Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Rewind -- May 26, 1973

This is part of a weekly series that goes back through the reviews from tthis blog's first year and repackages them. It's like the Christmas gift you get back a couple of years later.

At first glance, the list doesn't appear to be much. Only six new songs made the Billboard Hot 100 this week, with only one reaching the Top 40. While the one song to make any waves on the Hot 100 was an undeniable classic, some of the others would be memorable in other areas. Two songs were #1 country hits. Another song pointed towards a country sound for an artist who would later hit big in that genre. One would be remade into a Top 5 hit a decade later.

Google books has a large online archive of past editions of Billboard magazine to read online for free. The May 26, 1973 issue is among the ones there. The full Hot 100 list is on page 64. An article beginning on page 1 sheds some light on how well quadraphonic albums were selling, based on a survey of 59 record stores in 21 different markets. At the time, 53 of those stores were actually selling "Q" albums -- some in their own section, others mixed in with stereo LPs -- and were reporting many of their customers didn't really understand the format. It seems the record companies were so quick to roll out the Next Big Thing that little planning was done to inform the consumer, perhaps assuming they'd just figure it out eventually. At the same time, there was no real program to make selling the product easier for records stores. That sure sounds like a recipe for a cluster (you know what). As it turned out, Quadraphonic became a punchline of the decade.

Apple iTunes

Anne Murray - "What About Me"  Anne Murray - What About Me - Hey! What About Me

(Debuted #83, Peaked #64, 8 Weeks on chart)

Back in the days when a disc had two sides playable, Murray's LP Danny's Song had one side of studio recordings and another side recorded live. The version of "What About Me" that ended up as a single was taken from the live portion. Having been the title track of her first Canadian album in 1968, it was never issued as a single until the live version appeared.

Written by Scott McKenzie and recorded at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, "What About Me" shows off Murray's unique pop-styled phrasing. Effortlessly performed, it shows a glimpse into why -- despite other performers of the era like John Denver, Barry Manilow or the Osmond clan -- Anne Murray has a lot of fans but few who vehemently object to her music.

Deep Purple - "Smoke On The Water"  Deep Purple - Machine Head - Smoke On the Water

(Debuted #85, Peaked #4, 16 Weeks on chart)

Just four music notes. That's all that is needed to play "Smoke on the Water"'s distinctive riff. Very simple but quite memorable. While it seems pretty simple, the riff is one of the ways a beginning guitarist feels all that practice is working.

In the classic song, Richie Blackmore starts off with the riff as a solo. Playing it a second time, he is joined one at a time by an organ, drums and Roger Glover's bass before Ian Gillan begins telling the story of how a gig with Frank Zappa and the Mothers on Invention ended up with the place being burned down by a flare gun. The title "Smoke on the Water" refers to the fact that the building on fire was right next to Lake Geneva in Switzerland. Roger Glover is credited with coming up with the title a few days after the incident.

The LP that contained the song, Machine Head, is considered a classic British hard rock LP in the same vein as Black Sabbath's Paranoid and Led Zeppelin's fourth album. And while I have always enjoyed the song, my daughter became a fan of the tune when she was 7 and heard it in the film School of Rock. It's one of the songs she had me put on her MP3 player. Not bad for a song that used to make my own parents yell at me to "turn that down!"

John Denver - "I'd Rather Be A Cowboy"  John Denver - Farewell Andromeda - I'd Rather Be a Cowboy (Lady's Chains)

(Debuted #90, Peaked #62, 10 Weeks on chart)

"I'd Rather Be a Cowboy" was the first song on Denver's LP Farewell Andromeda as well as the first of three singles taken from the album. None of the singles made the Top 40 (but it's worth mentioning that one of the tunes, "Please Daddy" was a Christmas-themed song and few of those did well during the 1970s in any case), but it represents a slip after his success with "Rocky Mountain High." In a way, while it may sound like "I'd Rather Be a Cowboy" may have been geared toward the country artist; however, Denver had not yet been given much exposure to country radio and didn't chart on Billboard's country survey with the song.

The lyrics of the song aren't so much about ropin' & ridin' as much as they are about how he wasn't interested in living in Los Angeles. In the narrative, his woman left but he was willing to let her go as opposed to living in a place that was that foreign to him (calling it "lady's chains" in the chorus). The idea of being a "country boy" and closer to nature was a topic Denver visited frequently in his songs.

Roy Clark - "Come Live With Me"  Roy Clark - The Best of Roy Clark - Come Live With Me

(Debuted #98, Peaked #89, 3 Weeks on chart)

Roy Clark will probably be best remembered as one of the co-hosts of the long-running TV show Hee Haw, which widely and sorely overlooks his talent as a singer and instrumentalist. Throughout the 1970s, Clark was one of country music's most prolific talents -- winning awards for Entertainer of the Year as well as Instrumentalist of the Year -- and was adept at the banjo, mandolin and guitar. Despite being able to showcase those talents on the show, fans tended to focus more on the cornpone humor of the show than on the musical quality on display.

Despite all the awards and accolades, "Come Live With Me" was Clark's only #1 country hit on the Billboard charts. A song of devotion and commitment, it was the type of middle-of-the-road fare Clark specialized in. Written by Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, the song would also be memorably covered by Ray Charles in 1974.

Tanya Tucker - "What's Your Mama's Name"  Tanya Tucker - Tanya Tucker: 16 Biggest Hits - What's Your Mama's Name Child

(Debuted #99, Peaked #86, 4 Weeks on chart)

I've long been a sucker for songs that tell a story. "What's Your Mama's Name" is a narrative about a man named Buford Wilson. In the first verse, he's a young man just coming into a small town. The second verse finds him habitually drunk ten years later and being sent to jail for asking little girls around town who their mothers were. Finally, when he dies nearly twenty years after that, a letter is found in his possession telling him he had a daughter, which is why he'd been asking. It was another in a string of hit songs by Texas native Tanya Tucker that had the teenager singing about adult topics rather than the "kid stuff" often laid down by Donna Fargo or Barbara Fairchild.

Though not much of a hit on the Hot 100, the song would go on to become a #1 single on Billboard's country chart. At the time, it made 14-year old Tucker the youngest country artist to score a chart-topper. That record was short-lived, however; Marie Osmond's "Paper Roses" would break it later that same year. Fortunately for Tanya Tucker, she would send several more singles to #1 as a teenager and into her thirties.

