1. Don't Cry For Me Argentina - Julie Covington
This song is from the musical Evita, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber (music) and Tim Rice (lyrics). Evita is a fictional account of the rise to power of Juan Perón as President of Argentina and the significant role played in these events by his wife, Eva Perón. Like the duo's previous hit, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita began as an album, released in 1975, with Julie Covington singing the lead role. When it arrived on London's West End stage at the Prince Edward Theatre on 21st June 1978, Evita was played by Elaine Paige, who had been selected from a large number of hopefuls after Julie Covington elected not to take the role. Che was played by the pop singer David Essex and Perón by Joss Ackland. The show successfully opened on Broadway in 1979 and starred Patti LuPone as Evita, Mandy Patinkin as Che, and Bob Gunton as Perón.
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2. The Way You Do It - Pussyfoot
British act Pussyfoot consisted of former Mixtures songwriter, producer and musician Mick Flinn, and vocalist Donna Jones. Flinn remained behind the scenes, and Jones was marketed as a solo artist. Their first recording, 'The Way You Do It', was banned by the BBC because if its suggestive lyrics. In Australia, the TV show Countdown began playing the video clip, and exploited the British ban on playing the song, leading to Jones becoming a sensation and a sex symbol. A second disco single "Ooh Ja Ja" also reached the top 10, but Pussyfoot's success was shortlived. Jones joined The New Seekers in 1979. A year later, she right to front an all female band which adopted her previous stage name "Pussyfoot" before returning to the New Seekers at the end of 1980.
3. I Just Want To Be Your Everything - Andy Gibb
The younger brother of Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb never did join the Bee Gees, but built a music career as a solo artist, first by performing as a teenager in Spain and then in his homeland of England on the Isle of Man. Gibb returned to Australia in 1975 to hone his craft as a singer/songwriter and achieved internatioonal success two years later when the Bee Gees Manager, Robert Stigwood, took him to the US. There, Gibb became the first male solo artist to chart three consecutive No.1 singles. His first major hit, "I Just Want to Be Your Everything", written by his brother Barry, sold over a million copies. Numerous top selling albums and singles followed, but fame and fortune took its toll and Gibb's career crumbled as a result of his drug addition. His family helped him shake the habit, but he failed to revive his career and turned to heavy drinking. He died in March 1988, age 30. While his years of alcohol and cocaine abuse did not directly result in his death, it did aggravate the condition.
4. That's Rock and Roll - Shaun Cassidy
The eldest of Broadway entertainer Jack Cassidy's and actress Shirley Jones's three sons, Cassidy was inspired by the success of his half-brother David Cassidy of The Partridge Family. He released several successful singles in the late 1970s. The first, a cover version of The Crystals' "Da Do Ron Ron", hit No.1 in the US in 1977, and he, like David, became a major teen idol. His cover versions of Eric Carmen's "That's Rock 'N' Roll" and "Hey Deanie" were also hits in the same year. Cassidy has since starred in numerous US TV shows, made his Broadway debut in 1993 in a production of Blood Brothers and is now actively involved in TV writing and production. His work includes Cold Case and The Agency.
5. Living Next Door To Alice - Smokie
This much maligned song, about two girls who live next door - one he fell in love with but didn't have the guts to tell her, and the other who fell in love with him but didn't have the guts to tell him - was a No.1 hit for British group Smokie, and set their career in motion. A beautiful introduction played on an acoustic Martin 12-string guitar sets the mood for a rather sad ballad ably sung by Smokie lead singer, Chris Norman. The members of Smokie, who hailed from Yorkshire, had previously performed together in 1966 with a band called The Elizabethans. Turning professional in 1968, they changed their name to Kindness, and began performing at holiday camps and ballrooms. Along the way they changed their name to Smokey (later spelt Smokie), and had a string of hits including this one. In 1976 the production team of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman (Chinnichap) were looking for a band to work with, spotted Smokie and wrote this song for them. Smokie lasted four years, disbanding in 1980. The song was revised a decade late by Dr Hook who screamed the question, "Who the f__ is Alice?" throughout the chorus over Chris Norman's lead vocals.
6. I Go To Rio - Peter Allen
In 1976, Australian born but American based singer/songwriter Peter Allen recorded his breakthrough album, Taught By Experts, which included his most famous song, "I Go to Rio", and another classic Allen-Carole Bayer Sager collaboration, "Quiet Please, There's a Lady on Stage", his poignant ode to Judy Garland. "Rio" was completely ignored in Australia on its first release, but a turnaround came about a year later when A&M re-released it, this time accompanied by a simple but vibrant promotional video. It was picked up by the ABC-TV pop show Countdown and shot to No.1 on the Australian charts. Rio's success demonstrated conclusively both the enormous influence of Countdown and the rapidly growing importance of music video as a means of marketing new music. A genuine star in his own right, Peter then returned to Australia in September 1977 for a wildly successful tour, which ended with a free concert in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens. His next single, a cover of the perennial "The More I See You" (A-side) and "I Honestly Love You" (B-side) reached No.11 in Australia in October, while the album also made the Top 10. Inexplicably, the album has never been released on CD.
7. Torn Between Two lovers - Mary McGregor
One hit wonder Mary Mcgregor was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she studied classical piano from the age of six. Within eight years, she was singing professionally with a local big band. After attending university, Mary began touring with various folk, R&B, and rock bands and it was during one of these national tours that she caught the attention of Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary. Impressed with her double-octave range, Yarrow invited her to join him on a national tour as a backup vocalist. Mary is heard singing backup on Yarrow's Love Songs album. His next step was putting her voice on vinyl: her first solo endeavour, produced by Yarrow, was the fateful "Torn Between Two Lovers." "I never liked the song too much, and I still don't," said Mary. "There are just some songs I like, and some I don't, and this is one of them. Peter and I had a very long relationship. We're both very emotional people, and whenever we got together it was a very volatile experience. I didn't like 'Torn' mostly because it was boring to sing. Peter thought it was a real statement, and he wanted it to happen. He wanted a woman to sing it, and he wanted that woman to be me. I recorded the song in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, while standing in a bathroom. It was a room that was actually part of the studio, just sort of built-in there. They had a boom stand with a microphone on the end of it. The boom was in the studio, and the mike kind of stuck in through the door, hanging over the mirror. It was a tiny little room, but I finally worked things around so I didn't have to stare at myself singing. It's a great place. You get a lot of natural echo in bathrooms." Mary would never repeat the commercial success of 'Torn', however she did crack the US top 40 one more time before the end of the decade with 'Good Friend', which was featured on the soundtrack of the Bill Murray comedy Meatballs. Today she lives on a central California ranch where she raises horses and writes songs.
8. Walk Right In - Dr Hook
This song was written by Gus Cannon, who recorded it with The Jug Stompers back in 1929. It was a windfall for Cannon, who, immediately after recording the song, had to hock his banjo for $20 worth of coal. Not only did he get the royalties for the hit, he got a recording contract with Stax Records, and a new banjo. The second popular recording of the song was made in 1963 by The Rooftop Singers. Erik Darling, formerly of the Tarriers ("Banana Boat Song") and the Weavers (he replaced Pete Seeger), put together the trio The Rooftop Singers, specifically to record this song, which featured two 12-string guitars. Darling modified some lyrics; "two way woman" became "new way of walking," for example, which made the lyrics uncomprehendable. It was largely regarded as a beatnik song, and since nobody could understand 'beat' poetry, nobody expected to understand this song. Dr Hook's version uses Darling's vocal arrangement and lyrics changes, with the addition of a brass ensemble banking so as to move away from the folkie sound of The Rooftop Singers.
