1. Fox On the Run - The Sweet
Like The Sweet's Australian debut album, their second album stitched together two halves of their previous British albums with the addition of a few extra songs, which included this single. Forever ditching the bubblegum tag that had dogging them since "Little Willy", the classic "Fox On the Run" set the tone for the band's future releases. Featured on the album was another song that perfrormed well as a single, "Ballroom Blitz".
2. January - Pilot
Pilot was a Scottish outfit of the 1970s that is remembered by many as a teenybopper band a-la-Bay City Rollers, but in fact they are only guilty by association. Unlike the latter, they played their own instruments and wrote their own songs. David Paton, the group's songwriter, singer and bass guitarist, first met Billy Lyall (keyboards, flute and vocals) when he joined an early line-up of the Bay City Rollers in late 1969. To their eternal credit, both had quit the Rollers by 1971, presumably because they refused to wear silly tartan outfits with trousers that finished halfway up the shin. Indeed, it may be some measure of just how awful Lyall believed the Rollers were becoming that he right the soon-to-be pop-idols for a job as a junior in an Edinburgh recording studio, a move that ironically would be instrumental in Pilot taking off (pardon the pun).
By 1973 the Edinburgh pair had teamed up with two other musicians under the name, Pilot. The name came during the recording of the first album, from using the first letters of the surnames Paton, Lyall and Tosh. Their first No.1 hit was "Magic", which the group followed with "January", a lightweight and uncomplicated but nevertheless well crafted pop song. Unfortunately, bad management and trying to surive in the shadow of the Bay City Rollercoaster led to the band's early demise. Guitarist Ian Bairnson from the Shetland Islands and drummer Stuart Tosh went on to join 10cc. Tragically, after a spell with pop band Dollar, Billy Lyall died in December 1989, a victim of an AIDS-related illness. Both Paton and Bairnson are now highly respected session musicians.
3. Mamma Mia - ABBA
ABBA was relatively unknown outside of their home country, Sweden, until they entered the Eurovision song contest in 1974 for a second time and won, performing "Waterloo". An unashamedly glam-pop track produced with Michael B. Tretow's wall of sound approach, the song catapulted them to the top of the charts and right record buyers wanting more. In the following year, ABBA released their second album from which were lifted a number of singles, including 'SOS' and 'Mamma Mia'. The latter reached No.1 in January 1976, knocking Queen's biggest hit "Bohemian Rhapsody" from the top spot, and marking ABBA's arrival as the biggest recording artists of the decade. In ABBA's early days, ABBA's manager Stig Anderson would often come up with titles that singers Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson would write lyrics around, and this is an example of that.
The phrase "Mamma Mia" is an Italian saying that literally means "My Mother" and is used to express surprise. The catchy xylophone-like hook that sets up the song was played on a marimba, an instrument of African origin similar to the xylophone but with wooden bars. Benny found a marimba in the studio and began playing it to see what it sounded like. He liked the sound it made and began using it with a tick-tock effect. This was the last song to be written and recorded for ABBA's third album, which would eventually be called Mamma Mia (released 1975). The single's B-side was "Tropical Loveland". In 1999, the musical stage production Mamma Mia! opened in London. The show was based on ABBA's songs, which were used in the production. The show opened on Broadway in 2001 and won the Tony award for Best Musical. In the musical Mamma Mia!, the opening line "I've been cheated by you since I don't know when" was replaced by "I was cheated by you and I think you know when". This is more in keeping with the plot on which the songs in the show hang.
4. Summer Love - Sherbet
For the better part of the 1970s, Sherbet were the Kings of Pop in Australia; Skyhooks being their only serious rival. Astutely marketed as a teen-oriented singles band, they produced polished, highly commerical pop/R&B and became one of the best-selling and most successful bands in Australian music. They had an amazing run of sixteen consecutive Top-40 singles between 1971 and 1977 and hold the unique honour of being the first band to score an overseas hit with a song written, recorded and produced entirely in Australia - "Howzat". "Summer Love" was their biggest single.
5. Horror Movie - Skyhooks
In the 1970s, Skyhooks put the Australian music industry on its ear; instead of copying what UK and US bands were doing, they produced songs sprinkled with Melbourne place names and Australian themes, were cheeky, brash, colourful, wore makeup (many years before KISS were conceived) and changed the musical history of the country. They lit the fuse that put Australian bands back on the front covers of newspapers and Australian music on the shelves of record shops. Their debut album, Living in the Seventies, went on to sell 300,000 albums (the equivalent of twenty Gold awards) lodging itself firmly at the No.1 spot on the Australian charts for many months. "Horror Movie", written about the depressing nature of the news on TV, was their biggest single.
6. Love Will Keep Us Together - The Captain & Tennille
Neil Sedaka fans will know he recorded a song called 'This Will Be Our Last Song Together', which he wrote to mark the end of his songwriting partnership with Howard Greenfield. Well, this is "the last song" referred to in it. Whereas 'This Will Be Our Last Song Together' looked back, paying homage to their collaboration since their high school days, 'Love Will Keep Us Together' looked to the future. Sedaka recorded it for his Sedaka's Back LP before The Captain And Tennille did their version.
Toni Tennille loved the song when she first heard it and insisted it be on The Captain and Tennille's first album and that it be their first single. Daryl Dragon (The Captain), formerly a keyboard player for The Beach Boys, wanted "I Write the Songs," written by Bruce Johnston of The Beach Boys, released instead but Toni got her way. It was the duo's first No.1 hit; they had one more five years later with "Do That To Me One More Time." If you listen carefully, Toni Tennille sings "Sedaka is back" in the background at the end of 'Love Will Keep Us Together'.