Slade - "Cum On Feel The Noize"  Slade - Get Yer Boots On - The Best of Slade - Cum On Feel the Noize

(Debuted #100, Peaked #98, 2 Weeks on chart)

I've mentioned here before that I was born in 1972 and grew up during the 1980s. For that reason, my own perspective of this tune will always be colored by the 1983 remake by L.A. heavy metal band Quiet Riot. Being eleven years old when that version became a #5 hit, it was hard to avoid the song. As for the original version of the song, it was far more popular with Slade's English countrymen than it was in the U.S. The song debuted at #1 in the UK (a rare feat then) and stayed on top for four weeks. Even though the remake hasn't exactly aged well over time, it was a fairly loyal (if heavily amplified) take on the original.

Its quick disappearance from the U.S. chart may have been more than just a factor of Slade's lack of Stateside recognition; it may have also had something to do with the spelling of the first word in the title. Although many of Slade's song titles intentionally mangled words to reflect a more phonetic spelling to the point of poking fun at their working-class accents, Americans were obviously prudish about the other meaning of their variation on the word "come." When the Quiet Riot remake was a hit, you can bet my 6th grade chums were giggling about the title. If there's anything really great to say about the 1983 hit, it's the fact that Slade was finally able to get a couple of Top 40 hits in the U.S. soon afterward.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

This Week's Review -- May 28, 1977

Seven songs debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 this week,with three reaching the Top 40 and two rising into the Top 10. Those Top 10s were Peter Frampton's highest-charting single and a "comeback" for Crosby, Stills & Nash after seven years. One of Heart's fiercest songs is here, as is an REO Speedwagon tune that will be an "evergreen" for as long as Mother Nature is around to show her fury. Maze debuts for the first time, Neil Sedaka "covers" his own tune and Dave Mason sets a mellow mood.

Over at Google Books, an archive of Billboard magazines that reaches back to 1944 is available, including the May 28, 1977 edition. The full Hot 100 list can be found on page 82. A story on page 57 has Kenny Rogers talking about "Lucille," which was his first solo pop/country crossover hit. Also, page 10 explains that a financial downturn was affecting the music business. Fortunately for them, that wouldn't last long.

Classic Concerts

Peter Frampton - "I'm In You" I'm In You - I'm In You (Remastered)

(Debuted #68, Peaked #2, 20 Weeks on chart)

With a title like "I'm in You," it's easy to let the mind slide right into the gutter when you think about what the song means. However, the lyrics speak in a metaphysical sense, where the narrator feels like he's a part of his other half, and that she's part of him. It was written after the separation of Frampton from his first wife. Of course, that little bit of 1970s New Age-inspired philosophy didn't stop the juvenile chuckling; Frank Zappa recorded a parody inspired by the song called "I Have Been in You" for his 1979 Sheik Yerbouti LP.

When he released his I'm in You album, Frampton was being asked to follow up one of the biggest-selling albums in history. Since that record -- Frampton Comes Alive! -- was a suprising success, following it up with the same result was no small feat. Though it went platinum and "I'm in You" became his highest-charting single (higher than the three from his live LP managed), it was a relative disappointment due to the immense pressure of catching lightning in the same bottle a second time.

Here's an interesting fact about the song: Mick Jagger is listed in the liner notes as a backup singer.

Heart - "Barracuda" Barracuda - Little Queen

(Debuted #84, Peaked #11, 20 Weeks on chart)

When Heart started picking up interest with their LP Dreamboat Annie, their label Mushroom Records ran a steamy ad campaign that hinted that sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson were lesbian lovers. One night after a show, a reporter asked Ann about that, and her seething resentment was channeled into a song for the bands second LP Little Queen. In that regard, "Barracuda" is a sonic representation of the old adage that "Hell hath no fury like a woman's scorn."

And it's a withering attack. The guitar riff that kicks the song off is furious, the lyrics veiled but easily understandable (it's actually easy to see a salesperson or a corporate apologist as a "Barracuda"). With lines like "You're lying so low in the weeds" and "If the real thing don't do the trick, you better think up something quick," the implication really got stuck into Ann Wilson's craw. Yes, the campaign was sexist and unfair, but it produced one of the most memorable rock songs of the 1970s.

Neil Sedaka - "Amarillo" (Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted #85, Peaked #44, 8 Weeks on chart)

With "Amarillo," Neil Sedaka does a remake of his own song. He wrote it with Howard Greenfield in 1971 for Tony Christie as "Is This the Way to Amarillo," and it was a big European hit for Christie that year and again in 2005. A popular football (we Americans call it "soccer") chant, it was never a hit in the U.S. despite being written by two Americans and referencing a city in the country. So, in 1977 Sedaka shortened the title and recorded it himself.  

The song's lyrics are about the singer's lovely Maria, who's waiting in Amarillo for him to return. And he's doing his best to get there. While he doesn't say what it was that kept them apart (military service, job, or some other reason), you can tell he's looking forward to the reunion.

Crosby, Stills and Nash - "Just A Song Before I Go" Just a Song Before I Go - CSN

(Debuted #86, Peaked #7, 21 Weeks on chart)

When Crosby, Stills & Nash recorded the album CSN in 1977, it was the first studio LP they had put out since Deja Vu in 1970. Seven years is a long time, and the climate had done a complete change in the meantime. The antiwar messages and politically-charged climate weren't going to sell records, so the members focused on their harmonies and reflected on their maturity.

At just over two minutes (short songs were becoming a rarity at the time), "Just a Song Before I Go"was relatively simple. The instrumentation was sparse; they are there, but Stephen Stills' guitar was the only real focal point beyond the three member's harmonies. Graham Nash wrote the simple but effective tune, which quickly became a staple of their live show.

Dave Mason - "So High (Rock Me Baby and Roll Me Away)" So High (Rock Me Baby and Roll Me Away) - Let It Flow

(Debuted #93, Peaked #89, 3 Weeks on chart)

Dave Mason seems to have played with everybody at some point in the 1960s and 70s, or at least wrote something for them to sing. A former member of Traffic (he founded the group but left it more than once), he was associated with Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Fleetwood Mac. He wrote "Feelin' Alright," which was recorded by several artists including Joe Cocker and Grand Funk Railroad.