9. You're Moving Out Today - Carole Bayer Sager
Sager wrote her first pop hit "A Groovy Kind Of Love" (first sung by Sonny & Cher) in 1966 while a student at the New York City High School of Music and Art. It was then recorded by the British band, The Mindbenders, who made it an international hit. Sager became one of the major songwriters of the Baby Boomer years, often composing with other people, including Peter Allen, and her husband Burt Bacharach. Sager rarely ventured into the studio to record her own songs; the first time was in 1977, to make a self-titled album. It went went platinum in Japan, Australia and England, and spawned the No.1 hit single, 'You're Moving Out Today'.
10. If You Leave Me Now - Chicago
One of the great love songs of the 1970s, 'If You Leave Me Now' was written by Chicago's bass player Peter Cetera, who also sang lead. He wrote the song about his faltering marriage: This was a plea to his wife at the time to stay. It didn't work as she promptly right him. After it became a huge hit, the band became known for its ballads that featured Cetera's vocals and horn section. Peter wrote this song about his faltering marriage. This was a plea to his wife at the time to stay. It didn't work as she promptly right him. The song came together after spending time with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys fame, hence the layered vocals and cascading strings.
11. Don't Give Up On Us - David Soul
This song was written by Tony Macaulay, who wrote three other UK No.1 hits: "Baby Now That I Found You" for The Foundations, "Let The Heartaches Begin" for Long John Baldry (both in 1967 with John McLeod) and "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)" for Edison Lighthouse (in 1970 with Barry Mason). David Soul, who played Hutch in the TV cop show Starsky & Hutch, was a singer before he became an actor, and recorded folk and pop singles in the early '70s without any success. In desperation he sent a photograph of himself to the top New York entertainment agency William Morris. His ploy of disguising his face with a ski mask caught their imagination and he was immediately contracted to become the Covered Man, the resident singer on the Merv Griffin TV show. After completing the first series of Starsky & Hutch, Soul released an album before teaming up with Tony Macaulay and recording this song. It remains his only chart entry except in the UK where he achieved four more top 20 singles.
12. What Can I Say - Boz Scaggs
After first finding acclaim as a member of the Steve Miller Band, singer/songwriter Boz Scaggs (born William Royce Scaggs) went on to enjoy considerable solo success in the 1970s. His early work, though lauded by the critics, failed to make an impressioon on the record buying public. One track, 'Loan Me a Dime', later became the subject of a court battle when bluesman Fenton Robinson sued (successfully) for composer credit. His commercial breakthrough came in 1976 with the album, Silk Degrees, which reached number two on the album charts and spawned the No.3 (in the US) single 'Lowdown' and the hits 'Lido Shuffle' and 'What Can I Say'. The latter single was his only major hit in Australia.
13. You And Me - Alice Cooper
This song was a radical departure from Cooper's normal Gothic fare and was probably done to please a record company executive demanding a mainstream hit, a common practice at that time (The Rolling Stones' "Angie" is such a song, as it is so out of character for the Stones). "You And Me" is every man's love song to his significant other; celebrating the everyday pleasures of sharing life with someone. Like this single, the album from which it was lifted - Lace And Whiskey - was very experimental for Cooper. The song was once covered by Frank Sinatra, who, after performing it, said to Alice, "You keep writin' 'em, kid, and I'll keep singin' 'em". He didn't and He didn't!
14. Dance Little Lady Dance - Tina Charles
London born Tina Charles (real name Tina Hoskins) had one single - 'You Set My Heart On Fire' - before her biggest hit, 'I love To Love' which rocketed her to the position of Britain's top female vocalist. In the mid 1970s, she was in big demand, popping up on British television on everything from "Top Of The Pops" to "The Two Ronnies". Her success prompted a world tour between 1975 and 1977 and a few more hit singles. She followed 'I Love To Love' with 'Dance Little Lady Dance', which was released a short time before she retired to take care of her new born son. Australia is the only place where this song made an impact on the charts.
15. When I Need You - Leo Sayer
Leo Sayer (born Gerard Sayer) enjoyed a string of hits during the late 1970s, 'When I Need You' being one of his biggest. He first came to the notice of the record-buying public early in 1973 as a songwiter when the debut solo album by Roger Daltrey of The Who was released featuring songs by Sayer and drummer Dave Courtney. Included on the album was a single "Giving It All Away," which was a Top 5 hit for The Who frontman. At the end of 1973 Sayer launched his own solo career under the guidance of Adam Faith. Sayer's solo career took off. Sayer and Courtney wrote and produced Sayer's earlier hits, including 'Giving It All Away', 'The Show Must Go On' and 'Long Tall Glasses', which he perfromed in concert dressed as a clown. In America 'The Show Must Go On' was covered by Three Dog Night, who took it to the Top 5. Sayer's break from Courtney in 1975 brought with it an image change and a number of albums and hits co-written with former Supertramp member Frank Furrell; including 'You Make Me Feel like Dancing' and 'When I Need You'. The latter became his biggest hit in both the US and the UK. Following the album, Endless Flight, from which it was lifted, Sayer became a fixture in the American and Australian Top 40 for a number of years, yet his hits began to dry up in England.
16. Don't Fall In Love - The Ferrets
After a three year stint in the Australian cast of Jesus Christ Superstar, guitarist and vocalist Billy Miller formed The Ferrets, in 1977 they had an Australian and New Zealand No. 1 hit, "Don't Fall In Love", and a gold album, Dreams of a Love, from which the single was lifted. Countless bands and gigs followed. Up until 2004 he worked in a music production company (Duffield Kenihan Pty Ltd) creating music for TV commercials, and co-producing the music for Round The Twist (Children's TV Foundation).
17. I Feel Love - Donna Summer
Like most of Donna Summer's early disco hits, this song was written and produced by Giorgio Morodor and Pete Bellotte. Her managers were concerned that radio stations wouldn't play it due to Donna's sexual moaning of "I Feel Love." Co-writer Bellotte said in 2007: "This was the last track on the concept album I Remember Yesterday, on which Donna sang the first track in a 1940s style, going through various other genrés until the final song was intended to represent the future. We used a Moog synthesizer to give the song this futuristic feel, and discovered a new way to layer level upon level of sound on to the track in perfect sync. We had no idea it was going to sound so special. Donna was one of those phenomenal one-take artists - she could just come in, sing the song and go. She was always spot on." When this song was first released, it was actually the B-side to a ballad called "Can't We Just Sit Down (and talk it over)" which actually charted in the US very briefly before DJ's began showing a preference for "I Feel Love" and it took off.
18. Help Is On Its Way - Little River Band
After Axiom's short reign at the top before disbanding in the late 1960s, that band's lead singer, Glenn Shorrock, went on to become a founding member and lead singer of Australia's first outfit to hit the jackpot in the US - Little River Band. 'Help Is On Its Way', a Shorrock composition, became the first single by an Aussie band to break into the US Top 20 charts. Their 1977 Diamantina Cocktail album, which had the song on it, sold over half a million copies in the US and earned LRB their first gold disc - the first of its kind to be awarded to an Australian entity. LRB and Olivia Newton-John became the only acts after the 1960s to score an American top 10 hit every year consecutively for five years. The song's tight harmonies and musicianship by all players is to a standard of excellence achieved in the 1970s by LRB and The Eagles, but few others.
