1971 was a watershed year for rock music, a year in which there was a changing of the guard. The seekers, The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, The Supremes, The Doors (with the death of Jim Morrison on 3rd July) and Creedence Clearwater Revival had disbanded, and a number of acts that would dominate the 1970s were formed and/or emerged. Among them were ABBA, Electric Light Orchestra, Captain & Tenille, The Eagles and Daddy Cool. The solo music careers of The Beatles, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, Elton John (he had first international hit with "Your Song" in 1970-71), Donna Summer, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Michael Jackson, Rick Springfield all began in 1971.
Top 20 Singles of 1971
1. Eagle Rock - Daddy Cool (right)
"Some Negroes cut the chicken wing and do the eagle rock." That was the caption accompanying a photo of a group of dancing African-Americans which appeared under "blues" as part of a music-dictionary series in the Sunday Times Magazine in 1969. One person who took special note of that caption was Ross Wilson, who had travelled from Melbourne to London to sing in a group called Procession. "That phrase, 'do the eagle rock', stuck in my head," says Wilson. "At the same time I was mucking around with the guitar, trying to learn finger-picking styles and listening to compilations of rural blues from the 1920s and 1930s." Wilson came up with the distinctive guitar riff, the title and a few words before Procession disintegrated; he and his wife Pat made their way overland across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, eventually landing in Darwin. They ran out of money, so he got a job in a hotel in order to raise the bus fare back to Melbourne. "I remember spending hours pruning bougainvillaea and coming up with more ideas for 'Eagle Rock', 'Come Back Again' and 'Hi Honey Ho' in my head, because I had no access to a guitar. I finished the 'Eagle Rock' chorus when I finally got back to Melbourne in 1970."
Wilson remembers playing an early version of the song with his prog-rock band, Sons Of The Vegetal Mother, but it wasn't until he formed Daddy Cool later that year that the song took the shape we know today. Wilson maintains that even though it sounds like a simple song, "a lot of musicians find it difficult to play, because it's hard to nail the right feel". In June 1971 "Eagle Rock" went to No. 1 in Australia and became an instant classic. It is believed the song influenced Elton John into making a directional change in his career. "We got back from our first trip to America and we heard that Elton John had been to Australia on tour and had been telling interviewers that he liked "Eagle Rock" and "Come Back Again". Not long afterwards he changed his whole persona with "Crocodile Rock", where the thrust of the song is reminiscing about a dance we used to do when we were kids, and on the Honky Chateau album cover, Bernie Taupin [John's lyricist] is wearing a 'Daddy Who?' badge."
2. My Sweet Lord - George Harrison (right)
This landmark song, George Harrison's biggest solo hit, was lifted from his All Things Must Pass album, that was a collection of his recorded compositions which, for a variety of reasons, never made it onto Beatles albums. It marked the beginning of his, and in fact, all the Beatles' solo careers. In 1976, Bright Tunes Music sued Harrison because 'My Sweet Lord' sounded like the 1963 Chiffons hit "He's So Fine" which Bright Tunes owned the copyright for. They were awarded $587,000 when a judge ruled that Harrison "subconsciously plagiarized" the song. Harrison claimed it was inspired by The Edwin Hawkins Singers' "Oh Happy Day," not The Chiffons' "He's So Fine", and that seems highly reasonable. The song, in fact the whole album, was recorded at Abbey Road studios using the same equipment The Beatles used. There were some familiar faces at the sessions who had contributed to Beatles albums, including John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Billy Preston, Eric Clapton and Bobby Whitlock. With the blessing of Harrison and John Lennon (and over the objections of Paul McCartney), Phil Spector had just come out of retirement to produce the last Beatles album, Let It Be, so Harrison asked him to produce his All Things Must Pass album too, hence it's somewhat over-the-top 'wall-of-sound'. 'My Sweet Lord' is believed by many to be the best song ever recorded by all of The Beatles after their break-up, an interesting observation given that Lennon and McCartney were always seen as the talented songwriters of the group and Harrison was always looked upon as 'the other one'.
Morning Has Broken - Cat Stevens
Cat Stevens' album, Teaser And The Firecat, is not simply one of the best albums from 1971, but from the whole decade. Its a nearly perfect record, generating a level of awe and admiration similar to Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water. At its heart is Cat Stevens' spiritual journey through the world, rendered in warm and imaginative arrangements at once wise and childlike. Three singles from the album sold well and received considerable airplay at the time of release - "Moonshadow", "Peace Train" and "Morning Has Broken". The latter is actually a hymn set to music, and is one of a handful of secular songs to have crept into ecumenical services. According to Stevens: "I accidentally fell upon the song when I was going through a slightly dry period and I needed another song or two for Teaser And The Firecat. I came across this hymn book, found this one song, and thought, This is good. I put the chords to it and then it started becoming associated with me." The lyrics were written by Eleanor Farjeon, but a little known fact is that the tune to which the words for "Morning Has Broken" are sung is actually a tune adapted by Charles Stanford in 1902 for the traditional Irish prayer St. Patrick's Breastplate by Cecil Francis Alexander (who also wrote "all Things Bright and Beautiful" and "Once In Royal David's City"). Scottish children sang an old Christmas Gaelic hymn, "Child in a manger, Infant of Mary" to this tune. This hymn predated "Morning" and was written in Gaelic by Mary MacDonald before being translated into English. Rick Wakeman, a classically trained keyboardist who later became a member of Yes, played keyboards. He claims he was never paid the 10 pounds for his work and was "shattered" to be omitted from the credits. The familiar piano intro and general structure of the piece may be attributed to Stevens or to Wakeman.
3. The Pushbike Song - The Mixtures
This song is by The Mixtures though it's often mistakenly attributed to Mungo Jerry. That's understandable as The Mixtures first hit the big time by covering Mungo Jerry's "In the Summertime". Its follow-up, "The Pushbike Song", was written by the band's lead singer, Idris Jones, and his brother, Evan. Oddly enough, The Mixtures also had a song called "Henry Ford" on the same album as "The Pushbike Song". It was also released as a single and received airplay, but only reached No.29.
4. Daddy Cool - Drummond
A novelty song produced to cash in on the popularity of the band Daddy Cool. Who was Drummond? There was, in fact, no such band, the Chipmunks-style vocal sound was created in the studio under the name of Drummond. They were in fact Adelaide trio Graham Goble, Russ Johnson and John Mower, who had been members of the band Alison Gros. After the success of 'Daddy Cool' in 1971, they recorded their own material and became better known as Mississippi, the band that later evolved into Little River Band.
5. L.A. International Airport - Susan Raye (right)
Singer Susan Raye used this song to make the crossover from country to pop, having recorded a number of singles since breaking into country music in 1969. Her last charted solo hit, "Whatcha Gonna Do With a Dog Like That?" was released in 1975. Raye has recorded 25 albums and has earned two gold records. She got her start as protegee of legendary Country music singer Buck Owens. Owens and Raye recorded a number of hit albums and singles together because of this, which jumpstarted Raye's professional career as a solo artist. Raye had a number of Top 10 hits as a solo artist in the early 70s while achieving success with Owens before retiring towards the end of the decade.
6. I Don't Know How To Love Him - Helen Reddy
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice wrote this song for the rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar. The first to record it was Yvonne Elliman, originally from Hawaii, who was discovered by Rice and Webber at the Pheasantry Folk Club on Kings Road in Chelsea, England in 1969. They offered her the role of Mary Magdalene in their rock opera. Elliman reprised the role in the 1973 film version of Jesus Christ Superstar and won a Golden Globe award for her performance. Helen Reddy's cover version gave its name to Reddy's first American album in 1971.