"So High (Rock Me Baby and Roll Me Away)" was the first track on his biggest-selling LP Let it Flow, it was one of the rare singles he didn't write. Instead, Jack Conrad and Mentor Williams took care of the songwriter duties. As the first song on the album, "Rock Me" was able to set the mood for the flow, and it did that superbly with its slide guitar line. Listening to the song, it wasn't hard to imagine sitting on a beach chair and kicking your feet up. Of course, having the cream of the studio musician crop on hand helps, but Mason's influence is a steady factor here.

REO Speedwagon - "Ridin' The Storm Out" Ridin' the Storm Out (Live) - Live - You Get What You Play For

(Debuted #96, Peaked #94, 3 Weeks on chart )

It's appropriate that REO Speedwagon's first pop hit was a live track, since the band built its early reputation on concert appearances. "Ridin' the Storm Out" was originally on the group's 1974 LP of the same title, but that album featured Mike Murphy on vocals. He took over when Kevin Cronin left the group while that album was recorded due to internal differences. Eventually, Cronin and the band reconciled, and he was back in the lineup by 1976. The next year, the band's live performance was captured on the double LP Live: You Get What You Play For, and Cronin sang lead for the song this time.

This is a song that seems to get pulled out whenever a hurricane, tropical storm, blizzard or heavy storm front passes through. While the lyrics mention a winter in the Rockies, they could also parallel the fact that the narrator is adjusting to a new life after leaving the city. Either way, the guitar attack matches the fury of the weather outside, while the people inside just wait for everything to cease.

Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly - "While I'm Alone" While I'm Alone - Maze

(Debuted #98, Peaked #89, 11 Weeks on chart)

"While I'm Alone" was the first hit for the San Francisco-based group Maze, but this was no overnight sensation. Leader Frankie Beverly had been plying his trade for nearly 20 years since his school years in Philadelphia. Once he realized he was outside of the emerging "Philly Soul" sound, he moved west and formed a new group. Marvin Gaye brought them on board as an opening act and helped guide the group in a new direction. Now called Maze, they finally recorded their first LP in 1977.

The 1977 vintage and Beverly's Philadelphia pedigree might make you think "While I'm Alone" is going to be a disco-fueled hit, but you'd be wrong. In fact, the tune is rooted in Jazz and Quiet Storm and stays more firmly rooted in Soul. Doing the music in Beverly's own style, rather than what his record label thought would sell, brought Maze a very loyal following. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rewind -- May 21, 1977

Once again, this blog returns to its first year and revisits some of its earliest writings. And it isn't sure why it's referring to itself in the third person.

An interesting group of debut hits this week. Ten new singles (including one that was returning after an earlier run), five that went Top 40 and one Top 10 hit. Among the artists included are both leads from the film A Star is Born. Surprisingly, one song by Jackson Browne that gets decent airplay today was a poor performer during its chart run. Also seen is an emerging trend that songs were staying on the charts longer: two songs would spend nearly 30 weeks aboard, while one song that missed the Top 40 still spent 14 weeks on the survey.

Google Books has an archive of past issues of Billboard magazine, including the May 21, 1977 edition. The full Hot 100 is on page 76 (but well past the pull-out section that takes up much of the magazine). A story on page 1 shows just how much the record industry had grown by 1977: the Gold standard that once defined hit records had become passe long before that, but even platinum wasn't considered all that impressive with certain artists. Most of the issue, however, is devoted to a celebration of the first 100 years of recorded music that is of interest to anybody who follows the history of popular music and the progress of recorded sound.

Wolfgang's Vault - Bonnie Raitt Memorabilia

Barbra Streisand- "My Heart Belongs to Me" Barbra Streisand - Superman - My Heart Belongs to Me

(Debuted #52, Peaked #4, 17 Weeks on chart)

After "Evergreen (Theme from A Star is Born)" became a smash hit, Barbra Streisand (or more likely, her record company Columbia) didn't try to milk more singles from her successful film. Instead, she followed it up with a tune that was ultimately left out of that film. "My Heart Belongs to Me" was taken from her upcoming Streisand Superman LP and was that album's only hit single. In addition to its #4 peak on the pop chart, the song logged four weeks at #1 on the adult contemporary chart.

Written by Alan Gordon, who also wrote "Happy Together" for The Turtles and Three Dog Night's "Celebrate," the song was a slow, soaring vocal exercise that showed off Streisand's range. Backed by an orchestra and soul-influenced backing singers, it was a tune that showcased her talents nicely. It's also a song where a listener's opinion depends heavily on that person's opinion of the singer herself. Babs' fans generally love it, but those who really don't care for her won't stick around to hear it. It was, in any case, a song more suited for the adult contemporary audience than the disco-mad, hook-hungry pop audience, which is why it was a much bigger hit there.

The Carpenters - "All You Get From Love Is A Love Song"  Carpenters - The Carpenters: The Singles 1969-1981 - All You Get from Love Is a Love Song

(Debuted #77, Peaked #35, 10 Weeks on chart)

Despite declining pop chart fortunes by 1977, The Carpenters were still hitting the adult contemporary charts fairly regularly. While "All You Get from Love is a Love Song" was stopped in the lower reaches of the Top 40, it was a #4 AC hit. The irony of their declining chart fortunes was that the siblings were actually beginning to venture into new territory with their work rather than becoming the predictable act many of their detractors claim they were.

As always, the song spotlighted Karen Carpenter's wonderful voice and backed her and brother Richard up with with top-notch studio musicians. While beginning slowly, the song's chorus is more upbeat than many of the duo's better-known songs. A superb saxophone solo by Tom Scott highlights the "middle eight." The song was included on their LP Passage (which wasn't released until October '77, five months after this single), which sought new directions but ended up becoming their first album to miss becoming Gold. Its other two singles were "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft," an obvious attempt to capitalize on the sci-fi craze that Star Wars ushered in, and "Sweet, Sweet Smile" which was a Top 10 country hit. Those songs had more diversity of sound than any three Carpenters hits, but it didn't seem to help them find a new audience.