19. You Light Up My Life - Debby Boone
The daughter of the popular singer of the 1950s/60s, Pat Boone, Debby got her first taste of stardom when her father decided to incorporate his wife and four daughters into a family-oriented concert act. They played state fairs, hotels and amusement parks around the world. Eventually, the team began to break up; Debbie enrolled in Bible School, and worked briefly with emotionally disturbed children. In 1977, her mundane existence was turned upside down when producer Mike Curb approached her with the idea of recording a song called 'You Light Up My Life.' She jumped at the chance, and it bacame a major hit. "I'm pleased that my first release was a ballad," said Debby. "I like some rock music, but I'm not really a rock'n'roller. Middle America, the bulk of the nation, isn't into one extreme or the other, and enjoys this sort of thing. I think the song is a change, different from what we've been hearing. It's refreshing." Debby, a born-again Christian, freely acknowledged that she had a spiritual, rather than a romantic idea in mind when she recorded the song. "When I first heard the song, I knew it was probably written about a male-female relationship, but I hadn't seen the movie. For me, it lent itself to these spiritual feelings I was having. You see, as far as I'm concerned, it's my love song to God. My life is centered around Him, and that's not something predominant in the music business."
-The song had been the theme from a movie of the same name about making it in the record industry. The project was conceived and produced by Joe Brooks, who wrote the screenplay and hired Kacey Cisyk to sing five songs for the soundtrack, including the title theme. Later, Kacey claimed she was never paid for that recording session. When the soundtrack album came out, her name was misspelled and she was listed as a "background singer." 'You Light Up My Life' was No.1 in the US longer than any other song in 1977, and longer than any recording by a female artist in a quarter century. It sold nearly five million copies, outdistancing even her father Pat's greatest hits. It also garnered an Oscar and two Grammy Awards.
20. Mull of Kintyre - Wings
Paul McCartney wrote this song with Denny Laine, his band mate in Wings, as a tribute to the island in Scotland where Paul and his wife Linda had bought a farm. After a difficult breakup with The Beatles, McCartney went there to avoid a nervous breakdown. Rumour has it that McCartney wrote the song after he was dared to write a song about Scotland that sounded traditionally Scottish. He won the bet! A huge hit everywhere but in the US, it is the 4th top selling UK single of all time. 'Mull of Kintyre' is a song that people either love or hate with a passion.
5. Hey! St Peter - Flash & The Pan
After the break-up of The Easybeasts in the early 1970s, the group's songwriting duo of Harry Vanda and George Young (right) moved to the U.K. where they worked as songwriters, producers, and musicians for the next three years, releasing the single "Lazy River"/"Free and Easy" in October 1971 under the name Moondance in the UK, and as Vanda & Young in Australia. A series of singles released under various pseudonyms followed, including "Get Ready for Love"/"Can I Get to Know You?" by Paintbox in October 1971, "Shot in the Head"/"Bye Bye Bluebird" by Haffy's Whisky Sour in November 1971, "Natural Man"/"Boogalooing Is for Wrong" by the Marcus Hook Roll Band in August 1972, and "Louisiana Lady"/"Hoochie Coochie Har Kau" in March 1973. By 1977, at a time when they were well entrenched as songwriters and producers for a number of Australian acts, the duo put a band together - Flash & The Pan - and recorded more of their material. "Hey! St Peter" was their first single.
6. What I Did For Love - Marcia Hines
Massachusetts born Hines was brought to Australia in 1969 by entrepreneur Harry M. Miller who went to America to recruit an African-American cast member for his new Australian production of the rock musical Hair. Marcia's success in Hair led to her next major stage role, that of Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar. She took over from Michelle Fawdon in 1973, becoming the first black singer anywhere in the world to play this role. Marcia's toured solidly through 1976-77, cementing her recording success with sell-out shows around the country, and winning the Australian Queen of Pop award in both years. Her third single, "What I Did for Love" (co-written by Marvin Hamlish) reached No.7 in June 1977, her third LP, Ladies and Gentlemen ... Marcia Hines, reached No.5 in September and Marcia ended the year on a career peak when her signature tune, "You", was released as her next single.
7. A Mean Pair of Jeans - Marty Rhone
Aussie singer Marty Rhone (real name Karl van Rhoon) will forever be synonymous for his two 1970s hits "Denim And Lace" and "Mean Pair Of Jeans". During the Pacific War (1942-1945), Marty's father was in the Dutch Navy during World War II, flying as navigator on the Catalina amphibious aircraft based in Surabaya. He met Marty's mother in Sydney after the war, and they returned to indonesia where his unit was based. Their son Marty was born on 7th May 1948 in Surabaya in Java, Indonesia. They moved to Darwin when Marty was 2 years old at a time of growing political instability in Indonesia prior to that country during its push for independence. After moving to Sydney, Marty went on The Tarax Show - a live talent show for children - hosted by King Corky who was the television idol of Australian children during the 1960s. Marty won second place when he was just 13 years old. From this came a permanent position on Kaper Kabaret, a popular afternoon children's show on Channel Nine. He was then given a singing engagement every three weeks, which made him 'a bit of a celebrity' at his local school, Crows Nest Boys High. His desire to become part of the entertainment industry continued to grow and he released his first single 'Nature Boy' in 1966, which brought him national acclaim.
Marty was conscripted into the army in 1970 and after his two years service he studied music at the Conservatorium of Music for two years. His interests also extended to theatre and he performed in the original Sydney season of Godspell in 1972-73. He then went to England to try his luck and performed with Yul Brynner at the London Palladium in The King and I from 1979-80. In 1988 he worked with the late Pope John Paul II as the MC at his Youth Rally in Sydney. On the pop scene, he scored a major national hit with "Denim and Lace" in 1975. He had a further hit with "Mean Pair of Jeans" in 1977 and represented Australia at the World Song contest in Tokyo in 1976 with "On The Loose Again".
8. I Wanna Do It With you - John Paul Young
Scottish born John Paul Young and his family emigrated to Australia in his youth, and by the early 1970s he had become the lead singer with Sydney rock band Elm Tree. In early 1972 he was selected for the role of Ananias in the original Australian production of Jesus Christ Superstar and he remained with the production until it closed in 1974. Visiting producer-manager Simon Napier-Bell heard him singing with his group in a pub in Newcastle and persuaded him to sign as a solo artist to Albert Productions, (the company that had produced Australia's top Sixties group The Easybeats); Napier-Bell produced Young's first hit single, "Pasadena". The song was co-written by George Young and Harry Vanda of the Easybeats together with British actor David Hemmings. when he came to the attention of former Easybeats membersVanda and Young were impressed with Young's recording of their song, so when they returned to Australia from a spell in Britain, they took over as Young's producers and began writing and producing songs for him.
A string of hits followed in Australia, the first being "Yesterday's Hero". This top 10 single was followed by "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" also became a minor hit in the US.
