeners of the era, and there are a few surprises to be found among them.

There is a large archive of past issues of Billboard magazine at Google Books, including the December 18, 1976 edition. The full Hot 100 list can be found on page 68. There are several future trends that are pointed out. An article on page 3 has a Motown executive predicting the "death" of the single format within five years. Another article on page 3 explains the incident on Bill Grundy's TV show involving The Sex Pistols that gave the band some extra notoriety before they ever stepped foot in the U.S. Finally, one of the biggest things to hit the 1980s is referenced in an advertisement on page 17. It's an "open letter" from Sony regarding its Betamax machine. While that unit eventually lost out to VHS in a format war, it was a device that allowed people more freedom to watch what they wanted and at a time of their own choosing. As such, it is a forerunner to today's on-demand video and DVR units.

Apple iTunes

The Eagles - "New Kid In Town" New Kid In Town - Hotel California

(Debuted #48, Peaked #1, 15 Weeks on chart)

Until I was 13 years old, I lived in a military family. As a result, I was forced to move several times and definitely understood what it was like to be "the new kid." I also learned that while the new kid is usually a source of interest, the novelty wears off pretty quickly. And when you live in a military atmosphere, it doesn't take long until there is another "new kid" coming in to grab attention.

In the case of the Eagles song, it was directed at the fickle state of the music business and the way artists are pushed aside for "The Next Big Thing." A track from their Hotel California LP, it would become their third #1 pop single as well as a #2 adult contemporary hit.

The Steve Miller Band - "Fly Like An Eagle" Fly Like An Eagle - Fly Like An Eagle

(Debuted #73, Peaked #2, 20 Weeks on chart)

Moving from a song by The Eagles to another with "Eagle" in its title, "Fly Like an Eagle" has long been one of The Steve Miller Band's most recognized tunes. Its mellow vibe, soaring synth lines and title lead some to claim the song is about using drugs, but that avoids the other lines of the song that mention feeding the poor and sheltering the homeless.

"Fly Like an Eagle" has been widely played on album rock stations since its hit days, often in tandem with "Space Intro," the song that segued into it on the Fly Like An Eagle LP.

KISS - "Hard Luck Woman" Hard Luck Woman - Rock and Roll Over (Remastered)

(Debuted #74, Peaked #15, 13 Weeks on chart)

"Hard Luck Woman" may sound like a blatant attempt to recreate the events that made "Beth" a surprise hit. Like that song, it is a ballad and features Peter Criss handling the vocals. The main instrument here is an acoustic-sounding guitar (which, like the piano in "Beth," was different from the hard-edged electric guitar they were known for). However, instead of Criss also writing the song, "Hard Luck Woman" was a Paul Stanley creation. He wrote it for Rod Stewart and gave it to Criss when Stewart declined to record it.

It's a shame, since I would like to hear how Stewart would have handled it. The song sounds perfectly suited for his style.

In the hands of KISS, it's a compelling song because it's so different from their "standard" material. The acoustic rendition gave an additional element to what many saw as a band that was all about makeup and pyrotechnics. It's just the type of song that the "hair metal" bands 15 years later -- many of whom were influenced by KISS in their youth -- would step away from their instruments midway through their concert to play.

Donna Summer - "Winter Melody" Winter Melody - Four Seasons of Love b/w "Spring Affair" Spring Affair - Four Seasons of Love

(Debuted #80, Peaked #43, 15 Weeks on chart)

Since this is a two-sided single, here's an additional video for the B-Side:

Donna Summer's Four Seasons of Love was a concept album that told the story of a love affair in four parts, and each phase was attributed to a season of the year as it blossomed and ultimately died. There were only four songs on the entire LP (plus a reprise of the first song at the end), and two of them were included on this single (in abridged form). They were the opening ("Spring") and closing ("Winter") acts.