7. Knock Three Times - Dawn
The producers of this song persuaded their old friend Tony Orlando (then working for the publishing arm of CBS Records) to record his lead vocal on a pair of demos after Bell Records' bigwigs didn't like the original lead singer. Tony Orlando was born Michael Anthony Orlando Cassivitis. He had US hits "Halfway to Paradise" (No.39) and "Bless You" (No.15) in 1961 as a 16-year-old solo recording artist. When this single was recorded, there was in fact no Dawn. A group called Hot Buttered Soul sang backup with Telma Hopkins sitting in for one of their regular singers. She ended up joining Orlando, and along with Joyce Vincent, they started recording as "Tony Orlando And Dawn." Dawn was named after Stacy Dawn Siegal, daughter of Tokens member Jay Siegal. It is said that one can hear ceiling tiles and plaster crashing down on the drumset of this recording as the song fades out. The tiles fell as a result of a studio hand banging on the pipes for sound effects all night.
8. Banks of the Ohio - Olivia Newton-John
Though she had been performing on Australian television for many years, it was not until Olivia Newton-John went to England in 1971 that her recording career really took off. Her first single was a cover of Bob Dylan's "If Not For You", which reached No.14 in Australia and was a minor hit in the US and Britain. It was quickly followed up by "Banks Of The Ohio", which did even better, reaching No.1 and staying in the Australian charts for nearly six months. This is an old traditional ballad from the US that probably goes back to the 1800's, and is similar to another song of the same period, "Pretty Polly". It has been recorded many, many times over. Bill and Charlie Monroe were the first known to record it, in 1936, and it is shown as public domain on their recording.
9. Rose Garden - Lynn Anderson (right)
This Grammy Award winning song by country singer Lynn Anderson was written by Joe South (born Joseph Alfred Souter). He had mega hits in the late 1960s and early 1970s with songs such as "Don't It Make You Wanna Go Home" and "Walk a Mile in My Shoes". His biggest and most-remembered single was "Games People Play" (1969), a Top 10 hit which bears a striking resemblance to the children's gospel song, "I Don't Want to Be a Pharisee". It was featured on his first album, Introspect. South was also a prominent session player, recording the memorable guitar part on Aretha Franklin's 'Chain of Fools', Tommy Roe's 'Sheila' as well as appearing on certain Blonde on Blonde album tracks for Bob Dylan. He also played the electric guitar part that was added to Simon & Garfunkel's first hit, 'The Sound of Silence'.
10. Eleanor Rigby - Zoot
It takes either a genius or a fool to tamper with a classic such as The Beatles' 'Eleanor Rigby' and that's exactly what Aussie band Zoot did in 1971. Zoot probably played it how The Beatles might have done had they not been under George Martin's influence - loud and rocky - and it works a treat - hat's off to you, guys! It reached No.3 in the Aussie top five in 1971. Lead singer here is Darryl Cotton. After the band split up, Cotton went onto a successful solo career in Australia while guitarist Beeb Birtles (on the right in the video clip) became a founding member of Little River Band. Rick Springfield (on the right in this clip) who went to the US and had numerous hit singles including 'Jessie's Girl' and also beame a soapy star in General Hospital. Penned by Paul McCartney, it is typical of Paul's songs of the Beatles era, with its two characters who seem to be unrelated to each other when they are introduced, but are then brought into ironic proximity to each other in the final scene.
11. Too Young To Be Married - The Hollies (right)
As the 1970s dawned, the Mersey sound that had dominated the previous decade began to fade and its proponents began to see life through different eyes. This new vision is reflected in The Hollies' emotional ballad "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," whose recording featured the piano playing of Elton John. It reached No. 3 in the UK. Though the only place where it was released as a single was Australia, Tony Hicks' working-class portrayal "Too Young to Be Married" was similarly effective in addressing a major social issue of its time that had for years been swept under the carpet.
12. Love Is A Beautiful Song - Dave Mills
Dave Mills was a Sydney based club and television performer for many years, having written some of the finest love songs of the early 70s. These include 'Love Is A Beautifil Song' and 'If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind', both of which he recorded. Cilla Black recorded a version of the latter, and it made the top ten singles charts.
13. Maggie May / Reason To Believe - Rod Stewart (right)
'Maggie May' was written by Rod Stewart and musician Martin Quittenton and recorded by Stewart with backing by his band, The Faces. It tells the story of a younger man becoming obsessed with an older woman and was written from Stewart's own personal experiences as a 16-year old. The song was initially released in Britain as the B-side but DJs preferred it to the A-song. After two weeks in the chart, the single was re-classified with "Maggie May" as the A-side. It topped the charts around the world, as did the album Every Picture Tells a Story, on which it appeared. It is a rare achievement which has been done by only a handful of other acts, notably The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel and, most recently, Beyoncé Knowles. The song launched Stewart as a solo artist. While he has sold millions of records and had countless hits around the world, it is still "Maggie May" for which he is best known. In 2003, Ray Jackson, who played mandolin on this recording, successfully sued Stewart for royalties. Jackson claimed he was paid a small sum for the session and was never paid any more when the song became a hit. The song is No.130 on Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs.
14. I Think I Love You - The Partridge Family (right) The Partridge Family was not a real family, or even a rock band, but a TV show family that ran from 1970-74, peaking in 1971-72. The Partridges were a fatherless family of six who, in the premier episode, decided to form a rock band and tour the country in a psychedelically-painted school bus. Most episodes began at the family home in California. Under the leadership of 70s supermom Shirley Partridge (Shirley Jones), the five Partridge kids survived various capers that almost always culminated in successful concerts. Mom covered lead vocals on the show, if not their subsequent records. Teenage stepson Keith (David Cassidy) helped keep the family in line. The series was distinguished for spawning highly successful, if short-lived, commercial tie-ins. Children's mystery books and comic books featured the Partridges; their musical albums were heavily promoted; and David Cassidy, one of the actors, became a teen idol. It was David who sang lead on The Partridge Family's biggest single, 'I Think I Love You'.
15. Band of Gold - Freda Payne
Like a number of songs from this period which had a 'hidden meaning', what this song is really about remains a mystery. Some people think it is about an impotent or gay man, while others think it is about a frigid woman. Because of the subject matter, Payne did not want to record it at first. When she objected to the lyrics, Ron Dunbar (co-writer of the song) said to her, "Don't worry. You don't have to like them! Just sing it," and she did. Little did she know that this song would become her biggest hit and would give her a gold record. The lead guitarist on this was Ray Parker Jr., who later found success singing the theme song for the comedy movie, Ghostbusters. Freda Payne is the older sister of Scherrie Payne, the final lead singer of The Supremes. 'Band of Gold' was written by Ronald Dunbar and Edith Wayne after they right Motown.
16. It's A Sin To Tell A Lie - Gerry Monroe
Gerry Monroe enjoyed a short but successful couple of years at the top of the charts in the early 70s with a series of revivals of songs from the 30s. 'Sally', recorded by Gracie Fields in 1931, is from the film 'Sally In Our Alley' (1931); 'My Prayer', by The Ink Spots (1939), was adapted from 'Avant de Mourir' by Georges Boulanger; 'It's A Sin To Tell A Lie', written by Billy Mayhew in 1933 was also recorded by The Ink Spots (1956). He won the TV talent quest Opportubnity Knocks performing this song in 1971.