Jackson Browne - "The Pretender" Jackson Browne - The Pretender - The Pretender

(Debuted #81, Peaked #58, 5 Weeks on chart)

Jackson Browne spent much of the 1970s as a critical darling but didn't have a great deal of success with the singles charts. That might be because his compositions were more directed to an audience that bought his albums than those who listened to radio, as his LPs sold well. However, during the 1970s Browne's only Top 10 single was "Doctor My Eyes" (reviewed here in March 2010), his first chart single. As for "The Pretender," despite being one of Browne's better-known songs, it failed to make the Top 40.

Most of Browne's early LPs contained a final song that summed up what was going on in his world as he was cutting those records, and that final song from The Pretender was the title song. While the lyrics tell about how Browne is realizing he is growing older and his responsibilities have begun to crowd out the ideals of his youth, it may be a corollary to what many children of the 1960s begun to realize once they quit railing against the Establishment and actually went out into the world: "Caught between the longing for love and the struggle for the legal tender" and realizing that it's useless to resist the way it is.

During the recording of the album, Browne's wife committed suicide. Such a tragic event was certain to affect his outlook on life, and at the end of "The Pretender," the protagonist has thrown in the towel: "Say a prayer for the pretender...who started out so young and strong, only to surrender."

Bonnie Raitt - "Runaway" Bonnie Raitt - Sweet Forgiveness (Remastered) - Runaway

(Debuted #84, Peaked #57, 12 Weeks on chart)

Following Jackson Browne is Bonnie Raitt, who joined him not only in the No Nukes concert series of 1979 but the anti-Apartheid song "Sun City" in 1985. Speaking of the No Nukes concerts, Raitt sings "Runaway" in the film taken from their Madison Square Garden show.

While this R&B-infused cover of Del Shannon's 1961 smash was Bonnie Raitt's first chart single, she was no newcomer to the music business. Since 1971, she had been touring and recording but her favored status among critics and other musicians didn't translate into record sales. While Shannon's classic followed the time-honored musical tradition of break-up songs, Raitt's perspective as the female whose man has walked away gives the song a different spin. Ironically, when "Runaway" finally gave Raitt a hit, the ever-fickle critics gave her performance a drubbing. Undaunted, Raitt soldiered on (sometimes in obscurity) through good times and very, very bad ones until her well-deserved breakthrough in 1989.

Bad Company - "Burnin' Sky" Bad Company - Burnin' Sky - Burnin' Sky

(Debuted #86, Peaked #78, 4 Weeks on chart)

After three big albums and 5 Top 40 singles, "Burnin' Sky" was something of a bump in the road for the group. Not only did the LP with that name become the band's first to miss the Top 5 or go platinum, the single would be the group's lowest-charting hit of the 1970s. Perhaps the band recorded it too quickly; once recorded during the Summer of '76, the LP needed to be shelved for several months to avoid impacting their previous set Run With the Pack.

The single "Burnin' Sky" had all of the elements of Bad Company's big hits: Paul Rodgers' distinctive vocal style, Mich Ralphs' guitar phrasing and a steady chug from the drum/bass rhythm section. However, there wasn't the urgency or toughness that marked songs like "Can't Get Enough" or "Feel Like Makin' Love." The band must have paid attention to the results. It would be two more years before their next LP Desolation Angels, which had a retooled sound and added synthesizers and even some strings to the instrument selection.

Kris Kristofferson - "Watch Closely Now" Barbra Streisand & Kris Kristofferson - A Star Is Born - Watch Closely Now

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

Back in 2009, I reviewed Barbra Streisand's "Evergreen" in this blog and mentioned the fact that although Kris Kristofferson made his name as a songwriter, he didn't write any of the songs he performed in the 1976 film A Star is Born. Singing as his character John Norman Howard, "Watch Closely Now" was the first song on the soundtrack LP. For those who haven't watched the film, Kristofferson did a very believable job playing the doomed rock star (it's been rumored that he was in varying states of chemical influence during the filming, so maybe he wasn't exactly acting as much as living out the part), but the song reiterates that Kristofferson was far better as a songwriter than a singer.

However, that may be the point of the song in the film. As John Norman Howard's "theme song" it really doesn't paint a tidy picture of the man. Considering his character in the movie was declining even as he was still a fan favorite, his performances of the song in the movie tend to show how much he's caught up in the excess of his fame. But then still shows that Kristofferson was a better actor than he was a singer.

10cc - "People In Love"  10cc - The Very Best of 10cc - People In Love

(Debuted #89, Peaked #40, 7 Weeks on chart)

When Kevin Godley and Lol Creme left 10cc in 1976 after some acrimony arising from a separate project they were working on, Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman opted to continue the group without them. Even though the British press referred to the new lineup as "5cc," the remaining members felt vindicated when "People in Love" became their second American Top 40 hit after the break (the four-member lineup only had one Top 40 hit, "I'm Not in Love").

While 10cc's earlier work was often noted for its quirky humor and antics, "People in Love" is actually a straight ballad, backed by a string arrangement and containing a very good electric guitar solo by Stewart. Though a refreshing change of pace, it wasn't necessarily essential. Yes it made the Top 40, but that's exactly as far as it went.

Teddy Pendergrass - "I Don't Love You Anymore"  Teddy Pendergrass - Teddy Pendergrass - I Don't Love You Anymore

(Debuted #90, Peaked #41, 14 Weeks on chart )

After spending several years as the voice for Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Teddy Pendergrass struck out on his own in 1977. Apparently, Pendergrass suggested naming the group after himself since he was the voice and Melvin didn't exactly agree. His first solo single was "I Don't Love You Anymore," which missed the pop Top 40 but went to #5 on the R&B chart. While Pendergrass was successful on the R&B charts as a solo artist, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes never quite got over his departure.

While "I Don't Love You Anymore" sounds very much like it was recorded with his former band, the fact that Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff (who produced all the Blue Notes' big hits) lent their unique Philadelphia-bred style to the song suggests that the duo hoped fans would realize that Pendergrass wasn't exactly a newcomer. A song about leaving a bad relationship (but still saying he'd "man up" and take care of his obligations...though the listener must decide whether he means alimony, child support or both), the uptempo rhythm helps take some of the sting off the pain. As later singles ventured into soul/Quiet Storm territory, it was clear that the public knew he was one of a kind.

Despite being paralyzed in a 1982 car crash that affected his ability to work the stage the way he did before, he still performed until retiring from the business in 2006. Sadly, Teddy Pendergrass passed away in January 2010.