Interestingly, the A-side was the finale, "Winter Melody." It was performed as a ballad, as the protagonist/narrator comes to the realization that the romance is over ("cause he's not coming home and I'm here alone"). Like winter, she feels the chill and finds it dark and lonely as the storms approach. "Spring Affair," on the other hand, is much more upbeat and hopeful, as you'd expect when love is new.

Heart - "Dreamboat Annie" Dreamboat Annie - Dreamboat Annie

(Debuted #82, Peaked #42, 10 Weeks on chart)

The version of "Dreamboat Annie" in the video above is a live rendition, which doesn't feature the song the way it was presented on the single. In that version, Heart's record company decided that the two minute running time was too short and tacked the acoustic guitar intro from "Crazy On You" to it, which made me check my player a couple of times to verify I had loaded the right song while I was listening to it for this review. In the clip above, Nancy Wilson does a different solo on the acoustic guitar to open the song.

Dreamboat Annie was the debut LP by Heart and included three separate songs called "Dreamboat Annie." The version that was placed on the single (albeit with an extended intro tacked on) was the second version. The first was an intro that ran for a minute between the album's biggest tracks "Magic Man" and "Crazy On You." There was also a reprise of the song that finished the album's second side. It features Ann Wilson's vocal in a softer vein than what the two previous hits showed, giving her more ammunition to be considered one of her generation's best singers, regardless of genre. She even sings over a banjo, which definitely didn't appear on the earlier singles.

The single mix of "Dreamboat Annie" is still unreleased on any Heart album.

Starbuck - "Lucky Man" Lucky Man - Moonlight Feels Right

(Debuted #83, Peaked #73, 5 Weeks on chart)

Starbuck had one of the defining singles of the Summer of 1976 when "Moonlight Feels Right" began playing on radio stations. On their followup singles from the album, the group risked being seen as a One-Hit Wonder because they were unable to score another Top 40 hit until their next LP came out. "Lucky Man" wasn't destined to be that hit.

"Lucky Man" (not a remake of the Emerson, Lake and Palmer song of the same title) was a song that had its own charm and was awash with keyboards, but lacked the same spirit the band gave "Moonlight Feels Right."

Plus, the line "we're happy as a monkey in a coconut tree" is a little goofy.

Cliff Richard - "I Can't Ask For Anymore Than You" I Can't Ask for Anymore Than You - I'm Nearly Famous

(Debuted #84, Peaked #80, 4 Weeks on chart)

Cliff Richard was the all-time top performer in the U.K., with even more hit records there than The Beatles had. In the U.S., his chart fortunes weren't as bright. Ironically, his American hits dried up as the British Invasion brought fame to many of his countrymen. He only managed a pair of Hot 100 singles after The Beatles arrived in 1964 through their breakup, and neither one of them got any higher on the Billboard chart than #92. By the mid 1970s, he was even having trouble in his native country, failing to chart in the U.K. at all in 1975 despite still releasing naew material.

In 1976, he recorded the LP I'm Nearly Famous, which returned him to prominence in his home country and gave him his first American Top 10 hit "Devil Woman." It was seen as a return to his 1960s form, as well as an embrace of a harder-edged style that he hadn't used since early in his career. The first track on that album was "I Can't Ask For Anymore Than You," a song that has Richard bringing out a falsetto.

The song only reached #80 in the U.S. and #17 in the U.K. Richard had a breakthrough in America, but his next big hits would not arrive there until a new decade rolled around.

Thelma Houston - "Don't Leave Me This Way" Don't Leave Me This Way (Single Version) - Motown 1's

(Debuted #85, Peaked #1, 24 Weeks on chart)

"Don't Leave Me This Way" has become one of the "prototypical" disco songs, over the years and has popped up in several retrospectives on the era as well as many movies that were set in the decade. The first of those movies was Looking For Mr. Goodbar, a 1977 film that appeared shortly after the song had fallen off the chart. It was an unqualified crossover smash, reaching the #1 position on Billboard's pop, R&B and Disco charts.

