Le Freak – Chic – 1978

June 18, 2018

chic-le_freak_1978Still touring, still featuring the incredible Nile Rodgers, still Le Freak remains their greatest hit – American band, Chic had a massive hit in 1978 with Le Freak.

chic fax

  • Chic was formed in 1976 by guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards. One of their original names was, the Big Apple Band. This was dropped in favour of Chic when Walter Murphy released the single and album A Fifth of Beethoven under the name Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band.
  • Chic went on to produce a number of success disco hits, including: Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah) (1977), Everybody Dance (1977), Le Freak (1978), I Want Your Love (1978), and Good Times (1979).
  • The band has been cited as having influenced many successful bands, including a number from the UK. John Taylor, bassist from Duran Duran, claims the bass part of their top 10 single Rio was influenced by his work with Chic.  Johnny Marr of The Smiths cited Chic as a formative influence. Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust was inspired by the bass guitar riff on Good Times.
  • Chic have been nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame eleven times – the most nominated act not to receive induction. In 2017, Nile Rodgers was inducted for Musical Excellence.
  • The band still tours under the name, Nile Rodgers and Chic.

le freak fax

  • Written by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, Le Freak was the third single by American R&B band, Chic. It was the first of three singles from their second album, C’est Chic.
  • Released in September 1978, Le Freak was the band’s first #1 US single; it peaked at #7 in the UK. The following year, Chic had a second #1 US single with Good Times.
  • Many of Chic’s songs had deeper meanings. Le Freak commemorates the nightclub Studio 54 for its notoriously long customer waiting lines, exclusive clientele, and discourteous doormen. On New Year’s Eve 1977, Nile and Bernard were refused entrance to the club, where they had been invited by Grace Jones. The original lyrics refrain were “F*** off!” later tempered to “Freak out!”
  • Le Freak” was the first song to score the #1 position on Billboard’s Hot 100 three separate times. Around five songs have since achieved this.
  • In 2018, Le Freak was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the US Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or artistically significant.”
  • Le Freak lyrics.

le freak – chic – 1978 – video


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Wand’rin’ Star – Lee Marvin – 1970

June 5, 2018

Wand'ring Star Lee Marvin 1970Sometimes the most unlikely people wind up with a #1 hit – take actor Lee Marvin for instance, and his 1970 song, Wand’rin’ Star.

lee marvin fax

  • Lee Marvin was an American film and television actor, best known for his deep voice which made him perfect for playing the roles of cowboys, villains, police detectives, and soldiers.
  • Lee’s acting awards included, an Academy Award for Best Actor, a BAFTA Award, and a Golden Globe Award.
  • Lee served as a US marine during WWII. After the war, he found work as a plumber’s assistant at a local community theatre in New York.  One night, he was asked to replace an actor who had fallen ill during rehearsals. Lee fell in love with acting and the rest is, as they say, history.
  • But, we’re interested in his song… Lee gained a the role in the 1969 movie, The Wild Bunch but fell out with the movie’s director, Sam Peckinpah.  He pulled out of the movie and took a role alongside Clint Eastwood in the Western musical Paint Your Wagon.
  • No one would claim Lee was a great singer but, despite that, he had a hit song with “Wand’rin’ Star”.
  • This was back in 1970, and he was getting paid a million dollars per film—a phenomenal amount at the time.
  • Lee featured in around 65 movies and several television programmes and series.
  • Lee died of a heart attack on August 29, 1987.

wand’ring star fax

  • Wand’rin’ Star was written by Alan J. Lerner (lyrics) and Frederick Loewe (music) for the stage musical Paint Your Wagon in 1951.
  • In 1969, a movie version was released starring Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood. Lee took the role of prospector Ben Rumson who had a number of songs in the film, including Wand’rin Star.
  • It was initially suggested that Lee mime to the voices of other singers but, despite his limited singing ability, he refused.
  • Wand’ring Star hit #1 in the UK and Ireland keeping The Beatles’ Let it Be at #2 in the UK. It was Lee’s only single. It didn’t feature on the US charts.
  • The B-Side to Lee’s version featured I Talk to the Trees—also from Paint Your Wagon—by Clint Eastwood.
  • In 1990, Wand’rin’ Star was covered by English comedian Julian Clary. It was also covered by Shane MacGowan and The Popes on their 1997 album, The Crock of Gold.
  • Wand’ring Star lyrics.