9. Magazine Madonna - Sherbet
Sherbet were formed in Sydney in 1969 by guitarist Clive Shakespeare with members of his former group, Downtown Roll Band. Initially they started out as a soul band doing Motown covers and other soul and rock-based material. The band's first single was 1970's "Crimson Ships", a cover of a song by Badfinger; it featured original Sherbet vocalist Dennis Laughlin. Back then, Australian popular music was at something of a crossroads. The Twilights, The Groop, The Easybeats and Axiom had disbanded and Billy Thorpe had taken up blues. The music scene was ripe for a soft pop act. Sydney's pop scene was virtually non-existent, swallowed up by nightclub entertainment geared towards American marines on Rest And Recreation from their duties in Vietnam.
The soul and R&B music they favoured filtered on through the Sydney music of the day. And then, during the latter half of 1970, a dispute between Australian radio and the record companies saw a number of independent record labels spring up, favouring soft pop acts who could record the songs radio wasn't able to play in their original versions. It was in that environment that Sherbet evolved and filled the void admirably. Picking up quality musicians along the way, Sherbet, with Daryl Braithwaite (right) as lead singer, went from strength to strength. The band reached what many believe to be its peak in 1976 with the single, 'Howzat', their fifteenth hit, and first No.1. The album of the same name also reached the top. 'Howzat' was released around the world, and on September 17, 1976 Sherbet boarded a plane bound for London, where 'Howzat' was becoming a major hit. Also on that plane, also headed overseas for the first time, was Little River Band. 'Howzat' was followed up by another top 40 single, "Magazine Madonna".
10. Love Has No Pride - Daryl Braithwaite
Between 1971 and 1978, Sherbet released 15 albums and 30 singles. Among these singles were Australian pop classics such as "You've Got The Gun", "Child's Play", "Slipstream", "Life", and "Summer Love". In 1975, lead singer Daryl Braithwaite also branched out with a solo career, releasing several singles under his own name - "Old Sid", "Love Has No Pride" (a cover of a Linda Ronstadt recording), "Afterglow" (a cover of the Small Faces classic) and his solo No.1 hit, "You're My World". In early 1973, Daryl won the lead role in the famous Melbourne concert production of rock opera, Tommy, which was staged at the Myer Music Bowl and televised nationally. Daryl's solo outings fuelled constant press speculation that he would leave the band and go solo, but according to the group, that was never in doubt - it was all hype.
Other Hits of 1977
You're In My Heart - Rod Stewart
Stewart wrote this after breaking up with Swedish actress Britt Ekland; she had filed a $12 million palimony suit against him. They were married 1975-1978. It is said it was written to appease her - this must have worked, as she withdrew the suit. Rod later said, "It wasn't totally about Britt ... it could have been anybody I met in that period - and there were a lot of them." This claim is supported by a NSW woman who met Rod in her hometown of Wollongong while he was touring Australia, and believes the song was written for her. The "Beardsley prints" is definitely a reference to Aubrey Beardsley, however; a Beardsley being Victorian artist whose work Britt loved. The song's reference to Celtic United reflects Rod's love of football. He was signed by Brentford, a professional club in England, although he never quite made the grade and saw little playing time. After being deported back to England from Spain for vagrancy, he gave up playing football and became a singer/songwriter. View the video online
Ma Baker - Boney M
Boney M. was the brainchild of German record producer Frank Farian, and they became one of Eurodisco's most successful acts. Farian first released the single "Baby Do You Wanna Bump?" in 1975, as Boney M, taking the name from an Australian TV drama, Boney. He performed the sparse vocals of the song himself. The song went on to become a hit and it was then that Farian decided to hire a team of dancers and vocalists to 'front' the group. It was composed of four Greman singers all of West Indian origin. Marcia Barrett was the only consistent member and she sang lead on all the group's songs.
The backing singers were changed regularly, and according to one of them, Claudja Barry, were required only to mime in live concerts. The vocals of Bobby Farrell, the male face of the group, and Maizie Williams, were never used in recordings, Farrell's recorded tracks were always performed by Farian himself. Farrell was hired for his personality and innovative dancing, and Williams, a former model, for her looks. Despite his success with Boney M, controversy followed Frank Farian, in what was to later shadow his involvement with Milli Vanilli. The performers were again required to mime to another's singing and pretend it was theirs, but this time they were caught out and an uproar ensued. View the video online
Lucille - Kenny Rogers
Written by Roger Bowling & Hal Bynum, 'Lucille' was the song that sent Kenny Rogers on a path to country music superstardom. Having had his first million seller - 'Crazy Feeling' - in the US at the age of 19, Kenny joined the the New Christie Minstrels and then co-founded The First Edition, with whom he enjoyed a string of hits including "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town" and "Reubin James". He went solo again and enjoyed four medium sized US hits, 'Love Lifted Me', 'Homemade Love', 'Laura', and 'While the Feeling's Good'. 'Lucille' eclipsed them all, pushing Rogers into superstardon. It was the first of many huge international hits and paved the way to roles in a number of movies and TV specials. View the video online
(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher - Rita Coolidge
The daughter of an East Tennessee preacherman and of Cherokee Native American background, Coolidge's first public singing was as part of a church choir, then with siblings Priscilla and Linda in a group called the Coolidge Sisters. Her break came when Delaney and Bonnie visited town; they were impressed by Rita's voice they took her back with them to Los Angeles to sing on one of their albums. "When I got to L.A.," recounted Rita, "I just couldn't believe it. Everyone knew who I was." Sure enough, "Turn Around and Love You", a single she had recorded a year earlier, had been a Top 10 hit, but only in L.A. After backing Joe Cocker and Leon Russell - she was the "Delta Lady" of Cocker's hit of the same name - she returned home where she met and married Kris Kristofferson.
