Let’s Stay Together – Al Green – 1971

December 29, 2011

Al Green, Let's STay Together album coverLet’s Stay Together was Al Green’s first big hit. It rose to #1 on the US singles chart – his only song to do so. He has, however, reached #1 in the USR&B charts six times and sold over 20 million records.

al green rediscovered

Man, I’ve heard this song a lot lately. It’s seems the younger folk are discovering the Reverend Al Green and this is one of their favourites.

albert greene

Some people, it seems, can sing totally without effort. Al is one of those people.

Al’s had an interesting life. The sixth of ten children, he began performing when he was just ten years old – in a quartet with his brothers. His father kicked him out of the group when he caught him listening to Jackie Wilson. I’m not too sure why this was such a sin but assume his dad wanted the boys to sing gospel only??

Anyway, Al dropped an ‘e’ from the end of his name and became Al Green, one of the greatest soul singers of all time.

the birth of the reverend al green

By the time the seventies were a few years old, Al Green was big – huge, in fact – but controversy changed that.

In 1974, Mary White, a girlfriend of Al’s, assaulted him before committing suicide at his Memphis home. She was reportedly upset that Al refused to marry her,

Mary White doused Green (Ha! sounds like a colour war) with a pan of boiling water while he was showering before taking her own life.

Al later recalled the incident as a wake-up call to sort his life out. He became an ordained pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis in 1976. He still serves in this way leading services just down the road from Elvis’ Graceland.

Then, in 1979, Al was injured when he fell off stage while performing. He decided this had to be a message from God and so concentrated on pastoring his church and producing gospel music.

In recent years, however, he’s been back rediscovering his R and B roots.

al awards

For the record,

  • Al was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.
  • In 2004 he was inducted into the Gospel Music Association’s Gospel Music Hall of Fame and
  • Rolling Stone magazine listed him as #65 of The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

let’s stay together fax

  • Let’s Stay Together is the title track of on Al’s 1972 album which   went to #1 on the US R&B charts.
  • Let’s Stay Together was released as a single in 1971 (before the album) and reached #1 on the US charts. It remained on the chart for 16 weeks.
  • Let’s Stay Together sat at #1 on the R&B charts for nine weeks and was the top R&B song for the year 1972,
  • Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Let’s Stay Together at #60 on the list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
  • In 2010, Let’s Stay Together was selected by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry. That’s a big deal! It means it is considered to be culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.
  • Al Green co-wrote Let’s Stay Together.
  • Many soul critics consider this to be one of the best songs ever written.
  • Cover versions of Let’s Stay Together have been produced by artists such as: Roberta Flack, Michael Bolton, Donny Osmond, Boyz II Men, Big Mountain, Isaac Hayes, Shirley Bassey, Guy Sebastian, and Craig David. The best known cover, however, was by Tina Turner in 1983. It’s credited with revitalising Tina’s flagging career.
  • Let’s Stay Together has been used in the movies Pulp Fiction, Munich, Down to You, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.
  • Let’s Stay Together appears in an episode of Ally McBeal in which Al guest stars
  • Let’s Stay Together was used in a television commercial for Tide laundry detergent.
  • Let’s Stay Together lyrics.

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let’s stay together – al green – 1972

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Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love – 1979

December 22, 2011

Phil Spector's Christmas albumFirst released on November 22nd 1963, Darlene Love’s Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) is listed at #1 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of The Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas songs.

Christmas two weeks in a row??

Yes, I know we had a Christmas song a couple of weeks ago. But when I asked people about their favourite all time Christmas song Wozza and Finnattic mentioned Darlene Love’s Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). Now, I LOVE this song but hadn’t considered it because it was released in 1963 but then I found out…

… Darlene’s version of Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) was re-released in 1979 so I couldn’t resist putting it on seventiesmusic.

darlene and phil

Darlene got big break through meeting and working with, the now-infamous, Phil Spector. She can really sing. I mean, she’s got an amazingly powerful voice and so got to do BV’s with people like Sam Cooke, Sonny and Cher, Tom, Jones, Dionne Warwick, The Beach Boys, and the king himself, Elvis Presley.