The song was originally recorded by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, with Teddy Pendergrass singing. That version wasn't released as a single in the U.S. but featured a more subdued opening and its arrangement was designed to accentuate Pendergrass' voice as he built up to the choruses; Houston's version was tailor-made for the dance floor, so the arrangement is amped up until the song fades out. As a nice counterpoint, the video clip above has Houston giving the song a slightly different take, which lets us hear more of her voice than the single did.

Paul Anka - "Happier" Happier - The Best of the United Artists Years (1973-1977)

(Debuted #86, Peaked #60, 7 Weeks on chart)

The video above simply features "Happier" in its vinyl state, as part of what appears to be a compilation of Paul Anka's hits (I can't read the label in the video, but the words look too long to be his LP The Painter, where the song originally appeared). I'll mention that the few audible pops on the record are annoying to some, but a familiar relic of the "old days" to others.

"Happier" seems to be written in a similar state of marital contentment that caused him to write "Having My Baby," except with what sounds like a marching band (complete with a tuba player) and a synthesizer accompanying him. It was the first chart single he released since his mid-70s "comeback" to miss the Top 40, but ended up in the adult contemporary Top 10.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

This Week's Review -- December 10, 1977

There were nine new singles in this week's Billboard Hot 100, with four reaching into the Top 40. One of those hits ended up hitting #1 for several weeks. That chart-topper is a classic of the era, but the other songs are worth listening to as well. Two of the songs are reworkings of classic 1960s hits, with one being given an uptempo disco treatment, and the other being recorded by its writers. A "comeback" hit by Bill Withers joins lesser-known hits by Leo Sayer, Peter Frampton and Foreigner. Sammy Hagar shows up on the chart for the first time as an artist, while Al Martino shows up for his last.

There is a vast archive of past issues on Billboard magazine at Google Books, including the December 10, 1977 edition. The full Hot 100 can be found on Page 88. An article on Page 20 by Paul Grein explains how Dolly Parton's star was on the rise after the crossover success of "Here You Come Again."

Apple iTunes

The Bee Gees - "Stayin' Alive" Stayin' Alive - Saturday Night Fever (The Original Movie Soundtrack) [Remastered]

(Debuted #65, Peaked #1, 27 Weeks on chart)

As most fans of 1970s culture know, "Stayin' Alive" was the song that played during the opening credits of the film Saturday Night Fever, as Tony Manero (John Travolta's character) walks down a Brooklyn street while fetching a special-order can of paint for a customer at his job. Along the way, he puts a down payment on a silk shirt he sees in a store window, tries to flirt with a woman who just walks away and grabs two slices of pizza from a neighborhood pizzeria. The scene has become so identified with the song -- and with Travolta himself -- that it has become iconic.

The Bee Gees were already well-known before the film, but their work on the soundtrack made them the biggest group on the planet as 1978 rolled around. Their success raised the tide of all the acts around them, with their record company getting a boost, their younger brother Andy scoring his own hits and several acts that did well with songs written and/or produced by the Gibb brothers.

Like it or hate it, the song does have its merits. "Stayin' Alive" is introduced by a bass line that is both recognizable and simple. The song makes full use of Barry Gibb's falsetto, and the music before the fade echoes the same thing that Manero was feeling in the movie: "I'm going nowhere, somebody help me." His character was still 19 and was trying to determine what do do with his life, which makes those words an apt description of what many in that position are expressing.

Bill Withers - "Lovely Day" Lovely Day - Menagerie

(Debuted #67, Peaked #30, 12 Weeks on chart)

From a list of songs, it would appear that "Lovely Day" was a comeback for Bill Withers. It was his first time in the pop Top 40 in nearly four years and his first Hot 100 listing in more than two, but he hadn't really gone away. He was still releasing singles in the meantime, and while they missed the pop charts, they were still placing over on the R&B chart. 