7. Please, Mr Postman - The Carpenters
William Garrett, a songwriter friend of The Marvelettes group member Georgia Dobbins, offered this to The Marvelettes when she asked if he had anything for them to sing. He wrote it as a blues song, but Dobbins completely rewrote it and taught it to lead singer Gladys Horton. The Marvelettes turned it into Motown Records' first No. 1 hit in 1961. The Beatles recorded their version two years later. Sung by John Lennon (double-tracked), it was a group favourite and was often performed in their early concerts. The Carpenters turned the song into a No.1 hit again when it was lifted off their Horizon album and released as a single. It was their biggest hit ever worldwide, and featured Karen on drums and some memorable guitar playing by Tony Peluso.
8. The Newcastle Song - Bob Hudson
One of the top selling Australian songs of the year, it was written and performed by Newcastle boy, Bob Hudson, and recalls the time in his younger years when guys used to drive up and down the main streets of Australia's towns and cities looking for a little action. The songs lyrics describe the actions of novocastrian males driving along Hunter Street Newcastle. The car of choice is of course, the FJ Holden with drive down Hunter Street in their hot FJ Holdens with chrome plated grease nipples and double reverse overhead twin cam door handles. The song was followed up by "Rack off Normie", performed by Maureen Elkner and written by Hudson, which was the girl's answer to "The Newcastle Song". Folk/blues singer Margret Roadknight covered another of Hudsons social-observations-set-in-song, `Girls in our Town (from The Newcastle Song)' and scored a minor hit in the process. Hudson and Roadknight later toured together.
9. Before The Next Teardrop Falls - Freddy Fender
Freddy Fender (real name Baldemar Huerta) had been a recording artist since the late 1950s when, using the name Scotty Wayne, he recorded 'Wasted Days and Wasted Nights' and a Spanish version of the Elvis Presley hit, 'Don't Be Cruel'. 'Wasted Days and Wasted Nights' failed to sell and was never promoted because Fender was arrested and gaoled for five years for marijuana possession around the time of its release. Years later, when Fender signed with Crazy Cajun records in 1971 in the hope of reviving his singing career, producer Huey Meaux persuaded him to record 'Before The Next Teardrop Falls', which has been recorded by fellow Country singer, Charley Pride. After it became a hit, he re-recorded 'Wasted Days and Wasted Nights' and it became a hit second time around. Fender was one of the few recording artists of the 1970s who had to cancel his planned tour of Australia because of miniscule ticket sales.
10. Bony Moronie - Hush
Fronted by English migrant Keith Lamb, Australian band Hush scored a No.1 hit with an updated version of Larry Williams' “Bony Moronie". Interestingly John Lennon had recorded the same song for his Rock ‘n‘ Roll album the year before. Using stage theatrics such as fireworks and smoke bombs, Hush were able to maintain a hard edge to their music whilst still appealing to the Countdown teen audience. The band had further hits up until 1977 before breaking up in the following year.
11. Paloma Blanca - George Baker Selection
George Baker is the stage name of Dutch singer, songwriter, musician Hans Bouwens. The group began in 1967 under the name Soul Invention, changing in 1969 to The George Baker Selection, at the time featuring a more rock-oriented sound. The first single in 1969, 'Little Green Bag', a psychedelic rock-style tune, made it into the high teens of the Top 100. By 1974, the group switched to a more European middle-of-the-road style and made an impact on the international scene with the single, "Paloma Blanca". The title translates as "White Dove". Written by the Dutch singer-songwriter Johannes Bouwens, it has been both widely recorded and a popular choice for budding musicians. The definitive recording is generally accepted as that made by Jonathan King as "Una Paloma Blanca", which was released simultaneously in Britain and the US but not in Australia. King's version picked up an Ivor Novello Award for Record Of The Year.
In a 1997 interview with The Songwriter magazine, music publisher Terry Noon explained how he heard about the song on a trip to Holland and thought it was a No.1 hit. All his connections thought he was mad, he said, but he persisted, and badgered Jonathan King into recording it. At first, King said he would record it only as an album track, but soon relented. It has been suggested the song was inspired by the Portuguese "Carnation Revolution" of 1974 i.e. the liberation of the dove. Clearly it is a song about freedom, but songs about birds frequently have this theme. The John/Taupin composition "Skyline Pigeon" is strikingly similar, and may have inspired it. That song was re-released as the B Side of Elton John's "Daniel" in 1973, and it it is not unlikely Bouwens - consciously or otherwise - borrowed its "Let me wake up in the morning to the smell of new mown hay" for his lyric "I can smell the new mown hay."
12. Bye Bye Baby - Bay City Rollers
Formed during 1967 in Edinburgh, the Bay City Rollers was were initially a Beatles covers band based around two brothers, Derek and Alan Longmuir. Fresh faced and clad in tartan scarves and trousers, they struck a chord with young teenagers and pre-pubescent fans in search of a replacement for The Beatles. 1975 proved to be the watershed year with two consecutive No. 1 hits, "Bye Bye Baby" (a Four Seasons cover) and "Give A Little Love". In that same year they topped the US charts with "Saturday Night". Rollermania was triumphant, but inevitably, there was a backlash as the press determined to expose the sham of the band's virginal, teetotal image. During the next three years, disaster was heaped upon disaster.
