Friday, February 17, 2006

Random Revisitation: 1970

The lava lamp has spoken, and today we randomly revisit the week of February 17 . . . 1970, with 10 randomly selected chart positions from the Billboard Hot 100.

1. "Thank You (Falletin Me Be Mice Elf Agin)"/Sly and the Family Stone. (peak) Sly's appearance at the Grammys last week reminded everybody that A) he isn't dead, and B) he tends to follow his own rather peculiar muse even now. It's always been that way. After a run of joyous R&B records in the late 60s, the deep funk of "Thank You" represented a move toward something different--which culminated in the odd and disturbing album There's a Riot Goin' On in 1971.

10. "Arizona"/Mark Lindsay. (rising) The lyrics are complete nonsense ("She must belong to San Francisco/She must have lost her way/Postin' a poster of Pancho and Cisco one California day"), but damn, this record sounds great.

11. "Without Love (There Is Nothing)"/Tom Jones.(falling) A big splashy MOR production, and Jones' second Top-Ten hit in a row, thanks in part to his ABC-TV series, produced in England. Jones landed a fairly hip guest list--in early 1970 alone, he welcomed the Rascals, Joni Mitchell, Joe Cocker, and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.

13. "Bridge Over Troubled Water"/Simon and Garfunkel. (rising) Billboard gives bullets to fast-rising records on each week's chart. This, debuting the previous week at Number 49 and rising in one leap to 13, deserved a cannonball.

27. "Give Me Just a Little More Time"/Chairmen of the Board. (rising)
The Chairmen were a Detroit group led by General Johnson, who, for a brief moment in the early 1970s, was a hot property. In addition to a handful of hits with the Chairmen, he wrote hit songs for lots of folks, including Honey Cone's Number-One hit "Want Ads."

34. "One Tin Soldier"/Original Caste. (peak)
Famous song, checkered history. Original Caste recorded it first; in 1971, it was recut by a group called Coven for the movie Billy Jack. Coven's version squeaked into the Top 30 in 1971. It was rereleased late in 1973 and became a massive hit on WLS in Chicago, ranking Number 4 for the entire year 1974. And if you want more trivia, how about this: the song is based on the chord progression of Pachelbel's Canon.

60. "House of the Rising Sun"/Frijid Pink. (rising) Not to be confused with Vanilla Fudge, who had a similar taste for ponderous hard-rock demolitions of well-known songs. OK, confuse the two if you want. I don't care.

66. "Hello It's Me"/The Nazz. (rising) Early Todd Rundgren band doing a song he would record more successfully later on.

78. "Shilo"/Neil Diamond. (rising) A song whose recorded history is stranger than that of "One Tin Soldier" by several orders of magnitude. You may be utterly confused, but perhaps also fascinated, by's explanation of it here.

89. "Come and Get It"/Badfinger. (rising) Four straight singles from their early-70s heyday: this, "No Matter What," "Day After Day," and "Baby Blue"--who's done better on four in a row? You want to know how good they were? This is the weakest of the four singles--and Paul McCartney wrote it, fer chrissakes.


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