The song was the lead track of Withers' Menagerie LP, a collection that was more upbeat and positive when compared to the earthy, homespun material from earlier in his career. On a personal level, he was happier; he had just gotten married and settled down to start a family. "Lovely Day" reflects this new-found optimism and is a very hard to resist. It's one of those songs that remains in the back of the head after it's done playing. The musical accompaniment is bright and the production is solid. And while it has a noticeable beat, it isn't a song that can automatically be lumped in with other songs of its era as Disco.

"Lovely Day" holds a record for American hits. Toward the end, Bill Withers lets loose a note that lasts for 18 seconds. As of this writing, it is still the longest single note held in a Top 40 song. That may remain for a while, judging by the current trend used by singers of melisma, where a single note can be held for an extended time but is subjected to changes of pitch and volume in order to extend it.

Peter Frampton - "Tried To Love" Tried to Love - I'm In You (Remastered)

(Debuted #70, Peaked #41, 8 Weeks on chart)

After setting the musical world on fire with Frampton Comes Alive!, it was going to be a tough time to top it when the followup LP I'm in You arrived in 1977. And sure enough, the title track was a ballad that was both his biggest single and a song his critics would point to when they wanted to prove a point about how success will change somebody (and not for the better). That's not to say the new album was totally soft, as it contained a solid reworking of Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed and Delivered (I'm Yours)" and "Tried to Love," which seemed like a song that hearkened back to the sound of his live LP.

In its delivery, "Tried to Love" sounds like it could have been recorded live, or at least in a more intimate setting than a studio. That in itself is a refreshing change from the slickly-produced material that was flooding the airwaves at the time. Unfortunately, it just missed making the Top 40.

Leo Sayer - "Easy To Love" Easy to Love - The Very Best of Leo Sayer

(Debuted #74, Peaked #36, 10 Weeks on chart)

Here's the second song in a row mentioning "love" in its title this week. It's also the second single in a row that was recorded after its artist was dealing with sudden fame. For Leo Sayer, it was the one-two punch provided by the #1 songs "You Make me Feel Like Dancing" and "When I Need You." Those were able to get Sayer back into the studio to record a new LP called Thunder in My Heart with producer Richard Perry and the cream of the L.A. session player crop, including Michael Omartian, Larry Carlton, Lee Ritenour, Ray Parker, Jr., Tom Scott and most of the future members of Toto.

However, there was no guarantee that having a flawless backing arrangement would lead to sustaining the hit cycle. For whatever reason, the sometimes quirky nature that found its way into Sayer's earlier material didn't want to show up this time around. Both of the singles from the album ("Thunder in My heart" and "Easy To Love") made the Top 40, but just barely. In fact, "Easy To Love" was the one that charted higher and peaked at #36. Co-written by Sayer with Albert Hammond, the song has an easy-going cadence, joined by lyrics that are repetitive and seemingly off-the-cuff.

Foreigner - "Long, Long Way From Home" Long, Long Way from Home - Foreigner (Deluxe Version)

(Debuted #81, Peaked #20, 14 Weeks on chart)

Musicians know what it's like to be a long way from home. Those who tour are often away for extended periods, which makes it easy to write songs about it. "Long, Long Way From Home" was written by three members of Foreigner, singer Lou Gramm, guitarist Mick Jones and multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald. Done as an anthem, the song features a cutting guitar line, a saxophone solo in the instrumental bridge, and the perfect production you'd expect from a Foreigner song.

The third single taken from their self-titled debut LP, it was the first to miss the Top 10 in the U.S.

The Addrisi Brothers - "Never My Love" (Original Version Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted #83, Peaked #80, 4 Weeks on chart)

With this single, "Never My Love" was given its fifth run up the Hot 100. This time, however, the writers of the song were giving it their own voice. While better known as a song by The Association that hit #2 in 1967 and reached the Top 40 in the 1970s in separate versions by The Fifth Dimension and Blue Swede, what is striking about the version by Don and Dick Addrisi was the way it sounds like a mixture between The Association and Marilyn McCoo's breathy rendition of the song.

