Without You – Harry Nilsson – 1971

October 14, 2016

nilsson-without-you-1971As great as Harry Nilsson was at song writing, he didn’t write the two hits he’s best known for, Everybody’s Talkin’ and, this week’s song, Without You.

harry nilsson fax

  • Harry Edward Nilsson III is usually known simply as Nilsson.
  • Born in Brooklyn in 1941, he became one of the 70s great singer-songwriters.
  • nilsson-1Nilsson’s grandparents were circus performers.  His father left his home when he was very young and he had an upbringing characterised by poverty.  Because of the poor financial situation of his family, he started work as a young teen.  He worked initially at the Paramount Theatre in Los Angeles. When he theatre closed in 1960, he applied for a job at a bank, falsely claiming he was a high school graduate on his application (he only completed ninth grade).  He had an aptitude for computers, however.  Banks were just beginning to use computers and so good was he at his job that, even after uncovering his deception regarding being a high school graduate, the bank retained him.  He worked on bank computers at night, and in the daytime pursued his song writing and singing career.  By the mid-60s, he’d worked with Phil Spector and Little Richard, and had songs Glen Campbell, Fred Astaire, The Shangri-Las, The Yardbirds, and others.  Despite his growing success, Nilsson remained on the night shift at the bank.
  • nilsson-3Of interest is that Nilsson achieves his significant commercial success without ever performing major public concerts or undertaking regular tours.
  • Nilsson is best known for singles Everybody’s Talkin’ (1969), Without You (1971), and Coconut (1972).  Only the latter was actually written by Nilsson.  Nilsson also wrote Three Dog Night’s hit One (1968) and the Monkees’ hit, Cuddly Toy.
  • Nilsson released 16 albums, including four soundtracks.
  • Nilsson won two Grammy Awards; Best Contemporary Vocal Performance, Male in 1970 for Everybody’s Talkin’, from the movie Midnight Cowboy, and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male in 1973 for Without You.
  • In 2015, he was ranked at #62 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time.

nilsson trivia

  • In the 70s, Nilsson lived at Flat 12, 9 Curzon Street, Mayfair, London – an apartment he often lent to friends while he was away.  During one of his absences, Cass Elliot stayed at the flat while she was performing at the London Palladium.  It was in Nilsson’s apartment that Cass died on July 29, 1974.
  • Just over four years later, The Who‘s drummer Keith Moon was staying in the apartment when he died.
  • Both singers were aged 32.  Nilsson, distraught over another friend’s death in his apartment, sold it to Pete Townshend.

without you fax

  • nilsson-2Without You  was written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger and first released on their 1970 album No Dice.
  • Without You has been recorded by over 180 artists – two artists having hit records with it; Harry Nilsson (1971) and Mariah Carey (1994)
  • Paul McCartney once described Without You as as “the killer song of all time”.
  • In 1972, writers Ham and Evans received the British Academy’s Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.
  • Hilsson’s version spent five weeks at #1 in the UK.  Mariah Carey’s version was based on Nilsson’s version and topped the charts in the UK and peaked at #3 in the US.
  • Without You lyrics.

without you – nilsson – 1971

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Moviestar – Harpo – 1975

September 30, 2016

harpo-moviestar-1975Who remembers this one? Probably not many of us – but it was a hit back in 1975; Harpo’s groovy,  Moviestar.

harpo fax

  • Jan Harpo Torsten Svensson was born in Stockholm, Sweden and began his entertainment career as an actor in children’s theatre.
  • To kill time while touring, he began to write songs – to cut the long story short, in 1972, he signed a recording contract with Stig Anderson who assigned him to in-house record producers, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus aka ABBA.
  • harpo-1Benny and Björn were contracted to help Harpo with an album of his children’s songs in Swedish.  It all fell apart and Stig released Harpo from the contract.
  • Harpo almost immediately signed with EMI releasing two singles in 1973 which both became smash hits on the Swedish singles charts.
  • A number of other songs followed, one, Moviestar, achieved hit status throughout Europe and further afield.
  • In 1978, Harpo released the previously planned children’s album and an album of his favourite rock and roll songs; both in Swedish.
  • By 1980, he was ready for mainstream pop again.  Harpo signed to Mickie Most’s label, RAK and released one single, She Loves It Too.
  • Combining horse training with his musical career, Harpo had an accident in 1980. Starter, one of his horses, kicked Harpo in the face several times resulting in him losing the sense of smell and the sight in one eye. To show there were no hard feelings, Harpo dedicated his next album to his horse, Starter.
  • Harpo continued to record and produce music throughout the 80s and 90s.  Even as recently as 2005, he released an album of new material.
  • Harpo continues to tour today and remains popular in Germany.

