You’re No Good – Linda Ronstadt – 1975.

September 29, 2011

Linda Rondstadt charted over twenty times with remakes of old rock ‘n’ roll classics.  You’re No Good from her 1974 album Heart Like a Wheel was her most successful.

smitten

Now, let’s be honest, most teenage girls have a singer or actor they adore.  A star about whom the mere mention of their name is guaranteed to cause ashortening of breath and the fanning of the face with open hands.  Back in the 70s it was likely to be David Cassidy or one of the Bay City Rollers.

Well, let’s be honest again. Guys are just the same, they just don’t tell everyone about it but most will have some star who causes a deep sighing or a shortness of breath. And I have to admit, if there was one artist I was smitten on back in the 70s it was Linda Ronstadt. And I’m admitting that the photo of her in shorts and roller skates on the cover of her 1978 Living in the USA album did nothing to quench the desire.

There can be no denying – Linda is a mighty fine looking woman – and she can sing!

different drum and the stone poneys

Linda’s first hit was with her band The Stone Poneys in the late 60s. Different Drum, written by, and sounding very, Michael Nesmith, the song remains one of my favourite all time songs. In fact, I’d have blogged about it here were it not that it was released a decade too soon.

solo linda

Linda is one of those artists many younger music fans may have heard of while not realising how phenomenally successful she was. Her awards include ten Grammy’s, two Academy of Country Music awards, an Emmy, and numerous nominations for all manner of awards.

Linda has released over 30 solo albums and more than 15 compilations or greatest hits albums. She’s had over 38 singles on the Billboard Top 100 chart. Of those, 21 reached the Top 40, ten reached the Top 10, three peaked at #2 and one went all the way to #1 – that was You’re No Good.

Another piece of Linda-trivia – she has appeared as a background vocalist on over 120 albums.  She was the highest earning female contemporary singer of the 70s decade.

post-singer linda

These days Linda is known for her political and environmental activism. And, more trivia, she was once engaged to George Lucas, the Star Wars man.

you’re no good fax

  • You’re No Good was written by Clint Ballard Jnr, a songwriter who wrote a number of hits including, I’m Alive for The Hollies and Game of Love, originally a hit for Wayne Fontana.
  • You’re No Good was first a hit for Betty Everett in 1963. Linda hit #1 with it in 1975. The original version, however, was released in 1963 by singer Dee Dee Warwick.
  • In 1964, You’re No Good was a #3 hit in the UK for The Swinging Blue Jeans.
  • Linda’s friend Maria Muldar who had a huge hit with Midnight at the Oasis, turned down the opportunity to record this song because, in her words, “I’ve turned down songs that have gone on to be hits for other people because I thought the lyrics were negative or neurotic”
  • You’re No Good was taken from Linda’s album Heart Like a Wheel which went double platinum in the USA and included two other hits, It Doesn’t Matter Anymore and When Will I Be Loved. (double platinum means over two million units sold – quite a feat in 1975).
  • Andrew Gold, who had a hit of his own entitled, Thank You For Being My Friend, provided virtually all the track’s instrument backing.
  • You’re No Good has been covered by a number of artists including, Elvis Costello, Jose Feliciano, Lulu, Reba McEntire, Ike and Tina Turner, Van Halen and Michael Bolton (under his real name – Michael Bolotin).
  • You’re No Good was featured as background music on Miami Vice – now, that’s when you know you’ve made it!
  • You’re No Good lyrics.

be honest now…

Who did you have a crush on when you were a teen…?  Hit the comment button and tell the world!

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This Old Heart of Mine – Rod Stewart – 1976

September 22, 2011

Rod Stewart This old heart of mineThis Old Heart of Mine is a hit-track from Rod Stewart’s 1975 new-direction album Atlantic Crossing.

not really a fan

I’m not a great fan of Rockin’ Rod. I neither want his body and nor do I think he’s sexy.

He started so well with the Small Faces and with the superb Maggie May (1971). But after that it’s been a little hit and miss and, in recent years, more miss than hit. However, I have to admit this – Rod Stewart is one of the best live acts I’ve ever seen.

i saw rod once

I can’t tell you what year it was. It must have been about 1978 because I know the album Do Ya Think I’m Sexy had just been released. I could say I got talked into going but that’s probably not true. I love live music and so would have willingly gone.

The thing I remember most about the concert is that Rod Stewart absolutely owned the stage – and it was an impressive set-up.

The stage was entirely white. Everything – amps, mic stands, backdrops, everything sparkling white. And before Rod came on a group of roadies came out with floor polish and mops and polished the floor until it was almost like a mirror surface, obviously so that Rod could cavort and slide across it at will.