Stephen Bishop - "On And On"  Stephen Bishop - 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Stephen Bishop - On and On

(Debuted #92, Peaked #11, 27 Weeks on chart )

In 1978, there was a skit on Saturday Night Live showing a line of people waiting to get into a disco (though not named, it was modeled after Studio 54). John Belushi played a bouncer keeping people out. At one point, Stephen Bishop comes up and tells him he should be allowed in because he has a hit single. When asked how the song goes, he begins singing the opening lines of "On and On." Suddenly, Belushi says, "yeah, I hate that song" and tosses him out.

"On and On" was a  song that had charted at #93 for a week and then fell off the Billboard Hot 100. Returning for its second chance, it stayed for more than half a year. A song about lovers with broken hearts who go to Jamaica to get away from their pain, the song has its share of imagery: "So he takes a ladder, steals some stars from the sky..." At #11 pop and #2 adult contemporary, it ended up being his biggest hit as a performer.

C.J. and Co. - "Devil's Gun" (Not available as MP3)

(Debuted #98, Peaked #36, 29 Weeks on chart)

Though the song only managed to reach the lower reaches of the Top 40, it stayed on the Hot 100 for more than half a year. Despite hanging on as long as it did, it only managed to reach the lower part of the Top 40. The longevity on the charts might have been helped by the fact that it had been mixed by Billboard Disco columnist Tom Moulton, but it should be noted that a lot of songs were spending longer on the charts than they had early in the decade. Besides, that would contradict the accusations some have leveled against then-Disco editor Bill Wardlow and his influence on the Hot 100 at that time.

CJ & Co. was a Detroit-based studio group created by Dennis Coffey (who had a hit 1971 with "Scorpio"). Coffey co-produced the group but was not a member, even though the guitar solo on "Devil's Gun" sounds like it could have been his handiwork. A song that builds from a bass/drum foundation to a full-on disco rhythm before the vocals appear, it was a huge dancefloor hit in many countries. In addition to going to 40 pop, the song was a #1 disco hit and #2 R&B. The extended version of the song (the one mixed by Moulton) still sounds great today and doesn't seem to run for more than seven minutes.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

This Week's Review -- May 23, 1970

This week was another busy one, with 14 new songs (including a two-sided hit) making their debut on the Billboard Hot 100. Nine would reach the Top 40, with five making the Top 10 and two reaching #1. An end of an era was reached, as The Beatles called it a career. A new decade was beginning, and songs by The Temptations and War stretched the boundaries of what was "normal." On the other side of the coin, The Pipkins show up with a song targeted to kids that was seen as a novelty. Aretha Franklin gives us religion, as do Delaney & Bonnie. Two versions of the same song even appear.

Google Books has a large archive of Billboard issues, including the May 23, 1970 edition. The full Hot 100 list can be found on page 74. An article on page 1 announces an upcoming weekly radio show that will use the magazine's Top 40 as a basis. The show was set for distribution through Watermark Enterprises and Los Angeles-based DJ Casey Kasem was set to be the host. If you didn't know that would be the American Top 40 radio show, you must have missed out on the 1970s. Interestingly, the very first #1 record played on that show is among this week's debuts.

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The Beatles - "The Long And Winding Road" The Long and Winding Road - The Beatles 1967–1970 (The Blue Album) b/w "For You Blue" For You Blue - Let It Be

(Debuted #35, Peaked #1, 10 Weeks on chart)

Since this was a two-sided hit, here's a video of the often-forgotten B-side:

As "The Long and Winding Road" was beginning its climb up the chart, fans already knew that The Beatles had broken up. All four members recorded solo albums that year -- and all would be relatively successful during the early 1970s -- but fans held out hope that the band would get the itch to assemble in the studio once again when the hard feelings abated. Of course, we know that never happened, but it was a hope that many fans held onto until a fateful day in 1980.

While internal strife played a part in the band's dissolution, many of the tracks on the Let it Be LP hastened the decision, "The Long and Winding Road" in particular. The song was one of Paul McCartney's contributions to the album and was recorded as a simple ballad, but producer Phil Spector remixed it with a chorus and orchestra, which infuriated McCartney enough that it was one of the points he made in his letter that announced his desire to break up the band.

The B-side was "For You Blue," a song that George Harrison wrote as a 12-bar blues song. In fact, he even ad-libs "there go the 12-bar blues" during the song. It's been largely spared the overbearing Spector touch, so much that the two sides of the single seem to be from two entirely different bands.

When the dust settled, "The Long and Winding Road" was the last of 20 #1 singles in the U.S. for The Beatles in just over 6 years. While that seems an appropriate title for a group's final #1 song, it should be noted that the members were all still in their twenties at the time -- Ringo was the oldest and turned 30 that July -- so the long, winding roads were up ahead as the four musicians went along their own paths.

The Pipkins - "Gimme Dat Ding" Gimme Dat Ding - Gimme Dat Ding!

(Debuted #65, Peaked #9, 12 Weeks on chart)

"Gimme Dat Ding" is one of the four hit singles of 1970 that featured Tony Burrows on lead vocals but used a generic studio group name. In fact, it was one of three songs he sang for different acts on a single Top of the Pops program on the BBC, which might seem like a stunt but wasn't intended to be one. Burrows sings both the gravely "deep" voice and the high tenor on this quasi-novelty tune.

"Gimme Dat Ding" was co-written by Albert Hammond and Mike Hazelwood. Originally written as part of a British children's show that had a boy searching for parts to mend a grandfather clock, the "ding" in the title makes perfect sense in that context. However, that show wasn't aired in the U.S., so American listeners never had the chance to make that connection.

The Pipkins were a duo consisting of Burrows with Roger Greenaway, who had played together in a British band called The Kestrels in the 1960s. The group also consisted of Roger Cook, who wrote a number of hit records with Greenaway druing the era including the White Plains hit "My Baby Loves Lovin'," which Burrows also sang. It's never a bad thing to stay in touch with old mates.