wand’ring star – lee marvin – 1970

i talk to the trees – clint eastwood – 1970

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Magnet and Steel – Walter Egan – 1978

May 30, 2018

Magnet_and_SteelHere’s one you forgot about – Walter Egan’s rather easy-going 1978 gold record hit, Magnet and Steel.

walter egan fax

  • Despite releasing around a dozen singles, American muso, Walter Egan, can probably be considered a one hit wonder.
  • Walter graduated from uni with a degree in Fine Arts, majoring in sculpture.
  • Barely out of his teens, Walter began writing songs and played guitar in a college band known as Sageworth and Drums. The band broke up in 1971, Walter moved to LA and began his career as a solo artist.
  • In LA, Walter met members of Fleetwood Mac – Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks produced his first album, Fundamental Roll, and songs on his second album, Not Shy.
  • Walter’s highest charting song was Magnet and Steel (#8 on the US charts). He also wrote Hearts on Fire, which was covered by Gram Parsons on his album Grievous Angel, and Hot Summer Nights, which was the first hit for the band Night, which included such session musicians as Nicky Hopkins and Robbie McIntosh.
  • Walter is credited as a co-writer of the Eminem hit We Made You because Dr. Dre, who produced the song, believed he was inspired by the bass line from Hot Summer Nights.
  • Walter remains involved in the music industry and, as recently as 2011 produced an album titled Raw Elegant.
  • Walter is also known for appearances on US game shows. In 1985, he was a four-time champion on Catchphrase. In 1986, he appeared as a contestant on the television game show Scrabble. During his introduction on the latter show, Walter was introduced as a singer and songwriter. When the show’s host asked Walter to sing something he’d written, he sang the main chorus of Magnet and Steel.
  • Walter is apparently currently employed as a substitute teacher in Williamson County, Tennessee, near Franklin.

magnet and steel fax

  • Magnet and Steel was written by Walter Egan. Released in May 1978, it was the first single from Walter’s, second solo album, Not Shy.
  • Magnet and Steel peaked at #8 on the US singles chart.
  • Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham sang background vocals and co-produced the song. The third producer was Richard Dashut who produced a number of Fleetwood Mac albums, including: Rumours, Tusk and Mirage.
  • Stevie Nicks is said to be Walter’s inspiration for the song.
  • Magnet and Steel features in at least three movies: Boogie Nights (1997), Overnight Delivery (1998) and Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (1999).
  • Magnet and Steel lyrics.

magnet and steel – walter egan – 1978 – video

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Cars – Gary Numan – 1979

May 16, 2018

Cars GAry Numan 1979Considered an epitome of the 70’s – 80’s new wave genre – Gary Numan’s 1979 #1 hit, Cars.

gary numan fax

  • Born in West London, England, Gary Anthony James Webb was 15 years old when his father bought him a Gibson Les Paul – which he still regards as his most treasured possession.
  • Gary played in various bands, before forming Tubeway Army with his uncle.
  • Gary’s first pseudonym was Valerian – it’s assumed it was a reference to the hero in French science fiction comic series Valérian and Laureline. His choice of adoptive surname is a little less artistic; he choose the surname Numan after seeing a Yellow Pages ad for a plumber whose surname was Neumann.
  • Tubeway Army produced a couple of albums and three or four singles; none of which charted until the single Are ‘Friends’ Electric? Released in May 1979, it took seven weeks to reach #1 on the UK charts.
  • It was only a few months later that Gary released Cars, using his name rather than the band’s.
  • Cars was from the album, The Pleasure Principle, which reached #1 in the UK. A feature of the album was that no guitars were used – instead synthesisers fed through guitar effects pedals to achieve a similar tone.
  • Gary has released 24 albums, the last released in 2017 – Savage (Songs from a Broken World). It peaked at #2 in the UK.
  • Gary is still involved in making music and now lives in California.