Les McKeown was charged with reckless driving after hitting and killing a 75-year-old widow, and Eric Faulkner and Alan Longmuir attempted suicide. Manager Tam Paton was subsequently jailed for committing indecent acts with underage teenagers, Ian Mitchell starred in a pornographic movie and Billy Lyall (who defected early on and formed Pilot) died from an AIDS-related illness in 1989. It was a sad conclusion to one of the most famous teenybopper acts in British pop history. When Faulkner attempted to re-form the band in 1992, unemployed music fan David Gates stole their guitars and hid them in a derelict house.
13. I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do - ABBA
This song was the first single to be released by ABBA after their success in the 1974 Eurovision song contest with "Waterloo". It was the group's second international top 10 hit and its success paved the way for ABBA's domination of the world of popular music in the 1970s. The song was the 7th track on ABBA's third album, Mamma Mia, also released in 1975; its B-side in Australia was "Rock Me". The single was quickly followed by the release of "Mamma Mia" (B-side "Tropical Loveland") as a single, which was an ever bigger seller. The third single lifted from the album - "S.O.S.", with "Bang-a-Boomerang" as the B-side in Australia - made the top 20 also.
The song had a prominent placing in the weddings scenes of the Australian movie "Muriel's Wedding" and "Mamma Mia", however it is one of the least loved of thr ABBA hits. The song is supposed to be based either on European shlagers or 1950's Pat Boone records it depends on who you talk to, but Benny says it was inspired by Billy Vaughan recordings. It is notable for the use of soprano saxophone, an instrument used frequently on early ABBA recordings.
14. My Little Angel - William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare (born Johnny Caves) originally sang with a Sydney band called The Amazons and in the late 60s/early 70s he was a regular performer on the Sydney pub and club circuit as Johnny Cabe before becoming Australia’s answer to Gary Glitter, along with puffed sleeves and glittery attire and a bouffant hairdo. Cabe adopted the stage name William Shakespeare and under the guidance of Harry Vanda and George Young, had two No.1 hits, “Can’t Stop Myself From Loving You” and “My little Angel”. After two more singles and an album, he was in trouble with the law, charged with carnal knowledge but was released on two years probation. He returned to the club circuit performing as Billy Shake for a few years.
15. Down Down - Status Quo
This hit was written by the band's lead singer Francis Rossi with their road manager and sometime harmonica player Bob Young. Rossi recalls, "We had done the verses and we had 'Again and again and what?' and we kept thinking of Tyrannosaurus Rex's 'Deborah' and realized that we needed a 'd-d' in there. We thought of 'Down Down' which didn't make any sense with the rest of the song, but it worked. It didn't matter as we weren't trying to write deep meaningful lyrics." Status Quo enjoyed 23 Top 10 hits in the UK between 1968 and 1990, although this was their only No.1 there and in Australia.
16. Black Superman - Johnny Wakelin & the Kinshasa Band
Johnny Wakelin was one of the more surprising of Britain's entries into the mid-'70s disco scene. Discovered by Pye Records producer Robin Blanchflower, Wakelin set about writing songs that would, he hoped, "catch people's eye." His first release did just that, diving into the socio-political arena by way of a tribute to boxer Muhammad Ali, "Black Superman (Muhammad Ali)"; the pugilist was making his much-heralded comeback at the time, and "Black Superman" effortlessly rode the wave of attendant interest. Wakelin then recorded two reggae singles which failed to chart, so he returned to Muhammad Ali for his next release, and promptly scored another major hit single in July, 1976. "In Zaire," replaying the famous "Rumble in the Jungle" fight, surpassed its predecessor in Britain. Three further albums and a fresh crop of Reggae singles failed to repeat the success of his these two songs.
17. The Last Farewell - Roger Whittaker
One of Whittaker's best-loved songs, it was originally recorded in 1971. The lyrics were written by a Birmingham silversmith who entered a contest in which the best lyric or poem sent to Whittaker would be put to music and recorded. Although "The Last Farewell" was not the winner, the song was included on an album, along with the winner, which was called 'Why'. 'The Last Farewell' was not released as a single until five years later. "Suddenly, I got the call from Atlanta, Georgia," Whittaker relates. "The wife of a program director had requested the song be played on WSB radio there. She had heard the song while travelling to Canada". The station was swamped with callers asking where they could buy the record. It was rush re-released and became a worldwide No.1 hit. Another favourite from Whittaker was "River Lady".
18. You're My World - Daryl Braithwaite
It was with this song that Sherbet lead singer Daryl Braithwaite launched his solo career, whilst maintaining his commitment to Sherbet. The song, an English version of the Italian popular song, "Il Mio Mondo", was first heard in Australia in 1964 when it became English singer Cilla Black's third top 10 hit.
19. Ego Is Not A Dirty Word - Skyhooks
The 'Hooks' first album, Living in the Seventies, rocketed to the top of the charts and stayed there for so long that it became the best selling Australian album ever up to that time, with the follow-up, "Ego Is Not A Dirty Word", coming a close second. Both these LPs were produced by Ross Wilson, former lead singer of Daddy Cool, which had been the most successful Australian rock group of the early 1970s. Wilson championed the group, signing them to a publishing contract and convincing Mushroom Records to give them a recording contract. The title track of their debut album was released as a single and also shot to No.1.