moviestar fax

  • harpo-2Moviestar was written and performed by Swedish pop singer Harpo.
  • It was recorded on 27 February 1975, and features Anni-Frid Lyngstad (Frida) from ABBA on backing vocals.
  • Moviestar reached #1 on the Swedish charts and #24 on the UK charts.  It also topped the charts in Norway, Austria, Switzerland and Germany.
  • In July 1976, a Swedish language version of Moviestar was released.  It also reached #1.
  • The song has been covered by a number of little known bands and was used on the Swedish TV Channel TV4 the mid-90s for Nissan commercials.
  • Moviestar lyrics.

moviestar –harpo – 1975 – video

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I Want You To Want Me – Cheap Trick – 1977 & 1979

September 23, 2016

cheap-trick-i-want-you-to-want-me-1977Perhaps Cheap Trick’s best known song, I Want You To Want Me didn’t even tickle the charts first time around—then came the live version (1979), and a #7 hit in the US and #29 in the UK. 

cheap trick fax

  • Tom Petersson, Randy “Xeno” Hogan (replaced very early on by Robin Zander) and Bun E. Carlos formed Cheap Trick in Rockford, Illinois back in the 60s.  After going through several band names, the boys went to a Slade concert.  Tom noted that the band used “every cheap trick in the book” as part of their act.  That became the band’s new name – one which has been used since 1973 through to today.
  • Tcheap-trick-1he band’s first album, Cheap Trick, was released in early 1977.  Two more followed and, while acclaimed by fans, had little real success in the US with none of them making it to the Top 40.
  • In Japan it was a different story, however.  All three albums went gold and, when Cheap Trick toured there for the first time in April 1978, their reception was reminiscent of Beatlemania.  While in Japan, the band recorded two concerts and Cheap Trick at Budokan was born.  Initially intended for release in Japan only, it was released in the US in 1979 and launched the band into international stardom—the album went triple platinum in the US.
  • The biggest hit from the album was I Want You to Want Me.  It had previously been released on the album, In Color.
  • The band’s next studio album, Dream Police, was a hit, as was the title track.
  • By 1980, Cheap Trick was headlining arenas and engaged George Martin to produce their album All Shook Up – another gold record.
  • Band members recorded tracks for John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s album Double Fantasy – their cuts were never used on the original album with John favouring a lighter sound. They can be found on bootlegs and various anthologies, however.
  • After four decades, Cheap Trick continues to tour and can now lay claim to over 5,000 live performances.cheap-trick-2

i want you to want me fax

  • Written by Rick Nielsen, I Want You to Want Me first appeared on Cheap Tricks second album In Color.  Released in 1977, it was the first single from that album, and it did not chart in the United States.
  • I Want You to Want Me was, however a #1 single in Japan paving the way for Cheap Trick’s Budokan concerts and their subsequent international success.
  • The live version of I Want You to Want Me, released in 1979, became Cheap Trick’s biggest selling single, reaching #7 US charts. It was also the band’s highest charting UK single, peaking at #29.
  • Bass player Tom says:

My recollection is that Rick did that song as a bit of a joke, because at the time when we had done that song there was a lot of pop music on the radio—ABBA, and all sorts of things, disco, Rick thought, ‘I’m just going to do an over-the-top pop song. I just want to do one that’s so silly—total pop—and then we’ll do a heavy version of it.’ He didn’t know what was going to happen with it. The idea was to have it like a heavy metal pop song. Cheap Trick doing ABBA—except a very heavy version.

  • I Want You To Want Me has been covered by an eclectic mix of artists including: Dwight Yoakam, Lindsay Lohan, and Chris Isaak.