17. Me and Bobby McGee - Janis Joplin (right)
Cultivating a rebellious manner that could be viewed as "liberated", Janis Joplin styled herself in part after her female blues heroines, and in part after the beat poets. Like many other female singers of the era, her feisty public image was in fact at odds with her real personality. The book Love, Janis, written by her sister, has done much to further the reassessment of her life and work and reveals the private Janis as a highly intelligent, articulate, shy and sensitive woman who was devoted to her family. Pearl, released posthmously in 1971, became the biggest selling album of her short career and featured this, her biggest hit single, which many believe to be the definitive version of Kris Kristofferson's 'Me and Bobby McGee' (I personally prefer Gordon Lightfoot's interpretation). Also on the album was the a capella 'Mercedes-Benz', a wry social commentary written by Joplin and beat poet Michael McClure. Joplin recorded 'Me and Bobby McGee' as she had had a brief affair with its composer, Kris Kristofferson. He used a secretary's name at his songwriting publisher's office for the title. Her name was actually Bobbi McKee. Kristofferson was inspired to write the song after hearing "Waiting For A Train" by Jimmie Rodgers (1928). The song was first recorded in 1970 by country singer Roger Miller, who was better known for his novelty songs. Anyone who has watched 'Austin City Limits' or been exposed to Willie Nelson's many TV interviews will know that folk guitar players call their guitar a Bobby McGee. "Holding Bobby's hand in mine" and "we sang every song that driver knew" are thought to be just euphemisms for using the only friend travelling singers can count on. When it speaks of "letting him slip away, he's looking for that home, and I hope he finds it", it is thought to mean he/she had to pawn the only thing he/she had that was worth anything, their guitar.
18. I Did What I Did For Maria - Tony Christie
Tony Christie (born Anthony Fitzgerald) enjoyed a few top 20 hits in the early 1970s - 'I Did What I Did For Maria', a version of Neil Sedaka's 'Solitaire' and 'Is This The Way To Amarillo?' He also had a minor hit with 'Avenues and Alleyways', the theme to the television series, The Protectors. Although his popularity had waned in his native Britain by the 1980s, he maintained a successful singing career in continental Europe. 'I Did What I Did For Maria' is a ballad about a widower who, on the eve of his execution, recalls how he avenged his dead wife with no visible remorse, hence the title. It has a 'mariachi' sound, and to modern listeners Christie can sound like Tom Jones.
19. Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep - Middle Of The Road (right)
Lally Stott was one of the many Brits working in Rome's lively music recording scene in the early 1970s. He approached RCA with a song he had written and recorded himself. His record label, Philips, had already had a hit with his version of the song in Italy but they were reluctant to release it anywhere else. Italian producer Giacomo Tosti heard it and immediately volunteered to produce a new version featuring his new Scottish band, Middle of the Road. They were reluctant at first to record it, but finally agreed to do it on condition that the recording session was supported with a supply of Bourbon to keep their spirits up. By a strange coincidence RCA executives from all over the world were visiting the studios for a company convention and were invited to the studio to hear the finished product. They all gave it the thumbs up and master copies were given to these executives for release in their respective territories. 'Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep' was set loose on the unsuspecting world and was a runaway success; it was followed up by the single, 'Tweedle Dee Tweedle Dum'.
20. I Hear You Knockin' - Dave Edmunds (right)
Welsh born Dave Edmunds entered showbiz as a member of the blues rock trio, Love Sculpture. After they split, Edmunds went solo and had a No.1 single with 'I Hear You Knocking', a cover of a 1955 single by Smiley Lewis, who was one of the biggest African-American R&B singers in New Orleans in the 1950s. Edmunds then learnt the trade of producer, culminating in a couple of singles in the style of Phil Spector - 'Baby I Love You' and 'Born To Be With You'. He then became linked with the US pub rock movement of that time and later had a number of other hits in his native Britain, among them "Queen of Hearts" and "I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock & Roll)." These were also minor hits in the US (where Juice Newton's 1981 cover of "Queen of Hearts" would also reach #2). This song was written by Dave Bartholomew and Pearl King and published in 1955, this Rhythm & Blues standard was first recorded by Smiley Lewis that same year, and has since been covered many times, most famously by Edmunds. Dave Bartholomew was Fats Domino's songwriting partner.
7. Love Is A Beautiful Song - David Mills
8. I'll Be Gone - Spectrum
Spectrum was formed in 1969 and performed mainly on the Melbourne disco circuit. They had trouble getting a recording contract as their material was considered uncommercial. Spectrum was finally signed up with EMI in 1971 and recorded 'I'll Be Gone', which became a bit hit. It reached No.1 within weeks of its release and stayed in the charts for five months. Spectrum had two more hits before developing the group as two separate entities to cater for their mixed audience.
9. Bonnie, Please Don't Go - Kevin Johnson (right)
Like Ted Mulry, Kevin Johnson started out as a songwriter, composing for artists like Col Joye and other who performed on the TV variety show, Bandstand. He was persuaded to record an album of his songs - In Quiet Corners Of My Mind - from which was lifted what became his first single, 'Bonnie, Please Don't Go'. It was a melancholy ballad which saw the tune and words of 'Auld Lang Syne' cleverly melded into the song. Two years later, Johnson recorded his biggest single ever, 'Rock and Roll (I Gave You The Best Years Of My Life)'.
10. Falling In Love Again - Ted Mulry
During the day Edward Mulry drove a bulldozer for the NSW Main Roads Department, in the evening he was a budding songwriter. In 1970 he made a tape of his songs which by chance was heard by Tony Geary of EMI Records. Ted was flattered but reluctant to take up EMI's offer of a recording contract, seeing himself more of a composer than a performer. He took their advice, however, and the single he cut - 'Julia' - was released in February 1970 and sold well. It was followed up by another self composition, 'Falling In Love Again', which was Ted's biggest hit as a solo performer. He used the song to attempt to break into the US music scene, but failed to get airplay there and sold poorly.