20. I Can Help - Billy Swan
Billy Swan often took his medium-sized dog to his recording sessions. While Swan was recording "I Can Help," the dog became playful and started tugging at Swan's pant leg. He finished the take - and for his trouble earned the applause from the band mates that is heard at the end of the released song. Missouri born Swan's role in the music industry was, originally, largely invisible. Moving to Nashville allowed Swan to write hit country songs for numerous artists, including Conway Twitty, Waylon Jennings, and Mel Tillis. In 1969, Swan first took on the role of record producer, publishing Tony Joe White's Top Ten hit "Polk Salad Annie". Swan played bass guitar for Kris Kristofferson, served as a sideman for Kinky Friedman and Billy Joe Shaver, and signed a recording contract with Monument Records in 1974. Swan recorded this song in two takes (without overdubs) with an electric organ that Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge had bought for him as a wedding present.
8. All My Friends Are Getting Married - Skyhooks
This song was the second single lifted from the best selling Skyhooks album, "Ego Is Not A Dirty Word".
9. Yesterday's Hero - John Paul Young
Out of the limelight themselves after The Easybeats disbanded, Aussie songwriters Harry Vanda and George Young spent most of the 1970s writing songs, producing records and launching the careers of other artists. John Paul Young was one such person. Vanda and Young came up with a string of hits including "Yesterday's Hero", "St. Louis", "The Love Game", "Here We Go", "Keep On Smiling", "Where The Action Is", "I Hate The Music" and "I Wanna Do It With You". In addition to his Australian success, Young achieved hit singles in Europe, Asia and South Africa. "Yesterday's Hero" became a minor hit in the US. The Bay City Rollers covered it on their Dedication album of 1976.
10. If You Love Me (Let Me Know) - Olivia Newton-John
This was the title song from Olivia's third album. Two hits singles were lifted from it - "I Love You I Honestly Love You", written by Peter Allen, and "If You Love Me (Let Me Know)". It was composed by former The Shadows' bass player, John Rostill.
When Will I See You Again - The Three Degrees
The Three Degrees are an all-female soul trio from Philadelphia, USA, who recorded their first single, "Gee Baby (I'm Sorry)", in 1963. Have a sound not dissimilar to The Supremes, they are little known in Australia, but enjoyed considerable success in Britain and the US with many singles and albums. Here in Australia, "When Will I See You Again" was the group's only hit. View the video online
Sailing - Rod Stewart
In March 1975, Rod Stewart began a love affair with Swedish actress Britt Ekland; the romance, along with a bitter fight with the U.K. tax department, prompted him to apply for U.S. citizenship. The album, Atlantic Crossing, released in the summer of 1975, made the singer's relocation explicit. Recorded with producer Tom Dowd and the Muscle Shoals rhythm section, the album was a departure from the singer's folk roots and accentuated his pop appeal. The biggest single lifted from the album was "Sailing". View the video online
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds - Elton John
"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is a song written mainly by John Lennon (credited to Lennon/McCartney) and recorded by The Beatles for their 1967 album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The lyrics of the song - which are commonly believed to be about an acid trip - feature image-laden verses which present an overtly psychedelic travelogue, describing a boat trip through a fantastic land of "rocking horse people", "newspaper taxis" and "marshmallow pies". The Beatles have steadily maintained that the initials of the title forming the word "LSD" (Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds) is mere coincidence, as the title is taken from a drawing by a young Julian Lennon. When questioned about "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," McCartney said that Julian's painting had inspired the song, but added that it was "pretty obvious" that the song was about an acid trip. According to Lennon, one day in 1966 Lennon's son, Julian, came home from nursery school with a drawing he said was of his classmate, a girl named Lucy. Showing the artwork to his father, young Julian described the picture as "Lucy - in the sky with diamonds."
The Lucy referred to in the song was probably Lucy O'Donnell, born in Weybridge in 1963 (making her the same age as Julian), who was a classmate of Julian at Heath House School. She has met up with him on a few occasions in recent years, and occasionally appears on daytime shows for the anniversary of the "Sergeant Pepper's" album. She is featured in the book "A Hard Days Write". According to British comedian Peter Cook's biographer, Harry Thompson, however, Lennon told Cook's wife, Wendy, that the song was inspired by her daughter, Lucy Cook. The most successful remake was Elton John's single, which also appeared on the ephemeral 1976 musical documentary, All This and World War II, with background vocals and guitar by John Lennon (who used the pseudonym Dr. Winston O'Boogie). Lennon promised to appear live with John at Madison Square Garden if it became a No.1 single. It did, and on Thanksgiving Night, 28th November 1974, Lennon kept his promise. They performed "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", "Whatever Gets You Through the Night", and "I Saw Her Standing There". Of "Lucy", Elton John has said, "It is a song that I never do in a set at a concert simply because it reminds me too much of John Lennon. It is the same with Empty Garden". View the video online
Never Can Say Goodbye - Gloria Gaynor
Second only to Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor became the most successful solo disco artist of the 70s, due in part to her 1979 hit, "I Will Survive". Gaynor began issuing albums on a regular basis from 1975 and with her 1976 release, "Never Can Say Goodbye", the singer became one of the first-ever dance artists to issue an album aimed primarily for club use (there were no breaks between the songs, as one track would automatically segue into the next), a method used to this day by DJs and certain dance artists. The song was also released as a single. The Jackson Five also had success with their version of this song. View the video online
Roll Over Lay Down - Status Quo
Throughout the '70s, each album Status Quo released went into the top five; their singles - including the No.1 "Down Down" (1974), "Roll Over Lay Down" (1975), "Rain" (1976), "Wild Side of Life" (1976), and a cover of John Fogerty's "Rockin' All Over the World" (1977) - consistently hit the top ten and frequently went gold. View the video online
Solitaire - The Carpenters
Many fans of The Carpenters consider this song to be one of Karen's very finest vocal performances, even though it was her least favourite recording; while fans of Neil Sedaka believe it to be one of his best songwriting efforts. It was written at the time when Sedaka was making a big comeback in the mid-1907s, and the effort he gave to making it happen shows. A sensitive ballad, it is one of the most covered songs written in that decade, with versions being recorded by dozens of artists, including the Norwegian songstress Sissel, Andy Williams, Cher and Tony Christie, not to mention Sedaka himself. Richard Carpenter modified the words somewhat from Sedaka's original, apparently to better portray the song's message from a female perspective. Hear the song online
