Telephone Line – Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) – 1977

February 27, 2014

ELO Telephone Line 1977 single coverIt was about 1979 that I saw ELO live… great music, great lighting (lasers, nonetheless), great atmosphere – but the thing I remember most is that as every song faded out the lights faded with them and we sat in darkness as the band retuned their instruments! Still, it was worth it, and I vividly recall them singing their 1977 hit single, Telephone Line.

elo fax

  • Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) formed in Birmingham, England in 1971.
  • Between 1971 and 1986 the band released eleven studio albums. They released a 12th in 2001.
  • They finished with a phenomenal 20 Top Twenty UK singles and 15 Top 20 US singles.
  • ELO held a rather dubious record – for having the most Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 hits of any group in US chart history without ever having a number one single.
  • The band formed around musicians Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne who shared a desire to create “modern rock and pop songs with classical overtones.”
  • Roy left ELO after just the first album. After that it was Jeff who wrote, arranged and produced the band’s material.
  • ELO sold over 50 million records worldwide.
  • Jeff has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and has worked with many of the world’s best-known artists, including: The Travelling Wilburys, George Harrison, Tom Petty, The Beatles, Olivia Newton-John, Roy Orbison, and Bob Dylan.

telephone line fax

  • Telephone Line was written by Jeff Lynne and released on 21 May 1977 (UK) and late May 1977 in the US.
  • Telephone Line peaked at #8 on the UK singles chart and #7 on the US singles chart. It was their biggest single success in the US and their first gold single in the UK. It was a #1 hit in New Zealand and Canada.
  • ELO 3ELO was, initially, more popular in the US than the UK. That prompted Jeff to use an American ring tone during the song.

To get the sound on the beginning, you know, the American telephone sound, we phoned from England to America to a number that we know nobody would be at, to just listen to it for a while. On the Moog we recreated the sound exactly by tuning the oscillators to the same notes as the ringing of the phone.

  • ELO often released their singles in different colours – the US version of this single was the only green single ELO issued.
  • Telephone Line lyrics.

telephone line – electric light orchestra – 1977 – video

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Black Betty – Ram Jam – 1977

February 20, 2014

Ram Jam Black Bety 1Active for just two years, Ram Jam produced just two albums and on hit single – and that hit single, 1977’s Black Betty, wasn’t even sung by them…

ram jam fax

  • Ram Jam were an American rock band who formed in 1977 and disbanded in 1978.
  • Remember The Lemonpipers and their hit Green Tambourine? Bill Bartlett from that band was the lead singer of Ram Jam.
  • Other band members played with The Allman Brothers and Billy Joel.

black betty fax

  • Black Betty is actually a African-American work song, i.e. sung by the slaves in the cotton fields. Black Betty’s writing is often Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter, although there is some doubt about this because the earliest versions seem to pre-date him. Lead Belly version was released in 1939 and, like versions before it, was a cappella.
  • Ram Jam’s version was recorded by a band named Starstruck. When the song began to gain traction on the local charts, Bill Bartlett left Starstruck and formed a new band. He also took the recording with him. He put it on Ram Jam’s first album despite it not being performed by the band.
  • Ram Jam’s 1977 version of Black Betty was criticised by civil rights groups NAACP and Congress of Racial Equality who called for a boycott of the song saying its lyrics were racist.
  • Black Betty peaked at #18 on the US singles chart.
  • Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Nick Cave, Tom Jones, and Meat Loaf all produced cover versions.
  • Black Betty appeared in a number of movies and television shows including: Blow, The Dukes of Hazzard Cop Out, Harold and Kumar, Malcolm in the Middle, My Name Is Earl, and Dancing With the Stars.
  • Black Betty has been used in many advertising campaigns including”: Toyota, Nintendo, Smiths Chips, Pac-Man World 2, and the Volkswagen Beetle.
  • Bob Dylan parodied the song in his experimental novel Tarantula (published 1971).
  • Black Betty lyrics.

black betty – ram jam – 1977 – video


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Family Affair – Sly and the Family Stone – 1971

February 6, 2014

Sly 1 coverBelieve it or not, one of the very first single records I ever bought – back in the days when we still bought single records – was I Want to Take You Higher, by Sly and the Family Stone. Unfortunately, with a 1969 release date, that song falls just outside of the seventiesmusic boundary (not that that’s stopped us before). But this one doesn’t; Family Affair, a 1970 #1 hit for Sly and the Family Stone.

sly and the family stone fax

  • Obviously an American band, Sly and the Family Stone originated from San Francisco and, from 1967 to 1983, put out a string of hit funk/soul singles and albums.
  • Headed by Sly Stone, the band contained both family members and friends, but was actually an amalgam of two bands: Sly’s band, Sly & the Stoners and his brother Freddie’s band, Freddie & the Stone Souls.
  • Sly and the Family Stone had five top ten US hit singles and four hit albums. Hit songs included: Everyday People, Stand!, I Want to Take you Higher, and Family Affair.
  • They appeared at Woodstock in what is often referred to as one of the highlights of the festival.
  • So pivotal were Sly and his band in the shaping of soul and funk music that it was once said,

There are two types of black music: black music before Sly Stone, and black music after Sly Stone.

  • Sly and the band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
  • The band was dogged with scandal involving drug use and, in 1987, Sly was arrested and sentenced for cocaine use. That heralded his retirement.
  • In September 2011, the New York Post reported that Sly was homeless and living out of a white camper-van in Los Angeles:

The van is parked on a residential street in Crenshaw, the rough Los Angeles neighborhood where ‘Boyz n the Hood’ was set. A retired couple makes sure he eats once a day, and Stone showers at their house.

family affair fax

  • Recorded in early 1971, Family Affair was released as a single on November 6, 1971 ,taken from Sly and the Family Stone’s album, There’s a Riot Goin’ On.
  • It became a #1 single on the US charts.
  • Family Affair was unlike Sly and the Stone’s previous recordings, being quieter than their previous lively funk sound.
  • Rolling Stone magazine once ranked Family Affair at #138 on their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
  • Cover versions of Family Affair have included: The Brothers Johnson, Iggy Pop, Madonna, Bunny Wailer, and Janet Jackson, and is sampled in The Black Eyed Peas song, Weekend.
  • Family Affair’s drum machine-created rhythm was used in The Temptations’, Let Your Hair Down (1973), and Stevie Wonder‘s You Haven’t Done Nothin’ (1974). In 2005, John Legend, Joss Stone, and Van Hunt recorded a cover featuring elements of the original recording for Different Strokes by Different Folks, a Sly & the Family Stone tribute/remix album. This version won the 2007 Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
  • Family Affair features on the soundtrack of The Addams Family movie.
  • Family Affair lyrics.

family affair – sly and the family stone – 1971 – video

i want to take you higher – sly and the family stone – 1969 – video – live

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