Another Day - Paul McCartney (right)
In between the breakup of The Beatles and the formation of his new band, Wings, Paul McCartney produced two solo album and a number of singles. He made his solo debut with the stand-alone single, 'Another Day', which was written in the distinctive observational style of his mid-1960s Beatles days. McCartney's second solo album, named Ram, featured some interesting but quite uncommercial songs, and was clearly a personal project that Paul wanted to get out of his system before moving on. It produced another hit, 'Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey'. View the video online
She's A Lady - Tom Jones
After having a huge hit with 'Green, Green Grass Of Home' in 1966, Welsh singer Tom Jones was lured Stateside by the bright lights of Las Vegas where his cabaret show became somewhat of an institution. His act was ready-made for Las Vegas (where he became friends with Elvis Presley), and from 1969-71 he also had his own TV show, This Is Tom Jones. Jones's star faded a bit in the 1970s, but the odd hit, like 'She's A Lady', kept his name alive outside of Vegas. In 1988 he reinvented himself, joining the cutting-edge band, Art of Noise, to remake the Prince hit "Kiss" into a hit of his own. Since then he has enjoyed a new round of success, thanks to nostalgic fans and a new generation of retrophiles. View the video online
Mammy Blue - Joel Dayde
The Los Pop Tops were the first of many to record an English language version of this song, charting in the US in 1971 and peaking at 57. The song was written by Frenchman Hubert Giraud. He apparently got the idea for it in a traffic jam! After that, the sequence of events is unclear. At some point Giraud sent it to an Italian producer and it was recorded by 16-year old Ivana Spagna. Frenchman Joel Dayde picked it up and had a hit with it in France and so too did Nicoletta. Meantime Los Pop Tops' Phil Trim wrote English lyrics for it, and recorded his version. Joel Dayde's English version went to No. 3 in Australia, and Roger Whittaker had a UK hit with it too. In South Africa it was a hit for a group called Charisma. Hear the song online
Hot Love - T.Rex
T. Rex (originally known as Tyrannosaurus Rex) was a British rock band fronted by Marc Bolan (right). Founded in 1960s London, they found success as a leading exponent of glam rock in the 1970s. Their music consisted of eccentric pastoral and folk-tinged ditties steeped in Tolkienian mythology, with spiritual homages to Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran thrown into the mix for good measure. When Bolan took over the band's leadership, the name was shortened to T-Rex, and the glam rock sound and look for which they are now known was introduced. The first single in the new style, 'Ride A White Sawn', was followed by 'Hot Love', though at this point the band consisted only of Bolan, who had been backed a few studio musicians on the recordings. A full band was hastily formed and began to tour to increasing audiences, with teenage girls replacing the hippies of old. Chelita Secunda (wife of pop manager Tony Secunda) added two spots of glitter under Bolan's eyes before an appearance on Top of the Pops, which is controversially viewed as the official birth of glam rock (some attribute its beginnings to Alice Cooper, who would dress in torn women's clothing as part of his stage act). After Bolan's glittery display, however, glam rock swept Britain and many parts of Europe during 1971/1972, spawning numerous acts of varying ability. View the video online
Won't Get Fooled Again - The Who (right)
A stunning, powerful protest song written by The Who's Pete Townshend about how the more things change the more they stay the same. It sounds like no other other song ever written - except perhaps Townshend's other classic, "Who Are You", written a few years later, with its dynamic pulsating rhythm, scorching vocals by Roger Daltry, simple but clever organ solo by guest artist Al Kooper and Peter Moon's frantic drumming which bursts in and out around John Entwhistle's incredibly complex bass lines. If there was ever a song to get one hyper, it is this one. The song was first released as the final track on the album, Who's Next, in August 1971, and then as a single. The songs on Who's Next was the remains of an abortive rock opera, Lifehouse, about a futuristic world where the people are enslaved, but saved by a rock concert. It set a hard rock standard that even its creators struggled to emulate. The song was originally over eight minutes long but was cut to 3 1/2 minutes for its single release. In Townshend: A Career Biography, Pete explained that the song was anti-establishment, but that "revolution is not going to change anything in the long run, and people are going to get hurt." View the video online
Take Me Home Country Roads - John Denver and Fat City
Though a songwriter whose compositions were already well known eg. "Leaving On A Jet Plane", John Denver (real name John Deutchendorf) didn't write this song, in fact, when he recorded it he had never even been to West Virginia. Two musicians, Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert, wrote it while driving to Maryland - and they'd never been to West Virginia either! Danoff got his inspiration from postcards sent to him by a friend who lived there. Denver was introduced to the song by its composers who were married at the time.
At the time, it wasn't finished, but before John right, it was brought to the form that exists today. John was included as a writer because he helped finish it off, although he had nothing to do with its origins. The road that inspired this song is one of the main streets in Germantown called Clopper Road and, like the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah River, is in fact in Virginia, not West Virginia. At the time this song was written and recorded, Denver was working at a Washington, D.C. folk club called the Cellar Door, sharing the bill with Bill Denoff and Taffy Nivert, who worked under the name of Fat City. Denoff and Nivert later formed the Starland Vocal Band, who charted with "Afternoon Delight" in 1977. View the video online
Symphonia No. 40 (Mozart) - Waldo De Los Rios
With the suicide death of Waldo de los Rios in March 1977, Latin music lost one of its greatest interpreters of classical music. A master at creating lush, heavily orchestrated numbers, De Los Rios is best-remembered for his successful transformation of European classical music into popular music. His most successful work was a 1971 update of Mozart's 1788 composition Symphony No. 40, lifted from De Los Rios' revolutionary album, Symphonies For Swingers. The album, and two others that followed, took well known classical pieces and added a pop beat so as to make them palatable to audiences who had been previously shunned orchestral music. To the classical music establishment, what he did was sacrilegious and he was severely criticized to such a degree that many believe it led to his tragic suicide. Hear the recording online
Crunchy Granola Suite - Neil Diamond (right)
'Crunchy Granola Suite' was one of Neil Diamond's biggest hits from a period when he was at his creative peak. It is a simple, fun song about, well, let Neil tell us: "When I wrote 'Crunchy Granola Suite' I was newly transplanted to California and was impressed by the health food consciousness there. I actually thought 'Crunchy Granola Suite' might change people's eating habits!" Neil is a superb live peformer and one of the greatest songwriters ever but is not known as a great guitarist. He is known as 'The Basher' for his guitar playing style that is very well suited to up tempo three chord songs but in live concerts he does not always play the right chords, so his guitar's mic is often turned down in the mix. Diamond was a top fencer in his youth and you can sometimes see fencing moves in his guitar style. View the video online
Mercedes Benz - Janis Joplin
The husky voiced Janis Joplin wrote this song with a poet named Michael McClure as a social commentary on how people relate happiness and self-worth with money and material possessions. "Mercedes Benz" is the eighth track on Janis' posthumously released 1971 album, Pearl. The car company Mercedes-Benz used the song in the 90s in one of their car commercials and totally missed the irony of it - the song's message is that owning a luxury automobile does not make you a better person! There are two versions of the song in circulation, both are live concert recordings sung a capella - she always finished her concerts singing this song in that way. The version on the Pearl album was recorded on 1st October 1970. If Joplin had lived, her recording company may have added instruments to it before releasing it, but Joplin died three days later, and it was considered better to leave it as fans would recall hearing her singing it. The phrase "Dialing for Dollars" in the second verse refers to a game show which used to be played on Janis' local radio station when she was a child. Home contestants would ring up and listen to paper money being counted. If they counted the correct number of notes, they would win that amount. Hear the song online
Stairway To Heaven - Led Zeppelin (right)
Led Zeppelin first released the song in 1971 on their fourth studio album, Zoso, sometimes called Led Zeppelin IV. It is widely accepted as one of the greatest of all rock songs and is the most frequently requested song on FM radio stations in the US, despite never being released as a single. It did, however, appear as a promotional disc in the US, on an Australian EP, and in the 1990s as a 20th anniversary promo issue. The lyrics, written in one evening by Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant while sitting next to a log fire, were said to have been inspired by his search for spiritual perfection. Rolf Harris' Harris' career received a boost in 1993 when his cover version of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" became a hit, reaching No.7 of the UK singles chart. Harris originally performed the song, live, during an appearance on the television comedy show The Money or the Gun. Each episode of The Money or the Gun featured a rendition of "Stairway to Heaven" but in the idiosyncratic style of another performer. Harris' version of the song recreated the song in the style of "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport", complete with wobble board and didgeridoo solos.