Mandy - Barry Manilow (right)
Scott English wrote the lyrics and recorded this song in 1971 as "Brandy." In the US, this was changed to "Mandy" to avoid confusion with the Looking Glass hit "Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)". Richard Kerr, a pianist, wrote the music. English's version has a verse not included in Manilow's. The New Zealand singer Bunny Walters did not write "Brandy", as many New Zealand believe; his version from 1972 (a No.4 hit in NZ) was released after the original version by Scott English. Manilow claims he only recorded the song as a favour to producer Clive Davis, never thinking it would be a hit. He was very much wanting to become known for his own songs and not someone else's. Of the song, after its release, English says he was woken by a phone call from a reporter wanting to know who Brandy was. "I would have said anything to get rid of him," says English, "So I spat out the first thing that came to mind: 'It was about a dog like Lassie and I had sent her away - now you go away!' And I hung up on him." So who was Brandy? English isn't saying! Hear the song online
Laughter In The Rain - Neil Sedaka (right)
Between 1960 and 1962, Neil Sedaka had eight Top 40 hits. But he was among the early 1960s performers whose careers were waylaid by the British Invasion and other changes in the music industry. His singles began to decline on the US charts, before disappearing altogether. In 1973, Sedaka helped ABBA write the English lyrics of the song "Ring Ring" for the Eurovision contest. He then began working in England with Elton John, who signed him to his Rocket Records label.
Following a decade-long fallow period, Sedaka returned to the public's attention with a flourish, topping the charts twice with "Laughter in the Rain" and "Bad Blood" (both 1975). Elton John provided backing vocals for the latter song. The flipside of "Laughter in the Rain" was "The Immigrant", a wistful, nostalgic piece recalling the days of more welcoming attitudes toward newly arrived peoples from many cultures in America. Sedaka and Greenfield also co-wrote "Love Will Keep Us Together", a No.1 hit for The Captain and Tennille and the best selling record (in the US) of 1975. View the video online
You're No Good - Linda Ronstadt (right)
1975 was remembered in the music business as the year when Linda Ronstadt belatedly happened. She had been a cult favourite on the music scene for 11 years, but with the release of Heart Like A Wheel, her fifth solo album, Ronstadt finally hit the jackpot when it hit the top of the charts. The album was notable not only for showing a confident Ronstadt on the cover but more importantly, its critical success established a fine presentation of country and rock that would put her on the path to being of the best-selling female artists of all time. Ronstadt won her first Grammy Award, the album was nominated for Album of the Year (losing to Paul Simon's Still Crazy After All These Years). It included the hit single, "You're No Good" and "When Will I Be Loved". "You're No Good", written by Clint Ballard, Jr., was first recorded and released by two female soul singers, Betty Everett and Dee Dee Warwick. In 1964, The Swinging Blue Jeans covered this song for the UK market but it took Ronstadt's more rootsy art rock approach to turn it into a chart topper. View the video online
Pick Up The Pieces - Average White Band
Scottish funk and R&B band, The Average White Band, had a series of soul and disco hits between 1974 and 1980. AWB was formed in 1971 by Alan Gorrie and Malcolm "Molly" Duncan, with Onnie McIntyre, Hamish Stuart, Roger Ball and Robbie McIntosh joining them in the original line-up. The band's breakthrough was as the support act on Eric Clapton's comeback concert tour in 1973. Bruce McCaskill, who was Clapton's tour manager, liked the band's music and agreed to manage them. He borrowed money to take them to the US and to promote them. The band relocated to New York, were signed to Atlantic and released the follow-up, AWB, better known as The White Album. This album was the first of many by renowned producer Arif Mardin, and was a best seller. However, tragedy struck on 23rd September 1974, when McIntosh died of a heroin overdose. (Gorrie also overdosed but singer-actress Cher kept him conscious until medical help arrived). McIntosh was replaced by Steve Ferrone, becoming the band's only black member. In 1975, the single "Pick Up The Pieces" became their best selling single and the track for which they are best known today. View the video online
Have You Never Been Mellow - Olivia Newton-John (right)
This song was written by Australian musician and songwriter John Farrar, who was a member of the group The Shadows. He wrote many of Newton-John's hits, including "Hopelessly Devoted To You" and "Magic." Farrar has said he was inspired to come up with a song about being "mellow" because when Olivia was on tour in America in 1974, her backing musicians used the word all the time. The song went to No.1 in the US and Australia, plus it was Olivia's singles chart debut in Japan where it made No.26; however it failed to chart in the UK. View the video online
My Eyes Adored You - Frankie Valli
While the initial run of hits for The Four Seasons had dried up in the first half of the 1970s, the group never lost its popularity as a performing act. By mid decade, the quartet of the 1960s has become the quintet of the 1970s, with only Franki Valli and Bob Gaudio remaining from the original lineup (though Gaudio was no longer touring with the group). The new lineup boasted two new lead singers in Don Ciccone (formerly of The Critters) and Gerry Polci, who eased the singing load off the ailing Frankie Valli, who was gradually losing his hearing due to otosclerosis (eventually, surgery restored most of his hearing). As Valli's solo effort, "My Eyes Adored You", climbed the singles chart, helped by the release of a greatest hits compilation, The Four Seasons Story, which sold like wildfire. The Four Seasons' new line-up released "Who Loves You" while Tamla Motown released an older track, "The Night". Each helped the others to reach the top of the music charts worldwide. View the video online
Lovin' You - Minnie Riperton
As a child, Riperton studied music, drama and dance, and seriously considered a career in opera. However, her affiliation with the famous Chess Records record label soon allowed her to sing backup for Etta James, Fontella Bass, and Stevie Wonder. Riperton sang lead vocals for several small, unsuccessful bands before teaming up with her husband, composer Richard Rudolph, to start her solo career. Stevie Wonder agreed to produce her album Perfect Angel. In 1973, a rep for Epic Records found Minnie, then a semi-retired homemaker and mother of two in Gainesville, Florida, after hearing a demo of the song "Seeing You This Way".