In 1971, she recorded the first of a succession of albums. Six years later, she lost a baby during pregnancy, and threw herself into her next album, Anytime ... Anywhere, to help her get through it all. Rita was persuaded to spice up the album with remakes of some of her favorite oldies from the 1960s. Among them was "Higher and Higher," which had been a million-seller for Jackie Wilson just a decade before. Rita slowed it down and understated the song, singing it in a sleepy, almost detached kind of way. The low-pressure approach worked, and Rita wound up with one of the biggest hits of the year. "Higher and Higher" was her first platinum single, and a smash hit around the world except in Singapore, where it was banned for being a "drug record." View the video online
Southern Nights - Glen Campbell
Glenn Campbell began his recording career in the late 1950s - he was in the line-up of the group The Champs, famous for their 1959 surf instrumental "Tequila", on which he played lead guitar. He became a leading session guitarist; his first foray into singing was as the replacement for Brian Wilson at Beach Boys live concerts in 1964 and 1965. He launched his solo career as a singer in 1967 with "Gentle On My Mind". After nearly a decade of concentrating on live appearances, he recorded "Southern Nights" in an attempt to revive his recording career. It was a song written by New Orleans-born writer/producer/artist Allen Toussaint in 1977. Campbell chose it because it reminded him of his rural roots - his early days on the farm in Arkansas. "My dad told me when I was a kid, 'You're having the best time of your life, and you don't even know it.' Sure enough, he was right. Now I really feel the need to go back home, float down the Missouri River, and fish for bass and crappies. It's real peaceful, and remote from things like telephones. My head is still there." 'Southern Nights' was released in January 1977, and peaked at No.1 in April. It was Glen's 28th single to make the pop charts and his last Top 10 hit, in a pop career than spanned eighteen years. View the video online
In The Flesh - Blondie (right)
New York band Blondie's first commercial success occurred in Australia in 1977 when the music television program Countdown mistakenly played their video "In the Flesh", which was the B-side of their current single "X-Offender" that they were supposed to be play. The video was well received and gained popularity through repeated screenings. The programme's host and talent co-ordinator Ian 'Molly' Meldrum enthusiastically promoted the band and "In The Flesh" as a single in its own right. Jimmy Destri later credited Meldrum for their initial success: "we still thank him to this day" for playing the wrong song. In a 1998 interview bandmember Chris Stein suggested that it may have been a deliberate subterfuge on the part of Meldrum. Stein asserted that "X-Offender" was "too crazy and aggressive [to become a hit]", while "In the Flesh" was "not representative of any punk sensibility.". In retrospect Burke described "In the Flesh" as "a forerunner to the power ballad". View the video online
Looks Like We Made It - Barry Manilow (right)
The song was first released in 1976 on Manilow's album This One's For You. Pianist Richard Kerr, who wrote the music for Manilow's first hit "Mandy," wrote the music for this song. Will Jennings, who has contributed lyrics for songs by Eric Clapton, Dionne Warwick, Bonnie Raitt, Diana Ross and many others, wrote the lyrics. Jennings explains: "You walk into a party. Someone you used to love who used to love you is there. You are each with someone else. 'Looks like we made it, right each other on the way to another love... looks like we made it, or I thought so until the day, until you were there, everywhere, and all I could taste was love the way we made it'... real life. And if you feel that way, you didn't make it." Hear the song online
Lay Down Sally - Eric Clapton
Marcy Levy, one of Clapton's backup singers, wrote this song with Clapton and sang back-up on it. She toured with Bob Seger before joining Clapton's band in 1973. In 1988, Levy, using the name Marcella Detroit, joined former Bananarama singer Siobhan Fahey to form Shakespear's Sister. 'Lay Down Sally' is the first track on the album, Slowhand. It takes its name from the nickname given to Clapton by the group's manager when he was with The Yardbirds. He got it either because of his laid-back guitar style or because, when Clapton broke a string on-stage, he insisted on replacing it right there instead of grabbing another guitar. The audience would clap the "slowhand clap" together while waiting patiently. View the video online
New Kid In Town - The Eagles
"New Kid in Town", written by Don Henley, Glenn Frey and J.D. Souther, was the first track from The Eagles' 1976 album Hotel California to be released as a single. It became an instant No. 1 hit worldwide. In 1977, the Eagles won a Grammy Award for Best Arrangement for Voices for this song. The track, which follows the theme of the Hotel California album, tells about someone who became famous, and people who didn't even know them personally but felt like they did because they were from their community, which gave all of them some sort of "ownership" of and pride in that person. Glenn Frey once remarked that the song was about Steely Dan whom the band saw as a new and upcoming group that was possibly taking over the spotlight from the Eagles. View the video online
Love Theme From A Star Is Born (Evergreen) - Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand has recorded more than sixty albums, almost all with the Columbia Records label. Starting in 1969, Streisand tackled contemporary songwriters; like many talented singers of the day, she found herself a fish out of water in attempts to tackle rock, but her vocal talents prevailed and she gained newfound success with ballad-oriented popular songs. During the 1970s, she was highly prominent in the pop charts, with No.1 records like "The Way We Were", "Evergreen", "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" (with Donna Summer) and "Woman in Love"; some of these came from soundtrack records to her films.
>When the 1970s ended, Streisand was named the most successful female singer in the US - only Elvis Presley and The Beatles having sold more albums. "Evergreen" was featured in A Star Is Born, a 1976 film telling the story of a young woman, played by Streisand, who enters show business, and meets and falls in love with an established male star (Kris Kristofferson); her career is ascending while his goes into decline. It is a remake - the 1937 version was a drama starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, and the 1954 version was a musical starring Judy Garland and James Mason. Hear the song online
Rich Girl - Hall & Oates
'Rich Girl' was this pop duo's first of six No.1 singles. The song, which originally appeared on the 1976 album Bigger Than Both of Us, tells about a spoiled woman who can rely on her parents' money to do whatever she wants. The song was rumoured to be about the then-scandalous newspaper heiress Patty Hearst. In fact, the title character in the song is based on an heir to a fast-food chain who was an ex-boyfriend of Daryl Hall's girlfriend, Sara Allen. "But you can't write, 'You're a rich boy' in a song, so I changed it to a girl," Hall told Rolling Stone. Several years later, Hall read an interview with David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam killer, in which Berkowitz revealed that "Rich Girl" had motivated him to murder. Hall & Oates later reflected this disturbing fact in the lyrics of the song "Diddy Doo Wop (I Hear Voices)" on the album, Voices. View the video online
Undercover Angel - Alan O'Day (right)
In 1977, Warner Brothers Music decided to form a special label for their composers who also performed. O'Day was the first artist signed, and the first release was "Undercover Angel." The song, which he described as a "nocturnal novelette," was released without fanfare in February 1977. But within a few months it went to No.1. A follow-up single, "Skinny Girls", also became a No.1 hit in Australia in 1980. 'Undercover Angel' begins with a man commiserating his loneliness, when a woman suddenly appears in his bed, and encourages him to make love to her. O'Day also wrote songs for several notable performers, such as Helen Reddy's No.1 hit, the 1974 "Angie Baby" and the Righteous Brothers' "Rock and Roll Heaven". In the 1980s he moved from pop music to television, co-writing over 100 songs for the Saturday morning Muppet Babies series, and in the 1990s he wrote and performed music on the National Geographic series "Really Wild Animals". Hear the song online
Chanson D'Amour - The Manhattan Transfer
The Manhattan Transfer is the name of two American vocal groups. The first, short-lived version was established in New York City in 1969, and disbanded after producing just one album. The second incarnation, which recorded this single, was established in 1972. It is famous for mixing jazz, big band and popular music styles. The group's name comes from John Dos Passos' 1925 novel Manhattan Transfer and reflects their New York origins. Performances at Max's Kansas City, Trude Heller's and Reno Sweeney in New York City soon brought them a cult following. In 1975 MT released its first album, The Manhattan Transfer, containing the group's first hit single, the gospel tune, 'Operator'. The group soon did very well internationally, its next two albums, Coming Out and Pastiche, bringing it a string of top 10 hits. One was a revival of the Wayne Shanklin composed, "Chanson D'Amour", which went to No.1 worldwide but inexplicably failed to chart in the US.