Darlene sang with a group called The Blossoms. Phil Spector used them on a number of his songs including the #1 hit Da Doo Ron Ron.

Phil had a band he used named The Crystals. Some songs released by The Crystals were, in fact, The Blossoms and vice versa.  The #1 single He’s a Rebel is listed as being by The Crystals; it was in fact, The Blossoms with Darlene singing lead – her only #1 single.

Darlene released songs under the names, The Blossoms, The Crystals and Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans

darlene and little stevie

Darlene had not performed for many years until in the early 80s when Steven Van Zandt persuaded her to come out of retirement and perform again.

darlene and david

For every year since 1986 Darlene has performed Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) on the final pre-Christmas episode David Letterman’s late night talk show. The only year she missed was 2007. Unable to have Darlene perform because of the Writers’ Strike, David played a tape of her previous year’s performance.

Christmas (baby please come home) fax

  • Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) was originally released on a 1963 compilation album titled, A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records – Phil Spector’s label.
  • Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) was written by Phil Spector, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich.
  • It was intended that Phil’s wife Ronnie would sing the song but for some reason it became Darlene’s.
  • In December 2010, Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) was named at #1 by Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The Greatest Rock and Roll Christmas Songs.
  • A number of bands have covered Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). The best known cover is by U2. Recorded during a break in the recording of The Joshua Tree, Darlene provides the BV’s. Bruce Springsteen used to sing this song as part of his close-to-Christmas set, more than once being joined on stage by Darlene.  Other artists to cover Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) include;  Jon Bon Jovi, Michael Bublé (is there are song he hasn’t covered??), Mariah Carey (is there a song she hasn’t covered??), Cher Dion, Hanson, Jars of Clay, R.E.M., Joey Ramone (The Ramones also do a GREAT version of What a Wonderful World), Sha Na Na, and KT Tunstall – that’s quite a list!  And it’s such a great song that most versions are pretty darn good!!
  • Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) is also featured in two movies – Gremlins, and Goodfellas.
  • Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) lyrics.

Darlene Love – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – 1963

Darlene Love – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – On Letterman – 1986

Darlene Love – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – On Letterman – 2010

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Merry Christmas from seventiesmusic

December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Have a wonderful Christmas time wherever in the world you may be.

And, may 2012 shower you with peace and happiness.

20,000 visitors!

Because, on Christmas Eve, the seventiesmusic blog will pass the 20,000 visitors mark, I thought I’d bore you with a few statistics.

Blog entries.

The seventiesmusic blog began on April 3rd 2011 with Led Zeppelin’s, Whole Lotta Love. Since then there have been 40 blog entries – one consistently receives more visits than any other entry and accounts for 15% of all visits to seventiesmusic – more on that soon.

Visitors.

The seventiesmusic blog will reach it’s 20,000th visitor on Christmas Eve 2011. Over 38 weeks that equates to and average of 526 visits per week or 75 per day. However, that’s not evenly spread throughout the year. Visitor numbers have steadily increased throughout 2011.

The average number of visitors to The seventiesmusic blog per day is now 126.

Pages and Googling.

The most visited page on The seventiesmusic blog is Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Child (Slight Return) which accounts for 15% of all visits.

The most common search engine topic used by people to find The seventiesmusic blog is “Jimi Hendrix” followed by “The Eagles” and “Dire Straits.”

Comments.

The most prolific commenters on The seventiesmusic blog are Wozza, Miki and Piggy, in that order.

Thanks for being a part of The seventiesmusic blog site.

And now, for your entertainment – The Ten Greatest Classic Rock Songs – well, one man’s opinion (not mine):

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Find seventiesmusic on Facbook.You’ll find out when the latest blog is posted and every Monday you’ll get “This Week in 70s Music.” Click the Facebook logo to go to the seventiesmusic Facebook page and click “Like.”