I Want You To Want Me lyrics.

i want you to want me – cheap trick – 1977 – video

i want you to want me – cheap trick – 1979 at the budokan – video

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Ebony Eyes – Bob Welch – 1978

September 14, 2016

bob-welch-ebony-eyes-1978From Fleetwood Mac to solo performer – Bob Welch’s highest charting solo hit came in 1978 with Ebony Eyes.

bob welch fax

  • Born in Los Angeles, Bob Welch was the son of Robert L. Welch, who worked as a producer for at Paramount Pictures.  He produced films starring, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, and TV programmes such as Bonanza.  Bob’s mother, Templeton Fox, was a singer and actress who worked with Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre in Chicago and appeared in numerous television programmes and movies.
  • bob-welch-3In 1964, Bob joined the band, The Seven Souls, as a guitarist.  That year they lost a battle of the bands competition and a contract with Epic Records… the winners? Sly and the Family Stone.
  • When the band broke up, Bob played with a variety of bands but with little success until 1971.  That was the year he was invited to join blues band Fleetwood Mac.  With fellow newcomer Christine McVie, Bob helped steer the band towards the more melodic sound we know them for today.
  • What followed were a number of Fleetwood Mac albums and continuing friction within the band which saw onstage bickering, offstage frustration and lawsuits.
  • By 1974, Bob was Fleetwood Mac’s one and only guitarist.  The Heroes Are Hard album was released and, for the first time, the band cracked the US top 40 (#34 on the albums chart).
  • It was also Bob’s last year with the band; he resigned from Fleetwood Mac in December 1974 and was replaced by Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.
  • Of the Fleetwood Mac albums on which Welch appeared, American album sales totalled 500,000 units shipped between 1971 and 2000 for Future Games; 1 million units of Bare Trees between 1972 and 1988; and 500,000 units of Mystery to Me between 1973 and 1976, when it was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America – these figures were important in later years when Bob sued the band for withholding royalties.
  • Meanwhile, the band’s new incarnation achieved superstar status with the albums Fleetwood Mac (1975) and Rumours (1977), which shipped 5 million and 19 million units in the US alone, both reaching #1 in the US.
  • Bitterness returned to the band when Fleetwood Mac was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, original band members Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer, Danny Kirwan, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie were named to the Hall, as were Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.  Bob, however, despite anchoring the band for several years and five albums, was not.  Bob was quoted as saying,

My era was the bridge era.  It was a transition. But it was an important period in the history of the band. Mick Fleetwood dedicated a whole chapter of his biography to my era of the band and credited me with ‘saving Fleetwood Mac.’ Now they want to write me out of the history of the group. It hurts.

  • In 1975, Welch formed the short-lived trio Paris; other members were ex-Jethro Tull bassist Glenn Cornick and former Nazz drummer Thom Mooney.
  • Bob WelchThen, in September 1977, Bob released his first solo album, French Kiss, featuring contributions from Mick Fleetwood, Lindsay Buckingham and Christine McVie.  It peaked #12 on US album chart in 1978 and yielded three hit singles: a revamped version of Sentimental Lady produced by Buckingham and McVie (#8), the Ebony Eyes (#14; featuring Juice Newton on backing vocals) and Hot Love, Cold World (#31).
  • Three Hearts, Bob’s 1979 follow-up album, peaked at #20.  Other solo albums followed, as did a close relationship with Guns N’ Roses.  Slash and the boys rehearsed in his garage and introduced him to a short lived cocaine and heroin addiction.  
  • Bob continued to release albums through the 90s and even in the 2000’s; his last being in 2011
  • On June 7, 2012, at the age of 66, Welch committed suicide in his Nashville home.  His wife explained that Bob had undergone spinal surgery three months earlier.  Doctors told him that he would not fully recover. He was in serious pain and he did not want his wife to have to care for an invalid.

ebony eyes fax

  • Ebony Eyes was written and recorded by Bob Welch.
  • Ebony Eyes was the second single release from Bob’s album French Kiss and featured BVs by Juice Newton.
  • Ebony Eyes peaked at #12 on the US singles chart. 
  • The song should not be confused with the Everly Brothers hit of the same name
  • Ebony Eyes lyrics.

ebony eyes – bob welch – 1978

ebony eyes – bob welch & stevie nicks – 1981

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September – Earth, Wind & Fire – 1978