These hits were followed by a live album, The Manhattan Transfer Live. Immediately after that album was recorded, in 1978, band member Laurel Massé was badly injured in an auto accident and was replaced by Cheryl Bentyne. The line-up has remained the same since then. "Chanson D'Amour" was first recorded in 1958; there were two competing verions, one was by Art and Dotty Todd, the other was by The Fontane Sisters. In 1966, the song experienced a resurgence in popularity when it was released as a single by The Lettermen. View the video online
Knowing Me, Knowing You - ABBA
Recorded in 1976 at the Metronome studio in Stockholm, and released in February 1977, "Knowing Me, Knowing You" became one of ABBA's most successful singles. The B-side was "Happy Hawaii," a re-working of another ABBA song, "Why Did It Have to Be Me," but with a different lead vocalist and lyrics. "Knowing Me, Knowing You", featuring lead vocals by Anni-Frid Lyngstad, was one of the first ABBA songs to deal with the break up of a relationship. It predates the divorces of the ABBA members, as well as a number of breakup songs to come: "The Winner Takes It All" and "One of Us". Group member Benny Andersson named "Knowing Me, Knowing You" as one of ABBA's best recordings in an interview in 2004, along with "Dancing Queen", "The Winner Takes It All" and "When I Kissed the Teacher". It was the last single to be released from the immensely successul album, Arrival. View the video online
I Don't Want to Talk About It - Rod Stewart (right)
Written by Danny Whitten, "I Don't Want to Talk About It" was first recorded by Whitten's band, Crazy Horse, who released it on their 1971 eponymous album. In 1975, Rod Stewart recorded his version of the song for his album Atlantic Crossing; it became the best seling single from the album. It topped the UK Singles Chart as a double A-side with "The First Cut Is the Deepest" in 1977. In 1990, Stewart recorded a new version of "I Don't Want to Talk About It" that received extensive airplay in the US and went to No.2 there. Other notable artists who have recorded versions of this song include Rita Coolidge, Billie Jo Spears, Ian Matthews, D'ZRT, Nils Lofgren, Dina Carroll, Geoff Muldaur, Llama Farmers, Indigo Girls on the Philadelphia soundtrack, and Taiwanese artist A-Mei (Chang Hui-Mei). Rita Coolidge's version, released in the same year as Stewart's, enjoyed both airplay and good sales in Australia, significantly lifting the artist's profile here. View the video online
The Name Of The Game - ABBA
"The Name of the Game" was the first single from ABBA's fifth album, which was called The Album. The song carried the working title "A Bit of Myself," and was their most complex composition yet, containing the influences of the laid-back California sound of the day. A preliminary version of the song was worked into the 1977 feature film ABBA: The Movie. At that time the song had not yet reached its completion. "The Name of the Game" was released with "I Wonder (Departure)" as the B-side, the latter being one of several songs planned for a mini-musical written by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, the plans for which were put on hold for the time being.
That the song was a considered a disappointment by making the top 10 but not No.1 illustrates the expectation put on each release by the Swedish superstars who it was thought could not put a step wrong. Although "The Name of the Game" was not ABBA's most successful single, it was certainly one of their strongest tracks, and it proved that the light-heartedness of "Waterloo" and "Mamma Mia" was gone and a new depth and maturity in the songwriting and arrangements was in evidence. View the video online
Way Down - Elvis Presley (right)
Written by Layng Martine, Jr. and later covered by Status Quo and Cliffhanger, "Way Down" was Elvis Presley's last single before his death on 16th August 1977. Recorded on 29th October 1976 and rleased on 6th June 1977 (with "Pledging My Love" on the B-side), it was his current single when he died; it raced up singles charts when news of his death broke. It was reissued in April 2005 and again reached No.2 on the UK singles chart. View the video online
Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue - Crystal Gayle
This song, written by Richard Leigh, became a worldwide hit single by Country music singer Crystal Gayle (born Brenda Gail Webb); the album from which it came received Platinum status, the first by a female country singer. The song became Gayle's signature piece throughout her career. In 1978, the song also won Gayle a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. The song has a jazzy feel to it when compared to most country songs. Gayle had many more hit singles in the US over the next ten years, such as "Talking In Your Sleep", "Half the Way" "You and I" (a duet with Eddie Rabbitt) and "I'll Get Over You" but none have come close to the success of "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue". In an interview in 2004, Gayle stated that Leigh was inspired to write the song because his dog had one brown eye and one blue eye. Hear the song online
American Girl - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (right)
It was with this single from their breakthrough self-titled album that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers rose to prominence in the 1970s. The lyrics were written by Petty, and feature an allusion to his days growing up in Gainesville, Florida. The song was rumoured to have been written about a girl who committed suicide from the Beaty Towers dorm at the University of Florida in Gainesville, USA. There is no record of such an incident, however. Although Route 441 runs by the dorms at the University, Tom Petty says he wrote it while living in California. "I wrote that in a little apartment I had in Encino. It was right next to the freeway and the cars sometimes sounded like waves from the ocean, which is why there's the line about the waves crashing on the beach.
The words just came tumbling out very quickly - and it was the start of writing about people who are longing for something else in life, something better than they have." The backing vocals were sung by a friend of Petty's, Dwight Twilley Band member, Phil Seymour. The Heartbreakers' guitarist Mike Campbell adds: "We used to have people come up to us and tell us they thought it was about suicide because of the one line about 'if she had to die,' but what they didn't get was, the whole line is 'if she had to die trying.' Some people take it literally and out of context. To me it's just a really beautiful love song. It does have some Florida imagery." View the video online
Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft - The Carpenters (right)
The Carpenters' experimental album, Passage, released in 1977 (and no doubt partially inspired by the success lof a number of science fiction movies like Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind), marked an attempt to broaden their appeal by venturing into other musical genres. The LP featured an unlikely mix of Latin rock, calypso, and pop, and included several hits. The most notable tracks included cover versions of "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" (from the rock opera Evita) and Klaatu's "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft", both complete with choral and orchestral accompaniment. Although the single release of "Calling Occupants" became a major hit in the UK, the album failed to cross the gold threshold of 500,000 copies sold in the US. Richard has said that he felt another track from Passage, "I Just Fall in Love Again", could have become a success had it been released as a single. That song was a No.1 hit in 1979 for Anne Murray, proving Richard's feelings about the song's appeal. John Woloschuk, a member of Klaatu and one of the song's composers, has said:
The idea for this track was suggested by an actual event that is described in The Flying Saucer Reader, a book by Jay David published in 1967. In March 1953 an organization known as the International Flying Saucer Bureau sent a bulletin to all its members urging them to participate in an experiment termed "World Contact Day" whereby, at a predetermined date and time, they would attempt to collectively send out a telepathic message to visitors from outer space. The message began with the words, "Calling occupants of interplanetary craft!" The original World Contact Day was 15th March 1953. The song was subtitled "The Recognised Anthem of World Contact Day", presumably in the hope that it would be adopted as the anthem for the event should another World Contact Day be held in the future. Another cover version can be found on the Carpenters tribute album If I Were A Carpenter performed by the all-woman band, Babes in Toyland. View the video online
Give A Little Bit - Supertramp