Although he had the sheet music, Harris claims that he had not heard the original version when he recorded his; as such, he disavows any claim that his version was intended to be irreverent or humorous. Harris' version was one of 28 versions of the song performed on the show - and his version is one of the 25 versions of the song which was released on the The Money or the Gun's Stairways to Heaven video and CD. A wobble board Harris used to perform "Stairway to Heaven" on Top of the Pops is now part of the National Museum of Australia collection. In reply to Rolf Harris' version, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant performed his song "Sun Arise" at the end of an Andrew Denton TV interview on which they performed "Stairway to Heaven". More ... | View the video online | View the Rolf Harris' version online
Put Your Hand In The Hand - Ocean
Though the record failed to chart in the UK, it was a major hit elsewhere, including Australia. The song was popular within the Jesus People movement of the time, but the lyrics were modified to make them more palatable to the general public. The Canadian band, Ocean, from Toronto comprised singer Janice Brown, singer-keyboardist Greg Brown, bassist Jeff Jones, guitarist Dave Tamblyn and drummer Chuck Slater. Several singles by Ocean followed during the early '70s, but none were as popular as the debut. Ocean disbanded in 1975. Hear the song online
Toast And Marmalade For Tea - Tin Tin
Not to be confused with the Belgian cartoon character, Tin Tin comprised of two Australians, Steve Kipner and Steve Groves. They teamed up in the mid 60s, hoping to make it as songwriters. After getting nowhere "back home", they relocated to London, cut a record as "Steve and Stevie". They then met up with Maurice Gibb, who got them a contract with Robert Stigwood's operation and some studio time in the summer of 1969. Gibb produced their debut album and played on some of the tracks. Their second single was "Toast and Marmalade for Tea", featuring lead vocals by Kipner, with Maurice lending a hand with backing vocals. The single sold well, but nothing further clicked, and Steve and Stevie eventually went their separate ways. Kipner gained success as a songwriter; he wrote "Hard Habit to Break", a huge hit for Chicago and co-wrote Olivia Newton-John's "Physical". View the video online
Black Dog - Led Zeppelin (right)
"Black Dog" is featured as the lead-off track of Led Zeppelin's fourth studio album, released in 1971. It was also released as a single in the US and Australia with "Misty Mountain Hop" on the B-side; it reached No.11 in Australia. Led Zeppelin bass player John Paul Jones, who is credited with writing the main riff, got the idea for "Black Dog" after hearing Muddy Waters' experimental psychedelic-blues album, Electric Mud. He wanted to try "electric blues with a rolling bass part." Jones also wanted to write a song that people couldn't "groove" or dance to. The song's title is rumoured to stem from a nameless black dog that wandered around the Headley Grange studios during recording. The dog has nothing to do with the song's lyrics, which are about desperate desire for a woman's love and the happiness resulting thereby. Regarding the lyrics, Robert Plant once said, "Not all my stuff is meant to be scrutinized. Things like 'Black Dog' are blatant, let's-do-it-in-the-bath type things, but they make their point just the same." Plant's vocal was recorded in two takes. More ...View the video online
Brown Sugar - The Rolling Stones
Though credited to singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards, the song was primarily the work of Jagger, who wrote it sometime during the filming of Ned Kelly in Australia in 1969. Originally recorded over a three day period in Alabama during December 1969, the song was not released until over a year later due to legal wranglings with the band's former label, though the Stones debuted the number live during their infamous concert at Altamont. The song, with its prominent blues-rock riffs, dual horn/guitar instrumental break, and danceable rock rhythms, is representative of the Stones' definitive mid-period and the tough, bluesy hard-rock most often associated with the group. However, its lyrical subject matter has often been a point of interest and controversy. Described by rock critic Robert Christgau as "a rocker so compelling that it discourages exegesis", "Brown Sugar's" popularity indeed often overshadowed its scandalous lyrics, which were essentially a pastiche of a number of taboo subjects, including interracial sex, cunnilingus, slave rape, and less distinctly, sadomasochism, lost virginity, and heroin use. The song is particularly noted for Jagger's rich use of imagery.
In the liner notes to the 1993 compilation disc Jump Back, Jagger says, "The lyric was all to do with the dual combination of drugs and girls. This song was a very instant thing, a definite high point." When the Rolling Stones performed "Brown Sugar" live, Jagger often changed the lyrics from, "Just like a young girl should," to, "Just like a young man should." The line, "Hear him whip the women just around midnight," is often changed to the less offensive, "You should'a heard him just around midnight." This is evidenced in their live albums Love You Live, Flashpoint and Live Licks. View the video online
Can You Feel It Baby - Sherbet
English-born guitarist Clive Shakespeare formed the original Sherbet in April 1969, combining the remnants of his earlier group, Downtown Roll Band, and another band, Clapham Junction. Sherbet released its first single 'Crimson Ships', a Badfinger song, in March 1970. By the time it was released the singer on that single, Dennis McLaughlin, had defected, replaced by ex-Samael Lilith singer Daryl Braithwaite (right). The singles 'Can You Feel It Baby' and 'Free The People' both reached the lower reaches of the national charts, but in January 1972 a rift within the group nearly led to the band breaking up. Singer Daryl Braithwaite and bassist Bruce Worrall were planning to leave and form another group. In the end, Braithwaite agreed to stay, but Worrall right, and was replaced by Tony Mitchell. It was this Sherbet line-up which would dominate the charts with an unprecedented string of fifteen more hit singles over the next five years. View the video online
Free The People - Sherbet
See also "Can You Feel It Baby" (above). "Free The People", a Barbara Keith composition, was a cover of a Delaney & Bonnie & Friends concert favourite that was a minor US hit in 1970 and a Jesus People anthem. A married couple, Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett were the Bonnie & Clyde of late 60s and early 70s Roots rock, and helped pioneer Hippie music. They are best known in Australia for the original version of The New Seekers' hit, "Never Ending Song of Love". Along with the drugged-out Blues Rock of J.J. Cale, Delaney & Bonnie were a great influence on Eric Clapton, who, along with Leon Russell, was one of the "Friends" of their backup band. Bonnie had been a back-up singer for the likes of Count Basie and Aretha Franklin (she was also the first white member of Ike and Tina Turner’s Ikettes), while while Delaney cut his musical teeth as a Mississippi sideman for Elvis Presley before tuning up on TV’s Shindig (he played guitar in the house band, The Shindogs). In the 1970s he played side guitar for George Harrison on his "All Things Must Pass" set and was a back up musician forJoe Cocker, Leon Russell, Eric Clapton, The Allman Brothers Band and others. View the video online
Coz I Luv You - Slade (right)
Slade were one of the most recognisable acts of the glam rock movement and were, at their peak, the most commercially popular band in the UK. They are well known for the deliberate misspelling of their song titles and for the song "Merry Xmas Everybody" (released December 1973), now one of the most iconic Christmas pop songs in the United Kingdom. Slade were praised by their fans for their critically acclaimed live shows and their long string of hits. During the height of their success, Slade out-performed their chart rivals Wizzard, Sweet, T. Rex, Suzi Quatro, Mud, Smokie, Gary Glitter, Roxy Music and David Bowie. In the UK, Slade had 17 top 20 hits between 1971 and 1976 including six No.1s, three No.2s and two No.3s.
No other UK act of the period enjoyed such consistency in the UK top 40 and Slade actually came the closest to emulating The Beatles' 22 top ten records in a single decade. Three of their singles entered the charts at No.1 and they sold more singles in the UK than any other group of the 1970s. Partly due to changes in music trends and the advent of punk rock and New Wave music, Slade's success faded somewhat by the late 1970s, although the group continued to release records and punk bands were not afraid to cite them as an influence. "Coz I Luv You" was only released as a single in Australia. View the video online
Draggin' the Line - Tommy James (right)
Tommy James and The Shondells broke up in 1970 after recording a string of hits. James then went solo and had two further chart hits with "Draggin' the Line" (No.4) and "Three Times In Love" (No.19 in the US in 1980). The song is believed to be an expression of James' new-found love of life after he became a born again Christian. View the video online
Get It On - T. Rex
"Get It On" was the second No.1 song for the British rock group T. Rex. It was lifted from their best-known album, Electric Warrior. "Get It On" is seen by many to be the greatest single of the glam rock era, with its wailing feedback and elegant strings counterpointing against its (much imitated) riff. However, Bolan claims to have written the song out of his desire to record Chuck Berry's "Little Queenie", and says that the riff is totally taken from the Berry song. In fact, a line of "Little Queenie" - "and meanwhile, I'm still thinking" - is said at the fade of "Get It On". At concerts, singer Marc Bolan would rub a tambourine up and down the fretboard of his white Fender Stratocaster during the song's climax. Numerous artists have copied (deliberately or subconsciously) the song's main riff, notably the band Oasis, who controversially plagiarised "Get It On" on their singles "Cigarettes & Alcohol" and "Some Might Say". The band AC/DC (whose Malcolm Young was a Bolan fan) used a similar sounding riff on the title track of their High Voltage album in 1975. Prince also used a similar riff on his U.S. chart-topper "Cream". The 1974 Rolling Stones song, "It's Only Rock'n Roll (But I Like It)" also uses a similarly styled riff. View the video online
Grandad - Clive Dunn (right)
Clive Dunn is best known for his role as Lance-Corporal Jack Jones in the BBC TV sitcom, Dad's Army. After a break for service in the army in World War II, in the course of which he spent four years in prisoner-of-war camps and labour camps in Austria, he worked for many years in music halls and theatres. From an early time his trademark character was that of a doddering old man. In the 1960s he made many appearances with Tony Hancock, Michael Bentine, Dora Bryan and Dick Emery, among others, before winning the role of Jones in Dad's Army in 1968. Dunn was actually one of the younger members of the Dad's Army cast, at 48, when he took on the role of the elderly butcher whose military service in earlier wars made him the most experienced member of the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard. Dunn's strong Socialist beliefs often caused him to fall out with Arthur Lowe, a committed Conservative who played Captain George Mainwaring.