Minnie signed with Epic Records and the family moved to Los Angeles, California. Perfect Angel turned out to be one of Minnie Riperton's best selling albums, though it initially sold slowly. From it were ilfted the rock-soul anthem "Reasons", her second single "Take A Little Trip" and a third single "Seeing You This Way". Epic was ready to move on to the next album, but Rudolph convinced them to release another single. With the fourth single, "Lovin' You", the album really caught on. The song went to the top of the charts, the album went gold, and Minnie was finally revered as the "lady with the high voice". View the video online
Philadelphia Freedom - Elton John (right)
This Bernie Taupin/Elton John composition was written for and dedicated to tennis champion Billie Jean King, who coached a World Team Tennis team in 1974 called the "Philadelphia Freedoms." King was one of the first women ever to coach men. After meeting King at a party, John tried to attend as many of her matches as he could. He promised King a song after she gave him a customized track suit. Hence, this became the first time John asked Bernie to write a set of lyrics for a specific reason. Inspiration for this song was provided by the Philadelphia Soul sound of groups like The O'Jays and Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes, and also the American bicentennial - in 1976 the US celebrated 200 years of independence. Recalls John: "This was one of the only times I tried to deliberately write a hit single.
" John often put interesting B-sides on his singles, which made them more valuable. On this, the B-side was a live duet of The Beatles hit "I Saw Her Standing There" that Elton had recorded with his friend John Lennon. He had previously sung on Lennon's "Whatever Gets You Through The Night" and also released a version of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds," which was written by Lennon. Dusty Springfield sang backup vocals on "Philadelphia Freedom". Elton was a huge fan of hers, and sang at her funeral. "Philadelphia Freedom" was only available as a single until it made the Greatest Hits Vol. 2 LP in 1978. View the video online
Thank God I'm A Country Boy - John Denver (right)
1975 was the year in which John Denver reached the peak of his career. With "Sunshine on My Shoulders" and "Annie's Song" both going to No.1 towards the end of 1974, Denver's star was pushed further into the stratosphere with a world tour, which included Australia's capital cities, and the release a new album, Back Home Again. One of the most listenable collections of country-rock songs ever released, Back Home Again spawned two charting singles, "Thank God I'm A Country Boy" and "Sweet Surrender". In 1975, his live concert special, "An Evening with John Denver" won the Emmy award for Best Variety or Musical Special of the same year. Later in the year, Denver was recognised as the Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year. At the Country Music Association awards ceremony, reigning Entertainer of the Year, Charlie Rich (who himself had a series of crossover hits) was to present the award to his successor; instead of reading the name of the winner, he set fire to the envelope with a cigarette lighter and announced in tones of disgust, "My good friend, John Denver!". His action is considered to have been a statement against the merging of country pop and the Nashville Sound, most in country music circles rejected Rich's actions. View the video online
Listen to What the Man Said - Wings
"Listen to What the Man Said" was first released on Wings' 1975 album, Venus and Mars. The song featured new member Joe English on drums, with guest musicians Dave Mason on guitar and Tom Scott on soprano saxophone. The song was also included on the greatest hits compilations, All the Best! and Wingspan. Surprisingly, even though it reached No.1 in most markets, it was not included on the first Wings compilation, Wings Greatest. View the video online
One Of These Nights - The Eagles (right)
This is about a man who pursues a woman for a sexual encounter. The song was inspired by the soul music Glen Frey was listening to when he started writing it on the piano. Artists like B.B. King and Al Green were a big influence on many songs on the album. Don Felder, who was The Eagles' newest guitarist, came up with the opening bass line. In a 1975 Rolling Stone interview, Henley credited Felder with helping the Eagles get away from ballads: "With Don Felder, we can really rock. He's made us nastier and he's done a great guitar solo on One Of These Nights." In the same Rolling Stone article, Henley said that this song was challenging to sing live: "My voice has to be just right to hit the high notes. Sometimes I make it, sometimes I don't." View the video online
Jive Talkin' - The Bee Gees (right)
"Jive Talkin'" was first big disco hit for The Bee Gees, who became icons of the era (some would say sellouts), singing in falsetto harmonies over dance beats. They enjoyed a further seven more No.1 disco hits until they went out of style at the same time as their white leisure suits. It is a fact that disco saved their career - The Bee Gees had been very successful as contemporary singers in the late '60s and early '70s, but the two albums they released before Main Course, which contained "Jive Talkin'", had flopped and it looked like their career was over. The single was their first Top Ten hit since "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" in 1971. The song was originally called "Drive Talking", its rhythm modelled after the sound a car crossing the Biscayne Bay into Miami. Producer Arif Mardin wished to market the song toward the teen market, and suggested the change to "Jive Talkin'" (the phrase "jive talkin'", slang for "telling lies", was a popular colloquialism at the time). Barry Gibb wrote the song and then had to fix the lyrics upon completion because he had assumed "jive talkin'" referred to "speaking in jive", a then-popular term for extreme forms of ebonics, or African-American Vernacular English.
