Ask any boomer. The 60s wasn't all Vietnam, hippies and Woodstock. Likewise, there was a lot more to the 70s than disco. In Part 1, I brought you some of my favorite non-disco recordings of the 70s along with a rare dance track by Sister Sledge that was an example of early disco done right. Today in Part 2 I'm doing the same thing. This time its David Ruffin providing the lone disco style recording. Let's party!
Rare Earth the band and Rare Earth the record label: both were fresh and new at the start of 1970. In the late 60s, Motown Records was updating its image and sound to keep pace with the changing times. Motown signed an all white Detroit band called the Sunliners and changed its name to Rare Earth, the name company executives had chosen for the new pop/rock label subsidiary aimed primarily at white audiences. The band made an initial splash with "Get Ready," a psychedelicized cover of the 1966 Temptations hit. Rare Earth’s take on "Get Ready" stands out in my mind as the most memorable Dell song of 1970.
My featured Rare Earth recording is "Born to Wander," a track from the band's second album Ecology. "Born to Wander" was released as a single at the end of 1970, charted into the new year and made the top 20.
"Born to Wander" - Rare Earth
(January 1971, highest chart position #17)
Jon Mark and Johnny Almond are London session musicians who worked with John Mayall, the Rolling Stones, Marianne Faithful and Jimmy Page before forming their own band in 1970.
While other bands were busy mixing rock with the blues,
the Mark-Almond collaboration explored uncharted territory - a blend of jazz, prog rock, latin, pop, art-rock and folk that defied concrete categorization. One of Mark-Almond's best loved early works is the 11 and-a-half minute long opus entitled "The City: Grass And Concrete/Taxi To Brooklyn/ Speak Easy It’s A Whiskey Scene." At times mellow, at times heavy, this was the stuff of which late night/early morning FM radio broadcasts were made and frequently experienced while listeners were grazing in the grass. Click to enter this place. Surprises await you around every corner in "The City."
"The City: Grass And Concrete/
Taxi To Brooklyn/Speak Easy
It’s A Whiskey Scene." - Mark-Almond
(from 1971 album Mark-Almond)
English glammer Gary Glitter was born Paul Gadd, took the stage name Paul Raven, then decided to change his name again. Experimenting with alliteration and working backward from the letter Z, Gadd eventually came up with the name Gary Glitter but only after toying with possibilities that included Terry Tinsel, Stanley Sparkle and Vicky Vomit!
Glitter's signature song was "Rock and Roll," a long jam edited for radio and divided into two parts on the A and B sides
of a single. The A side instrumental, "Rock and Roll (Part 1)," reached #1 in France. The B side, "Rock and Roll (Part 2)," featured the chanted word "hey" throughout and was the more popular side in other countries, hitting the top 10 in
the USA and #2 in the UK. Pro sports franchises adopted "The Hey Song," as it was nicknamed, and played it over stadium PA systems to whip up crowds during home games.
"Rock and Roll (Part Two)" - Gary Glitter
(September 1972, highest chart position
#7 Billboard, #4 Cash Box)
IKE & TINA TURNER
Ike and Tina Turner have their own wing in the Shady's Law Hall of Fame (Shame). The volatile couple released more than their share of fine recordings that didn't perform very well on the Billboard chart. Case in point: "River Deep - Mountain High," a record produced by Phil Spector and regarded by the Wall of Sound maestro as his career best. The record went top 5 in Britain but only climbed to #88 stateside before tumbling back down the slippery slope. "Baby-Get It On," was another great Ike & Tina rock record that stopped at #88 on the pop chart. The 1975 single was the last one released by the turbulent team. Here they are along with their backing singers the Ikettes performing the song on Wolfman Jack's Midnight Special.
"Baby-Get It On" - Ike & Tina Turner
(June 1975, highest chart position #88)
After leaving the Motown super group, former Temptations lead singers David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks enjoyed moderately successful solo careers during the 70s. Eddie racked up two smashes with "Keep on Truckin'" and "Boogie Down" while David reaped hits with "My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)," "I've Got to Find Myself a Brand New Baby," and "I've Lost Everything I've Ever Loved." Like many other artists David Ruffin made a mid 70s transition to disco material, achieving hits with "Walk Away from Love" and "Heavy Love" both songs taken from his 1975 album
Who I Am. So if your Ruffin ready please listen to one of
David's best, the reflective, autobiographical title track.
"Who I Am" - David Ruffin (October 1975
from album Who I Am)
LITTLE RIVER BAND
Australia's Little River Band capped off the me decade with the release of a double sided hit single, both songs culled from the 1979 album First Under the Wire. "Lonesome Loser" was the first side to get noticed stateside, breaking into the top 10 after Labor Day.
"Lonesome Loser" - Little River Band
(September 1979, highest chart position #6)
The killer bee side of the single, "Cool Change," began charting just before Halloween, was a fixture on the radio during the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year holiday period, and reached its zenith in the top 10 at the start of 1980. Written by lead singer Glenn Shorrock, "Cool Change" is one of the greenest pop songs of the 20th century and was included on the list of the Top 30 Australian Songs of all time. I can't listen to it without getting misty, can you?
"Cool Change" - Little River Band
(December 1979, highest chart
"Cool Change" is one of those transcendent songs that resonates with people of all ages and invites a broader interpretation of its lyrics. To me it's an admonition that is far more urgent today than it was in 1979, a rallying call to every generation to preserve our planet's natural resources and live in harmony with all creatures great and small.
STOP THE POLLUTING.
STOP THE WHALING.
STOP THE POACHING.
STOP THE HATING.
STOP THE KILLING.
STOP THE MADNESS.
Ready for a cool change? Lord knows I am.
Have a Shady day!
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