cars fax

  • Cars was written by Gary Numan – his debut single as a solo album.
  • Cars was the first single from Gary’s debut solo album, The Pleasure Principle.
  • Released on 21 August 1979, Cars hit the #1 spot in the UK and peaked at #9 on the US singles charts (his only song to make the US top 100, though he had other hits in the UK).
  • In 1999, US heavy metal band, Fear Factory, began to perform Cars as an encore at their concerts. Gary eventually provided the vocals for Fear Factory’s recorded version of the song.  This version peaked at #57 on the UK charts and #16 on the US Rock chart.
  • Other artists to cover the song include: Frank Zappa, using his own lyrics (1980), Nine Inch Nails (2009), and Daft Punk (2011).
  • Cars lyrics.

cars – gary numan – 1979 – video

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Ol’ ‘55 – Tom Waits – 1973

May 6, 2018

Tom Waits Closing Time 1973Ol’ ‘55 – Tom Waits – 1973

A wonderful song from one of the great poets/singers – Tom Waits’ 1973 song, Ol’ ’55.  If you haven’t heard this song before – you are in for a treat!!

tom waits fax

  • Tom Waits has one of those distinctive voices – once described as, “sounding as if it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car” – and is almost as well-known for his persona as he is his music. (Tom’s persona is perhaps best observed when we compare the live and studio versions of Ol’ ’55).
  • Aged 12 years and living in San Diego, Tom was inspired by Bob Dylan and the Beat Generation. Four years later, he began singing in local folk clubs before moving to LA.
  • In LA, Tom worked as a songwriter before gaining a recording contract of his own. The result was the fabulous album, Closing Time (1973).
  • Since then, he has released a further 15 studio albums and has worked as a composer for movies and musicals. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his soundtrack work on One from the Heart.
  • He has also appeared in 39 movies to date with a couple more due for release later this year.
  • An incredible 19 Tom Waits tribute albums have been released around the world!
  • Although his albums have experienced mixed commercial success in the US, Tom is cited as an inspiration by many well-known artists. His albums have also gone gold in a number of nations around the globe.  Some of this songs are best known for the cover versions produced by more commercial artists, e.g. Jersey Girl by Bruce Springsteen, Ol’ ’55 by The Eagles, and Downtown Train by Rod Stewart.
  • Tom was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. He is included in the 2010 list of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers, and the 2015 list of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time.

ol’ ’55 fax

  • Written by Tom Waits, Ol’ ’55 is the opening track and lead single from Tom’s debut studio album, Closing Time.
  • Recorded in early 1972, Ol’ ’55 was released in March 1973 on Asylum Records.
  • Ol’ ’55 has been covered by numerous artists including: Eagles (1974 on the On The Border album and B-side of Best of My Love), Fairport Convention singer Iain Matthews (1974), Richie Havens (1980) and Sarah McLachlan (1994).
  • In a 1975 interview Tom criticised Eagles’ cover version of his song, admitting that he was “not that particularly crazy about (their) rendition of it … I thought their version was a little antiseptic.” Tom has since admitted he had a chip on his shoulder, and he is prouder now of that version.
  • Ol’ ’55 lyrics.

ol’ ’55 – tom waits – 1973 – video – LIVE

ol’ ’55 – tom waits – 1973 – video – STUDIO VERSION

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Kung Fu Fighting – Carl Douglas – 1974

April 26, 2018

Kung Fu FightingRiding on the crest of the kung fu movie craze of the early-mid 70’s, Carl Douglas scored a massive 1974 hit with Kung Fu Fighting.

carl douglas fax

  • Carl Douglas was born in Jamaica in 1942 and began his music career in 1961.
  • Carl grew up in both Jamaica and California before moving to the UK to study sound engineering.
  • His first foray into performing came in 1964 when he formed the band Big Stampede. They released two singles with no chart impact.
  • By the early 1970s, Carl was a session musician with Pye Records.
  • In 1974, Indian-born music producer Biddu asked Carl to provide the vocals for a song, I Want to Give You My Everything. Biddu then gave Carl some music for lyrics Carl had written about Kung Fu.  It was a smash hit.  So much so that, Carl’s entire music career has been overshadowed by his 1974 hit, Kung Fu Fighting.
  • Carl was the first Jamaican to score a #1 hit in the USA.
  • The follow-up to Kung Fu Fighting—Dance the Kung Fu—bombed in the USA, but made it to #20 in the UK. Despite other minor successes, Carl is considered a one-hit wonder.
  • Carl now lives in Hamburg, Germany and owns a production company that supplies music for films and advertisements.