In fact, when the series ended and Dunn finally accepted an OBE after many offers, it was reported that Lowe would only accept a higher-rated honour from the Queen. While starring in Dad's Army, Dunn met bassist Herbie Flowers at a party and on learning he was a songwriter, challenged him to write a song for him. Flowers wrote "Grandad" with Creation bassist Kenny Pickett. The single was released in November 1970 and aided by appearances on children's shows such as Basil Brush and DJ Tony Blackburn claiming it as his favourite record, it soon reached the charts. Dunn never had another hit but released an album, Permission To Sing Sir! After Dad's Army ended, Dunn capitalised on the song by playing the title character in the children's TV series Grandad, from 1979 to 1984. After the cancellation of Grandad in 1984, he effectively disappeared from the screen, retiring to Portugal. View the video online
Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves - Cher (right)
"Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" was the first single from Cher's 1971 self-titled album, Cher. The album was subsequently renamed and re-released as Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves following the success of the single. The song originated as a story-song called "Gypsies and White Trash" before songwriter Bob Stone revised it at the request of producer Snuff Garrett. Today it remains one of Cher's signature songs. The lyric is often unjustly ridiculed for their claim to have "picked up a boy just south of Mobile", the reason being that "just south of Mobile" is somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, there are at least six small communities directly south of Mobile on the west side of the bay, and twice that many on the east side. The video for "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" was Cher's first music video. It was a recorded performance of the song on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour in 1971. Throughout the video, Cher is singing in front of a house wagon and in front of a fire. View the video online
Help Me Make It Through the Night - Sammi Smith (right)
Country singer-songwriter Kris Kistofferson began his career in the music business as a cleaner. He jumped at an opportunity to demonstrate his writing ability, and the rest, as they say, is history. Kristofferson released his version of this song on his 1970 album, Kristofferson. Country singer Sammi Smith's version ranks among the most successful country singles of all time in terms of sales, popularity and radio airplay. Many other American singers would record it through the 1970s and early 1980s: the most successful version after Smith's was by Gladys Knight and the Pips in 1972. Johnny Cash and his wife, June Carter Cash, have also covered this song in a duet. In their version, Johnny inserts "June" before the line "tonight I need a friend" as a sign of affection for her. Kristofferson's original lyrics speak of a man's yearning for sexual intimacy, yet they were controversial in 1971 because they were sung by a woman: "I don't care what's right or wrong, I don't try to understand / Let the devil take tomorrow, Lord tonight I need a friend."
Late in 1971, folk legend Joan Baez also recorded the song, including it on her Blessed Are ... album. (In her 1987 memoirs, Baez disclosed that she'd had an affair with Kristofferson around this same time, hinting that she may have been the subject of the song). In 1990, country novelty musician Ray Stevens produced a parody of the song, not only playing it to a more-upbeat tempo, but interspersing each line with jokes mocking those lines (i.e., the first line, "Take the ribbon from your hair," is followed by a ripping sound followed by a woman yelling). View the video online
How Can You Mend A Broken Heart? - The Bee Gees (right)
This touching song was written by Barry and Robin Gibb in August 1970, when the Gibb brothers had reconciled following a period of break-up and alienation. They have said that they originally offered the song to Andy Williams, but ultimately they recorded it themselves and included it on their 1971 album, Trafalgar. The song failed to chart in the UK, but it became the Bee Gees first U.S. No.1 hit. Al Green covered the track on his 1972 album, Let's Stay Together. It was also covered by Michael Bublé in 2003, with Barry Gibb performing back-up vocals on the self-titled album, Michael Bublé. View the video online
Is This the Way to Amarillo? - Tony Christie (right)
Yorkshire born Tony Christie (born Anthony Fitzgerald, 25th April 1943) had two Top Twenty hits in 1971 with "I Did What I Did For Maria", and "Is This the Way to Amarillo", which peaked at No.18. In the UK, he also had a minor hit with "Avenues & Alleyways", the theme to the television series, The Protectors. His early songs were dramatic big-voiced numbers, many of which were written by Mitch Murray and Peter Callendar. He played the role of Magaldi on the original 1976 album recording of the musical Evita, and sought to represent the UK in the 1976 Eurovision Song Contest, with the song "The Queen of the Mardi Gras" but came third in the national contest to select an entrant, behind eventual contest winners Brotherhood of Man. Although his popularity waned in his native England, he maintained a successful singing career in continental Europe through most of the 1980s and 1990s. View the video online
It's Too Late - Carole King
"It's Too Late", first released as a track on Carole King's 1971 album, Tapestry, is often cited as the song which best captured the spirit of the early 1970s. Toni Stern (a painter who worked on the Tapestry album cover) wrote the lyrics, and King wrote the music. It was released as the B-side to "I Feel the Earth Move", but continuous airplay helped it become the more popular song. Just before her success as a solo artist, King toured with James Taylor for a time. Many people tended to think that this song was about a short romance between the two. King never confirmed these rumours, and Taylor later dated and married Carly Simon. "It's Too Late" was covered by The Isley Brothers on their 1972 album, Brother, Brother, Brother, and Gloria Estefan on her 1994 album Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me. Dina Caroll also covered the song in 1991. An all-star roster of artists paid tribute to King on the 1995 album Tapestry Revisited: A Tribute to Carole King and "It's Too Late" was covered by Amy Grant. The song won a Grammy for Record Of The Year in 1972. View the video online
It Don't Come Easy - Ringo Starr (right)
Starr's second solo single (the first was 'Beaucoups Of Blues') after the breakup of The Beatles was reported at the time to have been composed by him in 1970. Decades later, he admitted that George Harrison "co-wrote" the song (as he did with Starr's other hits such as "Photograph"). But controversy still surrounds the assertion that Ringo really wrote the complex and mature song - especially since demo tapes have surfaced by Harrison where Ringo is completely absent and the song is more or less in its final form. Whether Harrison really wrote it or not (and gave it to his friend to start him on his career), the released version (recorded on 8th March 1970) included George Harrison on guitar, Klaus Voorman on bass guitar, Stephen Stills, Ron Cattermole (brass), Badfinger members Pete Ham and Tom Evans performing background vocals, and Starr on drums and lead vocals. The single was not released until 13 months after it had been recorded. The song didn't see inclusion on an album until the release of Ringo's 1975 Apple greatest hits compilation, Blast from Your Past. Starr performed the song at the Concert for Bangla Desh in 1971. View the video online
Jack In A Box - Clodagh Rodgers (right)
Four years after "Puppet on a String", sung by Sandie Shaw, won the Eurovision Song Contest, the British sent another cheery song whose title refers to a toy, and they were duly rewarded with yet another top-five placing. Written by David Myers and composed by John Worsley, this song was performed by the Northern Irish singer Clodagh Rodgers. 1971 was the first year "preview" videos were required to be shown by each national broadcaster; the BBC used footage from It's Cliff Richard! to showcase during Preview Week. At Dublin, the song was performed ninth on the night, after Luxembourg's Monique Melsen with "Pomme, pomme, pomme", and before Belgium's Lily Castel and Jacques Raymond with "Goeiemorgen, Morgen." For the performance Rodgers wore a pink frilly top and spangled hot pants.