The production doesn't have the extra harmonies The Association gave it, and features a piano in the mix instead of an organ. A female voice is also included, as is an orchestral arrangement. While it's been largely forgotten in favor of the hit versions of the song, it's interesting to hear the people who wrote the words returning to it a full decade after it became a big hit.

Sammy Hagar - "You Make Me Crazy" You Make Me Crazy - Musical Chairs

(Debuted #84, Peaked #62, 8 Weeks on chart)

"You Make Me Crazy" is not exactly what you expect for the future Van Halen frontman. Nor is it something you'd expect from the former lead singer of Montrose. While much of the music on his LP Musical Chairs falls in line with the harder-edged material he's best known for doing, "You Make Me Crazy" is more laid-back and even features a keyboard line where a guitar riff would be expected. Its lyrics are about the effects of a woman's love, not that Hagar is complaining about it.

At the time, it's likely that Capitol Records was trying to get Hagar exposed to pop radio, so they opted to release this slowed-down ballad as a single rather than one of the rougher tracks on the album. It succeeded in getting him into the Hot 100 for the first time (Montrose never had a hit single), but he wasn't able to break the Top 40 until he reverted to his harder style.

Al Martino - "The Next Hundred Years" The Next Hundred Years - Capitol Collectors Series: Al Martino

(Debuted #86, Peaked #49, 10 Weeks on chart)

Al Martino was a crooner from an earlier era, but earned his place in the 1970s culture as Johnny Fontaine in The Godfather. In that film, he played a former teen idol who was looking to get cast in a motion picture despite interference from the studio chief. Not only does he get slapped by Marlon Brando in a memorable scene, but his request leads to the scene where the studio head wakes up one morning with the severed head of his prized horse in the bed beside him.

Although he may have been seen as an odd choice to portray a character loosely based on Frank Sinatra (he was more than a decade older than "Ol' Blue Eyes" would have been at the end of World War II), his career was supposedly affected by the Mob in real life. Unlike the film, his connections didn't help him. His management contract was supposedly bought out around 1953 and large payments demanded from him. He ended up moving to England until the problem could be sorted out.

His final hit single was "The Next Hundred Years," a song whose lyrics mention settling down with a woman. However, he sang it in a style that was largely becoming passe by that time. Like many of his fellow crooners, he went on to sing his familiar tunes to his fans but he never appeared on the pop chart again.

Marilyn Scott - "God Only Knows" (Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted #90, Peaked #61, 9 Weeks on chart)

"God Only Knows" is best-remembered as a Beach Boys hit from 1966. The title came about after Brian Wilson thought about how there weren't any songs that addressed "God" by name without having a religious context. He agonized over it, thinking that the title alone would kill chances of radio airplay, but the song ended up being one of the group's all-time classics.

During the Disco era, many songs were redone with a dance beat, and "God Only Knows" was given the treatment in 1977. Despite the fact that many Disco songs were tooled to the lowest common denominator to get the crowds out on the dance floor, this song doesn't get trapped by convention.

Marilyn Scott was a jazz-influenced singer who had previously sung backup vocals for Tower of Power and parlayed it into a career as an in-demand session singer in Los Angeles. Due to that background, her rendition of "God Only Knows" is more in tune with a jazz performance rather than as just another Disco version of a familiar tune.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

This Week's Review -- December 6, 1975

There were thirteen singles making their first appearance in the Billboard Hot 100 this week, including one that was a 2-sided listing. Out of that number, five eventually reached into the Top 40, with two getting into the Top 10 and one that "trucked" its way to the #1 spot. That chart-topper was a result of the CB fad then sweeping the nation, and the other Top 10 was a song that was a risque song for its time. Olivia Newton-John appears both as a solo artist and a backing singer on John Denver's song. The other Top 40 hit is a song that would show up again a few years later as an even bigger hit. As for the eight songs that missed the Top 40, there are several tunes from many formats. A straight rock band from Canada does their thing, a brother act known for R&B rocks out to an Edgar Winter classic and several R&B acts appear to do their thing. One of those acts performs what was then the new theme song to the TV show Soul Train.