All actual "talking jive" references were fixed so they meant "lying". "Nights on Broadway", another track on the Main Course album, was also released as a single. Though it never reached high positions on the charts, it introduced Barry Gibb's falsetto voice and was widely played as the disco phenomenon spread. Barry did not know of his special "talent" until producer Arif Martin asked someone within the group to try to do some kind of screaming during the main chorus. He gave it a try, and as a result the legendary falsetto became a hallmark of the Bee Gees sound. It was a turning point in Bee Gees style, as they progressed through the disco era writing songs mostly sung in falsetto by Barry. View the video online
Rhinestone Cowboy - Glen Campbell (right)
This song was written and originally recorded by Larry Weiss, a Brooklyn songwriter whose credits include "Bend Me Shape Me" by the American Breed, "Help Me Girl" by The Animals and The Outsiders (both with Scott English). Glenn Campbell was on his way to his record company when he heard Weiss' original version on his car radio. When he heard it, he thought it could be about him and wanted to record it. When he reached his destination, he started telling one of the executives about this song, but that executive insisted on first playing him a song that seemed appropriate for his next single - it was "Rhinestone Cowboy". Although it wasn't used in the film, this was the inspiration for the 1984 movie, Rhinestone, starring Dolly Parton and Sylvester Stallone. Rhinestones are fake jewels that are popular on Country-style clothing, but real cowboys would never wear them, thus a "Rhinestone Cowboy" would be someone who wants to be a real cowboy, but isn't. View the video online
Calypso/I'm Sorry - John Denver
This double-sided hit was lifted from the album, Windsong. "Calypso" was John Denver's salute to Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the French naval officer, explorer, ecologist, filmmaker, scientist, photographer and researcher who studied the sea and all forms of life in water. He co-developed the aqua-lung, pioneered marine conservation and was a member of the Académie Française. Calypso was the name of Cousteau's research ship. Denver had travelled on the Calypso with Cousteau on a number of expeditions. "I'm Sorry" is a ballad that reflects the turmoil that was taking place in the singer's personal life at the time. In subsequent years, Denver had a lower-profile career. He had a few more U.S. Top 30 hits as the 1970s ended, but nothing to match the success he enjoyed earlier. As he wound his career down, Denver focused more on humanitarian and sustainability work. He worked extensively on conservation projects and helped to create the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Hear the song "Calypso" online | View the video of "I'm Sorry" online
That's The Way (I Like It) - K.C. and the Sunshine Band
"That's The Way (I Like It)" was written by Harold Wayne Casey (the KC of the band's name) and Richard Finch, and recorded by KC and the Sunshine Band for their eponymous second album. The song was considered risque at the time because of the obvious meaning behind the title as well as its chorus with multiple "uh-huhs" and its verses. It became their second No.1 hit in the US, and is one of the few chart-toppers in history to hit No.1 on more than one occasion. It is considered by many as one of the most popular songs of the disco era. View the video online
Island Girl - Elton John
The Elton John album, Rock of the Westies, produced by Gus Dudgeon and recorded at Caribou Ranch, Colorado in June and July 1975, marked the beginning of a downturn in the sale of Elton John's albums and singles, which had peaked at 16 million copies with Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. This slump would would last until 1989 when the album, Sleeping with the Past, and the single, 'Sacrifice', lifted from it would return John back into the top 10 sales charts again. Though initial sales were brisk, eventually Rock of the Westies sold 10 million copies less that Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. John's album sales bottomed in 1979 with Victim of Love, which sold only 1 million copies. "Island Girl", like the album it was released on, is generally viewed as one of Elton John's more lightweight efforts, possibly because it followed only half a year after the acclaimed Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, and partially because the album has the sound and feel of a work released only to fulfill a contractual obligation. Some claim they are textbook examples of the destructive, deleterious effect of drugs on imagination and creativity, particularly cocaine. Hear the song online
If - Telly Savalas (right)
Actor Telly Savalas, best known for his work in the title role of the popular 1970s crime drama, Kojak, released several records during his long career. A classic example of the "famous actor makes a record" genre, Savalas released his first album in 1974, containing covers of such evergreens as "You and Me Against the world", "Rubber Bands and Bits of String", George Harrison's "Something", and the Bread classic, "If", which made the top ten charts in 1974. Six years later, his version of Don Williams' "Some Broken Hearts Never Mend" also topped the charts. On the liner notes of this 1974 release, Savalas said, "People know that singing is not my bag, but if I say, 'Hey, this is how Telly feels about this or that song,' I can't make mistakes. I can only make mistakes by pretending to be a great singer". View the video online
Stand By Your Man - Tammy Wynette (right)
This song became the most successful recording of Tammy Wynette's career and has been covered by many other singers. The melody was written by Billy Sherrill, who was the producer, songwriter and record executive who signed Wynette to Epic Records after other labels rejected her. He was known for his elegant and meticulous production style (often adding strings to the mix), which was unusual in the world of Country music. Wynette often claimed she wrote the lyrics in 15 minutes and spent a lifetime defending it. Some feminists criticized the song, believing it was belittling to women, who should not tolerate poor behavior from men. Hillary Clinton even made the comment, "I will not stand by my man like Tammy Wynette" when her husband Bill was running for the US Presidency in 1992. Time would show that there was a limit to how long Wynette would stand by her man. She was married twice, and both ended in divorce. Her second marriage was a tumultuous one to George Jones. Wynette died in 1998. View the video online