At the end of judging that evening, "Jack in the Box" took the fourth-place slot with 98 points. Rodgers recently described her time in eurovision as "The most embarressing time of her life". There was much concern at the time over what reaction Rodgers would get from the Irish public for representing the UK. She in fact received a number of death threats from the I.R.A. who saw her as a traitor to Ireland. The song was Rodgers' biggest hit and her only hit outside of the UK. "Jack In A Box" was heard in many sketches of the Monty Python's Flying Circus episode, The Cycling Tour, in which an injured motorist believes, as a result of head trauma, that he is Clodagh Rodgers. View the video online
Jeepster - T. Rex
Glam rock band T. Rex lifted this song from their second album, Electric Warrior. It peaked at No.2 in the UK charts, and was controversial in that Fly Records released it without singer Marc Bolan's prior permission, since Bolan had just right Fly for EMI, which had given him control of his own label. The music and rhythm are quite close to that of the Howlin' Wolf song, "You'll Be Mine", written by Willie Dixon. In interviews, Marc Bolan has acknowledged that he "lifted it from a Howlin' Wolf song". The song is featured in Quentin Tarantino's 2007 film, Death Proof. View the video online
Joy to the World - Three Dog Night (right)
Hoyt Axton wrote this for an animated TV special called The Happy Song that never materialised. Hoyt and Mae Axton are the only mother-son team to each be credited with writing a No.1 record. There are differing opinions as to the origin of the line, "Jeremiah was a bullfrog". One source states that it is a corruption of the first line of a gospel song, "Jeremiah was a prophet", but there is scant evidence to support this. If the line is an Axton original, the opening lines, "Jeremiah was a bullfrog, was a good friend of mine. Never understood a single word he said, but I helped him drink his wine," would probably have been inspired by John Jeremiah, the keyboardist for '70s Rock group Aliotta, Haynes and Jeremiah. In 1979, Axton started a record label called "Jeremiah," which was named after the character in this song. Axton has claimed that the words are nonsensical, that he simply wanted to convince his record producers to record a new melody he had written and the producers asked him to sing any words to the tune.
Three Dog Night never really wanted to record the song but they needed one last track for their Naturally album. They recorded it before Axton had a chance to re-write sensible lyrics; it was buried in the middle of the second side, and the band did not expect to hear about it again. They had been on an overseas tour when that album was released and were greatly surprised to hear that the song they didn't want to record ended up being a big hit. Axton has said that when he first heard the song, he wasn't happy with the arrangment as it was completely different to the one he had recorded on his demo version. But he said that when the songwriting royalty checks started to arrive, he loved it! The "single" version used studio musicians, while the "album" version used Three Dog Night's touring band. The group decided to use their touring band instead of studio musicians for their "Harmony" album, but the single had already been recorded. Three Dog Night's "Never Been to Spain" was also written by Axton. The band got their name from an old saying - "If it was cold at night, you slept with your dogs for warmth. The next day you might tell a friend, Man, it was a three dog night last night." View the video online
Love Her Madly - The Doors
"Love Her Madly" appears on The Doors' final album with frontman Jim Morrison, L.A. Woman. The song was composed by the band's guitarist, Robby Krieger. It is about the numerous times his girlfriend threatened to leave him. The song was released as a single in April of 1971 and became one of The Doors' biggest chart hits. Producer Paul Rothchild criticised it as "elevator music." Rothchild, who was recording with Janis Joplin until her untimely death in October 1970, did not like the attitude of The Doors, who all seemed apathetic and indifferent during the early stages of the LA Woman album sessions. Eventually he right and told the Doors to produce the record on their own (with the help of Bruce Botnick, their engineer). The Doors then got their act together, and produced what Manzarek considered to be their finest album to date. "Love Her Madly" was recorded in a very casual atmosphere. The musicians all played together, with no overdubs. They produced it themselves; the whole album was recorded in just two weeks. In 2000, Krieger, John Densmore, and Ray Manzarek recorded a new version of 'Love Her Madly' with Bo Diddley for the Doors tribute album, Stoned Immaculate. The Doors' lead singer, Jim Morrison, was found dead in a bath tub in Paris, France, on 3rd July 1971, aged 27. Hear the song online
Never Can Say Goodbye - The Jackson 5 (right)
Written by future Amen TV star Clifton Davis, this song featured 12-year-old Michael Jackson singing a serious song about love, with accompaniment from his brothers. Although such a record was unusual for a teenage group, "Never Can Say Goodbye" was a No.1 hit in the US and made the top 10 in Australia. The song was later covered by a number of artists, including Isaac Hayes, The Sandpipers, The Communards, Yazz and Vanessa Williams. A second major Motown version, re-released as a disco record by Gloria Gaynor in 1974, was a hit on the U.S. Pop Singles Chart, and one of the defining recordings of the disco era. View the video online
One Bad Apple - The Osmonds
Written by George Jackson who also wrote the follow-up single "Double Lovin'" for the Osmonds, it was released as a single in December 1970 and topped music charts worldwide in 1971. It was one of their biggest hits. The Osmonds' career started with a big break at Disneyland, followed quickly by regular appearances on The Andy Williams Show in the early 1960s. In the mid-60s they performed with Sweden's most popular singer Lars Lönndahl, and gained a lot of popularity in Sweden. However, their most successful period was the early 1970s when they achieved a string of chart hits, the first of which was "One Bad Apple". They were joined for a time by younger brothers Donny Osmond and subsequently 'Little' Jimmy Osmond. Donny, and to a lesser extent Jimmy, both achieved success as solo artists, as did their one sister, (Olive) Marie Osmond. View the video online
Peace Train - Cat Stevens
Along with John Lennon's "Give Peace A Chance," "Peace Train" is one of the most famous war-protest songs in history, written during a train journey that inspired the lyrics. Lifted from Stevens' Teaser and the Firecat album, the song is one of many top sellers released by the artist in the early 1970s. In 2005, the plight of war-ravaged Iraqi children drew the quiet Muslim convert out of reclusion and once again into the music spotlight. According to Stevens, "Peace Train is a song I wrote, the message of which continues to breeze thunderously through the hearts of millions. There is a powerful need for people to feel that gust of hope rise up again. As a member of humanity and as a Muslim, this is my contribution to the call for a peaceful solution." He re-recorded the song for War Child in 2003. View the video online
Rainy Days and Mondays - The Carpenters
"Rainy Days and Mondays" was the duo's fourth No.1 song everywhere but in the UK; when re-issued there it only went to No.63. The song was composed in 1971 by the then relatively unknown composers Roger Nichols and Paul Williams. It was released as the first track on the album Carpenters. The B-Side on the single is "Saturday." Williams recalls the song came to life when he first turned to song writing when his movie acting career died. He recalls: "I'd stay up all night, I'd started to plunk out writing songs. My mother would get up in the morning, and she's like, 'Don't worry, my son, God has a plan.' And she'd talk to herself, she'd mumble. And she'd walk away, 'oh jesus, I hope so...' I'd go, 'Mom, what's the matter?' She'd say, 'You wouldn't understand. I'm just feeling old. Just feeling old.'