The archive of Billboard issues at Google Books doesn't include the December 6, 1975 edition. So, I'll once again point out (shamelessly) that I write another music blog related to the hits of the 1980s called 80s Music Mayhem. For the next week, we focus on five songs that peaked during 1980, including the one that went to #1 in the wake of the tragic death of John Lennon.

Donna Summer - "Love To Love You Baby" Love to Love You Baby - Love to Love You Baby

(Debuted #55, Peaked #2, 18 Weeks on chart)

Donna Summer seemingly came out of nowhere in 1975, and "Love To Love You Baby" was the song that introduced her to American audiences. At the time, it raised some eyebrows due to its simulated sexual content and heavy breathing. The full song took up the entire first side of the album of the same name, clocking in at over 18 minutes, which incidentally is about all the time people need to perform the act that Summer was suggesting.

On the single, though, the song was edited down to a more radio-friendly three and a half minutes. As a corollary to the length of the original, that might be seen as a premature ending. As always, there are links to digital copies of the song here. The iTunes link above is the full-length LP version, while the Amazon link below is the truncated single version.

John Denver - "Fly Away" Fly Away - Windsong

(Debuted #58, Peaked #13, 11 Weeks on chart)

The tile of "Fly Away" is ironic due to the way John Denver died in a plane crash, but at the time it was recorded it was a song about getting away from the city and away from the noise and hectic pace. The idea of returning to a more pristine scenery is a common element of Denver's music, which places the song squarely within the context of much of his work.

Olivia Newton-John contributes on backing vocal. She's uncredited, but there is little doubt it's her as her voice is mixed louder as the song goes on until her voice is at the same level as Denver's. Like many of his songs, it was a hit across several formats, missing the pop and country Top 10 but "gliding" its way to #1 on the adult contemporary chart.

Olivia Newton- John - "Let It Shine" Let It Shine - Gold: Olivia Newton-John b/w " He Ain't Heavy... He's My Brother" (Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted #75, Peaked #30, 9 Weeks on chart)

Despite the fact that the B-side isn't available digitally, it's on YouTube:

Speaking of Olivia Newton-John and crossover success, here's a two-sided hit she recorded. The A-side was another one of the songs Olivia performed that was given a country treatment, including the instruments used behind her. "Let it Shine" was written by Florida-born Linda Hargrove, who charted a handful of songs on the country chart during the 1970s but gained more success as a songwriter. Among her songs was Johnny Rodriguez' "Just Get Up and Close the Door" and George Jones' "Tennessee Whiskey." Despite reaching #30 on the pop chart, "Let it Shine" hit #5 country and topped the adult contemporary survey.

"He Ain't Heavy...He's My Brother" had already been a hit single twice. The first version by The Hollies was one the chart just as 1969 switched to '70, and a cover by Neil Diamond (reviewed in this blog last month) appeared later in 1970. I explained the background info about the song when I reviewed Diamond's version, so follow the link if you'd like to read about it.

C.W. McCall - "Convoy" Convoy - The Best of C.W. McCall

(Debuted #82, Peaked #1, 16 Weeks on chart)

A little more than a month ago, Adrian over at the blog 7 Inches of 70s Pop featured this song. He gives it a humorous spin and divulges a lot of the background info there, so all I really need to do is suggest you check it out. That blog is one of the links I keep in my Blogroll and should be regular reading for anybody who's interested in the material presented in this blog.