I'm Not In Love - 10cc (right) Sheet Music became the band 10cc's breakthrough album, a welcome hit after years of struggling to even make a living from their music. The catalist for a $1 million contract with Mercury Records was one song - "I'm Not in Love" - which stayed in the UK charts for months, and did brisk business elsewhere in the world. Vocalist Eric Stewart once recalled, "At that point in time we were still on Jonathan King's label, but struggling. We were absolutely skint, the lot of us, we were really struggling seriously, and Philips Phonogram wanted to do a deal with us. They wanted to buy Jonathan King's contract. I rang them. I said come and have a listen to what we've done, come and have a listen to this track. And they came up and they freaked, and they said 'This is a masterpiece. How much money, what do you want? What sort of a contract do you want? We'll do anything, we'll sign it'. On the strength of that one song, we did a five-year deal with them for five albums and they paid us a serious amount of money." View the video online
Hold Me Close - David Essex
In the 1970s, Essex emerged as one of the UK's top performers. His biggest hits during this decade included two No.1 singles : "Gonna Make You A Star" (1974), a satirical look at his success; and "Hold Me Close" (1975), a cheerful singalong. He also appeared in Stardust, a 1974 sequel to That'll Be The Day; the title song was another Top 10 hit. In 1976, Essex covered the Beatles song, “Yesterday”, for the musical documentary, All This and World War II. Essex's pop idol looks gave him a strong female fan base and his British tours created scenes of hysteria reminiscent of Beatlemania. According to the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles, 'he was voted the number one British male vocalist in 1974, and was a teen idol for more than a decade'. View the video online
I Only Have Eyes For You - Art Garfunkel (right)
In the 1970s, Garfunkel released several solo albums. He scored hits with "I Only Have Eyes For You" (a 1934 song written by Harry Warren and first recorded by Al Jolson), "Bright Eyes", and "All I Know". A version of "Bright Eyes" also appeared in the movie Watership Down, based on the famous novel. Garfunkel briefly reunited with Paul Simon for the 1975 hit "My Little Town". During this time, he also starred in major feature films - Catch-22 and Carnal Knowledge (1971). Following disappointing sales of his 1981 album Scissors Cut, Garfunkel reunited with Paul Simon for The Concert in Central Park and a world tour. They had disagreements during the tour, and Simon excluded Garfunkel's voice from a new album, intially slated to be a Simon and Garfunkel album, that was eventually released under Paul Simon's name only (Hearts and Bones). Garfunkel then departed the music scene until his 1988 album, righty, and 1993's Up 'til Now, neither of which received significant critical or commercial success. View the video online
Space Oddity - David Bowie (right)
Bowie wrote this song after seeing the 1968 Stanley Kubrick movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, the song's title being a play on the movie's title. It tells the story of Major Tom, an astronaut who cuts off communication with Earth and floats into space. Herbie Flowers (bass guitar), Terry Cox (drums) and Rick Wakeman (Mellotron, piano) were the key musicians who worked with Bowie on the recording. The song was originally released in 1969 on Bowie's self-titled album. It was initially available only in the UK and timed to coincide with the moon landing. The album was later re-titled Space Oddity and released in other territories for the first time. In 1980, Bowie released a follow-up song called "Ashes To Ashes," where Major Tom once again makes contact with Earth. He says he is happy in space, but Ground Control comes to the conclusion that he is a junkie. In 1983, Peter Schilling released a sequel to this called "Major Tom (I'm Coming Home)." Set to a techno beat, it tells the story of Major Tom in space. In 2003, K.I.A. released another sequel called "Mrs. Major Tom," which is told from the point of view of Major Tom's wife. To many music fans, the song is not about space travel at all but tells the story (metaphorically) about a junkie shooting up and his feelings once he's high.
There's the euphoria, altered perceptions and feelings of inevitablity, "floating in a most peculiar way, and the stars look very different today", leaving "the capsule if you dare", trying to get just a little higher than you did the last time, and "planet earth is blue and there's nothing I can do". Then the hit goes wrong, and because of the overdose - "tell my wife I love her very much"; he dies - "Ground Control to Major Tom your circuit's dead, there's something wrong" but by this time he's already dead. "Ashes To Ashes", the song's sequel, clearly mentions drugs - 'time and again I tell myself, I'll stay clean tonight, but the little green wheels are following me ... one flash of light, but no smoking pistols'. Drug users, specifically those who have experimented with hallucinogens, found "Space Oddity" took on new meaning following Bowie's battle with drugs in the 1970s as it accurately describes 'a bad trip'.
Another suggestion is that this song was written about the Mercury program, as it was the only NASA mission with a single man per capsule. Yet another sees the song as the a story about suicide in space. Yet others believe the song is about technological isolation. As technology moves forward it does more to draw us into isolation. Apparently Bowie was upset that Bernie Taupin and Elton John had used a similar theme for their "Rocket Man". View the video online