Top 5: Mice Elf Agin
It's the neverending beauty of the Top 40--in the '70s, it had something for everybody. Take the Top Five from this week in 1970, for example.
5. "No Time"/Guess Who. Dig that buzzing distorted guitar. It's the lead on this, it's the solo on "American Woman"--and it's pretty much the signature sound of the Guess Who, that and Burton Cummings' musically challenged bark.
4. "Hey There Lonely Girl"/Eddie Holman. Beautiful early Philly soul record with a positively unearthly, proto-Stylistics vocal by Holman, who hadda squeeze his legs together mighty tight to get up to that last note.
3. "Travelin' Band"/"Who'll Stop the Rain"/CCR. No more than five minutes of music on both sides of this single, combined--but it's five good minutes. And as social commentary, I'll see your Bono press conference and raise you "Who'll Stop the Rain."
2. "Thank You (Falletin Me Be Mice Elf Agin)"/Sly and the Family Stone. Here's another record by Sly that's maybe 15 years ahead of its time, and more evidence that wherever Prince goes, the Family Stone has already been.
1. "Bridge Over Troubled Water"/Simon and Garfunkel. A magnificent achievement, even if the big orchestra is starting to sound a little bit dated now. But it's also a White Album-like indication of trouble to come between the players. Simon wrote it but Garfunkel sings it alone, and Simon says the ovations Art got on stage frosted him quite a bit. It originally had two verses, but Art suggested Paul write a third one, which he did ("sail on, silver girl")--although Paul didn't think it matched the other two.
Mini-Five: Today is the 54th birthday of English singer/songwriter Chris Rea, one of the classic one-hit wonders thanks to "Fool (If You Think It's Over)" in 1978. Despite his lack of followups over here, he's had a successful career in Europe and many of his albums remain in print here (all except for the one with "Fool" on it, strangely enough, Whatever Happened to Benny Santini?). He's got a distinctively fat, buzzy guitar style (not heard on "Fool") and his voice has deepened and roughened over the years, both of which make him one of the best largely unheard artists I can think of. So here are five great Chris Rea tunes, not counting the obvious one:
"The Road to Hell" (1989)
"Standing in Your Doorway" (1978)
"God's Great Banana Skin" (1993)
"On the Beach" (1986)