"Convoy" is a song that definitely marks the time it was made. Filled with CB lingo, it tells a story of a coast-to-coast drive drive featuring an entire fleet of trucks (incluidng a logger, pig hauler and a Hazmat truck pulling dynamite) and some assorted hangers-on in a chartreuse Microbus. My own father had a CB in his car at the time and later drove trucks for a living, so I was no stranger to the sometimes creative language used in the song. There is one glaring error in the lyrics, however. When McCall delivers the line "We were headin' for bear on I-1-o about a mile out of Shakeytown..." he says he's leaving San Francisco, but Interstate 10 goes to Los Angeles, a four-plus hour drive down I-5.

"Convoy" was one of the biggest hits of the year, spending six weeks at #1 on the country chart in addition to its week at #1 on the pop chart. It also topped the chart in Canada and Australia and was a #2 hit in the U.K. Its success, along with the CB fad, even led to a film called Convoy in 1978 with Kris Kristofferson playing the fabled Rubber Duck.

Bachman-Turner Overdrive - "Down to the Line" Down to the Line - Gold

(Debuted #83, Peaked #43, 7 Weeks on chart)

Occasionally, the audio in YouTube videos exhibits the pops and cracks from the original vinyl record. While some people consider it to be annoying, it can be a familiar sound to those of us who grew up before the age of CDs and just knew those sounds as something that happened to records when they got played a lot.

"Down To the Line" was a single-only song that appeared just ahead of Bachman-Turner Overdrive's Head On LP (it would be added as an extra track on the CD in a later release, however). It was exactly what you'd expect from a BTO song: a straightforward beat, guitar-driven rock and Randy Bachman's vocal added with the backing vocals of the other group members.

At the time, BTO was slowly running out of gas. "Down to the Line" would miss the Top 40 despite the fact that the song was assured of airplay on album-oriented and rock stations.

Helen Reddy - "Somewhere In The Night" Somewhere In the Night - No Way to Treat a Lady

(Debuted #85, Peaked #19, 13 Weeks on chart)

"Somewhere in the Night" is probably best-known for its version sung by Barry Manilow, which was a #9 hit in 1979. However, he wasn't the first to record it. Written by Richard Kerr and Will Jennings, it first appeared on Kim Carnes' debut album. It was a single by Batdorf and Rodney that was a minor adult contemporary hit in 1975, but that would be overshadowed when Helen Reddy recorded it for her LP No Way to Treat a Lady. Not only did her version surpass it on the AC chart (it reached #2), but it made the Top 40 as well.

Reddy gives the song the full-throat, made-for-Vegas treatment you'd expect from a record with her name on it. However, that's nothing compared to the bombast that Manilow gave it in his own version. Perhaps that's why he had a bigger hit with it.

Kenny Starr - "The Blind Man In The Bleachers" (Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted #86, Peaked #58, 5 Weeks on chart)

Pop fans were already familiar with a different version of "The Blind Man in the Bleachers," as David Geddes' rendition had already been on the chart for a few weeks before Kenny Starr entered with his own country-infused reading of the song.

The words of the song follow a football player who doesn't get much playing time but whose father sits in the stands at every game. His father is blind, but still sits there every week. When he doesn't show up the last week, the kid disappears around halftime and shows up late demanding to get in the game. When I played football in high school, that type of behavior got you sent to the locker room...but in the song, he comes in and leads the team to victory. As it turns out, the kid had just found out that his father had died and played his heart out, because "it's the first time that my father's seen me play."

Starr's version was a #2 country hit. Compared to the Geddes hit, it's more subtle (but not much more). The country arrangement is more low-key than the over-the-top histrionics of Geddes' hit. It still pulls at the same emotions without sounding like the subject of an Afterschool Special.