August 31, 2016

EWF September 1978Originally The Salty Peppers, Maurice White’s band, Earth, Wind & Fire went on to huge success which included the 1978 hit, September

 earth, wind & fire fax

  • Rolling Stone Magazine declared Earth, Wind & Fire to have “changed the sound of black pop”.
  • Founded in Chicago in 1971 by Maurice White, Earth, Wind & Fire grew out of a previous band with the very uncool name of The Salty Peppers.
  • EWF 1aOther band members included Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Ralph Johnson, Larry Dunn, Al McKay and Andrew Woolfolk.
  • Earth, Wind & Fire has received 20 Grammy nominations, winning six awards.  Maurice and Philip have won Grammys as individuals.  The band has also been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
  • With over 100 million records sold, the band is one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time.
  • But it doesn’t stop there, incredibly, five band members, Maurice White, Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Larry Dunn and Al McKay, have been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
  • Throughout the ‘70s and early ‘80s, Earth, Wind & Fire had a number of funk/disco hits, including: Shining Star, Devotion, Can’t Hide Love, September, Boogie Wonderland, and After the Love Has Gone.  Despite a plethora of hits, the band hit the #1 spot on the US singles charts only once – with Shining Star in 1974.  September was their highest charting UK hit (#3).
  • Earth, Wind & Fire have influence many artists with three in particular, Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, and Dionne Warwick, heaping praise on the band.
  • Maurice passed away in February 2016 but the band continues to perform with Philip Bailey still leading the vocals (which he previously shared with Maurice).EWF 2

earth, wind & fire trivia

  • Earth, Wind & Fire was the first African-American act to sell out Madison Square Garden.
  • President Barack Obama invited Earth, Wind & Fire to perform at the White House for the first social event of his administration.

september fax

  • SEWF 1eptember was released as a single by Earth, Wind & Fire on November 18, 1978. 
  • It was written by Earth, Wind & Fire members, Maurice White, Al McKay, and Allee Willis.
  • It was recorded during the I Am sessions and featured on the band’s The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1.
  • September reached #1 on the US R&B chart, #8 on the US singles chart, and #3 on the UK singles chart.
  • The song was also later released as December.  Chord changes andmelody remained identical, with the lyrics re-written for the “…Twenty-fifth of December…”
  • September has been covered and sampled by numerous artists and appeared in dozens of movies and television programmes.
  • September lyrics.

september – earth, wind & fire – 1978 – video

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Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad – Meat Loaf – 1977

August 20, 2016

Meat Loaf Two out of Three Ain't Bad coverGreat singer – great song – Meat Loaf’s 1977 hit, Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.

 meat loaf fax

  • With over 80 million records sold, Michael Lee Aday is one of the highest selling music artists of all time.
  • Born in Dallas, Texas, Michael is better known as Meat Loaf.  Meat Loaf’s music career began in Los Angeles with his band, Meat Loaf Soul, named after his mother’s favourite dinner.  Their first gig was in Huntington Beach opening for Van Morrison’s band, Them.
  • Meat Loaf 2By the 1970s, Meat Loaf had gone solo although his first album was on a Motown subsidiary label as a duet with Shaun “Stoney” Murphy.  The album’s production team wrote and selected the songs while Meat Loaf and Stoney were invited to lay down their vocals, nothing more.  The album, titled Stoney & Meatloaf (Meatloaf being shown as one word), was released in 1971 and left the charts untouched.
  • Then came the trilogy of Bat Out of Hell albums.  Bat Out of Hell, Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell, and Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose.  The first sold more than 43 million copies worldwide and continues, 40 years after its release, to sell around 200,000 copies each year.  It stayed on the charts for a phenomenal nine years.
  • Meat Loaf won the 1993 Grammy Award for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance for the song I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).  That song being his only #1 single, hitting the top of the charts in over ten countries around the world, including USA and UK.
  • Alongside his singing career, Meat Loaf has appeared in over 50 movies and television shows.
  • Meat Loaf 3It was in the early 1970s while touring with the musical Hair that Meat Loaf auditioned for a musical named, More Than You Deserve, that he met his future collaborator Jim Steinman.  Jim wrote most the material for the Bat Out of Hell trilogy.  He also wrote or co-wrote hit songs for: Bonnie Tyler (Total Eclipse of the Heart), Air Supply (Making Love Out of Nothing at All), and Boyzone, No Matter What.  Meat Loaf and Jim subsequently fell out and ceased working together.
  • Meat Loaf continues to perform – with varying reviews – today, although it is amazing that he’s lasted this long.  It’s said that he’s cheated death on numerous occasions, including: a serious car crash, being struck on the head with a shot during a shot put event, jumping off a stage during a concert and breaking both of his legs, and being afflicted with Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome, a heart condition.  In October 2006, his private jet had to make an emergency landing at Stansted Airport, London, after the plane’s landing gear failed.  In 2011, he fainted on stage in Pittsburgh; in June 2014, he collapsed while on stage in Edmonton – his vocal double track continuing while he lay unconscious on the stage.