Smokey Robinson & the Miracles - "Who's Gonna Take The Blame" Who's Gonna Take the Blame - Ooo Baby Baby: The Anthology

(Debuted #73, Peaked #46, 7 Weeks on chart)

The Miracles was Motown's first group, and their first act to sell a million records. They were led by William "Smokey" Robinson, who was also a songwriter for Motown and had as much of a hand in the label's success as anybody including owner Berry Gordy. While the 1960s were good to the label and the group, the road eventually wore on Smokey and caused a rift in his marraige. He was ready to move to a "desk" job and leave the touring to the younger guys. He was expected to quietly leave the group by 1970, which would have given "Who's Gonna Take the Blame" an ironic title. However, a quirk of fate gave the group a surprise hit later in the year with "The Tears of a Clown," which led him to stick it out for a couple more years.

"Who's Gonna Take the Blame" was written by Nikolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson and is a song about several times in life where the singer accepted the blame for bad things a girl did as they were growing up, and was forced to feel responsible when that girl grew up and went in a different direction. It was the band's first single to miss the Top 40 (not counting "Darling Dear," a B-side that charted separately), though it did make the Top10 R&B singles chart.

Aretha Franklin with the Dixie Flyers - "Spirit in the Dark" Spirit In the Dark - Aretha Franklin: 30 Greatest Hits

(Debuted #74, Peaked #23, 8 Weeks on chart)

The album Spirit in the Dark was overlooked, as hard as it is to believe that any project of that era by her would ever have that label. At the time, it was her first Atlantic LP to miss the Top 20 on the pop albums chart (though it did reach #2 on the R&B chart) despite having two hit singles. However, time has been kind to the album, and most critics have given it a considerable bump among her output. In some ways, it pointed to the more disappointing chart fortunes Franklin experienced later in the decade, but it really didn't deserve it as much as the later efforts did.

The album's title song was written by Franklin herself, and showed the gospel influence she carried from her childhood. From the piano riff to the imagery to the call-and-response Aretha does with the backing chorus, all the hallmarks are there. Eventually, the song breaks out into jubilation, as if to swat any unbelievers with a Bible.

Sly and the Family Stone - "I Want To Take You Higher" I Want to Take You Higher - Anthology

(Debuted #76, Peaked #38, 9 Weeks on chart)

A battle of competing versions of the same song broke out this week in 1970. Both went on to make the Top 40 (which was fitting, since both are good) but the original's inclusion was odd on the surface. It was recorded the previous year, was the B-side of Sly & the Family Stone's hit "Stand" and had been part of their Woodstock performance. Today, it's more common for a song to stick around like that, but in the fast-evolving musical world of 1969-'70 it was unheard of.

Yes, the Woodstock film had just been released in March 1970, but the song was used as a brief interlude during the band's set in the documentary. Instead, Epic records may have put it out simply because of the Ike & Tina Turner cover that competed with it, and because Sly Stone had entered one of his long periods where he wasn't producing any new music.

As part of the album Stand!, "I Want to Take You Higher" breaks from the "messages" that many of its songs stress. Instead, it's a celebration about the effect that music can have on a person (although, when Sly's own personal history is factored in, the "higher" in the title probably has a double meaning). It was one of the songs that used the different voices of the "Family Stone": Larry Graham's deep baritone is the most prominent, but Freddie and Rose Stone add vocals as well.

Ike and Tina Turner and the Ikettes - "I Want To Take You Higher" I Want to Take You Higher - Proud Mary - The Best of Ike & Tina Turner

(Debuted #78, Peaked #34, 18 Weeks on chart)

With two versions of "I Want to Take You Higher" entering the chart in the same week, there was a battle of the bands to see who got the most exposure. Normally, competing versions would beat each other up, but in this case both versions made it into the Top 40. However, that's just as far as both would go, with Ike & Tina Turner getting four places "higher" than the Sly Stone original. On that note, maybe the competition did weigh both versions down, since they definitely could have done better than they did.

Where Stone featured some of the other members of his "family," this was all about Tina Turner vocally. The rest of the voices merely serve as backup material.

The Temptations - "Ball Of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)" Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today) [Alternate Mix] - Psychedelic Soul

(Debuted #80, Peaked #3, 15 Weeks on chart)

"Psychedelic soul" was the name used to describe The Temptations' move away from the songs about love and loss they performed in the 1960s to the more socially-aware material they began doing as the decades changed. And it was apt; no only was there a sense of realism in their vocals, but the music behind the voices was grittier and hewn from rougher material. That's not to say they went away from the sweeter material (you just need to listen to 1971's "Just My Imagination" for proof of that), but they definitely steered into a different direction beginning with 1968's "Coud Nine."

"Ball of Confusion (That's What the World is Today)" is an example of the new direction, even if it stays with a general point of view in its lyrics. Writer/producer Norman Whitfield specifically avoided being specific after the band's version of "War" was blocked by Motown and he was forced to tone it down for Edwin Starr's version. At first, the group's members weren't certain they could handle the song, as a result of the often rapid-fire tempo of the words. However, the song did a great job of showcasing the members. The main lyrics were assigned to Paul Williams and Dennis Franklin, who was given the lines that needed to be delivered the quickest. Eddie Kendricks was assigned a tenor, which was rare at the tame but soon became his trademark. Finally, the bass "and the band played on" that ended each verse was handled superbly by Melvin Franklin.

Speaking of bass lines, Funk Brother Bob Babbitt kicks off an ominous groove to begin the song. That type of instrumental never comes before anything that carries a positive message.

Three Dog Night - "Mama Told Me (Not To Come)" Mama Told Me (Not to Come) - The Complete Hit Singles

(Debuted #83, Peaked #1, 15 Weeks on chart)

Three Dog Night was one of the biggest acts of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and their reputation allowed them to choose songs from a wide array of talented songwriters. Randy Newman was the writer of "Mama Told Me (Not To Come)," a tune that was written in 1966 for Eric Burdon and the Animals. A tale by a naive outsider who's walked into a party only to find that it isn't exactly a "sock hop," the song is performed in an almost comical style by Cory Wells.

Kicking off with a distinctive Wurlitzer electric piano riff that sets the mood, "Mama Told Me (Not To Come)" became the group's first #1 single. In fact, it was the song sitting at #1 the same week as the first-ever week that Casey Kasem counted down the American Top 40 radio show. The song already had a timely vibe that heralded the fact that the 1960s were indeed over, but that cemented its place in history.