And, say what you like about Rockin’ Rod, he knows how to cavort and work his stage!

tAtlantic Crossing Rod Stewarthere was one album i thought was just wonderful…

Atlantic Crossing was released in 1975 – one of a phenomenal TEN albums that Rod has had reach #1 on the album charts in the US and/or UK.

Most albums have an A-side and a B-side (well, they did in those days), but this one had Fast Side and Slow Side. And one was as good as the other. Apparently it was Rod’s then girlfriend, Britt Ekland, who suggested this concept. It was a format Rod repeated on his next two albums – A Night on the Town and Footloose and Fancy Free.  (maybe he changed the concept about the time he changed girlfriends!).

Atlantic Crossing was re-released on June 30th 2009 as a two-disc version with bonus tracks.

this old heart of mine fax

  • The full title of This Old Heart of Mine is, This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)
  • This Old Heart of Mine was written by the Motown team of Holland-Dozier-Holland with Sylvia Moy.
  • This Old Heart of Mine was originally a hit for The Isley Brothers – in 1966, it reached #12 on the US singles charts and #6 on the US R and B charts. Rod released his single version in 1976.
  • This Old Heart of Mine was originally intended for The Supremes – they recorded it later on their album, Supremes A’ Go-Go. The song’s bridge is almost identical to that of an earlier Supremes hit, Back in My Arms Again.
  • In 1989, This Old Heart of Mine was re-released as a duet with Rod and Ronald Isley, from the Isley Brothers. It reached #10 on the US singles chart and spent five weeks at #1 on the adult contemporary chart.
  • This Old Heart of Mine has also been recorded by Tammi Terrell, in 1969 and the Dutch girl group Luv’ in 1992.
  • In 1976 Lamont Dozier, the song’s lyricist, explained how he came up with the words to This Old Heart of Mine and other love songs he’s written,

“I’ve often broken up with a girlfriend for a week just to be able to get that real feeling of hurt so that I can write what I write from experience! I should add that I always make sure we patch up again after the week’s over. But I’m constantly working at the piano – that’s my source of release, like a tranquilizer for me.”

  • Curtis Mayfield wrote a song called Can’t Satisfy that was a 1966 hit for The Impressions. Motown sued Mayfield claiming the melody was very similar to This Old Heart of Mine. Mayfield ended up sharing songwriting credit for his song with Holland/Dozier/Holland/Moy.
  • This Old Heart of Mine lyrics.

Dream Weaver – Gary Wright – 1976

September 15, 2011

Gary Knight - Dream WeaverGary Wright’s Dream Weaver from 1976 is a duet of sorts, Jim Keltner on drums and Gary on keyboards and vocals – and that’s it.

gary wright

Born and raised in New Jersey, Gary Wright went to Europe as a young man to further his study in psychology before winding up in the UK. Gary’s one of those artists who, in response to his name, you often hear, “Who?” And yet he is, in the music scene, widely known and respected.

In the late 60s Gary was the singer and keyboardist with Spooky Tooth – a band that has been through several reincarnations over the years but still exists today (They last toured in late 2009).

Spooky Tooth played in an era when keyboards were as in vogue in music as guitars are today and many bands boasted two keyboardists– usually one on piano-based keys, the other on organ based keys. e.g. The Band, Procol Harum, Mott the Hoople, and Janis Joplin’s backing band, Full Tilt Boogie Band.

Gary was a friend of George Harrison and collaborated with him often. He’s also played with Rick Derringer, Edgar Winter, Ringo Starr, Joe Walsh, and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter.

dreams

Dreams are strange things. I hardly ever dream. Some people dream every night. And my friend Dorothy believes that, if you can remember a dream when you wake in the morning, then it means something and you should take careful heed of whatever it is.

I’m not so sure. I’m pretty sure some of the dreams I have are caused by late night coffee drinking or the slightly past-their-use-by mushrooms that I fried up for dinner. There was one time though…

honeymooning

So, I’m on my honeymoon. Married only a matter of days, hours maybe. I have this really vivid dream that all my teeth fall out.

Now, this is well B.G. (that’s Before Google) but there is a magazine in the place we’re staying. There’s a section in it called, Interpret Your Dreams, and, would you believe it, there it is, If You Dream You Are Losing Your Teeth.

Apparently it means you subconsciously feel you have lost control of your future. Now, I ask you, what’s that have to do with getting married?

and, what’s it got to do with music…

 the song

Gary Wright had two hit songs. Both in 1976. Both went to #2 on the US Billboard chart.