kung fu fighting fax

  • The writing of Kung Fu Fighting is credited to Carl Douglas, who, it is said, recorded it in ten minutes.
  • It was released as a single in 1974 and rode the crest of the martial arts movie craze of that time.
  • Kung Fu Fighting hit #1 on the singles charts in the UK, US, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, and New Zealand. It made the top ten in a number of other countries.
  • The song eventually sold eleven million records worldwide and is one of the best-selling singles of all time.
  • Kung Fu Fighting was rated number 100 in VH1’s 100 Greatest one-hit wonders, and number 1 in the UK Channel 4’s Top 10 One Hit Wonders list in 2000.
  • In 1998, British dance act, Bus Stop released a Kung Fu Fighting remix which sampled the original vocals by Carl Douglas and included added rap verses. It peaked at #8 on the UK singles chart.
  • In 2008, American artist, CeeLo Green covered Kung-Fu Fighting. His version appeared on the soundtrack for the movie, Kung Fu Panda.
  • Kung Fu Fighting lyrics.

kung fu fighting – carl douglas – 1974 – video

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Blitzkrieg Bop – The Ramones – 1976

April 8, 2018

Blitzkrieg Bop The Ramones 1976Debut single from Johnny, Dee Dee, Joey and Tommy (not forgetting Marky, Richie, Elvis and C.J.), 1976’s Blitzkrieg Bop.

ramones fax

  • The Ramones formed in New York in 1974.
  • Original members of the band were Jeff Hyman (Joey), John Cummings (Johnny), Douglas Colvin (Dee Dee), and Thomas Erdelyi (Tommy). The guys all adopted the surname “Ramone” although none of them were related.  Dee Dee was the first to adopt the name having been inspired by Paul McCartney’s use of the pseudonym Paul Ramon during his Silver Beetles days.  Dee Dee then convinced the other members to take on the name and came up with the idea of calling the band the Ramones.
  • Like many bands of their genre, the Ramones had little commercial success but are remembered as one of the formative punk bands.
  • In 22 years of playing together—the band split in 1996—The Ramones performed 2,263 concerts, touring virtually nonstop for the life of the band.
  • Over the years, critics have become more convinced of the band’s influence on punk music and rock music in general. Rolling Stone magazine place The Ramones at #26 in their 100 Greatest Artists of all Time list.
  • In 2002, the original four band members, and Marky who replaced Tommy as drummer in 1978, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2011, the group was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • By 2008, all four of the band’s original members had died; lead singer Joey Ramone (1951–2001), bass guitarist Dee Dee Ramone (1951–2002), guitarist Johnny Ramone (1948–2004) and drummer Tommy Ramone (1949–2014).

blitzkrieg bop fax

  • Blitzkrieg Bop was written by Tommy and Dee Dee Ramone and was the debut single for The Ramones.
  • Recorded in January 1976 and released a month later, the song appeared on the album, Ramones.
  • Blitzkrieg Bop failed to make it onto any singles chart throughout the world. Only six Ramones songs ever dented the singles charts anywhere.  The highest ranking being Baby, I Love You, which hit #8 in the UK in 1980.
  • On the Rolling Stone magazine list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, Blitzkrieg Bop sits at #92. In 2009, VH1 named the song at #25 on its list of the greatest hard rock songs of all time.
  • Blitzkrieg Bop appears in a number of movies including: National Lampoon’s Vacation, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, and Spider-Man: Homecoming. In the UK, it is regularly played before home games at St. James’ Park, home of Newcastle United F.C.
  • The song continues to remain popular at sporting events where “Hey! Ho! Let’s go!” is sometimes shouted as a rallying cry.
  • Blitzkrieg Bop lyrics.

blitzkrieg bop – the ramones – 1976 – video

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