Delaney and Bonnie and Friends - "Free the People" Free the People - Rhino Hi-Five - Delaney & Bonnie - EP

(Debuted #84, Peaked #75, 4 Weeks on chart)

Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett were heavily regarded by other musicians. In fact, Eric Clapton was fond enough of them that he would show up at several of their concerts to sit in because he was more interested in their material than he was with what his own group Blind Faith was doing. Dave Mason, George Harrison, Duane Allman and even Little Richard were known to stop by and play with the group in the studio.

"Free the People" was the final song on the duos third album From Delaney to Bonnie. Written by Barbara Keith, it had a message of brotherhood and a heavily religious feel. The fact that it starts with the hymn "Rock of Ages" sets that mood, and the lyrics continue, alluding to imagery of fire and seas, about salvation from The Devil, and even as the horn section begins to sound like it's blowing Gabriel's horn.

Ginger Baker's Air Force - "Man of Constant Sorrow" (Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted #88, Peaked #85, 2 Weeks on chart)

Interestingly, this blog goes from one band that (inadvertently) contributed to Blind Faith's early demise to another that rose out of its ashes. After Eric Clapton went his own way, drummer Ginger Baker persuaded the other members Steve Winwood and Rick Grech to stay with him and form a new group whose influences were more diverse: blues, jazz, African rhythms, bluegrass, whatever their muse dictated. They ended up assembling a ten-piece group that also included Denny Laine, Chris Wood and Graham Bond, and recorded a live show at London's Royal Albert Hall that appeared as their first LP.

"Man of Constant Sorrow" is a traditional American fiddle song popularized in 1928 by fiddler Dick Burnett and was a staple of The Stanley Brother's act. When the Air Force recorded it, they kept the words and melody but improvised the arrangement for the live recording. Laine was the lead vocalist.

Movie fans might recognize the song (albeit in a faster, more bluegrass-inspired style) from the 2000 Coen Brothers' film O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Luther Ingram - "Ain't That Loving You (For More Reasons Than One)" Ain't That Loving You (For More Reasons Than One) - The Best of Luther Ingram

(Debuted #95, Peaked #45, 9 Weeks on chart)

Luther Ingram served as Isaac Hayes' opening act on tour for several years and used Hayes' studio musicians and backup singers in the studio, so it's only logical that Hayes would provide him with material from time to time. In the case of "Ain't That Loving You (For More Reasons Than One)," the song was written by Hayes and his long-time collaborator David Porter. It appeared as a Sam & Dave performance in 1967, with Hayes and Porter cutting it themselves in 1972.

Though Ingram's version fell just short of the pop Top 40, it became his first R&B Top 10 hit. Featuring the smooth horns and lush strings in the background, it was a fine vehicle for Ingram's vocal stylings.

The Flaming Ember - "Westbound #9" Westbound #9 - The Best of Flaming Ember

(Debuted #97, Peaked #24, 14 Weeks on chart)

Detroit is best known as the home of Motown, but its influence in soul music extends well beyond that label's acts. When the songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland wanted to have greater control over their work, they broke from Motown to form their own Hot Wax imprint. One of their acts was The Flaming Ember, a local five-man "blue-eyed soul" outfit.

"Westbound #9" was The Flaming Ember's biggest hit on the pop chart. Using the imagery of taking a train to leave the old hometown for a seemingly better place away from the charlatans and hypocrites, the song mirrored the way a lot of people were migrating to other areas. In fact, even Motown did the same thing, a year after this song was a hit.

Eric Burdon and War - "Spill The Wine" Spill the Wine - Eric Burdon Declares War

(Debuted #99, Peaked #3, 21 Weeks on chart)

War's first hit was a collaboration with former Animal Eric Burdon. At the time, they were seen as just another backing band for Burdon (in fact, many of the members were recruited after backing NFL player Deacon Jones when he tried to start a second career as a soul singer), but Burdon eventually felt burned out and the band struck out on its own. Despite what may have been a major setback, they became a solid and innovative unit.

"Spill the Wine" would be a very notable introduction to the group, given the diversity of styles in the song's groove. Concocted inside the studio, the title came along after group member Lonnie Jordan reportedly spilled a bottle of wine on a recording console while enjoying a late-night recording session. Burdon thought that was pretty funny and penned some words around the theme as the session moved to another studio. The group members began coming up with their own improvisations, and the result was a unique record.

There are a few lines of Spanish in the song (supposedly from Burdon's then-girlfriend), which sound like they were inserted after the song was finished. Also, although Burdon wrote several lyrics, contractual issues did not allow him to take a songwriting credit.

Little Richard - "Freedom Blues" Freedom Blues - King of Rock & Roll: The Complete Reprise Recordings

(Debuted #100, Peaked #47, 9 Weeks on chart)

Though best known for his 1950s output, Little Richard was still recording and touring as the 1970s were getting underway. While remembered for giving up Rock & Roll for the ministry in the late 1950s, be returned to secular music in 1962. Though his sales weren't up to the same level of his earlier records, he continued performing and had many of his old hits brought back by a new generation of artists like The Beatles and introduced Jimi Hendrix as a backing guitarist in his band.

"Freedom Blues" was no look back at his 1950s glory. While nobody was going to ask Little Richard for his credentials, he was still dong his best to stay "with it" in the new decade rather that coasting by on his past glory. The result is a song that featured the familiar guitar licks of late 60s/early 70s Memphis soul even as it provided a saxophone solo and Richard's familiar "Whoo!" It may have missed the pop Top 40, but it was his best showing on the chart since 1958.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Rewind -- May 12, 1979

Once again, we take a break from the regular reviews to feature a post from our first year and give it a makeover.

Only six new singles appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 this week. Half of the songs would reach the Top 40, with two making the Top 10 and one going all the way to #1. With disco still in its heyday, four of the songs had a beat.

As for the oncoming disco backlash, The May 12, 1979 issue of Billboard spells out an uncertain future being seen in the music business. While one article explains that sales at a record chain went up during a disco promotion, a few other pieces mention that radio programmers were beginning to be nervous about falling ratings. While the infamous "Disco Demolition Derby" at Chicago's Comiskey Park was still two months away, the writing was being seen on the walls of several radio stations. The full Hot 100 can be found on page 80.
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Earth, Wind and Fire with the Emotions- "Boogie Wonderland" Earth, Wind & Fire - The Essential Earth, Wind & Fire - Boogie Wonderland

(Debuted #69, Peaked #6, 16 Weeks on chart)

As odd as it seems, "Boogie Wonderland" was a duet, only done by two groups. Instead of two singers, there were twelve musicians. EW&F's guiding light Maurice White had previously worked with the three-sister group The Emotions on their 1977 #1 smash "Best of My Love" and enlisted them to help on this song when the group worked on the I Am LP. The song has gained a life of its own, still played often during the years since it was a hit.