Tavares - "Free Ride" Free Ride - Anthology

(Debuted #87, Peaked #52, 6 Weeks on chart)

As you may have guessed, "Free Ride" is a version of the song made famous by The Edgar Winter Group. For most of the fans who know Tavares from their disco-era hits "It Only Takes a Minute," "Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel," "Whodunit" and "More Than a Woman," this version may be a pleasant surprise. Rather than giving it the disco treatment, the brother act from New Bedford, Massachusetts do a very faithful rendition that follows the original closely. It's either a reminder that Tavares was influenced by rock acts as well, or simply that songwriter Dan Hartman was also influenced by R&B.

The Soul Train Gang - "Soul Train "75"" Soul Train '75 - My Cherie Amour

(Debuted #89, Peaked #75, 5 Weeks on chart)

The Soul Train Gang was assembled by impresario Don Cornelius in conjunction with Dick Griffey, who wanted to capitalize on the popularity of Cornelius' TV show. They group produced two LPs, with the first produced by Norman Harris in Philadelphia, but failed to make much of an impact on either the pop or R&B charts.

"Soul Train "75"" was a new version for the show's theme song, after MFSB's "The Sound of Philadelphia" had run its course. It wouldn't be the last theme song, which changed every couple of years as public tastes evolved.

The Ritchie Family - "I Want To Dance With You (Dance With Me)" (Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted #90, Peaked #84, 4 Weeks on chart)

Before he put together The Village People, producer Jacques Morali created a group called The Ritchie Family that was made up of studio vocalists who weren't related at all despite the "family" name. Among the early disco acts, their first four albums were all loosely-based concept LPs. The first of those was Brazil, which provided their first two chart singles.

"I Want to Dance With You (Dance With Me)" follows the lead of the earlier hit "Brazil" by sounding (in places) like it's accompanied by a big band. However, it lacks the same melodic grace that propelled that song into the Top 40. Frankly, there might have been other moments on the LP that might have been better for single release; however, since Disco was just getting started, those songs might have been less hit-ready material than they would have been a year or two down the road.

The Stylistics - "Funky Weekend" Funky Weekend - The Very Best of the Stylistics...And More!

(Debuted #96, Peaked #76, 9 Weeks on chart)

The Stylistics split from their longtime producer Thom Bell in 1974. They soldiered on with Van McCoy running the console, but they clearly lost a step in the transition. Though they continued to score on the R&B charts as well as in the U.K., their days as major hitmakers were numbered.On the pop chart, "Funky Weekend" would be their second-to-last hit.

The title of the single pretty much says what you can expect from the sound. However, it's a rather generic brand of funk. Yes, there's a clavinet and horns in the mix, but the group is a long way down the road from the brighter, more shimmering work that had marked their output earlier in the decade.

The Four Tops - "We All Gotta Stick Together" We All Gotta Stick Together - Ain't No Woman (Like the One I Got)

(Debuted #97, Peaked #97, 1 Week on chart)

The Four Tops are mainly remembered as a Motown act, even though they recorded some great-sounding records for ABC during the 1970s. Among those songs is "We All Gotta Stick Together," a song about brotherhood that is sung by Lawrence Payton rather than usual lead Levi Stubbs.

Not only does "We All Gotta Stick Together" feature a solid harmony from the group that appears to be influenced by gospel -- right down to an organ featuring prominently in the arrangement -- but also has a brass section. The different lead vocal gives it a unique perspective, because it doesn't sound like the "same old song" (to borrow from the title of one of those Motown hits) from the Tops at all. Unfortunately, it only stuck around on the pop chart for a single week.

Crown Heights Affair - "Every Beat Of My Heart" (Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted #100, Peaked #83, 8 Weeks on chart)

Crown Heights is a neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York as well as the source of the name of this band. Like Earth, Wind & Fire, they were one of the groups that was part of R&B's transition between the 1960s soul sound to the Disco era. Unlike that band, however, their pop success was rather limited.

"Every Beat of My Heart" features an upbeat tempo, plenty of vocal interplay and a solid brass section. There is also a clavinet solo that lends it a 1970s feel, even if the phasing effect accompanying the high-hat percussion distracts from the composition.