The second was Love is Alive. The first was the rather esoteric Dream Weaver – complete with mysterious organ music and dreamy introduction.

in gary’s words

On Gary’s website he says of Dream Weaver;

“In 1972, my friend George Harrison invited me to accompany him on a trip to India. A few days before we left, he gave me a copy of the book Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. Needless to say the book inspired me deeply, and I became totally fascinated with Indian culture and philosophy. My trip was an experience I will never forget. During the early ’70s while reading more of the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda, I came across a poem called God! God! God! One of the lines in the poem referred to the idea of the mind weaving dreams and the thought immediately occurred to me, weaver of dreams… Dream Weaver. I wrote it down in my journal of song titles and forgot about it. Several months passed, and one weekend, while in the English countryside, I picked up my journal and came across the title ‘Dream Weaver.’ Feeling inspired, I picked up my acoustic guitar and began writing. The song was finished in an hour. The lyrics and music seemed to have flowed out of me as if written by an unseen source. After the record was released and became successful many people asked me what the song meant. I really wasn’t sure myself and would answer ‘it was about a kind of fantasy experience… a Dream Weaver train taking you through the cosmos.’ But I was never satisfied with that explanation, and as years went by I began to reflect on what the song actually meant and then it came to me: ‘Dream Weaver, I believe you can get me through the night…’ was a song about someone with infinite compassion and love carrying us through the night of our trials and suffering. None other than God Himself.”

 dream weaver fax

  • Dream Weaver reached #2 on the US Billboard charts. It reached #1 in Australia, Canada and Europe.
  • Dream Weaver is the title track of Gary’s 1975 album
  • Dream Weaver features well-known drummer Jim Keltner. Apart from drums and Gary’s keyboards there are no other instruments on the song. NO guitars!!
  • The expression “Dream Weaver” was popularised by John Lennon in 1970 in his song “God,” taken from his solo album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. This song depicts Lennon’s declaration that he was the dream weaver of the sixties, breaking away from the influences and dogmas that influenced his life.
  • In 1992 a longer version of Dream Weaver was recorded for the movie Wayne’s World.
  • Samples of Dream Weaver often play in movies to denote the first time meeting between two characters who will later fall in love. e.g. Daddy Day Care and Toy Story 3.
  • Dream Weaver also featured in the television series, That 70s Show and Nip and Tuck.
  • Dream Weaver and its keyboard introduction inspired the concept behind the film A Nightmare on Elm Street.
  • Dream Weaver lyrics.

Peg – Steely Dan – 1978.

September 7, 2011

Steely Dan is a jazz-rock band from the USA.  Essentially a duet, they’ve used over 100 musicians to produce the ten studio albums they’ve turned out since 1972.

steely dan – not really a band at all

When I purchased Steely Dan’s album Aja back in 1979 I discovered a whole new blend of music and I’ve loved this band ever since.

Steely Dan is essentially a duet supplemented by various musicians, many of whom are of great standing in the world of popular music. The core pair within Steely Dan, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, are well-known to be musical perfectionists. In fact, for a lengthy period they ceased performing live because they were so disappointed in their inability to recreate live the deep of sound they were able to create in the studio.

I wonder how they would have got on in the old days…

in the old days… confessions of a childhood misconception

When I was a kid, back in the old days, I lived under a misconception. It seems crazy now but I clearly recall listening to music on the radio and firmly believing that those playing the instruments and singing were actually in the studio playing live.

My parents would listen to 1ZB and between the soap operas and the news and the copious number of advertisements, there would be songs by artists like The Seekers, Trini Lopez and The Statler Brothers (who can forget Flowers on the Wall – “Smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo…”).  And I really believed it – I truly believed that when the announcer said, “Here they are, The Fabulous Seekers,” the fabulous Seekers were actually there with him!

I visualised a band performing and then having to vacate the studio before the next performer set up for their turn. I imagined the pandemonium that must have existed as two bands crossed paths in those few moments between songs.  I even contemplated going into the city and waiting for my favourite bands to emerge!

I remember also the moment I became aware of my mistake. I can’t say how old I was or where I was, but I clearly remember it dawning on me one day that maybe, just maybe, the DJ’s were actually playing records. I recall it as being one of those “aha” moments when a small, unexplained part of my universe drifted moved into focus and made sense.

steely dan.

As I mentioned, Becker and Fagan are known for being close to obsessive perfectionists. For instance, Gaucho, an album of just seven tracks, took over a year to record. At least 42 different studio musicians and eleven engineers were involved in the project.