Meat Loaf 1two out of three ain’t bad fax

  • Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad was written by Jim Steinman and recorded by Meat Loaf for his 1977 Bat Out of Hell album.
  • The song peaked at #11 on the US singles chart and 32 on the UK singles chart.  It earned a million-selling Gold single.
  • Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad was the final song written for Bat Out of Hell.  In 2003, Jim said of the song:

“I remember Mimi Kennedy [a cast member of Jim’s then-current musical Rhinegold] telling me, “Steiny, your stuff is so complicated. Can’t you write something simple?”  And while she was saying that the oldies station was on the radio and it was playing that old Elvis song, ‘I Want You, I Need,’ whatever it was. ‘I Want You, I Need You, I Love You’, you know. I just started singing my own song but it was ‘I Want You, I Need You, I Love You.’ She said, “Why don’t you write something simple like that, ‘I want you, I need you, I love you’?” I said, “Well I’ll try.” I don’t try to make them complicated. I remember going home and I tried so hard but the best I could do was: I want you, I need you but there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you, don’t be sad, ’cause two out of three ain’t bad. So it was still a twist but it was my closest to a simple song, and one Elvis could have done.”

  • Two versions of the song exist; one timed at around 5:27 and one at around 3:50.
  • Todd Rundgren produced the Bat Out Of Hell album. On this song, he used the other three members of his band Utopia: Kasim Sulton on bass, Willie Wilcox on drums, and Roger Powell on synthesizer. Todd played guitar and sang BVs on this one.
  • Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad lyrics.

two out of three ain’t bad – meat loaf – 1977 – video

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Take Me to the River – Talking Heads – 1978

August 11, 2016

Talking Heads Take Me to The RiverFor all their brilliance, Talking Heads only once cracked the top ten singles charts in the US and the UK.  The former, in 1983 with Burning Down the House, the latter in 1985 with Road to Nowhere.  Take Me to the River was their second top 100 US hit, a follow-up to 1977’s Psycho Killer. 

talking heads fax

  • Formed in New York in 1977, Talking Heads were pioneers of the New Wave music scene.
  • Talking Heads In Concert

    HOLLYWOOD, CA – CIRCA 1980s: (From L to R) Jerry Harrison, David Byrne, Chris Frantz, and Tina Weymouth of the Talking Heads perform at a concert circa the early-1980s in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

    The band was made up of Chris Frantz (drums), Tina Weymouth (bass), Jerry Harrison (keyboards, guitar), and, of course, the amazing David Byrne (lead vocals, guitar).

  • The band produced eight studio albums, two live albums, nine compilation albums, one remix album, one video album, thirty-one singles and fifteen music videos.
  • Four of the band’s albums appeared on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and three of their songs (“Psycho Killer”, “Life During Wartime”, and “Once in a Lifetime”) were included among The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll – that’s pretty good going!
  • Talking Heads officially disbanded in 1991, before Tina, Chris, and Jerry reunited in 1996 for a one-off album called No Talking, Just Head under the name The Heads in 1996.  Without David as vocalist, the band commandeered the vocal talents of a number of artists including, Debbie Harry, Gordon Gano (Violent Femmes), Michael Hutchence, and Maria McKee.
  • Talking Heads 3These days, David continues his solo career, Jerry is a record producer with work by bands such as the Violent Femmes’, the Fine Young Cannibals, General Public, Crash Test Dummies, and No Doubt to his credit.  Chris and Tina married in 1977 and have been recording as Tom Tom Club since 1981.
  • In 2002, Talking Heads was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  At the ceremony they played, Life During Wartime, Psycho Killer and Burning Down the House.

take me to the river fax

  • For all the great songs written by Talking Heads, Take Me to the River is not one of them.  Take Me to the River was written in 1974 by Al Green and his guitarist Mabon  Hodges.
  • At least three well-known versions exist; Al Green, Syl Johnson and Talking Heads all had hits with the song.  Al Green’s version was, in 2004, ranked #117 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
  • Talking Heads’ version peaked at #28 on the US charts.
  • In 2000, the tune was used in the popular animatronic singing toy Big Mouth Billy Bass. According to Mabon Hodges, he made more money in royalties from that toy than from any previous versions.
  • Take Me to the River lyrics.

take me to the river – talking heads – 1974 – video

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