For those who think of "Boogie Wonderland" as a happy song about dancing, a quick look at the lyrics shows a much deeper topic. From a man who isn't satisfied with his life to a woman who is seeing her age when she looks in the mirror, the people in the song are going to a place where they can forget their troubles and lose the pain in their life for just a few hours. That pain isn't reflected in the performance, though: the music is vibrant, The Emotions sing in a jubilant manner and Philip Bailey's vocal sounds inspired, building from a more mellow tone into a full-powered assault. It's a case where hearing the song and reading the words show two very different outcomes.

Eddie Money - "Can't Keep A Good Man Down"  Eddie Money - Life for the Taking - Can't Keep a Good Man Down

(Debuted #82, Peaked #63, 5 Weeks on chart)

His story is pretty well-known. In the late 1960s, a Long Island kid named Eddie Mahoney followed in his father's footsteps and joined the New York Police Department. Quickly becoming disillusioned with his job, he left for San Francisco and began a new career as a musician. Calling himself Eddie Money, he sang for a band called The Rockets (not the same band that hit in '79 with the Fleetwood Mac cover "Oh Well"), and one of the songs in their repertoire was "Can't Keep a Good Man Down." After going solo, he would revisit that song.

"Can't Keep a Good Man Down" was the second single from his second LP Life for the Taking, an interesting title for a man who was once a police officer. As a disco-tinged album, the record was an attempt to stay current but likely turned off some of the fans from his harder-edged debut. The irony is that "Can't Keep a Good Man Down" was definitely one of that album's more driven songs. Perhaps if it had been the first single instead of "Maybe I'm a Fool" it may have gotten higher than #63.

Poco - "Heart Of The Night"  Poco - 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Poco - Heart of the Night

(Debuted #84, Peaked #20, 14 Weeks on chart)

While Poco is remembered mainly for its country-rock pioneer status and having members like Jim Messina, Rickie Furay and future Eagles Randy Meisner and Timothy B. Schmit, their biggest pop hits came after all those guys had left the band. By 1979, the band on the Legend LP consisted of only one founding member, Rusty Young, and Paul Cotton, who joined in 1970, with a couple of British studio musicians. Initially started as a Young/Cotton project, the group's record company insisted they use the Poco name instead. The result was the group's biggest-selling LP to date and their first two Top 40 hits.

Written and sung by Paul Cotton, "Heart of the Night" was a well-crafted pop song, with added touches of a pedal steel line and a sax solo. The lyrics paint a picture of a New Orleans night, with the moon reflected on Lake Pontchartrain, people still milling around and a nightbird singing. At the end, it's revealed that the scene is merely a dream, but the narrator doesn't want to be awakened from the sweet memories. It's a song that's very underrated by many.

(Here's an interesting tidbit I found out during my research but couldn't fit in the description: The Legend LP cover shown below was designed by future comedian/actor/Saturday Night Live cast member Phil Hartman.)

Carrie Lucas - "Dance With You"  Carrie Lucas - Carrie Lucas: Greatest Hits - Dance With You

(Debuted #86, Peaked #70, 7 Weeks on chart)

"Dance With You" was the second modest chart hit for Los Angeles-based singer Carrie Lucas. It was culled from her LP Carrie Lucas in Danceland, which featured help from fellow SOLAR Records labelmates Jody Watley, The Whispers and Lakeside. While that may sound like her record company was pulling out the stops for her, it should also be mentioned that her producer Dick Griffey was the owner of the company...and Lucas's boyfriend.

That said, "Dance With You" isn't a bad song. It's a standard disco song, quite enjoyable if you happen to like disco music.

Rick James - "Bustin' Out"  Rick James - Rick James: The Ultimate Collection - Bustin' Out

(Debuted #89, Peaked #71, 6 Weeks on chart)

There's a lot of tags that have been given to Rick James. Some are complimentary, while others aren't quite so kind. In a way, his career highs and lows matched the ones his well-documented drug abuse gave him. Despite that, Motown Records was losing its luster in the late 1970s. Many of their hitmakers had moved on to other record companies and the ones who remained (except for Stevie Wonder, who hadn't been releasing new material for a couple of years) weren't living up to their past glory. However, the Wild Man from Buffalo came in and helped make the company edgy again with his own brand of punk-funk.

"Bustin' Out" was an interesting song. An amalgamation of Sly Stone, Earth, Wind & Fire and P-Funk yet a style all his own, he shows his ease in performing different styles in a manner reminiscent of Sly, James Brown or George Clinton. Background ambient vocals makes it sound like the song was recorded at a block party, an appropriate setting for its "let's get out of the constraints of the ordinary" vibe. Of course, it really wouldn't be a Rick James song without some type of reefer reference and there are a few to be found throughout.

Anita Ward - "Ring My Bell" Anita Ward - Ring My Bell - Ring My Bell

(Debuted #90, Peaked #1, 21 Weeks on chart)

It's a good bet that more people remember this song than they do the singer. While the disco era is marked with dozens of songs by nameless and faceless studio acts, some singers had identities as well. Anita Ward is one of them. While "Ring My Bell" has been included on a bunch of disco compilations over the years, Ward hasn't enjoyed many more hits since riding her first hit single to #1.

Written by Frederick Knight (who had his own hit single "I've Been Lonely for So Long" in 1972), the song was originally a teenage ditty intended for Stacy Lattisaw. When that arrangement fell apart, Knight gave it to another singer he'd heard on a demo tape. Anita Ward was 21 years old and had to be persuaded to record it. The words were changed to be more sexually charged, and a pulsating disco beat was developed in the studio for it.

As a #1 song from the disco era, Anita Ward's only big hit is viewed through that prism. Some consider it a good example of a disco song, much more than mediocre but not exactly up to the standards of Donna Summer and Chic. Others can't stand the constant siren effect or else hold it up as an example of all that was wrong about the music. The ironic thing is that Anita Ward wasn't a disco singer and the looming disco backlash very well may have sunk her singing career.