Drift Away – Dobie Gray – 1973

December 15, 2011

Dobie gray drift away single coverDobie Gray’s biggest hit, 1973’s Drift Away, is one of the most live-covered songs of all time!

dobie gray rip

Drift Away is pretty well indispensable as a part of the staple diet of any self-respecting classic hits station but this week its playing accompanied the sad news that its singer, Dobie Gray, had passed away aged 71.

more to dobie than meets the eye

Dobie was one of those guys who had been around forever. He’d sung, written songs, appeared on stage, acted, but without ever quite making superstar status. And, he had associations with some pretty random people.

He was originally encouraged in his singing by Sonny Bono. He was in a band managed by Max Baer Jr – who played Jethro in The Beverly Hillbillies. He worked with A&M Records, producing demos for the songwriter Paul Williams.

Following his minimal solo success he choose to focus on his song-writing. His songs were recorded by, among others, Ray Charles, George Jones, Johnny Mathis and Charley Pride.

Dobie performed in South Africa a number of times but, in the mid 70s suddenly declared that he would continue doing so only if he could play to integrated audiences. The authorities agreed and he became the first artist to play in South Africa to a mixed audience. As such he became a popular and much revered music figure in that nation.

dobie’s death

Dobie passed away at his Nashville home on December 6, 2011 after a long battle with cancer.

drift away fax

  • Drift Away was written by Paul Williams’ brother Mentor.
  • Drift Away was originally recorded in 1972, by John Henry Kurtz.
  • Drift Away was Dobie Gray’s biggest hit. It peaked at #5 on the US singles chart. While it charted in a number of other countries, it did not chart at all in the UK.
  • Drift Away is of the most live covered songs – artists seem to love singing it as part of their encore set.
  • Artists to cover Drift Away include Roy Orbison, Ike and Tina Turner, Humble Pie, Rod Stewart, Waylon Jennings, Ray Charles, Neville Brothers, Michael Bolton, Ringo Starr The Rolling Stones and The Heptones.,
  • Uncle Kracker released a version in 2003 featuring Dobie singing the final verse. It peaked at #9 on the US Singles chart. This thirty year gap set a record for the biggest gap between top ten performances by an artist. This version also holds the record for the longest run at the top of the US Adult Contemporary chart. It spent 28 weeks at #1 in 2003-04.
  • There is a rumour that Drift Away was originally written for Elvis Presley. When he head Dobie Gray’s demo of the song he turned it down.
  • Drift Away lyrics.

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drift away – dobie gray – 1973


Feliz Navidad – José Feliciano – 1970

December 8, 2011

Feliz Navidad Single CoverEight Good Christmas Songs ?? One of the 25 most played Christmas songs of all time, Jose Feliciano’s Feliz Navidad only has six Spanish and 13 English words in the entire lyric – but they sure get repeated a lot!

favourite Christmas song? – not this one!

If I had to choose a favourite Christmas song this would not be it. I’d go for The Pogues, Fairytale of New York, or Bruce Springsteen’s rendition of Santa Claus is Coming to Town or, maybe, Chris Rea’s, Driving Home for Christmas.

Having said that, I always feel it’s not really Christmas until I hear the dreadful strains of Feliz Navidad pounding the airwaves – and today it happened!

Jose Felicianojose feliciano

Jose Feliciano was born in Puerto Rico (one of ten brothers). He’s an accomplished guitarist and singer/songwriter.  He has been blind since birth. He’s had hit records in Spanish and English.

controversy

In December 2009 a parody of Feliz Navidad entitled “The Illegal Alien Christmas Song” was created and posted on an Associated Press website in the US.  It was sung in English and made fun of the stereotype of Latino immigrants as being heavy drinkers and spreaders of disease.

Jose was rightfully upset and said;

This song [Feliz Navidad] has always been a bridge to the cultures that are so dear to me, never as a vehicle for a political platform of racism and hate. It’s disgusting and my only wish that my song and I are distanced from the whole affair as soon as possible.