So she'd talk to herself. So I think that's probably where, 'Talking to myself and feeling old' came from, because she would jabber to herself, and whenever you'd ask her she'd say, 'I'm just feeling old today. I'm not sad, I'm just feeling old.' Chuck Kay, who was head of publishing at A&M, said, 'That's a perfect song for The 5th Dimension, let's play it for them.' I said, 'Well, there are a couple of lines that aren't done yet.' He said, 'You'll finish it in the car.' So in the car going over there, I came up with a fill line, which was 'What I've got they used to call the blues.' I didn't have that line done yet, so I wrote it as just a quick fill line, because I wanted to mention the blues, but it was such a hackneyed expression, 'I've got the blues.' So I just wrote, 'What I've got they used to call the blues.' And it actually became my favorite line in the song. I think it's the best line in the song." View the video online
Riders On The Storm - The Doors (right)
Lifted from The Doors' L.A. Woman album, "Riders on the Storm" was inspired by the song "Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend". It incorporates thunder and rain sound effects and Ray Manzarek's Fender Rhodes electric piano playing which emulates the sound of rain. It is played in E Dorian mode (almost identical to the E Minor scale). "Riders on the Storm" is also the title of an autobiographical book written by Doors member John Densmore, and the name of Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger's Doors tribute band. The song is loosely based on the notorious spree killer Billy Cook who posed as a hitchhiker and murdered an entire family. According to a widespread urban legend, the song was conceived as an allusion to a tragic accident caused by Densmore's father's reckless driving, ending in several deaths of Navajo tribesmen as his car hit a truck in which they were traveling; an alternative version refers the inspiration for the lyric to a 1930s French Surrealist poem Chevaliers de l'Ouragan (lit. "Riders of the Hurricane") by André Breton or Aimé Césaire. The song was recorded at the Doors Workshop in December 1970. Jim Morrison recorded his main vocals and then whispered the lyrics over them to create the haunting effect. Hear the song online
Superstar - The Carpenters (right)
Written by Leon Russell and Bonnie Bramlett, this song has been a hit for many artists in different genres and interpretations, the most familiar version being this one. Accounts of the song's origin vary somewhat, but it grew out of the late 1969/early 1970 nexus of English and American musicians known as Delaney, Bonnie & Friends, that involved Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, Leon Russell, Eric Clapton, and various others. The song's working title during portions of its development was "Groupie Song". In its first recorded incarnation, the song was called "Groupie (Superstar)", and was recorded and released as a B-side to the Delaney & Bonnie single "Comin' Home" in December 1969. Sung by Bonnie, the arrangement featured slow guitar and bass parts building up to an almost gospelish chorus using horns. Richard Carpenter's arrangement featured an oboe line at the start, followed by Karen's clear contralto voice set against a quiet bass line in the verses, which then built up to up-tempo choruses with a quasi-orchestral use of horns and strings. It is said that Karen Carpenter recorded her vocal in just one take, using lyrics scribbled on a napkin. Since the song's subject was more risqué than usual for the clean-cut image of The Carpenters, Richard changed a few words in the second verse. View the video online
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down - Joan Baez (right)
This song was written by Robbie Robertson and first recorded by The Band in 1969. It tells of Virgil Caine watching as the Union Army General George Stoneman destroys the railroad where he makes a living, and then witnessing the fall of Richmond, Virginia. Virgil relates and mourns the loss of his brother. Robertson claimed that he originally had the music to the song in his head but had no idea what it was to be about. "At some point [the concept] blurted out to me. Then I went and I did some research and I wrote the lyrics to the song." Robertson continued, "When I first went down South, I remember that a quite common expression would be, 'Well don't worry, the South's gonna rise again.' At one point when I heard it I thought it was kind of a funny statement and then I heard it another time and I was really touched by it. I thought, 'God, because I keep hearing this, there's pain here, there is a sadness here.' In Americana land, it's a kind of a beautiful sadness." Many artists have covered the song, the most well known and by far the best seller was Joan Baez, whose version was a No.1 hit. The song is listed in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list. It was also No.245 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. View the video online
Theme From Shaft - Isaac Hayes (right)
Written and recorded by Isaac Hayes in 1971, this song is the soul-and funk-style theme song to the film, Shaft. The theme, released as a single (shortened and edited from the longer album version) two months after the movie's soundtrack, went to straight to No.1. The following year, it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, with Hayes becoming the first African American to win that honour (or any Academy Award in a non-acting category). Since then, the song has appeared in numerous television shows, commercials, and other movies, including the 2000 remake of Shaft, for which Hayes re-recorded the song without making any changes to it. "Theme from Shaft" is sometimes considered more iconic than the movie for which it was written. The song begins with a sixteenth-note hi-hat ride pattern, played by Willie Hall, which was drawn from a break on Otis Redding's "Try A Little Tenderness", a record on which Hayes had played. Also featuring heavily in the intro is Charles Pitts' guitar, which uses a wah-wah effect common in 1970s funk; the riff had originally been written for an unfinished Stax song.
The synthesized strings are played by Hayes. Even on the edited single version, the intro lasts for more than two and a half minutes before any vocals are heard. The lyrics describe John Shaft's coolness, courage, and sex appeal, and Hayes' lead vocals are punctuated by a trio of female backup singers. At one famous moment, Hayes calls Shaft "a bad mother" before the backup singers interrupt the implied profanity with the line "Shut your mouth!" Hayes immediately defends himself by replying that he's "talking about Shaft". Other well-known passages include "You're damn right!" also uttered by Hayes, and "He's a complicated man/but no one understands him/but his woman/John Shaft." The song was considered very racy for its time; as late as 1990, censors at the Fox Network thought it too risqué to be sung on The Simpsons (until it was demonstrated that the song had indeed been played on television before). View the video online
Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey - Paul & Linda McCartney
"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" was written and recorded by Paul and Linda McCartney and first released on the album, Ram. That album and McCartney's debut solo album, McCartney, appear to be filled mainly with McCartney compositions right over from the Beatles era that were in various stages of writing and recording when the band broke up. This song is probably the most ambitious and experimental track on Ram, and is less a song and more a collection of melodic fragments pieced together, similar to the song-cycle on the second half of The Beatles' Abbey Road album. The melody and lyrics are upbeat and nonsensical (Albert was an uncle of McCartney's, while Admiral "Bull" Halsey was a World War II figure). The sophisticated arrangement, production, sound effects, and vocal treatments strongly recall The Beatles during their psychedelic phase. Hear the song online
Covered many times by a variety of artists, this song was written for the movie, Love Story, starring Ryan O'Neal and Ali McGraw. The music was written by Francis Lai, with lyrics by Carl Sigman. This version was Andy Williams' best selling single. Hear the song online
You've Got a Friend - Carole King / James Taylor
This was one of the songs that heralded what became known as the singer-songwriter movement, in which songwiters who previously did not record, began singing their own compositions. The writer in this instance was Carole King, the song first appeared on her 1971 album, Tapestry. It has been named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. James Taylor sang a version of "You've Got a Friend" on his 1971 album, Mud Slide Slim, and it was his version that proved the most popular worldwide. The song was also recorded in 1971 by Dusty Springfield, a recording that predates Taylor's version. It was intended to feature on her third album for Atlantic Records, but a falling-out with the company meant the album was never released. The song was right unissued until 1999, when it appeared as a bonus track on the Rhino Records' re-release of the album, Dusty in Memphis. View the video online