Their obsession looking for the perfect sound led them to become purely a studio band for much of their career. In fact, after touring early in their career – from 1972 to 1974 – they ten retreated to the studio and produced albums but never performed live until 1981. Later that year they broke up before reuniting in 1993 and recommencing their touring. They still tour spasmodically claiming that they can now, with the improvement of music-technology, reproduce their studio sound on stage.

peg fax

  • Peg was one of three successful singles from Aja, Steely Dan’s sixth and most successful album.  The other singles off Aja were Deacon Blues (fabulous!) and Josie.
  • Peg peaked at #11 on the US singles charts.
  • The guitar solo in Peg was attempted by seven top session guitarists. Becker and Fagan eventually chose Jay Graydon’s version but then called him back to the studio and had him work on it for six hours non-stop before they were satisfied.
  • The backing vocals on Peg were provided by Michael McDonald.
  • Samples from Peg are featured in the 1989 De La Soul song Eye Know.
  • Nerina Pallot covered Peg in 2007 and Jason Mraz often performs Peg in concert.
  • Peg lyrics.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours – Stevie Wonder – 1970

September 1, 2011

Stevie Wonder - Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm YoursStevland Hardaway Morris was just 12 years old when he had his first hit record.  Since then, Stevie Wonder, as he became known, has had over fifty hit recordings and is still going strong.  Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours, was a hit in 1970.

reminiscing

I can’t recall the first song I ever heard and took notice of. My parents weren’t greatly musical. They had record albums but I can’t remember them being played much. I wonder if they waited until my brother, sister and I were in bed and then cranked up the old radiogram?

I do remember listening to their records. The Seekers, Peter Paul and Mary – maybe Puff the Magic Dragon was my first song?

Even more, however, I remember the seventies. And I think I remember the first real pop song I heard.

So, it’s 1970 and we’re on holiday on Waiheke Island. Just like we are every year, and there are no complaints from me, it’s glorious. My dad loves to read the newspaper morning and night and so, every morning and every night someone has to walk 15 minutes to the store, buy the paper, and walk the 15 minutes home again.   I’m always happy to volunteer.

My companion on the walk is my transistor radio and Radio Hauraki.

a word about radio hauraki.

Radio Hauraki - logoUp until 1968 radio was a state owned monopoly.  If you wanted to listen to popular music, you’d have to listen to 1YA after 7pm when, for an hour or so, the tedium of the government’s station gave way to more contemporary tunes.

Radio Hauraki (logo to the right) was a pirate station. They got around the ban on private stations by broadcasting from a ship, the Tiri, that would sail into international waters and send a signal back to the mainland.

What many people don’t realise is that the programmes were never live. A week’s worth of programming was taped on shore on large reel to reel tape recorders. The Tiri would then sail off shore and play the tapes.

I recall the day in early 1968 when the Tiri was battered by a storm and ran aground. The announcer cutting across the taped broadcast to issue a mayday call.

By the middle of 1970 the government had relented and permitted Radio Hauraki and other stations to broadcast from land. So, after 1,111 days broadcasting from sea the crew headed for home playing their final at-sea broadcast, a documentary on the station’s history. As the ship drew near to Auckland the station played Born Free over and over.

back to the song!

I loved the morning and evening summer holiday newspaper walks. I’d listen to my transistor and sing along to the songs. I even remember the songs that were played. Some of them I’ve written about. Tracy, Telegram Sam, Whole Lotta Love, Stagefright

But there is one song, two actually from the same artist, that stand out for me. When I hear them they take me back to those beach walks – I can almost feel the warmth of the sun on my back and hear the crashing of the waves. The two songs are Stevie Wonder’s, Yesterme, Yesteryou, Yesterday, and Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours. Truth be told, I wanted to write about the former in this blog but it was released in 1969 so fell outside of the guidelines for SeventiesMusic.

signed, sealed, delivered, i’m yours fax

  • While only making it to number three on the US Charts, Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours spent six weeks on the US R and B charts.
  • Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours was the first song Stevie produced on his own.
  • The title, Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours, was suggested by Stevie’s mother, Lula, as she listened to him tinkering on his piano
  • Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours was Stevie’s first Grammy award nomination.
  • Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours has been covered by a number of well-known artists including, Elton John while still performing under his real name, Reginald Dwight, Chaka Khan, Peter Frampton, Kim Wilde, Michael McDonald, Pat Monahan (leader singer of the band Train), Craig David and, boy band Blue featuring Stevie himself singing along.
  • Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours was Stevie’s eleventh hit record – he was still only 20 years old.
  • Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours featured in the films Now And Then (1996) and You’ve Got Mail (1998).
  • During the 2008 US presidential election, Barack Obama’s presidential campaign Signed, Sealed Delivered, I’m Yours was frequently played at campaign events immediately after President Obama’s speeches.
  • At Obama’s election night rally at Grant Park in Chicago, the song was one of the first of three songs played to warm up the audience for Obama’s victory speech upon winning the 2008 presidential election. The song was used in the same fashion the Clinton-Gore campaign used Fleetwood Mac‘s hit, “Don’t Stop.”
  • Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours lyrics.

btw

Stevie’s only had two #1 UK hit singles.  That’s Ebony and Ivory with Paul McCartney (1982) and I Just Called to Say I Love You (1984).