Jose received an apology from Associated Press and the song was removed it from the website.

feliz navidad fax

  • Feliz Navidad is one of the 25 most played Christmas songs of all time.
  • Released in 1970, Feliz Navidad has charted twice but not in the 70s! It charted first in 1998 and then in 2000.
  • The highest position Feliz Navidad has ever reached on the US singles charts is #70 in 1998.  In 2000 it peaked at #105.
  • The words of Feliz Navidad are very simple: “Feliz Navidad, próspero año y felicidad” means simply, “Merry Christmas, prosperous year and happiness.” The English portion of the song says, “I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart.”
  • Jose’s version of Feliz Navidad is one of the most downloaded and aired Christmas songs in the United States and Canada.
  • Feliz Navidad has been covered by many artists including, Celine Dion, David Hasselhoff, Moby, The Von Trapp Children, Boney M, The Wiggles, 1910 Fruitgum Company, and Michael Bublé.
  • Feliz Navidad lyrics

what’s your favourite Christmas song?

Click on COMMENT below and tell the rest of us.  (Unless it’s Wham’s, Last Christmas – you might want to keep that to yourself!).

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feliz navidad – jose feliciano


Blue Lady – Hello Sailor – 1977

December 1, 2011

Blue Lady is one of a number of hit songs by iconic Kiwi band, Hello Sailor.

 balmoral on a friday night

It’s Friday night.  No malls.  Strip shopping is still in vogue and Balmoral on a Friday night is alive!  I like to call into Brazier’s second-hand book shop down Dominion Road.  They must hate me coming in here – I hardly ever buy anything; it’s just so good to wander down the back and browse.  I swear some of these books are older than the shop and that’s saying something.

Occasionally, I catch a glimpse of Graham Brazier.  I guess he’s only a few years older than me but I’m at that age where those few years are the difference between boyhood and manhood.  Sometimes Graham is carrying a guitar case, other times a saxophone case as he scuttles out the door and off to some magical place where music is made.

(That store – which is still there now – made quite an impression on me.  So much so that, when I chose the setting for my first novel, Believing in Rita, I did so with that shop in mind).

hello sailor

There were a number of musicians living around our neighbourhood as we grew up; notably, Johnny Morris, Mark Williams, Dragon (briefly) and the aforementioned wonderfully enigmatic Graham Brazier.

Graham was part of the iconic band, Hello Sailor.  They were all the go down this corner of the planet.  They had a go at cracking the US market but, alas, the Americans don’t seem to have the good taste in music that Kiwis possess.

Legend has it that, during that American sojourn, Graham was approached by Ray Manzarek of The Doors.  He wanted to reform the band and was looking for someone to replace Jim Morrison.  He offered the gig to Graham but Graham turned it down.

blue lady fax

  • Blue Lady, written by Graham Brazier, is the title track from Hello Sailor’s first and self-titled album.
  • Blue Lady is the highest charting of all Hello Sailor’s singles reaching #17 in the New Zealand charts.
  • Another single from the album, Hello Sailor, was Gutter Black which was recently used as the theme song to the television drama series Outrageous Fortune.
  • In a list of the 30 top Kiwi songs of the past 75 years, Blue Lady came in at #20.
  • For many years the meaning of the Blue Lady lyric was debated.  This is from Boobsland: A Lexicographical Study of the Argot of New Zealand. Prison Inmates in the Period 1996 – 2000 by Diana M. F. Looser:

blue lady n. 1 (also blue nurse) a 10cc hypodermic syringe with a glass barrel, a glass plunger and a chrome lug nut (the piece that holds the needle). Often these glass syringes were tinted blue, and some had a picture of a woman etched on the side. Blue ladies were often packaged in a box lined with ice-blue velvet, in which the separate pieces of the syringe were laid out. This was the ultimate accessory to have in prison. [from the lyrics to the song ‘Blue Lady’ (1977) by Graham Brazier of the Auckland band, Hello Sailor. Brazier sings about his ‘Blue, blue lady’ as being the only lady he can rely upon.

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