"Give a Little Bit" is the opening song on Supertramp's 1977 progressive rock album, Even in the Quietest Moments. Its writing credits are given to bandmembers Rick Davies and bass player (on their first two albums) Roger Hodgson, although it was in reality a Hodgson composition. He wrote this when he was a teenager, but didn't record it until much later. Hodgson recalls it was "Written at a time when writing simple songs was very easy because I didn't over-think them." The song was the first hit for the band internationally. Legend has it that they recorded the guitar intro and rhythm in an elevator because it gave the sound Roger was looking for. The song became even more famous for its appearance in the 1978 film Superman, where ten seconds of the song were heard just prior to the earthquake sequence. On Sunday 1st July 2007, Roger Hodgson sang this song as his finale for his short set at the Concert For Diana, held in Wembley Stadium in London. View the video online
Go Your Own Way - Fleetwood Mac
Written by Fleetwood Mac's main songwriter, band member Lindsey Buckingham, it relates to his fellow bandmate, Stevie Nicks, with whom he had just ended a romantic relationship. It describes their breakup, with the most obvious line being, "Packing up, shacking up is all you want to do." Nicks insisted she never shacked up with anyone when they were together, and wanted Lindsey to take out the line, but he refused. Needless to say, Nicks did not sing the lead vocals. One of the band's most enduring hits, it was the first single to be released from the highly successful album, Rumours. It is ranked No.119 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, one of the group's two entries along with "Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win)", and is the only Fleetwood Mac song on The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list. The song has been covered by numerous artists, including The Cranberries, the Scottish alternative band Biffy Clyro and Wilson Phillips as well as Jennifer Brown on her 2003 album, Home. Hear the song online
Blue Bayou - Linda Ronstadt (right)
In late 1977, Linda Ronstadt returned to the No.1 position on the album charts with Simple Dreams. Linda Ronstadt was playing it safe when she dug into Roy Orbison's songbook and did a re-working of this gem, which was one of three No.1 hit singles to be lifted from the album. She had successfully worked her magic on a trio of Buddy Holly songs a year or so previous, and here she does a similarly pleasing job on a Roy Orbison hit. "Blue Bayou" was written by Orbison and Joe Melson and released as a 45rpm single by Orbison in August 1963 as the B-side to the rock song "Mean Woman Blues". It also appears on Orbison's 1963 album, In Dreams, and his 1989 posthumous album, A Black & White Night Live, from the 1988 HBO television special. Simple Dreams was Ronstadt's biggest selling and most critically acclaimed album. Like Linda Ronstadt's definitive take on the Clint Ballard song "You're No Good", it's hard to imagine anyone else singing it, let alone the fact that the song was a 'Big O' classic - and a good one at that - long before she recorded it. View the video online
God Save the Queen - Sex Pistols (right)
This single was regarded by much of the general British and Australian public to be an assault on Queen Elizabeth II and the monarchy. The title is taken directly from the British national anthem. At the time it was highly controversial, firstly for its equation of the Queen with a "fascist regime", and secondly for the apparent claim that England had "no future". Band member Paul Cook has said, "It wasn't written specifically for the Queen's Jubilee. We weren't aware of it at the time. It wasn't a contrived effort to go out and shock everyone. No way." Johnny Rotten has explained the lyrics as follows: "You don't write a song like 'God Save The Queen' because you hate the English race. You write a song like that because you love them, and you're sick of seeing them mistreated." His intentions were apparently to evoke sympathy for the British working class and a general resentment of the monarchy.
On 7th June 1977 - the British Jubilee holiday itself - the band attempted to play the song from a boat on the River Thames. After a scuffle they and some of their entourage were arrested. The song peaked at No.2 on the official UK Singles Chart, though there have been persistent rumours - never confirmed or denied - that it was actually the biggest-selling single in the UK at the time, and was kept off No.1 (by Rod Stewart's "I Don't Want To Talk About It") because it was felt that it might cause offence. It was banned by the BBC and the Independent Broadcasting Authority which regulated Independent Local Radio, effectively denying it any media exposure. It was also not stocked by some shops. View the video online
Isn't She Lovely - Stevie Wonder
"Isn't She Lovely", a song by Stevie Wonder from his 1976 album, Songs in the Key of Life, celebrates the birth of Wonder's daughter Aisha and thanks his girlfriend Yolonda "Londie" Simmons. There are three verses, each ending with the phrase "isn't she lovely, made from love". The song opens with Aisha's cry and the lengthy outro features samples of her playing with Wonder, and bathing. The song, musically constructed over a standardized circle-of-fifths, is considered a striking example of the fusion of fundamental jazz and pop elements. It is remeniscent of Axiom's "A Little Ray of Sunshine". Hear the song online
It's So Easy - Linda Ronstadt (right)
In late 1977, Linda Ronstadt returned to the No.1 position on the album charts with Simple Dreams. The album was certified triple platinum (over 3 million copies sold) within the first year of its release in the US alone. It included the hit singles "Blue Bayou", "Carmelita", "It's So Easy" and "Poor Poor Pitiful Me". The album was nominated for several Grammy Awards and won it's art director a Grammy Award for best album cover, the first of three Grammy Awards he would win for designing memorable Linda Ronstadt covers. That year, she was asked by the L.A. Dodgers to sing the US National Anthem at the opening game of the World Series.
'It's So Easy' was written by Buddy Holly (Norman Petty shared writing credits though he was only producer and manager). Recorded at Petty Studios in Clovis, New Mexico, June-August, 1958, it was the last song Holly recorded with The Crickets. Holly was known for his innovative guitar riffs, but a session guitarist named Tommy Allsup who played in Holly's band on his last tour played guitar on Holly's version. Many of Holly's fans consider this to be one of his best compositions, though it was never released as a single, and Buddy naver sang it like this! View the video online
Jammin'/Punky Reggae Party - Bob Marley and the Wailers
A faithful Rastafari, Janaican born Marley is regarded by many as a prophet of the religion. Marley is best known for his reggae songs, which include the hits "I Shot the Sheriff", "No Woman, No Cry", "Three Little Birds", "Exodus", "Could You Be Loved", "Jammin", "Redemption Song", and "One Love". His posthumous compilation album Legend (1984) is the best-selling reggae album ever, with sales of more than 12 million copies. Hear the song online
Jet Airliner - Steve Miller Band
This song was written by Paul Pena, a blind folk singer from Cape Cod, USA. Pena played the Newport Folk Festival in 1969, but was unable to launch a successful career. His album New Train was recorded in 1973 and re-released in 2000. It was the album's producer Ben Sidran, the keyboard player with Steve Miller, that provided Miller will the song. Paul retired in the 1970s from the music industry to take care of his ill wife. She died in 1991. For much of his life, Pena's royalties from writing this were his only income. Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs played together as youngsters in Texas in the 1960s long before either of them became successes.
Cream's "Crossroads" and "Jet Airliner" have similar introductory riffs, and it has often been said that Steve Miller might well have borrowed the riff from "Crossroads". In fact, in recent concerts he has played "Crossroads", so without actually admitting it perhaps he's acknowledging the obvious and doesn't try to hide it. The song has one of the most misheard lines ever: there are many who mistake the line "big ol' jet airliner" for everything from "we don't chat in a line out", "big ol' Jap in a lighthouse", "bit of cheddar rind-on", "bingo jet had a light on", "big ol' shed of lino", "big ol' Jed had a rhino" to "railroad track outta 'lignment" ... the mind boggles! Hear the song online
Life In The Fast Lane - The Eagles (right)
Another Eagles classic from Hotel California, the themed album about the underbelly of success as exemplified by the Californian lifestyle of the 1970s. This song is often misinterpreted these days as glamourising the Rock'n'Roll lifestyle, but in fact it is quite the opposite - it warns about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and bad decisions. The Eagles were based in Los Angeles, a place where many successful people get caught up in a lifestyle of excess. Glenn Frey recalls: "This began with a Joe Walsh riff he had that signature guitar part. I had the title. The true story is: I was riding in a car with a drug dealer, a guy we used to call The Count, because his count was never very good. We were driving out to an Eagles poker game. I was in the passenger seat. He moved over to the right lane and started driving 75-80 miles per hour. I said, "Hey, man, slow down." He goes, "Hey, man, it's life in the fast lane." And I thought, "Oh, my God, what a title." I didn't write it down. I didn't have to.
Joe started playing a riff at rehearsal one day, and I said, "That's Life In The Fast Lane." So we started writing a song about the couple that had everything and did everything and lost the meaning of everything. Lifestyles of the rich and miserable. I think the best line is 'We've been up and down this highway, haven't seen a God-damn thing'. That pretty much summarized the journey these people were on, rich as hell, gettin' high, got everything they want, and yet they're living in a spiritual ghetto. That's good news to the common man! Rich folks who are absolutely miserable and most of them are. I really like this record. Plus it made a statement: Joe Walsh was officially in the band." View the video online
Let There Be Rock - AC/DC
The title song of the band's 1977 album, Let Their Be Rock, it has become the unofficial anthem for AC/DC who have played it at every concert since 1978. Lead guitarist Angus Young (right) recalls: "I remember the amp literally exploded during the recording session. My brother (George Young of The Easybeats) watched it with crazed eyes, and he told me 'Come on! Keep on playing!' while the stuff was steaming." In the film clip where Bon Scott leaps off the pulpit, he actually badly damaged his leg. If you watch closely he can be seen hitting the pews in the front row. That was one of the many injuries the singer sustained during his career, to which the song, "It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Want to Rock'n'Roll)" refers. View the video online
Lonely Boy - Andrew Gold
Though the music of the 1970s was dominated by disco, the decade had its darker side; the subject of lonliness in its various forms surfaced in many of the decade's more meloncholy songs. This is such a song. "Lonely Boy" was first recorded for his second album, What's Wrong With This Picture? which features backing vocals provided by Linda Ronstadt. While it would prove his biggest US and Australian hit, Gold's later single "Never Let Her Slip Away" experienced greater success in the UK. The song follows the life of a child who suddenly feels neglected by his parents after the birth of a younger sister.
Many deem this song to be autobiographical - the lyric "He was born on a summer day in 1951" matches Gold's August 1951 birthday, and "In the summer of '53 his mother/Brought him a sister" matches his sister's birthday. The artist has denied this assumption despite great similarities between the lyrics and Gold's own life story. The song is a clever piece of writing: the melody line falls increasingly out of step with the backing rhythm of the song as the verse progresses, but by the end of the verse the two are back in sync - quite brilliant! Gold is a prolific singer, session musician and songwriter, but is best known outside of the music industry for his two charting singles, "Lonely Boy" (1977) and "Thank You for Being a Friend." (1978), the latter being lifted from his album, All This And Heaven Too. During the 1970s he worked for many well-known stars, including Linda Ronstadt and Art Garfunkel.
He played a major role as multi-instrumentalist and arranger for Ronstadt's breakthrough album, 1974's Heart Like a Wheel. He played the guitar solo and the majority of other instruments on the album's first track, "You're No Good," Ronstadt's only No.1 US single. Gold has the singular distinction of being the first human voice to be 'heard' on the surface of Mars: his rendition of the theme from the television series Mad About You, entitled "Final Frontier," was used as the wake-up call for the Mars Pathfinder space probe in 1996. View the video online
Nobody Does It Better - Carly Simon
Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager penned this hit as the title song for the James Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me. It repeated Paul McCartney's July 1973 feat of reaching No.2 with a James Bond theme tune. In his case it was "Live and Let Die." Duran Duran's American chart-topping "A View To A Kill" is the best selling Bond theme tune ever. The Spy Who Loved Me film score garnered nominations from both the Golden Globes and the Academy Award; this Hamlisch/Sager song was nominated by both organizations in that year. In recent years the song has been used as an advertising theme by the Australian L.J. Hooker real estate group. View the video online
Rockaria! - Electric Light Orchestra (right)
The third track on ELO's successful 1976 album A New World Record. As the second single from that album, "Rockaria!" was a rock song like no other - it featured the operatic voice of Mary Thomas on the introduction (she fluffed the first take but they used it anyway). In live concerts, the 'aria' was provided by the vocal talents of the band's bassist Kelly Groucutt. The song itself is a unique fusion of rocking blues, glam rock, opera, and power pop. The lyrics are about a "sweet little lady" who "sings like a songbird, and she sings the opera like you ain't never heard, but she ain't ready (no no no, she ain't ready) and she ain't gonna rock & roll." According to the lyrics, she is obsessed with the operatic masterworks of Wagner, Beethoven, Puccini and Verdi, and the intent of the person singing this song is to show her "how to rock & roll". View the video online
Rockin' All Over the World - Status Quo
Had John Fogerty not got itchy feet and walked out on Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1971, this may well have become a latter day CCR hit, as it came from Fogerty's pen. Fogerty's first solo album, John Fogerty, was released in 1975 and yielded two singles, "Rockin' All Over the World" and "Almost Saturday Night". CCR's former music publisher (affiliated with Fantasy Records) filed a suit against Fogerty, claiming that his new, solo compositions sounded too much like his former work as songwriter for Creedence. As a result, no promotions were done and the songs went largely unnoticed.
Status Quo's management saw the potential of "Rockin' All Over the World" and used it as the title song to the band's new album. At Live Aid, Status Quo began their set (and thus the event itself, being the opening band) with "Rockin' All Over the World". The song has been included on most of John Fogerty's compilation albums, marking its popularity and place among his greatest ever work. View the video online
Short People - Randy Newman (right)
Singer, songwriter and arranger Randy Newman is noted for his practice of writing lyrics from the perspective of a "character" far removed from Newman's own biography, often utilizing the literary device of an unreliable narrator. For example, the 1972 song "Sail Away" is written as slave trader's sales pitch to attract slaves, while the narrator of "Political Science" is a U.S. nationalist who complains of worldwide ingratitude toward America and proposes a brutally ironic final solution ("Let's drop the big one"). The album Little Criminals (1977) contained the surprise hit "Short People", which also became a subject of controversy, as Newman's ironic depiction of bigotry aimed at the short was taken literally by some listeners. Both the album and the single stand as the best-selling of his career. In 1978, legislation was introduced to make playing the song on the radio illegal in Maryland, though the bill failed to pass.
In the song, "short" is meant in a figurative sense, intending to poke fun at people who are short-tempered and small-minded, which is quite the opposite of the literal meaning. The song is about prejudice and because the very notion of hating someone because of their height is ludicrous, and that is why he used it. Newman often pokes fun at the misinterpretation of his song during concerts, sarcastically announcing, "I hate short people, it's true. The reason I don't say anything is because the record label's afraid I'll tell people what I really think." Since the 1980s, Newman has worked mostly as a film composer. His film scores include Ragtime, The Natural, Toy Story, Meet the Parents and Seabiscuit. View the video online
We Are the Champions - Queen (right)
Although Queen did not intend it this way, this song is usually played along with "We Will Rock You". The songs segue together on the album, so disc jockeys usually play them together. They were in fact released as a double A-side single. Freddie Mercury wrote "We Are The Champions", Queen guitarist Brian May "We Will Rock You". Of "We Are The Champions", Mercury once said: "I was thinking about football when I wrote it. I wanted a participation song, something that the fans could latch on to. Of course, I've given it more theatrical subtlety than an ordinary football chant. I suppose it could also be construed as my version of 'I Did It My Way'." We have made it, and it certainly wasn't easy. No bed of roses as the song says. And it's still not easy. "We Will Rock You" was written by May when he came out of the closet as a homosexual; he wrote it in the hope that it would become a gay anthem. View the video online